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The 12 Blogs of Christmas

13 Dec
The 12 Blogs of Christmas

The 12 Blogs of Christmas

Hello everyone! This holiday season I’m honored and excited to be one of a group of 12 authors who have come together to offer you up some great reading. This special project, titled “The12 Blogs of Christmas”, has been organized by my friend and best selling author, Martin Crosbie.

Here’s how it works: between now and Christmas, each day we will be hosting and posting a different bio, author picture, and a blog post from one of this group of very talented and hand-picked authors: R.J. Crayton, Jamie Lee Scott, Heather Haley, Jennifer Ellis, Helga Zeiner, Laurie Boris, M,L. Gardner, Roberta Kagan, Sarah Lane, and Wendy McClelland, and Martin Crosbie.

I know! What a fab group, right? So here is my contribution. Thanks for dropping by!

Getting Into The Christmas Spirit …

Bah, Humbug!

To steal that popular line, it is Hot Stuff Hubby’s summation of what he also refers to as “a Hallmark Holiday”. The rest of us call it Christmas.

For anyone who has anything for sale, the Christmas retail season is like bottled oxygen to an astronaut in a Space Station – absolutely necessary in order to survive the rest of the year.

Not a particularly religious man, Hot Stuff nevertheless laments the overshadowing of the original intent of fellowship and gratitude of the season, with that of a glut of retail activity.

Personally, I love the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season. I think I must have been a magpie in a former life because I love all things sparkly – twinkling lights, reflective ornaments, the ropes of flashy tinsel, diamonds (ahem, are you reading this, Hot Stuff?), and such.

I love Christmas music, especially the more traditional carols and hymns perfectly harmonized and performed by choirs – I feel no shame in humming along out loud as they are pumped out of the speakers in the mall stores; I thrive on the smells of Christmas baking – sugar and cinnamon, butter and raisins, warm gingerbread – and can often be seen hanging out around the local bakery counter until the clerks get a little nervous at my continuous presence; and I take personal pride in decorating my home and yard as though it were a marker for NASA to be easily seen from outer space.

But this year is a  little different.

  • My family is grown and gone and have moved away to the farthest points possible. They won’t be home to appreciate my normal decorative efforts.
  • An early Arctic vortex unexpectedly moved across the Canadian prairies where I live and parked itself over top of my house, and as much as I want to have my yard lit up in a display that rivals a summer fireworks display, I am loathe to be out there in -25, tying strands of lights to my trees.
  • And finally, sinking into a twinkle-deprived depression, I didn’t feel the need to haul my pre-lit tree up from the basement, rearrange the furniture to accommodate it, and transform my living spaces into a picture of perfect Yuletide-ness.

I curled up in front of my fireplace with my own Grumpy Cat, Sergio, for the practical warmth of it, rather than to immerse myself in the contentment of the holiday season.

Sergio: Anyone ready for a cuddle with me by the fire?

Sergio: Anyone ready for a cuddle with me by the fire?

 

Christmas was creeping up on me and I had not done any preparation, including getting my own writing ready for a Christmas push. I avoided visiting the mall and the bakery, and my playlist was a jumble of Country rock and techno.

Until the phone call.

Hot Stuff’s side of the family phoned to say they would be coming to stay the entire Christmas WEEK with us for the first time ever. The parents, their two grown children, and … their two Border collies.

Now don’t get me wrong. I love these relatives. They are FUN people with deadly senses of humor and the week with them will be non-stop entertainment with plenty of culinary pleasures, liquid refreshments, and laughter. I was delighted to hear they were coming, although the news that there would be two hyperactive dogs in my house for the entire week left me a little less joyful (but believe me, I am not as distressed about that news as is Grumpy Cat Sergio…).

TWO dogs?? For a WHOLE week?? You gotta be kiddin’ me! I think I’m gonna be sick…

And so the phone call galvanized me into a furious whirlwind of action. I rearranged my furniture like I was a set of triplet interior designers, I relieved my local hardware store of their entire supply of exterior extension cords with which to light up my house and yard, and I brought in a two week supply of food, drink, and baking goods. I even have my Christmas playlist wired so that the music fills my house AND yard. (Gotta love those wireless speakers.)

I may have permanently injured my Achilles tendon hauling that damned tree up from the basement in such a hurry, but no worries. It’s a small price to pay for having rediscovered my Christmas spirit. The busy preparation is done and I have only to sit at my laptop, rear glued to a chair, nostrils filled with the sweet scent of fresh cinnamon sticky buns baking in my oven, and get to work on my next manuscript in my Quintspinner series. Too late for Christmas sales, but maybe for the post-Christmas slump in late January when there is not so much competition? I’m sure I read a post somewhere claiming that there is such a thing.

And I think my Christmas spirit may be infectious. Hot Stuff Hubby has mentioned that the tree does look kinda empty, that maybe we should go shopping, and oh-by-the-way did I know that there are a couple of neighbors who will be spending Christmas alone – do we have room at the table for a few more?

You bet.

I love Christmas. Best wishes to all of you. May you be filled with the feelings of joy and friendship that is Christmas, however you see it. And in case you need a cheap-like-borsch last minute gift for a loved one, well there you go. Hit that link.

Merry Christmas! Ho, Ho, Ho!

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Blog – Adventure #2 – Operation Sting! (Jelly Fish Sting, that is…) or Up Close and Personal With Creatures of the Deep

6 Oct

Taking a shortcut and drifting through a Mexican Mangrove-like swamp, the eight of us (yup – same family of mine, that by now you’ve probably come to know reasonably well), were boating over to a neighboring beach, the sun splashing down on our shoulders like warmed suntan oil. It was early December – shoulder season meant no crowds – and it was blissfully perfect.

 

Arriving at our destination, we were delighted to see that, except for a half dozen fishermen who were working their fishnets in the shallow waters, we were the only ones on the beach. There weren’t even any customers lounging on the patio of the tiny traditional Mexican restaurant that sat just back of the soft strip of sand that rimmed this little bay.

My family in Mexico - all 6 kids. (Not a typo - count 'em!)

My family in Mexico – all 6 kids. (Not a typo – count ’em!)

As we strode into the warm waters, the fisherman yelled and greeted us in Spanish, waving their arms in an enthusiastic fashion. Speaking no Spanish, we grinned, waved back and plunged into the waves.

 

 
Within seconds, the entire underside of my body exploded in pain, feeling akin to what I imagine it would be like to have five thousand elastic bands all snapping against my skin at one time. Staggering from the water, I was nearly stampeded and pummeled into the sand by the rush of all other family members in their efforts to clear the water as well. Our combined screeching, however, was topped by the shrieks of my 14 year old daughter. A raised crimson welt slashed down the length of her thigh. Something had stung us all, but only she had any mark to prove it.

 

 
Somewhere in my panicked brain, my EMT training took over. A thought rose to the forefront. A very logical, extremely scientific thought. Something about either vinegar or concentrated urine salts changing the ph or cellular barrier of the ocean dweller’s venom-filled cells to stop or reverse the expulsion of the venom out of the deposited cellular cysts. So I did what any scientist would do.

 

 
“Boys!” I bellowed in my most motherly commando-sounding voice. “Get over here right now and pee on your sister’s leg!”

 

 
Well, I can tell you that I got no co-operation from either side.

 

 

By now the fishermen had hustled over to us and had already enlisted the assistance of the senora, owner of the beachside restaurant. This angel flew to our rescue with a huge bowl of sliced up limes and began to squish vast amounts of lime juice all over the welt. Plenty of it. And it seemed to work. Within minutes, my daughter’s wails had downgraded to a few shuddering sniffles.

 

 
“Why you no listen, Senora?” the puzzled fisherman asked.

 

 
“Listen to what?” I asked, slightly annoyed to being grilled like this while the lime juice application was continuing. This woman was using copious amounts.

 

 
“Medusas peligro!” he replied.

 

 
Peligro. Danger. That much Spanish I knew. But what kind of danger? My confused look brought only a snort from him, and he grabbed a glass from his satchel, strode into the ocean and scooped it full of water.

 

 
“Medusas!” he exclaimed upon returning, and he held the glass up for me to see.

 

 
I squinted and then I gasped.

 

 
Suspended in the water-filled glass were several tiny almost transparent Jellyfish! The “friendly” hand waving and shouts from the fishermen had been words of warning to the crazy Canadians who were blindly romping into the infested waters. We later heard from another bilingual tourist that there had been some kind of overnight underwater storm that had stirred up and brought into the shallow waters, a bloom of – given the size in the glass sample – baby jellyfish. Oh yeah, and one humongous one, as my daughter would have you believe.

 

 
Later that evening, as the sun set over that expanse of mysterious ocean, I made a journal entry of  our day’s adventure, filing it under “Quintspinner Research”.  It was shortly after that,  that I got around to  treating my still-slightly-burning skin with a lime juice/tequila concoction of my own. Taken internally. And plenty of it.

End of a Day in Paradise

A Peaceful End to a Day in Paradise

Now go and see where in Quintspinner – A Pirate’s Quest, part of this little true story was adapted to fit into the plot. I’ll give you a hint. It involves the character, Mr. Lancaster. He was fond of liquid medications taken internally. Believed they did more good that way….

 
For those of you needing to acquire your own copy of the Quintspinner adventure to find the answer, you can net one right here: http://amzn.to/1kLuqi9 .

 
And stay tuned for the next adventure installment: Um …  is that a snake you’re wearing?

Work, Work, Work … (or “Getting Research Material For Your Novel – Part One”)

25 Sep

Hiya! Those of you who follow me on Facebook, Twitter, here on this blog, or who have read my novels in my Quintspinner series (you’re my – ahem –  favorites by the way) will know that the series is set in the historical setting of the West Indies of the early 1700’s.

Tropical sunset - Romance at its best.

Tropical sunset – Romance at its best.

Tropical islands. Shipwrecks. Pirates.

All of those things that bring to mind to romance and excitement of Pirates of the Caribbean or of the old Errol Flynn movies.

 
When I considered writing the series, that’s about all that I had in mind. I didn’t realize that the historical genre is considered by many in the writing sphere to be one of the hardest genres to write in, as it requires not only a great story and captivating characters, but also an accurate portrayal of life in the time era in which the writer has chosen to set his/her story. And what did a prairie girl like me know about sailing the seven seas? Well mostly that I liked being on the water and that I wasn’t particularly prone to sea sickness. However, it did soon occur to me that I had had more than just a few real-life adventures of my own to draw from, and since I am frequently asked about such events, I’m going to share these stories in a mini-series right here!

 
ADVENTURE #1 – THE ORCA ENCOUNTER (Or “A Whale of An Adventure!”)

 
“Whale Watching off the Sunny Coast of Vancouver Island” the glossy brochure proclaimed. I thought that sounded like the perfect blend of holiday and excitement, and of course, it promised to provide the mandatory (in my mind) educational component. Our family of eight and a friend of my stepson’s were all going to be on Vancouver Island for a week in July, and I was looking for quality ways to spend our time there.

 
“Quality,” in my mind, meant something new and different, usually something that the kids would never have done on their own. Whale watching from a dinghy seemed to fit the bill.

 
Pods of Orcas, commonly known as “Killer whales,” swam around the tip of Vancouver Island, a few miles off shore, every summer, and enterprising sailors turned the opportunity into a summer tourist bonanza. Pictures in the brochure showed a boat tethered at the pier, full of smiling people looking up at the camera — it certainly was no action shot, but it was something that all of us could do together, given that there was a wide range in the children’s age from eight to sixteen.

 

 
My sons groaned and rolled their eyes when I handed out the tickets. “Do we have to do this?” they whined, “Couldn’t we just meet you back here in a couple of hours? What fun is sitting in a smelly boat all afternoon going to be? I betcha’ it’ll stink like rotting fish. You won’t like that, Mom. And look, it doesn’t even look like there’s enough room in it to get up and move around.”

 
“Attendance is not optional,” I replied, “These are not ordinary whales, you know. These are Orcas.”

 
“Yeah, but there’s no guarantee we’ll even see any,” my son pointed out, “It says so in this stupid pamphlet right here.” And he stabbed his finger at it.

 
“I don’t see why we had to get up so early just to come here,” my stepson complained, “when we’re just going to fall back asleep during the boat ride anyway.”

 
“If nothing else, time together in this small, smelly boat will allow all of us to bond, my darlings,” I replied with a tight smile, hoping that the look in my eyes would tell them that the discussion had ended.

 
At the dock, the oversized Zodiac raft looked safe enough. It was no more than a glorified dinghy with a couple of small motors attached to the back and four wooden seats spanning its width. We were fitted with bright orange full-body life preserver suits by the “captain” and his helper.

The family gathered to embark on "Whale Watching. " The body language just screams "excitement " doesn't it?

The family gathered to embark on Whale Watching.
The body language just screams “excitement”, doesn’t it?

“Phew!” my daughter gasped, “These smell worse than the boat, and they are way too hot!” She pulled hers off her shoulders and peeled it down to her waist.

 
“No one goes,” the captain bellowed, “until everyone has their suits on, right up to the last snap and zipper!” My daughter reluctantly pulled hers up again.

 
“Thank God, no one will see us in these things,” my stepdaughter, pouted.

 
This “Whale Watching” expedition was quickly turning into a teenager’s nightmare – being forced to wear really uncool clothes, having a crabby guy in charge who yelled at them, and having absolutely nothing to do but sit still, crammed together shoulder to shoulder while listening to him for the next two hours.

 
The nine of us, as well as three strangers, climbed into the boat, all decked out in the snazzy, tangerine full-body life preserver suits. We joked about being “astronauts” and “Pillsbury Dough boys in Hallowe’en costumes,” and the boys jostled for the outside seats on the benches.

 
Outside the harbour, the captain opened up the motors and we tore into the ocean waves, all of us bouncing wildly about in the boat. This part of the ride was exhilarating enough that even my teenagers, who were usually too “cool” to get excited about much, hung on for dear life.

 
We were about a half an hour into our boat ride, with the shoreline having disappeared from sight, when our captain yelled, “There they are!” He pointed to the ocean horizon where we could just make out several spouting geysers amid tiny points of black dorsal fins.

 
He carefully maneuvered our boat through the four-foot waves, to a spot just ahead of the traveling pod and then killed the motor. He explained that it was provincial law that boats had to maintain a certain distance from all known marine life when their motors were running. Sitting with “dead” motors allowed us to be legally closer to the whales.

 
Even the boys were paying attention now. One Orca surfaced about 20 feet from our boat, spouted and dove. Everyone in the boat cheered with excitement. Even from 20 feet away the Orcas looked enormous.

Whale #2
It dawned on me that Orcas were fierce carnivorous predators, known to hunt in packs, and here we were, sitting a mere two and a half feet above the ocean’s surface in an inflatable boat!

Without warning, our boat shuddered and the starboard side shot out of the water. Grabbing the seats to keep ourselves from sliding sideways, we screamed as a mountainous wall of glistening black dorsal fin rose out of the water, tilting our boat and pushing the starboard side even higher.

One second later, a waterfall of freezing ocean water crashed down upon us, nearly swamping our boat, as the huge Orca spouted and then dove under the boat, bumping it again as it passed beneath.

“BAIL! For God’s sake, BAIL!” the captain roared at us, and we desperately grabbed for the plastic containers tied to the seats. Ocean water sloshed up to our knees. The captain started the motors and we bailed as fast as we could.

He steered the boat back in the direction that we had come from and we roared away from the spot. We were all still shaking from the adrenaline rush when, a few moments later, the motors whined, sputtered, and died.

“Oh no! We’ve sucked in kelp! The motors are plugged!” the captain yelled. He radioed our position to the coast guard while we continued to madly bail out the boat.

Drenched as we were, and in the ocean wind, our hands soon cooled to the point that it was difficult to hold onto the bailing containers. The orange suits that we had earlier joked about were now conserving our body temperatures, as we sat huddled together, awaiting rescue.

As the captain continued to work feverishly on the motors, we were blown towards a rocky crag that rose out of the water. Land! Even though it was covered in sea bird droppings and smelled horrible, it looked good to me, but not so to our captain. “If we hit that, it’ll puncture the boat and likely capsize us,” he warned. “Be ready to jump into the water!”

As we veered towards its edge, a seeming miracle happened: one motor sputtered back to life. Ever so slowly, we made our way around the rocky crag and back towards the shore.

An hour later, we spilled from the Zodiac and onto firm dry land, our eyes stinging and our faces coated white from the ocean salt. Back at their office, as we wearily hung up our orange suits, I noticed their motto printed in large black letters on a wall poster. It said, “Our Adventure Tours – More Than You Could Ever Hope For!” No kidding.

Stay tuned for next week’s installment:

Up Close and Personal With Creatures of the Deep

 
(Ahem, attention please: the above is a true story. You’ll find several similar adventures in my Quintspinner series, most of it fictional, except of course, for the parts that are real. You’ll have to figure out which is which for yourself. And you can get started on that adventure right here! http://amzn.to/1kLuqi9

G’wan. You know you wanna’. It helps me fund my next fishing trip. Thanks for reading.

Damn Fine Stuff!

25 Mar

[Image
I once had an old aunt who, in her youth had been quite a fire cracker. Years later, in the twilight of her life, she was still a confident, opinionated, and quite deaf old gal, but a bundle of entertainment to be around.

Most notably, she had a signature expression of everything that was to her liking, as being “Damn fine stuff” – as in music she liked: “Now that’s damn fine music!”, or in a sip of the ol’ medicinal: “Now that’s a damn fine drink!”, or (my favorite) in judgment of a particular lifeguard’s overall build: “Now that’s a damn fine piece of beautiful walking past us right there!”

Like I said, she was deaf, not blind…

Image

She passed away at the end of March several years ago, and I can’t help but think of her at this time of year, and so, in borrowing her phrase, I’d like to introduce you to some Damn Fine Stuff.

It just so happens that I am a part of the eNovel Author March Book Frenzy.  It’s an 8 author multi-blog (55 stops at last count, yup – NOT a typo. Fifty-five stops) that is running this week, March 27th through to March 30th. There are several amusing and revealing posts by the authors, book give-aways, and contests with cash prizes to be entered into. Here’s the link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/YTQ1NWM3Zjk2MGMzZTg0ZThhYTIzYWJlNDcwMWUxOjI3/

You can find details for all of this incredibly Damn Fine Stuff here: http://fabulosityreadsbookpromotions.blogspot.ca/p/enovel-authors-march-book-frenzy.html

And free and give-away and cash is always good, isn’t it?

 Image

G’wan. Check it out. You know you wanna’… (Did I mention it was FREE stuff??)

Oh, and by the way, here is one of those entertaining author posts by yours truly ( a little bit of personal history in it) http://fabulosityreads.blogspot.com/2014/03/10-things-i-wish-i-had-known-before-i.html

Hope to chat with you somewhere along the blog hop! –Dianne

Blame It On Google (or What Was I Thinking??)

21 Jun

A few years ago, my life of being a sole charge physiotherapist and EMT in a remote rural community was pretty normal. The usual assortment of injuries (bruises, broken bones, sprains, etc.  – my patients’, not mine!) filled my days until a very unusual item came up in a Google search for a medical condition: women pirates.

What the heck? I didn’t even know that there were such things. Curious, I clicked on it and began to read. Well, it turns out that not only were there such characters, but there were many of them, and the lives and adventures of most of them were very well documented. In particular, I read about Anne Bonny and Mary Read, who, stranger than fiction, both disguised themselves as men, and quite by accident, ended up sailing on the very same pirate ship in the 1700’s through the West Indies. I read on, learning that these two ladies were described as being more determined and fearless than most of their male crew members, as they fought and pillaged their way up and down the Caribbean coastlines. Now this was good stuff – treasures, sea battles, brutal medical procedures, hurricanes, and swordfights!

I was hooked.

Being that these two female pirates were already well documented by writers who were much better writers than I, I didn’t dare try to retell their stories, but I thought that I could write my own story filled with characters from that era and lifestyle, and just let my imagination go wild. And, oh yeah, maybe throw in a few historical facts now and then, just to add realism. Boy, was I misguided!

It took only one sarcastic comment from an acquaintance to set me straight: “You are a prairie girl. You don’t sail. You don’t fight. You’re not even a history buff. What on earth makes you think that you could, or even should write about that stuff?”

Sometime during the pity party that I immediately had for myself, my hurt feelings morphed that comment into a challenge. I began to research. Several months later, I had ordered in so much reference material, that I was on a first name basis with every librarian in our library, and had tables ( yes, tables!) full of binders, notebooks, scraps of paper with details that I felt I needed to know. I also visited several marine museums, and did short sails, even attempting once to haul the main sail up on a tall ship, but failing miserably; I talked with sailors, strolled through historical sites, hoisted real cannonballs, and made my own grog out of dark rum. (After all, I wanted to involve all my senses, right?) And I began to write.

A little pirate fun during a research trip to the Caribbean

A little pirate fun during a research trip to the Caribbean

I became immersed in life in the 1700’s. In my mind as I wrote, I saw my characters, felt the tilt of the ship’s planks beneath my feet (ahem, … there may have been a little of that grog involved there), and at one point, while writing a sea battle full of cannon and musket fire,  I thought I could actually smell the smoke. Turns out it was just my neighbor’s barbeque.

Nevertheless, a few months down the literary road, QUINTSPINNER – A PIRATE’S QUEST was published. The story ended up having both a strong female and male protagonist (I am mother to two daughters and four sons and I had to keep peace in the family.) I held a book launch party complete with a pirate theme, sea shanties, author reading and book signing, sea food platters, and a surprise enactment of one of the book’s scenes by a local drama group, all looking and acting very pirate-ey. The launch party lasted several hours and attracted over 150 people.

A "Captive Audience" at the Pirate Book Launch Party

A “Captive Audience” at the Pirate Book Launch Party

I just wanna be a Pirate.

I just wanna be a Pirate.

Proper lookin' Pirates at the Launch Party

Proper lookin’ Pirates at the Launch Party

Then, much to my surprise and delight, my novel went on to win multiple awards, including Best Historical, Best Commercial Novel, Best Beach Read, Best YA, and Book of the Year awards. At one point, I was in contact with Tyler R. Tychylaar, Ph.D, historian, and noted historical author, and we discussed writing in the historical genre. He stated that it was generally agreed that the historical genre is the hardest one to write in because of the amount of time and effort that the research requires, above and beyond producing all of the ingredients that make up a great novel.

I hadn’t given a shred of thought to this when I started out. I wrote only for the sheer joy of storytelling, and the fun of weaving historical fact into a tale of adventure. But when Quintspinner neared  the end of an acceptable length, there was still oh-so-much more story to tell, not to mention the rest of the yet-unused, often juicy, historical details that my research had unearthed, just sitting on those tables, whispering to me. And those whispers most decidedly told me that it was going to be an historical series that I was writing.

“What??” That was the logical side of my brain chiming in. “What are you thinking? More historical? The hardest genre to write in, remember?”

And then I heard my heart and imagination reply simultaneously. “No worries,” the two of them soothed as I was swayed.  “Remember how much fun it was? Why not help yourself to a mug o’ the grog and let the storytelling begin!”

Now a year later, DEADLY MISFORTUNE, Book Two in the Quintspinner series has been published and it too, has won an award in Best Historical division. And fearlessly sailing forward, just like Anne Bonny and Mary Read, I am already writing Book Three and still enjoying every detail along the journey.

(Quintspinner – A Pirate’s Quest will be free on Amazon June 21st – June 25th, 2013.)

http://www.amazon.com/Quintspinner-Pirates-Quest-Dianne-Greenlay/dp/1460951921/ref=sr_1_2_title_0_main?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1371351532&sr=1-2&keywords=quintspinner

“My Temporary Life” Book Review

7 Apr

I had heard so much about this novel, that my curiosity was really peaked. I have very little time to read for pleasure, so one evening, I decided to treat myself to some uninterrupted reading time. And what a treat this story is!

Essentially, it chronicles the main character,Malcolm’s life in two parts. The first part of the story involves young Malcolm as a young teenager, as he copes with school bullies, poverty, and his parents’ break-up. Told in heart-wrenching detail, it was hard to believe that this was fiction. The second part of the novel skips ahead to find Malcolm grown up and in his mid-thirties, as he finds himself in an unexpected and dangerous adventure. It is in the second half of the story that we see how the events of Malcolm’s young life have shaped him to be the man he has become, and it is these resulting characteristics that make him so interesting and endearing as he finds himself in big trouble in the second half of this story.

I read the entire novel in one sitting, unable to put it down. While the first half tugs the reader in because of the emotional empathy it produces, the second half pulls the reader along on a fast-paced and thrilling adventure, where you care – you really CARE – what is going to happen to Malcolm.

Two kinds of stories, all wrapped up in one, there’s something here for everyone. An enjoyable read from start to finish.

(Amazon Book Cover photo) Available here: http://amzn.to/10JF3bq

Friends and a Book Review

15 Mar

The Camping GuySee these two guys in this picture? Well, they are Earl, an experienced outdoorsman, and Johnson, a hapless city slicker, who end up spending a weekend camping together. Guess which one is which? If you care for a bit of a laugh, you can read their story here: http://amzn.to/WBQT4x Here’s the description:

“I opened my business magazine, and that’s when I saw the ad.

Executive De-stressing. Get away from it all.

Guided one-on-one wilderness camping.

Our motto is “If you’re not living on the edge,

You’re taking up TOO MUCH ROOM!”

Call Earl – the Camping Guy!

So I did, and I signed up on the spot. I’d never been camping before. I was really looking forward to it and Earl – well, Earl, he was quite the guy.”

Reminiscent of television’s and theater’s The Odd Couple, The Camping Guy follows the misadventures of Earl, an experienced woodsman, and Johnson, his inept city slicker client, as they spend a camping weekend in the wilds of the Rockies. What was intended to be a de-stressing weekend soon turns into a distressing one, as these two mismatched campers find themselves engaged in unintended and hilarious situations.

 Male bonding has never been more funny, nor more dangerous!

(For those of us with short attention spans, here’s that link again: http://amzn.to/WBQT4x)

And still on the topic of friends, I have a lot of friends.

Well, that is to say, I’m talking about my virtual ones. Not unlike the imaginary ones of one’s childhood, I suppose, but this time, these are real people – virtual only in that they are my online friends. Social media allows, nay, DEMANDS this. Somewhere in this vast wonderful world, these friends of mine, they walk, talk, write stories, and blog. It’s a whole new world out there, folks. And the wonderful thing is, these people are interesting, lovely, funny, obnoxious at times, but mostly genuine and caring. And I’m all of the above, right back atcha’! So from time to time I read my friends’ books. And although I have an opinion on most things that I read (don’t we all?) on occasion, (like now) I also have the time and mental energy to write a review.

Shame on me.

I should be leaving a written review on everything that I have read and enjoyed. (You see, I don’t have the spare time to spend on those that I haven’t enjoyed – in fact I probably didn’t even finish reading anything that I didn’t enjoy.)

But these days I am making an attempt to actually read through my WTBR pile (“waiting to be read”) and so today I am sharing with you, the following review of Seumas Gallacher’s THE BLOGGER’S GUIDE TO ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. It’s a goody! (His book, I mean, not my review…) and you can purchase it here: http://amzn.to/WtKLhO

Mr. Gallacher’s “Guide” is a collection of his blog posts, expounding on his views about the world of writing. He covers topics from writing rules (splitting an infinitive, anyone?) to conventional wisdom on marketing (just go for it!) to the experience of being in Face Book jail. Each blog is set within the imaginary framework of an insane asylum, his premise being that writers are all a wee bit crazy, and each post ends with Matron’s imminent arrival (I became quite fond of the old gal by the end of the book.)

Self-described as an “old Luddite” and a “crazy Scotsman”, I would add the adjectives of “witty, sarcastic, and a joy to read”, but especially “prolific”. (He aspires to write a minimum of 3 blogs per week, as well as continuing to churn out best-selling novels and successfully marketing the hell out of them. Go Seumas!)

My favorite musings of this clever word smith is the post in which he mirthfully describes acquiring his computer skills (Computer Hell for Dummies.) As one who began my own journey into writing and publishing not knowing how to even cut and paste, I loved this selection.

All in all, this Guide is clever, sassy, and downright enjoyable. Every word of it. Buy it. Read it. Laugh out loud till your cheeks hurt. Oh, and watch out for Matron….

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