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She: “A beautiful morning!”

He: “Indeed. Bright light in sky appears in East. Around here, this time of year, that’s news.”

She: “This calls for a hearty celebration. Would you care for waffles, or eggs and bacon, or an omelette, or …”

He: “Hm. Choices, choices. Let me finish getting dressed first. One cribro at a time.”

She: “Cry what?

He: “On a morning like this, what have you got to cry about? Does it really matter to you how quickly I put my socks on?”

She: “You’ll be the one crying if your waffles get cold. It might even be a crisis.”

He: “Like I said. A cribro.”

She: “What?!?

He: “Would you please tell me how come every time your life gets exciting, it’s got to be a girl?

She: “I’m not sure you want to go there …”

He: “Too late. They used to call hurricanes by girl’s names, but people complained, and now they alternate. Fair is fair. Last time I looked, I was still a guy, and besides, I don’t wish for people to think that, every time I screw up, I blame it on my sister. So, cribro.”

She: “Come to the table. Your blood sugar is obviously way low, you can’t afford to miss breakfast.”

He: “Mister!

She: “Oy …”

She: “Hey! I thought you were the mad scientist around here!”

He: “Ah, no. Place where I work frowns on the bwa-ha-ha stuff. Bad for fundraising.”

She: “So I’ve got to do it?!?”

He: “The fundraising? No, we’ve got experts to … oi! Put .. the .. lab .. coat .. down! Do I wish to know where this is coming from?”

She: “The island!”

He: “The one we live on?”

She: “Not this island! That island! The one with all the animals on it!”

He: “The critters we’ve got aren’t good enough?”

She: “Not for the military. They wanted something special.”

He: “Special forces?”

She: “Exactly!

He: “Such as?”

She: “Well, cross a chimpanzee with a mouse and you get something really small and really smart. Perfect for espionage. And their sense of humor helps with training and esprit de corps.”

He: “Cool. Did it work?”

She: “Not really. It’s hard to spy on people when they’re standing on tables and screaming.”

He: “Should’ve crossed the chimps with starlings. Aerial reconnaissance.”

She: “Worked fine until the chicken hawks showed up. Then they figured out that, screw the bananas, screw the esprit, they could get killed out there! And they went AWOL.”

He: “You would expect them to be intelligent.”

She: “And then there was the cross between the rhinoceros and the cheetah.”

He: “Woot! Fast biodegradable armor!”

She: “Fast biodegradable dumb armor. How do you control a tank that can run you down at 60 miles per hour and eat you, whether you’re friend or foe?”

He: “Well, what did you expect? You were cheetahing! Did no one call you on this?”

She: “Why would they? We were taking gorilla warfare to new levels!

He: “And then you woke up?”

She: “Um, well, yeah!

He: “Good. I was wondering how I was going to get a security clearance on short notice so you wouldn’t have to kill me for listening to this.”

She: “You know what’s weird?

He: “Weirder than AWOL flying chimpanzees?”

She: “Here I am, designing all these beasts and doing the mad scientist thing, and at the same time I’m the gal jumping up and down yelling this is a really dumb idea! Shouldn’t that be, like, two people?”

He: “It’s a dream. You can do whatever you want, be whatever you can, ah, dream up. Just don’t try this at home, huh?”

Wow, I really enjoyed this book!! Great first novel. Can’t wait to read Katy’s & Gar’s story, & hopefully Ty’s, too. Really one of the best romances I’ve read in a good while. Authentic in setting & in attraction/desire & in fears. Reminds me a little of Janith Hooper’s books, while in a more modern setting. Well-edited & nothing too major in proofreading, mostly just little things. The angst dragged on a little near the end, but I can see why. It was a great example of sacrificial love & patience. Ruth was strong, but Boaz made sure to protect her in his fields. He also finagled a way to ensure he could marry her, which reminds me a little of Griffin’s hiring of Bella. Loved it!

ARC Reader

Whoohoo! I know that all my reader responses won’t be great, but I like this start.

She: “It’s hard keeping all the plot lines straight when you’re writing several stories at once.”

He: “Tough to keep all the alibis consistent, is it?”

She (ignoring him): “Not to mention all the character names straight. And how they look. Did she have red hair in this other story too?”

He: “Easy fix. Keep the stories going long enough, and they’ll all have blue hair.”

She (still ignoring him): “So I’ve set up this universal character table, I can refer to it instead of having to go back to each story every time I need to check on a name, or eye color, or what have you.”

He: “You have a Universal character table? Cool! Do you have a Paramount one?”

She (belatedly suspicious): “.. what?”

He: “Or a 20th Century Fox one, or a …”

She: “Warner Brothers, or a Disney, or a Columbia. Yes dear, I’ve got them all covered.”

He: “Nice.”

She: “And you’re a jerk.”

He: “!!”

She: “Please pass the salad dressing?”

He: “OK … Dang!

She: “What dang?”

He: “Something else we can’t use because we have town water.”

She: “I like town water. Or do you really wish to go back to flushing the toilet with a bucket?”

He: “Not I. But it means we can’t use the salad dressing. Read.”

She: “‘Shake well.’”

He: “Exactly! We don’t have a well. And if you think I’m going to interrupt my dinner to track the Honolulu Water Department’s lines mauka five miles and up two thousand feet to shake their well, just so I can have a spot of sauce on my lettuce, you can think again.”

She: “I’m so glad I asked …”

She: “Did you know that handkerchiefs are coming back into vogue?”

He: “No …”

She: “And … never mind, I can’t tell you.”

He: “Can’t tell me what?”

She: “About the cool colors they come in now. You’d be appalled.”

He: “Probably. But I’m going to find out sooner or later, so …”

She: “Purple, and teal, and lavender, and fuchsia. And some in boring white.”

He: “Which they all will be, sooner or later. Once you throw the hankerpeons in the laundry with the bleach.”

She: “Hankerpeons?”

He: “Since when are chiefs going to stand still and let you blow your nose on them? Somebody should have been thinking about this when they were handing out names for things.”

Currently, beta readers are checking my first book for continuity errors and plot holes. Apparently they want better writing and are picky about their coffee, too.

text message

She finished her novel and said to He: “I just typed my tentative title into Amazon. Three-thousand other novels have the title, A Place to Belong.”

He said: “That’s easily fixable.”

She said: “Yeah, change the title.”

He said: “A Place to Be Short.”

After Jack’s family moved from Australia to America, Jack came home within an hour of being left in his first grade classroom. “These yanks are mental,” he said. “I ain’t no sheila and I’m not going back!”

“Whatever happened?” His mum asked.

“Teacher says I gotta skip to the loo!”

~*~

In memory of G-Man’s 55 Flash Fiction Friday. [Write a story in exactly 55 words.]

Natalina was a quick-witted, feisty old broad. She lived alone in a quaint little castle on the edge of Snowmania, but she wasn’t lonely. Natalina had a large, extended family and many friends. She also kept quite busy with charitable causes. One of her favorite philanthropies involved promoting small businesses. Her favorite slogan was, “Nurture your community and it will nurture you!”

Every Sunday, Natalina and her daughters nurtured a specialty bakery on Plumpton Street. They bought donuts for breakfast, tarts for lunch, and cannoli for dinner. 

Every Monday, Natalina and her Civic Minded Voters For Honesty, Integrity, & Intelligence, signed up future voters, then adjourned to Gordo & Gordo Taqueria for enchiladas and Margaritas. And, Natalina always bolstered her favorite neighborhood deli on the way home by purchasing a triple-decker ice cream cone.

On Tuesdays, Natalina supported her local mom and pop grocery store. Food shopping days always included a nurturing stop at Lindt Candy Emporium for a pound or two of bonbons.

On Wednesdays Natalina volunteered at a local soup kitchen. After six hours of helping cook, serve, and clean up the huge community meal, she was too tired to go home and cook her own meal, so she often stopped off at The Spicy Meal Ball for pasta; although sometimes she instead supported The Gourmet Veggie Cafe and had a nice healthy salad, followed by a wee slice of pecan-crusted sweet potato pie and a tiny scoop of frozen yogurt.

Thursdays were housecleaning days. Natalina scrubbed, dusted, vacuumed, and polished her little castle until it was squeaky-clean. Once the house was in pristine order, she couldn’t sully her kitchen by cooking in it. Sometimes she would go out to eat, but usually she just called Antonio’s and ordered pizza. 

Fridays were Natalina’s “chill” days. She’d spend the day eating junk food and watching Netflix. One simply had to stay home sometimes.

Of course, Saturdays were the best day of the week. They usually involved a road trip and overflowed with family and food and laughter. They whole family would help fill the cash register at Gravy Granny’s Diner before hitting the road. Some of the family members were adventurous and tried Granny’s fried-breakfast skillets, but Natalina always had biscuits and gravy. Lunch was generally a quick snack purchased from a food truck or cart vendor as they strolled through parks or in and out of art galleries. Dinner was an adventure. Every Saturday night the Natalina clan went to some restaurant none of them had previously tried. Sometimes they had to drive as far as 50 miles to make that happen. 

Natalina built a fabulous life for herself, and while doing so, still managed to support a good many of the local businesses in her community. And then it happened — one Saturday as she tried to dress, her favorite pants were too tight to zip. The next week, several of her shirts wouldn’t button. 

At first Natalina thought it was her imagination, but when garment after garment refused to fit, she had to face the truth: every day when she left her home, somebody broke into her house and alteried her clothing. She called the cops. They laughed at her and told her to diet. Of all the nerve! (She scratched buying tickets to the Policeman’s Annual Crab Feed Fund Raiser off her to-do list.) After all, she was far too busy supporting the community to get fat. She only took one day off a week! 

Natalina knew what she had to do — hire a private detective! Of course she hired someone local. He watched her house for a week, and despite the fact that even her trendy jogging suits (which she never jogged in) were also getting smaller, he didn’t catch anyone sneaking in and out of her house. Then he, too, suggested she diet. Natalina realized he must be in league with whoever altered her clothing.

She decided to hire a detective from “away,” but first she had to buy new clothes. Despite being somewhat miffed at her neighbors, she still shopped at local boutiques. Unfortunately, buying new clothes cut down on the amount of money she had to spend in support of the local eateries. It was sad, but what could she do? Wearing clothes in public was polite, and Natalina was never deliberately discourteous. 

She wasn’t made of money, so it took her several months to replace her wardrobe. In all that time she only managed to eat out once or twice per week. Sadly, Lindt Candy Emporium and Antonio’s pizza went out of business. New clothing shops opened up in their place. One of them specialized in trendy jogging suits. Natalina bought several.

Once her closest was re-filled, Natalina turned her thoughts to hiring another private detective, but found she had no need. Her clothes had stopped shrinking. She sat and pondered the mystery and in no time the answer came to her. It was the clothing shop owners! They had been jealous because she hadn’t been spending her support dollars evenly! 

As I mentioned previously, Natalina was very civic-minded. She forgave the garment shop owners because, after all, they were part of her community and deserved to be nurtured, too. That’s when she realized she needed to support the flower shop, the nail salon, the bookstore, and a variety of other local entrepreneurs. When Natalina started spending her money more judiciously, the clothes shrinkers disappeared, proving her theory. And once again Natalina was content with her fabulous life in her quaint little castle on the edge of Snowmania.

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