Tag Archives: family

Writing hazards

I don’t play golf, but I know they have hazards on the course. There are sand traps and water hazards that can mess with your game. My writing days are full of hazards too.

The main one is my daughter. She likes to talk — a lot. She talks for hours about her job to the point where I feel like I was there with her on her shift. Today, she has a new topic though. Enter Jackson.

We’ve never owned a cat. In her entire life there has never been a cat. We’re dog people. They aren’t foreign to me, my mom had cats at various times. It’s something new to my daughter, and she’s really excited about it. I refuse to stop her chatter, and try to be a good dad. Things change and young adults have been known to move halfway across the country on short notice. We spent a lot of time letting the animals get used to each other.

My big concern is dogs and cats together. They get supervised time together and are doing really well with the situation. Otto wants to sniff him, but that’s about where his interest ends. Frankie is the one to watch. Jackson likes to sneak up on her and bonk her on the head.

I’m still being diligent, because Kipling taught me The Female of the Species is more Deadly than the Male. This certainly seems to hold true with my dogs. Otto is a big hugger and lover of all things. Frankie is psycho and I don’t completely trust her around Jackson.

After my daughter goes to work, and Jackson goes to her room, I get a chance to write new words. There is still the bulldog hazard, but I’ve gotten pretty good at writing around it.

This one is Frankie, and I can get an arm around her and still type. I can’t quite reach around Otto in the same fashion.

Still, all progress is good. I wound up with around 2500 new words on the day. Skulls were bashed, shackles were fitted, and the big abduction happened. Aside from this, an ugly fish bit one of the supporting characters. My next move will be to define the stakes for the characters, imprison the love interest, and force the men into a task they don’t want and are ill equipped for.

Unfortunately, my own servitude is calling. Tomorrow begins the work week for me, so it will be Saturday at minimum before I can write again.

In other news, I got three more nice reviews for The Hat over the weekend. People seem to really be enjoying it, and that’s like rocket fuel to my writer brain. I haven’t sold a copy in days, but there is lag time between purchases and reviews. Reviews can lead to sales, so I hope it keeps up a bit of momentum.

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Checking in

By now, my regulars are probably aware that I’m in the midst of a blog tour. For more details, see other posts on this site recently. The Hat is doing well, and the early reviews are all wonderful. There is one review that won’t seem to go through, but the reviewer told me about it and let me read it. I wish it would go through, but that’s likely an Amazon issue.

I’ve been reblogging everything I can find, because it gives a little bit of support to those wonderful folks who support me. You might be asking if it even matters to the bigger bloggers. Does Chris the Storyreading Ape need another follower? You bet he does, and if I can find one for him it makes my day. This goes for everyone, no matter how big or small they are today.

I have a house full of company right now, so I’ve been doing little more than bouncing from site to site and keeping up with comments. I’ve also been scrolling through the Reader to see if something shows up that was unexpected.

My family will leave tomorrow, then I can focus on Lisa Burton Radio posts and some tours I agreed to host for others. I’ll probably be pretty busy with it tomorrow.

The only other thing I’ve managed, other than visiting family, is Pinterest. I never thought I’d be a Pinterest guy, but I’m such a visual person it really works for me. I started a couple of new boards. One is all about cast iron ranges. They used to be more common, but they are kind of rare these days. Many of them are beautiful, so I started a board. One day, if I win the lottery, I’ll build a new house and find a way to put one in as a kind of wood stove, one that can also cook my sourdough bread.

The other one is more interesting on a mental assessment level. I called it The One I May Never Write. This is stuff for a book that might be too controversial to ever write today. It involves deepest Africa in the early 1900s. Because a bit of hunting would be required for that era, it probably wouldn’t go over well with the 2018 mindset. It would not be realistic for a young man of that era to not want to chase something big and dangerous. This is different than harvesting food, or taking on a man eater. Kind of an odd thing about fiction; kill a human and it’s no big deal, kill an animal and people go crazy. As one of my stories, it would include a bit of black magic too. Anyway, here is a link to The One I May Never Write.

The deeper topic is, why did I start this board in the first place? Am I subconsciously preparing to actually write it one day? Am I seeking someone to twist my arm? Why did I write about it here? I really don’t know. Maybe I just like the pretty pictures.

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Check out Lazy Days

Anita and Jaye are two super supportive authors and bloggers. They’re here to present their new book, Lazy Days.

Blurb:

This novella is the true story of our family’s first proper holiday back in the Seventies. Looking back, I wonder what made us think it was a good idea, but despite all the things that could have gone wrong, we had a fantastic time. I was the Skipper most of the time, and for some reason decided to record our adventures in a small notebook. We were young and without husbands, Anita was a widow, and I was glad to be rid of mine. (and that is another story) Money was precious and scarce back then, but all the saving and sacrifice turned out to be worth every single memory we all cherish.

This notebook has been treasured and kept safe, despite numerous house moves and family disasters, as a symbol of our courage and determination. Renting a boat on the Norfolk Broads could so easily have been one of the stupidest things we had ever done, but even after 40 years, we have such good memories of that time.

Over the years, we often thought of making it into a proper book, but along with everything else in our often-complicated family life, it was something we never got around to. Until just recently, when we were looking for some old photographs, found the now fragile notebook and knew it was time.

It wasn’t as easy as we imagined it would be either, for our logbook writing skills leave a lot to be desired, but there was just enough information entered on those pages to get us started.

Enjoy this excerpt:

Saturday

We had waited a long time for this day to arrive, and now the time had arrived, we could have flown to the Norfolk Broads powered by our excitement. The tension coming from all of us made the air crackle with electricity as we prepared to leave. Going anywhere with the kids is never easy, but we had planned this holiday with far more skill than our usual days out, and researched everything of interest and planned our route to ensure plenty of happy days. For the first time in our lives, we would be miles from home on a boat for two weeks. There would be six of us on this holiday, two women, four kids and two small dogs. There was the possibility of enough trouble there to last us a lifetime!

I wasn’t expecting much trouble from the teenage girls, Anita Jr and Heidi; but the two younger boys, Stephen, ten and Darren, eight would be a challenge, for they have the knack of finding trouble anywhere.  Added to the mix were our two small dogs.  Lady, a cross between a Pekinese and a Yorkie, blessed with sharp teeth and a ferocious dislike of strangers, and Katy, an adorable chocolate coloured toy poodle pup.

Getting them all in our car proved a bit tricky. A big Ford Granada, normally a comfortable fit for all of us, but this time we had Heidi, our younger step-sister to fit in too. She had been staying with us while her mother was in the hospital.

I sensed an air of resentment as the kids tried hard to fit themselves into the back seat. Various elbows were used to show disapproval, prompting a chorus of complaints. For a moment, it looked as if we wouldn’t be going anywhere. The situation looked hopeless. Anita finished packing our luggage into the boot of the car and appeared at my side.

‘Is there a problem here? Do we want to go on this holiday or not?’

No one spoke, but as I watched, a subtle relaxing of tightly packed bodies occurred as they all thought about it. They knew their mother well. She would cancel everything if they didn’t accept their fate and settle down, and if the holiday was cancelled because of them, they would never hear the end of it.

I am always amazed by the way Anita handles her brood. It must come with practice, although I doubted I would ever learn how to do it! You probably need to be a parent first.

Looking at them, resignation on all their faces, I prayed the boat would be bigger than it looked in the brochure. I also prayed I would get us all the way to Norfolk without incident. I hadn’t been driving long, and my nerves were already stretched to breaking point.

We had been up since before dawn and ready to leave by 7.15. As we drove through the dark and empty streets of London, everyone is unusually silent.  Probably wondering, like me, if this could be the biggest mistake of our lives. After several wrong turns and a massive frustration overload that nearly has me screaming, I finally find the A12, the road that will take us all the way up the south-east coast to Norfolk.

The sun had come up, so at least the weather looks like being a lovely day. The dogs are asleep, snuggled around Anita’s feet on a blanket. There is no fighting on the back seat, and I wonder if they feel as scared as I did. The plan is to go as far as we can before making any pit stops for refreshments and/or toilet breaks, so we pass swiftly through Chelmsford and Colchester without stopping. The traffic begins to build up as we approach Ipswich, so we decide to stop for a well-deserved break.

We pass several roadside cafes, but most of them looked small and unappealing but when we spot a Little Chef, we decide to take a chance. Several bladders were screaming, including mine, so we have to stop somewhere. Anita walks the dogs to a patch of grass in the car park, while I escort everyone else to the nearest toilets.

The Little Chef is very American and modern. I have a quick look at the menu, hoping there will be enough suitable food for our fussy lot. They have a selection of burgers, chips, pasta and sandwiches, both toasted and ordinary, so there should be something there for everyone. It would be cheaper to take away, but the thought of everyone trying to eat in the car didn’t bear thinking about, so I don’t mention it.

From the moment we walk into the restaurant, I sense everyone staring at us. They probably expect trouble, or at least, noise. This is always possible, of course, but today I hope not.

Anita Jr and Heidi settle for toasted sandwiches, but the boys insist on chips. I want a decent cup of coffee, which I knew was unlikely. These places call it coffee, but this is usually where the similarity ends. It is hardly ever drinkable. Anita returns from walking the dogs and with a quick glance, appraised my parenting skills. ‘What are we supposed to be having then, Jaye?’

‘I wasn’t sure what you would like, but I was thinking of toast and coffee. What about you?’ I resented the implication I should have already ordered for her. As if I would presume, or even guess what to get.

She nods, so I leave the table to order the toast and while I wait, I watch them from a distance, amazed to see them talking normally to their mother and each other. I had yet to reach that level of acceptance, still regarded as a bit of a visitor by the kids. I hoped this holiday would go some way to making me feel more at home.

Back at the car, the elbowing starts again until they notice their mother watching. It’s amazing how fast kids can behave when they want to! I could tell by their faces that they think this holiday is a big mistake. But we are committed now, halfway there, whether we like it or not!

Six hours and 130 miles after leaving London, we arrive at the boatyard at Oulton Broad. To say we were all glad to get out of the car would be an understatement. The tension hadn’t eased at all and the muscles in my neck felt like rocks. Anita pats me on the back, probably for a job well done and I knew we could both do with several cups of decent coffee if we were ever to feel normal again. Our boat isn’t ready for us, adding to our growing sense of doom, so we pile back into the car to go shopping for a few essentials.

Back at the boat yard, I have trouble reversing the car into the tight parking spot. The wheels skidding on the gravel slope, unable to get a grip is a terrifying sound. For one horrible moment, I could see us in the water, car and all. I wonder if this could be an omen of what might happen to us on this holiday.

There were boats of varying sizes in the boatyard. Some of them were small, and I was getting nervous. What if our boat turned out to be the size of a sardine tin?

We needn’t have worried. Our cruiser was a huge boat, more like a floating dock. Called ‘Sovereign’ and supposed to sleep, 6/7 people.  That remains to be seen, I thought.  The boat is painted a pretty blue and white, with a large cabin area up front with a sliding canopy. This can be closed at night, creating the bigger of the bedrooms. We didn’t understand how at first, but after some investigation, we discover a double bed neatly hidden in the wall. What with all the seating for everyone, we were beginning to relax a little. There were two further bedrooms, sorry, cabins! A chemical toilet and shower room, and a long narrow galley kitchen. How I could cook anything on the tiny cooker was anyone’s guess, so sandwiches and salad might have to be the order of the day.

We finally manage to unpack our clothes and try to get organised, but the storage on the boat is so compact, it’s a bit like squeezing a gallon into a pint pot. This boat might be big but it’s still a floating dolls house!  There is no room for the empty suitcases, so they go back to the car. Before we could cast off, the owner of the boatyard arrives to show us how to steer the boat and maintain the engine. The engine is huge, so much bigger than a car engine; looking as if it came from a boat the size of the Queen Mary! I have the mandatory driving lesson and didn’t disgrace myself too much, but the thought of being in charge of such a powerful craft was beginning to intimidate me. We would be alone, in the middle of nowhere. Masters of our own fate – were we ready for this?

We all agree the chemical toilet will take some getting used to. When you flush it, the pump squirts water everywhere and the kids tell me the chemicals smell awful. I can’t tell if this is true as I am getting over a cold and can’t smell anything. The toilet cubicle doubles as a shower room, so everything will get soaked in the process.

When we open the canopy/roof of the main cabin area, we immediately realise that the dogs will have to spend the holiday on their leads. Understandably, they are not happy about this, and neither are we, but there is nothing to stop them jumping over the side to get to the ducks!

I didn’t think being on their leads would work well either, as Katy leapt at a passing duck and ended up dangling over the edge of the boat, almost strangling herself which kind of proved the point. After being rescued, she tried to throw herself in again. My heart sank, thinking we had made a big mistake in bringing the dogs on this holiday. At this rate someone would have to spend the holiday dog watching, just to ensure we could take them home again. We couldn’t risk letting them off the lead either, as that would probably be the last time we saw either of them.

After a few frustrating minutes, Anita solves the problem by tying their leads further away from the edge of the boat. They could still see everything, but couldn’t jump over the edge!

We cast off from Oulton Broad and make for a place called Geldeston. We need a short trip to get the feel of things and get us out of the boatyard. I keep the speed down while I search for some confidence, but I found the Sovereign hard to control, even at a slow speed. No matter how hard I try to relax, it still feels like being the biggest mistake of my life.

It is beautiful here on the water, the scenery is amazing with loads of ducks and swans, and several horses grazing by the water. The sense of peace and freedom is mind-blowing. There are no houses on this stretch of the river and no noise, apart from the ducks. When we get in their way, they get annoyed and complain something fierce. Despite all my misgivings, I start to relax and enjoy steering the Sovereign. I am beginning to think it would impossible not to relax here in Norfolk.

The sun is beginning to set as we moor up for the night, a huge red ball shining on the water, painting everything with a rosy pink glow. Anita washes the decks, something we are supposed to do every day, and then we go for a walk. To discover we are on the wrong side of the river for the chip shop. Being on water and not a road will take some getting used to. Darren falls over a mooring rope, literally five minutes after being warned about them, so no change there.

In the absence of chips, we go back to the boat for beans on toast. The television is the size of a postage stamp, but the picture is good. While we eat supper, I study my family and can tell we will all sleep well tonight, as everyone looks exhausted. As adventures go, I think this one has the makings of being a good one. Lady looks ancient, straining to stay awake, her little head nodding. Katy, the younger dog, wouldn’t be far behind.

Bedtime is a riot, as the kids discover it’s not a bit like being at home. The girls carry on like a pair of nuns when they discover the sheets and blankets are not to their liking. Funny how fussy they can be when normally such slobs at home. Anita takes charge of the situation, and within minutes everyone is comfortably sorted out.

It seemed like only five minutes later, all the kids are asleep and we could finally relax for the first time today. It is chilly now the sun has gone down. We are moored near a church with a clock that chimes the hours. We discovered this after putting the kitchen clock in a cupboard because we couldn’t stand the ticking. It is so quiet here.

So, we had made it through day one. All things considered, it hadn’t been bad at all, no big arguments and no major disasters. Heidi managed to be seasick for all of twenty minutes, so this was all right too.

About Jaye

I had no intention of becoming a writer. I loved to read, and for most of my life, that was enough for me. More than enough really, for I am a compulsive reader and will read anything I can lay my hands on. Give me a bookshelf full of books and I will start at one end and read my way to the other.

Then I offered to edit my sister Anita’s books. She hates computers, so I offered to type them up too. Before I knew it, my brain began to explore what other things I could be doing.

I tried to ignore that inner voice, for I was busy enough already. Anita was writing faster than I could format, and there were all my other interests too. Gardening, DIY, dressmaking and a host of craft projects. I love to be busy, but it came to the point where something had to give, never mind add something else to the list.

I considered myself a writer when I held my first paperback copy of my book Nine Lives in my hand for the first time. Up until that magic moment, I doubted I would ever feel like a writer. But holding that paperback copy finally convinced me.

My favourite character didn’t really appear until book two, The Last Life, and his name is Detective Inspector David Snow. The fact that my detective looks a lot like Tom Selleck should indicate how fond I am of him. I just love writing about him.

That was then, and I have now finished writing The Broken Life, the third book in my mystery thriller series.  The characters just turned up in my head, one by one, nagged me for weeks until I gave in, and listened. So you can never say never.

This genre came as a surprise, for I lean towards the supernatural, spooky kind of book, so I have no idea where the idea came from. If anything, I should have expected to write medical stories, as I always wanted to be a doctor, and these are some of my favourite television programmes.

My favourite fiction book just happens to be The Scarlet Ribbon, Anita’s supernatural mystery romance. I was the editor for this one and fell in love with it. And no, she didn’t have to pay me to say this!

My life has not been easy by anyone’s standards, and now I am growing old, I sometimes look back and wonder how I managed to get through it all. So, the perfect epitaph for me would be… “She did her best…” Even though I made a pigs ear out of most of it!

About Anita

Hi, my name is Anita and although I am 71, I am by no means a ‘silver surfer’. I have been writing fiction novels for a while now, but never managed to be picked up by any of the mainstream publishers. They all said they loved what I wrote, but found it hard to slot them into a category!  It came tantalisingly close, but no cigar, as they say.

I realised I would have to try something else. I saved all of the rejection letters, because most of them had very encouraging comments. If my mother had slapped me as gently when I was a child, it wouldn’t have hurt half as much!

I even wrote to James Herbert once in desperation and he was so kind and supportive, it gave me the inspiration to continue writing.

Now I am retired and with the help of my sister-in-law Jaye, (who has learnt to be a ‘surfer’) we decided to dust off some of my manuscripts and try to achieve the impossible with a second chance to find out if anyone out there likes the kind of books I write…

How do I write?

I am a paper and pencil girl. You could chain me to a computer for years and nothing would happen! Jaye, on the other hand is managing to cope with all the editing and marketing, but then she has far more patience than I do.  (And she is as stubborn as a mule which helps a lot!)

They say you are never too old to learn, but in my case never is another word for infinity!

What made me want to write?

I love music, especially country music. It always seems to take me to where my own hurt lives. Songs about heartache help my pen run along the paper, almost as though the pain writes the words.

How do I find my characters?

They tend to find me. I was listening to ‘Ruby, don’t take your love to town’ sung by Kenny Rogers and a few days later the characters for Bad Moon popped into my head and just took over. I seem to have an affinity with West Virginia and the people who live there. Just hearing the way they talk makes a connection in my head, maybe I lived there once in another life.

It was the same with The Scarlet Ribbon. The words of that song put the characters in my head and they pulled me in.

Not so sure where the idea for Simple came from, even though it is a similar story to Bad Moon, but there was a girl at school when I was eleven who had a bad stammer, and I often wonder what became of her.

The books I like to read…

I love the stories of Merlin and Arthur, but my reading list covers a wide range of genres. One of my all-time favourites is ‘River God’ by Wilbur Smith, the character of Taita really spoke to me.

***

Pick up your copy of Lazy Days right here, link.

You can catch up with Anita and Jaye at the following locations:

Website:     http://jenanita01.com

Twitter:      https://twitter.com/jaydawes2/media

Facebook:  http://facebook.com/anita.dawes.37

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8638857.Jaye_Marie

Anita’s Author Page/Amazon Link :    https://Author.to/AnitaLink

Jaye’s Author Page/Amazon Link:       https://Author.to/JayeLink

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Ahh, the holidays

I’m the poster boy for introverts. I swear these holidays are going to kill me.

Company arrived on Wednesday. They’re still here, and they brought their dogs.

Thanksgiving day we had twelve of us, and my son’s family also brought their dog. I mention this, because we just put in a new hard-surface floor. Doggie feet are loud on it. My dogs tend to take the occasional nap… but not when there are other dogs around.

There are three doors to get outside my house, and on Thanksgiving day they were all in use. (Think grandchildren here.) My son deep fried our turkey outside, and the kids were in and out in some kind of revolving door situation. I didn’t want my dogs out front, because they aren’t familiar with cars and streets. This meant a constant checking every time the doors opened. Add in the fact that (doing higher math, bear with me) ninety doggie toenails clicked across the floor every time someone touched a doorknob.

My brother in law likes to rough house with the bulldogs. In his defense, he doesn’t have large dogs at home so it’s kind of unique. Roughhousing at six AM is not quite what I want when I wake up.

Working at a small government office yesterday was kind of a godsend. It was calm and quiet. I think I had one telephone call all day and managed to get some long suffering paperwork finished.

Last night we all went to dinner together. This included my son’s family too. It was nice, but the Black Friday crowd made for long waits. We even paid valet parking at the shopping center because it was that busy. Five bucks was much nicer than forty minutes of cruising followed by a half-mile walk.

Today, the in-laws and my wife went shopping. I’m here with the four dogs and my other son. He’s upstairs doing his prescription opioid addiction problem right now. He’s snapping his fingers and slapping his chest all while swearing and hollering in an argument with someone who isn’t actually there. Before you ask, he doesn’t have an internet capable device, so he isn’t playing a game online.

It’s still noisy here.

I managed to prepare and send out one shtick for Lisa Burton Radio. I want to do a couple of others, but we’ll see how I hold up. These things don’t write themselves, and I need to keep the line moving. I also assembled and scheduled a guest post I agreed to host.

I finally got five minutes to debate women’s dress sizes with my favorite consultant, my daughter. Then I incorporated some small changes to The Hat. I also heard from my last beta reader for this project, and he seems to have enjoyed the story. He said notes are coming, so I’m watching my mailbox.

On a “just for Craig” basis, I wrote a little new fiction. I don’t even know what to call it, but it’s one of those pages that goes between the copyright page and chapter one. It isn’t really a dedication, so that word doesn’t fit. It’s more of a definition. It’s part of the story and helps folks understand what’s going on.

I also wrote the opening paragraphs and stopped early on purpose. My goal was just to start. This also means I started a separate “cast of characters” sheet which I always make. Starting a couple of paragraphs is always a bigger effort than it sounds.

Here is my thing that comes before the story. I am considering italics and squeezing the margins, just to make it stand out.

Estivation: In times of environmental stress, some species are known to estivate. They slow down their breathing, heart rate, and intake of food and water. Estivation occurs under times of excessive heat; whereas, hibernation occurs under times of extreme cold. The processes are similar, in that resources are limited or non-existent. When the situation improves, these creatures leave estivation and go about their normal lives.

So what do you call a page like this one? Does it intrigue you to read on? Now all I have to do is write the story. (And survive the holidays… or become a super-villain.)

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Well, it was a weekend

I had company this weekend, so productivity was at a standstill. Mom needed a new car, and Boise is a better area to shop. That’s how it all started. My task was to take her and Dad shopping and help where I could.

Mom doesn’t shop like most people. Her goal was a purple SUV. According to the Internet, GM makes a few in that color. There just aren’t any in Idaho. We cruised the Chevrolet/GM/ whatever dealership, and there was an interesting vehicle. We elected to leave in favor of cruising the Toyota lot. My parents both know how I like Toyotas, and long term followers will remember helping Dad get a Toyota Tundra a couple of years ago. (Note for later: It has nice running boards.)

There were a better selection of Sequoias this time, but they don’t have anything in purple. I really liked a Champaign/gold one they had. The best deal was a loaner car they were selling. It was a red Lexus with 10,000 miles and a pretty good deal going with it.

Nope.

Back to the GM lot to check out the earlier vehicle. It isn’t purple, the color is called Black Current. About six hours later, we drove it back to my place. It’s a Chevrolet Traverse, and is a pretty nice SUV.

I deal with sales people every day. I was in sales for ten years. I also write articles, and make public presentations. In that world, you have to know your audience. Probably good advice for a fiction author too, but I am my first audience.

It was absurd watching two young salesmen trying to sell my mother a car. One at the Toyota dealership, and one at the GM dealership. I made the mistake of telling the Toyota kid I liked the new orange color on the trucks. He pulled a new orange Tundra around to take us driving around the lot.

Here’s the deal. I’m not the customer here. This truck didn’t have running boards, and I had a hard time getting in it. My 86 year old father was with us, and he uses a cane. He managed to crawl inside, but I still don’t know how. He drove around, including the back lot, and told us about all the different SUV models. Then in desperation, he offered to drive the lot a second time so Mom could find a different color she liked.

The Chevrolet salesman was just as bad. He talked about all the USB ports, the OnStar system, the wifi hotspot, and the magnetic phone charger built in. Mom doesn’t own a smartphone, and doesn’t want one. She certainly doesn’t have one that would use magnetic charging. She doesn’t even like Sirius radio. She doesn’t want a computer console at all, but is willing to accept there aren’t any vehicles without one.

She bought the Traverse despite the salesman’s best efforts. They treated her well because her old SUV had TV monitors in the back of the headrests. Mom sewed covers to hide them, because she heard people break in and steal them. I didn’t even know they were there. They’ve never been used… ever.

Know your audience. Don’t make an 86 year old, with a cane, crawl four feet off the ground into a gigantic pickup. Don’t try to sell an elderly woman on all the high tech features in the car. She didn’t want magnetic phone charging and wifi. She wanted purple. I even pulled the salesman aside and told him this about half-way through his pitch. It was that embarrassing. He was a nice kid, he just needs to learn some things.

The upgrades guy was a pain in the ass. He pushed the ten year extended warranty so hard that Mom wound up buying a six year warranty just to shut him up. I know he makes money on these, and doesn’t care that they probably won’t be driving at all in ten years. Finally when he mentioned how many hundred computerized components the car had, and that they were guaranteed to break down, I told him, “That doesn’t speak well for Chevrolet products if you’re guaranteeing they will break down.” I even suggested we might be better suited with a different manufacturer. That toned him down, but not much.

They got on the road early this morning, and called when they got home. I wasn’t very productive, but it was nice to help them out where I could.

Today, I managed to read one short story. Two smelly bulldogs got baths too. That’s about it around here. Hope you guys were more productive.

Next weekend isn’t looking good either. I have Thanksgiving company coming, and have to bake until the wee hours on Wednesday.

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Wren, on #LisaBurtonRadio

Lisa Burton

Hello all you diva’s and superstars. Welcome to another edition of Lisa Burton Radio, the only show that interviews the characters from the books you love. I’m your host, Lisa the robot girl, and today we’re going to try something a little bit different.

I receive mail, and sometimes we read them on the air as kind of an advice column. This one sparked my interest. We have someone calling herself Aunt Char, and she’s worried about her niece, Wren.

I heard a show recently where the radio host called someone up, and that’s just what we’re going to do. Just bear with me while I dial the number.

“Good morning, Char speaking.”

“Hello, this is Lisa Burton, and you’re on the air right now. Is this Aunt Char?”

“I just told you my name is Char. I was hoping that you would call. I have waited all week. I even made Byron, that’s my husband, shave and put on church shirts every morning. I have on my best dress today–it’s blue. Blue brings out the color in my eyes and high-lights in my hair. I’m a natural blonde, you know. But you sure took your time calling–I mailed the postcard last Friday. Maybe I should talk to someone down at the Post Office. Well, better late than never.”

“That’s right, I received your post card and wanted to talk to you about it. So why are you worried about Wren?”

“Well, Wren has a lovely singing voice. She gets that from me. She got the lead in a summer musical at her school–beating out other girls who are older. But my sister sent Wren to Mama’s and Papa’s place for the summer. Wren was really upset, and I can’t blame her.”

“Sometimes kids have to spend the summer with relatives. That’s nothing completely new. I understand why she might be upset, but maybe there is something there she can participate in locally.”

“My sister Willow had surgery for breast cancer, and then had to have chemotherapy. Wren is old enough to stay home and help her mama. Coddling her by sending her to be a guest in someone’s home all summer will ruin her. She should be cooking meals and keeping the house clean and seeing that her mother gets enough rest. She could still have time for the musical. Instead, I had to go help my sister–drove all the way to Colorado.

“And when I got there, Wren could not get away from home fast enough. I tried to help her with some tips on breathing and enunciation and important singing techniques, but she just got sassy.”

“Cancer is terrifying, so I understand if Wren is a little bit worried. Her mother is in bad shape, and Wren might be staying much longer than the summer if things go wrong. Maybe Wren needs a little support to work through things.”

“Well, the goats and chickens and alpacas aren’t going to help Wren with her singing. I know–there is nothing there but mud and poop and hard work. Just look at my parents–they should be retired and having fun, but all they do is work, work, work. It was not a good place for me with my talents, and it is not the right place for Wren. All she does is mope around and try to get a cell phone signal, so she can talk with her friends at home.”

“I’m sure your parents love Wren dearly. Taking care of animals is good for her to learn, but I understand her desire for something more. I’m sure your parents are just as worried about your sister.”

“They know how to cope. When I was quite young, I went through my own bout of cancer, and I am still kicking. But I could never have children of my own. So there is only Wren.”

“I’m so sorry for your loss. It probably doesn’t help, but robot girls can’t bear children either.”

“There’s no comparison. But we got on with life, and Wren needs to do the same thing –  regardless of the outcome. I mean, I love my sister and am sure she will recover, but we should make sure to have a plan for Wren.”

“Well, I’m so glad Wren has someone like you to help break up the doldrums of milking goats and feeling like free farm labor. Maybe you can introduce her to some locals that are more her age.”

“She should meet some nice church kids, but she does not seem to like them. Spends most of her time with kids she met at the park–writing poetry and going for hikes. I don’t think they are a good influence. It’s a good thing I am back in town, so I can introduce her to the right people.  I had a tea at my house, but Wren ended up pouting in the kitchen when I asked her to let the grownups talk without her.

“One day she sassed me outright, and when I corrected her, she said she never wanted to be like me. She even slammed the door. Came around a few days later to apologize, and she said she wanted to be able to sing just like me. So I started her with voice lessons. She shows promise even if she is not grateful.”

“Aunt Char, thank you for taking my call today. Any last thoughts for our listeners?”

“Well, I guess we worry about those we love and want the best for them. That’s what I want for Wren. Even if she is sassy.”

“You can read all about Wren and Aunt Char in the book Wren, by Alice Longaker. I’ll post all the details on the website.

“Don’t forget to use those sharing buttons today. I’m sure Alice and Aunt Char would do it for you, when your character is on the show.

“For Lisa Burton Radio, I’m Lisa Burton.”

***

Blurb

Wren’s summer plans crash with the news of her mother’s diagnosis of Breast Cancer. While her mother focuses on healing, Wren is sent to spend the summer with her grandparents in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas.

The not-so-typical grandparents are aging hippies with goats, chickens, and alpacas as companions. With new friends, increased independence, and acres of woods to explore, Wren tries to discover what she wants to do when she is grown—an archaeologist, or ranger, perhaps a writer or a singer?

Without cell phone reception or internet access, Wren feels detached from those back home. Chiggers bite. Spiders lurk. An owl calls outside of Wren’s window. Sometimes Wren gets scared. Yet, even in bleak sorrow and loss, Wren can see that life does not have to be perfect to be good.

Title; Wren

Genre: Middle-Grade fiction

Release date: April 2017

Audience: Middle-Grade Girls

Where to Order:

Black Rose Writing: http://www.blackrosewriting.com/childrens-booksya/wren

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Wren-Alice-Longaker/dp/1612968546

Barnes & Noble:

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wren-alice-longaker/1126086449

Biography

Although she writes in many forms, Alice Longaker is first of all a poet. Her job is to see the wonder of something newly made from old patterns.

A self-professed late bloomer, she obtained a master’s degree from the University of Northern Colorado. She wandered through a library career—the solitude of cataloging, the austere aisles of a research library, and a boisterous children’s library.

Alice then taught research, composition, literature, and Intensive English to college students throughout Colorado. She currently dabbles in tutoring international students, and heeding the ‘call of stories,’ she writes. New projects include a collection of lyrical essays, poetry, and perhaps sequels to WREN.

Links

Website for youth: WREN: https://wrenbyalicelongaker.wordpress.com

Facebook author page: Alice Longaker-Author https://www.facebook.com/alicelongakercolorado

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/longakeralley

Twitter: Alice Longaker: https://twitter.com/AliceLongaker

Organizations

Northern Colorado Writers: http://www.northerncoloradowriters.com

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Veil of Walls, on #LisaBurtonRadio

Lisa BurtonWelcome to this week’s edition of Lisa Burton Radio. I’m your host, Lisa the robot girl, and today on the phone we have a guest with a problem. “Welcome to the show, Anahita.”

“Thanks. I’m so excited to be able to talk to an American. It’s been a while.”

“My bio says you have an unusual kind of problem. Something we don’t often see in fiction these days. I’ll let you tell our listeners all about it.”

“I was ten years old and living in Massachusetts like any American kid. But then one day my parents decided to up and visit my father’s country, Iran. I knew nothing about my father’s country and culture and it was, to say the least, quite a shock. But when I suddenly was forced to stay there with my relatives, the real problems began.”

“That’s doesn’t sound so horrible. I mean, you have family around you. That has to be kind of cool.”

“True, I had my father’s family around me, but they were complete strangers to me, and everything was so different, so alien. Their food, their language, they way they behaved with one another. I couldn’t relate to any of it. It would have been fine visiting for a while, or a month as originally planned, but living there with them was a whole different matter.”

“Wait a minute. You went for a visit, but you’ve been there for how many years? Did your parents move there or something?”

“We originally went there to visit my father’s family and for my father to take care of family business. But two weeks in, my parents were killed in a car accident. I was devastated, my only saving grace being my American grandparents, whom I knew all my life and loved dearly, were coming to take me home.

“But my Iranian grandmother had other ideas and she used Iranian laws to keep me there. According to Iran, if your father is Iranian, you are Iranian. It’s by blood, not by birth. So they claimed I was Iranian and they had the right, by law, to keep in Iran and raise me. My grandparents went to the American Embassy to complain, but they said it was true, and there was nothing they could do – even though I held an American passport. And so I was stuck in Iran, an alien culture and people who called themselves my family, but were in fact strangers I had just met and had no emotional connection with.”

“What efforts have your grandparents taken to get you back?”

“After having no luck at the American Embassy, they returned home and started procedures to officially adopt me and somehow get me out of Iran. When I was 13, my grandmother returned and tried to trick them into bringing me to the states for a visit, but it didn’t work. As long as I was still physically in Iran, there was not much she could do. And it was really tough for an American teenager since I had to go to a all-girl’s school, could not hang out with friends or do any teenage stuff, and there was always the possibility of their arranging a marriage for me when I came of age. Things looked pretty bleak.”

“That’s terrible. Do you have a plan to get home on your own somehow?”

“I have an Iranian aunt, Auntie Scheherazade, who left Iran when she was young and never returned. I’m discovering bits and pieces of her story and that is giving me hope.”

“I’m so sorry. This should have been a fun cultural visit with family, and it’s turned into a nightmare for you. Any last comments for our listeners?”

“I am growing and learning about my father’s country and culture, but I secretly plan to just wait until I grow up. While in Iran, others seem to make decisions for women regardless of their age, I am going to fight this. My life is my own and they will not control me.”

“There you have it. I feel so bad for Anahita. You can read all about her struggles in the book Veil of Walls by Patricia Panahi. I’ll include all the details on the website.

“Don’t forget to support this awesome author, and your favorite robot girl, by using those sharing links on the website. I’m sure Patricia would do it for you when your character appears on the next Lisa Burton Radio.”

***

Lisa Burton RadioBLURB

Anahita Sadeghi, a typical, happy-go-lucky American ten-year-old, was not too keen on traveling to the other side of the world to meet her father’s family. But her month-long vacation turns into a nightmare when her Persian relatives refuse to let her return to the States. She is forced to deal with the dizzying maze of social customs, resist her grandmother’s efforts to mold her into the proper Persian girl, dodge her aunt’s schemes of marriage, and fight to make her own life choices until she can find a way to return home. Longing for her friends and her freedom, only the enigma of her missing aunt, Scheherazade, gives Ana a glimmer of hope of one day escaping Iran for good. Will Ana’s family marry her off and forever bind her to this country, or will she break free of Iran’s walls and find her way back to America?

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Lisa Burton RadioBIO

Born in Massachusetts from a New Jersey mother and Iranian father, Patricia Panahi moved to Iran at the age of nine. She later returned to the States and completed her graduate work at San Diego State University. Panahi has taught English in Iran, California, and Hawaii, owned and operated The Light Spot Bookstore and Coffee House in San Diego, and directed English language programs for international students for the University of Hawaii. Panahi retired from UH Hilo in 2016 and is now focused on her writing career.

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