Friday, January 12, 2018

The Fire that Inspired Flaming Crimes by Chrys Fey (Part 5)

Thought for the day: Dear Winter, I'm breaking up with you. I think it's time I started seeing other seasons. (Besides, Summer is much hotter than you are.)

[image courtesy of seniorark]

Brrrrrrrrrr! Most of the U.S. has been in a super deep freeze recently, but at least here in the Atlanta area, the temperature took a much-appreciated leap into the sixties this week. I don't know how long it'll last, but we're sure enjoying it while it's here. 

 ♪ ♫ Oh the weather outside can bite me. My muscles ache, despite me. I don't have a happy glow. Winter blows, winter blows, winter blows...♪♫

How cold was it, you ask?

So cold, politicians kept their hands in their OWN pockets... (Now THAT'S cold!)

Okay, let's forget about snow and ice, shall we?. Today's guest post is from the lovely Chrys Fey, whose latest installment of her Disaster Crimes series has just been released... and it's about... fire.

In conjunction with her new release, Chrys is sharing a ten-part account of her memories of the real-life fire that inspired some of the scenes in her new book. I'm pleased to share part five of her story today. Enjoy! 

                          Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other. 

                                                     Take it away, Chrys!

                                                           *     *     *
AUTHOR NOTE: Many scenes in Flaming Crimes (Disaster Crimes #4) came from real life. For this short blog tour, I am sharing my memories as a ten-part continuous story, so hop along for the entire experience.

Series: Disaster Crimes #4
Page Count: 304 
Digital Price: 4.99 
Print Price: 16.99
Rating: Spicy (PG13) 



One of my family members did make it in the newspaper. My oldest sister. In the picture, she was clutching one of our pregnant cats (Monkey…yes, really). My sister did not make it to our car with the cat. Seconds after that picture was snapped, Monkey fought her and got away. She ran toward the fire….

The reporter who took that picture ended up getting my sister’s full name and put it and our address in the newspaper as the photo’s caption. Because the reporter did that, my sister got a letter in the mail from a prison inmate. I never found out what the letter said, but my parents reported it.

I remember when, two days later, a florist delivery came to the door. My sister freaked out as my mom signed for the delivery. She thought it was from the inmate. Actually, she thought the delivery person was the inmate. As it turned out, the flowers were for me from my parents, because my birthday was in a couple of days.



“Excuse me?”

Beth turned to see a man with a note pad and pen. He had a camera around his neck. “Is that your home?”

“Yes, it is.”

“Can I ask you a few questions?”

“Sure, but don’t use my full name or put my address in your paper.” She had heard about a young woman, a victim to these fires, whose address had been put in the newspaper along with her picture, and because of that, a prison inmate had written her a letter. Beth didn’t want the same thing happening to her, especially since there were a few inmates who would very much like her address, if they didn’t already have it.

The story will continue on these blogs:

1/8Circle of Friends Books - Part 1
1/9Sandra CoxPart 2
1/10Elements of EmaginettePart 3
1/11Julie FlandersPart 4
1/12I Think; Therefore, I YamPart 5
1/15Alex J. CavanaughPart 6
1/16Just JemiPart 7
1/17Sandra DaileyPart 8
1/18FundinmentalPart 9
1/19Elizabeth SeckmanPart 10

About the Author: Chrys Fey is the author of the Disaster Crimes Series, a unique concept blending romance, crimes, and disasters. She’s partnered with the Insecure Writer’s Support Group and runs their Goodreads book club. She’s also an editor for Dancing Lemur Press.

Author Links:

Thank you for reading this post! Don’t forget to hop along to the other posts on their designated days for the full fiery story.

SHARE: Your fire story with me.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Yin and Yang of Story-Telling

Thought for the day:  It ain't whatcha write. It's the way atcha write it. [Jack Kerouac]

First off, Happy New Year!!! Now that the ball has dropped, the champagne's gone flat, and the resolutions have been broken, it's time to face a new year of endless possibilities. Let's try to carpe the heck out of every new diem, shall we?

As you can probably tell by that nifty badge on the left, it's that time again.Time for our monthly IWSG posts. As always, thanks to our fearless leader, Alex Cavanaugh, for founding this fine group, and thanks to all the other nurturing guys and gals who've helped turn it into the thriving community it is today. To join this super supportive group of writers and to see links to other participating blogs, please go HERE

So what do you think of Jack Kerouac's thought for the day quote? Do you agree? When it comes to subject matter, do writers truly have free rein? No matter what they write... as long as it's well-written? Is their only limitation defined by their imagination and creativity, or are they in some ways restricted by the expectations of their readers?

If an author writes a book you like in a certain tone and genre, do you want him locked into always writing in that same tone and genre... or is it okay if he reveals another side of himself? Can a writer who makes you laugh in one book get away with showing a darker side of life in the next?

Can I?

My first novel is a light-hearted slice-of-life tale that embraces both humorous and poignant moments. From what readers have told me, it makes them laugh. Sometimes, it makes them cry, too, but mostly it makes them laugh. On the other hand, the trilogy I'm working on now is much more serious. Darker. Sure, there's some humor, but this slice-of-life story revolves around a rather tragic character.

So what's more important to you... the content of a book or the way it's written? When you read multiple books by the same author, do you do so with certain expectations? If your favorite sci-fi writer wrote a thriller or your favorite fantasy writer wrote a cozy mystery... would you read it?

I'm really curious about what you guys think. Books have always been an important part of my life, broadening my horizons and enabling me to view the human condition from different perspectives, and I'm generally willing to read just about anything in just about any genre. How about you? What do you expect from the books you read? Are good writing and a captivating story... no matter the content... enough, or do you seek a specific kind of story?

A fella named Leonard Chapel sent me the following poem, which he wrote in 1994, and he kindly gave me permission to share it with you. I think he really nails the way most of us feel about reading.

[image courtesy of Morguefile]


Every night I love to read while lying in my bed
Though staying home I take a trip to where my mind is led
On many journeys I have gone to places far away
Cairo, Kiev, Bogota, Peking and Bombay

I’ve also met some famous people on my nightly treks
From Thomas J. to J.F.K. and even Malcolm X
One night I sailed the ocean blue while searching for a whale
Another night I studied birds while serving life in jail

One night I drove a Sherman tank across the river Rhine
And then there was Miss Havisham who was not so divine
I crossed the Alps with elephants to wage a mighty war
I sat and pondered as the raven quoted ‘Nevermore’

While with a man called Yellow-Hair I watched the arrows fly
And at a place called Devil’s Den I watched a good friend die
Down a river I did float upon a wooden raft
And when I corrupted Hadleyburg, oh, how I did laugh

I flew a jet off a carrier deck to bomb a Korean bridge
I chased a Soviet submarine into the Atlantic Ridge
I’ve traveled around this great big earth and still there’s much to see

But thanks to books I read at night, the world now comes to me


QUESTION OF THE MONTH: What steps have you taken or plan to take to put a schedule in place for your writing and publishing?

Um, none. Mine is more of a free and breezy approach. I simply plod along at my own pace, and when I'm done with a project... I'm done. No muss, no fuss. With that, I'll bid adieu. 

Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other. 

Friday, December 15, 2017

Wishing Y'all Lots of Love and Smiles

Thought for the day:  North, south, east, or west, old traditions are the best.

Hi-ya! I hope you all have the merriest Christmas ... and happiest Hanukkah... ever. Lots of love and smiles from our house to yours.

Talking about smiles, it's time for me to share that old chestnut Christmas post with you again. What can I say? Don't wanta buck tradition. So with a few revisions, here ya go... again...

Traditions don't have to necessarily be classy, you knowSometimes, they're just plain fun... or funny. Candlelight services on Christmas Eve, singing the Hallelujah Chorus with the church choir, and caroling with the neighbors... especially when it's snowing... those things are all both traditional and classy. This post? Not so much. But this is the seventh year I'm running it, so I think it has now officially become a tradition. Because I said so. And because I'm lazy it's just plain fun... and funny.

 So, here it is, my classic tale, although not exactly in the same category as Dickens, about (ahem)  inflated dreams... 



Thought for the day: We don't stop laughing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop laughing.

No telling how many years this wreath has graced our front door.
We never made a huge production out of outdoor decorations, but every year, our kids made the same grand proclamation after we cruised our decorated-out-the-wazoo neighborhood on the way home from the candlelight service on Christmas Eve.

"The best one of all!" they'd lie as we pulled into our driveway.

Okay, so maybe they weren't really lying through their braces. Maybe anticipation of the hidden presents awaiting inside added a certain luster to their perception of our decorations.

Anyhow, I'd say decorating styles can pretty much be divvied into three categories: traditional, enlightening, and inflated. Us? We're traditionalThat means, except for an occasional new acquisition, I've pretty much used the same decorations every year. For a LOT of years. Like the ornaments that hung on my parents' tree when they were first married, some of which are now paper thin, and considerably faded with age. And a slew of decades-old goodies fashioned by our children with copious quantities of felt, glue and glitter, construction paper, walnut shells, clothespins, eyeglass lenses, and even a Mason jar lid. A black spider in a golden web and a huge decorated crab shell, both made my by sister-in-law. Boxes of tinsel painstakingly applied, strand by strand, and then painstakingly removed to store in a box for yet another year. Like I said, traditional. Well, to be more accurate, I suppose we've become more traditional cum lazy, because each year, I use less and less decorations, and some of them don't even make it down out of our attic anymore. This year, very few decorations found their way out of the storage boxes. (A RED tablecloth counts as a decoration, right???)

These carolers once belonged to my grandmother.

Everybody knows the enlightening type of decorator. They're the ones with so many lights blazing in their front yards, they risk causing a blackout across three states every time they turn 'em on. Very flashy. Sometimes, they even incorporate animation and music, too, and carloads of people stop by every night to ooh and aah over their winter wonderland. It isn't at all unusual for a competition of sorts to begin when multiple enlighteners live in close proximity. (Those neighborhoods can be seen from the space station.)

                                         We're more like the house on the right these days:

And then, there's the inflatedThis is a fairly recent category. I sure don't remember seeing this sort of display when I was a kid. Nowadays, you can purchase just about any character you can think of ... inflate it ... and stick it on your front lawn. And if you can't find a particular character, for the right price, you can probably have someone make one for you. Then, all those characters can weave and bob all over your yard.

Now then, to the point of today's post. Time for a tale about a Christmas inflatable of an entirely different ilk. This story originated in 1999, and was alleged to be the winning entry to a Louisville Sentinel contest about the wildest Christmas dinner. Turns out, no such newspaper ever existed, and the writer remains unknown, but the story lives on, thanks to the good ol' Internet. (WARNING: Better put your drink down before you read it.) Now here, after a bit of minor editing on my part, is that story:

As a joke, my brother Jay used to hang a pair of pantyhose over his fireplace every Christmas Eve. He said the only thing he wanted was for Santa to fill them, but what they say about Santa checking his list twice must be true, because every Christmas morning, the other stockings would all be bulging with treats, but Jay's poor pitiful pantyhose were always left dangling as empty as ever.

So one year, I decided to make his dream come true. I put on sunglasses, a fake nose, and a ski cap, and went in search of an inflatable love doll.

Know what? They don't sell those things at Wal-Mart. I had to go to an adult bookstore. By the way, if you've never been in an X-rated store before, two words: don't go. You'll only confuse yourself. I was there for an hour saying things like, "What does this do?" "You're kidding me!" and  "Who would buy that?" 

So anyway, I finally made it to the inflatable doll section. I wanted to buy a standard, uncomplicated doll that could also substitute as a passenger in my truck so I could use the car pool lane, but finding what I wanted was difficult. Love dolls come in many different models. The top of the line, according to the side of the box, could do things I'd only seen in a book on animal husbandry, but I settled for the bottom of the price scale: Lovable Louise. To call her a doll required a huge leap of imagination.

On Christmas Eve, with the help of a bicycle pump, Louise came to life. My sister-in-law was in on the plan, and she let me in during the wee morning hours. Long after Santa had come and gone, I filled Jay's pantyhose with Louise's pliant legs and bottom. I also ate some cookies and drank what remained of a glass of milk on a nearby tray. Then I went home and giggled for a couple of hours.

The next morning, my brother called to say that Santa had been to his house and left a present that had made him VERY happy, but his poor dog was very confused. She would bark, start to walk away, then come back and bark some more. We agreed that Louise should remain in her pantyhose so the rest of the family could admire her when they came over for the traditional Christmas dinner.

My grandmother noticed Louise the moment she walked in the door. "What the hell is that?" she asked.

My brother quickly explained, "It's a doll."

"Who would play with something like that?" she snapped.

 I had several candidates in mind, but kept my mouth shut.

"Where are her clothes?" she continued.

"Boy, that turkey sure smells nice, Gran," Jay said, trying to steer her into the dining room.

 But Granny was relentless. "Why doesn't she have any teeth?"

Again, I could have answered, but why risk it? It was Christmas, and nobody wanted to spend it in the back of an ambulance saying, "Hang on, Granny, hang on!"

My grandfather, a delightful old man with poor eyesight, sidled up to me, waggled his eyebrows, and said, "Hey, who's the naked gal by the fireplace?"

I told him she was Jay's friend, and a few minutes later, noticed Grandpa standing by the mantel, talking to Louise. And not just talking. He was actually flirting. It was then we realized this might be Grandpa's last Christmas at home.

The dinner went well. We made the usual small talk about who had died, who was dying, and who should be killed, when suddenly Louise made a noise that sounded a lot like my father in the bathroom every morning. Then she lurched from the pantyhose, flew around the room twice, and fell in a heap in front of the sofa. The cat screamed. I passed cranberry sauce through my nose, and Grandpa ran across the room, fell to his knees, and began administering mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. My brother fell back over his chair and wet his pants, and Granny threw down her napkin, and stomped outside to sit in the car.

It was indeed a Christmas to treasure and remember. Later in my brother's garage, we conducted a thorough examination to decide the cause of Louise's collapse. We discovered that Louise had suffered from a hot ember to the back of her right thigh. Fortunately, thanks to a wonder drug called duct tape, we restored her to perfect health.

After that, Louise went on to star in several bachelor party movies, and I'm pretty sure Grandpa still calls her whenever he can get out of the house.


 Merry Christmas! May all your dreams... no matter how inflated...  come true.

Hanukkah is the festival of light that celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, of purity over adulteration, and spirituality over materialism. Whatever our religion or non-religion, these are all things worth celebrating, don't you think? Here's wishing you all much light... and love.

I'll be taking off the rest of the year, and will be back on January 3 for the IWSG post.

                              Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.