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  • Red Tash–buy her books!

    Hi, Zack.

    I’ve heard about you.  Yeah, you.  The teenaged boy with the wisecracks, right?

    Your friend’s mom, Sherry, told me about you.  You with the snarky comments & the funny retorts.  Sherry said you’re a really great kid.  But why did she mention it, you ask?  She said you noticed one of my books on her Kindle.  She said you thought it was a horror novel.

    Well, kudos to you, Zack.  First of all, for being interested in books.  I’m not being a smart aleck at all, either.  That’s a lifelong habit that’ll only continue to serve you.  Even if you go through periods of being more interested in video games or girls or beer, eventually you always come back to books.  I mean, when was the last time you looked up cheat codes on twitter?  How to meet girls on Pinterest?  Maybe you’re too young to be researching beer, but someday, kid, you might want to learn how to brew your own.  Oh, the places that Kindle can take you.

    But enough about you, let’s talk about me.  😉  Let’s talk about the Wizard.  Remember him?  This guy?

    Meet the wizard–he’s free! Click here to download.

    Kinda scary?  Good.  He’s not a bad guy, this wizard, but he’s sure wrangled a few.  He’s a bit aloof, an observer of men, more than a participant of our culture.

    Who is he?  What does he want?

    Well, in the first Wizard Tale, The Wizard Takes a Holiday, he just wants to kick back and watch a movie.  There’s a whole horror film fest going on, and he wants to take it in.  Instead, he ends up herding magical toddlers and dealing with misplaced trolls.  Such is life in rural Indiana, my friend.  Such is life.

    Click here for more of the Wizard.

    The second wizard tale is quite a bit longer, but it’s still a short story, not a full-fledged novel, and definitely not even a novella.  It’s called “The Wizard Takes a Fitness Class.”  Scary, huh?  What, are you telling me you enjoy gym class?  What kind of sicko are you?  Of course the story’s scary, I mean, it’s got zombies in it.  Demons, even.

    Okay, okay, so it’s really not that scary of a story.  More of an ironic zombie story.  Did you know those existed?  No?  Me, neither.  Not until this very moment, but I think it’s a fair label.

    And it’s only fair that there’s a good balance between humor and horror in every tall tale, isn’t there?  I mean, there’s the thrill of fear, and the comfort of a good laugh.  Too much of one or the other, and story just won’t fly.  Pure terror gets boring without anything to bump off of, doesn’t it?  And we’ve all seen a comedy jump the shark as the bits attempt to go more and more over the top.  By the end of the show, it’s not funny anymore, just absurd—maybe so absurd it is funny, but unless you’re aiming for absurdism, you should probably always keep that balance in mind.

    Now don’t let me tell you what to like, Zack.  If you want to like the absurdist, then go for it.  I like it a bit, myself. There’s nothing like a zany madcap romp.  I love a story with heart, though.  A nice, big, squishy, bleeding, torn-apart-and-staining-the-carpets-as-it’s-tossed-by-the-mouths-of-dogs heart.

    Ewwwww…squishy

    Sorry, Zack, I couldn’t help myself.

    I hope you enjoyed “The Wizard Takes a Holiday.”  It’s only 1500 words, so in the time it took me to write this post, I could have written a whole ‘nother Wizard Tale.  A short one, anyway.  “The Wizard Takes a Holiday” is a freebie, and the sequel is only $.99 on Amazon, or free via Smashwords with a coupon code through the end of July.

    Meet Roller Deb–

    And if you liked those, let’s talk about a little gal named Deb who’s about your age.  She skates away from home and joins a fairy/troll roller derby league.  Sure, it might sound like a “chick book” to a fella like you, but plenty of guys have liked it.

    (If I can wrench the keyboard out of Red’s grubby little mitts for one minute, Zack, I’ll give you a link where you can read more about Roller Deb here.)

    Axel Howerton calls it a “tale of rockin’, rollin’ and full metal fantasy! I love this damn book.” Scott of Indie Book Blogger gives it five stars, and reader John Hundley also gives it five stars, noting that “this is an action book.”

    But enough about that, Zack.  I’ll let you get back to your reading.  Have a great summer, man!  I hope to hear from you.

    Here are some links, if you’re interested:
    http://RedTash.com

    Amazon profile
    Barnes & Noble
    Other platforms/paperbacks
    Facebook
    Twitter
    Pinterest
    Goodread
    s

     

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Here’s Mary, tour guide extraordinaire.

Today we’ve put the Magic Dog on a leash and walked down the street to the Corner Cafe, where we’ve caught up with Mary Montague Sikes, a woman who knows exactly what a vacation should involve–an exotic location, a mysterious, studly stranger, a beautiful woman (who is “us,” of course), a spice of danger, and romance. How do we know this? Her popular Passenger to Paradise series proves it. She’s been writing books that offer her readers a taste of the perfect summer vacation for 10 years now.

Bodie: Hi, Mary, thanks for meeting us. We’re all curious, though–why here?  What is The Corner Cafe, and what’s so special about it?

Mary: Almost every small town has a gathering place—a diner, a cozy family-run restaurant. That’s what the Corner Café is for me. This quaint little restaurant has been in business for many years and is now a community landmark.

Bodie: But The Corner Cafe  is also a charming collection of short stories produced by Dani Greer, mastermind and blog book tour maestro, and you have a short story in it, right?

Mary: Right–“A Face at the Window.”

Bodie P: “A Face at the Window” starts out like many of your travel books–a young woman finds herself in dire need of a vacation, so she packs a bag and heads out. But that’s where the similarities end. Your central character, Arianna, has tragically lost a child, and in seeking to escape the anniversary of her loss she winds up in Milwaukee, possibly one of the least “exotic” cities in America. And there’s not a whiff of beefcake in sight. What prompted this story?

Mary: Last summer we spent several days in Milwaukee where I visited the beautiful art museum located on Lake Michigan. One of the exhibits that most impressed me was the bronze sculpture with a countless number of the same male figure, mouth open in a cry. That exhibit left a lasting memory for me. The story itself was prompted by something that happened years ago when our middle daughter was four years old. We were crossing a street to one of the Smithsonian Museums when she suddenly disappeared. I still remember my terrible panic which, of course, she never understood. What if I had never found her?

Bodie: Remember that movie, Tootsie? There’s a scene where Jeff (played by Bill Murray) says, “I don’t want people to say, ‘I saw your play. I liked it.’ I want them to say, ‘I saw your play. What happened?’ “A Face at the Window” is like that. I read your story.  And after I read the closing words I found myself wondering, What happened next? I don’t want to give away the end of the story for those who haven’t read it yet, but is there anything you can share without doing that? If you see Arianna and her daughter in another ten years, where are they? What are they doing?

Mary: That’s a very good question. In this age of the Internet, people do reconnect. Children find parents they never knew. Sometimes reconnecting can destroy a family. I know of one such case. I can see this story as the beginning of a novel. I’m going to think about it.

Bodie: In Arianna, you’ve written a character who badly needs the sort of escape your “Passenger to Paradise” series offers. Since we’re just heading into summer, can you recommend a few summer reading destinations you think we’d particularly enjoy?

Mary: I love the Caribbean where St. Martin is one of my favorite destinations. Although I haven’t written about it yet, I have a story set there waiting for me to tell. My book Secrets by the Sea  is set on another favorite Caribbean Island, Antigua. A sequel, Jungle Jeopardy,  is more of an adventure and is set in Central America. Jamaica is my favorite destination of all—we’ve been there more than a dozen times. My very first novel Hearts Across Forever  is set there. If you enjoy reincarnation stories, you’ll want to read this one.

Bodie: Thanks, Mary, and thanks for introducing us to The Corner Cafe. (All right, all right–full disclosure prompts me to admit that I already know about it, and this is part of a little thing we like to call a “blog book tour,” where a bunch of us bloggers get together and decide we’re going to blog about one thing–in this case, a book for which many of us contributed a short story or two–and we’re going to do it in succession. And so the party rolls across the internet, going from blog to blog, spreading the glad news that The Corner Café is open for business. Tomorrow The Corner Café book tour visits Heidi Thomas‘ very fine blog. Stop in and say hi. If you’d like to download The Corner Cafe for yourself, you can do it here for the very fine price of 99¢. Or, if you’re really thrifty, wait for a free download weekend–I believe we have one coming up soon (like in a couple of days).

Mary: Thank you so much for having me as your guest, Bodie. Now I want to hit the road for one of those beautiful destinations where a fragrant summer breeze dances through my hair.

And thank you, Gentle Readers, for joining us on this stop of The Corner Café’s blog book tour. Here’s the tour itinerary. Please join us for tomorrow’s scheduled event!

June 8 Heidi Thomas http://heidiwriter.wordpress.com
June 11 Marian Allen http://www.marianallen.com/
June 12 W.S Gager http://wsgager.blogspot.com
June 13 Chris Verstraete http://candidcanine.blogspot.com
June 14 Helen Ginger http://straightfromhel.blogspot.com
June 15 Kathy Wheeler
June 18 Morgan Mandel Double M http://morganmandel.blogspot.com
June 19 Pat Bean http://patbean.wordpress.com
June 20 Shonell Bacon http://chicklitgurrl.blogspot.com
June 21 Alberta Ross http://albertaross.wordpress.com
June 22 Karen Casey Fitzjerrell http://karencaseyfitzjerrell.blogspot.com
June 25 Pat Stoltey http://patriciastoltey.blogspot.com
June 26 SB Lerner http://www.susanblerner.com
June 27 Maryann Miller http://its-not-all-gravy.blogspot.com/
June 28 Mary Montague Sikes http://marymontaguesikes.blogspot.com
June 29 Stephen Tremp http://breakthroughblogs.blogspot.com

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It’s funny how quickly one’s heart can be given away. Maggie has stolen mine. Those of you who follow Pat Bean’s wonderful travel blog already know all about her, but for those of you who don’t, Maggie is a small black Cocker Spaniel, and she’s been visiting me this week along with her pet, Pat Bean (why yes, I DID read 101 Dalmations). Unlike many Cockers, Maggie’s got Dignity. She’s the most self-possessed dog I know. While she likes to have her ears rubbed, she’s not a fanatic on the subject. She’s a grand old lady who knows what she wants, and who she is. She’s not a dog to fawn. When Pat and Maggie first arrived Pat assured me that Maggie was happiest napping in the motor home.

Maybe she would have been, but The Boy and I wooed her with cheeseburgers, and she did us the very great favor of accompanying us to the house and napping on a quilt in the kitchen while Pat and I worked on transforming one of her travel blogs into a book. From time to time Maggie got up and went and checked on the House Leroy, the cats, and The Boy (she liked The Boy best), checked my hand for a possible overlooked cheeseburger, then curled up on her quilt again.

There’s something about a dog sleeping on the kitchen floor. I hadn’t realized how much I missed it until Maggie made the spot right in front of the kitchen sink her own. The Magic Dog is great, but he lives only in my memory. Maggie was warm, and wiggly, and amply moustaschioed. She was here. This morning Pat and Maggie hit the road again, off on a journey that has lasted the best part of a decade now. I bought Pat an omelette for breakfast, and  a couple sausage McMuffins (with egg and cheese) for Maggie. And then they drove away.

All day, it’s been very quiet around here. Maggie’s quilt lies forlorn and empty in front of the sink. Her water bowl sits in the corner. I know if I were a better housekeeper I’d have already tidied away these small reminders, but there it is. I’m not a better housekeeper. When my nephews were toddlers they left our town and moved to California with their parents. The day they left we celebrated my nephew Aaron’s second birthday. After my sister drove away in the U-Haul my brother and I cleaned the apartment, locked the door for the last time, and took the remnants of the cake back to our apartment.

The apartment felt empty, and too quiet, like my house does now. Small handprints smeared the television screen, and the cake sat on the cupboard until it petrified. Looking at it hurt, but looking at the empty place where it had been after my brother did what I should have done and threw it away hurt even more.

I’ll wash the blanket and Maggie’s water bowl soon, just like I eventually removed the He-Man action figures and small Spider Man boys’ underwear from my purse after the boys left. But not quite yet. Good-bye, Maggie. Good-bye, Pat. May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields. May your tires never blow out. May you never get stuck behind an eighteen-wheeler with faulty mudflaps when it’s raining. May your radiator never boil over. May all your Park Rangers be young, wealthy, handsome and friendly. May the Les Schwab men run fast when you pull in, and may a McDonalds appear on the roadside every time you are hungry (that’s for you, Maggie). And until we meet again, may the Deity of your choice hold you in the palm of his, her, or its hand. If he, she, or it has hands. Take care, you two.

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It’s brand new, and still shiny. We’re still picking up nails, razor-blading paint off windows, and buying that nice hydrangea plant to put beside the door. In other words, not quite done, but done enough to move in, as long as nobody’s too picky about working plumbing. So–welcome, pull up a chair, let me pour you a cup of coffee, and let’s talk about what we’re doing here. First, is your coffee the way you like it? Strong enough? Got enough cream and sugar? We good? Ok, let me call the dog, and let’s get started.

(opens door) “Here boy…come here…somebody wants to see you…good boy!”

I know what your first question will be, so let’s just get it out of the way. What’s with the magic dog? And why does he get to be my own personal mascot, and the mark for everything I do that involves ink and/or bytes, and something to stick it/them to?

It wasn’t my first choice. I wanted something dignified. Something noble, somthing to inspire respect, and if not respect, fear. But when I was a kid we had this dog. This dog was smart, and a little bit sneaky, and a little bit cowardly, but mostly smart, and intensely loyal and protective. And he could smile.

When I started writing children’s books, he started sneaking into them. I wrote about a lady fixing up a broken car. He snuck into the junkyard. You can’t see him, but I knew he was there, bugging the heck out of Rex, the junkyard dog. When I wrote a book about dinosaurs there he was, barking furiously at them– from a safe distance.

I gave him his own book, thinking that would keep him busy while I worked on my first novel. No soap. First thing I knew there he was, trotting through the middle of the action, doing unseemly things with inappropriate people. And he’d developed Magical Powers.  The second novel was no better. He’s there–this time as a central character. And he’s achieved something like demigod status.

When I set up my CafePress store he trotted in the door, found a corner, and curled up for a snooze. When the CafeePress store gave birth to a small publishing operation he was right there, crowding through the door before I could even get it all the way open. The Magic Dog is as much a part of things as I am. Everything we do gets his seal of approval–and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

So let’s talk about the layout. We have all kinds of art, clothing, and housewares over at CafePress. Here, we have books. Some of them are mine, and I’ll be talking about them. From time to time we’ll get some from other people. We’ll talk about what we like and what we don’t (although we’ll always give your cheek a quick tongue swipe before you go). And we’ll throw around ideas for making the books better. We’re not mean, but we’re old friends, and old friends know that they have to be honest. Kind, but honest.

So–have you finished your coffee? You ready to start? I’ll go first.

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LINDA C. WISNIEWSKI

WRITER, memoir teacher, knitter, quilter, happy trail walker...

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Teller of Tales

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Sun Protection & Green Info

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