Woe! It’s Wednesday: In Memoriam

I seem to be posting more memorial posts lately than other musings. Since I’ve taken off a couple of weeks, I have several memories to share.

My uncle Keith. Technically a step-uncle, Uncle Keith was another of the extended family who never made me feel like a step. He welcomed us all into his home and his heart.

His wife, Gloria, passed away a few years ago. I talked about her, here. Like at her memorial service, we commented about how sad that we wait until funerals to gather together. Uncle Keith loved to talk about what was going on in your life, as well as news, science, and faith. His sons talked about the impact he had on their lives. He waged a legal battle that was won in the United Supreme Court. His legacy will live on in his community and his family.

Being in a church that encourages cross-generational connections, I approached Joyce about fourteen years ago and asked if she’d be Monique Thiesen Sawyer's photo.willing to meet with me once a month for mutual encouragement. She agreed and our monthly coffee dates became a sweet time of sharing and support. She fought cancer twice before and beat it. She was an example of a Christian wife and mom and grandmother to me. I miss her already.

And finally, my dear writer friend, Betsy, lost her husband to cancer also. Betsy Fry Hofer's photo.

His service was yesterday and the church was packed. Many stories were shared about Richard and his family. I know Betsy will never stop missing him, but I also know she has an amazing family and support system in place.

Having three deaths in less than two weeks makes one aware of the fleeting nature of time and the lasting impact one person can have that will ripple across the years to touch many other lives.

Keith, Joyce, and Richard’s impact will continue to be felt in my life and the lives of many others. It doesn’t lessen the missing of them any less, but it does bring a small measure of comfort.

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Book Talk Tuesday: Three Little Words

I’m back! After a very busy couple of weeks off, I’m back to blogging this week.

Three Little Words

Up first, Three Little Words, by Susan Mallery. I’ve recently reviewed Just One Kiss, and Two of a Kind.

Just like the two earlier books, I loved Three Little Words.

Since we left Fool’s Gold, California at the end of Two of a Kind, Isabel Beebe has decided she has to finally face Ford Hendrix, her adolescent crush. Ford left town when his fiancée, Isabel’s sister, broke off their engagement just before the wedding. He joined the military and never looked back. Isabel wrote Ford and confessed her undying love. She continued to write for years, until she became engaged herself. Now divorced, she’s back in Fool’s Gold to run her parents’ bridal store until they sell it and she returns to New York and to open her dream store with a partner.

Ford is back in Fool’s Gold with his new business partners. Besides running the business, he keeps busy dodging his mother’s matchmaking attempts. When Isabel arrives to clear the air between them, he forges a plan: Have a fake relationship with Isabel to get his mother off his back.

Since Isabel’s not planning to stay in town, she agrees to it. After all, her feelings are all in the past and were just a silly adolescent crush, right?

Wrong.

It doesn’t take long before it’s obvious to everyone around her that Isabel has never stopped loving Ford. It takes Ford a bit longer to see that he has loved Isabel nearly as long.

I loved this one as much as I did the first two.

In the previous books, I was a bit concerned because I could see several couples who needed a resolution. Mallery solved that by making Three Little Words about both single Hendrix men. As well as Isabel and Ford’s story, we get a nice subplot about Consuelo and Kent. The next couple will be in the Christmas story. There’s a hint of next summer’s romances as well. I can’t wait!

Just like the two earlier books, I have to add a caution. The sex is fairly graphic. Proceed with caution.

———–

I received a free copy of Three Little Words in exchange for a fair review. It was a good trade since I loved the book!

Woe! It’s Wednesday: Words Have Meaning

My friends and family know that I don’t swear. Or at least very rarely. Whenever someone lets an expletive fly in my presence, they often apologize.

 

I’ve blogged before about language and word choice and I stand by my previous posts. I’ve had a couple of recent experiences though that I want to mention.

At my local Sisters in Crime meeting last week, our guest speaker told a story about when his first book was published, his father read it and expressed dismay at the use of foul language. The author explained that he only put those words into the mouth’s of rough characters in tough situations who would use that kind of language in real life. His dad said he understood, but then went on to say:

“Sure, people talk that way in real life. But those words could offend a reader who will decide they never will read something by you again. And no one ever read a book or watched a movie and said, ‘you know, that book/film needed more bad language. There weren’t enough swear words.’”

The author quit using those words in his books.

We went to see The Lone Ranger yesterday. I’d read reviews that said it was only so-so or not very good, but many Facebook friends said they saw it over the weekend and enjoyed it.

I liked it. Stud Muffin—not so much.

But one thing we agreed on: there was no swearing in that movie at all. And you didn’t miss it! I only noticed it because this subject has been on my mind all weekend after hearing our speaker’s story on Saturday.

I’ve long said using those words is a sign of a lazy writer. It’s easy to use those words. It’s a challenge to convey the emotion behind the words.

Today I had lunch with several writer friends. One of them told a story about her autistic grandson. Somehow, even though he’s closely supervised, he heard some bad words and began to repeat them. Even worse, he began to say them. His school has a Zero Tolerance policy for some words, including the F word. It didn’t take little Johnny long to realize he could get out of school by letting the F words fly.

His parents added consequences and his use of the word tapered off. His various therapies continued.

One day, his dad delivered him to school and was standing nearby observing the kids line up for their walk to the classroom. Johnny stood in line quietly for the first time.

Hurray!

He chatted with another student, a girl.

Wow! A conversation!!

Some other kid busted between Johnny and the girl and hit the girl in the face. The adults chased the kid and were busy with him. Dad stayed with Johnny and the girl.

This autistic boy, who doesn’t like to be touched, put his hand on the girl’s shoulder.

Hey! Physical touch!!

“Are you okay?” he asked her.

Oh, my! Empathy!!

She shook her head. No, she wasn’t okay.

“I’m sorry,” Johnny said.

Whoa! An emotional response!!

Dad was ecstatic. And no one around could see or understand how momentous this was.

Then, Johnny spoke again.

“Do you want me to go f— them up?”

And that’s the moment the teacher returned.

Zero tolerance, remember?

Johnny was out of school for the day.

After such a great exchange and real progress, he got kicked out of school for using that word.

I agree, it’s not fair.

I still don’t like those words, but I’d give Johnny a free pass for the day.

Book Talk Tuesday: Once Upon a Prince

I’m finally on the Rachel Hauck bandwagon.

Other writers and readers and friends have been raving about her for years. I was more in the “The books are good, not great, camp.”

But the caliber of writers who recommended Hauck’s newest book, Once Upon a Prince convinced me to give her another try. Once Upon a Prince - Rachel Hauck - Publishers Weekly Starred Review

Finally, a book I can enthusiastically and whole-heartedly recommend.

It’s delightful.

Susanna’s longtime boyfriend breaks up with her when she’s expecting a proposal. This sends her into a tailspin and she disrupts the rest of her life when she quits her job. Then her landlord asks her to move out.

The one bright spot is when she meets a nice guy, Nate Kenneth, who’s visiting her Georgia island.

What she doesn’t know is that Nate is actually Crown Prince Nathaniel from Brighton, a small European monarchy. He has familial and national responsibilities that he can’t ignore. And he’s legally forbidden to marry a foreigner.

Both Susanna and Nate have to learn some lessons and solve some problems to get to their “happily ever after.”

The story is charming and fun. Susanna and Nate struggle with real issues. There’s little of the glib dialogue that I objected to in previous Hauck novels. This one’s a winner!

Woe! It’s Wednesday: Death, Where is Thy Sting?

As I’ve lost more family and friends in the last few years, I’ve become convinced of several truths.

Death is spiteful.

It wants to rob us of peace.

It’s ugly.

And it’s the great equalizer.

2013-03-29 16.38.33No matter how beloved a person or how despised, how humble or exalted, whether their death is memorialized by the thousands or unknown by more than a few, Death waits for us all.

I took the above picture of Charles Lindbergh’s gravesite on Maui in March of this year.

I’ve wanted to visit the site for several years, which is a bit odd in itself since I’m not one of those people who like to visit cemeteries or collect epitaphs.

I think it’s because I believe there’s more to the Lindberghs’ story. I don’t know much of it, just bits and pieces garnered here and there .

I memorized Psalm 139 a few years ago and my curiosity was piqued when I learned that a portion of it was engraved on Lindbergh’s grave marker.

“If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea …”

It’s fitting, isn’t it? For the man who flew across oceans and ultimately died and chose to be buried across the sea.

But that’s only a portion of the verse.

I memorized a slightly different version.

“If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,               even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.”

The fact that the hopeful portion of that verse was omitted from the marker raises all kinds of questions for me.

Did Lindbergh himself choose the verse? Did his wife? Other family members? Did they leave off the rest of it because of cost? Did they know Lindbergh did or didn’t believe the promise?

Ultimately, I know it doesn’t matter to anyone but me if those questions are ever answered. Knowing won’t change anything.

Lindbergh is still dead. Still in heaven or hell.

I do know one thing for sure.

As hateful and spiteful as death is, as a believer in Jesus the Christ, I will experience death of my physical body, but I get to sneer at Satan and his plan to destroy me. I have the hope and the promise from another portion of Psalm 139.

“All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

My days here are numbered. God knows when they began and when they will end.

Heaven has become more dear to me as so many friends and family members move into the mansions.

One day, hopefully not soon, I will get the last laugh at Satan and death. In the meantime, I still hate death. It’s malicious and I can’t wait for the day it will end its reign.

Book Talk Tuesday: Two of a Kind

Two of a Kind

Fool’s Gold, in California’s Gold Rush foothills, is everyone’s hometown. If you aren’t lucky enough to be born there, you get there as soon as you can.

I just finished Susan Mallery’s latest Fool’s Gold novel, Two of a Kind*.

Felicia and Gideon were introduced in Just One Kiss and now we get to read their story.

Felicia is scary smart and socially awkward. She thinks literally and often responds to others’ words, forgetting about the meaning and intent behind the words. She moved to Fool’s Gold to put down roots and make a family. She assigns herself the task of learning how to fit in. After a few months, the community has taken her in and made her one of their own. She loves Fool’s Gold and feels she finally has a home.

Gideon was a military hotshot who spent nearly two years in Taliban custody being tortured and disavowed by his own government. His body was rescued but his mind is still a prisoner. He moved to Fool’s Gold on a friend’s recommendation and bought a couple of radio stations. He spins oldies on the night shift and keeps to himself, an arrangement he likes and has no intentions of changing.

Four years ago Felicia and Gideon had a one night stand in Thailand. They never expected to see each other again. When they do, sparks fly again.

Felicia and Gideon agree their relationship is only to help Felicia learn to relate to men so she can go on and fall in love with someone more suitable.

Before you can say “Meet me at Brew-ha-ha,” their plan unravels. A son named Carter, whom Gideon never knew he had, arrives in Fool’s Gold and Felicia steps in to help out during their adjustment period. She doesn’t expect to fall in love with the teenager much less know how to mother him. She’s surprised at the depth of her feelings for both the father and the son.

Gideon is overwhelmed by his sudden fatherhood and retreats into his own mind, convinced he’s too damaged to love or be loved by anyone.

Carter yearns for a family and conspires to get Felicia and Gideon to realize their feelings for each other. His plan backfires in a way. And it also succeeds in a way. You’ll have to read Two of a Kind to find out how.

I love Susan Mallery and I love Fool’s Gold. As with Just One Kiss, the sex is a bit graphic for me. I like closed door love scenes. But that’s just me. I know plenty of other readers feel differently. So for my friends and regular blog and review readers, remember that caveat, and go on and enjoy Two of a Kind.


*  I received a free copy of Two of a Kind in exchange for an honest review. We both kept our end of the bargain.