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Archive for the month “February, 2015”

Friday Feature: “Let’s Talk Books” — Structure

Welcome to Friday Feature: “Let’s Talk Books!
For those of you who have followed my blog from the beginning, you know that for the last year I have been in and out of hospitals, had surgeries, dealt with infections, and have been recovering at home pretty much bedridden until just this last week. It has been during my recovery process that my life and the lives of my family quickly found itself needing a new structure. A voracious reader, I have become even more voracious than I was prior to February 2014. A rough estimate of the number of books I’ve read probably would be upwards of 150 books. I’ve read authors I’ve read for years, and acquired many new authors as well.

Today’s topic is structure. That is the structure of the book you’re currently reading. You are reading, aren’t you?? I hope you’ve found a few minutes every day to get away from technology, (yes, I know many people have e-readers nowadays, but I’m still old-fashion – love the feel of a book in my hands), the news, your work, and enjoy the escape that reading a book offers.

So pick up your book, and let’s explore its structure, that is, how the author tells his/her story.
1. Is it a continuous story? Or a group of interlocking short stories?
2. Does the timeline move forward chronologically or does back and forth between past and present?
3. Does the author use a single viewpoint or viewpoints that shift in each chapter from one character to another?
4. Why might the author have chosen to tell the story in the way he/she did?
5. What difference does it make in the way you read or understand it, if any?

Okay friends, now it’s your turn…. LET’S TALK BOOKS! 😀

Found A New Book Site to Feed My Love For Books :D

My book reading list has just expanded exponentially as I have just found this site (netgallery.com) to feed/nurture my love for reading. Stay tuned for my reviews in the coming weeks.

badge_proreader

Friday Feature: “Let’s Talk Books” — Characters

Welcome to Friday Feature: “Let’s Talk Books”!  Today’s discussion topic is characters — those we’ve loved, and those we’ve not so loved.  As a writer, I’m constantly creating characters, and the questions below are some that I use as a blueprint to create them. If you’re reading a book, and I hope you are, pick up that book and let’s look at/discuss the characters in it. Consider the questions below as you read:

1. Describe the main character—personality traits, motivations, inner qualities.

2.  Describe the dynamics between characters (in a marriage, family, or friendship).

3. Do you admire or disapprove of them?

4. Do they remind you of people you know?

5.  Is there a change in the main character by the end of the book?

6. Does he/she grow or mature?

7. Does he/she learn something about themselves and how the world works?

 

BONUS DISCUSSION QUESTIONS (For Extra Credit– LOL):

1. Of all the books you’ve read in your lifetime, is there a character that has stuck with you?

2.  Which one? From what book?

3. What types of characters are you drawn to? Which ones do you shy away from? Why?

Note: I hope you won’t think of these questions as “homework” but as simply discussion starters or to help you to become a more engaged/active reader. I’ll be sharing my current read over the weekend. Stay tuned!! 😀

 

 

 

Stephen King Quote On Writing

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For those who are new to blogging and creative writing, whether it be poetry, short story, or the Great American Novel, think about this quote and heed Mr. King’s advice…I know I will…. 😀

 

 

“COWBOY”

This blog post titled, “Cowboy” was written for the blogging event titled, “Finish It”, hosted by Author S B Mazing.

“COWBOY”

She carefully opened the door, not sure what to expect. It had been a while since she has visited. Nothing was the way she remembered and when her eyes finally got adjusted to the dark, what she saw made her shiver. She reached out into the darkness searching for something to hold onto as she felt her knees begin to buckle.

“It can’t be,” she said, barely above a whisper.

“Hello beautiful. It’s been a long time,” he said.

She blinked several times, shaking her head no.

He reached for her, gently pulling her into that once familiar embrace. “It’s me.”

Her first instinct was to break free and run away, but the aroma of his aftershave, and the security she felt in his arms intoxicated her.

They hadn’t seen each other in thirty years, but at this very moment, time had rewound, and she was twelve years old again – the first time she’d laid eyes on the boy, now man, she knew as “Cowboy”.

“I’m either dreaming or I’m dead, because there’s no way that you’re here with me,” she said.

There were times in the past when she frustrated him so, that he could scream. “What can I do to prove to you that this isn’t a dream, and that we’re not dead?”

She shrugged, unconvinced.

“You always had a stubborn streak, but that was one of the things that was endearing about you all those years ago,” he said, smiling. “Wait here. I want to show you something.”

He returned to her side, a small box in his hand. “Open it.”

Inside the box, she found the gold-plated pin he had given her when they were boyfriend and girlfriend in seventh grade. She fingered the curves of the pin, as tears slid down her cheeks.

Slowly, the veil of fog from the anesthesia began to lift. She had no idea how many hours she’d been unconscious. As she opened her eyes a little, in the palm of her hand lay the pin that “Cowboy” had given her so long ago.

“Hello beautiful…..It’s been a long time.”

 

Friday Feature: “Let’s Talk Books” — Favorite Love Story

On this Valentine’s Day weekend, for some, our thoughts turn to love and romance.  That being said, I’m curious to know what  is the title of your all-time favorite love story?  What makes/made it an “all-time favorite” for you?

Let’s talk love, romance, and all those things that make our heart skip a beat right off the printed page…. 😀

Han Solo Entombed

Note: This post is my first attempt at fanfiction….Yes, I’m a “Star Wars” fan… 😀

Han Solo had been entombed in his refrigerator’s door by his once lovely and voluptuous wife Princess Leia.  She’d warned him many times that if he went to the Mos Eisley Cantina one more time that he’d experience a cold day like none other he’d ever experienced before, and today she’d made good on her promise.  Barndino, Leia’s pet dinosaur, who unlike other dinosaurs in the neighborhood, was quite tame stood vigil in front of the fridge mourning the loss of his master.

“Barndino, I know you’re upset, but Han broke his promise to me for the last time,” she said matter-of-factly. “I’m going to the Cantina. Must be someone there that he found more attractive, but for the life of me, I haven’t a clue who that might be.”

She walked outside to her shiny red cloud car. Reaching the car door, she was stopped by an officer of the local arm of the Jedi Order that she didn’t recognize.

“Ma’m, turn around and go back inside your house,” said the officer.

“I don’t know who you think you’re talking to, but I’m ‘Princess Leia’, and talking to me in that tone of voice is punishable by death,” she said.

“Says right here on this signed complaint by your neighbor that your name is Leia Solo, married to one Han Solo who has not been seen by anyone in the last twelve hours.  So I’m asking you respectfully if I may come in and check Mr. Solo’s welfare.” Read more…

The Superman of Cats

The "real" Superman of Cats

The “real” Superman of Cats — Olen M. Wilford (3/10/29-6/20/12)

“Good afternoon, San Diego,” says the radio announcer. “It’s three o’clock, and it’s been just over twelve hours since the city went dark.”

As I’m driving through what should have been a busy afternoon commute, the freeway is empty except for the occasional Highway Patrol car, emergency vehicle, or power company truck. Today I close another chapter of my varied careers. I’ve had two — teacher of disabled children, and cat show judge, but not just any judge. My name is Madison Collins and my colleagues and feline contestant owners know me as the “Superman of Cats” and today that moniker can and probably will be put to the test.

Exiting the freeway, I see the fairgrounds. I park my vintage 1965 white Cadillac and sit quietly collecting my thoughts. How many cats have I judged? How many ribbons awarded? How many “Best in Shows”? I shift my focus to the day ahead and wonder how the day will play out minus electricity. Cleaning my “Clark Kent” glasses, I check my appearance in the rearview mirror one last time.  With briefcase in hand, I step out of the car, lock it up, and walk quickly toward the exhibit hall.

Inside the exhibit hall, a familiar group of vendors are busily setting up their displays. “Good afternoon, ladies. Thank you all for coming in spite of these challenging circumstances.” I smile, examining all types of toys, collars, beds, and grooming tools.

“Madison, where else would we be? This power outage has affected all of us in one way or another, but it sure beats sitting home trying to salvage food in the fridge, or wondering when the lights will come back on. Oh, by the way, all the vendors have selected a few trinkets to show our appreciation for your years of dedication and service. They’ll be waiting for you after the show.”

For a split second I find myself getting choked up. Navigating through the hall to my designated space, a member of the maintenance crew stops me. “Mr. Collins, it’s been a challenging few hours, sir, but we’ve located the only available back-up generator in the county, but I’ll be honest I haven’t had the chance to test it yet to see if it’s in good working order. We’ve also brought in as much extra lighting as we could borrow from other local venues for later this evening.”

“You’ve all done a marvelous job. Thank you.”

“Have a great show, sir. We’re ready to help in any way we can.”

When I finally arrive at my judging area, the other judges are waiting for me, and I can see looks of concern on all their faces. “Hello everyone. Looks like we’ve got a few challenges ahead of us today, doesn’t it?”

“Never in all my years have I had to deal with circumstances like this,” says Eunice, trying to hold back tears. “Yesterday was so grand! How are we supposed to do our jobs now?”

“Eunice, dear,” I say, “collectively we have nearly a half century’s worth of experience between us.” I smile reassuringly. “What we need to do is concentrate on making the cats and their owners feel as comfortable and secure as possible. I’ve already spoken with the maintenance crew, and I’m told a generator has been located, and as long as it works, today will be as grand as yesterday. Don’t forget, I’m judging Best in Show tonight so I’m counting on you to bring me some exquisite contestants.”

With that said, the group returns to their respective judging areas to prepare for the afternoon ahead. As for me, I’m taking it easy judging only one group — household pets, which I enjoy most of all because I’m judging strictly on beauty, playfulness, and overall health.

Cleo, the calico cat, has been my favorite contestant in this category since she was a kitten, and win or lose, like me, Cleo retires tonight.

“Good afternoon, Madison.  What a day this has been,” says Cleo’s owner.

“Indeed.  Hello, my beautiful Cleo. I swear you get prettier every year.”

Cleo mewed, swishing her tail as I looked into her eyes.

“Whatever will we do without you, Madison?”

I continue examining Cleo, keeping to the task at hand, hoping that my emotions will not get the best of me. “Oh, I’m sure I’ll have plenty to keep me busy. Since I’m alone, now that my beautiful wife Linda is gone, maybe I’ll hop in the motor home and see the world. That would make her happy.”

“And what an extra special surprise it must have been for you to see so many of your former students in the audience.”

“I don’t who found them all, or how they got here, but it has made the day  that much more special.”

I hand Cleo back to her owner, feeling the emotions well up again. “Bye, Cleo.”

Thankfully, the afternoon has gone relatively well in spite of a few sporadic glitches in power and I’m feeling confident that we’ve dodged a bullet.  All that’s left is to judge Best in Show so while the staging is being set up, I step outside for a breath of air and to stretch my legs. Read more…

The Broken Energizer Bunny

The Tony Awards were on TV, my mom’s favorite awards show. She sat in her chair wrapped up in an afghan but still she shivered, definitely sick… very sick. Fast forward to Wednesday when she had to have a stress test which she failed, and was scheduled for an arteriogram the following day.

“Where’s Mom?” Dad had returned home without her. He was ashen and calm, too calm.

“She’s in the hospital,” he said, “and it’s not good.

He showed me copies of the x-rays. Three of her coronary arteries were nearly shredded. In four days time my energetic, funny, and loving mother had been broken, and so too, were my dad and I.

“What’s next?” I asked.

“She’s scheduled for triple-bypass surgery tomorrow morning. She’s going to call you in awhile.”

I wondered what she was going to say. Goodbye? Don’t worry, I’ll be fine? I waited anxiously for her call. The conversation was light-hearted, each of us trying through the phone to buoy each other up.

Then came Friday, June 13, 2003, a day etched in my memory. I hadn’t slept. Numb and still in shock, my dad had asked my best friend at the time to stay with me while we waited for news. It wasn’t until 18 hours later that Mom regained consciousness, and an additional 48 hours passed until I saw her face to face. I remember meeting the Coronary Care Unit Manager outside her room.

“She’s very sick,” I said. “I guess she’s going to be here a long time.”

“No, not very long,” she replied. “Her surgeon will probably let her come home in a day or two.”

Inside her room, our eyes locked. She looked frail, frightened, and so tired. The nurse came in and got her up for a walk. Little by little during that visit, I began to see glimmers of my “energizer bunny” coming back to me.

She was discharged as the CCU manager had said, and Mom’s long recovery began at home. Nearly 12 years have passed and she recovered well.

She and my dad have traveled the world, their most recent cruise to the Baltic in 2012.

I will never look on Friday the 13th as something to fear but as a lucky day because I have my “energizer bunny” back in one piece, healthier than she’s ever been.

Note: I chose to share this post with you today in honor of my mom’s recovery and the “Go RED” campaign that is celebrated on 2/6/13 to raise awareness of heart disease in women.

 

“I’m Kevin”

Waiting quietly in the line, the homeless man observed the agitated customers around him, watching the cashier become more upset by the minute. Hungry and thirsty, and yet no one noticed him nor his plight. When he reached the counter he fumbled through his pockets for the money strangers had given him earlier in the day.

As the clerk patiently waited, she said in a loud enough voice for other customers to hear, “Take your time. I’m in no hurry.”

While others found her inept and quite slow, the homeless man was grateful that she showed him compassion.

“Have a nice day,” she said.

“You too,” he replied. “By the way, I’m Kevin. Hope I see you again soon.”

As Kevin walked away, the cashier couldn’t help but wonder if she would.

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