Earning Readership

One of my favorite TV series is Pit Bulls and Parolees. It’s unique in that the audience is drawn into the work of a family headed by a tough, brave, street-wise matriarch named Tia Torres, who rescues pit bulls and hires parolees to help her family tend the 200-odd rescued dogs, while the men help themselves ease back into society. Some of the young men succeed. Others fail and find themselves back in prison.

The show isn’t exactly a slice of mom’s warm apple pie. With Torres as guide, viewers have been exposed to dogs who’ve been badly mistreated; have been starved, used as bait, turned loose to fend for themselves, tortured and even killed. Way worse than some of the nature shows that show animals in the wild, giving birth, hunting, bringing down game for food, fighting for dominance, killing and being killed. What’s the difference? The dogs’ conditions are brought about by man’s inhumanity, which is recognizable as a concrete antagonist. Nature is just nature. But I digress.

Why am I such a fan of the show? It boils down to trusting Torres. Often afraid of the possible danger she’s walking into while attempting to save an animal, her fortitude is compelling, as are the stories of her family and the parolees who people the dog sanctuary called Villa Lobos.

What’s that got to do with readership? Well, the novelists I read—Diana Gabaldon, Joanna Bourne, Geraldine Brooks, Sarah Dunant, Phil Rickman, Jack Whyte to name a few favorites—write spellbinding stories, stories peopled by compelling, complex characters in impossible situations. No matter the brink these authors lead me to, I go willingly, knowing I can trust that their impeccable writing, intricate plotting and imaginative storytelling will never fail me and will always deliver a truly satisfying reading experience.

It’s what I want from the authors I read. “Good writing will always find a fan base,” says Deleyna Marr, author of “Sisterhood.” I agree. And I’m one.

Merry Christmas to All!

In less than a week it will be Christmas. Most of the shopping is finished. ThDRtreee house has been decorated, the trees trimmed.

I’ve begun to glut myself on the things that feed my spirit and bring Christmas to life for me:

*Baking cookies as much for the fragrance that fills our home as for how yummy they  taste
*Watching my favorite holiday films–It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Carol–both the 1951 version with Alistair Sim and the Muppet version
*Listening to Christmas carols and songs
*Reading Clement Moore’s incomparable ‘Twas the Night Before Cdentreehristmas.

This last had me thinking that it would be fun to write something that parodied the treasured poem, and so I have. (Many thanks to Elise Skidmore for the writing prompt and to Deleyna Marr for her ongoing encouragement!)

And so here is my Christmas gift to all along with a wish that you have a joyous and peaceful Christmas!


‘Twas the day before Christmas, with time running outsoldier
My fists full of lists and a hot dog with kraut
I was out with my shopping, a huge list to fill
For hubby and kiddies and dear old Aunt Lil.

At home the two dogs lay stretched out in their beds
An alarm that house thieves would most surely dread
While I on my mission, mustard on my coat
With kraut on my collar I smelled like a goat.

When rounding a corner on tires that squealed
Came a livery cab with a man at the wheel
I hiccupped as he braked and his door brushed my hem
And I squawked like an old man with a throat full of phlegm.

“Are you mad or just drunk?!” I yelled out in my fright
While he grinned and then swiftly began to alight,
“I’m sorry,” he said, with a tip of his hat,
“I didn’t think I’d been so careless as that.”

“I’ll make up for my crime if you think that I may.
I’ll take you on errands the rest of the day.”
“And the charge?” I asked, suspicion in my voice.
“All free,” he replied, “as that is my choice.”

We drove to the mall, Toys R Us was my goal,
My kids had been good and did not deserve coal.
On to Macy’s and Penney’s and Bloomies we went,
Until every last dollar and penny was spent.

“And your hubby?” he asked. “So just what does he get?
He must be a nice guy to pay all of this debt.”
“He is,” I sighed as I fished out my credit card.
It was still pretty hot but at least wasn’t charred.

There were so many things that I hoped to give him,
The things that he wanted like a brand new home gym.
“Or a new fishing rod, tackle box and a creel
But with so much already bought, I have to be real.”

Now it was dark, the car sped into the night,mantle
“Hey!” I looked up, “This direction isn’t right!”
I banged on the window, and jerked on the door,
I even tried digging my heels through the floor.

“Calm down,” said my driver, watching me in his mirror.
“How can I?” I shot back. “This is all getting queerer!”
Where were we going, this stranger and I?
I thought of the gifts bought and started to cry.

What of Andrea’s doll and Billy’s new train,
The Xbox and skates and crayons that don’t stain.
And Aunt Lil’s brandy that would sit on her shelf?
I could use a shot of it now for myself!

And my husband, dear husband, just what would he do?
Would he go on without me? Could he begin anew?
And the gifts wanted for him? What could I do now?
I felt bad at this moment, as if breaking a vow.

We rounded a corner and ground to a halt,
While I hefted my purse, prepared to assault
When out of the shadows my own hubby stepped
The doors unlocked and in to his arms I leapt.

“Merry Christmas, babe,” he murmured in my ear,
While the driver laughed and whistled in the rear.
“Why?” I asked angrily. “Did you plan this for me?!
“I wanted to buy your gifts for under the tree!”

“Then I’ll save you the trouble, the cost and the blues
And I’ll get what I want. All I wanted was you.”
I cried and I laughed ‘til I turned red and yellow,
This guy that I married was one heck of a fellow.

Behind us I heard the door slam as we embraced
And my driver hummed a carol as off he raced
But I heard him exclaim, round the corner, whistling still
“Happy Christmas to all, and I’ll send you my bill!”