THE BOOK WORLD AND MEMORIES THEREOF – Marilyn Armstrong

I usually say I wouldn’t want to ever work again, but I got to thinking about that. I realized if I could get back my job as an editor at Doubleday? I’d do it in a heartbeat. How many jobs give you unlimited sick days, two-hour lunches, and require you to read sleazy novels during the day? And pay you for the privilege? And give you the best bunch of people as colleagues you could hope for.

Really old friends

I also had to write stuff about the books I read, but a long review was still shorter than most of the pieces I write for this blog. Even in my crumbling state of health, I could handle it.

The trouble is, the job doesn’t exist. Publishers are all corporate and conglomerated. Each is a subsection of some über corporation where books are one of many products and often, not an important product. People run publishing houses who don’t understand books. I often wonder if they actually read books.

The 1970s were wonderful years for reading. It was a tremendous period for books and book clubs and for literature. In those days, reading was entertainment. People read books and talked about them by the water cooler. If you got excited about a book, you told all your friends and they read it, too.


Before the internet.

Before cell phones.

Before cable and satellite television.

Before computers and many years before WiFi …

We had books.


Other entertainment? Of course, there were movies, but you had to see them in a movie theater. Television was there, but it had limitations. We had — in New York which was entertainment central — seven channels. Unless you had a really good antenna on the roof, you rarely got a clear picture. There was interference called “snow.” Pictures rolled — up, down, and side-to-side. Vertical and horizontal holds on your TV were designed to help control it. Sometimes, they did, but I remember many nights of giving up and turning the set off because we couldn’t get a decent picture. Meanwhile, many of us used a set of rabbit-ear antennas that worked sometimes — if the wind was blowing due west.

I spent more time trying to convince the rabbit-ears to receive a signal than watching shows.

Doubleday in Garden City, NY – I bet the building isn’t even standing today.

Not surprisingly, television wasn’t our primary source of entertainment. Instead, we read books — and we talked to each other — something we old folks continue to do. Sometimes, we had conversations that lasted for hours and in my life, occasionally ran into weeks. Blows your mind, doesn’t it? All that talking without a phone? Without texting, either.

Books were big business. If you wrote anything reasonably good, there were more than enough publishers who might be interested in printing it. I miss that world, sometimes more than I can say.

The 1970s Doubleday I remember

All of this got me thinking about how hard it is to get books published these days. So many people I know have written really good books and have never found anyone to back them. It’s rough on writers, and it’s not a great sign for the art of literature. Not only has our political world caved in, but our literary world is sliding down a long ramp to nowhere. In theory, many more books are published today because anyone can publish anything — and sell it on Amazon. All books — the great, good, mediocre, and truly awful are lumped together. Most of them are rarely read since none of them are being promoted by a publisher. This isn’t a small thing. Publishers were a huge piece of what made books great. If your publisher believed you’d written something excellent, you could count on being visible on the shelves of bookstores everywhere. You’d also be part of book club publications. People — reading people — would see your book. There were book columns and reviews — and people read them they way they read stuff on upcoming television shows today.

Of course, we are also suffering from the vanishing bookstore … a whole other subject.

A great idea followed by a well-written manuscript was just the beginning of a book’s life story. From the manuscript, publishers took books and did their best to sell them to the world. Today, all that pushing and pitching is left to authors, including those whose books typically sell well.

Old Doubleday and Company. I love those cars!

No doubt there were writers who could do the balancing act of writing, marketing, and advertising — but many authors are not very sociable. A good many are downright grumpy and a fair number are essentially inarticulate. They are not naturals to the marketing gig. Ponder this … what kind of blog do you think Faulkner … or … Eugene O’Neill … would have written?

Thinking of a blog by Eugene O’Neill give me the creeps. Not my cuppa tea.

I miss authors, publishers, book tours, and the delicious smell of a bookstore. Fresh ink and paper. I miss beautifully edited manuscripts and elegant hard-copy books in which you could smell the ink and paper as you gently cracked the cover open. Twas a heady perfume.

HAPPY 187TH BIRTHDAY LOUISA MAY ALCOTT – Marilyn Armstrong

women's suffrage-2In an alternate universe, Louisa May Alcott would be 187 today. In my alternate universe, we all live — as a matter of course — to at least 200. And because of our extended life span, we are better custodians of our earth recognizing that we will have to live in the mess we make of tomorrow when we despoil our world today.

Louisa May Alcott (November 29, 1832 – March 6, 1888) was an American novelist and poet, best known as the author of the novel Little Women (1868) and its sequels Little Men (1871) and Jo’s Boys (1886).

Raised by her transcendentalist parents, Abigail May and Amos Bronson Alcott in New England, she also grew up among many of the well-known intellectuals of the day such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau.

Bronson Alcott was a dreamer, not an earner. The result was that her family went through extended periods of dire poverty and Louisa was required to work to help support the family from very early on.

louisa_may_alcott_5c_1940_stampPublished in 1868, Little Women is set in the Alcott family home, Orchard House, later renamed Hillside, then the Wayside, in Concord, Massachusetts and is loosely based on an idealized portrait of Alcott’s childhood experiences growing up with her three sisters. Real life was much harder than the life she lived in “Little Women.”

“Little Women” was high successful almost immediately.

As Joan Goodwin explains, “from this point on Louisa May Alcott was a victim of her own success. Though she yearned to do more serious fiction, children’s books flowed from her pen for the rest of her life because their sales supported her family. Louisa herself wrote, “Twenty years ago, I resolved to make the family independent if I could. At forty that is done. Debts all paid, even the outlawed ones, and we have enough to be comfortable. It has cost me my health, perhaps; but as I still live, there is more for me to do, I suppose.”

Following in her mother’s path, Alcott pursued women’s rights with fervor, enlisting the aid of famous colleagues such as Thoreau and Hawthorne to her cause.

Goodwin goes on to write that now “Alcott gave her energy to practical reforms, women’s rights, and temperance. She attended the Women’s Congress of 1875 in Syracuse, New York, where she was introduced by Mary Livermore. She contributed to Lucy Stone’s Woman’s Journal while organizing Concord women to vote in the school election. ‘

“I was the first woman to register my name as a voter,’ she wrote. “Drove about and drummed up women to my suffrage meeting. So hard to move people out of the old ruts.” And again, “Helped start a temperance society much-needed in Concord]. I was the secretary, and wrote records, letters, and sent pledges, etc.”

orchard-house-contemporary

Orchard House, Concord, Massachusetts

Louisa continued to publish children’s books, and in 1880, after her sister, May, died after childbirth, she adopted May’s baby who was named for Louisa, but called “Lulu.” In 1882, after her father suffered a stroke, Louisa settled the remaining members of her family at 10 Louisburg Square. Her own health was failing. It is generally believed from her pictures and other descriptions that she suffered from Lupus. There was little knowledge of Lupus at that time. No cure or medicine to lessen its impact. Louisa moved “from place to place in search of health and peace to write, settling at last in a Roxbury nursing home,” according to Joan Goodwin.

Jo March - By Madame Alexander

Jo March – By Madame Alexander

Her father, Bronson Alcott, who she faithfully tended even as her own health declined, died on March 4, 1888. Louisa outlived him by only two days. She passed away at age fifty-six.

She had known her death was near, despite her relative youth. She had adopted her widowed sister Anna’s son John Pratt to whom she willed her copyrights. Through him, all income from her books would be shared amongst her nieces and nephews — Anna, Lulu, John, and Anna’s other son Fred.

Louisa May Alcott never married, in part because the right person eluded her — but ultimately because she was unwilling to give up her freedom and personal power to a husband.

Louisa May Alcott was buried at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord on “Author’s Ridge” near Thoreau and Emerson. A Civil War veteran’s marker graces her gravestone. During her lifetime, she produced nearly three hundred books, but the one almost everyone remembers is “Little Women.”

THE UNREALITY OF FINDING YOUR WAY HOME – BY TOM CURLEY

AND because this is absolutely relevant to the previous story … here’s one by Tom Curley.

I’m not a fan, I’m a zealot. I’ve read all his books. Listened to all the BBC radio series. And watched both movies of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.”  The first one done in the ’80s with the original BBC radio cast was actually a TV series. It was done on a budget of maybe 25 bucks, but it was great.

The Disney movie was okay. Mostly, because Douglas Adams was the producer. Unfortunately, he died before it was finished. Even if you didn’t like the movie, it was worth watching just for the opening musical number “So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish”.

While Hitchhiker is my favorite Adams work, I also loved the Dirk Gently series.

One of the things in the book always stuck with me. Whenever Dirk was lost he would simply follow someone who looked like they knew where they were going. He found that he never got to where he was going but he always ended up where he needed to be.

I used that concept once. I was driving home from work one night and I was on the local road that leads to my house. I came upon a police barricade. The road was closed.

There were no detour signs. I only knew that one road. So, I did what Dirk did. I saw a car in front of me turn off the road. He/she seemed to know where he/she was going. So I followed him/her. For the next 20 minutes to a half-hour, we wound our way through twisty back roads in the bowels of Southern Connecticut. I had no idea where I was.

Suddenly, the car in front of me turns on to the main road again. Past the barricade. I couldn’t believe it! It actually worked! But here’s where it got weird. The car in front of me turned off the main road and on to the road I live on. OK, I thought. Makes sense. There are a lot of houses on my street. This person was obviously going home too. But then the car turned into my driveway! That’s when I realized it was my daughter. I should have recognized the car, but I didn’t put two and two together.

The really funny part was that my daughter had just spent the last 20 minutes or so completely freaking out because this mysterious black car had been following her, turn for turn and then followed her to her house! True story.

I know Douglas Adams was smiling.

AVAILABLE TODAY! THE LATEST DAVIS WAY CRIME CAPER, DOUBLE AGENT by GRETCHEN ARCHER

DOUBLE AGENT – A DAVIS WAY CRIME CAPER #8
By Gretchen Archer


Print Length: 252 pages
Publisher: Henery Press 
Publication Date: March 26, 2019

It’s a category four — and soon-to-be category five — hurricane. They call it Kevin, but at the Bellissimo Resort and Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi. they are calling it the “the end of the world.”

Maybe not the absolute end, but close enough. Nothing this powerful has come ashore since Katrina flattened Louisiana. The Bellissimo has been built to withstand a reasonable amount of weather stress. It is, after all, on that frequently thrashed southern U.S. coast … but nothing is built strong enough to take this kind of pounding.

So, the name of the game is evacuation. Davis Way wants to get everyone out the door and most especially, her twins, her husband and of course, everyone on the casino and resort staff. It looks like she and Fantasy have more than enough time to get it done.

They’ve been carefully monitoring the track of the storm. They have to cash out ten slot machines, secure the funds, then move everyone out of the reach of hurricane Kevin.

Sounds easy enough, right?

Wrong.

After clearing most of the slot machines, fifty million dollars of the cash vanishes. Instead, they find a corpse.

Definitely dead.

That would be bad enough, but there are more bodies to come. Bodies keep turning up while Davis is desperate to get everyone out of the Bellissimo.

At which point who should arrive but her boss and body double, Bianca Sanders. A woman who doesn’t appear to have a grip on what’s going on because she has fled to the Bellissimo to get out of danger, but while she was fleeing, the storm changed direction.

Who else has shown up?

Eddie, Davis’ ex-ex. And his pet pig. Or is it his girl friend’s pet pig? It’s definitely someone’s pet pig. Eddie has been shot and is sure he’s dying, but as it turns out, he’s not dying, but he’s sure his girlfriend is dead. She’s not dead either … but someone else IS dead because they found the corpse in the fountain in the main court.

There’s a double agent somewhere. Instead of evacuation, it’s more like coagulation including some very odd people. All of whom claim to be inspectors from one official agency or another, but … well … neither Davis, Fantasy, or Bradley … or those very strange and drunken meteorologists thought so either.

Meteorologists?

As the storm finally begins to make landfall and there’s a whiff of poison in the air. As Davis, Fantasy, and Bradley do their best to track down who is who and doing what and whether the Bellissimo is the victim of one incredibly complicated heist or possibly several unrelated but intertwining heists, a lot of lives and more than a few deaths are on the line as the various knots are teased apart and the water finally recedes.

This is by far the most lethal, complex, and frightening Davis Way caper to date. You’ll need your best mystery-solving abilities to find your way to the end. It’s an exciting ride with never a dull moment!

This is a sophisticated and extremely complex mystery. Until the end, I was not entirely sure who were the bad guys, the worse guys, the worst guys … and maybe not such bad guys after all. And occasionally, a good guy.

Gretchen Archer’s ties up all the ends into a neat bow. And it all makes sense.


 AVAILABLE ONLINE AND IN STORES — TODAY, MARCH 26th, 2019! 

BOOK REVIEW: CHRISTMAS EVE DAUGHTER – A TIME TRAVEL NOVEL by Elyse Douglas

The Christmas Eve Daughter: A Time Travel Novel
by Elyse Douglas

As a time-travel story, this is not quite it. The story absolutely includes time travel, but it’s what we in the science fiction world refer to as “tourist time travel” where there is no technology involved and no “other world” surprises, either. Time travel is not what the story is about, but rather simply a means of “getting there and back.” It’s just transportation, not the storyline.

In this kind of tale, the ‘traveler’ steps through a (suddenly appearing out of nowhere) wormhole or discovers a magic medallion, a lantern, a piece of clothing, a special page in a book … and miraculously finds her or himself in the past. After which, it’s time for romance.

Everyone lives happily ever after.

This being book two in the series, happily ever after is interrupted by the discovery that the man who came from the past has a previously unknown daughter. Will the magic time-travel lantern work one more time? Can the beautiful couple from modern New York go back in time and rescue the young woman?

This is not science fiction. It’s a romance novel with that includes time-travel. In fact, the formula for the book is identical to every romance I have ever read, except instead of traveling to a different physical location on Earth, the characters — all of whom are beautiful — travel through time.

As a former editor of the Doubleday Romance Library, I know a formula when I see one. As this kind of writing goes, the book is silkily written and well-edited. Very clean. If you are a fancier of romantic fiction, you will like it. It adds just a hint of “magic” to a traditional story.

Elyse Douglas is a good writer with a smooth touch. If I were still editing the library, she would get my vote.


About Elyse DouglasChristmas Eve Daughter: Time Travel Novel by Elyse Douglas

Elyse Douglas is the pen name for the husband and wife writing team of Elyse Parmentier and Douglas Pennington. Elyse began writing poems and short stories at an early age and graduated with a degree in English Literature. Douglas began writing novels in college while studying music at the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music.  He traveled the world as a professional pianist for many years.  He has also worked as a copywriter and corporate manager.

Some of Elyse Douglas’ novels include The Christmas Eve Letter (A Time Travel Novel), Christmas for Juliet, The Summer Letters, The Christmas Diary, The Summer Diary, and The Lost Mata Hari Ring. They live in New York City.

Website: www.elysedouglas.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/douglaselyse
Facebook: www.facebook.com/elyse.authorsdouglas

Buy Christmas Eve Daughter: Time Travel Novel by Elyse Douglas

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BookDepository

GOOD AND EVIL – Marilyn Armstrong

I can’t read “Lord of the Rings” these days without thinking about Stephen Colbert and his obsessive passion for these books. They are great books and eventually became rather amazing movies, but still and all … he knows things about these books I’m sure J.R.R. Tolkien forgot.

Nonetheless, in this time of stress and strife, I’m rereading the series for the umpteenth time. I’ve gotten all the way to the third and final volume of  “The Lord of the Rings.”

The book is entirely about good and evil. The great evil that is Sauron. The somewhat lesser evil of his cohorts. The striving evil of Saruman, and the fear of everyone in the battle that they can find the right way and stay woven in the fabric of good.

When evil is everywhere, goodness can get a little complicated.

I bumped into this quote last night. I was tucked in for the night and I hoped I would remember it in the morning. I didn’t exactly recall it, but luckily for me “Lord of the Rings” is such a well-quoted book, I found it quickly on ye olde Internet.


Eomer said, ‘How is a man to judge what to do in such times?’ As he has ever judged,’ said Aragorn. ‘Good and evil have not changed since yesteryear, nor are they one thing among Elves and another among Men. It is a man’s part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house.


In the great fabric of life of which we are merely threads, good and evil are also a part of us. We are born with a genetic understanding of both. It is in our DNA. When we see evil and allow ourselves to become part of it — when we live in evil times, excuse and forgive evil — we become part of it.

A bad man and his bad adherents don’t have “a good side.” Lying about it changes nothing except maybe us.


When you read this book, you will sooner or later end up talking like this. You can’t help it. If you are really into it, you might just do it in Elvish or worse, Orcish.

And in the darkness bind them …

HIDING BEHIND MYSELF – Marilyn Armstrong

#FOWC — Hidden Identity

When I first started blogging on WordPress more than six years ago, I was still very into the book I wrote, so I took as my online address part of the name of my book and I called myself “Teepee 12” because the book is called “The 12-foot Teepee.”

A couple of years down the road of blogging, after I’d broken through and had an audience and all that, one day I realized no one knew my name. Everyone called me “Teepee.” I had never intended to be anonymous. I’d been writing publicly since I was a very young woman, so my name was published in a lot of places. If I’d sought anonymity, I should have done it a lot sooner.

So way back then, I switched and started using my own name. Why? Because I got really tired of being called Teepee. The book became old news and I seriously wish I’d taken Serendipity as the address for this blog because it would have saved me from WordPress’s shenanigans when a couple of months ago they decided to not bother to protect site names anymore. I’ve had to dig myself out of that hole. If my address had matched my site name, it wouldn’t have been an issue, but they were different and Serendipity was no longer an option.

So I had a secret identity entirely accidentally. Which was silly because I was at that point still a published writer under my own name, so having a secret name as a blogger while publishing as myself in magazines seemed a bit peculiar.

Thus I became me. A lot of people decloaked and became themselves at that point. It turned out that being yourself made you no more of a target than not being yourself because any hacker who wants to really know who you are will find out quickly enough. I could do it, but I don’t want to bother.

Hacking is like, you know, WORK. And as Maynard G. Krebbs used to say: “Work is a 4-letter word.”

Amen, Maynard. Amen.

“A gift of laughter…” SUE VINCENT

And the world really IS mad. I think possibly, so am I!

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

As I’m on a research mission this weekend, and having spent much of the week in hospital waiting rooms, I have dredged up a couple of old ones to share.This one was written two years ago…

grafitti sheffield stu graphic shots (31)

Rafael Sabatini is not the best known of writers these days, though he left his mark on both literature and cinema. He was born in 1875 in Jesi, Italy to Englishwoman Anna Trafford and Vincenzo Sabatini. His parents were touring opera singers and sent their small son to England to be raised by his grandmother. A few years later, his parents stopped touring and the family settled in Milan. Rafael’s schooling took place in Portugal and Switzerland where he learned a number of languages. Returning to England, he worked as a translator and began to write.

Within four years, Rafael was a regular contributor of short stories for national magazines and in 1901 was…

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TODAY IS TOLKIEN READING DAY – MARCH 25th

March 25, 2018 – TOLKIEN READING DAY

Celebrated around the world on March 25, Tolkien Reading Day is a favorite among fans of the renowned author. When we were younger and drank more, it was also Fall of Sauron Day.

This day commemorates the dropping of the One Ring into the fires of Mount Doom and the non-extinction of the human race. Sadly, I think Sauron is back.

Mount Doom

I don’t know if he-who-has-gone-to-Mordor (aka Florry-duh) or whether or not he has the one Ring of Power, but the extinction of the human race seems to be exactly his goal. If he can’t kill us by getting rid of our medical care, maybe he can wipe us out by destroying the planet. If that doesn’t get the job done, there’s always the nuclear option.

So perhaps this is the right day for celebration after all.

If we can remember a couple of hobbits and an insane mad creature named Gollum climbed through the darkness and horror of Mordor to get the ring into the fire, maybe we can get through this too.

J.R.R. Tolkien (Jan. 3, 1892 – Sept. 2, 1973) was an English writer, poet, philologist and university professor. He was best known as the author of the classic works: The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarrillion as well as Roverandom and Farmer Giles of Ham.

HOW TO OBSERVE THE DAY? 

Read some of Tolkien’s works and use #TolkienReadingDay to post on social media. As it happens, not only did I just finish reading the entire three book series, but Garry and I also watched the extended 3-movie extended version of “Lord of the Rings.”

HISTORY

This day was officially started in 2003 by the Tolkien Society to encourage the readings of J.R.R. Tolkien. March 25th was chosen as the date to honor the fall of Sauron in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.

Personally, from our point of view, they were very late to the party. We’d been joyously celebrating that day for years, from the late 1960s right through the 1970s. By the time the Tolkien Society made their pronouncement and declared it a special day, we had largely disbanded. I had gone to Israel, others moved to Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Utah, and Massachusetts.

But we never forgot that day or the ceremony — which involved considerable drinking and a very short service, noticeably reminiscent of a Passover Seder. I  steal my material from wherever I can find it.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT “THE LORD OF THE RINGS”

The book is about good and evil. On the bad side, there’s Sauron, the greatest and most powerful of evils. Saruman, who would have become Sauron — given the chance. The horror of those who follow these worst of men.

The fear that engulfs the world as Sauron’s shadow began to cover it. The fearful hope that somehow, when power fails, that the determination and dedication of the least of them may yet win the day — and does win the day. It was definitely worth a party and it still is.

I bumped into this quote last night. I was tucked in for the night and I hoped I would remember it in the morning. I didn’t exactly recall it, but luckily for me “Lord of the Rings” is such a well-quoted book, I found it online:


Eomer said, “How is a man to judge what to do in such times?”

“As he has ever judged,” said Aragorn. “Good and evil have not changed since yesteryear, nor are they one thing among Elves and another among Men. It is a man’s part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house.”


In the great fabric of  life in which we are threads, good and evil are part of us. We are born knowing both. It’s in our DNA. When we see evil and allow ourselves to become part of it — when we live in evil times and excuse the evil around us– we become part of it. No spoon is long enough to keep you far enough away from the Devil.

A bad man and his wicked followers and adherents don’t have “a good side.”

And in the darkness bind them …

Happy Fall of Sauron Day. Read Tolkien. Watch the movies. They’re available on Netflix. Maybe elsewhere, too.

RELEASED TODAY! DOUBLE DOG DARE – GRETCHEN ARCHER

 DOUBLE DOG DARE  –  Gretchen Archer

From the publisher …

Print Length: 215 pages
Publisher: Henery Press 
Publication Date: March 20, 2018


Davis Way Cole has gotten stuck. Not permanently stuck, mind you, but stuck in the house, stuck with the kids, stuck in that life of children and housewifery that is a not-so-rare thing for working women. But the time has come for her to move out of the house and get back to work. There’s her family, of course and whenever they pop into her life, it just gets crazy. And there’s the Bellissimo casino. It has come a long way back from its near demise, but it has a way to go and it’s time for Davis to get back on board and help.

As it typical of all of Gretchen Archer’s hilarious yet incredibly complex novels, the dog show, the dogs, the people, the absolutely everything that could possibly go wrong or off the rails, does.

One of the truly delicious aspects of Ms. Archer’s writing is her ability to take a wildly complicated story, tie up all the ends, and come out in the end with all the hanging parts of the story neatly tied up in a proper bow. This one is no different and if it wouldn’t give away too much, I’d tell you more.

Double Dog Dare

Davis Way is growing up. Her world is still crazy. Her boss is definitely crazy and her family is charmingly wacko … but she’s maturing. She’s smart. She may not always make the perfect decisions, but she doesn’t make her decisions casually or without serious thought. She cares about people she is close to … and she also cares about all the people who ramble through her life. So the books aren’t merely funny. They are also warm and frequently touching. 

Want a sip from my Double Whammy cup?

Suffice to know that this is one intelligent, funny, thoughtful, weird, complicated book where everything is happening at the same time and it looks like it’s all different things. Yet, somehow, most of it comes together and all of it gets sorted out. This is a life and death tale that will leave you laughing, crying, and hugging your dog.

I gave all three of my dogs two extra biscuits.

A full five stars for DOUBLE DOG DARE! 


THE FABRIC OF GOOD AND EVIL – ARAGORN TO EOMER

I’m rereading for the umpteenth time, “The Lord of the Rings.” Essentially, the book is entirely about good and evil. The great evil that is Sauron, the lesser evil of his cohorts, the striving evil of Saruman … and the fear of all involved in the battle hoping they can see the  right way and remain woven in the fabric of good. When evil is everywhere, goodness is not a given.

I bumped into this quote last night. I was tucked in for the night and I hoped I would remember it in the morning. I didn’t exactly recall it, but luckily for me “Lord of the Rings” is such a well-quoted book, I found it quickly.


Eomer said, ‘How is a man to judge what to do in such times?’ As he has ever judged,’ said Aragorn. ‘Good and evil have not changed since yesteryear, nor are they one thing among Elves and another among Men. It is a man’s part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house.


In the great fabric of  life in which we are threads, good and evil are part of us. We are born knowing both. It is in our DNA, should we choose to recognize them. When we see evil and allow ourselves to become part of it — when we live in evil times and excuse evil — it become us too.

A bad man and his bad adherents never have “a good side” and lying about it changes nothing — except probably you. Because when you mouth evil, you absorb it and make it part of you.


Please note that when you read this book, you eventually wind up talking like this.

And in the darkness bind them …

DIM PROSPECTS

GETTING VERY, VERY SLOWLY RICH … ?


We watched a TV show last night. Australian, I think, but they never actually say where it is. I just thought I saw a distant shot of Ayers rock in the background … but you just never know. The point is, the police were hunting for someone and there was this author who had published a lot of books for young adults.

She had earned her money and she had a mansion. It was the size of the New York City library on Fifth Avenue. Which is to say huge. I’ve seen smaller factories. Apparently she made all that money from selling books.

Today, I got an email telling me I had an automatic deposit from Amazon. I must have sold a book! You can never again say that authors don’t get rich selling books!

PAPERBACK RELEASED! DOUBLE DOG DARE – GRETCHEN ARCHER

 DOUBLE DOG DARE  –  Gretchen Archer

Print Length: 215 pages
Publisher: Henery Press 
Publication Date: March 20, 2018

Davis Way Cole has gotten stuck. Not permanently stuck, mind you, but stuck in the house, stuck with the kids, stuck in that life of children and housewifery that is a not-so-rare thing for working women. But the time has come for her to move out of the house and get back to work. There’s her family, of course and whenever they pop into her life, it just gets crazy. And there’s the Bellissimo casino. It has come a long way back from its near demise, but it has a way to go and it’s time for Davis to get back on board and help.

As it typical of all of Gretchen Archer’s hilarious yet incredibly complex novels, the dog show, the dogs, the people, the absolutely everything that could possibly go wrong or off the rails, does.

One of the truly delicious aspects of Ms. Archer’s writing is her ability to take a wildly complicated story, tie up all the ends, and come out in the end with all the hanging parts of the story neatly tied up in a proper bow. This one is no different and if it wouldn’t give away too much, I’d tell you more.

Double Dog Dare

Davis Way is growing up. Her world is still crazy. Her boss is definitely crazy and her family is charmingly wacko … but she’s maturing. She’s smart. She may not always make the perfect decisions, but she doesn’t make her decisions casually or without serious thought. She cares about people she is close to … and she also cares about all the people who ramble through her life. So the books aren’t merely funny. They are also warm and frequently touching. 

Want a sip from my Double Whammy cup?

Suffice to know that this is one intelligent, funny, thoughtful, weird, complicated book where everything is happening at the same time and it looks like it’s all different things. Yet, somehow, most of it comes together and all of it gets sorted out. This is a life and death tale that will leave you laughing, crying, and hugging your dog.

I gave all three of my dogs two extra biscuits.

A full five stars for DOUBLE DOG DARE! 


MY EVEREST: THIRTY YEARS OF SAN DIEGO HIKING (WITH DOGS!) – MARTHA KENNEDY

My Everest: Thirty Years of San Diego
Hiking (With Dogs!)

Kindle and Paperback
August 29, 2017
Author: Martha Kennedy

I don’t like reviewing books written by friends.

What if I don’t like it? Will they hate me if I can’t give them a great review? Authors take book reviews personally. We aren’t supposed to, but our books are personal. I can’t think of anything in my world more personal to me than the (one) book I wrote. Apparently, no matter how many books you write, you will continue to feel that way about all of them. They are your babies, your little love children.

My everest martha kennedyI wasn’t too worried about this one, though. I’ve read other books by Martha and I liked them. I’ve always liked Martha’s writing (if you don’t read her blog, you should), especially when she is writing about her dogs. When this when came out, I dashed over to Amazon and immediately bought a copy. Then I got bogged down with other stuff and didn’t start to read it until a few days ago.

This is a wonderful book. It’s so very good, I hardly know where to begin raving about it.

back cover my everest martha kennedyThis isn’t just a book. It isn’t about hiking (despite its title) in the San Diego hills with your dogs. This is a book about finding what is real and what matters. It’s about discovering the world is God and you are part of it. It’s about recognizing all living things having an equal right to be on this planet. It’s about learning how tiny we are while expanding to be part of the hugeness of life.

“My Everest” is a beautiful book. It is profound and thoughtful. I found myself putting it down to leave myself time to think about it and what it meant to me. I don’t do that. Really. I don’t. I just read. This was different.

Truffle and Molly in the Medicine Wheel

“My Everest” is not one of those silly books about searching for yourself, either. Martha has found what I also found — that we are where we should be and we are in the right place. Our job is to enjoy it. Fully. See it, feel it, absorb it, love it. Be part of the all-in-all. Fly with the buzzards and the hawks. Get warmth from the earth with the rattlesnakes. Watch eternity roll by with the rocks.

This is not self-revelatory narcissism. It reaches out and says “I love you” to everyone and everything. It’s not offering you rules to follow so you can walk the same path. There is no path. “My Everest” is about joy and sanctuary , the world that Martha Kennedy and her many dogs found in the Chaparral in San Diego.

Taking the world hiking.

Those hills and mountains were her place. The suggestion is implicit that any place can be your place. You don’t have to go to those specific hills or mountains. The important thing is that there is a place — your place — that brings you that full measure of contentment.

I don’t think I can explain it any better except to say I loved the dogs and the mountains. I love the people she met on the way. The young people she brought with her to hike the hills. In good weather and bad.

I loved how she loved her dogs, yet understood that when they passed, that was how it had to be. Because we live, we pass — humans , dogs and all that lives.

The Models – Two magnificent huskies

This is not the kind of book I would have normally sought to read, but I’m incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to read it. In many way, for me, “My Everest” is a prayer and a hope for a world gone wrong. I don’t find a lot of hope — or any kind of prayers — in 2018’s world.

I most fervently recommend you read this book.


It’s available on Kindle for the extravagant price of $3.00 and in paperback for the break-the-bank price of $7.00. I have it on Kindle and when my next Social Security check arrives, I will get the paperback, too.


I want to be sure it is in the bookcase with other books I love too much to leave in the cloud.

SOMEONE SAYS SOMETHING WONDERFUL AND THE WORLD GETS BETTER

FROM GRETCHEN ARCHER TO ME ON FACEBOOK


We all complain about Facebook, don’t we? And then, one day, someone says something so incredibly wonderful I feel like hugging it (hard to hug social media, but I can try) and definitely Gretchen. I review her books … but she reviewed me. Literally, bringing tears to my eyes.

From the day I read her first book (Double Whammy), I knew Gretchen Archer had “it,” that ineffable “something” that makes a writer an author. Her first book wasn’t perfect, but it had the heart of the winner and the soul of the future. She created characters that have grown and changed and become increasingly real. There are very few authors who get characters well enough to allow them to change in a normal way, with flaws and all and moreover, to put them through all those experiences that make us human. Her characters are never repetitive, never dull. They aren’t always doing the same thing, book after book.

What a pleasure to follow an author and watch her mature. I love you too, Gretchen!

Double Dog Dare will be available on March 20, 2018! 


Good morning, Players!

Gretchen Archer

If you have a minute, please read the review of Double Dog Dare Marilyn Armstrong posted here (look down) yesterday.

I *met* Marilyn and her husband Garry after Double Whammy released. Literary reviews (reviews written by people in the industry who know what they’re talking about) of your first book are terrifying/exhilarating/soul-crushing, and for me, in the mix of reviews, one stood out–Marilyn’s. They tell us, they warn us, they mean business: don’t contact reviewers. I did. Just the one. I had to. I had to thank her, because of all the reviews, Marilyn got me.

It’s not that she gave Whammy five fat stars and loved it to the point of me printing and framing the review, it was that she liked it (which, with Book One, is quite enough), allowing me a big sigh of relief. But more than liked it, Marilyn saw its possibilities–my potential. She was the one savvy reviewer who picked out the elements of Whammy that gave it the promise to go on and be a successful series. She was the one reviewer who took the time to (inadvertently, sneakily and stealthily, within the review) give me advice. Very good advice.

Marilyn Armstrong reads between the lines.

She gave me the courage to keep writing. Her honest review was perfectly in line with how I truly felt about my own book.

I’ve loved her every minute since.

Thank you so much, Marilyn. For your deep understanding of publishing, characters, plot, prose, and me. xo

DOUBLE DOG DARE – DAVIS WAY MYSTERY #7 – BY GRETCHEN ARCHER

 DOUBLE DOG DARE  –  Gretchen Archer

Print Length: 215 pages
Publisher: Henery Press 
Publication Date: March 20, 2018

Davis Way Cole has gotten stuck. Not permanently stuck, mind you, but stuck in the house, stuck with the kids, stuck in that life of children and housewifery that is a not-so-rare thing for working women. But the time has come for her to move out of the house and get back to work.

There’s her family, of course and whenever they pop into her life, it just gets crazy. And there’s the Bellissimo casino. It has come a long way back from its near demise, but it has a way to go and it’s time for Davis to get back on board and help.

Of the many things no casino is supposed to present to the public, a dog show is probably high on the list. Especially this dog show where the pooches are not being judged for their breed characteristics or even their abilities in obedience or agility. They are being judged for their unique abilities … to do … well … dance. Sing. Human things dogs are not supposed to do. It’s a wild and crazy competition and Davis’ boss is supposed to judge it. You know what that means. That’s right. Davis is the stand in … and Davis’ sisters’ best friend has an entry for the show. Or is supposed to but …

As it typical of all of Gretchen Archer’s hilarious yet incredibly complex novels, the dog show, the dogs, the people, the absolutely everything that could possibly go wrong or off the rails, does.

One of the truly delicious aspects of Ms. Archer’s writing is her ability to take a wildly complicated story, tie up all the ends, and come out in the end with all the hanging parts of the story neatly tied up in a proper bow. This one is no different and if it wouldn’t give away too much, I’d tell you more.

Davis Way is growing up. Her world is still crazy. Her boss is definitely crazy and her family is charmingly wacko … but she’s maturing. She’s smart. She may not always make the perfect decisions, but she doesn’t make her decisions casually or without serious thought. She cares about people she is close to … and she also cares about all the people who ramble through her life. So the books aren’t merely funny. They are also warm and frequently touching.

Suffice to know that this is one intelligent, funny, thoughtful, weird, complicated book where everything is happening at the same time and it looks like it’s all different things. Yet, somehow, most of it comes together and all of it gets sorted out. This is a life and death tale that will leave you laughing, crying, and hugging your dog. I gave all three of mine two extra biscuits. They didn’t say thank you. Spoiled maybe?

A full five stars for DOUBLE DOG DARE! 


 DOUBLE DOG DARE will be available on March 20th! Put your pre-order in now!