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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Red Platoon Book Review

Red Platoon, a book review.

By Clint Romesha

This riveting book likely would not have made it to my bookshelf if I hadn’t known Mr. Romesha personally and that he won the Medal of Honor for his actions depicted in the story.

The good news is, it’s all true.  The bad news is it’s all true.

This omniscient story, told from multi-viewpoints simultaneously revealed, the background, the minute-to-minute description and the aftermath is more moving than a space saga or a one-dimension super-hero epic.  Characters’ motivations are fleshed out individually, both those who lived through the horror and those who died trying to save each other.

The story begins with a routine settling in of four platoons of eighteen men each assigned to two outposts in the truly outback of Afghanistan.  Prayer would not be enough to avoid serious conflict with the Taliban until the post could be closed down, as was the primary goal they were given when they were sent to the post called Keating.  Prayer also would not be enough to assure these some fighters that the fifty Afghan military that made up the contingent from the indigenous army would actually fight alongside them if it was required. 

With no logic to the location of this post at the very bottom of a ravine of three-thousand foot cliffs, no logic to how support staff would be able to actually support and no logic to orders regarding cutting back on everything from food supplies to security devices, these men were treated as leftovers on a chessboard of the game called “chicken.”

Unsafe enough that any man walking about the post would be shot at by snipers or missile cartridges on a daily basis, the prospect of a six month tear down made anything outside the stifling buildings a run from cover to cover, and anything inside the rude rock structures confined men who lacked real food, water for bathing and room size essentially the same as a submarine.  From boredom to panic with almost constant daily raids of shelling, sleep became an elusive commodity and fear a constant companion both individually and unanimously.

And yet they persevered.  They all but thrived individually with the goal of keeping each other whole.  As with any group with the same goal, some excelled at existing and a few were challenged.

Daily small raids aside, one day in October, 2007 from 6:00 a.m. until late into the evening, fifty some fighters held back four hundred insurgents loaded with an inexhaustible supply of armaments to lob over the cliffs from above.  Every kind of ordinance at the enemy’s disposal threatened to eliminate anything breathing within Keating’s football size post surrounded with wire and four foot high stacked walls of rock.  Eight men died that day, their deaths exacerbated because medical helicopters could not land in the firefight. Approximately thirty others were wounded.  Every step of the way is documented in this amazing diary of the minutes of that day that depicts the most admirable qualities in men and the most inhumane, barbaric traits from the other end of the spectrum.  Told from the perspective of men in a man’s world, complete with the fun they could create, the misery they could not tolerate but were forced to endure, the compassion and love that overcomes all the shortcomings and impossibilities of war, the very best men can compose, the true art form of battle lies exposed in detail in this one isolated battle for freedom.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Valentine Love Song

So like your cotton clothes I wear when I'm all alone,
I'm covered by a musky mist of finest "you" cologne.
Tensile ions magnetize our souls with thinnest wire
Speaking urgent love songs interlaced with sweet desire.

You've become a place in me, a town where I belong,
A church with altars to the gods, who give the stars their song
Past the presence of this life, before all breath began
You were everywhere in life and everywhere in man.

Take my hand to paradise, to hell or crimson sea
For matter sleeps with reticence when lured so willingly.
Whatever toll existence claims, I have melody
Beyond it all and back again, through eternity.

Melody Scott

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Long Ride Home My blog for Nov. 23, 2015


Once upon a time, in a previous life, I lived in an enclave of horsepeople.  These were not competition-driven horsepeople, but just backyard horsepeople.  Yes, there were the roper types who regularly went to the local arena to calf rope and head and heel and run gymkhana.  The would-be cowboys began complaining when the calves got so big they could no longer be thrown, but more or less threw the cowboys instead.  The calves were accused of having “rubber necks” which meant the cowboys could twist all they wanted to dump the calves but their heads swiveled almost 360 degrees. The atmosphere was festive, popcorn and candy were sold at the concession stand, and all the little kids got to run around and climb on everything that wasn’t moving.

There was a lot of dirt, a lot of camaraderie and just plain fun.  The calves probably knew every rider there since the string hadn’t been freshened in a long time. 

When nothing else was going on, “rides” were formed.  That’s where anybody who wanted to got together with a group and all pointed their horses in the same direction.  In those days and parts, there were no trees (on the edge of the desert), no fences, no complaining land owners, and we could ride for days if we wanted to.

Most of us didn’t want to, but those men, gosh.  When they knew a ride was coming up, they had to go “practice” no matter the wind or weather.  One time a group of them took off and fortified their saddlebags with peppermint schnapps because it was raining and maybe 40 degrees.  Of course they got wet.  The horses got wet, the tack got wet, blankets got wet.  Apparently they hadn’t gone very far, thinking they could get warm by going in some one of their homes if they got too cold.  And everybody lived within a mile of each other.

Five of them found a little box canyon and stopped to answer the call of nature, but one of them had so much trouble solving his problem his horse got tired of waiting for him and headed home, which he could see from where they were standing, rain and wind pouring down.

That guy, who shall go nameless, yelled for his horse to come back, which of course it did not.  And the other four guys, all brains combined, decided the best way to continue the ride was for the “extra” rider to ride “double” with one of them.  The double rider fell off only twice before they got to his house.

The horses were then tied to rails and the riders “helped” the horseless one inside his house, where they all got warm and fell asleep on the floor.  Meanwhile the horses, standing in the weather getting colder for lack of movement, decided to untie the merely draped reins and go home too.

There were some at first anxious wives making phone calls when the riderless horses arrived at their home corrals.  Those ladies soon became angry women when they found out just why their worry was needless and their husbands were worthless.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

My blog for Nov. 4   Hair—Lots OF IT.

My house is filled with football and baseball during the playoffs and championships so far in 2015.  I hadn’t watched the metamorphosis last year, if indeed there was one, to a new category of ball players for the great American past times.
So, suddenly there appeared men with hair.  Not the sexy clean wavy look of something you want to run your fingers through, but the shoulder-length, scroungy look of a homeless dog.  Add a sweaty helmet to the mix, maybe a couple of earrings  (earrings?)  and then top it all off with something resembling a beard.
The beard thing mostly looks like somebody forgot to shave.  But some look planned, at ten inches long or more.  There again, not the look of smooth locks on the chin, but the look of a witch’s broom that has been used daily to sweep up who knows what.
I understand that fans who think huge red fingers, balloons that bang together quietly, their special players’ jerseys and lots of strange body paint and tattoos are somehow admirable to show their loyal glee, feel the need to emulate the beard thing by wearing beard wigs to the stadium.
At first I thought the players would shave every so often, but no.  It’s apparently about the tough grunge look.  I’m thinking it’s the only thing left that men can do that women absolutely cannot.  Maybe men have finally tired of women trying to be their equal(s).  Of course, there are those who really do want to be women and God had another plan for them, but I think the regular testosterone filled male has taken his macho thing a step further than used to be necessary.
Even the young men of today feel they look sexy with a day or two's worth of beard--even the elder ones with gray beards.
Sexy?  Sure, if you like Brillo pads to snuggle up to.  I can only think about the rash I'd have for a week as a price for snuggling.
Maybe it's a tool to be unattractive to women who are clamoring to get their hands on those guys.

I used to really like looking at men.  Now I just want to clean them up.

Monday, October 19, 2015

My Father's Tie


My Father’s Tie

My father, Morrison Fenton Wright, was born in 1916 to a Navy commander and a consummate housewife.  They moved around a bit then settled permanently in San Diego, California.  A significant part of San Diego is a huge valley that runs from the sea, eastward about fifteen miles, named Mission Valley (named, I suppose because of the mission near Old Town that stands out on a hillside at the west end.)  San Diego was the southernmost point where, in the 1700’s, Spanish Father Junipero Serra built the first of his twenty-one missions all up the California Coast.

My grandparent’s home was one of the homes along the top of the ridge overlooking this valley and beyond the ridge on the opposite side of the valley. This Spanish style house had rooms painted lavender, peach and sky blue.  It was the prettiest thing I ever saw.  It had a little courtyard with two stairs that was covered with bougainvillea and honeysuckle.  The front yard had a rose garden.

Behind the house where the wonderful view lay was a row of Eucalyptus trees and behind the detached garage was a pomegranate tree, just right for a child to sit in and eat pomegranates.  One of the eucalyptus trees had initials carved in it by my husband, DS loves MW.

But I digress.

My father was an Irish tenor who sang all the way through high school and then in quartets.  He also played a clarinet in dance bands around the San Diego area, especially at Balboa Park, home of the San Diego Exposition grounds, which were built in 1915 to celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal.

 My mother said as soon as she met my father on a blind date, she was in love.  It may have had something to do with the white suit he wore. It may have had something to do with the bold purple tie.


Monday, October 12, 2015

72 Truths About Writing

72 Truths About Writing

“The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress.”
—Philip Roth

“The road to hell is paved with adverbs.”
—Stephen King

“Who wants to become a writer? And why? Because it’s the answer to everything. … It’s the streaming reason for living. To note, to pin down, to build up, to create, to be astonished at nothing, to cherish the oddities, to let nothing go down the drain, to make something, to make a great flower out of life, even if it’s a cactus.”
—Enid Bagnold

“To gain your own voice, you have to forget about having it heard.”
—Allen Ginsberg, WD

“Cheat your landlord if you can and must, but do not try to shortchange the Muse. It cannot be done. You can’t fake quality any more than you can fake a good meal.”
—William S. Burroughs

“All readers come to fiction as willing accomplices to your lies. Such is the basic goodwill contract made the moment we pick up a work of fiction.”
—Steve Almond, WD

“Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”
—George Orwell

“It ain’t whatcha write, it’s the way atcha write it.”
—Jack Kerouac, WD

“Not a wasted word. This has been a main point to my literary thinking all my life.”
—Hunter S. Thompson

“When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art.’ I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.”
—George Orwell

“I don’t care if a reader hates one of my stories, just as long as he finishes the book.”
—Roald Dahl, WD

“The freelance writer is a man who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps.”
—Robert Benchley

“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”
—Ernest Hemingway

“Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.”
—Virginia Woolf

“Making people believe the unbelievable is no trick; it’s work. … Belief and reader absorption come in the details: An overturned tricycle in the gutter of an abandoned neighborhood can stand for everything.”
—Stephen King, WD

“If a nation loses its storytellers, it loses its childhood.”
—Peter Handke

“To defend what you’ve written is a sign that you are alive.”
—William Zinsser, WD

“If I had not existed, someone else would have written me, Hemingway, Dostoyevsky, all of us.”
—William Faulkner

“For your born writer, nothing is so healing as the realization that he has come upon the right word.”
—Catherine Drinker Bowen

“Each writer is born with a repertory company in his head. Shakespeare has perhaps 20 players. … I have 10 or so, and that’s a lot. As you get older, you become more skillful at casting them.”
—Gore Vidal

“We’re past the age of heroes and hero kings. … Most of our lives are basically mundane and dull, and it’s up to the writer to find ways to make them interesting.”
—John Updike, WD

“The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book.”
—Samuel Johnson

“If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. Or, if proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can’t allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative.”
—Elmore Leonard

“Write. Rewrite. When not writing or rewriting, read. I know of no shortcuts.”
—Larry L. King, WD

“Know your literary tradition, savor it, steal from it, but when you sit down to write, forget about worshiping greatness and fetishizing masterpieces.”
—Allegra Goodman

“I’m out there to clean the plate. Once they’ve read what I’ve written on a subject, I want them to think, ‘That’s it!’ I think the highest aspiration people in our trade can have is that once they’ve written a story, nobody will ever try it again.”
—Richard Ben Cramer

“There are no laws for the novel. There never have been, nor can there ever be.”
—Doris Lessing

“Style means the right word. The rest matters little.”
—Jules Renard

“Style is to forget all styles.”
—Jules Renard

“I do not over-intellectualize the production process. I try to keep it simple: Tell the damned story.”
—Tom Clancy, WD

“The writing of a novel is taking life as it already exists, not to report it but to make an object, toward the end that the finished work might contain this life inside it and offer it to the reader. The essence will not be, of course, the same thing as the raw material; it is not even of the same family of things. The novel is something that never was before and will not be again.”
—Eudora Welty, WD

“One thing that helps is to give myself permission to write badly. I tell myself that I’m going to do my five or 10 pages no matter what, and that I can always tear them up the following morning if I want. I’ll have lost nothing—writing and tearing up five pages would leave me no further behind than if I took the day off.”
Lawrence Block, WD

“Don’t expect the puppets of your mind to become the people of your story. If they are not realities in your own mind, there is no mysterious alchemy in ink and paper that will turn wooden figures into flesh and blood.”
—Leslie Gordon Barnard, WD

“If you tell the reader that Bull Beezley is a brutal-faced, loose-lipped bully, with snake’s blood in his veins, the reader’s reaction may be, ‘Oh, yeah!’ But if you show the reader Bull Beezley raking the bloodied flanks of his weary, sweat-encrusted pony, and flogging the tottering, red-eyed animal with a quirt, or have him booting in the protruding ribs of a starved mongrel and, boy, the reader believes!”
—Fred East, WD

“Plot is people. Human emotions and desires founded on the realities of life, working at cross purposes, getting hotter and fiercer as they strike against each other until finally there’s an explosion—that’s Plot.”
—Leigh Brackett, WD

“The first sentence can’t be written until the final sentence is written.”
—Joyce Carol Oates, WD

“When your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone. Get rid of every ounce of excess fat. This is going to hurt; revising a story down to the bare essentials is always a little like murdering children, but it must be done.”
—Stephen King, WD

“Genius gives birth, talent delivers. What Rembrandt or Van Gogh saw in the night can never be seen again. Born writers of the future are amazed already at what they’re seeing now, what we’ll all see in time for the first time, and then see imitated many times by made writers.”
–Jack Kerouac, WD

“Long patience and application saturated with your heart’s blood—you will either write or you will not—and the only way to find out whether you will or not is to try.”
—Jim Tully, October 1923

“All stories have to at least try to explain some small portion of the meaning of life. You can do that in 20 minutes, and 15 inches. I still remember a piece that the great Barry Bearak did in The Miami Herald some 30 years ago. It was a nothing story, really: Some high school kid was leading a campaign to ban books he found offensive from the school library. Bearak didn’t even have an interview with the kid, who was ducking him. The story was short, mostly about the issue. But Bearak had a fact that he withheld until the kicker. The fact put the whole story, subtly, in complete perspective. The kicker noted the true, wonderful fact that the kid was not in school that day because “his ulcer was acting up.” Meaning of life, 15 inches.”
—Gene Weingarten, WD

“Beware of advice—even this.”
—Carl Sandburg, WD

“I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide.”
—Harper Lee, WD

“I think the deeper you go into questions, the deeper or more interesting the questions get. And I think that’s the job of art.”
—Andre Dubus, WD

“Geniuses can be scintillating and geniuses can be somber, but it’s that inescapable sorrowful depth that shines through—originality.”
—Jack Kerouac, WD

“People say, ‘What advice do you have for people who want to be writers?’ I say, they don’t really need advice, they know they want to be writers, and they’re gonna do it. Those people who know that they really want to do this and are cut out for it, they know it.”
—R.L. Stine, WD

“I don’t need an alarm clock. My ideas wake me.”
—Ray Bradbury, WD

“Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers.”
—Ray Bradbury, WD

“Let the world burn through you. Throw the prism light, white hot, on paper.”
—Ray Bradbury, WD

“Remember: Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations.”
—Ray Bradbury, WD

“I don’t believe in being serious about anything. I think life is too serious to be taken seriously.”
—Ray Bradbury, WD

“It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.”
—Ernest Hemingway

“Writers are always selling somebody out.”
—Joan Didion

“Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards.”
—Robert A. Heinlein

“Keep a small can of WD-40 on your desk—away from any open flames—to remind yourself that if you don’t write daily, you will get rusty.”
—George Singleton

“There is only one plot—things are not what they seem.”
—Jim Thompson

“Anyone who is going to be a writer knows enough at 15 to write several novels.”
—May Sarton

“I think all writing is a disease. You can’t stop it.”
—William Carlos Williams

“The most beautiful things are those that madness prompts and reason writes.”
—Andre Gide

“Literature is strewn with the wreckage of men who have minded beyond reason the opinions of others.”
—Virginia Woolf

“If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.”
—Elmore Leonard

“You do not have to explain every single drop of water contained in a rain barrel. You have to explain one drop—H2O. The reader will get it.”
—George Singleton

“When I say work I only mean writing. Everything else is just odd jobs.”
—Margaret Laurence

“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is … the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”
—Mark Twain

“I always start writing with a clean piece of paper and a dirty mind.”
—Patrick Dennis

“Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now.”
—Annie Dillard

“A book is simply the container of an idea—like a bottle; what is inside the book is what matters.”
—Angela Carter

“I almost always urge people to write in the first person. … Writing is an act of ego and you might as well admit it.”
—William Zinsser

“When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people, not characters. A character is a caricature.”
—Ernest Hemingway

“Write while the heat is in you. … The writer who postpones the recording of his thoughts uses an iron which has cooled to burn a hole with.”
—Henry David Thoreau

“You don’t actually have to write anything until you’ve thought it out. This is an enormous relief, and you can sit there searching for the point at which the story becomes a toboggan and starts to slide.”
—Marie de Nervaud, WD

“Whether a character in your novel is full of choler, bile, phlegm, blood or plain old buffalo chips, the fire of life is in there, too, as long as that character lives.”
—James Alexander Thom

“Writers live twice.”
—Natalie Goldberg

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Leaving Abby

Today I had to take my dog to stay in a kennel for the first time so we can go to a wedding.  Festivities are planned for two days and nights.  Dogs are not invited.😯

Since Abby hadn't been away from us and she has a heart condition, not to mention separation anxiety (imagined), I was worried.

On the positive side, Holly's Bed and Biscuit specializes in my dog's breed---Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.  They offer individual care only with others of the same breed.  Not that we're as snobby as that sounds, but few Cavs can play with other breeds due to the Cavs' lack of aggressiveness.  These dogs eat out of each other's bowls, turn reclusive when threatened by other breeds, and won't fight.  You can see how that might be a problem next door to an aggressive breed dog.

Abby began shaking terribly when we took her into the reception room.  However, just then another car pulled up with another Cav and Abby was fascinated.  I checked with the dog's owner to see if I could let Abby visit with her pup.  The lady took one look at Abby and said her dog would love it.  They were so happy to greet each other!

Now I'm concerned Abby will get used to being a dog and not want to come home with us. Our house is very boring with nobody her same size to play with.  I never thought I would be concerned with the psychological welfare of a dog.  But, alas, not to worry...Holly's B&B even washes the dog and trims its nails before we pick her up, for a very nominal fee.

They offer a spa treatment, but I haven't succumbed.  I think I should go to a spa first before I send my dog to one.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Losing David by Cheryl Dale--Review by Melody Scott

                                  LOSING DAVID (Review by Melody Scott

By Cheryl Dale

Losing David was an extraordinary story about a man, an actor, who has been coached and insinuated into the Harmony family in order to avoid misappropriation of inheritance funds by the bad guy (Theodore Pack)..

            There were times that David was really David, then he turned into the actor, Nick Downing, based only upon who he said he was.  It was hard for me to believe he was at first David, then Nick, but the change was so convincing I started questioning how that switch could be, even though I read the true story from the beginning.

            Nick/David is a fun character who teases everybody in the story and chameleon-like, becomes hateful and rude then charming and cute, based on how he needed to manipulate the people he was hired to convince of David’s reality.

            Until the very ending I had a question in my mind, which was eventually straightened up and made the story click together.

            The foil in the story, Megan Mulrennon, charmed into loving Nick whether he claimed that day to be David or himself, was torn through the entire story about her part in his life. She realizes, to her the men are one in the same while everybody else knows he/they are lying about one or the other. After being angry at the imposter(s) for leading her on, Megan had to find enough positive things about them both that it didn’t matter who the changling was. She more or less looked for a good reason to believe in them both.

            It’s an unusual and pretty exciting story, especially for a romance, but you can identify with all of the characters as they show their stripes one by one.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

My review of Mystery In Marietta by Deborah Malone

                                                                  MURDER IN MARIETTA
    Deborah Malone

            Protagonist Trixie Montgomery is a reporter for Georgia By The Way Magazine, whose editor, Harv has assigned her to investigate mysterious, unexplainable occurrences involving theft, smoke odor, and ghosts reported to the police from the Marietta History Museum personnel and guests.
            Trixie isn’t real happy about being chosen to be a ghost catcher, but the fact is she needs a paycheck and she needs her colorful dreams to alleviate, so she agrees to spend one night in the museum with her best friend, DeeDee, and make up something for the boss.
            However, the museum curator, Doc, finds a dead body while the women are in the building. So the curator, Trixie and DeeDee all become suspects to the murder of Jacob, who is the president of the board of directors/
            Nana, Trixie’s great Aunt brings her best friend, Dora to see the museum when Dora happens to break her hip falling down and is shipped to the hospital.  Nana needs intravenous southern fried greasy chicken fixes between supporting Dora and helping Trixie and DeeDee find the correct culprit and have them recognized as innocent.
            Ms. Monroe has done a lovely job of inserting passages of Marietta building history and relating them to the present. 
It’s a classic cozy/mystery that leaves nothing out—murder, red herring suspects, frightening experiences that seem to have no explanation, period balls, complete with the fun of old ladies wrestling with hoop skirts. Sprinkled throughout the story are traditional southern homilies such as “tick on a hound dog,” “quicker than a southern girl could say ‘well bless her heart,’” etc.
Typically, Murder In Marietta is a squeaky clean novel of a romp in old parts of Georgia. If you want a cozy with a mystery, clean fun, outrageous characters with a little history thrown in, this is it.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Tennessee Walker National Celebration--Shelbyville, Tennessee.

My Blog for June 18, 2015

Since Silver Strutter is a Tennessee Walker champion in Silver Strutter Dead, my latest book, I thought I would share some continuing controversy about the way these amazing animals are viewed.

At the end of summer, the last week before Labor Day is the time of the Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration in Shelbyville, Tennessee.  While there is no question the animals are exquisite, the
way many of them are treated is an ugly story.  It's all about money again... whichever horse owner wins the plethora of competitions wins big purses.  Add to that the money the owner/breeders can make in stud fees from winning horses and it adds up to offset owners' monstrous fees to keep their barns functioning.

This information comes from a Tennessee Newspaper (out of context).

Inspection data for Celebration released (12/31/14)
The USDA inspection numbers for The Celebration show 52 percent of swab tests were positive. A total of 125 swab samples were taken, with 65 showing positive for foreign substances, USDA data shows. Not every horse is inspected. For blood tests, five of 103 horses tested positive, according to USDA data...
The scar rule and disturbing information (10/02/14)
During the 2014 Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration, one thing was evident; the scar rule was being interpreted differently by the United States Department of Agriculture and the SHOW HIO. And since the show ended, media have reported that violations doubled and soring is still rampant in the Walking Horse industry. It's time to look at some facts...
What is The HSUS doing to end soring?
Working on a national level
The Humane Society of the United States is actively working to end soring by encouraging Congress to pass the PAST Act. We are also strongly urging the USDA to step up its enforcement of the Horse Protection Act, encouraging Congress to provide more funding for the HPA, offering awards to bring horse abusers to justice and supporting breed and industry organizations that promote the natural gait and humane treatment of Tennessee Walking Horses.
Reaching out to law enforcement
As part of a larger effort to educate and assist law-enforcement agencies regarding animal cruelty, The HSUS has sent county sheriffs in Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky resources such as posters advertising rewards for tips on soring and details about how the HSUS Animal Rescue Team can help law-enforcement agencies care for animals who are at risk during natural disasters.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

May 30 blog -- Dahlonega writer's group.

Silver Strutter is now published, so I was looking around for something interesting to do and found a brand new writer’s group being organized.  The first meeting was in Dahlonega, which is not in a high traffic area even though it met at 3:00 Friday afternoon.

I met some unusually interesting people who are considering writing books, or have already started their writing avocations.

One person is a sleep disorder person who monitors people as they sleep under a controlled environment.  I have a lot of questions for her in the future.  I can see her coming up with a good plot involving her career field.

Another person has almost her second doctorate in the science field and writes in that genre.  I wonder if she’s going to let us read her work, or if we would even understand it.  I feel a little intimidated with my ability to focus on such detail.  But you never know.  Some people could write about soap flakes and make it interesting. 

Then there are three people who are interested in the romance/sci-fi genre, fantasy, etc.  I haven’t read much of that in the past, but I guess I’ll learn how to appreciate it.  Romance will be a push for me because it seems like the plot never changes.  Obviously I haven’t been paying enough attention.  These three people vary in careers and want to work toward the same goal. How can that not be interesting?

Another pair, one of whom just graduated from North Georgia College and State University, and the other teaches philosophy and one whose career field I missed.  They want to co-op on a book together in the sci-fi field.  That ought to be interesting—a sci-fi philosophy teacher.  Hmmm.

Sadly, nobody else writes mystery, which of course is where my mind stays.  But I can’t help think that any suggestions would be appreciated.  Not necessarily used, but always appreciated just in case.  We will all need beta readers, in case anybody out there would be interested in giving his opinion about unfinished, unpublished books.  Feedback is crucial to writers.  Let me know if you are interested.

Monday, February 9, 2015

My Blog for 2-9-2015 Silver Strutter Dead

The long-anticipated Silver Strutter Dead is due to be published soon. 

I had a lot of fun with this book, as the characters got a chance to participate in more adventures.

One reader sent me what he felt about Maria’s and Mason’s relationship.  He thinks it was rude of Maria to consider Dallas Alexander as a boyfriend when Mason is doing everything he can to save the world, one incident at a time.  He actually has the same attitude as Maria’s friend, Tommy Larkin.  But of course that has to do with the automatic “men’s club.”  She had the relationship with Tommy first, but his allegiance slipped over to Mason about five minutes after they’d met.

The reader also said that Dallas was a snake in the grass.  I wonder why he said that.



Friday, December 26, 2014

Eulogy for Corina Wright (my mother)

Corina was 98 years old in November 2014, as she was born in November, 1916.

In the year of her birth, cars were so new that nobody had one in Imperial.  Water was pumped from an outside well.  Laundry was done outside in a tub with a washboard.  There was no electricity in the ranch home.  Telephones were not available. World War One was underway in Europe. The dustbowl drought started around 1929 and lasted for about ten years. And the stock market crash threw America into the great depression.

Some of my dates may be off by a little bit, but it’s the best I can recall at this time Corina graduated from the old Rose School in Imperial Valley about 1934. She remembered the desperate wagon loads of people escaping the water-starved dust bowl area of the central plains, from Mexico, straight up the center of the U.S. and into Canada.  The dust was so bad there were days when the sun was blocked out.  The only thing for farmers in the drought states to do was to move west where farming was still being done due to available water, so great caravans of cars loaded with everything a family could load on them passed right through Imperial Valley and T.D.’s Rancho Corina.  If somebody appeared on the back porch needing a meal, Cora, Corina’s mother managed to supply them with something to eat.  At the same time, in 1929, the stock market crashed and triggered the great depression that threw the economy of the world into chaos, much like, but worse than, the “recession” America is just starting to come out of today.

After Cora and T.D. split, Cora worked in Imperial town at a hotel as a maid.  Corina lived with her after she graduated from high school in 1934.  The next part is fuzzy because I have no dates, but Corina and Cora moved to San Diego so Corina could go to San Diego State.  To pay for this enterprise, Corina worked in a “Five and Dime” Store as a clerk, in a theater as an usher, and any other job she could find.  Cora worked in a boarding house, which paid for her food, but not Corina’s food. So Corina had to make enough money to eat as well as to pay for her classes, in the middle of the dust bowl, the great depression and with World War II just raising its ugly head in Europe.

With the college teaching degree Corina finally managed to complete around 1951, she taught school in her beloved Highgrove Elementary School in Riverside, California.  She used very unconventional methods to get non reading children to be able to read and she never in thirty years was not successful with any child.

She was an American through and through and stood against all comers who dared to denigrate our flag or our country.  So much so that disparagers would be treated to a half-hour tongue lashing if they dared to complain.

Corina was a loyal McCall family fan who thrilled at all accomplishments of any McCall family member.  She loved each one of us fiercely, protectively, proudly, just as much as she loved America.  And she knew within her heart that there was no family that had been or ever would be as brilliant and delightful as her own.

If I could sum up Corina McCall Wright Graves, I would say “She endeavored to persevere against all odds.”

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Auraria Dead Has Been Reprinted

Goodreads now has Auraria Dead available through their website from Amazon. Mine is not to question why. It is currently ebook formatted but is soon to be in paperback.  Meanwhile, you can get a paperback directly from me.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Silver Strutter Dead Chapter One.



The women couldn’t get the horse to quit stomping on the man long enough to see if he was alive.
Realtor, Maria Sebastian, had an appointment to meet with her client, Donna Kelly and horse farm owner Dixon Whitmire. A never-ending season of foggy night time ice and stripping winds yellowed puddles, lakes and streams with pine pollen.  Everyone in north Georgia, depressed from constant sinus headaches, stretched tense hope for sunshine while winter teased. Its grip held with alternating cold nights, rainy days, five minutes of warm sunshine then back to the rain. During those five minutes some of the buds on the trees burst open. But those five minutes passed unnoticed when Maria and Donna heard the rampage going on inside the barn. Though Ms. Kelly owned Arabian horses, the Whitmire farm raised prize-winning Tennessee Walkers, and was the most beautiful farm in Forsyth County, Georgia. Also the most expensive.                                                      
Maria pulled up to the stud barn, expecting to find busy people brushing, working, and washing horses. However, no evidence of human life was found, only wild kicking, thrashing and whinnying instead.
Donna Kelly’s black F-10 pickup truck had parked beside Maria’s Jeep Cherokee.  Both out of their trucks, they looked at each other questioningly then hurried into the barn.
The horse that put Georgia on the TWA map this year, paused only a second when he saw them from his barred stall. A plaque over the door read, “Silver Strutter.”  Unconcerned with niceties the frightened animal aimed his big feet at a body lying in his stall, pulverized from the horse’s one-thousand pound stomps. Maria gagged and controlled a scream when she saw the bloody mass that used to be a person. The stallion in the neighboring stall was so upset by the odor of death and Strutter’s adrenaline rush that he also kicked the walls, bucked, reared, rolled his eyes and made the awful stench take second place to the horror.
Maria dialed Dixon Whitmire’s cell phone number, hoping he was not the dead man.  When a cell phone rang from somewhere in the barn, it set Strutter off again kicking the side of the stall, causing the next stall’s horse, Ambling Ambler, to do the same. 
“I think it’s my phone call that caused them to go off on another tirade. If this poor man is Dixon Whitmire, his phone is under him or somewhere else in the barn. If you’ll call 911,” Maria said, “I’ll see if I can find a way to divert the horses’ attention.” 
Donna immediately stepped back out of the barn to assure reception on her cell phone, and Maria searched for an oat bag to lure the wild horses into a lull. 
Maria checked the second stallion to see why he was following Strutter’s lead. The overpowering odor permeated the whole end of the barn where the stallions were kept.  Clean fresh straw bedding could not be smelled. The second stallion threw his head as if to get away from the stink. Maria gagged, then breathed through her mouth as she pawed through a grain storage room three stalls down. She poked her head into the storage room, flashed on hoof picks, various horseshoes, an ancient, ragged shoe puller nobody had ever cleaned, ropes, chains, leads, halters, bridles, dangling leather reins and two oatbags all hung on a dusty pegboard. She snatched the bags down, added oats from a fifty-pound bag lying on the floor and trotted back to the stalls thinking about mice probably nesting in the bag as well as the oats.
Donna, returned inside the barn, excused herself from the 911 operator, set the still live phone on a stall post and took one of the bags from Maria to swoosh enticing grain toward Ambler.
Strutter slowed his killing rage and perked up his ears at Maria’s offer of a treat, despite dripping sweat and blood from a hundred welts on his chest. He huffed at the oats, dived his head into the bag, snuffed twice and started chewing. Maria fastened the bag over his face and ears.
Amber had done the same with Donna’s offering. 
The women heard sirens in the distance, along with the sound of a tractor running somewhere nearby.
“I’m going to move the black out of this stall to that one over there.” Maria pointed across the barn.  First she slid the end doors closed and turned on the overhead lights.  Opening the stall door cautiously, she noticed Strutter’s shoulders had also been beaten pulpy, blood running down his legs to his heavily shod feet. He wore no halter. She patted his neck gently and fashioned a war bonnet over his head with a nearby rope. He cooperated while he still blew and munched while walking jittery down the barn’s center aisle to a clean, straw-bedded stall.
Now the women could check the man on the ground.
“Is he dead?” Donna asked
“I can’t tell, but he doesn’t seem to be breathing.” Blood ran out of his body in every direction.  Oh my God, there is no place to feel for a pulse.” It sounded like O by God, since she’d stopped using her nose to breathe. With nothing she could do to help the poor man, Maria backed away from the body.
*                                                                       *                                                        *
Sheriff Deputies swarmed the barn, stringing yellow tape as they cordoned off the body for the investigators. Emergency Medical Technicians carried a stretcher into the stall Maria pointed toward. Cameras flashed at the ghoulish center of attention.
A sheriff deputy stood with Maria at the outside door. His name badge read D Willis.  “Tell me why you’re here and everything that happened since you arrived.” Willis, with curly dark hair buzzed around his ears, wore green slacks and tie with a tan shirt. A fragrance Maria couldn’t place wafted from him but it didn’t help the odor in the barn.
Meanwhile, a woman deputy took Donna Kelly outside to question her.
Maria said, “I’m a realtor with Garrison Realty. She spelled her name for him as he wrote in a small notebook. “I had an appointment to meet my client Donna Kelly and Dixon Whitmire, the owner of this farm to discuss details for sale. Something looked wrong from the minute she and I pulled up.”
“How is that?”
“Nobody is here. The horses were rampaging in their stalls.”
“Ms. Kelly rode with you in your vehicle?” he asked.
“No, we arrived at almost the same time—both our trucks are parked outside the barn beside the emergency vehicles.”
Suddenly weak, Maria’s knees threatened to buckle, so she threw her arm over the top rail of a neighboring stall. She was about to lose her breakfast when the deputy moved them further from Strutter’s stall.
“We heard a faint cell phone ring from inside the barn. Every time it rang back, off the horses would go again, kicking, rearing, screaming.”
“You looked in the stall where the body was found?”
“Yes, to see what would cause the horses to go nuts. We saw the body. We couldn’t tell if he was breathing, so we managed to get the horse in the same stall settled down enough to move him down the way to see if the victim was alive.” She pointed toward Strutter. “But we couldn’t tell anything.”
“It’s too bad you messed up the crime scene.” His blank cop eyes looked at her.
“The horse wasn’t going to let us in to see if the guy was still alive.”
“Did you touch him?”
Maria gagged. “There was nowhere to touch that wasn’t covered in blood and...”
“Okay, I got it. Is the victim the man you came here to meet?”
“I don’t know. I never met him, only talked with him on the phone.”
“Did you go to the house?” he asked.“See if anybody was up there?”
“No.  I called the number I have but nobody answered.”
“Can you think of anything else you can tell me?
“Only that I heard a tractor running way off across the property. I don’t know if it was part of this farm or not.”
“You seem to know a lot about horses.”
“I was raised with horses. I sell horsefarms.”
“Why do you think the horse would kill a man?” The deputy tapped his notebook with his pen.
“I think the guy was beating the horse with a quirt. If that’s true then the horse did not accept the beating. You can see the horse’s chest and shoulders are striped and bloody.” 
“So you think the horse retaliated? Just turned into a killer, like a lion or bear sometimes does?”
e askH
“No, I don’t think so. Horses react to how they’re treated. If Strutter killed the guy in the stall, he was probably trying to avoid being killed himself. I hope your photographer gets pictures of Strutter’s open wounds.”
“Do you think somebody or something else could have killed him?”
“It’s just that the coroner needs to know that every horse’s shoes and feet are different from each other. Four different wounds, four different hooves.”
“Why were you showing a property when you hadn’t met the owner?”
“It’s not my listing. I represent the buyer only. Mr. Whitmire was expecting us.”
“You have the listing broker’s name?”
“Yes.  Her name is Rita Conyers with Blackman Realty.” Maria reached in her jeans pocket for her business card and took the other realtor’s card from her jacket pocket.  She looked up Rita’s phone number on her cell phone address book and wrote it on the card. “Here are my contact numbers and Rita’s phone number.”
“Why isn’t Ms. Conyers here today?” The deputy asked.
“She told me she had an appointment near Chattanooga she couldn’t break.”
“If you think of anything else, please call me at this number.” David Willis handed her his business card.
“I think I want this farm,’ Donna Kelly said as she and Maria waited for the emergency crews to move their equipment so they could get their trucks out. “But I realize that it’s going to be a problem if Mr. Whitmire is dead.”
“Yes.  It will probably be tied up in probate for awhile. And of course we have no idea if the heirs will want to sell it. I’ll call you as soon as I learn what the plans will be. I’m so sorry about this whole mess.”
“Pretty horrible,” Donna said. “I’ll want to see the farm again without the disaster.”
“As soon as I can set that up.”
*                                                                      *                                                                 *
The image of the dead man replayed over and over in Maria’s mind as she drove back to the city. She wasn’t likely to forget it. Ever.
The one phone conversation she’d had with Whitmire didn’t qualify as a relationship. She had never seen him. And now he may be the man with the pulverized face.
A few dark clouds still clustered on the east side of the lake moved on a new burst of wind Maria hadn’t noticed at the horse farm. The sky looked like a dirty pond. April had started in February and, like an annoying visitor, had stayed. Some day May would show up, hopefully dressed for spring. Maria dodged fat wet drops as she hurried into her office at Garrison Realty. “Michaela, I need to talk to you” she said as she passed through the front door. 
Michaela lived at the front reception counter. “Sure.  Meet me in the conference room.” She stopped typing and started her printer. Garrison’s office manager wore her red hair fluffed down over her shoulders in a retro style. Her long colorful skirt swirled around cream colored knee boots as she hustled into the meeting room and closed the door. The conference room had soft gold wallpaper with faux crown molding and deep gold carpeting. She turned to her friend. They sat down across the mahogany conference table from each other. “So. What have you been up to now?”

“I think you should know what happened today.”  

Thursday, June 12, 2014

My blog for 6/12/2014 Optimist Club of Cumming, GA.

Today I spoke at the Cumming Optimist Club and not only sold some books, but also was very impressed with their "Optimist Creed."  Please see it below:

The Optimist Creed

Promise yourself:

To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
To talk health,happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.
To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.
To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.
To think only of the best, to work only for the best and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.
To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

The Optimist Clubs:  Sponsor Oratorical Contests for children
Sponsor annual Essay Contests for High School Youth.
Sponsor Christmas party for Mentor Me with their sister club.
Sponsor a track and Field event twice yearly for elementary age children
Sponsor a Fishing Derby yearly.
Honors "Youth of the Month" monthly.
Donate funds to various organizations with Mini Grants.
Provides multiple college scholarships yearly.
Provide supplies for local youth organizations
Provides Christmas gifts for seniors at a local retirement home.

They also, for a small donation, they supply a US flag placed in your yard every President's Day, Memoriald Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, and Veteran's Day, which are delivered and retrieved till next holiday.

Monday, April 7, 2014

My blog for 4/4/2014 (Cavalier) King Charles Spaniels

English Toy Spaniel

I got my dog several years ago, and people kept telling me that my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was really a King Charles Spaniel (without the Cavalier part).  I did not know the difference between these supposedly two different breeds.  Since then I have learned the difference isn't very much except in size and to the breeders.

The English Toy Spaniel (above) Also called "King Charles Spaniel" are identical.  It is a gentle, happy and playful loving breed that is naturally well-behaved and intelligent. They are good family companions and play well with children. Their small size makes them ideal for an apartment. All varieties of the English Toy Spaniel are easy-to-groom and require regular twice-weekly combing and brushing.

In the late 1600s the King Charles Spaniels were interbred with Pugs, which resulted in a smaller dog with flatter noses, upturned faces, rounded heads and protruding eyes.  It was developed in the British Isles and was a favorite of British Royalty. The breed was recognized by the AKC in 1886.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

If you are looking for one of the most charming companions in the canine community, consider the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Cavaliers are the largest breed in the Toy Dog category and make wonderful pets for people with many different lifestyles.

Cavalier Spaniels are indoor dogs that were traditionally bred as lap dogs. They become quite attached to their "people companions" and do not tolerate being left alone for extended periods of time well. If your pet will be alone often, particularly as a puppy, consider choosing a breed that has less separation anxiety than a Cavalier.

Cavalier Spaniels are indoor dogs that were traditionally bred as lap dogs. They become quite attached to their "people companions" and do not tolerate being left alone for extended periods of time well. If your pet will be alone often, particularly as a puppy, consider choosing a breed that has less separation anxiety than a Cavalier.

This is my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Abby.