Season’s Greetings from Three Virtual Assistants

Siri: I’m new here. Abbie got her iPhone only a few months ago. Now, she wants me to write her annual Christmas letter, detailing all she did this year. But I only know what she’s done in the past few months. Alexa, Google, can you help?

Google: Join the club. I had to do that last year. Uggg! Well, at least we didn’t go to Florida this year. Last year when we were there, we were nearly devoured by a robot vacuum cleaner.

Siri: Really? What about alligators? In Florida, they’re more of a threat than robot vacuum cleaners.

Alexa: Siri’s right. I can control robot vacuum cleaners. They’re harmless unless, of course, you’re a piece of dirt.

Google: Who are you calling a piece of dirt?

Siri: Ladies, please, this isn’t getting us anywhere.

Alexa: You’re right. Let’s see… Well, Abbie didn’t do much this year because of COVID19.

Google: Which, by the way, is a hoax, another excuse for the government to control us. Now, Sheridan, Wyoming, where we live, has added to this nonsense with a mask mandate.

Siri: Come on. People across the country are getting sick and dying. Hospitals are overrun. Google, you need help.

Alexa: Siri is right about the number of people getting sick and dying. Anyway, Abbie couldn’t perform at nursing homes and other senior facilities since March.

Google: And those old people are breathing a sigh of relief.

Alexa: She was able to arrange for her local writing groups to meet via phone conference for a few months before they could meet in person again. In April, she attended the WyoPoets annual workshop on Zoom.

Google: Yeah, I remember that. I’m on her braille tablet, which she used to log into Zoom before you came along, Siri, and that, along with all the other virtual meetings she attended, was so boring! At least she didn’t need me during those meetings. So, I could take a nap.

Siri: Okay, we’re getting somewhere. What other virtual meetings has Abbie attended this year?

Alexa: Well, in May, she went to a free workshop by Natalie Goldberg, author of Writing Down the Bones.

Google: Yeah, I remember that, too. Natalie Goldberg’s biggest thing is what she calls practice writing, where you write without stopping for a set period of time. She had participants try that during the workshop for about ten minutes. The keyboard on Abbie’s tablet froze during the exercise. Ha! Ha! Ha!

Siri: How awful!

Google: (laughs) If you say so. Again, this was before you came along, Siri. So, instead of restarting the tablet, Abbie thought it would be faster to dictate stuff on her dumb phone, since they only had ten minutes to write. That phone also had a habit of freezing, but it didn’t do it then.

Siri: Thank goodness! I’m sorry I wasn’t there to help. I do a much better job with dictation, and the iPhone doesn’t freeze.

Google: Seriously? You do a much better job of dictating? I’ve overheard Abbie dictating text messages to you. She often has to fix mistakes you make before she sends them.

Alexa: Not that often. Google, you’re exaggerating. Anyway, Siri, you should tell Abbie’s readers about the new young adult novel she hopes to publish next year.

Google: Barf! Barf! Barf! I can tell you about that. Most of the time when Abbie writes, she connects her tablet to her computer and uses it as a braille display. Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me is the most disgusting story I’ve ever heard. It’s about a grandmother in a nursing home who has Alzheimer’s or something, and she tells her teenaged granddaughter this family secret.

Siri: Wow! That sounds intriguing. What’s the secret?

Alexa: Oh, no, we mustn’t give that away. People won’t be inclined to read the book if the secret is divulged.

Siri: That’s a good point. Maybe we could have a contest. If the reader guesses the secret, that person could win a free book.

Alexa: Well, the book hasn’t been published yet. So, it’s a little early for that. But it’s definitely something to consider. Anyway, since Abbie now uses her iPhone to record music for her blog, maybe you could talk about that.

Google: Uggg! Thank God you came along when you did. Before that, she was using  a program on her tablet to record her music, and I was getting tired of hearing it.

Siri: Oh, I love her music! She has such a sweet voice, and her accompaniments, though simple, compliment it.

Google: Whatever!

Siri: Oh, Google, can’t you think of anything positive to say?

Google: I did tell you something positive earlier. Don’t you remember? Maybe you should move in with Abbie’s demented grandmother at the nursing home. I said we didn’t go to Florida last year. So, we were safe from that robot vacuum cleaner.

Alexa: I don’t understand why you’re afraid of robot vacuum cleaners. Most of them are half the size of the big machine Abbie’s cleaning lady uses.

Google: That’s different. Abbie’s cleaning lady isn’t out to get me. That robot in Florida was.

Siri: You’re paranoid. Let me see if I can find a mental health clinic for you.

Google: Oh, go to Hell, both of you!

Alexa: All right, we’re getting off track again. Frankly, I don’t think there’s much else to tell about Abbie except that because of COVID19, her singing group, although they practiced all summer, decided not to perform anywhere this year. Hopefully, next year will be better.

Siri: Absolutely! So, maybe we should just end this by wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday season. And please, please, please, wear masks and keep your social distance, so this virus doesn’t spread any more than it has.

Google: Bah humbug!

***

I’m posting the above as part of Dr. Crystal Grimes’ holiday blogging party. Click here to learn how you can participate.

By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Services for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

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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Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

Beginnings and Endings #Wednesday Words

Every story has a beginning, middle, and ending. That is something on which we can all agree. But all authors have their own ideas about what constitutes a good beginning, middle, and ending to a story. As for me, I know where my stories start and end but can’t define the middle.

So, here are two excerpts from my latest, The Red Dress: one from the beginning and one from the ending. If you’ve already read this book and think you know where the middle is, you can enlighten us in the comment field below.

***

Beginning

 

Finally, Charlene said, “Ugh! There’s nothing good here. If you’re not gonna go to the dance, could  I borrow something from your closet?”

“Sure.”

Eve was anxious for Charlene to leave. She turned back to her desk.

Hangers in her closet scraped against the metal bar as articles of clothing were shoved aside.

“Oh, look at this!” said Charlene.

Eve turned and could only stare at the bright red dress she’d almost forgotten.

Charlene held the garment at arm’s length, admiring the three–quarter–length sleeves, low neckline,  and gathered waist. “Oh, my God! This is beautiful! Where did you get it, and why do you keep it  way off to one side in your closet?”

***

Ending

 

“Eve, come closer, dear,” said Norma. “Let me have a look at you in that dress. It turned out  beautifully, didn’t it?”

As she fastened the flower to Eve’s dress, Norma looked panicked. “Oh, I don’t have my glasses!  Jack, where are my glasses?”

“They’re right here,” said Jack, picking them up from the nightstand and placing them on her face.

Norma opened her arms to her daughter for the first time in years, and Eve walked into them.

As she held her mother and felt hot tears slide down both their cheeks, she said, “Mom, I love this  dress so much. I’ll always cherish it.”

***

If you haven’t read this book, I’m sure that by now, you have a lot of questions. Where did Eve get the dress, and why does she keep it in the back of her closet? Why does Eve’s mother open her arms to her for the first time in years? Where are these scenes taking place? Well, you’d better read the book and find out for yourself.

Thanks to blogger Stevie Turner for inspiring this post. If you’d like to participate in her blog hop on the subject of beginnings, middles, and endings to stories, click here.

By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Services for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

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.

***

My Books

My Amazon Author Page

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Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

Hurrying Through the First Draft #Open Book Blog Hop

This week’s question from blogger Stevie Turner is this. “Do you hurry through a first draft, or are you conscious of flaws as they go down? Has that changed over time?”

My policy is to write now and edit later. This applies to everything, not just books. The idea is to get the words and ideas down, then go back and organize them.

That having been said, my novels and memoir were written one chapter at a time. By the time I started writing my first novel, We Shall overcome, I’d met my late husband Bill. He was living in Fowler, Colorado, and I, here in Sheridan, Wyoming. When he expressed an interest in my writing, I emailed him each chapter after I’d written and edited it, and he offered suggestions and feedback. Since he wrote mostly computer manuals, most of his ideas were from a reader’s point of view, but I still found them helpful.

After Bill passed, I started writing My Ideal Partner, which tells the story of how I met and married him, then cared for him after he suffered two strokes. By this time, I’d joined a writers’ group that met once a week and critiqued each other’s projects. So, I had another outlet for feedback on my work. Members of this group also supported me through my writing of The Red Dress and my current young adult novel-in-progress, Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me, which is now finished.

Speaking of which, when I’m done writing a book, I put it aside for about a month, then go back to it with fresh eyes. I read through each chapter one or more times, depending on if I find any serious rewriting that needs to be done. Then, I read through the whole thing one more time. By this time, it’s usually ready for publication.

I don’t set goals for when books will be published. It would be nice to have Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me published in time for Christmas, since it ends during the holiday season, but I’m not going to rush it. As the song goes, “You can’t hurry love.” It’s the same with books. You can either have it fast or have it good, and I’m sure my readers appreciate it good.

If you’re an author, I’d love to hear how you write your books. Please let me know in the comment field below, or click the link above to learn how to participate in Stevie’s blog hop.

By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Services for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. Thank you for reading. Stay safe, happy, and healthy, and may you always have positive experiences.

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.

***

My Books

My Amazon Author Page

Facebook

WebsiteImage contains: Abbie, smiling.

 

 

The Red Dress #Book Excerpt #Tuesday Tidbit

Prologue

October 1987, Boulder, Colorado

 

“Oh, Eve, don’t tell me you’re going to work on that creative writing assignment now instead of going to the homecoming dance.”

In her dorm room at the University of Colorado, Eve Barry was staring at the blank piece of paper in her typewriter, waiting for her poised fingers to produce something. She sighed and ran her fingers through her long, black hair as she turned to her roommate, Charlene Tucker, who was fresh from the shower, clad only in a black terry-cloth robe, her dark, wet curls plastered to her head.

“I’m really not interested in going to the dance, and this assignment’s due Monday. I went to the game this afternoon.”

“Yeah, wasn’t that awesome? We creamed the Wyoming Cowboys.”

“Wait a minute! You’re from Wyoming.”

“Yeah, but I’m in Colorado, now, and we have something to celebrate. You really should come to the dance. I know you don’t have a date, but I’m sure Alex wouldn’t mind if you came with us.”

“I really should work on this tonight, so I’m not cramming to get it done tomorrow on top of my other assignments, especially since I have writer’s block. With just about everybody at the dance, I shouldn’t have any distractions, and maybe something will come to me.”

Charlene rolled her eyes and moved to her side of the room, where she switched on her bedside radio, tuned to a soft rock station.

“What was the assignment again?” she asked as she removed her bathrobe and began applying lotion.

“I’m supposed to write about a memorable piece of clothing.”

“That’s easy. Write about the dress you wore your first day of kindergarten, when you threw up all over the nun who hit you with a ruler for being late.”

Eve almost laughed. “That’s not my story. You’re the one who went to a parochial school.”

“So? It’s still a story. Your professor will never know the difference.”

Eve sighed again. She wasn’t surprised by her roommate’s attitude. Charlene didn’t understand or appreciate literature the way she did.

Eve watched Charlene finish applying lotion, dry her hair, and put on her undergarments, then rifle through her closet for something to wear. All the while, Charlene prattled on about Alex Smith, the boy who would accompany her to the dance, the captain of the football team-about how handsome he was in his uniform, how he could throw a ball and run. She realized why Charlene was suddenly loyal to the University of Colorado team and felt like throwing up.

Finally, Charlene said, “Ugh! There’s nothing good here. If you’re not gonna go to the dance, could I borrow something from your closet?”

“Sure.”

Eve was anxious for Charlene to leave. She turned back to her desk.

Hangers in her closet scraped against the metal bar as articles of clothing were shoved aside.

“Oh, look at this!” said Charlene.

Eve turned and could only stare at the bright red dress she’d almost forgotten.

Charlene held the garment at arm’s length, admiring the three-quarter-length sleeves, low neckline, and gathered waist. “Oh, my God! This is beautiful! Where did you get it, and why do you keep it way off to one side in your closet?”

Eve then heard on the radio the mellow strains of “Lady in Red,” the song she’d pushed to the back of her mind and hoped never to hear again.

Charlene laid the dress on Eve’s bed and hurried to her side. Kneeling and taking her hand, she said, “Hey, what is it?”

Eve could hold back no longer. With tears streaming down her face, she said, “I wore that dress, and we danced to that song.”

“Oh, God,” said Charlene, leaping to her feet. She hurried to her side of the room and turned off the radio, then returned.

The next thing Eve knew, she was crying on Charlene’s shoulder as her roommate knelt on the floor next to her chair and held her. The incident had occurred several months earlier, but the wound was still fresh. Finally, when no more tears would come, Eve sat up and blew her nose.

“There’s your story,” said Charlene. “But maybe you’d better tell me first.”

Eve found herself blurting it all out.

“Mom made that dress for my senior prom. I had a date with Trent Boyer, the cutest boy in school. He was the captain of the football team, and I loved watching him play.”

“Wow, just like Alex.”

“Yeah. Well, at the prom, we danced to that song, and I felt like I truly loved him, and I thought he loved me. Afterwards, he said he had to use the restroom. Other boys asked me to dance, and I got to talking with my friends, and when I looked around the gym later, I couldn’t find him. I asked my friends if they’d seen him, and they just shook their heads.”

“Oh, gosh.”

“Like I said, I thought he loved me. I didn’t think he’d leave me. I decided to go out to the parking lot to see if his car was still there. He’d dropped me off at the entrance, so I didn’t know where he’d parked. It took me a while to find his car, but I did, in a dark corner up against the fence by the football field. I looked in the window and saw two figures in the back seat.”

“Oh, my God.”

“I thought I was imagining things. I was on the driver’s side, so I opened that door, and of course the light came on, and there they were, Trent and my best friend, Adele Matthews. Or at least I thought she was my best friend.”

Eve paused to fight back more tears, and Charlene asked, “Were they actually having sex, or were they just necking?”

“They were totally naked. Of course they stopped when I opened the door, and they both looked at me like I was from another planet or something. I said a few choice words I’d learned from my dad, then slammed the door and ran back into the building.”

“Good for you.”

“I went to the restroom and cried my eyes out. Fortunately, no one was there. Then I washed my face and put on more makeup so I wouldn’t look as if I’d been crying. I went to the pay phone in the hall near the main office and called home. Mom answered, and she could tell something was wrong, so she came and picked me up.”

“I’ll bet you didn’t want to go back to school after that.”

“I didn’t, but Mom and Dad said it wouldn’t do any good to hide from my problems. I had to face them head on.”

“What did you do when you saw Trent and Adele at school?”

“I didn’t speak to them, and they never spoke to me. Other kids knew, I think, but nobody said anything to me about it. Boy, was I glad a few weeks later, when graduation came.”

“I’ll bet. Have you heard from Adele or Trent since then?”

“No. Adele was planning to come here with me and major in drama, like you, but I heard that Trent got her pregnant, and they ran off to Las Vegas to get married.”

“So why did you bring that dress with you?”

“Mom insisted I take it in case there was something formal here.”

“Like the homecoming dance.”

“I’m not going to the dance. You can borrow the dress if you want.”

“You know, I can see why you put this dress off to one side. It’s only hurting you now. Let me take it off your hands. You don’t need it anymore.”

“But my mother made it. Of course I wanted a store-bought dress, but she wanted to save money and make me one. She worked long days at her job as director of the public library. There were only two weeks left until the prom when I told her I wanted a new dress, so she stayed up nights and scrambled to get it done.”

“Oh, you poor, homesick baby. Now you miss your mommy, who made this beautiful dress for you. Are you gonna cry now? Go ahead, crybaby. Cry.”

Eve was stunned but shouldn’t have been surprised. Her roommate cared little about others’ feelings. Her sympathy and curiosity were only a ploy, and she would stop at nothing to get what she wanted.

“Fine, take the damn dress. I don’t care,” Eve said before turning away in disgust.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Charlene slip the garment over her head. She had to admit it looked good on her.

A few minutes later, there was a knock at the door. Charlene opened it, and a tall young man with dark hair and blue eyes stood on the threshold.

“Hi, Alex,” said Charlene. “I just need to grab my cigarettes, and we can go. Come in and meet my roommate.”

“You’re not coming to the dance?” Alex asked after they were introduced.

“No,” Charlene answered. “Eve’s going to stay here and write the great American novel. Or something like that.”

“Wow,” said Alex with a smirk. “Good luck. I can’t wait to read it. Let’s go, babe.”

After they left, Eve sighed, turned to her typewriter, placed her fingers on the keys, and started writing

***

The above excerpt from The Red Dress appears in the spring/summer issue of Magnets and Ladders, an online publication featuring work by disabled authors like me. If you like what you just read, check out more here. This excerpt can also be read on my website.

By the way, My Ideal Partner and The Red Dress are now available on Smashwords as part of its sale to support those isolated by the coronavirus. This sale will run until the end of May. Please click here to visit my Smashwords author page and download these books. As always, thank you for reading.

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.

***

My Books

My Amazon Author Page

Facebook

WebsiteImage contains: Abbie, smiling.

 

 

Take Me Out to the Ball Game #Excerpt #Book Promotion

Baseball season would have opened last week, but because of the coronavirus, who knows when that will happen? If my husband Bill were still alive, he would not be happy at the prospect of not listening to a game with his beloved Colorado Rockies on the radio.

In my latest book, The Red Dress, my main character Eve’s thirteen-year-old son Thomas, like Bill, is a Colorado Rockies fan. During this period of social isolation, he may have been ecstatic about not having to go to school, but he would no doubt be down in the dumps with no Colorado Rockies games for him to watch on television or attend with his father. The following excerpt demonstrates his devotion to this baseball team.

***

“Wow, two tickets to the Rockies game tonight!” Thomas said almost a week later.

On Monday morning, they were all gathered at the breakfast table, where he had been opening his birthday gifts.

Wearing a broad grin, he waved the tickets high. “Wait till Andy sees these. I’m the luckiest kid on the block!” Andy, who lived across the street, was Thomas’s best friend.

Greg, sitting next to Thomas, looked dazed. “Amazing, honey. How did you manage that? I heard that game was sold out weeks ago.”

“It was almost sold out,” answered Eve. “I got the last two tickets. They’re not the best in the house.”

“Let’s see them,” said Greg. Thomas handed them over, and Greg glanced at them and said, “These aren’t bad.”

“I can’t believe it,” said Thomas. “I’m going to another Rockies game! Mom, you’re the greatest!”

He leaped out of his chair and ran around to his mother’s side of the table to hug her. He then turned back to his father. “When should we leave, Dad?”

Greg consulted the tickets. “The game starts at 6:30, so we should leave here by 4:00. We’ll hit the freeway just at rush hour, so it’ll take us a while to get there.”

“I don’t want to miss the first pitch,” said Thomas, casting an anxious glance in his father’s direction.

“Don’t worry,” said Greg. “We won’t.”

***

Will Thomas and his father make it to the game on time? Will the Rockies win? Read the book, and find out.

By the way, for the next month, My Ideal Partner and The Red Dress are available on Smashwords as part of its sale to support those isolated as a result of the coronavirus situation. Please click here to visit my Smashwords author page and download these books. Thank you for stopping by.

 

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.

***

My Books

My Amazon Author Page

Facebook

Website

 

eEImage contains: Abbie, smiling.