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Archive for September, 2015

Dear Hamish,

Me Da wrote how you saved the life of a lamb. Bonny! Your time with the veterinarian is paying off. I was sorry to hear, though, of the ‘flood’ in your croft. I suspect the twins. Mum complained how they came home with their kilts all wet and they had the smell of wet wool about them. She thinks they fell in the burn again. Grandmum has threatened to put waterwings on their wee, noodle arms.

You can still give me prezzy ideas for me family, but I managed to find a good one for the twins. Tatie Head makers. The people call it Mr. Potato Head except the potato they use is plastic. They sell plastic lips, ears, noses, and eyes and so on and one can make faces. It is harmless and looks fun. I’m sure the twins can make it dangerous, but maybe it will take them awhile to come up with ideas.

Pawnee told me her kind make a wee set for small paws so I ordered the ‘deluxe’ set. ‘Tis carved of wood and you use a real tatie or other soft vegetation or the like. Of course those silly kitties don’t charge me, but I donate to their current charity and they are very happy. I expect they will hand-deliver me order and stay for several weeks. They love visiting and I have to let each one hug me. I’ll be waking up to kitty faces and hear their purring 24/7. The things I do for those twins. They owe me.

They have left a foul taste in me mouth and I must bid you goodnight. Will talk to you later.

Your friend in the colonies,

Angus. McSheep.

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Critique Groups

A post I made not long ago made me think of all the critique groups I’ve attended. My favorite face-to-face one had to be the one in Houston, one a member of SCBW, the Society of Children’s Book Writers. We met once a month. I don’t remember how much it cost, but I could afford it, so not a terrible lot. They even held a writer’s conference.

When I moved to Columbia I thought I found a good fit. It cost fifty dollars a year, probably not bad, but on my budget rather undoable especially with it meeting across town. A smaller group met, free, at the library close by, but then I moved and there went that.

Thank goodness for the Intenet. There are several critique groups on line and I found a home at Critique Circle. Finally I found a place where they gave indepth critiques and I learned how to give good critiques. It kind of spoiled me. I have people who know more about my genre and understand it better since they write the same. At the other places I’ve been, except for SCBW, people write poetry, memoirs, historical, and adult. They didn’t always get children’s literature.

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Mr. Godding expired minutes after his sister, old Mrs. Plackett, both poisoned. Thus begins the Victorian whodunnit at Saint Etheldreda’s School for Young ladies in Ely. But what would become of the seven young ladies should they let the authorities know of their headmistress’ demise? None of the girls want to go home so they decide to stay. They’ll pretend Mrs. Plackett is alive and well. But, as Shakespeare said: Oh, what a tangled web we weave…

There’s plenty of humor in this book. ‘Poor Stout’ Alice pretends to be Mrs. Plackett and does quite a good job that everyone believes her. There’s plenty of twists of turns in the story as the mystery is unraveled. I liked the historical aspects. Ms. Berry even visited Ely. The characters all well developed, but with seven main characters I got a lost once in a while mostly due to the author interchanged nicknames with their real names, but there’s a section in front with all the characters so all i had to do was glance there.

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Writing Group

My writing group is starting back up this month after a summer hiatus. We meet once a week every Wednesday. Last year we concentrated on memoirs. That is, everyone were writing their memoirs except me as I had a children’s story I wanted to get critiqued.

I do like my writing group but it is one of those that don’t offer much help in the way of critiquing. But, as I read the story aloud I found mistakes so that’s a help. My writing group is also one where you don’t want to give a critique. Most only want to share and not learn and grow. A pity because one lady wrote a story, fiction for a change, and when she explained it sounded really interesting and then she read it. It was 98 percent and 2 percent showing and instead of dwelling on the most interesting part, where the orphaned girl is taken in by her older sister, we heard her whole life story. In a ten minute reading.

Again, I still like it. I get ideas. I sit with writers.

The leader of our group has promised a change, that’ll be more of a class with practice and assignments. Can’t wait for it to begin.

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Ecological Disaster

Saturday was one of those days where my plans didn’t go as scheduled. I had several stops to make and while I wished an early morning start, say, like 7:30, I knew it’d be ten before I got out the door. That was before I went to the freezer in the garage to pull out a stollen, a Christmas bread, as I’d just the last slice of the old one.

A rather unpleasant odor permeated the garage these last few days and you’d think I have a clue as to how my visit to the freezer would transpire. It didn’t. Last week an odor from the garbage stank up the garage and I’d had to stick the cart out in front. Another odor grew up after the offending objects left the premises.

A dead mouse?

No, try a dead freezer. Or rather, a dead outlet. I opened the freezer door and out plopped a bread. I picked it up. The warm and soggy feel it didn’t seem right. My eyes fell upon the Red Baron pizza I’d been wishing to eat. How I wished I’d eaten it earlier. And what else was in here? To tell the truth I didn’t quite know. My father stuck nuts in here and how old the blueberries were, I don’t know. Daddy died five years ago so it was more than that.

Staring at the stain on the bottom of the freezer I thought: thank goodness it’s only blueberry juice. It wasn’t. Way back, in a corner, sat some unidentifiable chunk of meat. I wouldn’t want to eat that even if I did find it frozen. Everything went into the garbage. Two and a half 30 gallon bags full. Bread items, pastry puff slices, stollen, blueberries, nuts. Gone. Gone. Gone.

At least I can clean the freezer out now. That was my only consolation, but I am going to miss that pizza.

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What happens when the end of the world doesn’t come? For Abigail it’s living in a van with her parents and her twin brother, Aaron. It’s lying to yourself that you’re not really homeless, you have, had, a home in North Carolina. While you get free coffee at upscale grocery stores and stand in line for a free lunch, you’re still not homeless. It’s watching your parents, your father, still believe in the words of Brother John, still believing the end of the world is coming.

This is a window into the world of homelessness and blind faith, although I wish it dug deeper into the latter. Why did her father believe in Brother John so much, in the end of the world? Or would this be too much for our comprehension? Sometimes it’s hard to fathom why people believe in what they do. Think ISIS. Why do they think killing people like they do is a good thing, a godly thing?

The story focuses more on the relationship between Abigail and Aaron who seems more like a big brother than a twin. I didn’t get that part, but I liked Abigail’s conflict – should I leave or should I stay? She wants to leave because she knows this whole waiting around thing is wrong and her clueless parents can’t be fixed. She wants to stay because loves her mom and dad.

I loved the scenes in the van. Bliss writes it so life in a van seems so normal when it shouldn’t be at all. It really made me think of how people live when they have no home. Good story.

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