Thursday, July 28, 2016

I SEE RUDE PEOPLE by Amy Alkon #FridayReads

My goal of reading and reviewing 71 books between October 2015 and October 2016 is moving along quite smoothly. Well, maybe more in a jerking fashion. In the beginning, I would read as many as three books in a week. Then April brought the annual A to Z Blog Challenge. 26 straight days of blogging (with Sundays off for good behavior) tripped me up a bit. Strategic planning kept me ahead of the game, but recuperating from A-to-Z set me back. So I'm fairly even. I've read and reviewed 41 books to date (plus my own latest Pepper Bibeau mystery.) With 12 weeks to go, and 30 books to read, that means approximately three books per week. Piece of cake. Actually, lots of chocolate!

My Book Club's reading choice for June was I See Rude People: One Woman's Battle to Beat Some Manners Into Impolite Society by


*Yes, it did!
How do you deal with rude people?

Thursday, July 21, 2016

#AlohaFriday - Helping Homeless Halflings - Heartwarming!

Surf Waikiki June 2016
How is reading about the homeless going to put me in a happy mood on #AlohaFriday? I debated the question with myself for some time. The last way to perk up an end-of-week sagging mood would be to discuss folks living on the street. When this story came to my attention, though, I gave a hearty "Eureka!"

Because it is published in the Star*Advertiser Hawaii newspaper, it is possible not everyone will be able to access the article. For this reason I will not only include the link, I'll do a bit of paraphrasing about the story!

June 27, 2016
Hawaii News
Homeless keiki stoked on waves
By Dominique Times
(keiki is Hawaiian for child, offspring, descendent; pronounced kay-key)

Local children living in a family shelter were given surfing lessons on Waikiki Beach. This was part of a program sponsored by the Institute for Human Services' Children's Enrichment. The program was six weeks long, packed with activities aimed at building the kids' self-esteem while also serving as an educational program.

By the time "Big Wave Dave" led the group of kids fifteen feet offshore, they were ready to catch their own waves -- riding "with big grins all the way to the shore."

I hope you can access the article for all the informative and heartwarming information provided about these beautiful people who are spending time with the kids, and the kids themselves!

Some of Gail's Personal "Aloha Off-Shore Views"

Photos on the wall at Duke's Barefoot Bar of the original
Waikiki Beach boys
Admiring the fancy surfboards (with Flat Lucy!)


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

SWANS: My Thoughts for #WriterWednesday

Swans have long held a particular fascination for me, possibly because of an early presentation of the ballet performance, Swan Lake. The production that most stands out for me appeared in Montreal, Canada, during my trip to a land of paternal ancestors. Quebec does not first spark thoughts of stage musicals, but more likely of fur trapping or the latest DiCaprio movie, The Revenant. Yet, for me, thoughts of Quebec conjure up feelings of gracefulness and peace represented by swans. Whether white or black, swans cast a beautiful shadow. photo
A second powerful connection in my mind involves the swans of Bruges/Brugge. “It’s in Belgium,” offers a culturally-challenged main character in the movie, In Bruges. Belgium is another of my ancestral homelands. The famous story of the Bruges swans goes back to the 15th century. Legend has it that Emperor Maximilian of Austria was quite unpopular with the oppressed people of Bruges. They revolted, capturing and imprisoning the emperor in a house on Market Square. They did the same for his adviser, Pieter Lanckhais, who was equally unpopular. Pieter was condemned to death. The emperor's life was spared but he was forced to watch the rather brutal execution before escaping and taking his revenge. Until the end of time, he decreed, Bruges must keep swans on all its lakes and canals, and do so at their own expense.
Why swans?
The city legend was born because swans have long necks and the Dutch word for “long necks” is “lange hals” or “lanckhals”.

ChocoladevanBrugge - The Swans of Chocolade van Brugge
While visiting relatives in Boston, you can imagine my excitement at seeing two beautiful swans in the Public Gardens lagoon at Boston Common. Two swans, always only two swans, and always named Romeo and Juliet. Naturally, it became necessary to include them in my latest book, much of which is set in the Boston area. While the novel is entitled Red Blood Homicide, no swans were harmed during the writing of this story!

For more information or to read a sample of Blood Red Homicide:

*****     *****


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

#IWSG Strategy for Relieving Tension

It's time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group blog posting. IWSG was created by the awesome ninja captain Alex J. Cavanaugh, and you can find a list of all the other members of the group here

His awesome co-hosts for the July 6 posting of the IWSG are Yolanda Renee, Tyrean Martinson, Madeline Mora-Summonte , LK Hill, Rachna Chhabria, and JA Scott! 

JULY 6 QUESTION: What's the best thing someone has ever said about your writing?
I will answer this question at the bottom of my blog post for today.
*****     *****     *****

Stress and tension are a normal part of a writer's day. If it isn't a novel's character running amok or a scene refusing to be visual enough to interest a reader, then chances are the point of view has become skewered. When I received my edited work-in-progress back from the editor, red marks ran rampant. Along with comments about cliches and over-used words, several pages featured such comments as "talking heads" and "need more scene setting."

At times like this, it is always good to have a strategy for relieving tension. Sometimes jumping right back into writing works for me, especially if it involves composing a fun blog post. If a particular activity helps to relieve stress, all the better. In this case, I combined the two by writing about an activity that helps me reduce tension.

When Life Gives You Blood Oranges

Iced tea lemonade on the lanai - what a great way to relax! At times its just old-fashioned lemonade or fruit juice. But last time I mixed up a batch, I decided the preparation might make an interesting blog post. The tart lemons, lime, and blood oranges would certainly present a colorful picture story.

With the fruit at room temperature, I rolled each lemon and the lime across the table to “loosen” the juice inside. Then I used my manual hand-squeezer. If you have one of those electric juicers (lucky you) then you can probably skip this step.

Oranges, especially blood oranges, are soft enough and I don’t roll those, just slice them in half and squeeze. (The first time I cut open a blood orange and saw the deep red color of its pulp, I almost dropped it!)

In my hometown cookbook, I found an old recipe from 1951 that suggests combining 3 ¼ cups of cold water with ½ cup of lemon juice, then sugar to taste. Everyone has their own preferences and a nice variation on regular sugar is honey, or even ginger ale for a fizzy drink.
Whatever your method, just remember: If life gives you lemons, smile because you can use your pent-up energy to create something of value. I convert my stress (usually computer related) into character conflict that drives the next scene of my novel. Or fix my "talking heads."

When life gives you lemons, what is your strategy for relieving tension?
JULY 6 QUESTION: What's the best thing someone has ever said about your writing?
I'm not sure if this answer quite fits the question, but it tickles me when someone says how much they like the protagonist in my mystery series. I have grown quite attached to Pepper, and a compliment about her is considered a compliment to me.

Sunday, July 3, 2016


The 4th of July represents Independence to Americans, freedoms as outlined in the Constitution of the United States
We the People:

and the United States Bill of Rights:

For some, the day conjures up images of Paul Revere ring ... ring ... ringing those freedom bells.

For others, the day offers all-American hot dogs and fireworks.

Whatever Independence means to you, I want to wish you a


Red, White, and Blue
                 signifies the United States of America.

Musically, certain songs will have folks clapping, wolf-whistling, or exchanging high-fives. A select few tunes, anthems almost, bring tears of joy, sorrow, anger, or maybe all three.

Songs on my top-hits list for the fireworks display focus on our Military, the most important reason we are able to exercise and celebrate our RIGHT TO FREEDOM each July 4th:

Merle Haggard's
Fighting Side of Me
(from the Vietnam era: Remember, you can be against war and still support our Military personnel);

Lee Greenwood performing his patriotic
God Bless the USA

Johnny Cash relating
The Ballad of Ira Hayes (a WWII ballad)

Alan Jackson asking
Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning (that September Day)?

One of my photos from Magic Island 4th Fireworks 2009
and the irreverent and totally relevant
Toby Keith singing
Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue
to the troops:

Toby Keith Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue

use this link: