Saturday, October 11, 2014

Thinking About to Kill a Mockingbird Karla Stover

To Kill a Mockingbird is approaching its 45th birthday and the movie its 43rd. I love both the book and the movie and, like many other people, am curious about Harper Lee. I read Charles Shields’ biography, I am Scout and just this past week, Marja Mills’ book, The Mockingbird Next Door.  Mills’ book was on the best seller list for a few weeks. Perhaps other readers discovered, as I did, that as writer, Harper Lee wasn’t a very interesting person. Granted she is older now, but her post-Mockingbird life, seemed to be spent fishing for catfish, feeding ducks, having coffee with friends, and reading. According to Mills, she became friendly with Harper’s sister, Alice, during a routine newspaper retrospective; Alice talked a lot about the Lee family and through her Mills met Harper. Harper, in turn, introduced her friends to Mills, and paved the way for people Mills could interview. The book about Mills and her friendship with both women came out and Harper immediately denied approving it—even though she saw the tape recorder running during get-togethers. I say, Pish Tosh to Harper Lee.
Shields’ biography was more interesting, but here’s what he left me thinking about:  In its initial state, Mockingbird was said to resemble a string of short stories. Tay Hohoff, an editor at J. B. Lippincott & Co., spent two-and-a-half years helping Harper rewrite the stories to turn them into a book. Mockingbird came out and was a huge success. Harper has said she started another book, but then her literary agent died and Hohoff retired.  I think she knew that without their help she couldn’t write anything else as good as her first book.  Perhaps she saw what happened to F. Scott Fitzgerald. His first book, This Side of Paradise, published in 1920, made him famous. He only wrote four more books (plus some short stories and novellas) and died at age 44 after years of alcoholism, not to mentioning plagiarizing some of his wife’s stories.

Maybe none of this matters. We have a book to read and re-read and a movie with what Gregory Peck called his “roll of a lifetime.” 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Sweet As..... by Cheryl Wright

Each month I look forward to sharing a card with you. The one I'm sharing this month is totally different to the previous shares.

Last week I went to the country for a few days (along with my husband Alan) to visit hubby's mother, who sadly has dementia.

While I was there, I came across a card magazine that I'd never been able to find in Australia before. Card magazines always have a 'free gift' included, and quite often the gifts are stamps. This magazine included two very cute rabbit stamps, along with two small embossing folders. (The blue design along the bottom of this card was done using one of those embossing folders.)

Apart from the colouring, this was a fairly quick and easy card.

I think I've mentioned before that I make and donate cards to soldiers overseas. This card will be going in my next bundle. This one is already bagged and ready to go.

Here's the inside as well:

Very simple, but it extends the design to the inside as well. I hope this card will make a soldier's child very happy.

Til next time,


My website: 

Make sure you join my Facebook page as I run regular giveaways for followers, and a new one will be starting soon!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A Haunted Hotel by Tia Dani

As a writer sometimes you need to get away and re-charge your brain.  The best way we found to light a fire under our dormant muse is to hang out with like-minded friends, brainstorming, eating chocolate, and drinking wine.  We do this several times a year by going on a weekend retreat at a fun place in our state.  And nothing is more fun for us than staying in a hotel that is supposedly haunted.  For us half the fun is delving into ghost lore and learning the story behind the haunting then exaggerate it to another level.

A couple of years ago a group of our writer friends reserved the entire third floor of the Jerome Grand Hotel. Jerome AZ is an old mining town set on the side of a mile-high mountain now mostly home to artists who sell their work in the local shops. Originally the Grand Hotel was the United Verde Hospital, but as mine operations phased out the hospital closed and remained vacant until the building was turned into the Jerome Grand Hotel. Local legend tells the story of a lady who roams the building looking for her daughter who died at birth.

"What makes the Jerome Grand Hotel a worthwhile place to stay, is the fact that this is probably one of the most active haunted locations in the world," according to 

As we checked into the hotel we were told stories of strange noises coming from empty rooms such as coughing, labored breathing, and even voices.  We were told not to be surprised if the lights or TV's turned on and off by themselves.  Spines tingled in anticipation of a ghostly encounter as we made our way toward our rooms.  The first night, several of the girls reported strange sensations and several said they felt cold spots in the hallway but nothing unusual happened to us…yet. 

On Saturday night, the Jerome Grand took our group on a fun ghost hunt where we got some great orb pictures.  We didn't see any ghosts while on the tour, but some creepy events happened to us after we went to bed.  Our room phone rang at midnight waking us up, but when answered, no one was there. The ringing phone was a bit spooky, but the scariest of all was the feeling of panic Bev aka/Dani had as unseen hands tugged on her body as if trying to scoot her off the mattress.  Since the hotel was once a hospital could it have been a nurse trying to move a patient?  Convincing ourselves it was only a dream, we tried to go back to sleep, until Chris aka/Tia screamed that someone had yanked her hair.  After that happened neither of us slept until the sun came up.

When we all met up for breakfast Kathy Twohawks complained that someone or something had pinched her hard during the night. She rolled up her sleeve and showed us the beginning of a large bruise on her arm.

Were all these incidents real or just active imaginations of creative romance writers?  A personal experience can either change your mind or reinforce your belief in paranormal activity.  We believe there are things that can't be explained.  And, besides, who doesn't love a good ghost story?

Our next book has a couple who are trapped in time by an evil shape-shifter. We're finishing up the last chapter as we write this blog. Meanwhile check out our latest release, Time's Enduring Love. It's a time travel set in Kansas during 1866. We think you will enjoy reading it and we promise that you won't be scared.

Happy Halloween,

Tia Dani

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Jason Voorhees, Jaime Lannister and Me by Jamie Hill

Ah, October. Leaves are changing color, and everyone is talking about football, or the return of The Walking Dead. (YES!) Halloween is just around the corner. As a child I loved everything about Halloween from making decorations to dressing up to trick-or-treating and bringing home a mountain of candy. I didn’t particularly like being scared, but a little bit was okay—the kind of scared when I knew I was really safe, such as a tour of a haunted house, or going to a scary movie. (These days, the prices of the ‘good candy’ alone are enough to scare me!)

We love scary movies in my house. I married a man who grew up watching Vincent Price and shows called Chiller and Thriller and even Twilight Zone. Movies back then used to advertise that there would be a doctor in the theater for those who might find themselves in need of one. One oldie I watched even had flashing lights and a clanging bell when something scary was about to happen, in case the viewer wanted to avert his or her eyes. *snort*

On our first date, my future husband took me to the drive-in movies to watch Friday the 13th, the first movie starring villain Jason Voorhees. It scared me sufficiently that I spent the second half of the show much closer to my date (possibly his ulterior motive for choosing that movie?) My mother nearly passed out when we told her later. Much later.

That was the beginning of our relationship, and our joint love of scary movies. We’ve seen a good share of them. Many were really awful. Some were just gory. A few were top notch, such as the first Halloween movie. (The sequels slowly went downhill.)

Hubby doesn’t like demonic or satanic themes, so we don’t watch those. I don’t like violent gore-fests where bad things happen to good, innocent people for no reason. (This does not include those teenage camp counselors in the Friday the 13th movies. Those kids should have known better.)

These days we are slightly choosier about what we watch. We know many scary movies are going to be silly and/or stupid, and if we don’t expect too much going in we aren’t disappointed. That’s part of the fun of it. 

I am guilty of recently watching the 2013 supernatural thriller Mama because it starred Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister from Game of Thrones). But that’s a whole ‘nother topic, right there. And don’t even get me started on The Walking Dead. Best zombie show ever!

Happy October and Happy Halloween to those who celebrate it!

Jamie Hill

Short Story - Maude, There's A Body - Janet Lane Walters

I began my career writing short stories but I don't write them any more. This is the last one I wrote and it took me more than two...