Monthly Archives: February 2012

The Sky is Falling, The Sky is Falling!

Okay, so the sky isn’t really falling.  But if it were, it would be a newsworthy event, right?

Are there other things that might fall into that category?

Yup.  Aliens landing in the middle of the street and stealing all of our manhole covers for their intergalactic Frisbee game might make the list.   Robin Williams finally making an appointment for electrolysis could, too.

On a more serious note, things like weather warnings, train derailments resulting in evacuations, and anything that could be defined as an emergency
are all excellent reasons to interrupt a television program.

I love Parenthood.  It’s one of three favorite shows.  And yes, I can have three favorites.  I’m a woman.  And if you want to argue about it, I also have PMS – and no chocolate to take the edge off – so I will win.

Interrupting the season finale for ten minutes to tell me that the vote is too close to call, and then interrupting it a second time to let me know that you’ll have full coverage of the voting results at eleven is just wrong!

To change the subject, we have a weather advisory.  Yup, supposed to get an ice storm overnight.  And then it’s supposed to be fifty-two degrees tomorrow.

That means March is coming in like a lion and a lamb.  What’s it going to go out as?  A rhinoceros?

According to the ten-day forecast, there will be a few more days where we’ll see the low fifties.  That means the chances for a decent snowfall this winter are dwindling rapidly.

I want snow, darn it!

I would give a lot to watch a snowfall like this for a few hours.  Maybe not overlooking a parking lot and gas station but I love a heavy snow.

23 Comments

Filed under Romance

Mail Day and Marcus McClelland

For those who may be scratching their heads and wondering what in the world this is all about, I’ll tell you.  Most Mondays lately, I’ve been introducing some of the characters from my new book, Enza (available April 23).   I thought this week would be a good one to spotlight Marcus, a local funeral director.

Dear Derek,

As usual I sit here, fountain pen in hand, not knowing what to write.  As you well know, nothing much changes in the funeral business.  There have been a couple of unexpected deaths this week.  Old Mr. Hamilton slipped on the ice on Monday and broke his neck on a hitching post in front of Boyer and Waddell’s meat market.  I understand it caused quite a stir, and resulted in some very inappropriate jokes.  Not that any decent man would listen to or repeat them.

Another gent was crushed when a limb fell through his roof during the night.  Doc Garland said he probably didn’t even know what hit him, which is a good thing.  I can tell you it was one of the most unpleasant things I’ve ever seen.

To answer your question, I don’t have any plans for Christmas.  Colby Thornton invited me for supper again this year but I just can’t abide that wife of his.  How a decent man like Colby ever got hooked up with a harridan like her is beyond my comprehension.  If I were in his place, I’d have cut my throat long ago.  Or hers.  She is the most unpleasant person I’ve ever known.

It sounds like you have a busy time ahead of you though.  I can’t imagine having to attend all of those parties.  I never know what to say to people, and you know how I feel about crowds.  The businessmen’s association will probably do something at the monthly meeting next week and that’s all the Christmas I want or need.

I know I probably shouldn’t have, but I burst out laughing when I read of Derek Junior pelting the headmaster with a snowball.  It reminded me of the time Oscar Waterman threw one at Professor Sanders when we were away at college.  It couldn’t have happened to a more deserving soul.

And speaking of the devil, imagine Professor Sanders in a flouncy dress and fancy hat and there you have Anna Thornton.  Now they would have made quite a pair, like two peas in a pod.

How has your weather been lately?  It seems as though winter started off colder than usual, and has remained so ever since.  I watch the people motoring around town in their automobiles and I just don’t know how they can do it.  Even with their stormcoats and mufflers, they can’t possibly be warm enough at those speeds.

I guess that’s all for now.  I really should go put on a pot of coffee.  The family of the man who died last night will be here shortly to discuss arrangements for his funeral.  I hope you have a very nice Christmas, Derek.

Best regards,

Marcus McClelland

4 Comments

Filed under Romance

‘I Think You Have a Winner’

I can’t help it.  I’m getting so excited!  In the past week I’ve gotten some fantastic feedback from four beta readers for my new novel, Enza (available April 23).

‘It was a great story until ____ and ____ died.’ (I hadn’t really made it clear that it was fact-based fiction)

‘The story is wonderful, heartfelt, and gut wrenching.’ (Thanks, Katrina!)

Even my sister’s husband loved it.  I’d asked him to read it to get a man’s perspective, even though he’s more of a Stephen King/Dean Koontz fan.  From what I gathered during our forty-five minute conversation tonight, he hadn’t really expected to like it, a ‘just doing me a favor’ kind of thing…and he was very surprised to find that he was hooked from the first page.

So I thought it was the perfect day to share the front cover, as well as the blurb that will be on the back.

*****

It is a time of innocence and prosperity.  The Women’s Suffrage Movement gains more attention with each passing day.  All across the country housewives and young ladies harbor hope that they might finally win the right to vote.  Patriotism is at its peak as the war to end all wars rages an ocean away.

On the home-front, in a small town in Michigan, life is being lived out like the pages of a Mark Twain novel.  Until an unseen enemy, deadlier than any human adversary, threatens Mankind’s very existence.

Elliot Owens –  The only thing in the world that matters to Elliot is his wife and their five children, and he will do everything in his power to protect them.

Daniel Pullman –  When his plans to join the Army are dashed following an injury, meeting the love of his life makes the disappointment easier to bear.

Colby Thornton –  A devoted minister whose congregation loves him nearly as much as he loves them, Colby struggles with bitterness toward the wife who doesn’t love him at all.

Marcus McClelland – One of the local funeral directors, Marcus lives his life avoiding close relationships because if he doesn’t care about anyone, it won’t hurt when he loses them.

Jonathon Owens – At ten years old all Jonathon dreams of is to be a war hero…by proving that his German neighbor is a spy.

When all is said and done, will any of them survive?

19 Comments

Filed under Romance

Then and Now

It starts off with a tilt of the head.  At the same exact moment there is just the tiniest narrowing of the eyes and slight wrinkle of the nose as a jaw drops in what is universally recognized as the ‘huh?’ look.

That is an expression you will see on my face on a fairly regular basis as my son asks questions like, “Did they have TV when you were little?”  Or, “Were there cars when you were a kid?”

The most recent jaw dropping question came as I was going through my research for the book I’m editing.  CJ shows a surprising interest in my writing and wanted to know what the book was about.  So I explained to him that it takes place in 1918, during World War 1, and told him some of the things that happened during that time.

“And you survived all that?”he asked in a stunned tone of voice.

What?!

Just exactly how old do you think I am, son?

To clarify, 1918 was ninety-four years ago!  Even the guys in this video weren’t born then…

Apparently he doesn’t realize that there’s a big difference between loving history and actually being a part of history.  If I know about it, obviously I must have lived it, right?

So anyway…

While I know that wages were much lower back then, it never ceases to amaze me when I see the prices those people paid for food and other things.  And so I thought I’d share just some of that information with you.

The current prices are in this week’s sale ad from a grocery store I shop at, as well as the Monthly Labor Review of 1919:

                               1918                             Today

Sirloin steak…40 cents / lb                       2.09

chuck roast .27.8 cents                              3.99

pork chops 36.7 cents                                1.99

bacon 50.5 cents                                        2.50 (12 oz)

hens 37.9 cents                                           2.99 lb (breast filets)

quart milk…13.2 cents                                2.99 gallon (.75 per quart)

butter (1 lb) .51 cents                                  2.99

cheese…33.4 cents                                      4.99 and 6.99 lb

eggs…42.4 cents dozen                               1.50+ per dozen

1 pound bread 9.8 cents                             1.50 loaf

1 pound flour 6.6 cents                               1.59 (30+ cents per pound)

coffee 30.1  per pound                                 7.99 (store brand $4.00 pound)

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could see price tags like the ones from 1918?

It was more fun looking through the copies of the newspapers I have from that time though.  Store owners announced sales – and sometimes even listed the exact number of each item available.  Definitely a ‘while supplies last’ thing there.

50 Coats — 11 Suits –35 Wool Skirts

On October 17, 1918, ladies ‘White Milan Hats’ were advertised at $1.75 – $5.00.  Unless they wanted ‘plain shapes,’ and those were going for $1.00 – $4.00.  In this same ad silk hose was listed at .50 – $1.25, and ‘Bungalow Aprons’ from $1 – 2.00.

Nu Bru‘ was $1.75 per case…delivered, or $1.60 ‘Kash & Karry.’  The ad claims that it is ‘just fine for ladies.’  As far as I can tell, Nu Bru was considered a ‘near beer,’ and made right here in Michigan…thanks to Prohibition.

That year, to help the war effort, there were no ‘big’ fireworks going on around the country.  In fact, one local businessman understood that it could be rough on the guys and suggested that if they really felt the need to light something, he would be selling ‘good cigars’ for a nickle.  I imagine that really made up for missing out on a spectacular fireworks display.  Wonder if their families sat close to watch the burning end of the cheroots?

No, they weren’t completely without options.  Another ad promised small fireworks for no more than a dime apiece.  Small crackers, torpedos (their spelling, not mine), snakes, sparklers, Roman candles, and small rockets.  So the kiddos were able to enjoy those…while their daddies puffed away on five cent smokes.

The thing that I am most impressed with, however, is the ad for an Electric Ambulance Service.  ‘Prompt, careful service with the minimum of noise and jar.  Careful trained attendants who know how to care for all cases.’  Day Calls…$3.00, Night Calls…$5.00.  One article I found, dated June 2011, stated that an ambulance for uninsured people could cost up to $1,200.00.  A bit of a price increase, hmm?

I just love this stuff, don’t you?  Some of the things I’ve read kind of make me wish I could have lived back then.  On the other hand, when I saw the sale ad for a Mola Electric Washer, I’m just as glad to be alive in this century.  (Fortunately I was able to find a website that shows just how ‘easy’ housewives had it with this invention.)

I couldn’t find a song about life that long ago, but this is a favorite of mine about life a couple of decades ago.

13 Comments

Filed under Romance

Mail Day…and a Request

I was so tired last week that I forgot that Monday was Monday and, therefore, mail day.

Dear Arthur,

Is it true?  George Farmer wrote and said that your unit will be sailing before the middle of February?  Everyone will arrive in France long before I ever begin training at this rate.  But I gave Mr. Nelson my word not to leave before he can replace me.  And that won’t be until graduation in May.

He’s hoping that some of the mothers will convince their sons to hold off on enlisting for a while.   It would be easier if he would hire a few women.  They’ve proven that they’re as good at nearly every job a man has ever held.  Of course they aren’t able to do some of the heavier work, but they do all right.

Not much has changed since you and the others left.  Life in Charlotte goes on as it always has.  I see your mother when she comes in to post letters to you.  I think she waits until Harold takes his dinner break.  That’s the only time I’m ever at the window.  She seems like to take comfort in talking with me.  Then again I spent enough time at your house when we were growing up I expect being around me makes her feel closer to you.

But she does seem to be glad I’m still in town.  Like most everyone else she tells me I need to take time to grieve, but it’s been a month since Mother died.   It’s hard when you don’t have any other family.  Well, there are a couple of my father’s aunts over by Detroit, but they were never close and I’m not even sure they know who I am.

I think a change of scenery would help more than anything, but a promise is a promise.  I feel like I’m rattling around in that big house all alone.  And that poses a problem, too.  Old man Palmer reminded me that if I die in the war, I need to leave the house to someone.  So I suppose I’ll have to have an attorney draw up a will before I ship out.  I’ll probably leave it to Colby Thornton.  That’s where Mother and I attended church before she got so sick two years ago.  He’s a nice man.

Well, I suppose I’ll close for now.  Mary Pickford is playing at the Nickelodeon and the show will be starting soon.  Take care, Arthur.

Yours Truly,

Daniel Pullman

This is a clip from the kind of movie Nickelodeon-goers might have watched in 1918.

***I am looking for beta readers who enjoy historical fiction, and who might have time to read a 78,000 word manuscript sometime in the next ten days or so.  This is NOT a happily-ever-after book.  It is based on a tragic event in world history.

4 Comments

Filed under Romance

I Am NOT Happy!

Until a few weeks ago, life was good.  Everything was as it should be in Mystic Falls.  You knew who the good guys were.  You knew who the bad guys were.  And you knew who was riding the fence.

And you know what?  I was perfectly content hating Klaus.  In fact, every single week I looked forward to hating him more and counting down the days until someone figured out how to get rid of him.  He is an evil jerk with zero redeemable qualities.  He killed Jenna, then Elena (temporarily). He stabbed his brother, the sexy Elijah, in the heart.  He blackmailed Stefan into becoming a monster again.

Yeah, pretty easy to hate that guy.

Then about a month ago he compelled werewolf Tyler to bite Caroline, pretty much the kiss of death for a vampire.  Except then this unlikely knight in shining armor, Klaus, came riding up on his white stallion to save her.  Okay, so he didn’t have a stallion, and he’s no hero.  But save her he did.

And the thought that he might not be as bad as I thought started nagging me.  So I did my best to ignore it.  But then  I didn’t hate him quite so much during the next episode.  Or the one after that.  And last week…last week…I decided I didn’t want Klaus to die after all because….I liked him.

Talk about taking the whole attraction to bad boys to the extreme!

Klaus?!

But this is me we’re talking about here, and this isn’t the first time something like this has happened.  Nope.  Who do you think I liked best in Smallville?  You got it.  Lex Luthor.  Even though I knew he was the bad guy from the Superman story, I still liked him and was a little annoyed with the producers of the series.  In my humble opinion, they should have ended the show before Lex went completely bad.  Especially before he killed Lionel, another bad guy I liked more than I should have.

But Klaus?  Klaus makes Lex, even at his worst, look like a Boy Scout.  Nevertheless, I like him now.

Guess I’ll be calling to set up that appointment for a psychological evaluation in the morning…

17 Comments

Filed under Romance

Yikes!

I knew this day would roll around eventually.  On one hand I’m glad it’s here, if for no other reason than to get it out of the way.  On the other hand, I am probably not the best choice for this particular job.

Teaching my youngest daughter to drive…

Just a fun song about a car…

She’s actually doing quite well, given that she’s learning in a big Pontiac Montana.  It’s Mom who’s not doing so well.  Actually I’m doing better than I thought I might.  At least my blood pressure was still within the normal range at my last doctor’s appointment.  I kind of figured it would be off the charts…

First, I’ve only been driving again for a few months, after more than two and a half years off, thanks to the red light runner who totaled my other van.  Next on the list is the fact that I’m still a little nervous on the road myself.  And finally…it’s not the best time of year to be learning this skill.

We’ve already dealt with snow, lots of rain, a flooded road, and five deer running out in front of her.  Fortunately that was within the first few weeks when she wasn’t comfortable driving over forty so she was able to stop in plenty of time.  I’ll bet since I started driving…awhile ago…that I haven’t had three deer run out in front of me.  But it was so bad for a while that I started calling her a deer magnet.

Then there was the airhead pulling out of the high school parking lot.  The one who somehow managed not to see the big van with the headlights on.  I have to say this about my daughter…she is very good about hitting the brakes quickly if the need arises (and you don’t want to be reaching over to honk the horn when she does!).  In this instance, she was also pretty good at cranking the wheel hard to the right to avoid being sideswiped by that idiot.  Yup.  She put us up over the curb – and still stopped in time to avoid crashing into the speed limit sign and telephone pole that were right there in front of us.

Another fun song about driving.  My daughter isn’t allowed to listen to either one of them…

It’s certainly been interesting to see how she’s progressed over the past couple of months.  She’s getting better at parking but still doesn’t like driving on the freeway at night.  ‘Talking’ is apparently a distraction – but music is not.  She’s also gotten enough experience under her belt that she’s starting to rebel at further instruction from me…so we’re butting heads on a fairly regular basis.  But I continue to remind her that it takes a long time to become a good driver and if she wants to continue driving, this is the way it’s going to be.

It’s my van.  More importantly, it’s my daughter.  When this whole learning thing is over, they’re both going to be in as perfect condition as they were when we started.

My favorite song about driving.  She’s not listening to this one either.  If she’s in a car with anyone it will be both eyes on the road and both hands on the wheel…or Mom will be kicking some butts.

10 Comments

Filed under Romance