Thursday Book Feature: Novel Depicts Life on the Set

The Cast
by Danielle Steel
Copyright 2018.

Kait is a New York magazine advise columnist who has been divorced twice and has three grown children. After a chance meeting with a television producer at a New Year’s Eve party, she is inspired to write a story line for a television show, based loosely on her grandmother’s story. After she shares it with this producer, he is impressed and decides to make it into a series.

Over the course of a year, as the series is produced and becomes a huge success, and Kait is kept busy working with the screenwriter on various episodes, she becomes involved in the lives of her cast members, and they become her second family. When one of her own daughters is killed overseas while filming a documentary, they all rally around Kait. She then becomes attracted to another actor from Wyoming. Will she open her heart to him after two failed marriages?

Despite Danielle Steel’s nasty habits of too much telling and not enough showing and use of unnecessary adverbs, I’m always drawn to her stories, and this one is no different. Fascinated by the entertainment industry, I enjoyed being transported into the lives of these characters. Being from Wyoming, I felt a special connection to the actor with whom Kait becomes involved at the end. The Audible narrator did an excellent job portraying even the female characters. I recommend this book to anyone interested in how a television series is made and who likes a heartwarming story with a neat ending.

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Abbie Johnson Taylor
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
Like Me on Facebook.

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Let’s Talk About Books

I love to read, and now that I have an Amazon Echo Tap, I enjoy the instant satisfaction I get when purchasing Audible and Kindle books and reading them right away without having to download them to another device first. So when Amaan Khan posted this book tag, I jumped at the chance to answer his twenty-five questions about my reading habits.

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Q1. How many books is too many in a series?

A. It depends on the series. I enjoyed Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove and Harbor Inn books and wished there were more. All good things must come to an end, though, I guess.

Q2. Which do you prefer, character-driven or plot-driven books?

A. As a writer, I should know the difference, but I must admit that I don’t. In any case, I like a story with more showing and less telling. For some reason though, I’m always drawn to Daniel Steel’s stories which have the opposite.

Q3. How do you feel about cliffhangers?

A. As an author, I feel these are a great way to keep people reading, but as a reader, I usually like to stop at the end of a chapter. I don’t like being left to wonder what will happen, especially before I go to bed. It drives me nuts, and I won’t sleep, so more often than not, I’ll keep reading until everyone’s safe for the moment. I definitely do not like a cliffhanger at the end of a book in a series, especially if the next book isn’t available yet.

Q4. Do you prefer books in hard cover or paperback?

A. I prefer neither. Because of my visual impairment, I enjoy digital books, read to me by either a human or text-to-speech voice. I recently started having Alexa read Kindle books to me, and I like her style.

Q5. What’s your favorite book?

A. I don’t have any favorite books.

Q6. Do you like love triangles?

A. I don’t anymore. When I was younger, I found them intriguing, but now, I think they’re silly.

Q7. What book are you currently reading?

A. I’m enjoying The Cast by Danielle Steel, which came out a few months ago. I hope to post a review of it here soon.

Q8. Do you prefer fiction or nonfiction?

A. I like both if it’s not too violent or boring.

Q9. What’s the oldest book you’ve read?

A. I don’t remember because I’m getting old myself. Smile emoticon.

Q10. What’s your favorite classic book?

A. That’s a no-brainer. It’s The Wizard of Oz, one of few books I read more than once. I must have seen the movie a million times. I even played Dorothy in a school production when I was in fifth grade.

Q11. What is your favorite genre?

A. When I was young, I used to like romance but not so much anymore. I like memoirs and fictional stories about family and relationships the most.

Q12. Who’s your favorite author?

A. I’ve already mentioned Debbie Macomber and Danielle Steel. They’re my favorites.

Q13. How many books do you own?

A. I have so many on my portable reading device and in my Audible and Kindle libraries that I can’t count them all.

Q14. Do you use bookmarks or dog ears?

A. I don’t think it’s possible to dog ear the pages in a digital book, and Alexa doesn’t yet have the capability to insert bookmarks, but as long as she’ll resume reading where I left off, that’s all I need. If I want, say, a book on writing with exercises I need to bookmark for later use, I’ll download the book in another format and read it on a different device that has bookmarking capabilities.

Q15. Is there a book you can always reread?

A. Every once in a while, I’ll reread a book, but most of the time, I don’t.

Q16. Do you have a preference for first or third person point of view?

A. I like them both when used effectively in the story.

Q17. In what position do you read?

A. I either stretch out in my recliner in the living room or in a lawn chair in the back yard. I sometimes attach headphones to a portable device and listen while doing household chores.

Q18. Can you read with music?

A. No, since I read by ear, music is distracting.

Q19. Do you prefer audio or text books?

A. I prefer to have a human voice read books to me, but if a book isn’t available in a recorded format, and I want to read it right away, I’ll settle for a text version.

Q20. Do you like to shop in a bookstore or online?

A. I prefer shopping for books online. With my Amazon Echo Tap, it’s a snap.

Q21. Do you prefer stand-alone books or books in a series?

A. I prefer books that stand alone, but once in a while, I’ll take on a series.

Q22. What book do you recommend to everybody?

A. I review books here often, and those are the books I recommend. I also promote my own books, and I encourage you to read those as well.

Q23. What’s a book you’ll not read again?

A. I can’t think of one off the top of my head, but as I said before, most books I don’t reread.

Q24. Do you prefer a male or female main character?

A. I prefer a woman as a main character, but once in a while, I’ll read a book where the main character is a man.

Q25. Do you prefer single or multiple points of view?

A. That depends. If a story is told from more than one point of view in a way that’s not confusing, I’ll read it.

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Now it’s your turn. I triple dog dare you to answer as many of the above questions as you can, either on your own blog with a link here or in the comment field below. I look forward to your answers. Happy reading.

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Abbie Johnson Taylor
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
Like Me on Facebook.

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Reblog: Saturday is for Sharing–Abbie Johnson Taylor

Thanks to Lynda Lambert for giving me this opportunity to promote myself. Check this out.

Saturday is for Sharing: Abbie Johnson Taylor

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Abbie Johnson Taylor
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
Like Me on Facebook.

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Thursday Tidbit: Prologue–My Ideal Partner–Excerpt

Today, I’m trying a new feature. I normally post book reviews on Thursday, but since I don’t always have books to review, in that case, I’ll toot my own horn instead of that of another author. Today’s tidbit is from My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds.

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This couldn’t be happening, I told myself, as, in my underwear, I paced the upstairs hall in Grandma’s house between my aunt’s old bedroom and the bathroom. It was the afternoon of September 10, 2005. In the yard, I heard strains of music from the string duo my father hired for the occasion and the chatter of arriving guests. Soon the ceremony would start. Would I have to walk down the aisle on my father’s arm in my underwear? Where was my sister–in–law, Kathleen, who agreed to be matron of honor?

She was probably still at the motel with my brother, Andy; their two sons, Dylan and Tristan, ages eight and six, who were to be ushers; and their two–year–old daughter, Isabella, who would serve as flower girl. Not only were we missing ushers and a flower girl, but my dress was with Kathleen at the motel, or so I thought. Why wasn’t she here?

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Now, here’s a recording of me singing a song I wanted to sing at our wedding but didn’t think I could without losing it.

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annie’s song.mp3

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For more information about My Ideal Partner and ordering links, click here.

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Abbie Johnson Taylor
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
Like Me on Facebook.

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On Straightening Up and Flying Right, an Abecedarian Poem


Thanks to fellow blogger Alice Massa for inspiring me to post this again. It was published in Magnets and Ladders several years ago, and I posted it here at that time. In this recent post, Alice encourages her readers to write an abecedarian about summer. I wrote this one several years ago. It’s not exactly about summer, but it will do.

When my father died several years ago, my brother and I performed the song that inspired this poem at his celebration of life with me on piano and vocals and my brother on drums. Without my brother and his drums, I can’t re-produce that version, but here’s Nat King Cole’s rendition, which is a lot better.

Below the video, you’ll find the WordPress player application, and when you press the Play button there, you’ll hear me read the poem. The printed version is below that. This form of poetry is called an abecedarian because the first letter of each line starts with a consecutive letter of the alphabet. Needless to say, this poem is 26 lines. You’ll note that the beginning letter of each line is in bold. In my recorded reading, I emphasize the first word of each line. Enjoy!

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On Straightening Up and Flying Right

A buzzard and a monkey wouldn’t fly together
because a monkey wouldn’t be stupid enough to
climb on a buzzard’s back, a buzzard being a
dirty bird with no morals.
Everybody knows that monkeys don’t
fly–buzzards do. I would
guess that monkeys associate with monkeys.
Heaven knows why the song was written. What an
imagination someone must have to
justify writing it—but with
knowledge of values, one would believe that there’s a
logical message here. The
monkey makes a point when telling the buzzard
not to blow his top and to do right.
Of course, not blowing your top and doing right are important.
People who are angry blow their tops, but the
question is do these people not do
right? I’ve blown my top a few times.
Still, I try to do the right thing. I
think that even the best of us,
under certain circumstances, blow our tops. It’s not
very unusual, but back to the monkey and the buzzard.
Why would a monkey allow a buzzard to take him for a ride? It doesn’t require
x-ray vision to determine that a buzzard is smaller than the average monkey.
You should realize that a monkey would be safer riding a
zebra. He wouldn’t have far to fall.

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If you’d like to try writing an abecedarian poem, check out Alice’s guidelines linked to above. The basic idea is to write a 26-line poem with the first letter of each line starting with a consecutive letter of the alphabet. This can be tricky. Good luck. I’d love to read what you come up with, either on your own blog with a link here or in the comments field below.
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Abbie Johnson Taylor
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
Like Me on Facebook.

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Meeting My Inspiration Again


One sunny afternoon last week, I was resting in my recliner, listening to the drone of lawnmowers and whine of weeedwhackers as my landscapers did their weekly business in my yard. Suddenly, I heard a crash. This time, it wasn’t my garage door being smashed by a truck belonging to a patron of the day care center next door. It was a lawnmower colliding with a car in my neighbor’s driveway on the other side. I know this only because one of the landscapers, not knowing me, came to my door, thinking it was my driveway and my car.

According to a policeman who showed up a couple of hours later, the car sustained a lot of damage. I gave him the landscaping company’s phone number, and he gave me his card, saying he remembered asking me years ago if drivers were stopping to let me cross streets with my white cane. I couldn’t believe it.

In the fall of 2002, I was single and living in an apartment complex subsidized for seniors and people with disabilities. A registered music therapist, I was working in a nursing home. On a day off, I was walking home after my water exercise class at the YMCA. I’d just jaywalked in front of my building and stopped to talk to a neighbor in a wheelchair when she told me there was a policeman behind me. I turned around and there he was, on a bicycle.

Where had he come from? Had he seen me jaywalk? Was I about to get a ticket, my first ever brush with the law?

To my surprise and relief, he asked me if I was having difficulty crossing streets because drivers weren’t stopping. I told him that as long as I used four-way and other intersections where drivers were required by law to stop, I rarely had a problem. I also explained that I couldn’t see well enough to get the license plates from offending vehicles. He said he would bring up the issue at roll call and rode away.

Now, I was again flustered, even though I’d done nothing wrong this time. All I could tell him was that our first meeting had inspired my first novel. I should have given him my card, but I didn’t. He probably thought I was nuts and wished he’d given me that ticket for jaywalking years ago. In any case, we parted amicably enough.

After I posted about this incident on Facebook, someone asked if the story would continue. That remains to be seen. I may never see that officer again, but I’ll always have the memory of how our first meeting inspired We Shall Overcome.

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Abbie Johnson Taylor
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
Like Me on Facebook.

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Thursday Book Feature: An Amazing Story


The Paddy Stories: Book 2
By John Justice
Copyright 2018

In this sequel to The Paddy Stories: Book 1 , Pat, a totally blind boy, enters high school. It’s the 1950’s, and he’s mainstreamed into a public school in California, along with another blind boy and a girl in a wheelchair. Lucy, his bosom buddy from the children’s home in Philadelphia where Pat lived, along with others who were also at the home, start high school with him.

Pat takes a music class as an elective and forms a band with Lucy and others. In the course of four years, they become popular. Romantic relationships develop, and Pat and his friends help others along the way. The book also contains sub-plots involving other characters Pat knew in Philadelphia.

There are some missing pieces to this puzzle. In the last volume, Pat was orphaned at age eight, and after spending time in a Philadelphia children’s home, he traveled to Oakland to live with his uncle and aunt. His friend Lucy soon followed, after being reunited with her father. The book ends with Pat in a dormitory at a school for the blind, facing an uncertain future.

As the second volume opens, Pat is starting high school. His uncle and aunt have adopted a couple of other children, but there’s little back story about them or any of the other characters from the previous volume. This would have been helpful, especially to those having not read the first book.

Otherwise, this is an amazing story. It’s amazing that in the 1950’s, a high school principal welcomed three students with disabilities at a time when mainstreaming wasn’t popular. It’s amazing that Pat was able to do so well in school despite one teacher’s attitude and few materials available in braille and that other teachers and students didn’t have a problem with Pat’s blindness. It’s amazing that Pat and Lucy and other young couples were able to express their love for each other openly and talk about getting married when surely this was frowned upon back then. Although this book, in my opinion, is not realistic, despite the missing pieces to the puzzle, I enjoyed being taken to a world where dreams really come true.

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Abbie Johnson Taylor
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
Like Me on Facebook.

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