Friday, December 19, 2014

December Round Robin: Christmas Dreams

Welcome to those of you joining me from Victoria Chatham.

The December Round Robin is to share a writing about hope, love, forgiveness, Christmas. I've chosen a short story which didn't quite make it all the way to the top at Woman's World magazine.

I based this story on a postcard I found in my dad's papers. The note on the back wished that all his Christmas dreams might come true. He was marrying my mother a week later. I didn't know the sender of the card, but I treasure the sentiment.

Christmas Dreams
May all your Christmas dreams come true.
I placed the old postcard gently back in the scrapbook, its yellowed pages threatening to break with each page turn. The card’s date was December 11, 1942, the addressee my grandfather, the sender a name unknown to me. As Nat Jacobs had traveled from army post to army post, a line of correspondence had trailed in his wake, all of it duly saved by my grandmother Annie, his “Christmas dream.”
Ah, Granddad Nat, I sighed, when will my Christmas dreams come true?
“Maggie,” Mom called, “are you finished moving those boxes? I need some help in the kitchen!”
Who didn’t need help two days before Christmas? My company closed for the holiday each year and I was home and “in charge” of organizing Granddad’s things since he’d moved into the assisted living facility. Plus, my cousin Diane’s wedding was three days later and the entire family was in town.
“Mom, have you ever looked through Granddad’s scrapbooks? All the postcards?” I asked as we wrestled with the 25-pound turkey.
“Years ago. Why?”
“There’s one about Christmas dreams. It’s such a sweet card.” We got the leg clamp released and the bird into the sink for a rinse. “Someone knew how much he was looking forward to marrying Grandmother. I’d like to find something like that for Diane.” Or, a Christmas dream for myself, I thought somewhat selfishly.
“Try Benedict’s. Merle will know.” She stared over the rim of her glasses. “And don’t be gone so long Dad’s carving the turkey!”
I laughed back at her as I gathered up my coat and keys.
Merle Benedict had owned the small card shop on the square for as long as I could remember. Her mind was an encyclopedia of card stock, new and out-of-date. What I really wanted was a postcard, but were they even still made?
The shop was empty and the racks held scant inventory. I scanned them quickly—no postcards, no surprise—before calling out to her as I headed to the back of the store.
“May I help you?” The voice was deep, almost a melody, if it hadn’t come out of nowhere and startled me. I grabbed a display to keep from falling and it teetered precariously. The owner of the voice grabbed the display and then me.
“I, I was looking for Merle.” I stopped myself from asking who he was even as I stared into the bluest eyes.
“Gran went home to bake a pie. I’m Jason, her favorite grandson.” He grinned broadly as he released the display and me. We both attempted to stand still.
“I’m Maggie. Customer in search of a Christmas postcard.”
My heart set a tango beat to his smile. “Gran said she didn’t think anyone else would be coming in and surely I could handle sweeping up. Earn my pecan pie.”
Then I saw the broom he’d tossed aside to keep the display and me upright. “So you’re just temporary help and don’t know where anything really is?” I hoped my voice ended on an encouraging note, like he would surprise me and say, no, he knew where all my Christmas dreams were. Hold it—that wasn’t the question!
“Sorry. Home for the holidays and pressed into service.”
“Me, too.” We stared at each other.
“I could call her. She won’t mind.” He pulled a cell phone from his pocket. “Gran? Got a customer with a question.”
He handed the phone to me and I explained what I was about. Just as I’d thought, Christmas postcards had gone by the way years ago. My only hope was to go online. I thanked her and went to find Jason, sweeping away in the corner of the store.
“I’ll have to settle for an ordinary old card.”
“We’ve a few left.”
I headed to the racks and soon he joined me. We laughed over the funny ones and read the sentimental with exaggerated voices. He was in town until New Year’s Day just as I was and then, we found to our amazement, we both headed back to the same part of the state.
“After your cousin’s wedding,” he asked as I paid for a Christmas wedding card which didn’t really say what I wanted it to but I had to have a reason to stay just a bit longer, “are you free? Like for New Year’s Eve? Gran makes a mean pot of black-eyed peas.”
“I could do that,” I said as I smiled. I might not have my Christmas dream, but the New Year was looking quite promising!

Now please visit Skye Taylor.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

T is free!

A before Christmas special:

On Amazon Kindle, T's Trial is free until next Tuesday. I've also added C's Comeuppance at 99 cents. Since they're both regularly $3.99, it's getting two books for 99 cents instead of $7.98! What a deal!

As always, thank you for your support and please pass the word along!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

New covers!

The covers for the next two books in the Bone Cold--Alive series are here! YESSS!!!! I hope to have them up for sale as ebooks just after the first of the year. Maybe one before?

In the meantime, here is the back cover copy:

Ron's Run:

Guilt drives him away…

Drummer Ron Gregory isn't responsible for the tragedy which encompasses his family when he's a teen, but they make him feel like he is. He runs away… to New Orleans, to gambling, to a life of irresponsibility. It's a sorry combination, easy living and bad luck. Now he's broke, in danger, and hiding at band manager Levi Fletcher's Texas cabin.

She shouldn't feel guilty…

British fashion photographer Bettina Montgomery is shocked to learn that her biological father is Levi Fletcher. Temptation may drive her to his cabin, but her quick reflexes give her the photo of a lifetime: a nude Ron Gregory! She won't give it up until he straightens out his life even if that means risking her heart all across Texas.

Which will be surrendered first: the photo, her secret, or the end of Ron's Run?

Ian's Image:

He should have been a concert violinist...

Ian Murray shucks the McMurray name the night he leaves Portland, Maine, and his family. His dreams weren't theirs. He may return periodically, but they never acknowledge what he's become, a top musician in the top rock band. He may have made a fortune, but money can't buy the one thing he longs for.

She was never his equal…

Bostonian cellist Phillipa Gray envied Johnny McMurray his talent on the violin, the way his music teased her on her summer trips to her grandmother's. Their families drove them apart once, but when she hears the sweetness of his strings again, the years fall away.

Life isn't fair and sometimes the time isn't right. Can they look beyond Ian's Image, not to the way it once was but the way it should have been all along?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Round Robin for November--FOOD!!!!

This month's Round Robin subject is My Favorite Food. Why. When first found. A recipe.


Somehow, this is a problem for me. It shouldn't be this difficult to think of my favorite food. Except, I suppose, I like so many. Shrimp, probably because of its scarcity during childhood, then expense when we lived on the coast and, abundance of it aside, we couldn't afford it. Now that we can, fresh shrimp resides an hour away. And I have developed a preference for wild caught Gulf shrimp. Picky, I know, but I can tell the difference with the farm-raised. Just. Not. The. Same.

I like crab and to be picky (again) about it, snow and blue over king. How's that for a pseudo-refined taste? In fact, it's a joke between my husband and me about how much crab I can crack and eat in one sitting. The benchmark? The week before our first son was born, Red Lobster had an all-you-can-eat crab special. So I did. Finally, my husband started cracking them out for me so we could pay the bill and leave. I think he was embarrassed.

So, I put the question to myself: What would I have for my last meal if I knew I was having such? What could I get my fill of?

I'd want a cheeseburger. A half pound of sirloin, grilled to perfection. Jack cheese with jalapenos. Guacamole. Dill pickles, preferably my home-preserved. Mayo. Lettuce, anything but iceberg. I'd pull one of the buns off to save the calories (but why if it's the last meal?) and want large, wonderful onion rings, like those at Liberty Burger.

That's the recipe. Serve with a glass of Biale zinfandel and there'd be bliss.

Next up is our hostess and the originator and caretaker of this enterprise, Robin.

Thank you, Robin.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

On Veteran's Day

I don't post to FaceBook very often and indeed, it's been a study in making myself check it everyday. But today with all the photos of dads and spouses honoring their service, I posted one of my dad's portraits.

He joined the Army Air Corps right out of high school, hoping to be a pilot. He didn't know that what would keep him from his dream was a condition he was born with and didn't know he had: he was colorblind. Daddy saw shades of gray, he once told me, and knew that certain shades were what people called red. Or green. Or blue.

Colorblind men couldn't be pilots. The service offered to release him. It was 1940. He did not (did not, did not!) want to go back to the farm, so he waited for six weeks until the mechanics school began. In the meantime, he drove the camp doctor on his rounds to the outlying brothels. For a young man, straight off the Pennsylvania farm, I'm sure it was quite an education.

He excelled as an airplane mechanic and eventually spent the war trailing Patton across Europe with his crew. Daddy was the youngest and the one in charge. He told us stories, the fun stories, I think, until we were grown and time had eased and then we heard the ones that weren't so fun.

Over 20 years ago, I asked him to make me a video tape of his life. He did, three hours of memories, of talking to a video camera. He would lean over and switch it off sometimes, often on the verge of tears when he talked about his mother and some aspects of his youth. But he stopped at 18, at entering the service, and he would never go on.

Love you, Daddy, now gone to rest for over two years. Thank you for everything.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Kay vs. the Raccoon population. Again.

Things have rocked along and the backyard has been quiet since I de-populated it with one medium-sized, very crafty raccoon earlier this fall. Then… not so much.

The cat's water was disturbed and I knew I was again being invaded. I turned the game camera on and sure enough, two raccoons and a possum were taking turns divesting my cats of their midnight snack. I didn't care who went into the trap first, but we were once again playing the game.

First trapped: Sam cat. We had had ribs and raccoons (and cats) love them. We had shared with the cats away from the backyard and I put one in the trap. Alas, Sam decided he needed just one more. When he realized he was trapped, he curled up and slept the night away. All that was missing from the game camera was the raccoon looking on. They didn't show that night.

So much for ribs as bait. I went back to oranges and fruit and was successful! This raccoon must have been dining with me for some time because he was very large. I'm not sure how he got himself into the trap in the first place. I do know he turned it on its side and when I found him the next morning, he had stuck his little paw through the metal bar and was very sad-eyed. He got to be very sad-eyed all the way to the country. You know, where God intends raccoons to live.

It's been raining and I don't trap under those circumstances, but the game is back on tonight because the water was gone this morning. The raccoon had tipped it up and drained the quart onto the patio.

Oranges or strawberries or both? We'll soon see.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Sharing a review

I was very excited to read the following comment on my website for T's Trial. I can't help but share!

"I was one of those readers who downloaded the free book and didn't read it for a while ... Jinks is a wonderful place and the community and history among the citizens makes me long for small town living. Your writing is very engaging, I laughed, had a few tears, loved the reparte between the characters. It's the continued threads with all the people that builds up in each consecutive book that just makes the reading better and better. In the second book, the scoreboard at Damsite was hilarious! Fletch's neighbor in the third book is a great addition. I plan to write a review on Amazon for your books and I have never done that before and I read almost a book every day. Please do continue Bone Cold- Alive series, I will buy every one! Thank you."

Needless to say, I answered her with the assurance that the Bone Cold--Alive series does continue with the upcoming Ron's Run, Ian's Image, and Bo's Beauty. I hope to have them up in November/December/January.

Thanks for all your kind comments and reviews.