Book Review – Save Us A Seat Fletcher McHale NaBloPoMo #4

save us a seat

We had a busy weekend as you can see by my previous post. Not only did we do the bike run to Monroe, but I had the pleasure of meeting Fletcher McHale at her book signing at Tincy’s on the Corner in Ville Platte, La. If you haven’t heard of Fletcher yet, don’t worry, you will. She is a woman with a dynamite personality bigger than life and describes herself as a “regular girl living in the middle of a cow pasture”. Nobody has to guess how she feels about anything; she is an open book, pardon the pun. It would be hard not to see her blue eyes sparkle with laughter, or flash with anger. Save Us A Seat is her debut novel although it certainly doesn’t read like it was produced by a first-timer.

Fletcher McHale

Fletcher McHale

Oh. My. Gosh. I love this book! Look, folks, I had tears dripping from my chin onto the pages of more than one chapter. No, it isn’t a hopelessly sappy book. How can I describe it? Real life. Crazy. Funny. Emotional. Sad. Supremely happy. Enlightening. And again, funny. The story revolves around three women, best friends for life, living in the small community of Bon Dieu Falls, Louisiana. As with most tiny communities, everybody knows everybody else’s business and nothing is off limits for discussion. Carrigan, Ella Rae, and Laine know that fact all too well. They have managed to keep their friendship solid and thriving despite all the drama that small town living brings. Then restlessness creeps in, tragedy hits hard, and life as they know it will never be the same. Written in first person, Fletcher McHale has woven together a saucy story that is captivating and wrings every ounce of every emotion from the reader. The three main characters are delightfully funny with a shot of smart-ass thrown in and a bond with each other that lasts through thick and thin, right or wrong.

I highly recommend this book. Do ya’ll remember the commercial on TV that shows a little girl telling an interviewer “We want more, we want more”? Picture me on my knees saying the same thing to Fletcher McHale. Save Us A Seat is available through online bookstores everywhere.

On another note, I want to remind you to pray for peace. I talk to God pretty regular and I know He is listening. It’s the human race – we’re a mess. How we haven’t completely obliterated the earth of mankind, I’ll never know.

What have I been doing, you ask?

There is more to me than meets the eye… not saying that’s always a good thing…but it has it’s advantages. I’ve shared some of my work outside of writing at the end of this post. I love my life.


I have renewed enthusiasm concerning my novel, Secrets of the Old Ladies’ Club. One lesson I learned early on about self-publishing is that it’s hard to get the book out there, especially if you cannot afford a marketing package. So you can imagine how excited I was to get a phone call from a group of ladies at the Chamber of Commerce and Tourism in Ville Platte bidding me to come for a cup of coffee. If you are not from Louisiana, let me tell you that when you are invited for coffee by anyone, it’s a sign – a good one. I was so excited about the coffee klatch, even having the tire on my brand new car go flat on the way didn’t discourage me, although I do admit to being nervous for arriving late. Nervous? Not much! I was a basket case. But come to find out, the people I met were awesome and equally as excited as I was. It appeared that my 15 minutes of fame was extended to an entire 16 minutes. They thought they had a celebrity in the house. Who, me? The one who stuttered and had sweaty palms? The one who worried for many an hour about choosing a suitable outfit from my vast array of jeans and tee shirts for this coffee/meeting? Yes, me.

Worrying is pointless and I must re-learn over and over that it accomplishes nothing. The coffee klatch was a success. It started out with me saying a few words about the characters in my book, then, to my relief, the room exploded into hilarity as, one by one, the ladies reported ways in which they identified with my characters. One story shared led to another, and another and before long, all of us were laughing, slapping our knees, and gasping for air until someone passed a box of tissues to mop up the dripping Niagra of tears while we caught our breath. We couldn’t help it. Old ladies are fun.

So to cap it off, I was asked to give a little talk during the Chamber of Tourism dinner, which I did last Wednesday. And to the October Chamber of Commerce dinner coming up. And someone asked me to speak to the Rotary Club. Add to that, the person in charge of ordering books for Evangeline parish (not county, c’mon, we live in Louisiana) informed me that she had ordered copies of my book for every library in the parish. I. am. surprised. And can’t believe how blessed I am. The author of this blog does not ‘do’ social activity well. I break out in hives, blank-outs, and nausea when I meet people I don’t know. Usually. The good news is when I talk about my book, I rarely have to finish a sentence before someone else in the group takes over and within moments everyone is talking and laughing at the same time. That’s what makes it easy. I start, someone else finishes. I just sit back with a smile on my face, nod my head, and have a good time.

Truthfully, I don’t know how it happened that I have gone from 15 minutes of fame to at least 19 minutes now. I just started with some crazy old lady busting out of my head to get her story on paper. Or something like that anyway. If you have ever written a story, you know that the characters come to life in a unique and delightful way. Once you write about them, they move in. They don’t leave. It’s wonderful.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch….

In an earlier post I’ve mentioned that I have a habit of going through what my husband and step-son call ‘phases’, meaning I go off on a tangent with one of my many hobbies until I have come completely undone. It’s fun. To my husband’s surprise, or perhaps disdain, I rather like it.

My latest burst of energy produced some pretty positive results. Here are a few pictures:


A bold statement-of-faith necklace and a St. Theresa Chaplet prayer beads.


A one-decade rosary with a locket crucifix, a one decade world peace rosary with a “drop of His blood”

These are listed in my etsy shop:


And some five decade tee-tiny little rosaries made for baby’s baptism, or keep one close beside you in your pocket, or give it as the perfect original shower gift.

And these little darlings are not yet listed, but soon…

Oh, and don’t forget to pray for peace, ya’ll. God answers prayers. We wait for His time, but continue our vigil of prayer.

One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure


Do you like junkin’? You know, that thing a person does when they choose to enter stores full of other peoples’ old stuff? I love junkin’! And I had many opportunities to go junkin’ while I was on my book signing vacation. Thank God for kindred spirit friends who love it too. We had so much fun, it should have been illegal. First of all, my bff Sue and I didn’t have to go far in Searcy, Arkansas to find great deals. Let me sing the praises of the local Habitat for Humanity ReStore. I found a lamp with a gorgeous patina already on it for my back porch and Sue found the most incredible punched tin chandelier that she is planning to put candles in for her patio. DSCF6876
After Re-Store, we hit The Bees Knees and The Emporium, both incredible stores with unbelievable prices. I can’t believe my luck! I found baskets for a dollar, signs to start a collection on the door of my husband’s garage (glad to find out later that he liked the idea), a mechanic stool for him, and a BUNCH of other stuff. I used the wire baskets ($1) and a red lantern ($4) to make book shelves in my kitchen for my cookbooks. DSCF6873 When I left for Warrensburg, Missouri, my car was loaded. Good thing I had only one suitcase and one overnight bag!
There were good deals to be had in Missouri as well. My sister Shannon, and my sister-in-law Betty were bitten by the junkin’ bug and together we were a force to be reckoned with! Delightful finds and treasures galore at Those Were The Days in downtown Warrensburg! For example, I found a set of wine glasses with black stems for a dollar. Holy Toledo, like I needed wine glasses, but I couldn’t help myself. I just couldn’t pass up that deal. And that is nothing compared to the deal I got on this Harley Davidson sign ~ on CLEARANCE!! My husband loved it, thank God, and he riveted everything (quite the overkill) just in case the wind, or something/one else, takes a fancy to it.
After Missouri, my sister and I went back to her hometown of Heber Springs, Arkansas where the hunt continued. Oh Lucky me!! I was able to complete my late mother’s old key collection and added to it a decorative plaque on which my husband kindly mounted a glass door knob I saved from my old home place.
And I found a garden angel like I’ve never seen before, as well as a huge chicken planter, both HALF PRICE of low prices to begin with!DSCF6879DSCF6880
Some where along the way I picked up this beautiful lantern (only $6) which was perfect to put citronella candles in and mount under our pergola outside.DSCF6877


So one man’s trash is another man’s (most likely woman’s) treasure. I spent somewhere around $100, not including the HD sign. That doesn’t count, you see, because that was for my beloved. And even though I got such wonderful treasures, I couldn’t help but feel a bit guilty for having spent the money I’d been saving for so long on trivial stuff. Stuff that nobody else wanted. Stuff that doesn’t amount to a hill of beans. I’ve been blessed, so very blessed. And I’m proud of my inexpensive and delightful finds but I promise you, they are not what it means to be blessed, or even happy. Things don’t make you happy. They can’t make you or break you. If you’re not careful, things can own you, instead of you owning them.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about all the Lord has done for me. I don’t deserve it. He has blessed me beyond my wildest dreams, and why I don’t know except that He loves me. Imagine that. In my musings, I realized that I am certainly not doing enough for Him. His plan for all of us is to take care of each other, to give.
Now, I know this sounds strange but I like to put a name to a year, depending on how I feel I am led. For example, last year was the ‘year of giving’. I felt that God was telling me to give till it hurts. This year is the ‘year of service’. Pretty much self-explanatory, right? I don’t get out a whole lot so one might wonder how I serve. Well, I try to serve my husband in ways he doesn’t expect. I don’t know if he notices or not, but because I’m rather self-centered, it can sometimes be a stretch. And I am a prayer warrior. I pray. A lot. Sometimes I doubt my efforts do any good, but then I realize that it’s not for me to know. Only God knows. So I keep praying.

There is a page on fb that I really like. Administered by a man named David, One Spark is a site that people anonymously post things they’ve done to help other people. And many ask for prayers as well. Somebody posted an idea that I really like: they keep packages in their car to hand out to homeless or unfortunate individuals who might need personal supplies like toothpaste, deodorant, easy open cans of food, plastic forks and spoons, water, baby wipes, etc. Isn’t that a fantastic idea? I want to do that too. I want to put together something that I can keep in the back floor board of my car so I can easily reach and hand out of the car window to someone I might see that needs a drink of water or something to eat.
Can you imagine the impact if all of us did that?
Personally, I don’t see a lot of homeless people out here in the country, but I’m going to make an effort to have a couple of bags on hand for my trips to town. Who knows who God will put in my path? That’s just how He rolls.
You’ve all heard the scripture “whatsoever you do for the least of my brothers, that you do unto me”? One time I did a deed for one of my former co-workers and she was so thankful. I recited that scripture to her and watched her face fall. Very quickly, I realized that I had just indicated to her that I felt superior to her – ‘least of my brothers’. Don’t make the same mistake I did. None of us are better than the other. Nothing can make us superior to another – not race, not place, not things. Especially not things.

Won’t you join me in praying for our brothers and sisters who are at a place in their lives where nothing seems right? And please, pray for peace.

Do you have a comment or an idea you would like to add? I would love to hear from you.

Rockin’ the Book Signings!

I had the BEST time over the last coupla weeks! Not only did I get to see beloved friends and family, I also had the privilege of two book signings scheduled ahead of the trip.

First; Heber Springs, Arkansas at the Hobgood Gallery. Ellen Hobgood enthusiastically hosted the book signing event in conjunction with her Art Walk Wine and Cheese party. It was a wonderful affair with lots of good art, good food, and good people.


Vickie Hendrix-Siebenmorgen and Ellen Hobgood both gave painting demonstrations. Yes, I did pay attention to their detail and techniques!



I love this portrait of Ellen by her friend Angela Davis Johnson. It is a perfect likeness of her. While I’m at it, let me drop a few names of some of the other artists featured in the gallery: Terri Parson, Debbie Kincannon, Lori Weeks, John d. Wooldridge, Debby Hinson. These are only a few of the many represented.



Fast forward to Trail Regional Library, Warrensburg, Missouri

wb book signing

Mary, Frances, and the whole staff did everything they could to make me feel special. It worked! Imagine my delight upon finding homemade cookies (my favorite food group) and punch provided by some amazing women just for this event. I have to say everyone I met was incredibly nice, beyond kind, and very encouraging.

wb bs 9

we bs 3

Yes, I actually did give a talk on what inspired me to write Secrets of the Old Ladies’ Club. For those of you who don’t know me, it was an exercise in bravery. Trust me. My knees knocked, my heart pounded, my stomach was queasy. But I managed to ‘bluff’ my way through it. In fact, I actually felt empowered by the end! I am Woman, hear me roar!
wb bs 5

I know it sounds cliché, but I can’t thank everyone enough for giving me the opportunity to tout my first novel. It is an amazing feeling to make your dreams come true. Not sure how many people can actually say that!




Don’t forget to pray for peace, ya’ll. The world needs your prayers.

Lessons from a Hot Mustang Convertable

Honey, I’m ho-o-ome! I had a wonderful time on vacay but when my tires rolled onto the first strip of sacred Louisiana ground, I have to say my heart soared. Yum, it is delicious to be home again. I have lived here longer than I have ever lived anywhere. I grew up as an Air Force brat so I can safely say I’ve been around the world and back – all before I was 16 years old. I moved around a bit after I grew up too, successfully squelching future wanderlust. I love to travel but I like having my roots planted. There is a sign on my wall that says What I love Most about my Home is Who I share it with. That’s pretty much a blanket statement about how I feel, especially because my beloved stayed home while I fled the quiet life to search out family, friends, and fans. Sort of. Ok, the fan part? I said that because I had two book signings while on my trip; one in Heber Springs, Arkansas and the other in Warrensburg, Missouri. I had a blast, but I’ll go into that later. First I want to tell you about a lesson the Universe (read Higher Power, then translate that into God) threw at me via a black convertible.

Create a mental picture, if you will; me, driving on a four-lane just past Little Rock, Arkansas, going south. It’s early morning, traffic is practically non-existent, unbelievably. A blonde chick in a very impressive, shiny, muscular Mustang passes me going maybe five miles over the speed limit. Then she changes lanes in front of me. Then she slows down. Somehow, I think she made a mistake. So I change lanes because, after all, I am going the speed limit and if I stay behind her, she may find out the hard way that she is driving too slow. Can’t have that, can we? Don’t think about me being in my >ahem< late fifties with more grey than blonde hair, looking more frumpy than hot, driving a twelve-year-old car with two hundred and six thousand miles on it. Well, let’s say blonde chick didn’t read the signs because she passes me again and slows down directly in front of me. I rode it out for a few miles until Stupid Pride won a tug of war with Common Sense and I had to pass her again. This time I gun it and take off down the road. I’m pretty smug about it. I think to myself that’ll show her it’s not the ride, it’s experience that counts. She eats my dust for about twenty miles.

Yeah, experience. That’s what is important, right? Some things you just have to trust and experience is one of them. I am an experienced woman. Old enough to know better, wise enough to resist. Every wrinkle earned from life’s toughest times. A maturity that comes from working hard and solving the riddles of life. Yadda yadda yadda. So, I am full of myself, driving and passing, bobbing and weaving through traffic, feeling like an expert experienced driver-woman. I find myself in the left lane, traffic thickening, more cars in line going who-knows-where. The car in front of me doesn’t want to speed up even one mile over the limit and the camaraderie of cars surrounding it becomes impatient. Finally a break. The one in front pulls over and I speed past. But, picture this, traffic slows down and becomes slightly compressed around me. I notice blonde chick is behind me again. My ego deflates and I somehow feel less experienced and important because she has caught up with me. We travel along for a bit before I look to the right and see that there is room and all I have to do is change lanes and let the hot convertible whiz by but I hesitate. If I do it, I will lose.

Suddenly, I realize blonde chick doesn’t even know she’s in a race. And, by the way, where is the finish line? As I change lanes and she zooms past, it dawns on me….It’s not how fast you get to the finish line, it’s not even getting to the finish line, it’s who you help get there that is important.

It took a silly, pride-full, analogy of traffic and racing to get ahead to teach me this lesson. It’s not getting yourself there, it’s helping someone else get there. That is what we are called to do as a people of God. I know it sounds ridiculous, but you see, sometimes that is the only way He can get through to me. I am, at times, pretty silly. And maybe a little slow. Pun intended.

Let me take this one step further and share the scripture waiting for me on my calendar when I got home. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. Proverbs 11:25
Now that can’t be a coincidence, can it? I don’t think so. I call it sweet confirmation, a Divine nod in the direction of ‘you got it, girl’.

Oh, you thought I was going to say I got a speeding ticket, didn’t you? Sorry. I think I was driving faster in your head than I actually was on the road.

It’s not what you think


This picture reminds me of what my friend told me she over heard when she was at physical therapy the other day. All the women in the group were talking about how cumbersome having big boobs was. It seems the therapist had an old (I’m talkin’ 80’s, folks) lady on their table. She was struggling to turn over and said loud enough for every one in the room to hear
“Yeah, I used to ask for a size 40 D bra, now I have to ask for a 40 long!”

My friend Sylvia woke me up this morning at 7:30. I didn’t answer the phone, but listened to the message she left on the answering machine. She said she was trying to be faithful to her commitment to go to water aerobics on Wednesdays and wanted to know if I was going. At one time Sylvia and I said water aerobics was something we were going to do together. Unfortunately, it didn’t last long. One week I had to miss, one week she had to miss, etc. Once, I did go by myself but it wasn’t as much fun without Sylvia. I am, believe it or not, shy. Add that to a slightly different culture of people at the Wellness Center in that town (When you live waaay in the country, you really have to travel to go anywhere). I was downright uncomfortable.
Back to the phone call…I laid in bed for a minute trying to think of a way to let her know I didn’t want to go but then her words began to resonate in my heart. “Trying to be faithful to her commitment.” Good grief. After I thought about it, I HAD to go. You know, it’s not easy getting into an exercise routine. I’ve tried all kinds of different programs from tapes to gyms. I have quite a collection of tapes and dvds – Richard Simmons (all those wonderful old songs!), Leslie Sansone (who knew I had so many miles I could walk in my little bitty house?), belly dancing… *screech*…. Belly dancing? Yes, I did belly dancing for a while. Me, over weight, late 50’s, yes, I belly danced. I didn’t say it was pretty. There was a lot I couldn’t do because of certain disabilities I have but I did enjoy it. I’d still be doing it if it wasn’t 40 miles away and 40 dollars a month. I’m on a fixed income. Need I say more?
Back to water aerobics…I called my friend back and said I would meet her in an hour. I’m glad I did except for the fact that now I feel like a limp dish rag but that’s ok. It’s all good. The class was milder than some I have attended before which suited me just fine. You know how sometimes every bone in your body hurts and that’s before you get out of bed? That’s how I felt this morning, so movement in and out of the water was hard. Once I got going, it wasn’t too bad. But I digress. Again, the class was good and I’m glad I went with Sylvia. I don’t know, maybe I have a weird sense of humor or something but when I looked out at all the women exercising in the water, I had to fight off an attack of the giggles. Some ladies were big, some little, some gray, some not – all, myself included, had big boobs bobbing in the water like twin floaties. I hate to think what would have happened to me if I would have shared that observation!

On to another topic, semi-related:

The other day I happened to see Mika Brezenzinski on the NBC Today Show. The woman has an amazing career in journalism and tv. Wow, what a beautiful person! I imagine I was just as stunned as anyone else to hear that she has eating disorders. She’s gorgeous. And she looks like the picture of health. Who knew that she struggled so much with food? She and her best friend, who was fat, wrote a book about their journey fighting to overcome what held them down the most. I ordered the book (—Own/dp/1602861765/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1369255570&sr=8-1&keywords=obsessed+mika+brzezinski) right away and am about half-way through it. It really hits home and I highly recommend it for anyone who struggles with weighty issues. You read that right, weighty issues. Our problems with food aren’t the result of too many pounds. Our problems with food develop from other issues. You knew that, didn’t you? I did, but do you think I ever took the time to dissect what manifested my personal addiction to certain foods? Homework alert. Hard homework, the kind that makes your brain hurt. If you want to do this, you’d better be ready to open yourself up to some truths that might startle you. For example, rewarding yourself with food. Where does that come from? I know I reward myself often when I have done something that deserves it like finishing a project, perhaps a successful book signing, or after having a disagreement with my husband or even – um – water aerobics. Ha! (I want chocolate donuts, big, creamy chocolate filled donuts.)

Mika Brzezinski

And speaking of successful book signings~
How can there be an unsuccessful book signing? I am proud to say I had my 2nd book signing at a place called LeVillage, a B&B in Eunice, Louisiana owned and operated by Felicia Wiggins. What an awesome place! In addition to two big ol’ guest houses, the old Chappelle Grocery Store sits on the property. That building was moved to its current location many years ago from a tiny community called Turkey Creek, about 20 miles up the road. Rustic and charming, it was the perfect site for the book signing/wine&cheese tasting/Market Preview. There were several vendors there with homemade jellies, pies, cakes, quilts, and antiques! It was a beautiful setting and I really enjoyed it. Below the link to LeVillage, see the pic taken that night of my buds and me . I’m the one on the far right. What a hoot!


I wrote a post in this blog in Oct, 2011 that included info about LeVillage. Here is a link to that one:

Keep praying for peace, ya’ll.



I got a phone call from Mr. R, a sweet gentleman of nearly 90 years. “Can you clean up my schnauzer?” he asked. I can’t turn him down; he’s such a dear. Mr. R has been a cattleman his entire life, a successful one if you count that in his day, he had plenty of cattle, a nice big lot of land to keep them, a bunch of kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids, and most importantly, much respect and love by everyone who knows him. He’s retired now, ‘getting along’, as he puts it. His stature has shrunk quite a bit over the years, his being becoming quite slight and stooped. Mr. R is a distinguished man, although he is quite humble. He misses his wife. Desperately. To ease his loneliness, someone in the family gave him a dog, a handsome little fella he turned into a farm dog. Farm Dog follows him everywhere, even to the pasture to check on the few remaining cattle left there.

Now the thing about farm dogs is that they are dirty. Dirty like you wouldn’t believe. I expected to see a miniature schnauzer on the other end of Mr. R’s leash. Instead, I saw a sheepdog. His hair was so long and matted, if I hadn’t seen him walking toward me, I wouldn’t have been able to tell which end was his head and which end was his -um- other end. Farm Dog made his presence known by his smell. It’s hard to describe and I’ll spare you the details, except to say that apparently this dog who was supposed to be a dignified breed of ratter, was actually an alpha dog who felt the need to scent his territory by wallowing in whatever invaded it. I’m pretty sure this time it was road-kill.

Farm dog is an old dog, I suspect close to or older than Mr. R’s age in dog years. His stature, like his owner, is bent, boney, and slight. His teeth are almost all gone. He limps a little. He has a immense tufts of hair growing out of his ears. His eyebrows need serious attention, as does his entire coat.

It took me three hours to groom him. He had an odd way of looking at me, like “What the hell are you doing down there? Leave that alone!” Let’s say we communicated. When he first got on the table, he did so quite slowly. He kept his head down and his tail tucked. He looked at me with embarrassment. Yes, he did. I could tell. You know how it is when you look in someone’s eyes and they immediately look away like “I don’t want to talk about it”? Farm Dog did that. I had to bathe him three times. By the time he was almost clean and I had cut through most of the matts in his coat, his demeanor began to change. Head up. Tail up. Getting kinda sassy. Pulling and tugging. Sniffing like he was thinking about lifting his leg. I don’t think so, I told him. I cut, I clipped, I washed. His tail began to jiggle. (When it’s that short, it doesn’t wag, it jiggles.) His chest puffed out. His feet danced. By the time I finished, he looked like a different dog altogether and I had re-learned something I thought I already knew. You know, all beings are created by God, and He created with love. Agape love. Unconditional love. I think God loves every being with the same love, not just humans. Therefore, all beings deserve respect and dignity. Something so un-dignified as scraping the crust off an old filthy dog can be pretty humbling. Kinda like when Jesus washed feet. Kinda like touching lepers and the sick with His bare hands, and when He associated with some pretty serious sinners. A humble Man restoring wholeness.

I won’t soon forget what happened when Mr. R got back to pick up Farm Dog. The old man’s face lit up, he was so excited. He stood a little straighter, smiling from ear to ear. Farm Dog jumped into Mr. R’s arms and licked his ears. Now he was the spittin’ image of his owner; clean-cut, shiny, and very happy. “Oh yeah, my old man looks good!” Mr. R exclaimed. Farm Dog winked at me. When they left, they both walked away with dignity.

If I groomed dogs for a living, that’s the way I would want it to be.

It’s a lesson I must remind myself of repeatedly. Every being is worthwhile. Every being deserves respect. God would be so happy if we treat each other with the same love and respect, if we recognized each person’s dignity.

Ya’ll don’t forget to pray for peace.

Imitation of Christ