January: Book/Movie Club Reviews “The Light Between Oceans”


January’s 2017 Book and Movie Review Theme: Australia

Book/Movie Club Set Up:

Each member of our group (women ages 24-48) draws a month and a genre/theme. Whosever month it is, gets to choose a book and movie in their category. (They do not have to be one in the same.)

The group has approximately 3 weeks to read the book and then we get together to eat, discuss the book, and then watch the movie.

the-light-between-oceans-book-cover

 

Quick Book Summary (from Amazon): by M.L. Stedman, published July 31, 2012  Tom returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper and brings a wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.

the-light-between-oceans-movie-poster

 

Quick Movie Summary (from IMDB): 2016 directed and screenplay written by Derek Cianfrance  Starring: Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander, Rachel Weisz  –  A lighthouse keeper and his wife living off the coast of Western Australia raise a baby they rescue from a drifting rowing boat.

 

The Itinerary:

light-between-oceans-food2We met at Sydney’s house this month. Since the theme was Australia, she ordered “Aussie-tizers” from Outback Steak House. We had Bloomin’ Onion® petals, Steakhouse Mac & Cheese bites, and cheesy fries. Wine, beer, and Australian cookies were brought by others.

 

Thoughts about the Book:

The opinions were split this month. Some people absolutely loved the book and some people hated the book. Out of six of us, three of us finished.

I was one of the people not to finish the book and was actually in the middle of loving and hating the book. I didn’t mind the writing; I actually enjoyed part I. I thought it was not the kind of book you read in a hurry but the type of book for a lazy afternoon. However, once I got to the more serious subject matter (I’m a sensitive reader when it comes to children), I couldn’t read it any longer. I wasn’t alone on this, even discussing the book made some of us tear-up.

Others hated/loved the book because of the writing style and details. One of us (I’m not naming any names) admitted to throwing her book across the room at one point because of the storyline.

Thoughts about the Movie:

Again, we were split down the middle. Here were some of the comments about the movie:

“The movie was really toned down. The most traumatic parts were not nearly as heart wrenching as the book.”

“I only stayed for half of it, and I was on my phone the whole time.”

“Loved the book and the movie was good, but I agree, it was toned down and it lost some of the drama because of it.”

“I thought it was super boring, and I didn’t like any of the characters.”

Girly Discussion:

Some thought the lead actress Alicia Vikander was gorgeous.book-club-peeps

We also pondered as to if we would be able to stay alone in a lighthouse like the characters had. How long would you be able to stay on an island with no other people – except your spouse?

Interesting Discoveries:

Five people portrayed the character, Lucy/Grace.

The Group’s Average ratings (out of 5):

Book: 3.4 Bloomin’ Onions

Movie: 2.8 Bloomin’ Onions

The bottom line:

light-between-oceans-food

This one is difficult to say. Personally, I thought the book was well-written and so if you don’t mind a non-feel-good tear-jerker, you should read it. But it did have a lot of flowery prose, so if you’d rather just get on with the story, this one might not be for you.

And if you were to pick just one, I would recommend the movie over the book (even though overall it received a lower rating) because you will actually get to see all the beautiful scenery instead of just reading about it.

 

 

Next month’s Book and Movie Theme: Looking Back.

Book: Before I go to Sleep by S.J. Watson

Love and Laughter,

Dorlana

 

 

 

 

Chapter 1: The Trouble with Snowmen by Dorlana Vann


the-trouble-with-snowmen-_8b-final-large-copyA Romantic Comedy all about heart-breakers (snowmen), fun shenanigans, fashion, séances, downtown Houston, urban cowgirls, and some of that kissy-kissy stuff.

The Trouble with Snowmen

by Dorlana Vann

Book 1: Trouble with Men Series

 

 

Snowmen drift into your life like they were sent from above. The relationship is great, rolls right along and builds. Everything seems perfect … until a little heat is introduced. Then they melt, leaving only their hat, their scarf, something to remind their victims of what they’d lost.

Urban cowgirl Haley Monroe is told that the fabulously hot guy who just dumped her was a snowman. Her friend, Maximilian, convinces her that the only way she’ll ever stop being played by snowmen is to become one. It takes a lot of drinks to work up the nerve, but Haley gets her sexy on and goes on the prowl.

Famous horror author Larry White drops everything to attend a midnight séance at Maximilian’s apartment where he meets Haley. By the way she’s dressed—and just propositioned him—he assumes she’s a hooker. Larry can’t pass up the chance to get inside her head, especially since prostitution is the character’s occupation in his next book.

After spending the weekend together, unexpected sparks surprise both Haley and Larry. The trouble is Haley is dead-set on snowmanning the unkempt “starving artist” she met at the séance, and Larry doesn’t think he could have a real relationship with a woman with a past, so they go their separate ways.

The real fun begins when they meet again and find out neither one of them were who they thought they were. Can they reignite the flame? Or will they have a snowman’s chance in hell?

The Trouble with Snowmen

By Dorlana Vann

Chapter 1

“I had him pegged as a snowman the moment I met him,” Regina said. “It was only a matter of time before he melted.”

“What are you talking about?” Haley Monroe appreciated Regina, the owner of the four-apartment multiplex they lived in, for jumping out of bed at 5 a.m., but now she wondered if she should’ve called Maximilian instead. “You’re not making any sense whatsoever. I’m talking about Travis. You know, my boyfriend.” Her throat threatened to close up as she forced out a high-pitched, “I mean, my ex-boyfriend. Here, look.” Haley gave Regina her phone with the text from Travis that said ‘I want to break up.’

“I know who you’re talking about.” Regina glanced at the phone before she sat down on the loveseat next to Haley. “I’m sorry, but Travis is a snowman, and snowmen never, ever last forever.”

Haley’s eyes burned as she wiped her tears on the shirt she had clutched against her chest. “Really, a snowman? A man made out of snow? I’ve never even seen a real snowman.”

Regina nodded and gave Haley a sad smile. “You have now. You see, snowmen drift into your life like they were sent from above, and you can’t believe that y’all have so much in common. The relationship is great, rolls right along and builds. Everything seems perfect . . . until a little heat is introduced, and then they melt. They melt, disappear, leaving only their hat, their scarf, or in this case, their shirt. That is Travis’s shirt you’re sobbing into, right?”

“Maybe, but that doesn’t mean anything. He’s forgetful, like me. That’s why we’re so perfect together.” Haley felt the heaviness in her chest as she forced out her reasoning, “We both love the same type of foods, love to do the same things . . . What?”

Regina shook her head and tsked a couple more times before saying, “The snowman’s snow job. They’ll tell you anything to keep you hopping into their beds. Travis most likely pretended to like everything you like in order to please you.”

“How is that a bad thing? I think it’s kind of sweet that he does things that I like just to make me happy.”

“Okay, fine. What about talk of commitment? Did you want to take the relationship to the next level? That would be the heat, because if he’s a snowman, there would’ve been something that caused him to melt.”

Haley thought of herself as a mature, independent, and smart twenty-five-year-old. True, she hadn’t really lived on her own for very long. After college, she had to move back home with her parents for a while. But now she lived in downtown Houston and worked two jobs. She was a legal assistant at the law offices of Skinner and Skinner during the day and a bartender at night. And she thought she’d had a sufficient amount of relationships to know when a man only wanted to play.

But crap! A moment of clarity banged around in her weary head as she thought about the night before. She’d told Travis she loved him. She could have sworn he looked straight at her, but then he started snoring. And who could blame him after their passionate night together? Well, that’s what she’d thought up until a second ago. Had that really set him off? Had that been stupid of her to say? “Nope.” Haley sat up straight, determined to be strong, even though her squeaky voice gave her away. “Can’t think of anything.”

“Right.” Regina sighed in defeat. “Well, I’m sure it’ll come to you.” She patted Haley’s knee. “Next time you hook up with a guy, maybe you should try to stay away from his type.”

The door swung open, and Maximilian walked in. He was fully dressed, eye-lined, and hair-sprayed. He lived down the hall from Haley in Apartment Three and, since living there, he had become one of Haley’s closest friends.

Maximilian took one look at the situation and said, “Aww, your snowman melted.”

Regina stood up. “He texted her. The bastard.” She handed the phone to Maximilian.

“You too?” Haley whined and wanted to curl up in a ball, her pretend strength not even fooling her anymore. “Why didn’t y’all at least warn me if this is what y’all thought?” A little sob and string of snot escaped. She considered wiping her nose on Travis’s shirt but just couldn’t do it, so she used the back of her hand instead.

“Would you’ve listened to us?” Regina said as she headed in the direction of the kitchen.

Maximilian said, “I wouldn’t have listened to us either if I had that tall, blond, muscled cowboy.”

Regina came back with a paper towel and handed it to Haley.

As Haley cleaned up, she thought about the question. Besides being gorgeous, Travis was easy-going and they never fought about anything big. So none of this made sense. She didn’t know if she bought their snowman theory. “Maybe I misunderstood the text. I should call him, and—”

“No!” Regina and Maximilian shouted in unison.

“Let him seep into the ground where he belongs,” Maximilian said.

Regina said, “Since reinforcements are here, I guess I’m going to go pee, brush my teeth, and get my coffee.”

“Wait, Regina,” Maximilian said. “I was actually looking for you. Can I have a séance in Apartment Four tonight?”

Regina crossed her arms. “There are no such things as ghosts, Maximilian.”

Mr. Chase had died before Haley had moved in. She’d heard the story, though, of how they’d found the eccentric old man’s body amongst his hordes of canned goods that he’d stored for the end of the world. Maximilian speculated that his food had fought for freedom and buried him alive. All Haley knew for sure was that Regina couldn’t keep the apartment rented.

Maximilian put his hand on his hip. “Peter Jackson ran out screaming.”

“So did that biker dude,” Haley added and then blew her nose, grateful that the subject had changed.

Regina looked from Haley to Maximilian before saying, “Fine, it’s all yours.”

“Will you be there?”

“That old fart still owes me two month’s rent. You bet I’ll be there.”

After Regina left, Maximilian sat in the seat next to Haley. He handed her the phone back. “Tell Uncle Maximilian all about it.”

“Not much to tell. Seems like you and Regina knew Travis better than I did.”

“We just have more experience in reading people and not letting them manipulate us. The sad truth is, snowmen don’t fall from the sky preassembled. You had to help build him.”

“What? Me? What did I do?”

“You probably let him get by with little things because you didn’t want to lose him. Each time he got by with not calling when he said he would or blowing you off to go hang with his buddies, he grew. But honey, I’m not saying it’s all your fault. He took advantage of you because, let’s face it, you’re still a little green.”

Now that Haley thought about it, the reason they never fought was because he’d look at her with his baby blues, smile, and then take off his shirt and say, “I’m sorry, babe, let me make it up to you.” And she thought about what pretty babies they would have. Had he never planned on having a future with her? Haley looked down in disgust at Travis’s shirt. “Maybe y’all are right.” She went to throw the crumbled-up shirt to the floor when Maximilian grabbed it.

“Of course we’re right!” He stood up holding the maroon shirt with white shoulder yokes against his chest. “I could make cowboy clothes.” Maximilian slipped the shirt on over his white V-neck T. “What do you think? Is it me? ”

All it did was make Haley think about her and Travis’s night together and how sexy he had looked in that shirt. “What am I supposed to do? Regina told me not to date his type. Am I not supposed to go for guys I’m attracted to? Am I supposed to stay away from hot guys?”

“Of course not. You have to teach yourself to know the difference between a real man and one made of white fluff.” Maximilian arched a thin eyebrow. “You know, there may be a way to speed up the process of IDing the snowmen, but it might seem a bit extreme.”

“Okay,” she mumbled. “I’m curious. What is it?”

“Simple. It’s like the old saying goes, It takes one to know one. You have to become the snowman.”

“Simple? I’m still not positive what a snowman even is.”

Maximilian plopped back down on the couch.

Haley got a strong whiff of Travis’ musky, citrusy scent. She fought back the tears by squinching up her face and holding her breath.

“Oh, peaches, it’ll get better. Looking at you, I think this is a good idea. You just have to make sure you protect yourself by finding someone you’re not attracted to. Cozy up to someone who is totally not your type. Don’t even spit at anyone who you think is hot. Got it?”

She shrugged and puttered out her breath.

“As soon as they indicate that they’re in love, or almost in love, or at least in lust with you, you dump them. Don’t forget to leave something behind. It’s the icing on the cake, the cherry on the ice cream sundae, the cigarette after sex. It’s an ego trip. See, snowmen hope their victims do what you did with this garment.” He sniffed at the shoulder of his new shirt. “You know, I bet he dabbed extra deodorant or cologne on this before he left. I must say, he’s one of the best snowmen I’ve ever met. I’m a little in awe.”

Haley put her hands over her face and let out a muffled, “I don’t think I can do that. It seems really mean. It feels really mean.”

“Sacrifices must be made in order for you to get your education. You have to experience it from the other side. You’ll get over Travis, and whoever you snowman will get over you. And everyone will be the better for it.”

“I don’t know.” Haley dropped her hands to her lap and shook her head.

“Why don’t you come tonight? To the séance. I promise there will be a couple of single, straight men.”

“No offense, Maximilian, but I don’t think anyone going to your séance will be anyone I’m interested in.”

Maximilian sighed with vigor. “You are a slow pupil, aren’t you? That’s who you need, sunshine! Someone you will never ever fall in love with. If you don’t do this now while you hate men, you probably never will. Use your anger and pain. Grrr. Put your cowgirl boots on and do some ass kicking.”

“I’ll have to think about it. Right now, all I feel like doing is nothing. Maybe I’ll go back to bed. Wait, do you have any of that double chocolate espresso ice cream left? Better yet, tequila. Yes, tequila. Oh wait, it’s breakfast time. What was I thinking? I mean a tequila sunrise.”

“Don’t you have to go to work?”

“The last thing I want to do is face Brenda Fishlips this morning.”

“Come on. Get up and get dressed. Moping around won’t do you any good.”

“Fine. I’ll go to work, but I’ll have to let you know about the séance later.”

“Well, you know I’m not one to pressure, but this time I must insist. It’s for your own good.” He gave her a quick peck on the cheek and then stood up. “Midnight, of course. Be there or be snowman bait forever.” And he was out the door.

Haley thought back to the night she’d met Travis. Did he do as Regina had said he’d done? Had he drifted into her life? What did that even mean? True, she hadn’t known him before.

He had caught her attention that first week she’d tended bar at Kicker’s nightclub. He was built and bulged but moved gracefully with this girl and the next on the dance floor.

When he made it up to the bar to buy a round for his group, they locked eyes. He smiled and slowly tipped his cowboy hat. Haley tried not to look at him while she helped other customers, but every time she sneaked a glance, she caught his stare. When she got to him, her heart pounded, and she couldn’t keep the smile from giving her excitement away.

The first words out of his mouth had been “What time do you get off work?”

She expected to get hit on by customers, kind of part of the job, and she usually brushed them off, but this guy actually made her cheeks heat up. She told him the truth. She had to close and then get up early to go to work the next day.

He leaned on the counter and said, “That’s okay, babe, I can wait all night for you. In the morning, I’ll make you a hot breakfast in bed before you head out to work.”

She remembered the thoughts she had at that moment. What a shame. The hottest cowboy I’ve ever met is a walking cliché of a playboy.

But then he said, “I’m sorry.” He removed his hat, his blond hair bringing out the sparkle in his blue eyes. “I didn’t mean to come on so strong. I panicked. I usually don’t get so nervous, but I’ve never met anyone like you before . . . you’re breathtaking.”

She’d given him her number, and they went out a couple of nights later. On the third date, they slept together, which she thought had shown tremendous restraint.

As she thought this all through, she guessed she had had some type of gut feeling about him being what Regina and Maximilian called a snowman. She totally ignored it because she had been blinded by his dynamic looks and charm combo.

Haley closed her eyes and moaned. If she were to be honest with herself right now, Travis wasn’t the first snowman she’d ever dated. How many times had she felt this sickening feeling that she would miss them to death, but they wouldn’t even glance back? She didn’t like it one bit. Maybe it would be possible to learn how to trust and pay attention to her instincts more. Maybe Maximilian was right. Perhaps it would “Take one to know one.”

Buy at Amazon:

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You can still read Kindle books even if you don’t have a Kindle

Soul Mate Publishing Aug 2015

 

Book (Tailored for Trouble) and Movie (Enchanted) Club’s Review for December 2016


December’s 2016 Book and Movie Review Theme: Romance

Book/Movie Club Set Up:

Each member of our group (women ages 24-48) draws a month and a genre/theme. Whosever month it is, gets to choose a book and movie in their category. (They do not have to be one in the same.)

The group has approximately 3 weeks to read the book and then we get together to eat, discuss the book, and then watch the movie.

Quick Book Summary (from Amazon)

tailored-for-troubleTailored for Trouble by Mimi Jean Pamfiloff (August 2016): Taylor Reed is no stranger to selfish, uncaring CEOs. She was fired by one, which is why she has created her own executive training program—helping heartless bosses become more human. So Taylor shocks even herself when she agrees to coach Bennett Wade, the cutthroat exec who got her unceremoniously canned.

 

Quick Movie Summary (from IMDB)

enchantedEnchanted (2007) Directed by Kevin Lima and written by Bill Kelly (He also wrote “Blast from the Past”): The beautiful princess Giselle is banished by an evil queen from her magical, musical animated land and finds herself in the gritty reality of the streets of modern-day Manhattan. Starring: Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey, James Marsden, and  Susan Sarandon

 

The Itinerary:presents

We met at my house this month. Everyone brought either book related or Christmas themed snacks, so we ended up with mulled wine wassail and a regular wassail, croissant pizzas, cucumber sandwiches, lots of cookies, popcorn, and peanuts, champagne and wine. We also had a secret Santa book and bookmark exchanged – (I was so excited to get Z: a novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler. )

Thoughts about the Book:

Well, it was my pick this month …  *clears throat*

No one liked the book. The author did not bother to add the plot promised in the synopsis. The writing was awkward and the story-line was unbelievable and cheesy. Here are some of the group’s comments:

“I didn’t realize it was so easy to get published.”

“Maybe this book was supposed to be a joke.”

“I laughed … but more like Ha!”

“This was like a bad knock-off of Fifty Shades.”

“I couldn’t finish it.”

“No character transformation/arc.”

“What was up with the cookies?”

“Her inner dialogue was annoying.”

“Why didn’t the author just make the book in 1st person?”

“I hated this book.”

Thoughts about the Movie:

Everyone had already watched the movie before, and we all pretty much liked it. We thought it was sweet, romantic, and funny.  We laughed a lot and enjoyed all the different fairy tale (Disney) references that I didn’t pay much attention to the first go around.

Girly Discussion:

The sex scenes in Tailored for Trouble were gag inducing and were compared (unfavorably) to Fifty Shades.

Interesting Discoveries:

Enchanted has tons of fairy tale references (Giselle’s Character is based on a lot of different Disney Princesses but mostly Snow White) and cameos from Disney’s fairy tale movies, such as:  Judy Kuhn the singing voice of Pocahontas, Jodi Benson who was the voice of Ariel in The Little Mermaid, and Idina Menzel who later sang the Oscar and Grammy Award-winning song “Let It Go” in Frozen.

You can find a list of Disney references here.

We noticed how Giselle’s wardrobe became progressively modern and when someone looked it up, it pointed out how Robert’s clothes became more fitting a fairy tale prince.

We also discovered that one of the women in our group knows all of the names of the actresses/singers who played Disney’s fairy tale princesses – crazy.

The Group’s Average ratings (out of 5):

Book:

OK, I’m just going to give the actual ratings from each of us:

F for effort, 0, .25, .25,-1.00, 0 – I’m pretty sure that adds up to an empty cup.

Movie:

4 cups of wassail

The bottom line:

I checked Amazon before making my book choice and Tailored for Trouble  had overwhelmingly positive reviews – which I really don’t understand, seeing as 6 out 6 of us – different ages and book preferences – didn’t care for it. I say skip the book.

Enchanted is fun for a lot of audiences: Disney fans, fairy tale fans, romantic comedy fans – If you haven’t already watched the movie, watch it. And if you have, watch it a second time to catch all the fun references.

Next month’s Book and Movie Theme:

Australia and we will be reading  The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman 

 

Love and Laughter,

Dorlana

Fairy Tale Inspired poem: Sonnet to Old Man Winter


50819854 - winter forest. winter landscape. snow covered trees.Sonnet to Old Man Winter

by Dorlana Vann

I wrote this in 2011 – my first (and last) attempt at a sonnet. My inspiration for this poem was the Russian fairy tale Morozko (Old Man Winter).

 

You’re a vision in white; lightly sun kissed.

Your touch can be soft and your rhythm slow.

You take my breath away with your crispness.

Your name echoes with the breeze, Morozko.

I met you in the bitter woods that day.

Your trick question I answered with the truth.

Please tell me, what was I suppose to say?

To blatantly lie would have been uncouth.

Your mood changes from slightly cool to harsh.

Your nature is biting; naturally cruel.

Your icy winds went straight through my cold heart.

You gave me chilling death, my sister jewels.

Respect Old Man Winter, father would say.

I’ll pay my respects…in the month of May.

 

 

 

Ghost of Christmas Past inspired short story: The Gift


This short story was inspired by the novella “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. I combined the Ghost of Christmas Past with the western genre to write The Gift. This short story is included in my short story collection: Supernatural Fairy Tales.

The Gift

by Dorlana Vann

Paris, TX 1873

 

At first Cynthia was afraid to look out the window. She was afraid she would see the ghostly figure out by the horses again, stirring them up, making them run and complain. But she was expecting someone; she had to look.

The speck of hope that the person riding up the path was her husband immediately died away. The man hunched over and rode at a steady pace, like he had all the time in the world. The sudden ominous sorrow she felt was overwhelming.

Cynthia moved away from the window and began removing the supper dishes from the table. As soon as she had set them down, a loud knocking erupted. She smoothed her dress and touched her hair, wishing she had put it up instead of the bowls, and opened the door.

The stranger’s head was down, showing the top of his brown hat.  He was tall and broad shouldered and dirty.  Pistols hung on both sides of his hips. When he raised his head, the smell of whiskey came with each noisy breath. He squinted into the light. “Ma’am, I’m looking for Tommy Two Shot.”

Thomas isn’t here.”

The man frowned and then spit out the side of his mouth, saliva hitting the porch. “Is that so? Well then, when ya expecting him?”

The only reason she didn’t reconsider her decision to ask for his help was because she was more afraid of the ghost than she was of the stranger. Besides, no one, who knew Tommy, would dare harm his wife. “Mr. Stockton? I’m Mrs. Thomas Garrison. I’m the one who sent for you. Please, come in.”

He wiped his feet, removed his hat and walked into the house but didn’t stop very far past the door. He cautiously examined the room, looking to the fireplace, table, and chairs.

“Daddy! Daddy!” Mary and Annie ran into the room but stopped when they saw the stranger.

A flush of embarrassment raced up Cynthia’s face. “No girls. It’s a friend of your Father’s.”

Mr. Stockton asked, “Where is ol’ Tommy Two—”

“We don’t use that name in our home,” Cynthia said quickly.

He glanced at the girls and nodded. “My mistake ma’am. I mean, where is Mr. Garrison?”

“Girls… go on back to bed now. Annie, help your sister.”

The girls did as they were told and soon Cynthia was alone with the stranger. “Please have a seat.”

When the man sat down, his guns clanked against the chair.

“I’m going to get straight to the point, Mr. Stockton.” She placed a kettle into the fire, moving a stocking that hung from the mantle out of her way. “I have a problem. You see, after my husband left on a business trip…”

“Uh huh.”

“… I’ve had a visitor that I need to get rid of.”

“Killin’ ain’t my specialty.”

“I know.” She turned around and peered at the filthy man who sat across from her. She considered her words carefully, but at the last minute decided it wasn’t the time to beat around the bush. “I don’t need a killer. My husband told me what you do. I need someone who can get rid of a ghost.”

“He told you about that, huh?”

“He told me you had a special ability of some kind.”

“Are you sure it’s a ghost and not some coyote or raccoon? That’s happened before.”

“I’ve seen it out by the horses. It ain’t no coyote. It’s shaped like a man, but I can see right through it. It rattles the horses, scares them silly, and just as it turns its head to look at me… I turn away and hide. I’m afraid if it sees me it’ll come inside. I don’t want it coming inside, Mr. Stockton.” The kettle whistled, and she jumped.

“I’m not sure what your husband told you, ma’am, but I can’t get rid of the devil if that’s what you got. I’ve had a lot of folks wanting me to get rid of the devil.” He laughed and shook his head. “You see, I’m kind of what you call an interpreter. All’s I can do is listen.”

She poured him a cup of coffee and carried it to him, the coffee spilling a little from her shaky hands.

“You have a mighty fine home, Mrs. Garrison.” He took a sip of his coffee. “Real clean.”

The compliment made her feel uncomfortable. The way they lived, always on the move, they didn’t have things like other people, so there was nothing to make things untidy. Sometimes they lived in hotels in town, but it was worse when they had to stay with “friends.” She was grateful that this time they had found an old abandoned house out on the prairie—at least that was what her husband had told her. She didn’t question why it had furniture and a nice fence.

He looked around, nodding. He pointed to the fireplace with his hat. “February is a little late to still have your Christmas up.”

“Shhh. I’m waiting on Thomas so that we can have Christmas as a family,” she whispered. “The girls don’t know Christmas is over. They shouldn’t have to wait much longer. Thomas will be back any minute now.” After the stranger nodded, his eyebrow up, and clicked his tongue, Cynthia stared down at the floor—She knew he didn’t believe her, and she didn’t really have a choice but be straight with him.  “I really don’t know when he’ll be back… I don’t have any money. I swear as soon as he does return…”

“A hot meal would do fine.”

Cynthia cooked. Even though she had to use the remainder of the breakfast food, she wasn’t too worried. Thomas had played it close before but always returned right before all the supplies were depleted. She smiled and thought maybe this was a sign that he would be home soon.

After Cynthia put a plate on the table in front of Mr. Stockton, he dug in like he hadn’t had a meal in a while. She turned away when he started sopping up the eggs with the biscuits, the yellow dripping down his chin as he talked. “I was given this machine by a feller down in San Francisco. Sorta payment for a debt he owed me. I’ve had it for twenty-some-odd years. It’s never failed me. It brings ‘em out all right, and I can hear ‘em. I can’t talk to ’em, but I can hear ‘em through that machine. Don’t ask me how the dang thing works, cause I don’t know…”

Cynthia wanted to believe that he would be able to help. But what he was saying seemed impossible. Perhaps it had been a mistake. Perhaps Mr. Stockton was crazier than a mad dog and what Thomas had told her about him that night had been a joke, maybe just drunk talk. She shook her head for being such a hypocrite… most folks would probably think she was crazy, too, for seeing a ghost.

After Mr. Stockton finished his meal and after Cynthia checked on the girls, they walked outside and stood on the front porch.

Mr. Stockton walked from his horse, which was hitched to the porch, to the steps carrying a strange apparatus in his hands. It was round and made of a shiny metal. It reminded Cynthia of a compass. He pulled at a thin stick that came out of the top of it, and it seemed to grow. A strange noise resounded from the thing: a mix of frogs and unknown insects after a heavy rain.

He held it in the palm of his hand and put his arm way up high in the air, walking out into the sandy yard. “If there’s a ghost out here, this will detect it.”

She eased her way down the steps and followed him toward the fenced-in horses.

“Over here, right?” Mr. Stockton asked. “You saw it over here?”

The little machine lit up. Cynthia put her hand over her mouth and looked at Mr. Stockton.

Mr. Stockton nodded, acknowledging her unspoken question.

Like a flash of lightning on a black night, a sudden bright light shook Cynthia to the core. The figure of a man she had watched night after night through her window stood directly in front of her, but this time it was close enough that if she were to reach out, she could have touch him… and close enough that she couldn’t deny what she saw. Cynthia whimpered and her head swooned.

It was Thomas, her husband. He hadn’t come home for Christmas because he wasn’t coming home at all. He was dead.

Thomas didn’t seem to notice them. He walked by and through the gate, as if it didn’t exist. The horses began to move about. He looked over at the house and sighed. The little needle on the machine started twitching and then madly rotated around and around.  His faint voice came out of the machine. “I hope this will be the last time I gotta leave y’all.” In the next instant, the ghost of Thomas (Tommy Two Shot) Garrison disappeared.

Cynthia’s body shook, her worst fear realized in that second. How many times had she worried he wouldn’t come back home? How many times had she worried he would be killed? However, mourning would have to wait. She was now the only one responsible for her family. She wiped hard at her tears, and stood tall. She pressed her lips together before clearing her throat, and through a restrained sob said, “Good bye, Thomas.”

“Are y’all going to be okay?”

“We’ll be fine.” Cynthia gave a confident nod, even though she knew living without a husband would be more difficult than living on the run with an outlaw. “Thank you, Mr. Stockton.”

Mr. Stockton climbed on his horse and tipped his hat. “Ma’am.”  He rode away toward the moon, his saddlebags carrying the same as when he arrived and a trail of dust the only thing he left behind.

Cynthia knew she wouldn’t be afraid if she saw her husband’s ghost again. However, she had a feeling he had left for good, that he’d only come home long enough to give her a Christmas gift: she could stop waiting for him to return. Even though it was one a.m., she went to the room and gently shook Annie and Mary. “Wake up,” she whispered. “It’s Christmas.”

 

The End

Supernatural Fairy Tales

Supernatural Fairy Tales by Dorlana Vann

Get this short story, along with 8 other fairy tale inspired paranormal short stories for .99 cents at Amazon.

Supernatural Fairy Tales 

Book (Wonder) and Movie (Home Alone) Club’s Review


November’s 2016 Book and Movie Review Theme:  Children

Book/Movie Club Set Up:

Each member of our group (women ages 23-48) draws a month and a genre/theme. Whosever month it is, gets to choose a book and movie in their category. (They do not have to be one in the same.)

The group has approximately 3 weeks to read the book and then we get together to eat, discuss the book, and then watch the movie.

wonder

Quick Book Summary (from Amazon): Wonder by R. J. Palacio (2012): August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face.

 

home-alone

Quick Movie Summary (from IMDB): Home Alone 1990: An 8-year old troublemaker must protect his home from a pair of burglars when he is accidentally left home alone by his family during Christmas vacation.

The Itinerary:

november-2016-book-clubWe met at Laura’s apartment for a slumber party! We ordered pizza and also had some of our childhood favs: brownies, brownie cookies, chips and dip, candy, and juice boxes. And some of our current favorites: beer and wine. We sat on the floor in our jammies to discuss the book and then watch the movie.

Thoughts about the Book:

Pros: Everyone really enjoyed the book. Some of us shared that there were a few tears shed during the reading. We liked the switching of different points of view. The author did a great job of making you feel strongly one way or another about all the characters. We all liked Auggie, but there were other standout characters, especially Via and Justin. And no one liked Julian of course, but Miranda was another character who the group thought was unlikable and had questionable motives.

Cons: I got distracted a few times by the out-of-date references: Clint Eastwood, Sound of Music, The little Rascals, Close Encounters etc. I think today’s 10-year-old (even in 2012) would use a little more current entertainment references. The book was slow at times – there were a lot of every day conversations.

Thoughts about the Movie:

We had a blast watching the movie. I mean, it was Home Alone, what’s not to love – but the fun might’ve also been due to a group of women sitting around eating kid food and drinking adult beverages.

We thought the movie would benefit from pop-ups explaining certain fun trivia, which some of us added during the movie, e.g., John Candy ad-libbed all his lines, the gangster movie that Kevin watches isn’t a real movie, and Home Alone was inspired by a scene from the movie Uncle Buck.

We also played “Dead or Not Dead,” guessing which booby traps the crooks endured would have actually killed them in real life.

Girly Discussion:

We thought the family mistreated the little guy in Home Alone.

Interesting Discoveries:

Wonder will be made into a movie starring Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, and Jacob Tremblay.

Even the reviews for Wonder will make you cry.

The Group’s Average ratings (out of 5):

Book:  4 juice boxes

Movie: 4 juice boxes

The bottom line:

Wonder is perfect for all ages. It is touching, humorous at times, and has subtle lessons about the importance of acceptance, friendship, and family. Read it!

Home Alone is a Christmas comedy classic – but you gotta watch it with fun friends who don’t mind talk and laughter during a movie.

Next month’s Book and Movie Theme: Romance – We are reading Tailored for Trouble by Mimi Jean Pamfiloff – Movie TBA

Love and Laughter,

Dorlana

Paperback Giveaway plus Amazon eBook Freebie


Hi Friends,

I wanted to let you know about two promotions I’m having right now. I’m giving away one paperback copy of  The Trouble with Snowmen. And Silverweed: a supernatural fairy tale eBook is free on Amazon.

the-trouble-with-snowmen-_8b-final-large-copyThe Trouble with Snowmen’s paperback giveaway is being hosted by GoodReads. If you are already on GoodReads it is super easy to enter. If you are not familiar with GoodReads and like to read, you should really check it out.  (This is open to US, GB, and, CA) Giveaway Ends November 29, 2016.

Enter Giveaway

A Romantic Comedy all about heart-breakers (snowmen), fun shenanigans, fashion, séances, downtown Houston, urban cowgirls, and some of that kissy-kissy stuff.

Snowmen drift into your life like they were sent from above. The relationship is great, rolls right along, and builds. Everything seems perfect … until a little heat is introduced. Then they melt, leaving only their hat, their scarf, something to remind their victims of what they’d lost.

Urban cowgirl Haley Monroe is told that the fabulously hot guy who just dumped her was a snowman. Her friend Maximilian convinces her that the only way she’ll ever stop being played by snowmen is to become one.

Snowmen is also available for Kindle – the eBook is only $2.99 – As well as book 2 The Trouble with Scarecrows. 

banner-from-amazonSilverweed: a supernatural fairy tale eBook is free on Amazon today thru  Monday, November 21, 2016.

Silverweed is not a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. The YA novel was inspired by my short story, Silverweed Muffins, which was inspired by Little Red Riding Hood. I used some of the same background and plot lines as the short story, but when I drafted my novel, I added a theme – a theme that I interpreted from the fairy tale. And to me, Little Red Riding Hood is all about fear, the message being, “Don’t talk to strangers,” and “Don’t stray from the path.” So Silverweed’s theme ended up being: The real monster is fear.

I also added a little fun (as well as discipline) when I decided to use lines from  Little Red Riding Hood as my chapter titles and chapter inspirations. And when you read the chapter titles in order, they actually a condensed version of the Grimm Brother’s Little Red Riding Hood. I also used them to kind of guide me through the book.

Superstition Background:

The superstition references in Silverweed are a combination of my grandfather’s stories and a cool little superstitions dictionary, Dictionary of Superstitions by David Pickering.

I’d never really been that superstitious, except for doing things like tossing salt over both my shoulders—yes, both because I didn’t know which one was correct. However, my interest sparked when my mom told me about my grandfather’s childhood stories. Apparently, his mother (pictured on the left – my great-grandmother – I think I kind of look like her) died when my grandpa was five-years-old; it happened the day after she’d told him to stop shooing the birds away that had landed on their front porch, because it meant death.
My grandfather had also told my mom that one day he had watched the devil walking out in his Alabama woods, pitchfork and all (Which I used in the first chapter of Silverweed).

Around the same time my mom was reminiscing (2006), I was writing the rough draft of the short story, and all of these memories set the entire mood for “Silverweed Muffins” which eventually became Silverweed the novel.

Here are a few links:

Amazon US

Amazon.de

Amazon.co.uk

GoodReads Reviews 

Love and Laughter,

Dorlana

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