Both Sides of the Coin

Those of you who follow my main blog, Christine ‘s Collection at christinegoodnough.com will be seeing this first book review for the second time. I decided to post the second book review for the sake of contrast. these are my opinions, for what they’re worth, and you may totally disagree. Please feel free to leave a comment giving your own thoughts on either book.

Only last week I learned that Amazon offers 100 free e-books every month, so I took a chance and downloaded Marcy McKay’s new book. And since this story is all about a feisty, nervy girl, I’ll link it to today’s Word Press prompt.

Pennies From Burger Heaven
by Marcy McKay
SkipJack Publishing

If you desire a compelling, suspenseful, poignant story with lots of twists and turns in the plot, this will definitely fill the bill. Life on the streets of Remington, Texas, is rough and raw at best. It becomes sinister after Copper’s Mama, a homeless prostitute, disappears one morning. Her eleven-year-old daughter, Copper, blessed with determination — and a good deal of scared — sets out from their cemetery “home” to find her. She heads into the inner city they know so well, slowly untangling the web of her mother’s past involvements, hoping one of the threads will lead to Mama.

If the reader doesn’t want to be dragged through the mire of a ghetto — the crime, drugs, gang wars, predators and hookers — then don’t read this. Language isn’t a stream of profanity, but there’s enough realistic dialogue. God, Jesus and religion get a lot of bad press among the destitute. There’s your stereotype phony televangelist, weak in the area of “lust of the flesh.”

That said, McKay has been accurate in her portrayal of the living conditions among the homeless and the people who prey on them, as well as the religious confusion that exists among the unchurched. Coming from a non-religious background as I do, I see the thinking of my own people in this story.

For me the real hero isn’t so much the I-can-look-after-myself, spit-fire Copper. She is very obviously the victim here as well as the protagonist. Rather, it’s the Detective who tries so hard to grab this scrawny little alley cat who’s clawing, kicking, and lashing out at him and everyone else. He wants desperately to rescue her before she gets tossed under a bus and squashed flat.

Thanks to some supernatural — maybe even divine — intervention, this kitten is granted her full nine lives. On one hand, you somewhat anticipate the ending, yet all the slimy twists and turns — and final revelations — are totally unexpected.

Marcy McKay has penned a sequel to this book; this doesn’t appear to have been released yet. If you’re interested, the book is free on Amazon until the end of March.

On the Other Side of the Copper…

I’ve heard that you can learn a lot about good writing from reading the stuff that doesn’t work. In which case you writers may want to check out this cozy mystery because this story doesn’t work well for several different reasons. (Again, in my opinion. Some reviewers think it’s great.)

Starboard Secrets (Series: Cruise Ship Cozy Mystery Series)
by Hope Callaghan
Self-published

This is a rather short mystery and the writer must have wanted to save time; Millie, the main character, boards the ship for her first day at her brand new job, see a dead body right off, and immediately start making inquiries.

I find this story implausible from the get-go. Not much of the first chapter is devoted to her learning about her new position, rather she dives right into this investigation and trying to ascertain and interview the suspects. By the end of the next day the whole staff knows she’s searching for the killer. Not very bright.

There’s not much character development beyond quick descriptions. Millie’s coworkers seem to be of interest to her — and to the author — only insofar as they can contribute to her investigation. This may be getting right to the point, but it would be nice if there was more interaction apart from Millie’s curiosity.

The story is told mainly from Millie’s point of view, but the writer occasionally tosses us into one of the other character’s minds for minute to show us what they are thinking of Millie. I found this distracting.

As she picks up bits and pieces of info, Millie adds names to her “suspects” list, often at the slightest hint of this person having some discord with the deceased. I find this annoying, like she really doesn’t have a clue how to investigate and is grasping at straws.

For me, Millie doesn’t come across as a very bright or likable person, rather nosy and irritating, with an axe to grind. She’s out to prove to her ex (a private eye who isn’t around anyway) that’s she’s worth something by solving her own mystery. Thus her relating to others on board tends to hinge around her own issues.

Millie is portrayed as a devout Christian, yet her so-often-mentioned resentment toward her ex-husband tells us that “forgiving and letting go” isn’t a big part of her creed — at this point. However, betrayal is painful. Her pain isn’t resolved in this first book of the series; hopefully it will be as the series progresses.

I downloaded this book in the Cozy Mysteries & Mystery Books Box Set. In all fairness the third book in this group, Waves of Deception, is a good, believable, quick read.

Back Again

Hello Everyone,

I was shocked when I opened this blog and saw that it’s actually been a month since I posted here. I thought, “Maybe two weeks…” As you know, I have been dealing with health issues — and especially so this past month — but I’ve been blessed with a bit more inspiration lately to work on this again. A bit of spring cleaning and sorting is in order, maybe add a page or two.

As to my battle with leukemia, the decision has been made that next month we’ll start firing the big guns. At my Cancer Clinic appointment in February Dr Hart told me she felt it’s time to start chemotherapy, beginning in April. On March 8th, as a preliminary, I had a CAT scan and Dr Hart took a bone marrow sample. Not your nicest experience, but it’s par for the course. 😦

I have written a couple of stories lately in response to the Word Press Daily Prompt, like this humorous letter, RE: Missing Ferrari, using the given word “incomplete.” Read it here.

This week I’m inspired by Jeff Goins’ 7-day Blog Like a Pro challenge. Although I’m not at this time following each step, I’ve been watching with interest and checking out a dozen new blogs and articles.

Here’s the link to one of them, for anyone who’s interested in using Google.com for research: Five Google Tricks that will make you a better writer. This blogger has posted several other thought-provoking articles recently as well.

Another thing I’ve been doing lately is reading, and right now am enjoying P G Wodehouse. Read more about my impressions of this prolific English writer here.

Of Daily Prompts and A Wedding Gown

Some thoughts on the repetitious Word Press Daily Prompts

This morning I read Linda’s post and decided to mull the matter over on my own writing blog. I do agree with Linda: the promise of “A new prompt every day” isn’t being fulfilled. I wonder if they made this commitment before they started the project and the “carrying out” has proved unworkable? Or they feel blogger participation doesn’t warrant continuing? When so many million people blog, the daily prompts only attracted 50 or so.

Mrs AngloSwiss says she asked Ben H about why are there no new prompts. “He answered me and said there are no intentions of putting up new prompts. It seems that the veteran posters, like me, are now few and far between.”

Now, Word Press does give us the option of another prompt — in fact you can keep on clicking to see half a dozen options. I’ve checked them out and they’re all ones I’ve seen before, too. But if I choose one of these alternatives, then I’m doing a different prompt from everyone else that day. Then why not write about a different topic altogether, one that means something to me?

Perhaps the folks at WP see prompts as a kind of training wheels: once you’ve done them all you should know how to blog and can do your own thing. And actually, when I go back and try to click on the responses posted a couple of years ago, I find a lot of sites have been deleted. Easy to start; hard to stay the course.

Whatever the reason, like yourself, I’m a bit disappointed even if I haven’t been able to do the prompt every day. Just for the fun of it, I’ve started writing my own inspirations: “Writing prompts for Readers and Writers.” Maybe someday when I get enough I’ll post them. 🙂

Meanwhile, I’ve gotten enthused about doing short stories — as have other bloggers. Here’s a 100-word story I wrote yesterday. Please critique!

I have a happy ending in mind for this sad scene — but that’s another 100 words.

THE WEDDING DRESS

With a heavy heart Jasmin pulled open the bridal salon door and stepped inside.

The salesgirl hurried over to her. “Miss Turanich! Glad you’ve come in. We were wondering if, in all the rush, you were forgetting your dress still needs to be fitted. We don’t want to leave the alterations too long.”

Jasmin sighed. “Hardly. But there’s been another alteration…” She dabbed the corner of one eye with a soggy tissue as she watched the clerk’s face fill with dismay.

“I was hoping, since my wedding gown hasn’t been altered yet… if I could still…um… get a refund?”

Instant Addiction

Blame Emily Wenstrom. She started this.

Two days ago I clicked on and was reading the latest post at one of my favorite writing blogs, The Write Practice. This particular post gave us five different sources for writing prompts, all of them loaded with potential for whatever we want to write.

I need more writing time — less procrastination — and more stick-to-it (aka perseverance) but I really do not need more bright ideas. Nevertheless I followed the link to an innocent looking site called diymfa.com. And there I found a type of writer’s slot machine called Writer Igniter. Four wheels to whirl around, generating writing prompts.

Different characters, events, props, and scenes tumble around until they finally settle on (i.e.):
— Runner-up…finds a baby on the doorstep…basketball…a lane through the woods
— Mime…receives the wrong direction…tickets to a sold-out event…downtown tourist spot near a castle
— Garbage truck driver…inherits something bizarre…something new…cobblestone streets, old stone buildings, a lake in the background.

Or whatever. There are oodles of main characters, situations, prompts and scenes that may turn up. Ignited — or just plain hooked — I sat here clicking spinning the wheels, amazed at the endless possibilities. My creative mind started throwing together stories around all these prompts. And I realized:

I’m weak. I’d better never step up to a real slot machine!

Yes, my current micro-addiction is harmless and temporary, but it does give me a tiny glimpse of the enticement people succumb to — sometimes intelligent, highly educated people — when they mess with slot machines. One lady, a bank manager, confessed that the very first time she stepped into a casino, she was hooked. She almost lost everything, including her marriage, before she went into addiction counseling.

Being weak myself, I can feel some compassion here.

Actually, the writing prompts here are pretty good and I’m including the link in case you really are stuck for writing ideas. But if you’re already bursting with stories and/or articles you need to get started on/finish, best don’t go there. Like me, you may lose half an hour just spinning those wheels to see what turns up.

But, hey! I gained a bit more compassion — and a blog post.☺

How Cozy Is This Cozy?

I’ve been doing some more fiction writing lately and decided I’d reactivate this site so I can post some of my newest compositions and a few book reviews. So I’ll start with reviews of some recent cozy mysteries I’ve read.

Cozies: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

Or Rather, The Odd:

Probable Claws, Book 2 in the Vanessa Abbot Cat Protection League Cat Cozy Mystery series, written by Nancy C. Davis

I love cats and I enjoy a cozy mystery, but this book didn’t thrill me much. A reader has to be into cat “mental telepathy” to find it enjoyable. The cat owner (and sleuth, if you can call her that) doesn’t have to figure anything out. She simply listens to what her omniscient cats are telling her about whodunit.

Now, if you do enjoy fantasies where cats solve mysteries, this is a great book for you. The mystery itself is valid, though the plot is elementary and the cast limited. The pace could be perked up with less talk, more action, and more emotions brought out in the dialogue. The conversations don’t move the plot along like they could. And the police detective blabbing so much info at the crime scene, discussing the suspects in front of all and sundry, is quite unorthodox.

The So-So:

Have you ever read a book that you thought kind of dragged along to an improbable conclusion, then checked online and found enthusiastic write-ups that leave you wondering what’s wrong with your judgement — or the reviewer’s ?

I recently read Murder in Cottage #6 (Liz Lucas Cozy Mystery Series Book 1) then reviewed the reviews on Amazon. This book has 22 five-star ratings, 1 four-star, and the customer reviews are so upbeat. “An entertaining suspenseful book”; “Loved it”; “Another great read for this cozy mystery series.”

My impression: If you say so. My rating: three-star max. The plot’s okay, though I thought Liz and her friend acted both foolish and out of character toward the end. Actually the last chapter portrays the crook as obtuse as well, if she never twigs onto the fact that she’s being followed all over town all day. I found the dialogue is stilted; no one talks that formally these days.

A good editor could have worked wonders with this one. In fact, the whole story could have been reduced by about 30% just by eliminating all the repetition. For example (direct quote):
Liz couldn’t help but notice the big yellow stain on his shirt. “See you’re lookin’ at that spot on my shirt,” Seth said.
(Well, yeah. The writer just told us that. You didn’t have to.)

The writer has done the character’s thoughts in italics and these tend to repeat the conversation you just read. A lot of stuff like (not an actual excerpt):
He glared at her furiously. “What are you doing here anyway?” he demanded.
Oh, dear, she thought to herself. He’s angry with me for coming. I should have stayed away.

I can’t tell you how many times I read, either in dialogue or thought, that the detective is a hopeless bumbler who will never be able to solve the case on his own. Actually she makes the detective a caricature, a lecherous dimwit. I don’t appreciate that treatment of authority.

I hope that some kind editor has taken the writer of this series, Dianne Harman, in hand and helped her work out the flaws I am seeing (fussy me) so the second book in the series will be much improved.

The Good:

The Dune House Cozy Mystery Series by Cindy Bell. One day journalist Suzie Allen is informed that her long-forgotten Uncle Harry has unexpectedly left her Dune House, a beautiful house on the beach that was once a Bed and Breakfast. She and her best friend, Mary, head for the town of Garber, on the East Coast ( Maine?) to restore the old place. I’ve read three of these books. In ‘chronological order’, they are:
Seaside Secrets
Boats and Bad Guys
Treasured History
Hidden Hideaway
Dodgy Dealings

The REALLY Good:

I’ve been reading Joanna Carl’s series, A Chocoholic Mystery, and am enjoying them immensely. The stories are skillfully told; the plots are believable; the characters are likable. Lee McKinley, the heroine, is brave but not brassy, mouthy, or foolishly dashing into disasters. Plus a few sidebar details about the history of chocolate in each book.

There are about fifteen in all, but so far I’ve read (in the series ‘chronological order’):
The Chocolate Cat Caper
The Chocolate Frog Frame Up
The Chocolate Puppy Puzzle
The Chocolate Mouse Trap
The Chocolate Bridal Bash
The Chocolate Jewel Case
The Chocolate Snowman Murders

So if you’re looking for a cozy to fill a long winter evening, these books are scary but no heart-stopping-terror, some romantic interests but no profanity or erotic scenes.

Aprosopol Romance

Today’s WP Prompt says to create a new word and explain its meaning. Here’s mine:

Aprosopol

I find that in most romance novels nowadays the main characters are aprosopol.

Prosopol is a Greek word meaning respect, as in “to have respect for someone.” Hence, aprosopol means without respect or no respect.

You could say contemporary romances are contramorous. The Latin word contra means against and amor means love.

I haven’t read so many contemporary romance novels in my life, but lately have investigated this genre again via e-books and I have been quite disappointed.

It seems to me that in years gone by the male MC and female MC met and usually fell in love — or at least into like. Even where they didn’t always see eye to eye they often had a certain basic respect for one another. There was usually some hope of them actually coming to terms by the last chapter.

Modern day romances tend to be so formulaic; I think most of us could write one in our sleep. Male MC meets female MC and detests her. Blah! He’d never marry this woman; she’s haughty, impulsive, headstrong, emotional. She won’t listen to his common-sense approach at all. NO WAY will he ever get involved with her!

And/or female MC meets male MC and loathes the man. He’s arrogant, unreasonable, unpredictable, insufferable. NO WAY is she ever going to be interested in him. So Chapter Two starts out with him spitting nails at her and she spits them right back at him. Lots of glaring, head tossing, fuming, insulting.

For the first few chapters every meeting they have serves to reinforce each one’s negative opinion of the other. However, somewhere near the end of chapter Two you get some physical attractions kicking in:
A) He’s thinking, “I want nothing to do with her, even if she’s knock-down drop-dead gorgeous.”
B) She’s thinking, “I’m keeping my distance from this ruggedly handsome hunk even if his physique sends hot flashes through my system.”

So they continue to spit nails at each other for another several chapters, but by now every second page mentions how he’s struggling to resist his attraction to her and/or she’s fighting the fascination she has with him. At this point it seems to be all sex appeal; they still manifest little respect for each other — but the world is turning.

Two thirds of the way through the novel either he gets himself into some sort of predicament or she does. He rides out with the posse and gets winged by the bad guys, or she falls in the river and needs to be rescued. His ship sinks and she must alert the authorities, or he’s in jail and/or about to be lynched for some false charge and she must step forward to plead his case even if she detests him. Or maybe she is at the mercy of some villain or gossip and he must rescue her/offer her refuge/marry her even if he’s averse to doing so.

In the end they get it together somewhat grudgingly, yet with promise of lots of steamy snuggles to come. (Though in some books these start to appear about Chapter three already!) So the theme actually seems more like “lust conquers all” than “love conquers all.” You just wonder if they are really going to live happily ever after when they detested each other so thoroughly at the outset.

I contrast this with the Biblical story of Ruth, where two people who admired and respected each other worked together on behalf of a destitute widow. And in doing so they found love for each other. Here I see so much better prospects for a true “Happily ever after.”

Anyway, I’ve managed to invent a new word for the Daily Prompt — and write my rant about contemporary romance — all in one post.

Travel Tales to Tickle Your Fancy

Since a number of you who read this blog are travellers, I think you’ll want to hear about a new book that’s just gone live on Amazon.com: Travel Tales from Exotic Places Like Salford by Vancouver resident (and Brit ex-pat) Julian Worker. I was asked to write a review for The Story Cartel and here’s what I’ve said:

You need to take your time with this book, savoring it like chocolate truffles, and it’s set up in sections so you can do that. Rather than using chronological order the writer divides his book geographically, describing spots tourists would most likely want to visit and giving directions on how to get there, as well as some encounters he’s had with the locals.

Mr Worker gives some historical background as well as thorough details of the area he’s writing about. By the time I was done reading about some of these places I was ready to pack my bags and go! His description of the soccer/football match had me cheering, too, though I have no interest in that sport. And his last few pages about his trials with customs inspectors and linguistic misunderstandings made me chuckle. There are no accompanying pictures, but most places mentioned will have internet ads and websites if a person wishes to take a look.

I found this book intelligently written, well crafted and well edited. The writer shows due respect and sensitivity to various cultures and customs. If you enjoy visiting other countries or reading about others’ travels, you will really enjoy this book.

My First AMAZON Book Review!

History was made at this house yesterday when I wrote up and posted my very first AMAZON book review. I was so excited I promptly followed with another! (I’ll post that one on Tuesday.)

I’d like to know how you others feel about the reviews you read on AMAZON. I’ve been checking out some books listed that I’ve read lately — and some I haven’t — and reading the reviews. I’m getting the impression the majority of reviewers just want to complain. Several of Carol Higgins Clark books I’ve read and really liked were trashed right, left and center.

All I can say is, “To each his own.” Some readers like salt, some like sugar, some like lemon and some like bland and some prefer a steady diet of junk food. I have my own likes and dislikes. I read Wuthering Heights because it’s considered a great classic; I considered it a great waste of time–unless you want to read a book that shows you how NOT to be. I’ll admit, it portrays the futility of being a greedy, miserable tyrant. Charles Dickens did much the same thing with Scrooge, but Scrooge got the picture and changed before it was too late, so I found A Christmas Carol very inspiring.

Fellow writer Joel Canfield is a real fan of Raymond Chandler’s Private Eye Marlowe. I like Joel’s protagonist for all the ways he’s NOT like Phillip Marlowe. If you are into mysteries, you may want to check this one out.

Here’s my unabridged review of A LONG HARD LOOK by Joel Canfield:

While I’m not really a mystery reader — and I abhor horror! — I found this book a compelling, fast-paced read and relatively easy on my poor nerves.

This tale echoes Chandler’s writing in that the protagonist is giving you a play-by-play account with only subtle hints of back-story. But in my opinion Canfield’s protagonist is more like “Phillip Marlowe meets Joe-Hardy.” He’s human; he has feelings; he’s rash at times. Unlike Marlowe, who relates cold details — I went here; found this body; shot that guy; too bad — Phil Brennan shares his motives and feelings as he gives the reader a first-hand account of events.

The story starts as Phil, an on-the-wagon not-really-private-eye, to do a small favor for Gil, a sobbing computer technician with a guilty conscience. Or so it seems. Will Phil correct an error on Gil’s computer at work?

Sure. Why not? The task seems simple enough — and the pay is good.

Thus Phil is dragged into involvement with a dysfunctional family by helping Gil — who’s found dead the next day. Phil is soon called on the carpet by Gil’s employer-dad for that favor and threatened with fates worse than death  — IF he doesn’t find Gil’s murderer.

Phil meets Gil’s sisters one by one and he falls for one of them. The focus shifts to family dynamics: a long-lost brother (or potential brother-in-law, in this case) meets four “sisters” and finds them spinning in a crazy situation. One is older and more level-headed. One has been a pawn in a strange game. One is a suspect. Did she murder Gil? If not, who did? How can they fix what’s broken here.

As sisters will, they all hen-peck him – one with a stiletto even — and he bears it patiently. But then, in spite of their wise counsel, he tries rattling another bush to see what he can flush out.

He shouldn’t have.

The story has a few spots that could be polished. There’s a lot of dialogue in this book; a few times I had to go back and work my way down to figure out who was talking. Daddy makes a brief appearance in Phil’s office soon after his computer-tech son, an incident that’s never touched on again. For all that his life has been threatened he isn’t too concerned about keeping his door locked.

However, the story is well written. Phil Brennan makes you care about him. When the story’s done you wish him well and would like to know what happens to him next.

My Trip To England

I just got back from a trip to England, and let me tell you, I enjoyed every minute of it!  Exploring the many lovely formal gardens, smelling the wild heather as I hiked along hillside trails that overlooked lush farming valleys, winding my way on slippery stone paths alongside waterfalls.  England was wonderful!

My traveling companions were a teacher and her architect husband from Minnesota.  All along the way she made comparisons between what she was seeing and the landscape from her growing up days in Iowa, flat and bleak by the tropical English cottage garden standards.  She was enraptured by the beautiful flowers and bushes in various private gardens.  Thankfully these are open to the public at certain times of the year and we took in as many as possible.

Early one Sunday morning we took a small back road to the tiny village of Piddinghoe, intent on observing the Lewes Sheepdog Society trials.  These were being held on a grassy meadow in the Sussex Downs.  Finding the place was a challenge with only a couple of hand-painted board signs to guide us.  But watching the dogs in action herding sheep at the whistled commands of their trainers was well worth the half-hour drive on a narrow grassy lane up a steep ridge.

Mind you, not every part of our trip was pleasant.  Not used to the damp English climate, we were chilled to the bone in “economy class” English hotels, with their tiny rooms and “shared bath” somewhere down the hall.  Beware of letting some US travel agent book you into budget beds in Britain!  But after several miserable lodgings, we splurged and stayed at one luxury hotel in London with a super view overlooking the Thames.  Talk about posh; this place would rank with the Waldorf-Astoria!

outline-man readingI travelled with this couple on half a dozen trips actually.  The wife said she’d always longed to go by boat, but toured a huge liner at the dock in New York one day and decided that no, romance of sea travel notwithstanding, she never would stand the long trip over the ocean.  So we experienced the hustle and bustle of Heathrow every time.

The most exciting part is that my travels cost me only $1; my hosts paid for all the rest.  Can you believe it: $1 bought me all this adventure!  Since this is the season to count our blessings, let’s give thanks for those writers who, through their vivid word pictures, can take us along with them in their travels, make us shiver in their chilly accommodations and rhapsodize with them at the floral displays.  And also that their writings can be found at the Used Book Sale for only $1
🙂
Christine Goodnough,  October 2010

The book is My Love Affair with England – A Traveler’s Memoir
© 1992 by Susan Allen Toth, Published by Ballantine Books

Reblogged from Christine’s Collection

Ads, Ads, Fried Termites: Perils of a Writer’s Mind

As you may well know, a writer’s mind is a constantly swirling inkwell.  I see, hear, read, experience things – and my mind right away wants to turn this new info into printed matter.  It’s in my genes; I come from a long line of storytellers.

After all these years I’m still trying to decide if this swirling process produces pearls or is a peril.  Is God sending these inspirations, wishing to speak through me – or is it that “muse” some people speak of that’s made chaos of what could have been my well ordered life?☺

I have dear friends whose minds seem to turn in orderly rotations around the fulcrum of “clean and neat.”  It’s deep in their genes and I admire the results they achieve in their homes.  May times I’ve decided to give up writing in favour of having a sparkling house like some others.  I edit for hours–days!–trying to achieve “clean, neat, and in order” in what I write but this doesn’t leave me time to give my physical surrounding that same care. ☹

Some women look at the world with their eyes, where I tend to see the world with my mind or imagination.  For example, if I walk through my house and see light shining in the windows, I might think about doing an article on light versus darkness; my friends will see that the window needs cleaning and get to it.  Or they make a mental note to do it later–and remember.

I make notes, too, but they get lost somewhere.  (The fate of many of my literal lists as well.)  Then there are times when some really brilliant idea or comparison pops into my head, but I can’t drop what I’m doing.  I do try to snatch a moment to rush to the computer and type in a title –and maybe a few lines– before I forget it.  When I’ve finished what I’m doing, I’ll get back to that file and let the creative juices flow.  If I remember.

Speaking of which, a few weeks ago I noticed a file in my hard drive entitled “Ads, ads, and termites.”  I stared at the screen for a minute.  What kind of ads was I thinking of?  On Kijiji perhaps?  But why the repeat?  And how do termites fit with ads?  I was mystified.  Maybe someday it’ll come back to me, I thought, and didn’t even bother to open the file.

Last week I saw it again and the fog started clearing.  “Ads, ads” wasn’t advertisements; this stood for adjectives and adverbs.  I was thinking about adjectives and adverbs, then read something about termites, and somehow a comparison popped into my head.  I’d been reading a missionaries’ letter –they are working in Cameroon– and they wrote something about termites.  But what?

Today I opened the file; here’s what I’d typed in:

Adjectives, adverbs, and fried termites  (Fried termites?)

The almost-pure-white butterflies flipped and flopped in lazy circles over the crisply sun-burned lawn, searching for a choice bit of vegetation on which to lay their tiny greenish-yellow eggs.

I know adjectives and adverbs have fallen into disfavour these days.  You’re supposed to cut back on them and rather choose strong nouns and verbs.  Like “The ivory butterflies twirled figure eights over what once was lawn, searching for some green spot to lay their eggs.”

But what does that all have to do with fried termites?  Whatever the case may be, I fear they will be forever linked in my mind now.

It will be just like the incident my mother-in law told me about.  One day while she was still a girl at home her brother Jake asked her a question: “When you see a falling star, do you ever think of onions?”

“Onions! No, never,” she answered.

“You will from now on,” Jake said with a laugh.

“Oh, brother!” she thought, but she told me his words have proved true: after that day, every time she saw a falling star she was reminded of that dumb joke.  And since she told me, I’ve thought of that silly “onions” joke, too, every time I see a falling star.

So be warned.  It’s possible that, from now on, every time someone mentions adjectives and adverbs you may find yourself thinking “fried termites.”

Perhaps I’d better find that letter, read it again, find out what my comparison was and tell you, too.  Right now the letter is buried somewhere in a pile of correspondence we received, but if I’d clean my house once…

Another Pearl that’s been forming in my grey matter:

A few days ago I read a post on someone else’s blog that really struck a chord with me.  It was about being a front-line soldier for the Lord.  My mind immediately flipped into the thought of –and started putting together an article about– the nature of an army.  I’ve asked permission to quote part of what she wrote because I think we all need to ponder this.  I’ll post her writing in a few days as an introduction, then my article will follow.  Spring cleaning can wait a bit longer, right?