My father, now 80 and fighting cancer, has always seemed fearless to me.  Always in control, always sure of his decisions.  He was, after all, a USAF fighter pilot.  A TEST fighter pilot.  Those are the guys who raise their hands when the CO says, “Don’t know if this newest fighter will hold together at mach 1500.  Who wants to give it a whirl?”  (I know jets don’t fly that fast.  Just making a point.)

Anyway, this fearless, “stare ’em down until they blink first” man apparently met his match with his four-year-old daughter — me.  Let me take you back.

I am the oldest, and the only girl.  In my memory of that late summer afternoon, Mom is not home, so Dad is in charge of said girl.  I am playing in the backyard, running from bush to tree, apparently trying to elude an imaginary villain (or some such).

Dad has been left with instructions to make sure I have a bath before supper.  So, being a dutiful husband, he calls from the backdoor for me to come in.

I can’t.  Not yet.  I’m still hiding, still running. My imaginary life is much more real than the one which involves a father getting more frustrated by the minute as he watches me zigzag across the backyard.

“It’s time to come in!”  he calls again and this time, steps out into the yard.  “Now!”

I’m not listening.  I’m much too busy.

Before I know it, he’s grabbed me by the arm and marched me into the house.

Okay.  Now he has my attention.

We walk into the bathroom, his jaws flexing in his irritation at my lack of obedience, his face that flushed red I later become all too familiar with.  With a quick twist of the wrist, he has water filling the tub.  Before it gets too deep, he picks me up and sets me in it, play clothes, sneakers and all.

I remember watching the water turn my sneakers a darker shade, and staring at my now soggy jeans.  Mommy never did it this way.  Turning my head, I stare at him, my question of his sanity shooting from my button brown eyes.

“Uh, Daddy…?”

I don’t remember what happened next, but I have a feeling Mom never found out.

A Most Frustrating Vendor Experience

I paid for a table at an Octoberfest in a nearby Texas town, to sell my novels, especially my newest release “Lady Gwendolyn”.  Saturday (Sep 28) was the date of the festival.  Not only did I pay for the booth, I was required to donate items for a silent auction, plus sign a statement that I would stay there until 8 pm before breaking down my table (penalty for not staying was losing a $20 deposit).

I didn’t mind doing those things — until I got there.  A music area was set up for a live band, for a karaoke contest, and later for an auction.  The sound was too loud all day, so much so that people could barely hear me greet them as they walked by.  They could barely even hear each other.  Subsequently, sales were dismal.

At 6:30 the auction began, and they cranked up the volume to the point that it became physically painful.  I could not subject myself to the pain, with no chance of making any sales, so I asked if I could leave.  I was told by that person that I could.  When I asked to get my $20 back, someone else showed up.  They had to talk to whoever was in charge, who sent me the money with the message that since I’d broken my contract with them, I would not be allowed in as a vendor for the next year.  No problem.  I won’t be back next year — or ever.  How can they expect vendors to stay for over an hour of that kind of physical torture?  No one was coming by the booths.  They either were at the auction, or had left to escape the noise.

While I didn’t stay until 8, didn’t they also break the contract by not supplying vendors with an environment conducive to sales until 8?

What a strange, frustrating day.

Review by Nancy Jardine for “Lady Gwendolyn”

I’d like to share my review of Magnolia Belle’s excellently written ‘Lady Gwendolyn’. This is a 5*, action packed, adventure set in the Middle Ages.

“Magnolia Belle plunges the reader immediately into a dangerous journey, one that is fraught with deception and treachery. Yet, this initial journey is only one of many – betrayal and a degree of confusion a continuing thread throughout the plot. Lady Gwendolyn and her maids, Madeleine and Ruth, find themselves perilously set upon and are embroiled in a trap that becomes filled with all the horror and bloodshed that can often be expected in novels set in the Middle Ages.

The detail throughout the novel is vivid and richly accurate, the locations straddling the border between Scotland and England.
At times, the current situation calls on characters, main and secondary, to act according to their conscience though they are torn about doing their duty to their liege lord. In Lord Richard’s case, he has some maturing to do very quickly to ensure the best for the people who are under his care…and for the lady he genuinely loves.
Magnolia Belle has created very believable characters, the developing relationships indicating just how constraining the era was in many ways regarding who might marry whom – according to their station and their contractual duties. I was very taken by the character of Beowyn, someone to rely on and wholeheartedly trust. Others were tainted, (no spoiler names here) and yet were redeemable. The little twists at the end bring the plot to a nice and tidy closure.
A very well written, and well edited novel, I can thoroughly recommend ‘Lady Gwendolyn’ to lovers of the medieval era.”

“The Beltane Choice” by Nancy Jardine

Here is my review for Nancy Jardine‘s book “The Beltane Choice”. (Short version – WOW!!)

Nara finds herself kicked out of her only world, a small tribe among the Celts. Lorcan finds his own tribe threatened by Roman domination. Not just his tribe, either, but the entire Celtic way of life. His talents as ambassador and his prowess as a warrior are put to the test, especially when he rescues the mysterious, nameless woman from a wild boar.

Distrust runs deep between Lorcan and Nara’s tribes, as deeply as it runs between them. But common enemies and an overwhelming attraction throw them together to try and find their footing in the current political quagmire.

Nancy Jardine has done an outstanding job seamlessly weaving their story into the history of that time. She captures the fear of having one’s home overtaken by foreigners, and the heat of falling into a love forbidden by all. Her use of language is exquisite and her writing style a joy to read.

If you like historical fiction, I can’t recommend this book enough. I haven’t been this taken with a story or an author in years.

The Impatient Reader

I’ve been writing novels for many years now.  My first books are much different than my latest because I work at perfecting the craft.  I really, truly care about creating a professionally written tome.  My first books are quick, fast paced and lack in description.  The narrator told the story more than the characters showed it.  I’ve been told by a lot of writers that it should be the other way around.  The characters should show the story.

Okay.  I got it.

I have a friend (I’ve known her for 25 years or so) who likes to read my books.  It was with great anticipation I waited for her response to my latest book, “Lady Gwendolyn”.  She called the other night and told me it wasn’t her favorite.  It was too slow.

What?  I mean…what??  This is my best work yet.  Once I quit pouting, I began to think about what she said.  And I began to think about her personality.  She is, as I’ve come to term it, an “impatient reader.”  She doesn’t want to be slowed down by description.  Give her the quick and dirty and don’t waste her time.

I’ve always said (and believed) that every book has its audience.  I just had no idea that it could mean the book I’ve been trying to avoid writing.  It also explains why my first book has gotten many five star reviews on Amazon.  I couldn’t figure it out for the longest time.  But, now I know.  I have an “impatient readership”.

When I Was A Child by T.L. Needham

It wasn’t until later in his life that author T.L. Needham began hearing stories about a lost aunt who had become a nun.  Intrigued by that, and wondering at the secrecy for all those years, Needham began digging into his family’s past, beginning in the 1920s and onward, in this nonfiction book.

The main character and Needham’s uncle, Louis Pfeiffer, finds himself as the last parachutist out of his plane on D-Day just before his plane is shot down, killing all on board.  The rest of his unit are captured by the Germans and interred in a POW camp.  The family’s story weaves in and out of that time as Louis recalls different events and different relatives.

Needham holds no punches in describing both the good and the bad in his family tree.  His grandfather was a bootleg bully.  His mother, “Jerry”, and Uncle Louis were sent to an orphanage for a time.  The family lost their farm during the 30s dustbowl and stock market crash.  Yet, through it all, Needham finds the silver lining, the soft touch, the kind heart that gives his family depth, character and grace.

This book is like a biography of an entire family, not just one person.  If you like human interest stories and accounts of how people survived almost impossible odds, I highly recommend this book.