Living in the Moment: We Are Never Alone #MondayBlogs #alligators

Hello, dear friends. I’m still adjusting, indulging in what might be a few weeks or a few years of wishful thinking (not to be confused with magical thinking). Reality always wins out though and, for me, there’s only one way to deal with that. Well, actually a couple of ways. One way would be to pop in my earbuds, fire up my Audible app and listen to the latest fiction download while I knit. Unfortunately, the novel I am currently listening to is Because We Are by Ted Oswald. It’s a fictional crime story that takes place in … Haiti, inclusive of the 2010 earthquake. I say “unfortunately” because the story is often so sad. What utter poverty the characters live in! What mean lives the children lead, often fending for themselves as if they were adults, at risk for being killed just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time! And yet, there’s a crime, a murder that takes place and that the main character, Libète, a feisty little girl, is determined to solve. I still can’t get over how the author has ingeniously hooked and drawn me in, giving me no escape from the daily devastation of Haiti’s poverty by holding out that carrot of a crime to be solved, justice to be done. So I am hooked on this fantastic novel, but it often makes me sad and so … not such a good way to cope with Reality.

My other recourse? Well, thank goodness the temperatures have dropped to more fall-like, mosquito-slowing degrees. Recently, my husband and I took an outing to our favorite natural environment, St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, to enjoy a sunset and a little star shine. Granted, this too is Reality but one that can get lost in the highly charged, people-laden, TMI universe unless you make the point to go there.

While my husband focused on filming light to dark for another in his series of time-lapse videos, I took my trusty iPhone and surveyed the area.

Venus's Belt

The Belt of Venus

This is one of the many scenes we were looking forward to: The Belt of Venus, or Twilight Wedgie as I like to call it. In the middle of the photo you can make out a white blob, or possibly a White Heron or Egret. Here is video of the large bird fishing for his (or her) evening meal. The video lasts about a minute.

It was a lovely evening. The few mosquitoes that bothered to appear were slowed by the cool temperatures and weren’t much of a threat. I didn’t even have to swat at them. I just blew at them when they got too close. There were gnats or no-see-ums but my head and neck were covered (it was dropping down to the low fifties) so they weren’t much of a bother for me. I was able to lose myself in recording the sights around me, dropping down on my belly to follow a line of coots off in the distant. Then up on the wooden planking that outlined the round bit of solid ground in the marsh, trying to get another perspective. And then my husband called to me, to look to my left.

We are never alone when we’re at St. Marks … and I’m not talking about the birds …

Strange as it may sound, this relatively young alligator made my night! He (or she) was as curious about me as I was about him (or her). He (for simplicity’s sake) lingered long enough that my husband worried that he might be a trash gator. I will never understand why anyone would feed a gator. Seriously, they don’t look like they need help getting food. But when I fake-tossed to him, he sidled off, moving a few feet further away so he could continue to look at me without threatening his own sense of safety. That was a relief. I like alligators as long as we’re not up close and personal with each other.

So, I’m curious. What do you all do when you’ve had enough of Reality and need a break? Oh, and before you ask, although I signed up for NaNoWriMo 2016, I haven’t worked on my novel since before the election. But enough about me. Let’s talk about you.

Fascinating Development: Fascination Now Available on Amazon!

Hello, everyone. I’ve stepped out of my bubble to share some exciting news. Kevin Brennan has decided to make his latest novel–Fascination–available on Amazon. Yup, so for any of you who have wanted a copy of this crazy-road-trip novel but were hesitant because, well, for some reason you’d rather buy through Amazon than directly from the author (no judgement here), now your preferences are honored.  Click here to get an ebook copy for only $2.99.

If you’re still hesitant, read my original review of Fascination below and see if that doesn’t make you click on through to Amazon.

***

Mary looked jealously at the colorful display on her cousin Maggie’s laptop, her feelings deepening as Maggie scrolled through the novel, showing her the pictures included with the novel they were to discuss that night.  Even the stark landscape of Colorado was appealing with its white clouds, soft blue sky and camel-colored earth.  She smiled tightly, not wanting to let Maggie to even have a hint of her feelings, but still, she did enjoy her Kindle Paperwhite.  And, now that she thought about it, the black and white version of the photos gave the novel a darker undercurrent, one she could still feel under her skin.

“The thing about Brennan’s novels is that he always creates characters and stories that get under my skin.”

Mary looked up, startled to hear Randy echo her own thoughts.  It was as if he knew her better than she knew herself, much like Clive knew Sally better than she knew herself.  These two characters in Fascination, this latest novel by Kevin Brennan, were two people she wasn’t likely to ever forget.

Randy took a sip of his coffee and then resumed as Mary and her two cousins, Maggie and Melissa, gave him their attention. “On the surface of this novel, it’s a crazy kind of a road trip for a crazy kind of reason.  There’s a lot of humor in Fascination, with everything and everyone being fair game for a pun.  But there’s a sadness too, especially with Sally.  She is so naive and your heart just aches for her to understand what’s she’s doing to herself and the people around her.”

Melissa nodded her head a bit aggressively, as if to be sure that she would be the next to share her two cents.  But first they all had to wait for her to swallow a bit of iced lemon scone. “I’m not sure if she was really naive about Mason, her dead-but-not-really-dead husband.  I mean, at first, she thinks they have a good marriage and he doesn’t really do anything to give her a clue that he’s wanting to leave her.  Then when she realizes that his suicide was faked, she won’t let it go.  She has to find him, even though doing so might mean that she won’t get the $500,000 insurance money.” “And all because he wanted a kid, someone to carry on his name — Speck.” 

Maggie snorted.  She had to admit to herself that she didn’t have much empathy for Mason.  Her late husband Bobby had been A-OK when she told him, before they married, that she wasn’t interested in having children.  She had never felt the urge and tended to look at babies as if they were miniature aliens.

“Yes, it does seem extreme for someone to fake a suicide just so they can plant the seed, or speck, with someone else.  But that’s part of the appeal of Fascination, don’t you think?”  As usual, Mary was asking a rhetorical question.  “The characters are quirky, in ways that make you feel fond of them, but they’re also flawed.  And desperate.  Everyone is just trying to find their place in the world–“

“And with each other,” Maggie interrupted.  “Even Stan and Jack, the guys at the Fascination parlor that Sally frequents, there’s some kind of history there.  They have influence.  As she visits other parlors on her road trip with Clive, their names secure her safety as well as help her earn some cash.”

“Which not everybody really likes because she has a preternatural gift with that game.”  Randy smiled as he reached for a chocolate chip scone.  What he would give for a gift like that. “And don’t forget Warren Peeth and all those puns that Clive was so fond of making, almost like he couldn’t help himself.”  Maggie laughed out loud.  “I even found myself laughing out loud, or groaning depending on the pun.  Warren Peeth — that definitely got a groan.”

Melissa made a half-hearted attempt at stifling her own laughter.  “What about Berries Manilow?”

Randy snorted and then grabbed a napkin as coffee dripped from his nose.

“What about the Secret Society of the Mauve Maidenhead or those crazy, bald people at Homewood Place?  Poor Clive.  With his mutton-chop sideburns and pork pie hat, he was really out of place.”  Mary paused to sip her coffee.  “And yet, it was at Homewood Place where Sally and Clive had their confrontation.”  She looked down at her hands.  That confrontation had hit Mary hard.  “You know, sometimes … Brennan just catches me off-guard.”

Maggie and Melissa looked at Mary, their heads tilted toward her, as if beckoning her to continue.  Randy, sitting directly across from her, reached his hands forward slightly, as if making them available in case she needed to hold on.

“What I mean is, I’m reading this novel and going merrily along with these funny characters, this not-really-funny-but-actually-kind-of-funny fake suicide, this road trip of discovery and deception and potholes full of puns … and then suddenly it’s not funny.  I find myself trying to not cry.  I find myself arguing, in my head with myself, that maybe this relationship is just not meant to be.”

“Like with Occasional Soulmates.”  Maggie spoke softly, recalling the surprise but ultimately satisfying ending to that Brennan novel.

“Yes.  So like that.  But I had to keep reading.  The story was just too compelling.  But what a experience and as the story unfolded, I don’t believe it could have happened any other way. And I was relieved it happened as it did!”

“Oh, truly!”  Melissa broke in.  “Just like with his other novels, you get a bit scared, thinking “uh, oh, things aren’t going the way I want them to.”  But things go the way they should go, the only way they can once you understand the characters and their history.  Brennan draws his characters slowly, with a lot of subtlety.  And just like with his other novels, I felt good about the ending.  It really fit.”

“Exactly, and that’s what I really enjoyed about Fascination.  He takes the reader on a road trip, giving you experiences that you may never have in real life, introducing you to characters you wish you could meet in real life, and leaves you with an ending that is as much of your own making as his.”  Randy stood up and started to clear the dishes.  He felt like he was finally getting the hang of these book club discussions.

***

I hope you enjoyed this review. Here again is the link to Fascination on Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Fascination-Kevin-Brennan-ebook/dp/B01MSLHUI5/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

Happy Reading!

The Long Morning After

I have a splitting headache. I admit to having had one glass of wine too many last night and allowing my husband to talk me into watching early results of the election. Which meant that I also got very little sleep, despite his assurances that all would be well in the morning.

Now I’m trying to figure out how to live, how to get from one day to the next day. Do I encase myself in a darkly tinted bubble and pretend that nothing outside of that bubble matters? I think that would work only if I become a hermit and completely disengage myself from the rest of the world.

Some of you may think I’m being overly sensitive, that I’m taking these election results a little too seriously, that I’m missing the point. I know people–otherwise intelligent, educated, moral people–who voted for Trump mainly because they hated Clinton. They willingly voted for a man who exemplifies every possible ugliness of  human nature. You can hate Clinton all you want, but don’t try and tell me that Trump is someone for our children to aspire to. Unless, of course, you admire people who objectify women, mock the disabled, engage in cyberbullying, and promote xenophobia.

I can only hope that our system of checks and balances will keep the Trump presidency from undoing the progress (both economic and social) that our country has gained over the last few decades. I can hope, but hope hasn’t been very effective lately.

Comments are closed for obvious reasons, and because I have a splitting headache.

 

Cover Reveal: Second Chance Romance

Here’s two of my favorite writers in one post. L. Marie hosts a brief Q & A with Jill Weatherholt about Jill’s soon-to-be-released first novel. If you enjoy romance novels, especially those that warm your heart and lift your spirits, then head over to L. Marie’s blog and leave for a comment for a chance to win a preorder of Second Chance Romance!

El Space--The Blog of L. Marie

Hope you had a happy Halloween. I consumed copious quantities of carbs. How about you?

If you’re a follower of the blog of the awesome Jill Weatherholt, you know the history behind her debut novel for Harlequin’s Love Inspired line. You can click here to read her blog post on the subject. But for now, feast your eyes on this cover!

thumbnail-thumbnailservlet

Book Blurb
Small-Town Daddy
Jackson Daughtry’s jobs as a paramedic and part-owner of a local café keep him
busy—but the single dad’s number one priority is raising his little girl with love and small-town values. And when his business partner’s hotshot lawyer niece comes to town planning to disrupt their lives by moving her aunt away, Jackson has to set Melanie Harper straight. When circumstances force them to work side by side in the coffee shop, Jackson slowly discovers what put the sadness in Melanie’s pretty brown eyes…

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