Thursday, June 30, 2011

Centuries Of June

A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by Crown Publishers to review Centuries of June by Keith Donohue. Although Mr. Donohue has published two other novels, The Stolen Child and Angels of Destruction, I was not familiar with him. I am always thrilled and excited to read new authors so I readily accepted.

It is difficult in this age of instant gratification and self publishing to find original and intriguing stories. You know how it is you pick up a book and start reading an instantly know you have read this story before except instead of Miami it was set in Milan and instead of the protagonist being Joe its Juan. Oh honestly I don’t blame the authors, especially if they are avid readers, it’s just a natural progress to begin incorporating other stories within your own. Not so with this story. He did incorporate other stories but he made them his own by entwining them into his own tale.

I began reading Centuries of June by Keith Donohue and immediately the movie began playing in my mind. I love it when an author can create a story so vivid I loose all sense of space and time and this is exactly what Mr. Donohue accomplished I had instantly cast each player as they appeared and I could see in my mind’s eye the whole scene play out.

A young man struck in the head and the 7 women who visit him through his stupefied state. The old man who protected and helped him through the journeys of his mind and who and what was he really? Each visit opened more questions with little resolve, each ghostly and beautiful visitor adding to the mystery as well as the question as to why our main character was bludgeoned in his own bathroom. The more you read the more you try to decipher who the old man is and why is he there, why are these women all trying to kill our poor architect and who is the woman asleep in the bed facing the wall.

Mr. Donohue’s writing style kept me turning the page and his story kept me enthralled. His dark humor and storytelling abilities kept me on the edge of my seat waiting for the punch-line. He took me into that cold tiled bathroom and then carried me from primeval forests of the pacific northwest through the gold rush and on into the early 20th century reminding me of the pain and suffering women have lived through to give me the freedoms I have today. More importantly he told the story of the man’s own insecurity and strife.

I thoroughly enjoyed my romp through the centuries with Mr. Donohue and his rough and primal ghosts. I highly recommend this to those with an adventurous spirit and an open mind.  Oh and I have taken to looking behind me when I enter the bath. 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Lola's Special Purpose

Lola was bee-bopping to the radio when out of the blue they ran a contest to win tickets to go see Patti Stanger. Lola stopped what she was doing, picked up the phone and called. The contest gods were on her side and she was the 10th caller.

When Lola asked me if I wanted to go to see Patti Stanger with her the first thought in my head was “Why do I need a Millionaire Matchmaker?” Then the rational side of my brain took over and I thought “it’s not about YOU numbskull!” So I opened my mouth and out fell “Well of course.” Lola follows her heart and who am I to question that? I was honored that she asked me to attend this little soiree’ with her and figured whatever was supposed to happen would.

Those of you who read me on a regular basis know that I have a wonderful husband, Kahuna, who is priceless to me. So why would I, an old married lady, go see this Yenta to the rich and famous? My answer would have to be, because something in me said I needed to go. I didn’t know why I needed to go but I just knew that Lola would not have asked me to go if it were not for a reason.

I rushed home from work and changed my clothes, slipped on my cutest shoes and went to pick up Lola. We chatted on the way to the venue, but then again we chat no matter where we are. We arrived and as chance has it the Valet was full; but, as we pulled up they decided they could take 1 more car.

We made it into the Comedy Club, signed our waivers and were escorted to our seats. Lola fidgeted in her seat and wondered aloud why we could not move to the front row. A really nice man whispered to her “we seated you here so that you could go out the side door when you meet Patti.”

Wait? What? Meet UH? Lola raised her eyebrows, pursed her lips and mouthed “We get to meet Patti?” I shrugged sipped my glass of million dollar sparkling wine. Next thing we knew we were being ushered into the back room where we had our meet and greet with Patti. Who may I just take this opportunity to say is skinny, skinny, SKINNY. I digress.

We were escorted back to our table by the nice young man where our million dollar sparkling wine was waiting. Patti came out on stage and blew us all away. She gave some great advice, did some fun role playing, critique the flirting style of one man who committed one of her major no-no’s.

Patti asked if anyone in the audience was there to “put a ring on it”.

There was a couple center stage audiences who got pointed out. Patti pulled them on stage and she asked how long they had been together. She went through all the pertinent questions as to why they were co-habitating but not engaged and the young man stated that he couldn’t afford to buy his intended a ring.

Now if you have never watched Millionaire Matchmaker on Bravo, you really should. The way she handles people is a little blunt and brash but she definitely gets her point across. It isn’t all about hooking up with a millionaire, it is about being smart about how and who you date and finding the one you were intended to be with.

Let’s get back to the couple in the spotlight. Patti asked why he hadn’t bought her a ring and the young man’s answer was “because I can’t afford to buy her a diamond, and she deserves a diamond.” Patti explained that it didn’t have to be a diamond, it could be an emerald or a topaz that what mattered was the commitment.

They left the stage and Patti asked if there were more questions. That is when Lola jumped to her feet and held up her hand. “Patti, Patti” she cried “I will give them a ring if he will get down on his knee and ask her to marry him.” The next thing I knew Lola was on stage handing over the ring she has worn since the day I met her to a complete stranger. We all watched as the girl accepted the ring and the proposal. We watched as he slipped the ring on her finger and just like Prince Charming slid the glass slipper onto Cinderella’s foot it was a perfect fit.

Lola came and sat back down next to me smiled a huge smile picked up her champagne glass in a toast  and said “now I know why I won the tickets.”

PS...Look for Lola on this season of Millionaire Matchmaker, she is the pixi in the hot pink shoes.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Her Name Was Lola...She Was A Showgirl

You know how you meet someone and you hit it off? You have this karmic connection and you both know it, so you kind of hem-haw around and finally you write that note that says to check yes or no. Then you go around on pins and needles until you get the answer. Finally the note gets passed back to you. Anxiously you shakily unfold the tri-folded paper, open up the note and pray that it is marked yes.

There are always those few minutes, days or weeks where you are unsure if the other person feels the same way you do or if you are compatible.

There have only been a few times in my life when I have truly felt accepted and appreciated. When I met Lola of the Cabana it was synchronistic. I had recently moved to a new town after literally losing everything. I was feeling very much alone and lonely, because you know you can be in a crowd and still be lonely. By chance I was given a gift certificate to get a highlight and a haircut at a salon I had never before patronized and I called for an appointment.

I arrived at the salon for my appointment only to realize that the gift certificate had expired. I sheepishly apologized to the stylist. She looked at me smiled and said “it’s okay. You were supposed to meet me today.”

We began chatting and honestly haven’t stopped. I tell you this because I want to share her with you. She is my hair whisperer and my friend. She is also a fellow blogger. So please go over to So It Is with Lena and make it a regular stop. She will enlighten you with wisdom, make you laugh with her humor and impart love and advice. All you have to do is ask.

Oh and when you go…tell her Gladys sent you.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Hook Line and Sinker

In honor of Father’s Day I thought I would share a new episode of the Trooper Bob Chronicles. I know it has been a while since I’ve had one but hey it has been a long time since I was able to sit down and squeeze a story out of the staid trooper.

It was last week whilst I was visiting with him that this story popped up in my head. I almost forgot about it but then just like a shooting star it flashed through my mind, and then it was gone. Luckily I awoke from a dream and the story popped back into my mind. This one if for you Trooper Bob, Happy Father’s Day.

Trooper Bob had worked all week writing tickets and saving damsels. He had herded a truck load of shook-up chickens off the interstate after the chicken truck had driven into the ditch and the fowl had gotten foul all over the road. It was finally his day off to do with as he wished. Nurse Meme was nursing sick people at the hospital and his lovely children were scattered to the winds doing what teenagers will do. Now was his chance to sneak off and do some fishing.

Trooper Bob went into the garage and under the discarded bicycles, skateboards and boxes of Barbies he uncovered his beloved tackle box. The one that his son, Buck, had to retrieve from the bottom of Lake Granite Shoals after he knocked it off the dock, open and full of brand new lures.

Bob loaded up his trusty white Ford F150 and headed out to his favorite honey hole. He arrived at the secluded little lake some 40 miles out of town and settled down with his tackle box, Zepco rod and reel and his bologna sandwich. He put his folding stool on the bank, tied his favorite Lindie lure to the line and cast it forth into the rippling pool. He sat down on his stool and took a bite from his bologna sandwich. He watched the trees bending in the breeze and the dragon flies flitting and fluttering above the water.

He felt the line go taut and grabbed the pole. He pulled back sharply to set the treble hook in the crappies mouth and began reeling it in. He reeled quickly toward himself and shore but failed to notice the big log resting just below the service. The clever crappie dove just as it hit the log and took the monofilament line with him. Trooper Bob sat his sandwich down on the wax paper wrapping and grabbed the rod with both hands to pull the feisty fish from under the log. He tugged and pulled and the more he did the more snagged the line became with the log. He jerked fast and hard and heard the all too familiar sound of the line snapping. He stepped back with the slack of the line and stepped on his sandwich. Trooper Bob let loose with a few expletives then sat down hard on his stool.

He looked at his ruined sandwich and sighed heavily. This wasn’t getting off to a good start he thought. He reached into his trusty tackle box and searched for another Lindie Lure. Not being successful he reached in to grab the golden shining treble hook from the box. His hand rested close to the stack of hooks and then he plucked a brand new one from its resting place. He tied it to his line and baited it with the worms from the dirt filled red Foldger’s Coffee can. He stood and cast it back out into the lake.

Bob sat and waited trying to enjoy his afternoon of freedom. He thought this was going to be a peaceful spring afternoon but the birds seemed to be a bit chirpier and the sun was a little too warm. He scooted his chair closer to the shade of the elm tree, checked his line and reached into his pouch of Redman chewing tobacco for a chew. He spat and chewed and sucked on the leaves and waited. As he began to relax he leaned against the tree and propped his feet up on his beloved tackle box. Just has his head started to loll down and to the side it happened. The line went taut and once again Bob jumped into action. He grabbed the pole and yanked hoping to miss the submerged log and land the fish.

Instead he pulled too hard and the hook exited the fish and flew straight back at the anxious angler. He raised his hands in an effort to protect himself from the glittering gold projectile. He ducked and weaved narrowly missing the projectile with his head but instinctively he instead grabbed for the line. He caught instead the hook in the webbing of the thenar space or what is normally called that area between your thumb and your pointer finger.

The hook wasn’t just stuck in the thenar space it was all the way through the webbing perfectly in the center. Bob swallowed forgetting that he had a wad of tobacco and felt a little light headed. He bent over and spat the rest of the tobacco juice out cussing and puking just a little. Then he sat back down on the stool and looked at his injury.

He reached into his tackle box and rooted out a pair of needle nose pliers. He pulled one way but the barb caught. Then he tried pulling the other way but the eye was too large. He tugged one way then the other but couldn’t budge it. He looked around at the secluded area and realized he only had one option.

On the drive back to town he dreaded what he was going to have to do. He went over it and over it in his mind and decided there was only one thing to do. He would just have to tell them about the one who got away.

Trooper Bob walked into the emergency room with his hand wrapped in his handkerchief. Nurse Goodgame met him at the door “what in the hell did you do this time” she asked hands on her wide starch white uniform clad hips.

Bob gave her his best sleepiest smile and replied “well I was out feeshing and me and this great big ole feesh got into a fight” holding up the hooked hand.

“Looks like the feesh done hooked you” she replied.

Trooper Bob thought a minute and replied “well you should have seen the size of that feesh!”

Monday, June 13, 2011

Safety First Gladys

Gladys looked down at the stack of books on her desk and tried to listen as Mrs. Carter, her third grade teacher, instructed them what to do with their supplies. Gladys raised her hand and hopped up and down in her seat a little to make sure she would be seen.

“Mizzuss Carter, what are we supposed to do with this great big book? The one that won’t fit under our desk?” Gladys asked still hopping up in down in her chair.

Mrs. Carter reached over and picked up a large thick big book off her desk. She held it in both hands and declared “Class, and Gladys, this is the MOST important book in our stack. It is the one you will use the most. You will need to keep this book on your desk or under your desk at all times. So make sure you take great care when you apply your cover to your book. Write your name in LARGE printed letters on the front and back as well as our class room and your teacher.”

Gladys hefted the book in her hand and opened it to the middle. It looked well worn but pretty boring. She sighed shut the book and pushed it to the side of her desk. She looked around the room at her fellow pupils and saw that they too were nonplused by the bulky volume. She shrugged and took a piece of brown paper bag from her stack and began tightly wrapping the book. She took her blue green, lemon yellow, and magenta crayons and began designing her name in on the cover. She wrote out each letter in one color then outlined it in the next making sure that her name could be read while still having flair.

Mrs. Carter was groovy that way. She let them be artistic and let their creativity shine. She didn’t mind that Gladys drew horses on every piece of paper that was available or that she cut daisies out of construction paper like her cool older cousin Bird had taught her. All of her cousins were very artistic and creative. Gladys’ whole family was innovational. They were painters, writers, musicians, singers and creators. Gladys tried hard to immolate them. She knew she did not have their natural ability but that didn’t stop her she still tried. So she drew a few more flowers and then drew a horse eating the flowers for good measure.

The day wore on what with all the book covering and paste eating. Finally it was getting close to the end of the day when there was a squelch from the loud speaker the National Defense siren began to wail.

Mrs. Carter raced to the front of the room and announced sternly “Everyone, we will be exiting out the front door into the interior hallway of the main building next to the cafeteria. I want you to pick up your Social Studies Book, the big thick book under your desk, and bring it with you. Now we will start with the row the farthest from the door, quietly walk single file and do not stop on the way. Gladys, you need to make sure the room is clear since you are the last one on your row. Can you do that?”

Gladys stood up straight and tall and nodded in the affirmative. She furrowed her brow and watched as each of her classmates filed from the room. She shifted the large manuscript feeling it heavy in her hand. She walked to the door stepped out, then stepped back in and switched off the lights because her daddy taught her to always turn the light off when you leave the room. Ready Kilowatt didn’t like it when you wasted electricity.

She followed the snaking line of children pushing and laughing happy to be out of the classroom for even the few minutes that the emergency drill would take. Gladys looked up in the sky and noticed that it wasn’t the normal clear blue, nor was it even the gloomy grey that sometimes takes over the sunshine in September. It was instead a menacing green. The clouds churned overhead like a bubbling pot of stew. The air had a tinge of cold and the wind had started whirling and whipping.

She turned to see the wind catch the door of the portable classroom and nail it against the wall. It was blowing so hard that Gladys was glad she had the gigantic book in her hand to help weight her down.

She made it into the building in time to see Principal Ledbetter giving everyone instructions to huddle in the hallway and place their books on the back of their heads. Gladys fell in place next to her friend Esther and whispered “It looks bad out there. I think there might be a tornado.” As if on cue there was a loud clacking and banging on the roof of the building. They could see the lightening and the crack of thunder. A huge pop and poof the lights went out. Gladys cowered lower on the floor with the heavy weight of the book on her neck.

Mrs. Carter came and checked each student making sure they had their book on their head with their name and class visible. “Alright, class I want you to remain calm and quiet until we give the all clear.”

It seemed like an eternity that they crouched in the hallway but eventually the horn sounded and the announcement came to return to their classrooms. Once again everyone filed from the building and Gladys tailed behind. She was lost in her thoughts about what had just transpired.

Could it be that the only thing that stood between her and the torrent of Mother Nature’s turmoil was a binding of facts of faraway places? This large manuscript was her protector and benefactor. It was all so clear now. This is why they wrapped it tightly. This is why they wrote their names on it. It clearly had magic powers that protected her from anything bad. She knew then that she must possess one of her own to carry with her always.

That is why to this day Gladys still owns a very large manuscript with facts of faraway places as protection against all of life’s ills.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Gladys Reviews How To Write a Book Proposal

I have a dream, a dream that someday… Oh wait, wrong dream. My dream is to someday be published. I know, you say “Gladys you are published. You are on the World Wide Web and that is published.” I mean published as in have a manuscript lingering on the New York Times Bestseller’s list for 50 bazillion months.

I decided to be proactive and do my research. Thomas Nelson publishing gave me the opportunity to review Michael Larsen’s How to Write a Book Proposal and I of course jumped on it.

I waited anxiously for the arrival of the text. When it arrived in the mail I tore into it like a fat chick into Oreo’s. I began ravenously devouring the years of knowledge Mr. Larsen has in the literary world.

He explained the basics of the proposal as well as infusing his text with stories from submittals he has seen both good and bad. He writes with a flow that keeps the work both interesting and absorbable.

He explains the importance of titles as well as what you can do to market your manuscript. He takes you all the way through from how to bring your idea to fruition to submitting your proposal. He includes examples of proposals and ideas for making your work rise above the fray.

Although Mr. Larsen’s book was aimed at the non-fiction genre it seems to be just as viable for the fiction world. I am excited to recommend this to other aspiring novelists who are struggling to get the perfect proposal sent to the best publisher for their work.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”