Friday, March 29, 2013
Hey, y’all! Welcome back to Flowers on the Fence country. And welcome back to one of my closest cyber-space friends, prolific writer Roseanne Dowell. She’s introducing her latest release, Deadbeat Dads. I don’t know about y’all, but the very title put me on alert this book dealt with a topic women are intimately acquainted with, either personally or through at least one and usually several of our friends. And since it’s Ro Dowell’s book, I was equally sure there’d be some moments of great humor. Since I’m fortunate enough to be one of Ro’s Alpha readers, I didn’t have to wait long to find out – I was right! So tell us about it, Ro!
First off, thank you, Gail, for allowing me to post on your blog again. Gail and I met through our mutual publishers. Although we live almost a thousand miles apart, we've become good friends and sounding boards for each other. Gail was a great help in giving legal advice, brainstorming and editing this book. I know she doesn't want everyone to know it (says it'll ruin her reputation), but she really is a sweetheart. I have a feeling most of our fellow authors already know that anyway. So I'm not revealing any big secret. I hope someday we'll actually meet.
(Note from Gail before we get to Deadbeat Dads. I am not a sweetheart. I am tart and spicy. I keep tellin’ folks that but nobody listens! Oh, and the brainstorming and sounding board thing? Definitely mutual. My current WIP would be much the poorer without Ro’s input.)
How many men leave their wives and families and ignore them? After her husband leaves her for a younger woman, Erica Morris starts a group for ex wives of deadbeat dads and was surprised to learn how many there were. In the process of rebuilding her life, someone tries to blackmail her. Can she put the past behind her or will it catch up to her?
Available from Amazon at http://amzn.to/YWDVBf
Does everyone start out married life with rose colored glasses? I'm sure no one thinks their marriage will end in divorce. I certainly didn't. Mine was the perfect love, the perfect marriage, I was going to have the perfect life, and it was an absolutely perfect day for a wedding. The sun streamed through the window as I walked down the aisle on my father’s arm. Johnny looked so handsome standing at the altar waiting for me.
Oh, I knew we'd have our ups and downs. I’ve always been a realist. I know nothing in life is perfect. But we came darn close. At least that’s what I thought. So how did I end up divorced, fifteen years later? If anyone would have told me about the turn my life would take I’d have laughed at them.
Oh, I’m Erica Morris. Well, I was Erica Morris until recently. Now I’m divorced and left to raise two kids. Johnny, my husband left me for a younger woman. Not a new story, I know, but that doesn’t make it hurt less. To top it all off, he cut himself off from our kids and left me to be the bearer of bad news. To make matters worse, he refused to pay child support. Not that he couldn’t afford it. Believe me, he could well afford it, and then some. But he left us penniless? I need to back up a bit. I remember calling the meeting of other single mothers to order.
“Okay ladies,” I looked at the women gathered around me. Lisa Daly, who encouraged me to start this group, was here and Nicole Brown. Poor thing never went out while she was married. Oh, and Louise Conners, I still couldn’t believe her husband ran off with his receptionist, and now they were going through a nasty divorce. Not sure why that surprised more than the others. It shouldn’t. There was quite a turn out. Half the women I didn’t know.
I brought my attention back to the meeting. “First order of business, a name for our group, any ideas?”
“Deadbeat Dads Anonymous,” someone called out.
“Wives of Deadbeat Dads,” someone else yelled. “Or Women Against Deadbeat Dads.”
“Better yet, how about Mothers Against Deadbeat Dads. MADD!” Lisa Daly shouted.
I laughed. I couldn’t help it. There certainly wasn’t a shortage of names. “We’re mad for sure but that sounds too much like Mothers Against Drunk Drivers.”
“ADD,” someone else yelled. Against Deadbeat Dads.”
Nicole Brown’s hand went up. “Nicole, what’s your idea?”
“How about Wives Enraged at Deadbeat Dads. W.E.D.D.?” Nicole’s voice barely reached above a whisper.
Poor Nicole. Her ex-husband had knocked her self confidence so low. I was surprised to even see her here. I met her at a school function. Nicole’s daughter, Cindy, was in the same class as my Josh. I had heard through the grapevine that Bob, Nicole’s ex, had run off with a stripper. Talk about humiliating. I shivered at the thought.
Suddenly everyone came alive. Shouts of “Hey, that’s great, I like that,” sounded throughout the room.
“Okay then it sounds unanimous, Wives Enraged at Deadbeat Dads it is. All in favor raise your hands. W.E.D.D.” Kind of funny when you thought about it. None of us were wed any more.
Twelve hands went up. “Motion carried. We are officially Wives Enraged at Deadbeat Dads. Now we need to set up a schedule for our meetings and discuss our agenda. First, we need to choose a Chairperson.”
Nicole’s hand went up again. “I nominate Erica Morris for chair person.”
“I second that motion.” Lisa Daly raised her hand. “This group was your idea. I think you should chair it.”
Me as chair person? I wasn’t too crazy about the idea. “Any other nominations?” I hoped someone would raise their hand. No such luck. Heat rushed into my face. I had a feeling it turned as red as my hair, which was pretty red. I wasn’t used to being the center of attention. Never liked it and sure didn’t care for it now.
The room remained quiet.
No other nominees. “Okay then, all in favor, show of hands. Motion carried, I guess I’m the chairperson. Thank you, I’m flattered.” Flattered but a little taken aback. Hopefully, I wouldn’t let anyone down. “Let’s break for refreshments and we can continue our discussion while we snack.” I needed a moment to myself.
I never expected the group to name me chairperson. I’d never chaired anything in my life. In fact, the parents group at my children’s school was the only other group I had ever joined.
Johnny didn’t like me to go out and do things. He expected his wife to stay home, and God forbid, I even suggested going out alone while he stayed home with the kids. Anger flared in me as I recalled how often he came home late. Working, yeah right, spending time with his playmates was more like it. How could I have been so stupid? I remembered the day he told me he was leaving. Just like that out of the clear blue sky.
“It’s not working for us, Erica,” Johnny said. “I found someone else.”
Oh, he found someone else all right, his young, sexy secretary. You could have knocked me over with a feather. I should have known. All the signs were there, his late hours and lipstick on his collar. He was comforting the wife of a friend, he lied. I did a slow burn as the memories returned. And then he left, packed his clothes and just walked out without even a goodbye to the kids, left me to deal with them as usual.
Katie and Josh woke up the next morning expecting to see their father. Not that they saw much of him, but sometimes he ate breakfast with them and made polite conversation. That was nine months ago, and he hadn’t been back since, not even to visit the kids. He wanted a quick no fault divorce so he could marry his pregnant secretary.
I almost refused, but figured why fight it? The kids and I were better off without him, but how do you explain to an eight and ten year old that their father doesn’t care about them, that he had a new life with a new baby? It was one thing to forget about me, but not the kids. And I haven’t received even one of the child support payments he agreed to pay in the divorce settlement.
“Erica, hey are you okay?” Lisa’s hand on my shoulder startled me. “You look mad enough to spit nails. Thinking about Johnny, I bet.”
“Huh, oh yeah sorry, my mind was wandering. Yeah. I was thinking about Johnny. I just can’t believe he doesn’t care about the kids. He’s missed every scheduled visit. He doesn’t return my calls, and of course I can’t get past his secretary, uh wife, at the office or at home. I could have him arrested, but with his connections he’d get off Scott-free. I know it.”
“Well that’s why we started this group isn’t it? Come on if we all put our heads together we’ll come up with something to make them pay.”
The rest of the meeting involved mostly chit chat about this ex hubby or that one and how rotten they all were. It was small consolation to know others had the same problem.
Thursday, March 21, 2013
Hey y’all! Welcome back to Flowers on the Fence Country! Today I’m hosting a dear friend of mine, one I actually got to meet last year as she and her husband headed home for northern climes from their winter stay in Florida. I’m hopin’ like heck I get to see them again this spring, but a visit in the cyber-space kitchen’s pretty good too! So please welcome – J. Q. Rose!
Howdy, ya’all. Oh, okay, you can probably tell I’m not from Georgia like Gail. I’m a Northerner, but I do spend the winter in the south in Florida. I’m delighted to be visiting Gail’s blog, Flowers on the Fence. She is such a talented storyteller and seems to have a new book out every day! I am honored she invited me to come over to Flowers on the Fence to share my mystery/romance with ya’all. (Did that sound more Southern?)
Please leave a comment when you visit. It will enter your name into the random drawing for prizes. Winners will be announced tomorrow, Friday, March 22 after 9 pm on the J.Q. Rose blog. I am collecting commenters’ names all the way back to the kick-off of the Coda to Murder book tour on February 25. The more you comment the better your chances to win. Check on my blog for the schedule. Thank you.
Pastor Christine Hobbs never imagined she would be caring for a flock that includes a pig, a kangaroo, and a murderer.
Conflict by J.Q. Rose
Conflicts in real life are no fun whether it is with a family member, neighbor, or the cable company. But oh how we love to read about conflicts in our stories. Since Bible times we have been listening and reading to find out the solution to the problem. Will the main character in the story overcome the conflict with a satisfying conclusion for us?
We all know the guy in the black hat is the bad guy and the fella in the white hat with the white teeth gleaming through his smile is the good guy. Sometimes it isn’t quite that apparent. Some clever novelists lead you to believe the white hat guy is the good guy then yank the rug out from under you when you find out it isn’t true.
In my new mystery/romance, Coda to Murder, the conflict is between my main character, Pastor Christine Hobbs, and Detective Cole Stephens. He’s trying to prove she’s the one who murdered the Director of Music at the church. Now that IS a major conflict. The other problem is she is drawn to this handsome, broad-shouldered detective with the gorgeous brown eyes.
EXCERPT from Coda to Murder:
Christine couldn’t make the decisions. The toppings for her sub sandwich all looked good. She knew it was the height of the rush hour, and people were waiting for her. Too many choices to enhance the turkey sandwich.
“Come on, Hobbs. Make up your mind. Mustard, mayo, pickles, white American cheese, lettuce, oil.” Cole stood next to her, waiting for her to make her choices.
She glared at the pushy detective and then turned to the sandwich maker and said, “Yeah, all that plus tomato and onions.”
“Good, finally. You can dress mine the same. No tomato and extra cheese.”
Cole caught up with her at the drink station where she was debating about what pop to choose. “I imagine you are a diet cola drinker. May I pour?”
“Oh, thank you.”
“Ah, you need some caffeine, eh, Preacher?” His eyes sparkled. She relaxed and returned his smile.
“I see you have your sandwich to go. Me, too. I’ll meet you at the lakefront park for lunch, under the big oak tree. Lots of shade and a beautiful view of the water.”
“Oh, but I have….” She stopped to check her watch. No, she didn’t have an appointment. She had the lunch hour free today. She had no excuse, and of course, a preacher couldn’t tell a lie.
“Okay, I’ll meet you there in a minute.” What was she thinking? He’s the man who’s trying to send her to prison. Well, what’s wrong with having lunch with a handsome policeman? After all there was that saying, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”
# # # #
BACK OF THE BOOK
Pastor Christine Hobbs has been in the pulpit business for over five years. She never imagined herself caring for a flock that includes a pig, a kangaroo, and a murderer.
Detective Cole Stephens doesn't want the pretty pastor to get away with murdering the church music director. His investigative methods infuriate Christine as much as his deep brown eyes attract her.
Can they find the real killer and build a loving relationship based on trust?
Now available at MuseItUp Publishing- http://tinyurl.com/anax9x7
bn.com and major online booksellers.
BIO- After writing feature articles in magazines, newspapers, and online magazines for over fifteen years, J.Q. Rose entered the world of fiction writing with her first published novella, Sunshine Boulevard, released by MuseItUp Publishing in 2011. Her latest mystery, Coda to Murder, was released in February. Blogging, photography, Pegs and Jokers board games, and travel are the things that keep her out of trouble. Spending winters in Florida with her husband allows Janet the opportunity to enjoy the life of a snowbird. Summer finds her camping and hunting toads, frogs, and salamanders with her four grandsons and granddaughter.
Connect with J.Q. Rose online at
J.Q. Rose blog http://www.jqrose.com/
Girls Succeed blog http://girlssucceed.blogspot.com/
Author website http://jqrose.webs.com/
J. Q. Rose Amazon Author Page http://tinyurl.com/aeuv4m4
Sunday, March 10, 2013
Hey y’all! Welcome back to Flowers on the Fence country! My visitor today (I’d refer to him as today’s flower but I’m scared to—somehow I don’t think soldiers would much care for the comparison) is celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. Ireland’s given us a rich heritage and on St. Patrick’s Day, everyone has a touch o’ the Irish. A touch o’ the Irish passed down in part by the Irish monks who produced one of the true artworks of the Middle Ages. Please welcome Stan Hampton, Sr.
Saint Patrick’s Day is here—it is time to celebrate all things Irish. While I appreciate many things Irish there is one thing that always boggles my mind: the Book of Kells. Though many Medieval manuscripts are wonderfully written and illustrated, the Book of Kells, which dates from the 8th century, is an incredibly beautiful work of art on vellum (calfskin) pages that “contains the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, and the Gospel of John through John 17:13” <www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Kells#Medieval_period>. The Book of Kells is located at The Old Library & the Book of Kells Exhibition at Trinity College Library Dublin <www.tcd.ie/Library/bookofkells/book-of-kells/>.
The birthplace of the Book of Kells is said to be a monastery located on Iona, an island located to the west of Scotland. After Viking raids the monks took refuge at the monastery of Kells, County Meath, which also was attacked by the Vikings. The Book survived the many challenges of the Middle Ages until it was taken to Trinity College for safekeeping in the mid-17th century. It has remained there ever since (Wikipedia).
When I think of the Book of Kells I think not so much of the Book itself, but what it took to make such a wonderful testament to the beliefs of the Irish monks, their dedication to writing, and their artistic creativity.
Outside of the monastery the Dark Ages had descended; the world was a dark and fearful time. The Romans withdrew from the British Isles hundreds of years before. Tribes were coming over from the European mainland seeking new homes or to take by force whatever they desired. Life was precarious and often short, and the end sometimes violent. Famines occurred from time to time. The monks who labored over the Book in their scriptorium were a small island of literacy and thought within a greater world of illiteracy and superstition.
Imagine sitting in a scriptorium day after day laboring over vellum pages that was processed from calfskin; that process of removing the hair and meat from the skin and letting it air dry into vellum is lengthy and time-consuming. Afterwards the pages had to be trimmed, quill pens crafted, and ink and colorful paint made from natural materials. The monks ensured their lines were straight and did not meander up and down the page. The artwork (illumination) had to be planned and carefully painted.
This would have taken place within the monastery, within the scriptorium—tolerable during the spring and summer, cold and drafty during fall and winter. Yet the monks toiled on without computers, graphics software, inkjet printers, the Internet, and even central air—and created the Book of Kells.
For those of us in this new and still evolving e-publishing world, whether writer, illustrator, or editor, we follow in the footsteps of a rich heritage. Let us hope that we do the memory of the monks of Iona and Kells, and all of the Medieval scribes, proud.
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!
Manuscritos Medievais (by Luis Alberto Marcos Peon) <www.youtube.com/watch?v=dL009AticOU&playnext=1&list=PL63D2BC8B347DB43D&feature=results_video>
Medieval Manuscript Reproduction, Part 3a: Writing <www.youtube.com/watch?v=RoTl5KFacBs>
Medieval Manuscript Reproduction, Part 5a: Painting an Illuminated Letter <www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oa8gMb0YC68>
Pens, Paint-making, and Illumination – NYPL’s Three Faiths Scriptorium <www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIUQznSEPl0>
How Parchment Is Made – Domesday – BBC Two <www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-SpLPFaRd0>
SS Hampton, Sr. is a full-blood Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather to 13 wonderful grandchildren, a published photographer and photojournalist, and a member of the Military Writers Society of America. He is a serving member of the Army National Guard with the rank of staff sergeant, with prior service in the active duty Army (1974-1985), the Army Individual Ready Reserve (1985-1995) (mobilized for the Persian Gulf War), and enlisted in the Army National Guard in October 2004, after which he was mobilized for Federal active duty for almost three years. Hampton is a veteran of Operations Noble Eagle (2004-2006) and Iraqi Freedom (2006-2007). His writings have appeared as stand-alone stories and in anthologies from Dark Opus Press, Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy, Melange Books, Musa Publishing, MuseItUp Publishing, Ravenous Romance, and as stand-alone stories in Horror Bound Magazine, Ruthie’s Club, Lucrezia Magazine, The Harrow, and River Walk Journal, among others. Second career goals include being an aspiring painter and studying for a degree in photography and anthropology—hopefully to someday work in and photograph underwater archaeology. After 12 years of brown desert in the Southwest and overseas, he misses the Rocky Mountains, yellow aspens in the fall, running rivers, and a warm fireplace during snowy winters. As of December 2011, in Las Vegas, Nevada, Hampton officially became a homeless Iraq War veteran.
Hampton’s Amazon Author Page can be found at:
Hampton’s Amazon.com. UK Author Page can be found at:
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
As a reader, have you ever read a novel that seemed so real you could smell baking bread, feel the heat of the sun beating down on your head, hear the roars of a crowd? If you’re a confirmed reader, one who always has a book going (usually one in each room), you almost certainly have. Because it’s those moments, those scenes, those books, that make reading so much more than a pleasant diversion and turn a casual reader into a book addict. Those moments, those scenes, those books—they take readers to another world, another place, another time and introduce them to characters they feel they know, folks they’d like to sit down with over coffee. Or beer. Depends on the time of the day, I guess.
So here’s the Sixty-Four Thousand Dollar question. How does a writer write such scenes, such books? Not that I’m saying I do, mind you. I’d like to think so, at least occasionally, and I know that while I’m writing, I myself am in another place and time. But not because I’m using my imagination to create one. Because I’m tapping my memory to reproduce them. Not exactly, of course. Not the actual moment, the actual event. I want the feel, the flavor, the taste, of that memory. And I want it to come through to the reader. But even more than that, I want to put that memory into words that I can take out and visit with whenever I so choose. Bet you didn’t know that, huh? That basically, writers are selfish people who in the final analysis, write for themselves and not for others. Which isn’t selfish at all, really, because by doing so, they create those scenes that turn readers into book addicts.
What’s all that got to do with an “Ironman”? Well, last year I published a novel very near and dear to my heart. Down Home. It’s about—home folks. The small town, rural South. One of my characters, my heroine’s son Jake, is actually a composite of both my own sons (but don’t tell them that). Jake attends a small private school, Rockland Academy, and he’s the Running Back for the football team. But here’s the thing. Rockland Academy’s so small it can’t field a full football team with separate offense and defense squads. Oh, no. It fields eleven players. Total. Which means that these high school athletes play both offense and defense. It means they never come off the field during a game. Never. The county refers to it as “Ironman Football”.
Far-fetched, you think? Not hardly. It was absolute reality in my own home county, at the small private school my sons attended. The team known throughout the county as the “Ironman Team”. My youngest son Lee was No. 99. My middle child and oldest son Patrick announced the games from the broadcasting booth. There was something so—endearing—about hearing one brother announce for the other. I never recorded any of those games, at least not electronically. I recorded every one of them in my brain, though, and I can hear Patrick as clearly as if the game were playing right this minute. “And that’s a sack of the quarterback by No. 99, Lee Branan!” My favorite was “Somebody call the Sheriff, we done been robbed!” Anybody who’s read Down Home’s heard him too, in the character of Patrick Lewis, the self-styled “Voice of Rockland Academy” as he announced one of the Rockland Academy games.
I walked the fence at every home game at the school that’s the basis for the fictional Rockland Academy, just like Down Home’s heroine Maggie did. She watched Jake, I watched Lee, but we were both really watching our son. Our Ironman. I remember one game in which the other team’s quarterback drew back to throw and sent the ball on its beginning spiral down the field. And under the field lights, a figure in the home colors shot into the air, bisected the arrow of golden haze hovering above the field and knocked the ball down. I knew it was Lee, even without the confirmation of the big 99 on the jersey, or the Coach’s roar, “Lee!! Lee Branan!! OUTSTANDING play!!” I’d give a million dollars if I had it for a picture of that moment, that figure caught in mid-air in the golden haze, but moments like those – you just can’t plan for. So you take the picture in your heart instead, which is probably even better. Because the colors never fade.
My Ironman left home Monday, March 4. On Tuesday, March 5, his group of recruits traveled to Chicago, Illinois, and thence to Waukegan, Illinois, to report for Naval Basic Training. After that, he’ll be headed (probably) to Fort Sam Houston to train as a medic. Which means I’ve been predominately a mother this past week, subject to bouts of extreme pride alternating with overpowering (but so far resisted) urges to squall like a baby. When a child “leaves home”, it doesn’t matter to any mother that the child is grown, that it’s time for them to explore their own world and create their own life. It doesn’t matter that you’re certain they’ve chosen the right career path, that you know in your soul it’s the right thing for them, that this is their time. It just hurts.
Oddly enough, one of the things that makes me feel better when my pendulum’s swinging towards that overwhelming urge to squall like a baby are two pictures of Lee I’ve had on my desk since his Sophomore year in high school. Pictures of my Ironman. I smile when I look at them, when I see his stance, when I remember I could pick him out across any football field, from any distance, just by the way he stood. Pictures of a tired warrior coming off the field for the very few minutes he had available until he ran back onto it. Pictures that tell me he was part of something very special then, and he’s part of something very special now. That of course he’ll be just fine. He’s an Ironman. He’s my Ironman. I love you, son.