Today is my last time posting as a member of The Sisterhood of the Jaunty Quills. The next time you see me here, I’ll be a guest. [gulp]. It’s been almost eight years since I became a founding member of the Jaunty Quills, and it feels really weird to say good bye. We’ve changed and grown over the years, and it has always been a pleasure to be part of this group. It still is! But I’ve decided to move on to my next endeavor, and I hope you’ll keep up with me on Facebook and Twitter (@margomaguire). And soon I’ll have an excerpt on my website from my August release, The Highlander’s Desire. Please stop by once in awhile and check on my news!
As a parting gift for all of our readers, for those of you who have recently discovered us as well as the ones who have been here from the beginning, go here – to Smashwords. Enter Coupon Code PZ46F for a free download of my short story, BRASH. It’s a short companion to my book, BRAZEN that was out a couple of years ago. (No need to read BRAZEN for BRASH to make sense).
Also, come over and visit the Rock*It*Reads website, and see what we’ve got in new and exciting independent books. There’s lots to choose from, and the RiR authors are uploading new work every month! I’m sure we’ll have something there for you.
Being one of the Jaunty Quills has been a wonderful part of my writing life, and I will always love this group. So TTFN – but you will be seeing me from time to time!
We had a long and pretty normal winter. Our winters in lower Michigan can be awfully cold (by that, I mean temperatures close to 0° F). But this past winter, I don’t think it went below the 20s more than a handful of days. We had more snow than last year – a little more than average for us, I think – but no big storms that dropped 2 feet or anything like that. We just had multiple drops of 5 or 6 inches. Very manageable. Here’s my house in the winter. Who wouldn’t want to snuggle up here in front of the fire?
So now it’s spring, and so far, it’s been enjoyable – amazing in fact, as always. Plants and trees go from invisible (or brown) and dormant to lively green shoots so quickly! The picture on the left is one of my little gardens and was taken nine days ago.
Lately, the temperature has been hovering around 70, and we had lots of rain, which is great for me, because I love rainy days. I thrive on the cozy feeling you get when it rains steadily all day. I like it when it’s cold and snowy outside and the radiators click on in every room. I must have a major nesting instinct, because my favorite seasons are the ones when we’re snuggled into our house and having a fire in the fireplace, when the oven is on and something is roasting or baking. Chances are, one or more of my kids will stop by because they know there’ll be something good on for dinner. I like winter sports – ice hockey and skiing. I like walking the dog in the cold weather.
And I hate being hot. Summers here are sweltering – hot and humid. It used to be that we’d have only a few days of 90°F weather, but last year, we were close to 100°F for weeks at a time. Even the people who have air conditioning in their homes complained about it. Because how do you do your yard work when it’s 98°? When do you walk your dog? At dawn? When it’s only 80° with 90% humidity? I have to insert here that my house is nearly 100 years old, and it has no ductwork. We have pipes for steam heat, but in order to put in central air, it would cost about $25,000 or more. And since we never used to have so many crazy-hot days, it didn’t matter so much. Luckily, we do put in a few room air conditioners, so we can get some relief. You can see them in the picture on the left, hanging out of the upstairs bedroom windows (and there’s my poor, parched lawn, too).
But back to the season itself. Summer is when friends and family leave town, go on vacations or away to their cottages. And I miss them. My kids always seemed to be … well, somewhat out of my control during summer vacation. A way from structure. They spent their days at our community pool, they were involved in summer sports (like swimming and baseball, which are not my favorite spectator sports), skateboarding, and riding bikes; playing with their friends. Which is all good, right? They needed their unstructured, down time between school years – because, as we all know – tight schedules and responsibilities come all too soon.
But enough whining! This summer, I’ve got a couple of things to look forward to. In July, I’ll be going to Atlanta (another hot place, right?) for the RWA conference. I’m pretty excited to be able to see – in person! – my Jaunty Quill buddies! I’m also going to Scotland during the first two weeks of August. This is exciting because it’s been eight years since I was there, and now I’m writing Scottish Highlander books, so I need to do some live and in-person research. My newest book (The Highlander’s Desire) will be released just a few days before I leave. I’ll tell you more about it when we’re closer to release day. In the meantime – what are your plans for this summer? Have you made any yet?
Sometimes, when they make a film of your favorite book, you feel completely at ease with the cast that portrays the characters you know and love. Other times, you can’t think how they ever came to choose the actors they did. For example – some people say that Colin Firth is the gold standard for Mr. Darcy. I used to think that way, too. But then Matthew MacFadyen came along, and though I didn’t care for his portrayal of Darcy the first time around (too dark, too brooding), I totally got into it – and him – when I saw it the second time. And I must say, I LOVED Elliott Cowan’s portrayal of Darcy (on the right) in Lost in Austen. If you’re not an Austen “purist,” then I highly recommend this BBC mini-series to you. They take a lot of liberties with the story, so if that will bother you, don’t go there.
I thought the cast of the Emma Thompson/Hugh Grant version of Sense and Sensibility was quite good, with one exception. Alan Rickman. Now – don’t get me wrong. I love Alan Rickman. But I felt like his Colonel Brandon was too old. I know he’s supposed to be much older than Marianne, but to my modern sensibilities, he was just too darned old for her.
I also felt that way about the Colonel Brandon they cast in the BBC production a few years ago. David Morrissey usually plays a somewhat dark, ok – evil – character (Our Mutual Friend; The Walking Dead). And again, I felt like he was just too old for Marianne. I think the next version of S&S should modify the characters’ ages a little bit. Bring them closer together to reduce the ‘ew’ factor – for me, at least. What do you think? Does it bug you that 17 year-old Marianne ends up with 35 year-old Brandon?
On the other hand, I really liked Dan Stevens as Edward Farris in S&S. He was just as good as Hugh Grant in the previous rendition.
I enjoyed Gwenyth Paltrow as Emma (even though Emma is one of the books I’ve thrown against a wall in frustration), and I thought Jeremy Northam was perfect as Mr. Knightly. I also liked Romola Garai’s Emma, but Jonny Lee Miller didn’t do it for me as Knightly.
And then there are the more recent books that have been made into film. Does anyone else read the Jack Reacher novels by Lee Child? I can’t believe they would cast Tom Cruise as Jack – a 6 foot 5 inch, 245 pound dirty blond. Needless to say, I have not seen this movie.
The Hunger Games – Jennifer Lawrence was not how I pictured Katniss when I read the books, but she grew on me, and so did the actors who played Peeta and Gayle. I thought Tom Hanks was great in The DaVinci Code, and I don’t think there was a miscast of anyone in The Help. I was a little worried about Emma Stone playing Skeeter, but I think she pulled it off.
Maybe the most controversial “disconnect” for me was Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter. I thought his performance was stilted from the git-go, and I also thought he came across as too small. Not really heroic. Maybe it was just me.
What do you think? Are there any actors that you totally loved as the character in the book read (and loved)? What about complete misfires?
On this day in 1755, Samuel Johnson published his Dictionary of the English Language – a milestone for writers!
On April 15, 1892, General Electric was formed.
On this day in 1912, the Titanic sank. In 1923, insulin became available for diabetics to use, and in 1924, Rand McNally published its first road atlas.
April 15, 1955 – McDonald’s opened its first restaurant in Des Plaines, Illinois.
On this day in 1452, Leonardo da Vinci was born, and so was author Henry James – in 1843.
Nikita Kruschev had an April 15 (1894) birthday, and so did Sir Neville Mariner, the brilliant English conductor, as well as Dodi Al-Fayed, Emma Thompson, Seth Rogan, and Emma Watson.
Abraham Lincoln died on this day in 1865, and the philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre passed away on April 15, 1980.
So did my dad. April 15, 1980.
I was pretty young at the time, and didn’t really ‘get’ how life would be without him – no father-of-the-bride to walk me down the aisle, my kids never knowing their grandfather, my mom being a widow for decades (luckily, she had LOTS of friends in the same situation, and they made the most of their lives). I was the second of five kids – you can see my older brother and me pictured here with Dad on an early Christmas morning. Of course, he had probably been up half the night assembling something for one of us, so he was usually pretty much befuddled and in need of caffeine on Christmas mornings.
So today, I remember my dad – an advertising exec who started his career in art by creating propaganda posters for the army during WWII; a trained singer and musician; a dedicated fly fisherman; and the father of my four siblings and I, three of whom – the boys – seem to be turning into him these days (without the heart disease, thank heavens). We’ve gotten far enough past 1980 that we can laugh at his old joke – that Tax Day would kill him…
Yesterday, a vaguely familiar neighbor lady came to my front door, asking if I knew where the Johnsons lived. Of course I know the Johnsons – their family and ours have been living within 4 or 5 houses of each other for over twenty years. “Yes,” I said, “they live in the red brick house four doors down.” I knew that this lady does a lot of walking with a friend, at at that moment, I noticed that her friend was leading an elderly gentleman into the home of my neighbor, Janet, across the street. Janet is an older widow who has also lived there for over twenty years, and I know her well. I know that she is absolutely useless in a crisis. And this little episode was turning into a crisis rather quickly
It turns out that as the two ladies were on their daily walk, they came upon this elderly gentleman who had been riding his bike, but he got cold (it was only 25 degrees here yesterday) and he was in some distress. He was on his way home and decided he needed to stop somewhere and warm up. But his friends, the Johnsons, were not home, and he’d ridden a long way from his own house – about 5 or 6 miles. The two walkers weren’t sure what to do about him, other than taking him to a house where they figured he could warm up and then… Well, they didn’t know what.
My husband came home just then, and I sent him over to Janet’s house to see if he could help. After about 15 minutes, my hubby called me and said I was needed.
When I got there, I found the man sitting in a chair, breathing heavily. And he said his chest felt tight. He also told me he was 88 years old, and rides his bike everywhere. He had been to the bank (3 miles farther up the road) and his lawyer (another 2 miles) before heading back in our direction. Now, I haven’t practiced nursing for a number of years, but nobody needed advanced medical skills to see that he was not looking good. I asked if he had any family – any relatives at all – and he said no. He didn’t want us to call 911, and was resistant to the idea of any medical intervention. He just wanted to go home. And yet, he said quite clearly, “I don’t want to die.”
He was not confused at all, and seemed completely normal, except for being overly fearful of medicine. When I asked if he had any nitroglycerine with him, he frowned and said, “Oh heavens no. I wouldn’t take anything like that…” And yet this man is very well-educated (a mechanical engineer) and well-read. He has 60 patents to his name. But he just wanted to keep us talking there in Janet’s living room, in complete denial that anything untoward could possibly be happening to him while he was well-aware that the tightness in his chest was a very bad sign.
The two walking ladies and Janet pulled him into diversionary conversations about where he lived, and why he didn’t want medicines, and whether or not Medicare would pay, and blah blah blah, while I had visions of an impending cardiac arrest on Janet’s living room floor. I pulled a nurse trick and cut to the chase. “Bill,” I said, “do you want to be taken to Hospital X or Hospital Z. He replied “Oh, Hospital Z, of course!” And I said, “Great. Mike” (my hubby) “will take you. Let’s go.” With that, I took him by the arm and led him out to Mike’s car. I knew he would be in good hands.
While I put Bill’s bike in our garage, Mike took him to Hospital Z and stayed with him all through the Emergency Room process – the EKG and bloodwork and IV insertion. Mike gave his phone number to the nurse to be called if Bill needed a ride home, and told him he would be back to check on him later.
My husband is not a religious man. But he is kind and considerate in a way that most people are not – and it’s not based on any belief system other than the idea that people ought to take care of each other. He returned to visit Bill last night, and went back again at lunchtime today to take him some of his scientific journals. He talked with Bill about the stent procedure the cardiologist wants to perform, and the Wholistic Medical Clinic the hospital referred him to. When he left, he told Bill he would be back later – he’ll go after dinner, I guess.
What would you have done? Would you have taken an old guy in a filthy jacket to the hospital, or called the local cops or 911 to handle it?
Bill is a rational 88 year old man. If he wants to go home and take his chances, who am I to say he shouldn’t do that? On the other hand, maybe he just doesn’t understand the gravity of his situation, and the medical options available to him. #2 was the rationale for my actions. I figure he can sign out of Hospital Z if he doesn’t like their plans for him.