The Wild and the Tame

This has been a week for animals — the wild and the tame.

Taking the tame first, yes, the cats are released from durance vile. So far, so good.

As for the wild, Charlie told me I missed a major migration of about two dozen deer across the side yard. He didn’t say if they were driving Conestoga wagons. Wait a minute and I’ll ask him.

He says no.

Then these guys came up to flaunt themselves before our almost-vegetarian eyes.

Wild and the TameYes, that close to the car. What are they? They’re wild turkeys. I knew we had them. We’ve seen them before, but not so many at once.

They went down into the woods. Then the wind started blowing like all get-out and leaves and spinners came down like solid rain and the turkeys freaked out. They were like, “Wind, stop it! You’re freakin’ me out, man!” They came out of the woods and calmed down, and went back in.

Turkey Feathers FarIn case you can’t make it out at that distance, here’s a close-up you probably still can’t make out. It’s weird, how close they looked in person and how far away they look in the picture.

Turkey FeathersThat big dark bit that looks like a stegosaurus is a male turkey with his feathers spread. Just like in the coloring books!

I love living back here. It’s awesomesauce!

Speaking of sauce, I’m posting today at Fatal Foodies on a non-chicken dinner that couldn’t be beat.

A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: An animal freaks out at a natural phenomenon.


Why I Stop Reading #amreading #amwriting

There are many reasons why I stop reading, and they sort of have a pecking order.

Why I stop reading on the first page:

  1. If the grammar, punctuation, and spelling are poor (unless they’re obviously supposed to be), I stop reading.
  2. If the style is stiff, clunky, cutesy-poo or lackluster, I stop reading.
  3. If the narrative is full of cliches (the character can load ‘em on, if that’s the way the character talks), I stop reading.

Why I stop reading later:

  1. If the characters explain too much, especially the same thing multiple times, I stop reading.
  2. If the author shows something happening and tells me, in the narrative, that that thing happened, I’ll let it slide twice but, if it happens three times, I stop reading.
  3. If the dialog is stiff, clunky, cutesy-poo or lackluster, I stop reading.
  4. If the story just goes on and on and on and none of the activity seems to matter, I stop reading.

  5. If I don’t care about the characters, I stop reading.

Why I stop reading at any point:

  1. If there is gratuitous sex or violence, I stop reading. If the book is otherwise good, I skip that bit.
  2. If there is explicit sex or violence, I stop reading. If the book is otherwise good, I skip that bit.
  3. If there is sex or violence of any kind against children or animals, I stop reading. Period.
  4. If there is prejudice/bigotry on the part of the author (a character can be an asshat, if necessary), I stop reading.
  5. If the characters or action are creepin’ me out, I stop reading.

Why I want to stop reading, but don’t if none of my other buttons have been pushed:

  1. If the viewpoint character is described by looking in a mirror or other reflective surface, I want to stop reading, but don’t.
  2. If any character rolls their eyes, I want to stop reading, but don’t. If more than one character does it, I really want to stop reading.
  3. If the story goes a way I don’t want it to (I can’t help it; it’s the writer in me), I want to stop reading, but don’t.
  4. If the characters speak without using contractions (unless there’s a good reason), I want to stop reading, but don’t.

That’s all I can think of right now. It’s surprising how many books I don’t stop reading, actually. But life is too short to read irritating books. Unless there’s something really, really good about them.

What can redeem a book I want to stop reading?

  1. Great characters.
  2. Great dialog.
  3. Great style.
  4. Meaningful theme.
  5. Colorful language.
  6. Unique premise/storyline.
  7. Information (I love Moby Dick – I’ve read it twice – all the bits).

I was recently asked to name three of my favorite books. They were:

  1. Three Men In A Boat, To Say Nothing Of The Dog, by Jerome K. Jerome
  2. Books 1 and 2 of the Gormenghast trilogy, by Mervyn Peake
  3. The Life And Death (but mostly the death) Of Erica Flynn, by Sara Marian

So now you know.

A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: What makes you stop reading? Don’t do those things in your writing.


Mitch Falls In Love kindasorta #SampleSunday

It doesn’t last long, but Mitch falls in love at first sight. Then he falls back out again. But, still, Mitch falls in love.

Mitch Falls In Love

by Marian Allen

Mitch Falls In Love“Amelia –” Mr. Walton rumbled, but stopped as someone else came into the room.

My jaw might have dropped. I wouldn’t know. I could hardly see through the stars in my eyes. I hoped the breeze kicked up by all those little hearts swirling around my head wasn’t messing up my hair, because I wanted to look my best right now.

She was an older woman. Twenty, if she was a day. Her red-gold hair curled softly around her face; her dove-gray eyes made her gray uniform look like something she had picked out on purpose. She was small (I estimated her head would rest nicely in the hollow of my shoulder) and delicate-looking, her rose-petal complexion a nice contrast to my darkness.

“Miss Mary said you wanted to see me,” she said quietly, her gaze dropping before it met mine.

“I wanted you to meet Mitch,” Aunt Missy said. “Mitch Franklin, this is Corina Crawley, who does maid-of-all-work for us. Corrie, Mitch is here to help me care for Chan and Wong. You know how worried I’ve been about them.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Corrie kept her eyes on the carpet and her hands clasped in front of her. She glanced at me. I hoped I didn’t look as goofy as I felt.

“They’ll be quite safe,” Aunt Missy said, “with him around.”

“Yes, ma’am. I’m right gl – I’m glad.” She had the sweetest touch of a hick accent, like she came from way out in the sticks. I mean, Faelin isn’t exactly Gay Paree, but it is the county seat.


A DEAD GUY AT THE SUMMERHOUSE is $13.67 in paperback and $2.99 for Kindle and Kindle apps. You did know you can get a FREE Kindle app for your computer, phone, tablet, or other electronic device, didn’t you? Well, ya can.

A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Love at first sight goes wrong.


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