Weekend Reads: “Oliver”

Oliver: The True Story of a Stolen Dog and the Humans He Brought TogetherOliver: The True Story of a Stolen Dog and the Humans He Brought Together by Steven J. Carino
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Steve Carino is finally getting his life back together after a bad divorce and losing his business. He’s been as low as he can possibly go, but he sees the light at the end of the tunnel. He’s renting a cute cottage, and has built up a good, new business as a driver. And he has his little dog and best friend, Oliver.

One day, Oliver is stolen from Steve’s car. Steve is beside himself, and rails at pretty much everyone and everything — including God. Steve’s sister, who is 12 years his senior, is able to get him moving on some practical things to do in order to get Oliver back … and pretty soon there’s a whole community — both real-world and virtual — invested in helping Steve find Oliver.

This book is about many things, but mostly it’s about community. Steve finds support and friendship in unexpected places. Since it’s right on the back of the book, it’s no big shock that Oliver is eventually found and returned. However, the people Steve meets in the process of getting his buddy back really are the focus of the story.

This is a delightful book that will make you smile, and perhaps understand that we are all better connected when we let go of tribalism and factionalism and become human beings to one another.

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Take Off Your Pants – Libbie Hawker’s advice

Take Off Your Pants – Libbie Hawker’s advice

Frankly, I’m a “plantser.” I know my beats, and where I want the story to finish up (sometimes I write the end first). But I’ve also learned that characters may go to unexpected — and sometimes better — places than I’d anticipated, and I’m good with that. Here’s a brief look at a different method from my own.

All about historical fiction

One of our special guests at the HNS North America 2021 conference was Libbie Hawker. Libbie is a prolific and excellent writer with many novels to her credit. A recent favourite for me is The Ragged Edge of Night under the pen name Olivia Hawker. But I digress. Libbie put on two master classes, one called Take Off Your Pantsand the other called Making It In Historical Fiction. Both were very well attended and received.

Libbie’s master class, Take Off Your Pants, was based on the advice packed into her book by the same name. The subtitle is “Outline Your Books for Faster, Better Writing”. After writing my first novel by the seat of my pants – what folks call a pantser – I adopted an outlining technique cobbled together from a few sources such as Elizabeth George’s Write Away. But Libbie’s advice has added another…

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Tuxie :-(

We are now fairly sure that the deceased kitty we found was Tuxie, one of the youngest ferals, whom we had not been able to get TNRd yet. Her littermates have been seen but she has not. We are hoping to be wrong, of course … but we aren’t holding our breath.

Music Monday: “I Shall Not Be Moved”

Hi, everyone. It’s another new week, so it’s time for a song related to one of my books. This week’s sample comes from “The Devil’s Music,” one of the tales in It Happened in Memphis. At the end, please enjoy Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Elvis Presley jamming on “I Shall Not Be Moved”!

My mama bought my guitar down to the hardware store in the town where I lived as a little kid. I wanted a rifle, but Mama wanted me to have a bicycle. I guess you could say we compromised. The guitar that Floyd Bobo sold my mama changed my life more than any rifle or bike would have done. Brother Frank Smith, our preacher man, and my uncle Vester taught me how to play a few chords. And boy, that Brother Frank could play. He’d get the whole little church to singin’ along with them songs. “Just a Little Talk With Jesus,” “Blessed Jesus, Take My Hand,“ “I Shall Not Be Moved,” all them old songs.

See, that’s where my music really comes from. It weren’t no different from church. Way I saw it, Saturday night was when you sang a song about your baby … and Sunday you sang the same kind of song about Jesus.


Meanwhile, in the Feral Colony …

We loaned our trap to a friend so that he could help yet another friend trap their missing shop cat … and it worked! I don’t have photos myself, but Dave showed me his photo of Flossie “in jail,” and told me that she’s forgiven them all for the trap. She even deigned to snuggle with him. I was so happy about the reunion!

But just 30 minutes ago, we found a deceased tuxedo cat near our house; she’d been hit by a car. I examined her to ascertain that she wasn’t one of our colony regulars (I would need to notify the microchip folks if she were), and my husband buried her in our back yard. I don’t know if she was a neighborhood stray or somebody’s beloved pet … but I decided she needed a name regardless.

Rest in peace, precious Priscilla.

If you would like to do something to help the cats in my area, please buy a copy of Hugs and Hisses. All proceeds go to Humane Society Silicon Valley.