New FREE Holiday Anthology

I am featured in a FREE holiday anthology of short stories —
A Holiday Anthology Volume 2 A Collection of Winter Holiday Tales

If you are familiar with my books, you may remember Deena from the first book. She was one of Bonnie’s Assistant Chefs, and she was dating Lee at the time.

In the second book, we learn that Deena has moved to Las Vegas and she and Lee have broken up. But what happened to Deena? This little 1,500 short story gives us an idea.

The anthology is currently free on the website Smashwords, and will be free on the Nook and iTunes soon. At Smashwords, you can download an epub, an Adobe file, or read online, all for free.

You can find the anthology here… https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/498109

The stories range from sweet to Spicy Hot, with mine somewhere in the middle. Check it out, and you may find some new authors you want to explore.

College Football – 10 Types of Fans in the Stadium

Clemson Game 11-29-2014

They used to say cotton was king in the South, but now it’s football. With rivalry Saturday, college football is ending its regular season today. I attended the Clemson game, where they played their arch rival, the University of South Carolina. Every game I attend, I see the same ten types of fans. I’ve you’ve been to a college football game, you have seen them too.

  1. Fans represent. Fans who wear team colors, either for your team or the team playing your team. Most fans fall into this category.
  2. Neutrals. I’m not sure why these people are here. They don’t wear any type of team colors. Although I shouldn’t generalize, a good many of these people are women, young and old.
  3. Misfits. Someone wearing a team jersey or T-shirt of a team who is not playing. For example, wearing an Auburn sweatshirt to a Clemson ballgame where they are playing the University of South Carolina.
  4. New Parents. They who bring their baby in arms, or a toddler they are carrying in a backpack structure large enough to hike the Appalachian Trail. I always wondered about these people. The baby’s clearly not enjoying it, and  I don’t see how the parents are enjoying it either. It’s the worst possible option, especially in the heat.
  5. Radioheads. People who listen to their radio headsets and then tell you everything they are hearing. (They don’t realize that if you wanted to hear the radio announcer you would have brought your own radio)
  6. App Addicts. Smartphone people who spend the entire game playing with their smartphone. I don’t see how they have any battery. The stadium sucks my battery life like a drunk throws back beer. (And if you get a call in the stadium, don’t be surprised if you can’t hear. It’s loud)
  7. Tailgaters. People who tailgate but don’t go into the game, or they leave at halftime and never go back in. (Yes, I think our stadium should eliminate the right to pass out and come back in, but I doubt that will change any time soon.)
  8. Walkers. People who walk the aisles up and down and never actually sit to enjoy the game. This includes girlfriends who don’t want to watch the game, but send their boyfriend (who does want to watch the game) to get them food. (I saw this one today)
  9. Drunks. We saw a guy kicked out earlier this year who was just standing in the stands with a beer bottle in his hand. Like the police won’t find out about that one. We also had someone kicked out last year and the girl had a whole pint in her purse. Perhaps they could have gotten away with it if they hadn’t been shouting obscenities, irritating the family beside them who had small children at the game. The police talked to her, and surprisingly enough, saw the pint in her purse. They left the game.
  10. Screamers. Yes, you guessed it, the ones who never, ever shut up. If no one else is screaming, perhaps you should give your voice a rest so you can join in with everyone to make the stadium loud.

You never know what you will see. Today, one of the guys who has season tickets near us told my husband that he had proposed to his girlfriend after five years. Then he said that if he had known it would change the outcome of the Clemson-South Carolina rivalry, he would have asked her sooner. There you have it. Dude, I think she’s a keeper.

I’ve heard of fans going to other venues and getting spit on, or having beer bottles thrown at them. I’ve not seen that at Clemson, and on our side of the stadium, I usually don’t see a lot of drunks either. Other than a few obnoxious fans, it’s a pleasant experience.

Happy Thanksgiving!! WKRP and Turkeys

If you are a child of the seventies (or older), you will remember the infamous turkey drop on Thanksgiving. For your enjoyment – and a walk down memory lane — here’s the famous scene. “As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.”

 

Happy Thanksgiving! Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog and my mailing list before you go.

 

Christmas Songs that Aren’t – “Same Auld Lang Syne”

Christmas songs are here!!!! Some of the radio stations in my radio market started playing them November 1, but I promptly changed the channel. Now, I’ve finally given in, and I’ve started listening to Christmas music. Have you noticed that some Christmas songs aren’t?

One song often played during the Christmas season is “Same Auld Lang Syne”, by Dan Fogelberg. Today, I had to explain to my eleven-year old daughter what the song was about. It is a great song, poignant, about first love that might have been, but it’s not very upbeat.

Now, as a mom, married for more than 16 years, I have to ask what the architect was doing at home, on Christmas Eve, while his wife is drinking a six-pack of beer in the car with Dan Fogelberg? Like most families, Christmas Eve is hectic for us. We usually drive to see my family, we go to church, we have to get home and get everything ready for the next day. Now granted, this was back in 1975, before cell phones, but even then, you’d think the husband would be wondering where his wife is for a couple of hours when she made a quick run to the store. She’s not divorced in the song.

I went to the source, and asked wikipedia, and here’s what I learned.
Yes, the song was autobiographical. Dan Fogelberg did run into his old girlfriend in the grocery store on Christmas Eve. He never identified who she was, and he did change some details about her to protect her identity. But, according to Wikipedia, the girlfriend has since come forward.

According to Wikipedia,

As Fogelberg said on his official website, the song was autobiographical.[5] He was visiting family back home in Peoria, Illinois in the mid-1970s when he ran into an old girlfriend at a convenience store.

After Fogelberg’s death from prostate cancer in 2007, the woman about whom he wrote the song came forward with her story. Her name is Jill Greulich, and she and Fogelberg dated in high school when she was Jill Anderson. As she explained to the Peoria Journal Star in a December 22, 2007 article,[6] they were part of the Woodruff High School class of 1969, but went to different colleges. After college, Jill got married and moved to Chicago, and Dan went to Colorado to pursue music. On December 24, 1975, they were each back in Peoria with their families for Christmas when Jill went out for eggnog and Dan looked for whipping cream for Irish coffee. The only place open was a convenience store at the top of Abington Hill where they had their encounter, located at 1302 East Frye Avenue. Today, the store is still in business and named Short Stop Food Mart. They bought a six pack of beer and drank it in her car for two hours while they talked.

Five years later, Jill heard “Same Old Lang Syne” on the radio while driving to work, but she kept quiet about it, as Fogelberg also refused to disclose her identity. Her main fear was that coming forward would disrupt Fogelberg’s marriage.

Looking at the lyrics, Jill cites two inaccuracies: her eyes are green, not blue, and her husband was a physical education teacher, not an architect, and Fogelberg was unlikely to know his profession anyway. On the line, “She would have liked to say she loved the man, but she didn’t like to lie,” Jill will not talk about it, but by the time of the song’s release, she had divorced her husband.

Source : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Same_Old_Lang_Syne

So, there you have it. As Paul Harvey would say, the rest of the story.

So, did that evening go something like this:

I’ll use the name Martha, since I’m not writing about the actual person in the song… and I’ll use Phillip for the husband. That’s a good name for an adult in 1975.

Martha parked her car outside the garage, not sure she could navigate the tight fit to squeeze in beside Phillip’s Buick. Between the couple of inches of snow in the driveway and the couple of beers she had had, the last thing she wanted to do was hit the side of the garage. She grabbed the container of egg nog, lukewarm by now, and started into the house.

Phillip was talking on the phone when she walked in. “Here she is. Thanks. We’ll see you in a little bit.”

He put the receiver on its base with such force it wobbled in the cradle. “Martha, where have you been? I have been worried sick. My parents have been calling, wanting to know when we’re coming over to decorate the tree. You’ve been gone two hours!”

Had it really been that long? Two beers. She guessed so. Dan had drunk four. “I had to go to a couple of stores. Everyone was out of egg nog.” The lie came easy. What else could she say? She ran into an old lover in a grocery store and talked to him in the parking lot? Sometimes the truth hurt more than a lie.

“Oh. Well, I was worried.” He glanced at her bluejean skirt and the red pullover sweater. “Are you going to change to go to my parents? You know they like to do the Christmas pictures tonight.”

“I don’t think I’m going. Tell them I have a headache.” That wasn’t far from the truth.

“Martha, you have to go! If you don’t, they will worry me to death about what you’re doing, why you’re not there.”

“I’m sorry. I can’t do it. You’ll just have to go on without me.”

And that summed it up more than he knew. She trudged up the stairs, deciding she would lay down for a while and hopefully he would get the hint and believe she had a headache.

Later, she heard him leave. Christmas wasn’t the time to break up a marriage. She would tell him after the new year. She would find an apartment, and start over. She drifted to sleep listening to the sound of the rain on the window.

_________________________________

Happy Thanksgiving!

Does Anybody Know What Time it is?

First Daylight Savings Time

Time fell back an hour today as most states in the East gained an hour as we returned to Eastern Standard Time.  Now it will be lighter when we get up in the morning, and darker in the evening compared to last week. For a week we’ll listen to everyone complain, ask why we still switch time back and forth, and fuss that they are tired.

I like Daylight Savings Time. I like getting home when it’s still daylight in the summer, even if the first few weeks in the early spring are brutal.

Now we have clocks that set themselves. The cable box, if you still have cable, automatically fixes its time twice a year.  We have an atomic clock, which relies on a radio signal from the “official clock people”.  It also sets itself. My phone automatically changes its time. My computer changes its time. I can flip a switch on our alarm clocks and automatically switch back and forth an hour. (Yes, we still have alarm clocks.)

Usually when the time changes, I have issues with food. Today it didn’t bother me, although my husband pointed out that we were eating lunch an hour later than normal. Maybe I didn’t have an issue with it because we ate a larger than usual breakfast. (Of course, maybe the Halloween candy helped.)

The last time I went out of town for business I went to Destin, Florida, which is in the panhandle and in the Central Time Zone. I never did convert, but there was a reason. I kept getting mixed signals. My phone switched to Central time when we crossed the Georgia/Alabama border. The conference and meals were on Central time, but when I turned on my computer, it stayed on Eastern Time. Since I don’t wear a watch any longer, when I would glance at the computer time, I would accept that time. Then I would glance at my phone and lose an hour. This would go back and forth several times.

Watching television confused me even more, since prime-time shows on Central Time start an hour earlier than Eastern Time. From Saturday when we arrived, to Tuesday when we left, I kept fluctuating back and forth an hour, depending on which device I was looking at. Then I got home late Tuesday night and in terms of time, it was like I had never left.

Nothing reminds us more that time is relative than the twice a year that we mess with it, and nothing reminds more that time is absolute than distance. Try as hard as you may, when you are driving, you can only cover so much distance in any given time.

Today I had no problem with gaining that hour. I’m off work tomorrow and Tuesday for fall break, so maybe that will help me adjust to the new time. Or Wednesday may come and hit me like a ton of bricks. Only time will tell.

 

How are you doing with the time change this cycle? Liking it? Hating it? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Flash Fiction – Lost in the Maze, Part 1

Bickleigh , Bickleigh Maize Maze - geograph.org.uk - 1223716.jpg

Bickleigh Maize Maze from geograph.org.uk

Bickleigh , Bickleigh Maize Maze – geograph.org.uk – 1223716” by Lewis Clarkegeograph.org.uk. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

I mentioned a while back that I was gong to try my hand at flash fiction, short little stories less than 5,000 words.  Here is part one of Lost in the Maze.

 

Lost in the Maze, Part 1

Copyright Lily Bishop, 2014. No part of this story may be reproduced without permission.

 

Caitlyn rushed around her apartment while she talked to her sister, trying to get everything straight and in its place before her date with Cody. If her sister Maddy didn’t stop irritating her, she would put down the phone right now.

“Caitlyn and Cody sitting in a tree. K – I – S – S – I – N – G. First comes love. Then comes marriage. Here comes Caitlyn with a baby carriage.”

“Maddy, stop it!” Caitlyn fussed at her sister. “You don’t know anything.”

“I know you want to marry him,” Maddy said, giggling. “Why are you in such a rush, anyway?”

“What do you know? You’re still in high school.” Caitlyn tried to put her off, but unfortunately, Maddy did know. Caitlyn was tired of waiting, and she was ready to get married.

“And you’re a wise woman of the world at twenty-one. You’re just upset that he’s a senior and graduating, and you’re not. Why are you in such a hurry to get married? Not me—I want to travel first. I want to see London, and Paris, and Athens, Greece. I don’t want some boy tying me down.”

“When you meet the one, you’ll change your mind. Anyway, don’t jinx me. I just know tonight’s the night.”

“How do you know he’s the one, anyway?”

“I just do. We’re perfect for each other. We like the same things. We eat the same foods—”

“Sounds boring to me. Where’s the challenge in that?”

“Everything doesn’t have to be a challenge.” Caitlyn looked up at the sound of boots on the porch. “He’s here. Gotta go.”

She opened the front door and stood there for a heartbeat, smiling up at her Cody. Taller by about six inches, he leaned into her, just as he always did, and she draped her arms around his neck. His aftershave was familiar, his cheek smooth. His dark curls were just a bit damp. He wore his usual button down long-sleeved shirt, the first button undone, and his sleeves were rolled up on the forearms. The only difference is that tonight he wore jeans instead of khaki pants.

“I missed you,” he said. She leaned into him and puckered for a kiss. He kissed her like it had been a month. She had, of course, just seen him the night before, but none of that mattered.

“I missed you, too.” She backed up and pulled him into the main room. Her apartment took up half of the bottom floor of an old Victorian house on Main Street. She had a living room, a bedroom, and a tiny kitchen, if you could call a modified hallway with a stove and refrigerator a kitchen.

“I’ll wait out here while you change.”

She looked down at the flared-skirt dress with the nipped-in waist that she had picked out for this romantic evening. “You don’t like my dress?”

“I said casual, remember? You do not want to wear that for what I have planned.”

“I paired it with boots,” she said, frowning. This was as casual as she got for a date, especially one that she felt sure would be a proposal. “Where are we going, anyway?”

“Oh, no you don’t. It’s a surprise. Now go change.”

 

to be continued…


 

I know it’s short — probably three parts to this one. What do you think?  Caitlyn’s got her life all planned out.

Don’t miss a single scene. Subscribe to my blog to get the rest.

TV Round-Up – Scorpion

Rubik’s Cube Race

 

Scorpion (CBS, Monday night, 9:00 p.m. EST)  is one of the shows that we are watching at our house. We are a week behind, so I haven’t seen the episode that aired October 20, but we’ve watched the other episodes. My kids are 13 and 11, and they absolutely love the show. It just might be their new favorite. On a scale of one to five, they would give it a five.  My husband gives it a 3. I might give it a 3.5.

Here is the show’s official description, pulled from the CBS website:

SCORPION, inspired by a true story, is a high-octane drama about eccentric genius Walter O’Brien and his team of brilliant misfits who comprise the last line of defense against complex, high-tech threats of the modern age. As Homeland Security’s new think tank, O’Brien’s “Scorpion” team includes Toby Curtis, an expert behaviorist who can read anyone; Happy Quinn, a mechanical prodigy; and Sylvester Dodd, a statistics guru. Pooling their extensive technological knowledge to solve mind-boggling predicaments amazes federal agent Cabe Gallo, who shares a harrowing history with O’Brien. However, while this socially awkward group is comfortable with each other’s humor and quirks, life outside their circle confounds them, so they rely on Paige Dineen, who has a young, gifted son, to translate the world for them. At last, these nerdy masterminds have found the perfect job: a place where they can apply their exceptional brainpower to solve the nation’s crises, while also helping each other learn how to fit in. (Source: http://www.cbs.com/shows/scorpion/about/)

CBS has moved the Big Bang Theory to Monday night, and Scorpion follows it. The basic presumption is if you like the comedic geniuses on BBT, you will like the dramatic geniuses on Scorpion. So far that has been mostly true at our house. The show reminds me a little bit of the A-Team, without the whole running from the law element. I keep waiting for Elyes Gable, who plays Walter O’Brien, to put a cigar in his mouth and squint — “I love it when a plan comes together.” So far, that has not happened. Katharine McPhee plays a convincing single mom, and so far, I think she is a better actress than she was a singer.

Here are our likes and dislikes:

Likes:

  • I like the strength of the characters (when they aren’t annoying me – sometimes they can trend to too quirky)
  • My husband likes watching a group of social misfits try to act as a team with skills that compliment each other.
  • We like that we can watch it with the kids. So far there hasn’t been any gratuitous sex or violence.

Dislikes:

  • The show does the whole Agent Scully/Mulder dynamic. Either the FBI agent believes the team can do what they say or he doesn’t.
  • Deux ex Machina. Without going into too much plot detail for spoilers, sometimes solutions appear on their own, without any action from the characters.
  • As my husband puts it, some of the crazy stunts they try are beyond stupid. (plugging an ethernet cable into a jet while it is flying?)

This one has made the level to get a season pass at our house. Only time will tell if we continue to watch it.The show screams potential, but we don’t think it has hit its groove yet. What are your thoughts? Have you seen Scorpion?

Doughnut Receipts and Book Reviews

 

Doughnut

By Angeldm (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

What do receipts and book reviews have in common?
First, remember the comedy bit about the doughnut receipt?

I bought a doughnut and they gave me a receipt for the doughnut. I don’t need a receipt for the doughnut. I’ll just give you the money, and you give me the doughnut, end of transaction. We don’t need to bring ink and paper into this. I just can’t imagine a scenario where I would have to prove that I bought a doughnut. Some skeptical friend: “Don’t even act like I didn’t get that doughnut! I got the documentation right here…oh, wait it’s at home…in the file…under “D”, for “doughnut.”    Mitch Hedberg (1968 – 2005)

This is how I feel some days about the paperwork at my house. I have too many doughnut receipts, things that I don’t need to save. I’m getting ready to do a big purge.

Have you heard? The spirit of Mitch Hedberg lives on in the receipts of a doughnut shop. His joke involving donuts and receipts is printed right on the receipts. So have a doughnut and a laugh, and remember a comedian  who .

 

Second, I don’t want to do a survey every time I go somewhere.

My grocery store’s receipts always have a survey code at the bottom. As I’m leaving, the employees practically beg me to go complete the survey and give them all fives.

Are we really this desperate for feedback? Let’s think about this again. Self-selection bias. The people more likely to do the survey are the ones who are unhappy, even with a promised entry into a drawing for some gift card. Taking ten or fifteen minutes to go online and do a survey isn’t worth my time. Why bother?

What is the grocery store going to do? Use the results to either encourage or browbeat their employees. My guess is the latter. Because only the irritated customers are going to bother. Hoping results from a biased survey will improve is a pipe dream.

 

So why should you do a review on Amazon?

Having said that, if you really enjoy an indie author’s books, go out and give them a review on Amazon. Reward their efforts with a 4* or 5*. Just write a few words sharing what you liked about the characters, or the setting. Let others know what kept you interested in the book.

Why? What’s in it for you? I firmly believe that in this new world of digital publishing, the good authors will rise to the top if enough readers speak out. If you encourage authors who are publishing things you like, then hopefully they will find the audience that will enable them to continue. While it’s free to publish on Amazon, book covers and editors are not free.

If you pick up a book for free or a cheap 99 cents, think about why that author would sell his or her work so cheaply. They are hoping that, if you like the book, you will buy their next one, and add give them a positive review. Share the love. Tell your friends.

 

Kindle Unlimited Readers beware

There are authors on Amazon who are releasing thousands of books of nothing but garbage. Short novels with 25 pages. Look at author Sam Enrico on Amazon and his “How to” series. Last I checked, he has 11,000 books listed in Kindle Unlimited. I’m hoping that Amazon catches his scam soon, but if someone downloads his books for free and looks at the first 10%, which in his case is usually two or three pages, he gets paid by Amazon around $1.50 a book at last check. Pay attention to the length when you are downloading books. If you don’t want to waste one of your free reads on a short story, don’t. Most of the time Amazon will tell you how long it is. He has probably made thousands because people click on the downloads and don’t even realize it. Be careful out there.

Art Imitating Life

Every writer gets asked this question from time to time, and it comes in different forms. How do you come up with all those stories? Where do you get your ideas?

For my embezzlement plot arc, I studied different cases online, looking at some of the techniques and Ponzi schemes that have been prosecuted lately. I’ve worked in offices for most of my adult life, and some of that is drawn from events I’ve seen.

Some of book three is taking place in Venezuela, and there were actually some big international crime rings busted from Venezuela, so I’m looking at some of that for inspiration.

There is one scene in No Strings Attached that was ripped from the headlines of my life, and that’s when an employee is let go near the end of the book. This particular employee is eating a muffin while she is being terminated, and its’ sticky, and she doesn’t know what to do with her hands. Awkward. I thought so.

Chocolate.jpg

“Chocolate” by André Karwath aka Aka – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.

Because it happened to me. I was in a terrible job, looking for another one, but nothing was panning out yet. I went to work every day telling my husband that I might quit soon. The kids were young, 3 and 4, and if I pulled them out of their preschool they would lose their slots. If I wasn’t working I couldn’t pay the preschool tuition. It was a Catch-22, so I had held on, looking but not ready to let go of the job that I had.

Right before Christmas, my boss’s boss called me into his office.  I had been there almost three months, and it was a bad fit. I knew it. They knew it. No one had made a move.

We had been working on a document all morning, and I thought he had more changes. I walked in his office carrying a gourmet chocolate bar imported from Greece that one of the drivers had given everyone in the office. The bar was a milk chocolate bar that was firm enough to eat, but still left chocolate all over everything. He proceeded to let me go – gently – right before Christmas. I had the presence of mind to ask for severance and got paid through the end of February. I had a new job by then, and all was right in the world. Seven years later, I’m still in the same job, and still love it, but I will never forget that moment of shock. My husband had tried to warn me, but I thought they didn’t have the guts to do it.

So, there you have it. I don’t usually use things that happen to me in my fiction, but in this case, I couldn’t pass it up.

Sometimes things happen in real life that are way too strange for fiction.

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