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via By Rote with Ryan: How Writing is Like Garage Sales

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Daisy's Choice cover

 

Emotional and thought-provoking story. I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Daisy Sugarbush starts out the story as her dad’s shadow. A true tomboy, she’d rather be fixing things with him or going places with him or hanging out with the guys. Her mother is resigned to the fact that her daughter is not likely to become a ‘lady’.

Then Daisy’s beloved dad is stolen by cancer. Daisy and her mother are driven further apart than ever. In an attempt to re-connect with her daughter, Rhoda–Daisy’s mom–takes her out for a makeover. She gets dresses and feminine clothes to replace those old work shirts and ratty jeans. She gets heels, her hair done, nails, the works, all to change her from  a tomboy to a young lady of refinement. And it works! Daisy starts to enjoy the reactions of her new look.

Tragedy soon strikes the Sugarbush household again and Daisy is horribly burned in a freak gas fire. For months she languishes in the Trauma Burn Unit and finally the rehab center. She begs everyone to please be spared the painful and endless treatments to her charred skin. Blind, crippled, and disfigured, she only wants to be allowed to die quickly in peace. No more pain!

Mom Sugarbush won’t hear of it. The treatments persist. And so does Daisy’s desire to escape her miserable life. Then she finally goes home with a plan of how to succeed in her choice.

This could easily be a work of non-fiction. The struggles that burn survivors go through is agonizing and it would be natural to want to escape it for a peaceful passing. Daisy does the victims of burn trauma a fine justice with her character behavior. Reading “Daisy’s Choice” could get one’s thoughts going on the ethics of allowing a loved one to have their wishes granted if what happened to Daisy really happened to them. Or if it happened to oneself and they were left with a bleak–at best–prognosis.

Unfortunately the story was also rift with errors and pacing issues that distracted from the emotional impact of Daisy’s story. One secondary character was Charlie or Charley–I’m not sure which as both were used. There was also frequent repeated words in the same paragraph where alternating with similar ones could have livened the writing up. And there were many situations where too much backstory interrupted the showing by breaking in and telling for several paragraphs before resuming the story again.  It dragged the story down and led to a herky-jerky feeling at times.

Through it all, despite the work being fiction, I could not help but wonder at the ethical issues being raised. Feeling Daisy’s pain and despair as I did, I had to question if it were me, what would I want? If it were a loved one, would I agree to their choices or override them? Those are some tough questions.

An unexpected twist at the end took me by surprise. All in all, style and errors aside, this is a remarkable book that I can recommend–along with some tissues.

 

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I recently had the pleasure of reading Books 2 & 3 of the Sanctuary Tales by Giacomo Giammatteo. He and his wife, Mikki, operate an animal sanctuary and over time, Giacomo has shared his adventures and misadventures. They have pigs, dogs, cats, a horse, (had a duck), a boar, and other charming critters at their home.

Both books are fairly short, and are filled with dozens of large, color photos to help bring the stories to life. There are a few minor word and typographical errors in both volumes, but they are small in comparison to the humor and sometimes bittersweet stories between the covers.

If you are an animal lover, you will no doubt enjoy these true stories.

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What is it about stairs that appeals to me? Not that I like climbing them, as my hips and knees complain loud and long whenever I must. It’s the old, preferably abandoned outdoor flights of overgrown steps that make me stop and stare. I also love steps leading into the water. Oh, I really love those steps!
There is a neighborhood where I walk regularly, an old, historic area, with older houses. The roads are steep and winding hills. It’s a great cardio workout to hoof around there. And the landscaping of the old homes is always interesting. One thing most of them have in common is they are accessible by steep steps on one side and up a steep hill on the other side. I guess that’s how they designed neighborhoods years ago. steps 6  One of my favorite views

steps II 12-2016    steps  Steep climbingsteps 8  steps 5

steps 3  Any here you’d love to see the top of? steps 9   Or no way?Stairs 3

Very overgrown with ivy and kudzo.

 

stairs2228(1)  N-a-r-r-o-wThe Steps pic

This was in Galway Bay in Galway, Ireland. These sorts of entrances were quite popular. I am guessing people came in on larger boats, and took small rowboats/hookers from there to the land, using these types of stairs to cross over.

I think stairs represent something in our lives: a connection from where we are emotionally or physically to where we want to be or think we should be. Perhaps we’re trying to climb the ladder of success. That is easily seen in a flight of steps. Maybe we’re thinking we should have made another choice somewhere along the line. The flight of steps indicates where we are now compared to where we could have been. Or want to be. Thus steps are narrow, steep, long and winding, short and maintained, overgrown, etc… all dependent on how we view the journey. It is just a few footsteps away or the path of a thousand miles?

I also wonder if flights of staircases are indicative of our lives. Do tidy, well maintained staircases appeal to us? Does that mean we keep our lives tidy and well maintained? What about the overgrown, unassailable steps? Does it indicate our hearts?  Some here are lined in even blocks of concrete and others are stacked from natural stone. Some are edged in moss and others are kept free. Just like people, there are staircases to fit every house and personality.

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I am excited to have Highlander and Romance author Madelyn Hill visit today, talking about her Wild Thistle Trilogy.

 

 

First, let’s get to know a little about ‘Highland Honor’. Madelyn, what is this book about?

Lady Honor can heal everything but a broken heart . . .

Highland Honor is the final book of the Wild Thistle Trilogy set in the Scottish Highlands. The entire series came to me while in the shower of all places! The dialogue from the heroines’ dying father popped into my head and the story begged to be written. The father’s pledge was; “Through Hope, Faith, and Honor, ye can rule.”

The trilogy follows each of the heroines as they try to live up to their father’s parting words. The pledge cause uncertainty and conflict with each of the sisters.

For Honor, she is the clan healer and strives to never cause another person harm. Which creates quite the conflict with Bryce, a clan warrior who trains the men with fierce dedication. His goal is to protect the clan to his best ability, even if that means injuries or death. Bryce and Honor are thrown together after a stranger is detected in the area and Bryce is assigned to protect Honor as she gathers herbs in the woods.

Fantastic. I can see lots of conflict brewing there. Okay, let’s get to know you better.

   Madelyn Hill, author

Any special reason why you chose the character names and location that you did?

I choose the Highlands because Scotland has always fascinated me. As for the character names, they were derived from the father’s dying pledge. Luckily, the words he chose to speak were perfect for my heroines. For one of my other novels, Heather In The Mist, I named the heroine Rogan. I had a bit of pushback from my critique partner because she said it was a male name. However! I recently ran into a little girl named Rogan!

I love that name! And I’d certainly give it to a female character. What’s the hardest part about writing?

The hardest part of writing is keeping focused and not allowing social networking or writing minutia to get in the way. I find that time flies when I’m on Facebook or Twitter, so much so, that it eats into my writing time. Also, there is a lot of marketing and writerly stuff which needs to be done that also eats into writing time.

How do you beat writer’s block?

If I just can’t keep the story going, I revisit my Pinterest board for the novel or read over research to see if that will spur my muse. If this doesn’t work, I will start working on something new or take a short break.

The most recent movie you’ve seen or book you’ve read?

We just saw the Avengers: Infinity War movie. It was great! I love super hero movies and this one did not disappoint.

Your favorite town/ city in the world? Why?

I love Quebec. The history and beauty along with the food is a fantastic experience. The town is small enough to be quaint and the shopping is great too.

What is your favorite past time?

Besides reading, I love to cook and bake.

Would you rather have the ability to be invisible or have x-ray vision?

I think the ability to be invisible would be great. Just think of where you could go and what you could hear without being seen.

Indeed! If you had to give up one of your five senses, what would it be? (common sense does not count here) Most likely the sense of smell or touch. I’d hate to lose sight, hearing or taste.

How do you like to spend a rainy day?

I do not like rainy days and I prefer to cuddle on the couch with a blanket and watch movies.

Do you know any foreign languages?

I can understand Spanish and speak very, very little. My husband is fluent in Spanish.

What one item would you grab if the house was on fire? (assume no living beings are  inside)

The bins with my children’s pictures. I’d hate to lose them.

Describe one moment in time when you took a huge leap of faith. How did it turn out?

I packed up and moved to New York to be with my boyfriend. It turned out great! I end married the guy.

Yes, that’s a leap of faith. Glad it worked out so well. Okay, some short Q & A. Favorite food to cook?

Pasta

Favorite animal?

Horse

Favorite color?

Red

Favorite kind of music?

Country

Favorite place to visit?

My hometown in Michigan

Favorite season?

Spring

Strangest thing you ever ate?

Octopus

Which do you prefer for a second home? Mountain cabin, beach house or big city condo?

Beach

What kind of car do you drive? Color?

            A White GMC Yukon

What is your favorite type of art?

The Impressionist – Mary Cassatt to be specific

Maddy, I am so glad you stopped to visit today. In our parting thoughts, what three items would you take if you knew you were going to be stranded on a tropical island for a year? (enough suntan lotion is a freebie)

Assuming my family would not be considered a thing and would be there with me;

  • Tons of books, including one that details what is okay to eat on the island
  • Coffee
  • First aid kit

Now those are some good, solid choices. What would you do in life if you knew you couldn’t fail?

Be an actress.

I like that. Do you believe in love at first sight?

Yes!

Anything special you would like to share with readers?

I appreciate your interest in my books!

Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CSY4PGY/

Social Networking connections:

Website: http://www.madelynhill.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/madelyn.hill.94

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorMaddyHill

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/madelynhill68

GoodReads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2919194.Madelyn_Hill

Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/Madelyn-Hill/e/B00ELRG34U/
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/authormadelynhill

Madelyn Hill, thank you for stopping by. Best wishes.

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via By Rote with Ryan

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Spring is here and I am enjoying how every few days there are flowers popping up in my flower beds. Some are returning from previous years and others are new from last fall’s planting. Either way, I smile as I see how much they grow. My yard is slowly becoming a great source of joy and pride for me.

The song birds are also busy courting, fighting, defending, and creating families. It is enjoyable to watch and listen to them. I spotted my first hummingbird this evening. It darted away before I could determine whether it was a male or female, but it was interested in the feeder I just hung two days ago.

Along some of my dog walking routes I am finding interesting flora and fauna to stop and study. This maple stump was particularly fascinating.

photo(68)Maples along walking route

Doubtlessly once upon a time this was a fine big maple tree, tall and proud. Many years ago it came down and the stump has rotted away and been consumed by moss and yearly dead-fall leaves. It’s a sad and poignant reminder of how one day we will all fall.

However, upon closer inspection, I spotted two tiny maple tree saplings sprouting up from within. Determined to not let the original tree completely die away, they are making the valiant effort to start over.

I have a maple tree in my yard that is doing the same thing. The twin saplings are almost three feet tall now and a thatch of hostas nestle in the center of the old stump. I treasure these old tree stumps and the growth coming forth.

photo(69) Flower bed in my yard

At another walking location, I discovered this fern slowly unfurling and preparing for another growing season. It seems to be preforming a delicate ballet as it steadily stretches for the sun, seemingly in no hurry to reach its goal.

photo(59) Fern in ballet dance of unfurling.

And now I shall honor spring by starting over again. Last night I gave my two-week notice at a job I’ve held for 10 years. Not all 10 years have been pleasant. Some years have been a downright challenge. I’ve learned a lot about the job, people, life, and myself. And now–finally!–it is time to start over somewhere and somehow else.  It’s scary and it’s good. There is a sense of relief and excitement in the air, just like when the first bits of green perk up through the dirt to feel the sunshine and the first flowers spread their colorful blooms to the springtime breeze.

I snapped these photos of fallen dogwood petals, because they seemed so perfect when they fell. The first one makes a lovely contrast with the pure white petal against the black of the asphalt. The second looks more natural. A white blossom  lying contently against the green grass. The third is the prettiest I think. Nestled under the still-yet-to-bloom roses, and landed on a bed of brown mulch, it makes such a natural scene.

photo(60)photo(63)photo(64)

Dogwood petals

And they all serve to remind me that we may not have a choice how or when we fall or start over, but we do have a choice how we react to it.  Our new beginnings. The dogwood blooms will wither or blow away soon, but we are capable of so much more. Our first big step is only the beginning.

 

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