Friday, May 31, 2019

Graham Quartet Interview

Good morning FFFs,
I'm in a hurry this morning since I'm late, so I'm going to just give you a few highlights from the week. Not that the week was extraordinary. ;)

Monday– I got the proof copy for "By Paths Unknown" and I wrote a short Memorial Day story. I was going to post it today, but since I was giving it away so much I decided you'd probably already read it. If not, you can get it for free if you ask me.

Wednesday– Microsoft Word decided that I had to verify my account in order for me to use it. Only it wouldn't let me verify it. It kept telling me my password wasn't valid, then, when I went to change it, that my username didn't match any account. :( Bother! I spent over an hour trying to get it to work, I chatted with someone, and finally I contacted the seller. Still waiting to hear back. Maybe today? 

Thursday – I watched the Scripp's National Spelling Bee! Wow!!!! I hadn't watched all the spelling bee since I had other things to do, but I watched all the finals last night. They started out with 16 kids and the first round not one missed. That was a record. Slowly, very slowly we lost a few. Then they were down to 8 spellers. Two rounds later we still had 8 spellers. They were told that they were going to have 3 more rounds (that's 3 more words each) and any who were still there after the 20th round would be declared co-champions. They all got their first words. And then their 2nd. On the final round the first one spelled and won! The second came up, got her word and said, "Give me the definition, I beg of you!!!" It was what she thought, and she got it right and won! So did the next speller, and the next. One had no idea how to spell the word but gave it his best shot and got it right! Just after midnight, their time, the final 8th speller won Co-Champion. All 8 had done it!!!! It was the first time in history that they had 8 winners!!! It was late, but it was sure fun to watch!

I was reminded of this interview yesterday and realized that some of you might enjoy reading it. I considered putting it into two posts, but it's a pretty quick read, and I had just sent it to some readers. I should have not sent it. ;) Oh, well. Enjoy!

Graham Quartet Interview

    The day was overcast, and a chilly wind was blowing. Though spring was coming, it hadn’t quite reached the northern woods of Minnesota as it had in my home state of Missouri, and the fire crackling brightly in the fireplace was very welcome. I had asked for an interview with the Graham Quartet and was finally able to make my schedule work with theirs. The morning had been lovely. They had taken me to their cabin in the woods, and then we drove to town and had lunch at their favorite diner. Now we were sitting together about the fire and I was ready to ask questions.
    Here is the transcription of the interview with a few added notes.

Author: First off, I just want to thank you four for letting me come up and do this interview. I’m sure my readers will enjoy it. (Four smiling faces nod at me.) I have a few questions, so let’s get started. Do all of you enjoy solving mysteries?
Matt: I think so. (He looks around at the others who nod.) I’ve never heard complaints about it.
Elsa: Sometimes it can be a bit of a challenge when you have other things going on too, but it is just so satisfying when you can bring a mystery to a close.

Author: What would you say was your favorite part of the mystery with the Day Maid? Now, just remember, my readers haven’t read the story yet, so don’t give anything away that might spoil it.
Tim: The ice cream, for sure!
(A general laugh followed that answer, and Matt said, “You’re always interested in food.”
Tim grinned and replied, “Hey, I’m a growing boy. Besides, you’ve got to admit that those ice cream sundaes were the best you’ve had.”
“Maybe,” Matt agreed. “I don’t know if they were the best, but they were good.”)

Author: Okay, now that we’ve established the fact that the ice cream sundaes were really good, was there any other favorite thing? Elsa? Matt? Selena?
Elsa: I think I would say just being on the beach and by the lake so much was probably my favorite thing. It was all so different than what we are used to here. (She turned her head and looked out at the trees which had the tiniest of green leaves on their branches.)
Matt: You know, that’s rather a hard question. I don’t want to tell anything to spoil the story, but I really enjoyed getting to know Lieutenant Ashwood. (He turned to his younger sister. “Your turn, Selena.”)
Selena: I don’t know. I really liked the beach, but getting to see a real lighthouse . . . (Her words died away as she shrugged.)

Author: Let’s talk a few minutes about your case up here in the winter with Guy Fox. Was there something you all learned that you hadn’t really thought of before?
Matt: One thing that I learned was not to discount any scrap of information. Some things, such as what a person is wearing, may seem insignificant, but in the end it may be of great importance.
Tim: You’ve got to be ready with a quick answer for anyone. I mean someone might start asking some nosy questions that you shouldn’t answer, but if you don’t, you know they’re going to get suspicious.

Author: That’s a good point, Tim, and brings up another question. Which one of you is the fastest at warding off those inquisitive questions?
Elsa, Matt, Tim: Selena.
Matt: She’s pretty quiet most of the time, but (He grinned at the girl curled up on the couch near Elsa.) when the need arises, she can give an answer before I’ve fully comprehended the question.
Author: Is it true that Tim asks the most questions?
Graham Quartet: Yes!
Elsa: Mom said he started asking questions when he was really young, and he hasn’t stopped yet.
Matt: And I don’t think he’s going to stop any time soon.

Author: If some of my readers were wanting to get started on solving mysteries, what tips would you give them? Tim, let’s start with you and just go around the room.
Tim: That’s easy, ask lots of questions about everything. But try not to be too direct if you’re trying to get information about a secret thing.
Selena: Always have someone to work with, so you can talk things over and share ideas. And make sure you pray about it too.
Elsa: Yes, prayer is a must. We might have given up the last case if we hadn’t taken the time to pray. Another thing would be to practice noticing details. Teach yourself to remember what someone was wearing, what someone said, or which direction they went. Notice anything and everything.
Matt: Now what am I supposed to add to all that? Hmm, well, learning Morse Code can be very helpful. And, like Selena mentioned, never go out to investigate on your own. It’s too easy to become discouraged or get into trouble when you’re by yourself.

Author: Those are some great tips. Thanks for sharing. Now, I do have a few random questions that some of my readers have suggested. Which one of you four is the tallest?
Matt: Tim.
Author: Really? Was he the tallest in the winter case?
Elsa: No, he was about my height, but he grew over the summer and is now just barely taller than Matt.
(Tim’s grin and look of satisfaction made me want to see for myself. I asked both boys to take their shoes off and stand back to back so I could see. Sure enough, Tim was about a quartet of an inch taller than his older brother.)
Author: Well, Tim, if you keep growing, are you still going to be able to fit through those small windows?”
Tim: I don’t see why not. It’s not like I’m getting fat or anything; if anything, I’m getting skinnier.
Matt: If the need arises, I can always give his feet a shove to get him the rest of the way in.
(There was much laughter in the room and a few more remarks were made about Tim’s height before we returned to the final questions.)

Author: Some of my readers might think that your adventures are along the lines of the Happy Hollisters, Nancy Drew, or the Hardy Boys. Do you consider that to be true? Elsa, it looks like you are going to burst. Do you want to go first?
Elsa: I sure hope we aren’t like Nancy Drew! She–
Matt: Uh oh, you’ve gotten Elsa on one of her soap boxes. Perhaps the rest of us should answer that first.
Elsa: I was going to keep things brief. (She made a face at her brother, but I could see the amusement in every face and was wondering what she would say.) I’ve never read the Happy Hollisters, so I can’t really compare their cases to ours. I think Tim might have read a few when they came out, so he might be able to answer that comparison. But back to Nancy Drew. I can’t stand those books! They are so unreal! She goes off on her own, almost gets killed most of the time, finds the bad guys that the police can’t find, and even disobeys authorities just so she can be the one to solve the mysteries! That’s not real life! How many young people go around almost getting killed all the time? It’s ridiculous, and–
Matt: Sorry, Elsa, but I’m interrupting here. You’d talk for a hour about the those books if you had time. (He smiled at his older sister before he turned to me.) The original Hardy Boys books aren’t bad. Yeah, they were always just a little smarter than the police, but I guess that’s what happens when you want to make the kids the heroes. Another thing is there were two of them.
Author: One of your own rules.
Matt: Yep. And they try to keep in touch with their family. Sometimes they help their dad or learn from him.
Elsa: Unlike Nancy Drew.
Author: I’ll have to agree with you, Elsa. I don’t much care for Nancy Drew myself. And the movies are only good for a laugh. Tim, you want to add anything about the Happy Hollisters?
Tim: How many are there? I’ve only read the first four or five, maybe six. They’re kind of young, but all the kids are involved and their parents usually are too, at least to some extent. It is a bit crazy though because they sure do travel a lot. Maybe we should do more traveling so we can find more mysteries.
Matt: Do they ever go to school? Or get older?
Tim: I think they go to school, but I don’t see how they could have time to study at all. As for getting older, I don’t know, I haven’t read all the books. They keep publishing a new one.

Author: That’s an interesting take. I wonder if most mystery books keep the kids the same age? But that’s off the subject; let’s move on to the next question. Who usually takes charge of a mystery case?
(All four siblings look at one another in silence.)
Matt: I don’t know if any of us really ‘takes charge’ so to speak. We usually discuss things and agree together about what we are going to do.
Selena: But Matt usually is more of the leader than the rest of us.
Elsa: That’s true. It’s usually Matt who takes charge, if someone needs to. I’ll give my input, but I’d rather not be the head.
Author: I’ve noticed that when you split up, it’s often Elsa & Tim and Matt & Selena. Is there a reason for that or is it just something that happened?
Tim: I don’t remember really thinking about it before. Why do we split up like that, guys?
Matt: I think it started by accident, but it seems to work well. I think the pairs seem to balance each other.
Elsa: Sometimes it just seemed better to have one of the boys along in each group and pairing one of us older ones with one of the younger ones–I didn’t say young, Tim–just came naturally.
Selena: In the latest mystery we did split up girls and guys a few times, but I do feel safer if Matt is around.

Author: Do you four see any other mysteries in your futures? Or have you decided to call it quits?
(A laugh greeted this question along with looks I couldn’t quite read.)
Matt: We didn’t plan for these mysteries. They just happened, so right now we couldn’t give any satisfactory answer except that we haven’t grown tired of helping solve them.
Author: I guess that means that my readers will just have to wait and see what happens.

Author: Well, it looks like that’s all the questions I have. Could you mention something about one of your siblings that my readers wouldn’t know about but might enjoy? Just for the fun of it.
Tim: Matt cooks the best steaks you’ve ever had! Hey, Matt, why don’t you tell Mom you’ll cook steaks tonight for supper?
Matt: Because we don’t have any steaks left. (He turned to me and added an invitation to come back and visit again and he’d make sure they had steaks, if I wanted any.) Elsa speaks French fluently.
Author: Really? I didn’t know that. I mean, I wondered if she knew any after the last mystery, but didn’t ask. When did you learn?
Elsa: I started learning when I was about ten. A family moved down from Quebec and spoke French. The children, all girls, and I played together all the time and I picked up quite a bit. Then I studied it in school.
Author: Have you taught any of your siblings any French?
Elsa: Not really. No one was interested. But here’s something about Selena. She once had a pet fox, and she taught a crow to say hello.
Author: What? She taught a crow how to talk? All the crows I know just sound like they are laughing at me. ‘Haw, Haw, Haw!’ How did you do it?
Selena: He had a broken wing and so I kept him until he could fly, and I just said it over and over again. He finally said it before I released him.
Author: Do you ever see him any more?
Selena: Yes. Not as often, but he always says ‘hello’ when he sees me.
(I leaned back in my chair. I would never have guessed that quiet, almost shy, Selena had taught a crow to say ‘hello.’)
Author: Now I am impressed. But what about Tim? Surely he has some talent or skill that I don’t know about.
Elsa: He plays the trumpet in band at school, and he sings.
Matt: He’s good too. Though when his voice changes he might have to find a new range.
Author: Will you sing something for me, Tim? I do love music.
Elsa: Tim, why don’t you ask Mom to come play the piano for you.

    And so our time ended with music. I stayed for dinner, and then the Quartet drove me to town to catch the train back home. All in all, it was a very informative time, and I hope to go back again. Perhaps another mystery will call me back to shadow the Graham Quartet as they try to solve another case. And I do want to taste that steak Matt promised me.

Did you watch the Spelling Bee?
Did you learn new things about the Quartet?
Have you read my Memorial Day story?

Friday, May 24, 2019

Ria's Birthday Gift – part 2

Hello, FFFs,
It's not cloudy thankfully! We've had enough rain and storms this week to last a while. There's lots of flooding, some voluntary evacuation of homes not far from us. Tornadoes hit nearby towns and at least one family from church had their home damaged. And that was just the tornado here. I heard there were 13 tornadoes in 24 hours across the state of Missouri. Crazy! Today is supposed to be sunny. And humid, I'm sure.

I've stayed busy this week. But not with writing. In fact, I didn't write anything! Ugh! That was kind of sad, but rather normal for me when I'm finishing up another book. Only this time I was getting ready for the release of "Hymns in the Hills" on Monday, and formatting "By Paths Unknown" so I could send it to beta-readers. But even though I haven't been writing, I have been keeping busy.
When I'm not working on getting ready to release one book, or getting a proof copy ready of the other, I've been updating images on my website. And adding a new audio book. Yep, "Dylan's Story" is available for your listening pleasure. :)

Perhaps next week I can write. Maybe. I want to. We'll see.

Now I hope you enjoy the last of this story about Ria. :)

Ria's Birthday Gift.
Part 2

    It was only after the boys had pulled up chairs or taken seats on the kitchen floor for lack of chairs, that Jimmy looked around puzzled. “Hey, Ria, where’s Mom?”
    “Out,” Ria replied rather glumly.
    And Pete said cheerfully, “I suppose that leaves you the queen bee around here.”
    “I’d as soon not be sometimes,” Ria muttered, feeling sorry for herself. It seemed that everywhere she went there were boys. Why, there were even more boys in her class at school than there were girls. Picking up her plate, she shoved back her chair and after stepping over first Johnny’s legs, then Fred’s, she reached the kitchen sink.
    “Come on, Ria,” Fred coaxed. “There’s enough gloomy weather outside to dampen anyone’s spirits, can’t you at least give us a smile to brighten the room for a moment?”
    “Careful Fred,” Jack teased, watching Ria’s face as he spoke, “A moment of light would most likely be a flash of lightning, and you’re sitting the closest to her.”
    At that Ria turned around and crossed her arms. “You’re impossible,” she told him.
    “Yep,” Jack agreed with a grin and a wink, “I know.”
    For a moment Ria stood, a scowl on her face, as she eyed the boyish faces before her, but the fourteen twinkling eyes that looked back at her and the seven grins which flashed back were too much. Her scowl disappeared and a smile replaced it.
    Stepping back over the legs in her way, Ria crossed the room. Before she could disappear upstairs to grab her books, Dave and Chris pushed into the room with Mr. Mitchell behind them.

    Leaving the house for school with her brothers and cousins, Ria felt the day wasn’t quite right without her mother’s good morning kiss and her usual call to the boys to “take care of your sister.”
    “Ed,” Ria quickened her steps to catch her oldest brother who was sixteen.
    Ed slowed down. “Yep?”
    “You will take care of me even if Mama didn’t tell you to this morning, won’t you?”
    “Of course I will,” Ed looked down at her and grinned. “You don’t think I’d leave you to the mercy of those two,” and he jerked his head back towards Chris and Dave who were trudging along behind, “do you?”
    Satisfied, Ria shook her head.
    “Let me carry your books, Ria,” Jack offered, and Ria handed them over feeling very special. No one had carried her books to school before.

    When the last bell had rung and school was over, Ria found her mother waiting for her at the door. “Mama!” Ria hugged her. “Where did you go this morning?”
    Emma Mitchell smiled. “I went to Uncle Edmund’s. And now come, he has your birthday present ready.”
    Ria gave a skip of excitement. At last, the birthday present she had been promised had finally been finished. What could it be? “Where is it?” Ria asked when she saw Uncle Edmund sitting in his truck and she and her mother were walking over to him.
    “Out at Uncle Edmund’s, so climb in.”
    Ria scrambled into the seat next to her uncle and Mrs. Mitchell followed.
    “Hi, Uncle Edmund. Are you taking the boys home now?”
    Grinning, Edmund shook his head. “Nope.”
    Ria was full of questions about her present as the truck bumped over the roads, but she only got answers that mystified and puzzled her more then ever.
    At last Uncle Edmund stopped the truck before the farmhouse and said as they climbed out, “Now close your eyes, Ria. Your mother and I’ll lead you, but don’t you peek!”
    Holding back her giggles and keeping her eyes closed was difficult, but Ria managed to do it, wondering where in the house they were going. At last she was told she could look and her eyes flew open.
    She blinked and for a minute was confused. She was in a bedroom and Aunt Louise was lying in bed.
    Calling softly, Aunt Louise smiled, “Come over here, Ria, and see your presents.”
    Moving over to the bed, Ria suddenly gasped and clasped her hands softly. There, snuggled up beside her aunt, were two babies!
    “They’re both girls,” Uncle Edmund whispered. “This one is Emma and that one is Lucy.”
    “Oh!” It was all Ria could say though her face was beaming and her eyes shining like two stars.
    “Would you like to hold them?”
    “Oh, could I?” she gasped, almost too excited to breathe.
    “Who do you want first?” her mother asked, preparing to lift one of the little bundles.
    Ria’s exclamation brought soft laughs from the three adults and Edmund said, “Let her,” and settled his niece in a large easy chair with pillows and cushions.
    Mrs. Mitchell carried one baby and nestled it in her daughter’s right arm while her twin picked up the other.
    A sigh of delight came from Ria as she gazed down first into one tiny face and then the other. “My own special cousins that aren’t boys!” she whispered to them. “I’ll make sure the boys don’t tease you too much,” she continued, completely forgetting her mother, uncle and aunt who watched her. “And when you get bigger, we’ll play things that girls want to play like tea parties and dolls. And you can sleep in my room because the boys aren’t allowed in there, only girls.”
    One of the soft bundles stirred and the tiny rosebud mouth opened and yawned.
    “Come on, Ria,” Emma whispered to her daughter. “Let’s let Aunt Louise get some rest. You get to go back and tell the others about the babies.”
    Ria scarcely contained her squeal of excitement. To tell the gang, for she knew they’d all be at her house, that there were more girl cousins would be great fun, though she didn’t want to part with the babies yet. Reluctantly, with a parting kiss for each one, Ria allowed her mother to settle the babies back beside Aunt Louise. Before slipping from the room, Ria leaned over the bed to kiss her aunt and whisper, “Thank you. Those are the best birthday presents I could ever want!”
    Grandma Foster was coming out of the kitchen when Ria, her mother and uncle passed down the hall and into the living room. “What did you think of your present, Ria?” Grandma asked, her eyes twinkling.
    Throwing her arms about her grandmother, Ria exclaimed in a low voice that carried her pent up excitement in its tones, “Oh, they are just darling! And to think, they are both girls! Grandma, none of the boys were as cute as Emma and Lucy when they were babies.”
    “Not even Caleb?” Grandma questioned, knowing that the youngest grandchild had been thought by Ria to be ‘the sweetest thing.’
    Ria shook her head vigorously. “Not even Caleb or anyone else,” she insisted. “But now I have to go tell the gang about them!” and she dashed off while the others exchanged smiles.

Have you ever had cousins born near your birthday?
Have you had a lot of rain and storms this week?
What do you want to read next?

Friday, May 17, 2019

Ria's Birthday Gift – Part 1

Good morning Friday Fiction Fans,
It's a lovely morning here. The windows are wide open and the birds are noisy. The sky is clear, and a wonderful breeze is keeping things fresh. It's supposed to get into the mid 80s today. We'll see if we turn the AC on or not. We did yesterday because it was just humid and hot. Neither my mom, nor I do well in heat and humidity.

This week has been slow on the writing side. I wrote some on Monday and Tuesday. But on Wednesday and yesterday I was typing up 24 pages of notes my mom had taken about a book, so I didn't write. But I did finish typing the notes last night.

I got everything out for the Book Release Tour of  "Hymns in the Hills" which was pretty exciting. It will be the very first time I've ever released a novel with a book tour. Always before I've published it, posted it on my blog and said, "Here's another book, readers! Enjoy!" Or something like that. ;) But, after releasing "His Law is Love" with a book tour, and seeing all the wonderful reviews show up, I thought I'd try it on my own. And, in case you were wondering, the tour is the last week of the month.

In chatting with a reader, I discovered that she really wanted another Ria and the Gang story. Well, I can't say that I blame her. I kind of like these characters too. I am writing another story, but haven't gotten very far yet. But I did realize that I had this story written, but had never posted it. Yay! You all get a new story to read. :) Only it really isn't new.
And if you haven't read "Home Fires of the Great War," sorry. Ria is one of the characters in it.

I hope you enjoy this story.

Ria’s Birthday Gift

    “Ria,” Mrs. Mitchell called upstairs to her daughter.
    In a moment, nine-year-old Ria appeared at the top of the stairs. “You want me, Mama?”
    “Uncle Edmund is bringing the boys over to stay for a few days,” Mrs. Mitchell looked up at her dark haired daughter, “so I’m going to need your help to get beds ready for them.”
    Ria couldn’t help a sigh. She sometimes wished that some girls could come over to sleep for a change instead of just boys. The only problem was, there weren’t any girls old enough to spend the night. Anna was not yet one and Lillian was barely two. “Where will they sleep?” she asked soberly.
    Smiling, Mrs. Mitchell replied brightly, “In the boys’ rooms.” She looked up at the half sad expression on the face above her. “Don’t you think you can live with some extra boys for a few days? They are here almost every day anyway. The only difference is that this time they won’t go home when the others do.”
    Slowly sitting down on the top step, Ria propped her chin in her hands. “I know. I just wish Aunt Carrie could come visit and then Millie and Allie could sleep in my room. Mama,” Ria suddenly looked up, “do the boys have to come in my room?”
    With a shake of her head, Mrs. Mitchell answered, “No, Dear. Your room is going to be off limits for the boys unless you invite them in.”
    “Well, okay then. At least I’ll have a place to get away from Dave and Chris and their teasing.” Then she giggled. “And from Jack’s teasing too.” Somehow, however, when Jack teased her, it was a fun tease, a kind she enjoyed.
    Mrs. Mitchell gave a chuckle; she quite agreed with Ria, Dave’s and Chris’s teasing sometimes when a little too far, but Jack was a lot like his father, Emma’s twin: fun but kind. “Shall we get the rooms ready now?” she asked as Ria continued to sit.
    “Now,” and Ria sprang up ready to help. It would be fun to have her cousins over, she decided. Even if they were all boys.

    “Mama.” It was nearly time for Uncle Edmund to bring the boys, and Ed, Chris and the twins were waiting on the porch while Mrs. Mitchell worked on supper and Ria set the table. “Mama, do you think Uncle Edmund will bring my birthday present he and Aunt Louise promised me?”
    “I don’t think he’ll bring it tonight, Dear,” Mrs. Mitchell answered. “He’ll be too busy trying to make sure he has all the boys.”
    The two in the kitchen shared a laugh. Uncle Edmund had been known to forget one or two of his sons before, or to take some wrong boys home.
    A shout from the porch told Mrs. Mitchell and Ria that the extra boys had arrived.

    Lively chatter, teasing and laughter surrounded the supper table that night in the Mitchell home. Little Larry, the youngest of Uncle Edmund and Aunt Louise’s children sat happily next to his Uncle Mitch, delighted to be a part of the gathering. Ria looked rather alone, her mother thought, sitting there surrounded on all sides by boys, but at that moment she was enjoying it.
    “You know, boys,” Uncle Mitch remarked when not another mouthful could be taken by anyone, “the ladies made supper . . .”
    “I’ll wash,” Fred volunteered smiling at his aunt.
    “I think the three J’s can dry and put away the dishes,” Pete began delegating, “and Dave and Chris can sweep the floors. Ed, you and I can clear off the table.”
    Ed nodded. “Let’s get to it then.”
    Dave and Chris didn’t take too kindly to the idea of having to sweep the floor and Chris protested, “There are two of us, how are we both supposed to sweep?”
    Chuckling a little, Mr. Mitchell offered a solution. “One can sweep the kitchen and the other here in the dining room.”
    Delighted that her usual evening tasks were taken away from her, Ria soon had a game of Chinese checkers started with her father and Larry, and the rest of the evening passed pleasantly. Everyone gathered about the radio to listen to their favorite shows before Mr. Mitchell took the Bible from the shelf and read their evening chapter.

    Thursday morning dawned cloudy and rainy. Ria gazed out the window and sighed. “Maybe it will stop raining by the time school is out,” she thought, turning from the window to pull on her school clothes.
    Much laughter was coming from the boys’ rooms as Ria left her own and started slowly down the stairs wishing again that she had girl cousins mixed in with the boys.
    “Good Morning, Ria,” her father greeted her, looking up from the morning paper and his cup of coffee.
    “Good Morning, Daddy,” She replied, dropping down into a chair at the kitchen table.
    “Why the long face? Did the boys wake you up too early?”
    Ria shook her head. “No, I just wish I had a special cousin that was a girl that lived nearby.”
    “Which of the gang would you get rid of?”
    Frowning in thought a minute, Ria looked up and grinned. “No one,” she answered. “But where is Mama?”
    Her father picked up his paper again. “She had to leave, but she should be back before you get home from school. She left breakfast all ready for you,” and Mr. Mitchell nodded towards the counter.
    To have her mother leave before she had even come downstairs in the morning was, to Ria, unheard of. After she had filled her plate and resumed her seat, she asked, “Where did she go?”
    “Hmm?” came from behind the newspaper.
    “Where did Mama go?”
    “Out. Where are those boys?” and Mr. Mitchell glanced over at the clock, folded his paper and stood up. Moving to the bottom of the stairs he called, “Boys, hurry up or you’ll be late for school!”
    A thumping of feet was heard in the hall and then a clatter of steps on the stairs before the six older boys burst into the kitchen with five-year-old Larry trailing behind them.
    “Where are Chris and Dave?” Mr. Mitchell asked, noticing the absence of the younger boys.
    Ed shrugged, “They said they weren’t going to school today.”
    And Jack asked, “Shall we toss them over our shoulders and carry them, Uncle Mitch?”
    Mr. Mitchell laughed. “I think I’ll go talk with them before we resort to that.” And he departed.

Do you have more girl or boy cousins?
Have you read "Home Fires"?
What would you do if you were the only girl cousin?

Friday, May 10, 2019

Ruined Shoes

Hello, Favorite Friday Fiction Fans,
It's a chilly morning in May. Right now it is only 43ºF. And everything is wet from all the rain we've had this week. But the sun is supposed to shine at least some today. So hopefully that will help warm things up again. I'm not ready for summer, but I don't want to go back to cold either.

Let's see, what have I done this week?
On Saturday my mom, sis, and I headed home from my grandparents' and I tried to get some things done.
Sunday was a busy day. We had children's bell practice between Sunday school and church, and then played for church. My sister and I are in charge of setting all the food up for our fellowship meals, so we only got to hear part of the message at church before slipping out and down to set things up. We always have helpers, but this time our help wasn't enough because our visiting speaker ended 20 minutes early! Thankfully several other girls who are on the rotation to help set up, rushed down and help us finish. I got to hold and cuddle a sweet 10 month old baby and she fell asleep on me and slept until her family had to leave. *bliss* :) We had a baby shower after we finished eating, so it was after 2 before we got home.
On Monday I worked on getting this and that done. That evening we went to something my nieces and nephews were in. No writing that day.
Tuesday was more of getting things done. I did get a bit written, and mowed the yard (it needed it!), and talked to my best friend for 45 minutes.
Wednesday was a better writing day. I might have finished writing "By Paths Unknown." I can't promise I have, since I have to wait and see what my editor says, but maybe. ;) I also alpha read a story for someone.
Thursday I had a long list of things to do and work on. Several emails to send, and another book to alpha read. I also started writing a new short story. This one is based on a true story.
Today – Well, today hasn't been around very long. ;) But I have to clean house, but I'm hoping to get more written, and other things done.

This story was written about 8 years ago and started the "Travels of Tracy" series. I hope you enjoy it.

Ruined Shoes
Rebekah M.

For several minutes Tracy Linnet sat silently in her small, blue Road Runner, slowly twisting one of her tawny curls around her finger. “Now what?” she asked of no one, for besides her cat, she was alone in the car. “Here I am, in a small mountain valley with lush green grass, a small stream, which I’m sure is icy cold, a row of tall, green trees, an old looking barn and rugged mountain peaks; not a person or house in sight.” She sighed and, looking at the seat beside her where Madalyn, her only companion, was curled up, made a wry face before adding, “I guess this just isn’t my lucky day, huh, Lyn?”
Thus addressed, the cat, a sweet tempered, long-haired, yellow tabby, opened one eye, stretched her front paws and yawned. Her tail brushed the back of the seat lightly.
“Oh, you’re no help,” Tracy scolded softly, scooping up the cat and cuddling it tenderly. “You couldn’t even get the spare tire out let alone change the flat. Now could you?”
Lyn merely blinked.

The sun shone brightly out of a clear blue sky, and Tracy, never one to give way to utter despair, opened the car door and stepped out, glad to at least stretch her legs. “No doubt Tad will be waiting for me.” She put the cat down and straightened her belt and smoothed her skirt. “Of course,” she added to Lyn with another little sigh, “he won’t really miss me until after five o’clock. Since it is almost three now, it will be at least four and a half maybe even five more hours before he finds me. So much for getting back without any mishaps!”
She thought of her three friends whose company she had left only forty minutes ago after spending a five day holiday together. Now it was back to college, and here she was, stuck.

“Lyn,” Tracy wondered, “do you see a house over there behind those trees?”
Lynn continued washing her face and didn’t even look.
After shaking her head at her companion, Tracy shaded her eyes from the afternoon sun, trying to see through the screen of trees. “I’m sure it is a house. But, how do I get there? I guess we’ll have to cross the field and climb the fence, if there is one,” she added. “How nice of the road to cross this stream before turning away from the house. Come on, Lyn.” She picked up her cat, and set off with a sigh.

The long grass swayed, tickling her legs and grasshoppers jumped on her skirt.
“Oh,” Tracy shuddered, thinking of what her new neon tiger-striped keds would look like, for the ground was soft and squishy, as though still saturated from a rain. “This isn’t exactly the right kind of outfit to venture forth across country in, Lyn. Maybe I should have worn something else.”
Lyn gave a soft mew and set up a purr.
“I know, you’re exactly right. I wouldn’t have had time to change before Tad saw me. And who knew I would have a flat tire. I’m sure you didn’t even think of such a thing.”

At last the field was crossed and Tracy approached the barbed wire fence feeling almost like a trespasser. “What if they don’t like visitors?” she whispered to Lyn. But the cat had closed her eyes and Tracy didn’t think she was listening.

Just as Tracy placed one hand on the fence, a sudden thunderous barking frightened her nearly out of her shoes! She screamed! There bounding towards her was a great, and to her mind, terrible dog! Lyn began to spit and hiss and Tracy held on to her beloved cat lest she leap from her arms into the vicious jaws of the approaching beast.
A shrill whistle from the barn halted the dog and sent it tearing off in a new direction. A door of the barn slammed shut and then out of the shadows a man approached with the stride of a cowboy.
Somehow Tracy managed a tiny, fleeting smile. “Hi.”
“Can I help you?”
“Um, oh yes, . . . I mean, . . . my car--” She could go no further for the door of the house flew open and a crowd of noisy children of all sizes came dashing out helter-skelter. Behind them, with a baby in each arm, came a woman.
Tracy could only stare. Never had she seen so many children at once except at schools. Even Lyn seemed impressed for she turned for a look and then scrambled up to Tracy’s shoulder as though added height would help figure out the situation.
The woman came over to the fence and, after handing over one of the babies to the man, held out her hand with a pleased smile. “Hi, I’m Anne. Brian’s wife. It’s not often we have guests. Can we help you?”
At last Tracy found her voice. “My car has a flat, and I can’t change it. I was wondering--”
“Of course we can help,” Brian put in.
His wife added, “You came through that field? Oh your poor shoes! They look ruined. I’m afraid there is no gate, but if you’re not afraid to climb the fence or go under it, we can give you a lift back in the truck. Tramping back through that would only make your shoes worse.”
At this, Brian handed back the baby, placed one booted foot on the lower strand of wire and pulled the top strand up, thus forming a gap large enough for Tracy and Lyn to squeeze through. Then he bellowed, “Everyone in the truck!”

A blur of movement crossed Tracy’s vision as there was a mad scramble for the truck. In a daze, Tracy soon found herself seated in the back of the pickup with Lyn in her lap surrounded by half a dozen large, middle sized and small boys all staring at her. After a brief moment she asked, “Are the babies boys too?”
“Naw, only one.”
“Nice cat.”
“Bet ya Colonel would swallow it in one bite.”
“Aw, be quiet, Jackie.”
“Where do you live?
“How come you’re riding with us?”
Tracy could neither respond to these bewildering comments nor answer the questions hurled at her. Her brain, so quick in school, was a total jumble.

It took only a short time in the truck to reach her little car and soon the tire was changed, and after declining an invitation to stay for the night, Tracy found herself once more alone with her cat.

As she settled back again behind the wheel, she said, addressing the occupant of the seat beside her, “Did this really happen, Lyn, or was I dreaming? Tad will think I dreamed it all up.” There was a brief pause. “On second thought,” she glanced ruefully down at her ruined shoes, “when he sees these shoes, he’ll know it wasn’t a dream.” Then she sighed and drove off down the road.

Have you ever ruined your shoes doing something?
What did you do this week?
Have you had a lot of rain this week?

Friday, May 3, 2019

On Vacation

Hello Faithful Friday Fiction Fans,
Sorry to do this to you again, but I'm on vacation and don't have a story for you today. I thought perhaps I'd have time to get one ready or something, but that hasn't happened as you can tell.

Camp NaNo ended on Tuesday and since then I haven't written. At all. Well, except in my journal and emails. No story writing though. Since we left for my grandparents' on Wednesday and we'll be home on Saturday afternoon, I figured I'd just take the rest of the week off of writing. But I'm eager to get back to "By Paths Unknown" and get it finished.

What have I been doing on vacation?
My sister and I have been walking everyday, which has been nice.
My mom, Sis and I cleaned Grandma's back porch. It's the kind of covered porch with large screen windows and a carpet. Perfect for eating meals on during the warmer months, or sitting out there and reading. Anyway, the screens needed cleaned, the windows washed, and we even decided to rent a carpet cleaner. (The carpet hadn't been cleaned since it was put in 20 years ago.) After running the cleaner about 5 times, the color changed from grayish-blue, to blue. So we called it good. I'm sure we only got about 5-10 years of dirt up. :) This took most of yesterday.
Today should be a quiet day. Maybe I'll get a few of the other things I need to work on done. Or at least worked on. ;)

We head home tomorrow so we can get things ready for Sunday. We have a fellowship meal and a baby shower after church.

So that's all folks. Thanks for stopping by.

What have you been doing this week?
Have you ever run a carpet cleaner?
Do you like eating on a covered, screened back porch?