A Compelling Look at Firefighting and Inner-City Culture #Thursday Book Feature

Beneath the Flames

by Gregory Lee Renz

Copyright 2019

 

Mitch is a farmer and a volunteer firefighter in a rural Wisconsin town. After a devastating fire, he falls into a deep depression, harboring guilt that he didn’t do more to save a child who died in the flames. Then 9/11 happens. After seeing news reports about heroics of firefighters at Ground Zero in New York City, he decides to leave his family’s farm and become a firefighter in Milwaukee.

After a grueling training process and being assigned to an inner-city district, he becomes embroiled in the culture of poverty, drugs, and gang violence. When he’s not fighting fires and socializing with new friends, he tutors inner-city children who come to the fire station every day and helps out at a nearby school. After his father suffers a debilitating stroke, Mitch must decide between continuing to work in Milwaukee or returning to the farm.

As a retired fire captain, Gregory Lee Renz uses his experiences to craft a compelling, yet satisfying story of loss and renewal that shuttles readers from a rural farm to an inner-city firehouse and places in between. From the first page, I was riveted. I usually don’t like violence in books, but throughout this story, I had a feeling things would work out. I like the way the author starts and ends with a fire. Reading this book not only gave me more of a perspective on firefighting, but it also made me grateful that the problems I face on a day-to-day basis are nothing compared to living in an inner-city or on a farm that’s about to be foreclosed.

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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Stormy Weather #Monday Musical Memories

Tuesday, November 5th, will be the seventh anniversary of my late husband Bill’s graveside service. He passed on October 30th, 2012, at a nursing home here in Sheridan, Wyoming. He was buried almost a week later in his hometown of Fowler, Colorado. You can learn more by reading My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds. Now, I’ll sing you the song I performed at his graveside service.

 

Stormy Weather

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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Novel Delivers Powerful Messages about Domestic Violence #Thursday Book Feature

The Oysterville Sewing Circle

by Susan Wiggs

Copyright 2019.

 

Caroline is a successful fashion designer living in New York. She discovers that her boss stole one of her designs. Then, a close friend, a model with two children and victim of domestic violence, dies of a drug overdose. With the children, Caroline retreats to her hometown of Oysterville, Washington, where her family runs a restaurant.

There, she forms a support group for victims of domestic violence and starts her own clothing design and manufacturing business. She also becomes re-acquainted with her best friend and re-kindles a relationship with a boy she loved in high school.

This book is a romance, in a way, but its main theme is domestic violence. Its messages are clear and powerful. If you’re a victim, you should never be afraid to speak out. If you’re an abuser, you should get what you deserve. On this, the last day of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I can recommend no better work of fiction on the subject than The Oysterville Sewing Circle.

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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On Love, Marriage, and Sex #TMI Tuesday

You have been separated from your significant other for six months. An attractive, attentive neighbor has paid you flattering attention. It is obvious he/she wishes to take the relationship further. Do you:

Dismiss him/her, you’re in a committed relationship.

Continue to flirt, but go no further.

Fantasize about him/her, but take care of your sexual needs solo.

Let the affair become physical.

Answer: Although I’m not religious, I believe in the sanctity of marriage. An abusive relationship or one in which your significant other cheats is one thing, but if you find yourself falling out of love for no reason after getting married, you may never have even been in love with that person. I wouldn’t have married my late husband Bill if I hadn’t loved him. Like any couple, we had our bumps in the road, but we worked them out because we loved each other. Our relationship never got to the separation stage until he passed.

A male co-worker whom you have heard is great in bed and very well endowed has been flirting with you a lot. He obviously wishes to start a relationship. Do you:

(This question is for women AND men).

Make it clear to him you’re not interested.

Flirt with him but go no further

Mentally undress him and wonder what he’d be like in bed.

Let the relationship become sexual.

Answer: This would depend on if I had any feelings for the guy. If not, I would tell him so politely but firmly. If he persisted, I would file a sexual harassment complaint.

Your significant other is impotent most of the time, showing little interest in you and little interest in being sexual. Do you:

Resign yourself to no sex.

Satisfy your needs with masturbation

Find someone who can satisfy you sexually but remain with your significant other

Leave him or her

Answer: Bill actually was impotent, but that didn’t matter. I was in my forties, and he was nineteen years older. We weren’t interested in having children, so sex wasn’t necessary. We had a wonderful seven-year relationship before he passed.

The last time you and your mate had sex, were you:

Concentrating mostly on him/her, and you didn’t even orgasm

Thinking about your pleasure and theirs.

Concentrating mainly on your own pleasure.

Used his/her body as a tool to reach your own orgasm.

Answer: The first and only time Bill and I tried intercourse, it didn’t work. But as I said earlier, it didn’t matter. I strongly believe that you don’t need sex to have a good marriage, and my relationship with Bill is living proof.

What kind of partner do you prefer while making love or having sex?

Tender, loving, slow and sweet

I don’t care, just do me; it’s been a while

Tough, take-charge, I like it a little rough

Any lovin’ is good lovin’

Answer: I doubt I’ll be making love or having sex anytime soon. But if I do, I would probably prefer tender, slow, and sweet because that’s the way Bill was. Then again, I’m not sure I ever want to be with another man.

***

If you’d like to participate in this blog feature, click here. You can learn more about my life with Bill by reading My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds.

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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Those Rotten Rockies #Book Excerpts

With the World Series starting this week, I can’t help thinking about my late husband Bill’s adoration for the Colorado Rockies. This baseball team didn’t always do well. After an especially tough game, Bill would say, “The Rockies are rotten to the core.” But the next day, his ear would be glued to the radio, paying attention to every pitch, catch, and the rare home run.

In 2007, the Rockies made the World Series. They played against the Boston Red Sox. Bill was in his element, sitting in his recliner with his radio broadcasting each day’s game. He’d suffered two strokes that paralyzed his left side, and we’d just realized he would probably never walk again. So, the Rockies’ good fortune couldn’t have come at a better time.

Unfortunately, the players must have let their World Series-making victory go to their heads because the team lost almost every game. When it was finally over, I expected Bill to say, “The Rockies are rotten to the core.” But he didn’t. Life went on. You can read more of our story in My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds.

Bill’s boyish spirit and unwavering support of the Colorado Rockies inspired a minor character in my new novel, The Red Dress. Thomas, my main character Eve’s son, is thirteen years old, and is an avid fan of The Colorado Rockies. In the following excerpts, he demonstrates his frustration after attending a game where they lose, then his eagerness to see them play in Los Angeles while the family is planning a trip to California.

***

A few minutes later, as Eve was starting to unload the dishwasher, the back door opened and in came Greg and Thomas, followed by Ginger, who pranced about, wagging her tail.

Greg appeared subdued, and Thomas looked miserable.

“What happened?” asked Eve.

“The Rockies are rotten to the core,” said Thomas.

“In other words, they lost big time,” said Greg.

“Oh, honey, I’m sorry. What a way to end your birthday, huh?”

“They were way behind by the third inning and stayed that way throughout the entire game,” said Greg. “I wanted to leave at the seventh inning stretch, but this kid still believes in miracles.” He patted Thomas on the shoulder.

***

“Dad, I think the Rockies are playing the Dodgers in L.A. next week. Can we go to the game?”

“We’ll see,” said Greg. “Wait a minute. I thought you said last night the Rockies were rotten to the core.”

“They’ll do better,” said Thomas. “They were just in a slump last night.”

“That’s the spirit,” said Greg with a grin.

***

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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WebsiteImage contains: Abbie, smiling.

Memoir Offers Escape to Childhood Innocence #Thursday Book Feature

I Love You, Miss Huddleston: And Other Inappropriate Longings of My Indiana Childhood

by Philip Gulley

 

With a lot of humor, this author’s memoir talks about his life growing up in the 1960-s and 70’s. Born the son of a bug spray salesman, he starts by talking about his childhood, sharing memories of how he delivered newspapers, did extra trick-or-treating around Halloween, created home-made bombs from his father’s bug spray collection, and engaged in other antics with his friends. He also explains how he fell in love with his sixth grade teacher, hence the title.

After that, he describes his adolescent years: how he worked for the Youth Conservation Corps, then as a stock boy in a grocery store, and other jobs. Having been raised a Catholic, he discusses his experiences with and ideas about religion. He describes how he met and married his future wife and touches on how he became a Quaker minister.

I was born a couple of years after Mr. Gulley. So, some of his stories brought back memories of my own. I remember story math problems involving trains that I could never solve and how much I hated showering naked in front of others after gym class. Of course, I never engaged in any of Mr. Gulley’s antics, but I wouldn’t have put it past my brother to have done so. In a world of violence, corruption, and hatred, this book offers an escape back to a time when the only thing you had to worry about was what would happen when you told your teacher your dog ate your homework.

 

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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My Amazon Author Page

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WebsiteImage contains: Abbie, smiling.

That’s Amore #Monday Musical Memories

When I was little, I didn’t like pizza or any other finger food. But by the time I was ten, my taste had changed. Mother often heated frozen pizzas for my younger brother and me. I liked the large pies she cut into triangular slices. Until I was an adult, I didn’t eat the crust unless it was soft, which it often wasn’t.

Those frozen pizzas weren’t nearly as good as those we ate at Shakey’s Pizza Parlor. In 1974, after my family moved from Tucson, Arizona, to Sheridan, Wyoming, a restaurant in that chain opened here. This establishment had a stage with a piano and a microphone. But unlike in the one in Tucson, nobody played it or sang until one night when my family ate there.

By that time, I was twelve, and I’d started playing the piano and singing at home. I don’t know whose idea it was, but I found myself at that piano. After Dad walked me up there and made sure the microphone was working, I began. At first, I was nervous, but after a bit, it was as if I was in our living room with only my family listening. Apparently, others in the restaurant were also listening because I received plenty of applause. I played several songs before returning to our table.

When the manager came over, I thought he was going to kick us out. But instead, he presented me with a pitcher of Coke. Thus, my singing career began, such as it was.

My late husband Bill also liked pizza. But unlike me, he was finicky about what went on it. He only wanted meat, cheese, and maybe a few mushrooms. I, on the other hand, have always enjoyed pies with everything on them except for anchovies and jalapeno peppers.

When Bill and I often ordered pizzas delivered from Domino’s, we got a medium-sized half and half pie with one half meat, cheese, and mushrooms, and the other half with everything. Because of my limited vision, I sometimes got the two halves confused. Bill would take a bite of a slice I gave him and say, “Ooh, this is your half.” You can read more about how I became Bill’s caregiver after he suffered two strokes in My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds.

Now that Bill is gone, I rarely order pizza from Domino’s. Another establishment here in town called Powder River Pizza delivers personal pies, so I occasionally order one of them.

I also like frozen individual pizzas from Schwan. I realized that the pizzas Mother prepared were cooked in the oven too long. So, I heat one Schwan single-serve supreme pizza for only two minutes in the microwave. Some might find the crust too soggy, heated this way, but for me, it’s just right.

The song I’ll sing for you today compares love to pizza and other things. I didn’t know it when I entertained at Shakey’s, but it’s one I’d sing if I ever had another chance to perform in a pizza joint.

That’s Amore

 

How about you? What do you remember about pizza growing up? What do you like on your pie now? October is National Pizza Month, so I hope you’ll have an opportunity to enjoy some this month.

 

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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My Amazon Author Page

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WebsiteImage contains: Abbie, smiling.