Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thanks so much For sharing, Linda Nance...Especially "Not Today"

Gate to paradiseImage by dbzer0 via Flickr
Not Today...

I gaze in the mirror and my eyes look weary. I am very tired. I see the creases that time has etched in the skin of my face. I remember when it was once young and my skin was silky and smooth. There is no longer a bloom to my cheeks and sparkle to my eye. I take a deep breath and feel tired.

I really do understand what the doctors said. There are many things in life that I ponder, some that I regret, and many that grieve me, but I understood what they said. It is not that I am in denial or do not believe them. He was kind but honest when he told me I would die...

He had tears in his eyes. I believe him. I felt helpless and frustrated and a strong desire to hold on. I felt angry and afraid. I needed to hold on to life. I needed to hold on to those that I love. I needed to hold on to hope. I decided that even if the doctors were right, well, It was not going to be today. That would be my new motto. Not today. If the time came that I was wrong, it would make no difference because if the subject was the day I would die. Then the answer was...Not Today.

I lived desiring to help others and make a difference. I wanted to reach out. I believed that if you help even one person you made a difference. Time has passed so swiftly. In many ways I feel that life has passed me by. I want to live. I don't want to just be alive. I want to live!

I want to look for the beauty in the world around me. I can't stand the thought of leaving those that I love. I need to be here to help them and share the wonders life has in store, and comfort them in their times of need. I want so many things but I am becoming so tired. It is harder now to see the future as unending. I often feel so alone. In a crowd of people I am still alone.

Only I can tread the last path I have to tread, alone, except I will never really be alone. I have my faith and I believe with all my heart that God will lead me home when the time comes. Years ago, the thought of a home in Heaven with no pain or worries or suffering or confusion was such a comfort. It still is...but not for today.

I know it is coming and I still have so much more I need and want to do. I am so tired all of the time. I need to get going. I do not want to give up. I believe what the doctors said--but, it is not today.

I have so much more that I want to do. I am not finished. My time will eventually come, just not, Please Lord, not today...

Linda Nance...

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

--Continued Short Story by Spotlighted Author...

scary phone callImage by kidicarus222 via Flickr
"I watch you all the time, but you never see me."

I Didn't Know... 

  By Linda Nance

Before Kara could answer, the phone rang again.  “Hello. Hello. Why do you keep calling?”  The phone was silent.  Kara became angry each time it occurred, but it also made her afraid as she wondered who it was and why they would keep calling.
            “ How often do you get those calls?”  Amanda looked concerned.
            “We get them all the time, and they never say anything.  Dad called and reported them, but we were told prank calls are common and to ignore them.  They don‘t care.”
            The phone rang again.  A deep raspy voice whispered, “Kara, I know you.  I really know you, so very, very well.  I watch you all the time, but you never see me.  I’m right here. Kara, do you hear me?  I watch you all the time.”
             Kara felt both anger and fear.  “I hear you just fine.  Who the Hell is this?” The silence on the phone seemed thick in the air.  She tried again.  “You call all the time and never have anything to say. Don’t you have a life of your own, or do you just get your kicks this way?”
            “I get my kicks all right.  I just never had this kind of opportunity before.  Mommy and Daddy are gone.  I have my beautiful Kara and she brought me a bonus of another girl that’s just as sweet and tasty.”
            Kara felt fear that causes her to tremble, but would not let him know it.  “Forget you.  Why don’t you go and get a life and leave me alone?”
            “Oh, sweet Kara, you are alone.  Your little friend is just a bonus.  You’re all alone, and you’re all
mine. I’m right here.  I watch you all the time.”

Kara slammed the phone down.  Her face had turned an ashen shade of gray, and her hand trembled.  “It’s that damned prank phone caller again.  Screw him.  We’ll watch our movies and still have fun.”  As he spoke, she closed the curtains. Kara needed to settle her nerves.  She went to the kitchen to check the pizza.  She had forgotten to turn on the oven.  She turned the knob to 425 degrees, and went back to her friend in the living room.
            “Before we get started with this movie, maybe you need to tell me what’s really going on.”  Amanda stared at the telephone in the living room.  When you were on the phone you actually went pale and I saw the way your hand shook. She seemed to have forgotten all about the boys.
            Kara told her friend all she knew of the phone calls.  Never before had the caller  spoken.
            Kara‘s stomach felt like it had a knot in it and her hands were clammy.  She thought it best to be honest with Amanda.  Maybe the phone calls were nothing and they would have fun like they planned.  Kara did not feel fun at all.  She felt cold.  The sound of his voice, and what he had said, left a fear like none she had ever known.
            She spoke honestly with Amanda about the calls, and what he said.  Amanda was petrified.  “What the hell are we supposed to do now.  Your parents want you safe and sound, but this ain’t it.  Even they’d want us to have help, if we needed it.  This ain’t no party situation.  This is down right weird.  Damn, I
hope the boys get here soon.  I hate to say it, but if I do get them on the phone, I’m not telling them not to come, I’m asking why they aren’t here now?”  What the hell is going on here, and how do you live like this?  This is supposed to be  a fun weekend, and now it’s scare the shit out of us time?”
            Kara felt like stone.  She had never felt like this.  She wanted to be all grown up, but what was all grown up?
Before she could answer, the phone rang again.  “Thought you had help coming, huh?  Maybe they were a surprise?  They were surprised all right.  One came up to the house.  He’s still by the house, in the pretty, pretty flowers.  The other is back in his car with all his favorite tunes still playing.  I watch you
all the time………I watch you all the time…….You’re mine….. .…  Only mine….…..   I’m right here…..  I watch you all the time…..”     
Kara hung up the phone with a trembling hand and a heart that pounded.  She tried to be brave but fear pulsed through her veins until she throbbed with it.  She had been determined not to let any prank phone caller dictate her life or stop her from being grown up, but her stubborn determination had begun to crack.  “This is different than any calls we’ve ever had.  He said... He said…In the flowers...  I’m calling the Sheriff.”  She picked up the phone and listened, but there was nothing there, not even a dial tone.
            Amanda could barely speak.  “What do you mean, in the flowers?”
            “That’s what he said.  He said, if we thought we had help coming, one came up and was in the pretty flowers and the other was listening to his favorite tunes.  Most of the flowers are out by the front porch.  We have to go and look.” 
            “What the hell are you talking about? Are you crazy?”    Amanda was on her feet staring at the front door.  “I’m not going out there for anything, or anybody.”
            Kara looked out the windows as best she could.  Not knowing what or who was out there, Kara decided she would not go out.  Her breath came in raspy, heaving sighs.  “We have to go now.  This is real.”  There was a crash of glass in the kitchen.  Kara grabbed her paralyzed friend and pulled her toward the stairs.  “That sound came from the kitchen.  He may be in the house with us even now.  Let’s go.”          
The two girls ran up the stairs in a blind panic.  Kara had always felt safe and protected in her bedroom, and that is where they ran.  She slammed the door and leaned against it.   Kara was gripped by fear remembering the sound of breaking glass in the kitchen, but motivated to stay away from whoever might be coming for them.  “Help me…Help me move this dresser.  Don’t just stand there.”
            The girls moved the dresser to block the door.  Kara looked around the room, and saw nothing she could use for self-defense as she realized that the bathroom connected to her parents room and was another route of access. 
            Amanda stood in the center of her room with tears streaming down her face.  “This isn’t the way it’s supposed to be.”  She would be no help to Kara.  The thought of her parents room brought to mind the beautiful glass gun cabinet in the corner.  She dashed through the bathroom, and into the adjoining room of her parents.  She opened the cabinet and withdrew an old shot gun of her father’s, and a box of shells from the bottom of the case.  Not waiting  to load the weapon, she ran back through the bathroom, to her bedroom.  Once in the bedroom, the fear that the intruder could follow the same route entered her mind.  She lay the gun and shells on the bed, and pushed at the antique desk with all her might.  It would move only inches at a time. 
            She ran to Amanda and shook her briskly.  “Help me move this desk or he’s going to come right in through that door.  Help me, now!”
            Together the girls moved the desk, and stood back listening and waiting.  They waited, and they listened.  They heard nothing.  Every heartbeat felt like a hammer striking the ribs of their chests.  Every minute seemed like an hour as the seconds slowly ticked by.  Kara quietly loaded the old gun and lay it back on the bed.
            Amanda stopped crying and began pacing back and forth in the room.  “It’s going to be all right.  I brought my cell phone.  I was so scared I just forgot it.  All we have to do is call the police.”
            Kara did not look impressed.  “Where is your cell phone?”
            “In my backpack, on the couch in the living room.”  As she said the words, it seemed all hope drained out of her.
            Amanda had never known true fear or faced situations that could be life or death.  Kara had not known anything like what she now went through, but was not ready to give up.  Neither of the girls knew
what to do.   They waited…and waited some more.  Not a sound came from the hall or below.

In the silence a squealing sound blared from below.  At first, neither of the girls knew what was happening.  Kara’s mouth fell open in shock and then panic as she realized what was making the sound.  “We left the pizza in the oven.  That’s the smoke alarm.  If it’s not on fire now, it will be shortly.  We have to do something.  We can’t sit here and burn up.”
            Amanda was beyond any ability to speak.  She nodded her head in agreement.
            Kara began to shove on the heavy dresser that blocked the door.  “Help me move this now.”        
Kara left the bedroom, with the now loaded gun in her hand and inched down the hall.  Every step she listened, until her ears felt like they would turn inside out.  She came to the stairs and looked as well as she could, as she crept down one step at a time.  At the bottom she peered intently around the living room but saw nothing out of the ordinary.  She ran into the kitchen and turned off the oven, not taking time to take the pizza out.  She ran back to the living room to get the cell phone.
            She heard a noise above her on the stairs and quickly turned with gun in hand.  She saw the stricken, white face of Amanda.  “You think you’ll be able to actually shoot him?”
            Kara did not feel overly brave.  “I don’t know what I’ll do.  We have to get help and call the sheriff.”
            Kara quickly dialed the number for help but hope turned to dread at the unenthusiastic response from the dispatcher.  “An officer will be out as soon as possible.  You say you two are alone?  Could you have imagined it, or are you sure there’s someone there?  We don’t come out for prank calls.”
Before Kara could answer she heard a slight noise behind her from the kitchen and saw a glimpse of movement coming straight for her.  She turned quickly.  A deafening roar sounded and Kara was rocked backward almost falling to the floor.  She did not realize she had even fired the gun, but there lay the body
of a man in the doorway.  Amanda was halfway down the steps screaming hysterically.  Kara heard nothing
and felt numb as she blankly stared at the body before her.
Amanda had  found the courage to join her friend, and they stared at the figure sprawled motionless on the floor in the house.  Both girls gazed in mute horror as they really saw the intruder Kara had shot.  He lay in a pool of glistening red blood with his head slightly turned.  He was so young.
Amanda ran to kneel beside the young man and in a screaming, sobbing cry repeated the same words over and over.  “No…. No….No…”
Kara had tears streaming down her stricken white face.  “I didn’t know…I thought he…”  Her body slumped to the floor.  Her head made a hollow sound as it smashed the floor and she lay motionless.
As she came to, another young man was there, sitting on the steps sobbing and shaking.  “Why the hell did you shoot him?  We were just playing a joke We found the back door unlocked. You didn‘t have to shoot him...  You really shot him... How could you…”

A mist rolled in with the cool night air.  The lights from the patrol car flashed, lighting the gruesome scene.  I need to know what all happened here tonight.”  The officer was talking to Kara. When he arrive he found her still on the floor of the living room struggling to get up. 
            Amanda had hysterically cradled her boyfriend in her arms and was talking to him.  “It’s gonna be O.K……  Every thing will be fine…...  We’ll get help……  It was a mistake……  I’ve got you …… it’s going to be all right…..You’ll be just fine….I‘ve got you now…..”
            Kara did not move or speak, then slowly as she blinked her eyes she seemed to come back from whatever far place the shock and terror had sent her. 
            His radio began in that squawking sound they have.  He held a brief conversation, then returned to the
girls.  Neither had moved or said a word.  “Where are your parents.  We need to get them here, now.“
            Amanda seemed to not hear him and continued her repeated phrases to the young man she held in her arms as she sat in the floor beside him.
            Kara spoke slowly and softly.  “My uncle lives a couple of miles down the road, and my parents are out of town.“  She gave him the phone number of the uncle and waited as he called from his cell phone.
            The officer gently led Kara out to the other officers that had arrived.  He gently convinced Amanda to come with him outside.  He promised they would take good care of her friend.  With every step she took, the reality of the situation seemed to become more and more real.  The sobs and gasping breaths Amanda took shook her violently.

Kara’s parents were called, as well as Amanda’s.   Kara’s Uncle John slid to a stop in the drive, jumped out and circled Kara in his arms.  She began again to cry clutching to the front of his shirt.  “I didn’t know.  I thought….Help him….Help me….” Her knees buckled and she sank sobbing to the soft and dewy grass at his feet.           
            It seemed like forever before the police had completed their questions and investigation, and removed the body of the young man named Steven.  Statements were taken from Kara, Amanda, and Mike as best they could, in the condition the young people were in.  When the house was being checked the officer saw the shards of broken glass from an iced tea pitcher in the floor of the kitchen with a big yellow cat sitting peacefully beside it cleaning one paw lazily.
            Mike adamantly maintained that neither he, nor his friend Steven had made any phone calls to scare
the girls.  The sheriff found no cell phone they could have used on them, or in the pickup truck they had driven.  The back door had signs of having been forced open, but Mike swore they had found it that way.  A lot of questions had no answers. 
Kara went to stay with her Uncle until her parents could return later that night.  Amanda left with her parents, still sobbing.  After everyone had left and the house stood empty, the only sound was the ringing of the phone.

The final determination of the shooting was accidental.  Legal problems may have been concluded, but the effects of that one day were just beginning for each of those involved.

 "I watch you all the time, but you never see me..."

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Spooky Short Story - I Didn't Know... By Linda Nance

I Didn’t Know...

            Kara and Amanda got off the school bus at the end of Kara’s driveway.  Kara had lived in the country all of her fifteen years and loved the woods and wildlife.  Her driveway curved nearly a quarter of a mile with trees and wooded area on both sides.
             Kara had never stayed home alone and she would have the house to herself for the weekend.  Her parents had gone to help her great aunt Mary who had just been released from the hospital after a fall had broken her hip.  They’d had discussions about Kara staying by herself and explained they had no reservations trusting her judgment or deportment, but worried as parents do, about their little girl being alone. She explained she was not a little girl and could handle anything while they were gone.  Kara mentioned that maybe a friend could stay with her. 
            At lunch the next day Kara mentioned to her best friend Theresa the idea of a weekend of movies at the house, but Theresa was leaving town with her family.  Amanda was sitting nearby and exclaimed she would love to do something like that.
            Both girls were sure they would have a great time.  Amanda had wanted to invite some boys they knew from school and have a real party.  Kara was firm as she explained what the weekend was she had planned.  Amanda relented and promised Kara she would tell no one they were alone, or invite them to visit.  She had her backpack stuffed with clothes she could never wear at school, school books, and several movies.  Amanda had packed several changes of clothes including a black silky blouse with a shockingly low neckline and tight-fitting hip hugger pants to match.
“How far is it?  We’ve been walking forever.”  Amanda said.
Kara laughed.  “We’re almost there.”  They rounded the curve in the driveway and saw the two-story old farm house she had known as home all her life, surrounded by trees of crimson red, brilliant yellows, russet and various muted shades of green, lit in the setting sun. 
            Amanda stopped.  “Check out all the mums your mom grows.”
            Kara laughed and agreed with her as they hopped up the steps of the wide, wrap around porch.  “I like them except when I have to help weed, separate, and plant them.”
            Kara unlocked the door and they sat their things down on the living room couch.  The big house had lots of windows letting in bright sunshine.  “I guess the first thing I can do, is give you a tour of the house, so you’ll feel at home, then we can do whatever we want.” 
            “I brought all kinds of movies.  I have scary movies, I even got a video of the ‘Texas Chain Saw Massacre’ and ‘Psycho,‘ funny movies and the new Jim Carry one everyone is talking about, love stories and some that just sounded good.  I have a feeling, we‘ll have more fun than you ever dreamed.” If Kara had glanced at her friend, she might have wondered about the sly smile on her face.

The girls left the large living room they had entered by the front door, to a small hall leading from the living room to a bedroom and bathroom.  They went back through the living room to a dining room complete with fireplace and French doors leading out onto the side porch.  Behind the dining room they went to the large, friendly kitchen.  It was in the kitchen most meals were eaten and many happy hours of visiting took place.  At the back of the kitchen was a door leading outside, and the door to the basement.
            The upstairs of the house had two large bedrooms and a connecting bathroom.  Kara‘s room had a cheerful look with light rose colors and matching bedspread and curtains.  Amanda complimented the heavy old antique desk and dresser in the room.  Kara explained she loved those pieces not only for how they looked, but because they had belonged to her grandmother.  They glanced in the parents’ room as they continued.
            “That’s a lot of guns in there.  Does your father hunt or what?  Amanda said.
            “Dad loves to hunt and some of them belonged to his father.  Grandpa passed away last year and they are keepsakes for Dad.”  Kara led the way down the stairs. 
At the base of the stairs sat a large mixed breed, fluffy, yellow cat cleaning one paw.  He stood and walked to Kara rubbing against her leg at the base of the stairs.
            “This is Tom.  He thinks he’s king around here, and we let him.  Hope you like cats?”
            Amanda stooped and gently petted the big, old yellow cat as he arched his back appreciating the attention.  “I like cats just fine.”
            Darkness came quickly in the Autumn of the year.  Kara noticed the yard was already in shadows, and began to check and make sure all of the doors and windows were locked.
            Amanda saw her checking the back door, and grabbed her arm.  “What are you doing?  You live so far back in the country that no one could find you, let alone try to break in.  If you lock all the doors and we have some surprise company, they might feel unwelcome,”  She said with a  giggle.
            Kara did not miss the look.  “What do you mean, company?  Company like who?  How would they know where to find my house?”
            Amanda had a sly smile as she answered.  “Who knows?  Maybe Steven and Michael might miss us so much, they found a way to hunt us out, and surprise us.”  She had a big toothy grin as she spoke.
            Kara did not look happy or excited as her friend did.  She had made promises to her parents, and intended to keep them.  Her parents would not trust her to stay alone again her if she betrayed that trust.
They bought  frozen pizza, and a whole sack of snacks so Kara would have a good time.
            “Amanda, what have you done?  Don’t you tell me you went and invited Steve and Mike to come here.  You did not tell people my parents are gone, and we’re here alone, did you?”
            Amanda tried to look contrite.  “You know I’d never go telling  people we’d be here alone while your parents are away.  I brought a whole sack of movies, didn’t I?  I might have accidentally mentioned to Steve at lunch, about us watching all these great movies and eating pizza.  I can’t remember.”
            “My parents told me I could do whatever I wanted, as long as it was just you and me, we had a good time, but were safe.  They’d have a fit, if they thought we had guys over here, and you know it.  Tell me now what you’ve got planned.  I’m not going to screw things up for the future.”
            Amanda threw her head back and laughed.  "Kara, Kara, just relax a little.  What ‘Goodie two shoes’ truck did you fall off of?  Girl, you’ve got to give it a rest and relax.  If you invited boys, or threw a party you could feel guilty.  You didn’t do any such thing.  You were a good girl and did just like Mommy and Daddy expect you to.  Here’s the deal. You can’t help it, if someone comes to see you, can you?  Is it your fault if some guy drives all the way out here to no-where’s land just to visit and talk?”
            Kara was angry  “What time are they supposed to come out and visit?”
            “How would I know?  I didn’t tell them to come here.”  Amanda appeared to be pouting.
            “First of all, you’re the one that brought it up, and I really do live back in the country, in as you call it no-where’s land.  If you didn’t have directions, you’d never find my house in a million years, and you know it.”  Kara looked sternly at her friend.
            “Don‘t get so bent out of shape.  You got the whole house alone, a guarantee of no one around for the whole weekend, and you want to sit and sniff flowers and watch movies?  I know you got more life in you than that.”
              “Amanda,  I told you what I had planned, and you said it sounded great.  If I want to sit and sniff
every flower on the place, and watch every movie I can find, at least I don’t have to lie about it later.  You bitch, your mom never trusts you.  Can you think of any reasons why?” 
            “Don’t get mad at me.  I didn’t mean it that way.  You’re my best friend.  It’s just that it slipped out at lunch.  Steve is everything I’ve ever wanted, and his best friend Mike, thinks you’re cute.  Can’t you see this isn’t bad? 
Kara began to have a dim view of the week-end to come.  She had no fear of staying alone, but then again, there had been all of those phone calls where no one said a thing.  That’s no big deal, she thought.  There were also the times she walked alone in the woods, that she could have sworn she was being watched.  Her parents thought the phone calls were from some prank,  and said not to become paranoid.  Amanda’s idea was another issue entirely. 
            “Amanda, you have to understand.  My parents don’t lie to me and  I don’t lie to them.  They worry .  I’m not afraid of the guys.  Can’t you enjoy the weekend like we talked about it?”  Kara didn’t really want to be alone and Amanda might decide to leave.
            Amanda smiled.  “It’s cool.  Maybe this is part of why I like you.  I don’t know anyone at the whole school that would think twice about not telling their parents the whole truth.  I can see it‘s a real
issue with you.  If the guys show up we can visit for awhile then tell them to go.”
            “I have a better idea.  Why don’t you call, and don’t tell me you don’t have their number, and let them know the party’s off for now.”  Kara was firm and Amanda could see it was no use to arguing.
            Before Amanda could answer, the telephone rang.  Kara answered it but no one spoke, as with the other calls they had recently had.  Amanda took out her cell phone.  With no answer after two tries, she said she would have to try again later.  It was totally dark outside.  Both girls deliberately tried to relax and ease the tension. Kara started to fix the pizzas. 
             Kara turned the porch light on.   Amanda laughed, “I thought you didn’t want the boys to find us?  Now you turned  a light on for them.”
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Friday, March 25, 2011

Review: Susan Meissner Molds Lives of Three Women Into Story For All...

Salem Witch TrialsImage by drurydrama (Len Radin) via Flickr
The Shape of Mercy

By Susan Meissner

She was accused as a witch. Perhaps she was, because the story of Mercy, as created by Susan Meissner, will undoubtedly enchant all those that hear her story...But as discovered, her tale is not one of evil but of something much more powerful. Could there even be an element of truth? It is not really important to know for sure, at least not for me. My role is only to tell you that I highly recommend, and perhaps more, urge you to read and see how you may be affected by this haunting novel.

Mercy was a writer, a dream of fantasy--of imagination. She lived during the Salem Witch trials. It was her fantasies that were used to accuse and convict her ultimately. We all know, however, that this time in our history was full of lies and all the ugly sins of a world of "proper religion"--jealousy, envy, and perhaps the worst, ignorance. Although we will never enjoy Mercy's stories, we do have the opportunity to read her diary. It has been handed down generation after generation. Now the last of her family has no daughter to whom she can entrust the treasured words.

The Shape of Mercy: A NovelAbigail had placed her hand-written ad for a literary assistant on the college campus notice board quite some time ago. She'd had a few who expressed an interest, but it was not until  Lauren Durough came that the old, hard-to-read journal was taken from its special box, finally to be read by somebody outside of the family, to be translated by someone with fresh eyes who would, hopefully, be able to verify each and every word and make a copy.

Readers are given the privilege of reading Mercy's diary as it is translated by Lauren. Her words will take you back to the horrors of mostly women being randomly selected to be accused of witchcraft. Randomly? Of course, because the choice was based upon whoever and whenever one of those who would accuse became vocal enough to publicly point a finger at another and begin their fanciful lies and accusations of witchcraft.

But most of the diary shares Mercy's life at that time, taking care of her elderly and ill father, as well as their gardening, their farm animals. It also tells a little about the stories she wrote and we learn that only one boy, a neighbor had been told during their childhood of her stories. And we watch as the two fall in love.

Abigail is looking back on her life, considering the mistakes she has made, feeling it is too late to try to recapture anything that Mercy had once showed to her. In fact, now, it is hard for Abigail to even look at or read the diary, knowing what she had once learned from reading it and knowing she had not heeded the most important lesson.

Lauren, on the other hand, is in college, trying to find her own life to live, not yet satisfied that she can meet the requirements she feels her parents have for her future. She meets Mercy and becomes lost in her life, knowing what she will face when she is accused by her peers... Empathizing? She also grows closer and begins to care deeply for Abigail, wanting to know more about her past and wondering how she has come to act and feel as she now does. Sympathizing?

How will The Shape of Mercy affect you? I am only sure of one thing. As a woman, you will find yourself somewhere in this book. Men will seek the woman who speaks to them, helping them to understand the women in their own lives. An especially important scene between Lauren and her father later in the book  shows that many times, we have no real understanding of how another feels... This book will help readers find, perhaps, the quality of mercy, flowing deeply and throughout. A truly wonderful book.

Book Blogging
Waterbrook Press


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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Review: Bree MacGowan is Fantastic Fun!

New River Gorge BridgeImage by Blondie5000 via Flickr
California Schemin'

By Kate George

What a Fun Read! Time stood still while I read California Schemin' in one sitting! No doubt about it, Bree MacGowan is a fantastic, fun force to be around. This main character grabs you and pulls you into action after action barely giving you time to breathe. But when she does, she forces you to begin to love her with her love for her animals and her family. I thoroughly enjoyed my time and look forward to meeting her again in this series!

California Schemin'Bree doesn't try to find trouble, but there she was enjoying the countryside, taking pictures, when her eye was caught by something moving on a bridge that stood high over her. Before she could think, she saw the body falling and hitting the water near her.

There was no hesitation, Bree went into the water to hopefully save the individual and worked to pull the woman to shore. She could still be alive, but when the blood flowed and Bree saw the bullet, she knew there was no chance for survival. She called the police on her cell and began the wait...

Bree was in California living with her lover while he worked. She was a reporter from Vermont and had realized that she was getting homesick. But, for now, she was called back to the present as she heard noises in the bushes surrounding her and the waiting body. A bear came roaming through...

Then from another direction, a man came out of the woods...

Just as the police were wading their way to her...

Fortunately, the bear and man ran and the police were soon there, immediately working their way to the body for their initial review. As Bree described what she had seen, she mentioned taking pictures as the reason for being there. Soon her latest pictures were turned over. Actually, Bree had seen little and knew nothing of help; however, that didn't mean that the individuals who had killed the woman would realize that or, more importantly, accept that.

Soon Bree was the prey and we follow her as she goes home (by way of Virginia, which was to be her destination for purposes of records) only to be abducted once she finally got to Vermont. The fun part of the book is how often and how quickly Bree is in the midst of "escape." Sometimes she escapes from protective custody, sometimes she escapes from those actually after her, and sometimes she escapes from the Feds. Let's just say that this is one gal that does not stay where she is told to stay or do what she is told to do. The result for readers is hilarious cat-and-mouse adventure.

I especially liked the shape-shifting alien who was one of the individuals following Bree. She was so outlandish in her disguises, but would openly talk to Bree about what she was going to look like next. Okay, weirdly funny...

As she realizes who is probably behind the murder, even if maybe not the guilty party, she is threatened, bribed, and, of course, forced to escape time after time. Even if she's beginning to like the looks of one of her captors and thinks the other is a cuddly bear. Really.

As I read this book, there were tornado warnings...and actual happenings surrounding my area. Bree may not have destroyed homes, trees and cars like the real one did. But when you read California Schemin' you may also begin to think of Bree as a tiny tornado! I loved the book and am looking forward to much more in this new series.

Delightfully fun adventure!

Book Received
From Author


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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Linda Nance Travels to the Past...

Eureka Springs and Northern Arkansas - This Fe...Image by doug_wertman via Flickr
The train rolls on and so does time...

Many years ago we went on a family vacation.  One of the things I enjoyed was riding on a real old time steam engine.  There is a place in northern Arkansas where you can ride the train. It is now used to give tourist the opportunity to experience the sights, sounds, and feelings from the past and occasionally when they make certain movies.

My parents had given me a camera as a child and explained to only take special pictures and make each one the best that I could.  I understood now it was to help prevent me from taking every and any picture I could click and later they'd have to pay to develop pictures of floors and other strange things.

The years had passed, but I still had the little camera and used it to take many memorable pictures for me and my family.  This trip was filled with wonderful moments shared with not only my children but parents and Grandfather.  He was an amazing man of heart, soul, and a gift of sharing with others. 

Riding on an old fashioned steam engine train brought back memories for him and he began to share the tales from the past.  They already had a man who told interesting facts about many things including the train.  The shock and amazement on his face would have made a fantastic picture but I was also too shocked to quickly focus and click...

The seats were all facing the front of the train. He slid his hand down touching the ornate bracket on the seat, asked me to stand for a moment and like magic the seat back rotated to face the opposite direction.  I thought he had broken the antique seat as did the tour narrator judging by the expression on his face.

Grandpa laughed and explained that many of the runs went from town to town and back in those days.  They did not want to try to turn every car around for the return trip and the people would not want to ride facing backwards.  The hinged seats were the answer.  He went on to explain about many things he remembered as a very young child.  Everyone in the passenger car listened and was smiling as he shared the memories of the past.  You could almost see the little boy who had gone with his father, the conductor. 

It was a day filled with wonder and shared memories.  Of all the pictures there is one that I would like to share.  At one point I went to the back of the train and stood on the little area at the back of the caboose.  I took my picture as the track faded into the distance.  I could almost hear and feel the time fade into the past and hear the echoes of the stories I had heard from my grandfather and great-grandfather.

The train rolls on and so does time...



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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Review: When You Need to Relax and Enjoy...Find Cozy Author, Carolyn Hart!

Living Quarters as they were in turn of the 20...Image by friskierisky via Flickr
"I'd attended charity balls and civic functions there. Every small town has its aristocracy...
The Humes...Suffice it to say that J.J. was a hard-drinking, rabble-rousing,
iconoclast...(p. 9)

Ghost in Trouble


Carolyn Hart

I have to tell you, I really enjoy Carolyn Hart's Bailey Ruth mysteries...So when I wanted to take a break over the weekend and relax, I chose Ghost in Trouble from my TBR stack... This is only third in the series, but I see the little changes being made as both the author and the characters become better known to each other.

Especially between Bailey Ruth and her supervisor, Wiggins, who heads the Department of Good Intentions.

Ghost in Trouble: A Mystery (Bailey Ruth)You see, Bailey Ruth is a ghost, although in Heavenly terms, the word ghost is never used. But, as you will see, Bailey Ruth does not always follow the precepts given to her by which she can work. Still, she gets the job done. The job? Bailey Ruth is routinely sent back to earth whenever there is a problem in her hometown of Adelaide (where she lived on earth, of course).

This time, she is sent back to ensure the safety of Kay Clark, now staying at "The Castle" which was a private home owned by the Hume family. Bailey Ruth had attended many formal events there when she was living, so it would be glorious to see it again--and, of course, help the woman who was in trouble...

But who knew Kay would now be living by a married name and that she was formerly known by Bailey. Needless to say, neither was thrilled to be meeting like this, especially since Bailey Ruth had chosen to live her life in Heaven as she was when 27--young and beautiful and full of life. And Kay was now in her 50s. And what was worse, Kay couldn't believe that a ghost had come to help her! But after they became reacquainted, Kay was willing to share that she thought that one of the Hume sons, with whom she had been close, had been murdered.

Besides, after Bailey Ruth had saved Kay's life before she ever appeared to her, Kay didn't have too much choice but to ultimately realize she could use her help...especially since Bailey Ruth could pop in and out invisibly to gather information.

The family had refused to allow a police investigation of Kay's "apparent accident" when a huge outdoor vase had fallen just as she was standing underneath. So Kay and Bailey Ruth find themselves using the story that Kay had been asked to write a memoir by Jack Hume, about his life in Africa--and including the obviously importance of his dying at home.

As usual, a cozy mystery will bring you lots of suspects--in this case, besides obvious members of the family and inside help, there are many secrets and criminal acts outside of the murder through which the author takes readers so that we can play at mystery solving - and yes, I solved the crime well before the ending. But then again, isn't that part of the plan by the author?

Character driven, fact-finding and a careful review of Bailey's Ruth constant clothes changes and self-admiration, are just more reasons to verify that when you want fun, giggles and a touch of mystery, you'll want to check out Carolyn Hart...Her latest, Ghost in trouble, only shows that the series is getting better and better! I loved spending time with Bailey will too!

Book Received Via
Amazon Vine


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Monday, March 21, 2011

Review: You May Never Read Another True Crime...

‎"...she had seen something that no one else would ever see...his heart. It was as black as night and as hard as titanium... " (p. 239)

Kiss Her, Kill Her

By Lisa Dewar

Tarryn was now called "The Numbers Killer" based upon his deciding to place a number on the body of those he had killed. It was somewhat paradoxical that he both wanted to be recognized but he didn't want to be compared to a specific "mo" which would allow the usual psychological evaluation to be done and allow the police to create his profile, to know what to expect. He didn't care what he used, he had no ritual, for there was really no reason for him to kill, except for one...

Kiss Her, Kill HerHis mother...and his loving, warm childhood...

As he had lived and enjoyed a wonderful childhood with his mother, he was taught and participated in poring over books, news media accounts, and long discussions on the specific actions of known serial killers, Ted Bundy, being his mother's favorite...As do many women, she even wrote many letters to him and carried on a mail relationship until he was killed. For much of her life, she was also into drugs, and upon his death, went even deeper. Just a normal life for a child to live.

Tarryn missed his childhood...and then came upon an idea for renewing his mother's life and interest in serial killing. He slowly started talking to her about the murders as they appeared on television, pointing out this issue or that as they had done so often when he was a child...and he succeeded in pulling her from depression.

Now, even though his mother was dead, he had reached the final goal of his life--to break the limit of his primary competitor. He had already killed 36 and he was looking for his 37th, his tie-breaker...he would be "bigger" than even Bundy!

And then he met Carmen. She would be even more special than he could ever have imagined. He discovered that she was going to commit suicide...What better way to celebrate than to persuade her back from the brink of death, make her want to live...and then...

Readers move deeply into two unique lives--a man who kills for the pleasurable feedback and attention he might get, and a woman who has led a life, trying to make the right decisions, but always seeming to meet the wrong people and make the wrong choices. Tarryn had never had any problem in seducing women to become interested in him and Carmen perhaps needed his attention too much at the point where she was. They went for coffee in the morning and talked and shared. And, if perhaps, Carmen became a little too involved with him, he was not surprised, after all, that was his plan!
The problem was that Tarryn had many conflicting reactions...his first thoughts...Kill Her...Kill Her... Then sometimes it was Kiss Her...Kill her. Only to be followed angrily with Kill Her, Kill Her, Kill Her, Kiss Her... 

Dewar takes readers deep. Much of the book reads like a True Crime Book of facts, stating how each of the individuals got where they were that day--Tarryn describing his kills, Carmen describing her married life. As the time for Tarryn comes to act, he moves swiftly and readers are caught moving to the edge of their seats as pages move faster and tension mounts. Uniquely written, Dewar took me where I had never been before... 

Fans of True Crime and serial killer fiction, and TV shows such as Criminal Minds will find this book strangely compelling. 

Book Received
From Author 


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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Beautiful Memory Shared By Linda Nance...

Grandmother & ChildImage by Kansas Explorer 3128 via Flickr

Baby Says To Grandma

Grandma, I want to say so much, but in words Mom has to write.
Try as I may, the words I can’t say, but they shine in my eyes so bright.
Let me tell what a Grandma is, to a child as small as me.
She means joy and laughter and good times all, and all the love there can be.
Grandmas somehow never seem to mind when our bottoms become so full,
And always forgiving the little things done, we know we shouldn’t do.
Grandmas feed us good things to eat, tasting so good we delight.
Somehow things always taste much better, when Grandma feeds each bite.
Grandma holds us so gently, as we lay our heads to rest.
Grandma manages to love us some more, even days when we are a pest.
Grandma will tell you and Mom will to, I’m good as I can be.
They can see the love and warmth in my heart as I know that they love me.
Grandma’s are great as all little ones know, but you’re the greatest by far.

Happy Mother’s Day to my Grandma I say
I love you just as you are.
Happy Mother’s Day to Grandma
I love you.
Linda J. Nance

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Jacketflap Home to Children's Choice Book Awards Finalists- Congratulations to All!

Image representing JacketFlap as depicted in C...Image via CrunchBase
The finalists for the 2011 Children's Choice Book Awards were just announced. I'm excited to say that books written by four of JacketFlap's members are among the finalists! Please join me in congratulating the four finalists by clicking their names below and leaving a congratulations comment on their profiles:

Shark vs. Train, by Chris Barton

Hot Rod Hamster, by Cynthia Lord

Finally, by Wendy Mass

Even Monsters Need Haircuts, by Matthew McElligott

Shark vs. TrainEven Monsters Need HaircutsHot Rod Hamster

Voting for the finalists is now open. Children and teens will be able to cast their votes for their favorite books, author, and illustrator at bookstores, school libraries, and at the Book Week website ( until Friday, April 29, 2011. More than 15,000 child ren and teens from around the US spent months reading and evaluating books submitted by publishers to select the finalists in the Book of the Year categories; the Favorite Author and Illustrator finalists were selected by the Children's Book Council from an evaluation of best-seller lists. The winner in each category will be named at a gala celebration on May 2, 2011, hosted by 2010 3rd-4th Grade Book of the Year winner Jarrett Krosoczka, at The Lighthouse in New York City, as part of Children's Book Week (May 2-8, 2011), the oldest national literacy initiative in the United States.

To enhance the awareness of the awards, the Children's Book Council is working with JacketFlap again this year to create a Children's Choice Book Awards Widget, which displays a different finalist book every time it loads on a web site or blog. You can get the Widget for your own blog or web site at:

http :// (Check in Right Column!)

Please spread the word to children and teens so they can vote. Remember, voting ends April 29, 2011! The full list of award finalists are listed below.


Kindergarten to Second Grade Book of the Year:

Even Monsters Need Haircuts by Matthew McElligott (Walker)
Hot Rod Hamster by Cynthia Lord, illustrated by Derek Anderson (Scholastic Press)

How Rocket Learned to Read by Tad Hills (Schwartz & Wade/ Random House)
Little Pink Pup by Johanna Kerby (Putnam/Penguin)
Shark vs. Train by Chris Barton, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld (Little, Brown)

Third Grade to Fourth Grade Book of the Year:

Babymouse # 12: Burns Rubber by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm (Random House)
Bad Kitty vs. Uncle Murray: The Uproar at the Front Door by Nick Bruel (Roaring Brook/Macmillan)
Encyclopedia Mythologica: Gods & Heroes by Matthew Reinhart and Robe rt Sabuda (Candlewick)
Finally by Wendy Mass (Scholastic Press)
Lunch Lady and the Summer Camp Shakedown by Jarrett J. Krosoczka (Knopf/Random House)

Fifth Grade to Sixth Grade Book of the Year:

Big Nate: In a Class by Himself by Lincoln Peirce (HarperCollins)
It's a Book by Lane Smith (Roaring Brook/Macmillan)
The Red Pyramid (The Kane Chronicles, Book 1) by Rick Riordan (Disney-Hyperion)
Smile by Raina Telgemeier (Graphix/Scholastic)
Zebrafish by Peter H. Reynolds and FableVision (Atheneum/Simon & Schuster)

Teen Choice Book of the Year:

Burned (House of Night, Book 7) by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast (St. MartinĂ¢?Ts Griffin/Macmillan)
Fang (A Maximum Ride Novel) by James Patterson (Little, Brown)
Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games) by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic Press)
Spirit Bound (Vampire Academy, Book 5) by Richelle Mead (Razorbill/Penguin)
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan (Dutton/Penguin)

Author of the Year:

Cassandra Clare for Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, Book 1) (McElderry/Simon & Schuster)
Suzanne Collins for Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games) (Scholastic Press)
Jeff Kinney for Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth (Amulet/Abrams)
Stephenie Meyer for The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner (Megan Tingley/Little, Brown)
Rick Riordan for The Lost Hero (The Heroes of Olympus, Book 1) (Disney-Hyperion)

Illustrator of the Year:

Robin Preiss Glasser for Fancy Nancy and the Fabulous Fashion Boutique (HarperCollins)
Loren Long for Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters (Knopf/Random House)
Nancy Tillman for Wherever You Are: My Love Will Find You (Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan)
David Wiesner for Art & Max (Clarion/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Mo Willems for Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion (Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins) 

Tracy Grand
CEO, JacketFlap 

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