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Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Wednesday Challenge 012920

Today's challenge is the perfect couple in either books, TV or movies. I've chosen the perfect couples I've written.

Optimus and Claudia.

Claudia is a Christian patrician widow with a son. She goes to her brother asking him to arrange a marriage with Optimus, the soldier who saved her brother's life in battle. Seeing him in a triumph she yearns for him after the monster she was forced to marry died. When Optimus becomes a Christian her brother arranges the marriage. They find happiness until the great fire in Rome and Nero begins persecuting Christians. They move to the family villa to escape the carnage in Rome, but Optimus is required to rejoin the legion when revolt breaks out in Judea. Claudia's son was wounded in the uprising and loses and arm. He goes to bring him back. They get caught up in the downfall of Nero and the civil war that rages as four generals vie for the Eagle Throne.

Jan and Paul

Jan is recovering from a brutal attack by her husband. After a year of being abused by a man proclaiming to be a man of God she is divorcing him. Graduating from college she starts teaching middle school English. She has a rebound relationship, but can't love the man. 
Going home she meets Paul. Paul's wife and son were killed by a drunk driver and he leaves Fort Worth to teach at a West Texas college. He preaches the Easter sermon at her father's church. They spent Spring Break playing golf and fall in love. They get married in May. Together they face challenges within their faith and without, but their love stays strong.

Eugene and Maria

Professor Eugene Vanders is falsely accused and arrested for selling drugs. While in prison his wife is murdered and his daughter commits suicide. He vows to make the snitch who falsely accused him, the police who planted evidence and the DA who prosecuted him pay the wrongs they've done to him. While plotting his revenge one of his cell mates runs a detective agency. Maria is one of his detectives on Vander's case. Eugen and Maria work closely together and develop a loving relationship that lasts the test of time.

Rhonda and Terrence Jr.

Rhonda is a small town girl who came back home after college to teach 2nd grade. Her father is the mayor and she's helped him with the town's budget since high school. The town needs a big loan for infrastructure and an important Banker comes to town to look over the books. To make the man a little more interested while the banker is alone she does a belly dance for him.
The banker gives her his card and tells her he'll help find her a teaching job in Denver, and she would make a fine wife for his playboy son.
She leaves for Denver, but instead of getting a teaching position is placed on a fast track for banking executives. She works closely with Terrence Jr. on a project that will double corporate profits in five years. They fall in love and get married.
Once the project is put into affect and Rhonda is traveling across the country, she meets up with an old boyfriend and it causes a scandal. Terrence continues to believe in Rhonda and loves her against his father and the corporate board. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

TTT 012820

This week top ten covers you like. I'm choosing non-fiction covers that caught my eye, but it was the topic that made me buy them.

My sister was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. While undergoing treatment the cancer society commissioned on anthology of stories by women fighting this dreadful disease. Her story is included in this book. She passed away in 2008.

A book I found useful in my own life and used as a textbook when teaching high school Social Psychology and Sociology

A book that made me understand the factors affecting my life and how to deal with the stress they cause.

I was introduced to this book while taking a seminar from the National Geographic Society. After the seminar I was given materials to help teach geography in my history classes. Until an asshole governor vetoed the money to match what NGS provided.

A friend from college who went on to become an esteemed theologian who was fired from his teaching position for being considered liberal. This was his response.

An excellent economic history of the last five hundred years, still relevant today.

If you love plants and gardening you'll love these books by a good friend and member of Writers2writers where we share our work and encourage each other.

Monday, January 27, 2020

On Writing By Stephen King

First book on my to be read list for this year.

The first part of the book is about Steven King becoming a writer and what it took to become successful. I admire the tenacity it took to accomplish getting published. A wonderful rags to riches story. He gave insight into the process of inspiration.
The second part of the book is full of good sound advice. Surprisingly, since I've never read this book, I recognized certain parts. Then it dawned on me that back when I was trying to find a publisher for Optimus: Praetorian Guard I bought a few Writer's Digests and other books listing publisher's addresses and editors. There were always articles on writing and Steven King usually had one in them. I particularly remember his admonition no to do "Tom Swifly's" and stay with he said, or she said when ending quotes.
If you're wanting to be a serious writer this is a good book to have. I'm not going to summarize his advice. I found it useful and hope it will be so for my daughter. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Wednesday Challenge 012220

This week is a new hobby.

My new hobby is working out.

I've belonged to a work-out gym that only had exercise equipment. It was cheap, but after a few months it got boring and I'd stop. Stuck with paying for a membership for year.
Recently a fancier one opened up close by. There are a number of these places in town (I'm not advertising for them). The problem is you can't find a parking space. 
I've reached a weight that I'm not comfortable with and it is affecting my health. So wife and I joined this one, it has plenty of parking as it's new and not part of shopping center.
It has a wider range of equipment in newer models, free trainers,  and group sessions. It has the one requirement that makes it worth the money. A pool. Wife and I enjoy the aqua workouts every Tuesday and Thursday. Those noodles and swim bar bells really give you a workout without stressing out my back.
After a week I've lost five pounds, and went out to buy a Fitbit to sync up with the gym's machines. Damn this is getting expensive and complicated.
I'm counting on a healthier me being able to get my diabetes under control without insulin as that is what's made me gain so much weight the last two years.
I really enjoy when working out on the bicycle and other machines listening to books on tape. Kind of killing two birds with one stone.

Another part of this is portion control. Wife has been nagging me for some time about this. With working out I know the appetite usually defeats any progress. It's not easy trying to eat half of what I'd normally consume and it's really hard to fight the munchies in the evening. I'm hoping my willpower will hold up. but damn every time I pass by a donut shop does my mouth water. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

ttt 012120

This weeks Top Ten Tuesday is books on my TBR list.

Highland Abduction by Keira Montclair. This is the second book in a series of nine named the Band of Cousins. Set in 1300's Scotland, it's similar to Outlander  without the time travel. I enjoyed the first book and am looking forward to this one.

On Writing by Steven King. It's high time I get this and treat it like my writing bible.

Dark Path by Melissa F. Miller. I've read the first few books in Miller's Sasha McCandless series  and  We Sisters series They are good legal thrillers and mysteries. This is the first in her Bohdi King Series. The first or first few books in the series are available on unlimited, but then she wants five bucks for each e-book for the rest of the series. When she has from 9 to 12 books in each series that gets a little to steep for me.

Wallbanger by Alice Clayton. The cover intrigued me. I purposely didn't read the synopsis, hoping the main character's name is Harvey.

When We Believed in Mermaids by Barbara O'Neal. The title grabbed me on this one.

Red White and Royal Blue by Casey McQueston. I've seen this on a number of lists over the last few months and I'll give it a try.

Arch Enemies by Marissa Meyer. Cover and title caught my attention and it was mentioned on a number of posts on this weeks TTT.

Sin Eater by Megan Campisi. Again mentioned on a number of posts today. Looks interesting.

Beautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren. Love the title. Wonder if is similar to Jaqueline Suzanne's Love Machine?

We are the Dead by Mike Shackle. Mentioned today and it sounds right up my alley.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Vintage Science Fiction Month

Lydia Schoch posted that this month is Vintage Science Fiction Month.
If you're talking vintage Sci-fi the first name that pops up on my radar is Isaac Asimov.

When I belonged to the Science Fiction book club in the mid 70's I fell in love with Isaac Asimov's anthologies. He was a fantastic editor of short story books from authors long forgotten.
Like a good number of his books they've not been transformed into e-book and are out of print. These three were eye opening to me at the time. Some truly great stories found in pulp magazines from the 1920's and 30's.

I read the Foundation Trilogy in high school. Asimov expanded the concept to a number of other books like he did his robot series. The fall of the Roman Empire in science fiction.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Wednesday Challenge 011520

Books I can't wait to read:

1. Tony Roberts: Anything he has coming up. The fourth and final book in the Siren Series. The next installment of the Kastania Chronicles. The next Casca book. The next Dark Blade book.

2. The next book by Berthold Gambrel.

3, The next book by Paula Paul.

4. Next Martinez, Lassiter detective Mystery by Joseph Badal

5 I just downloaded this one. Comes with free audio.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday 011420

This week I'm listing everything I've got going right now that's keeping me from writing.

1. Every Thursday my son and I have a lunch with my church's men's group. It's helping my son open up and tell about his experiences while in the Air Force after 911. The other men are all Vietnam vets and are helping him.

2. Saturday I've been asked to speak to the cities men's prayer breakfast. They want me to talk about writing Christian books, and how to market them. I haven't got a clue what I'm going to say.

3. Sunday I'm teaching my Sunday School class on the book of Hebrews. I have a Tyndale commentary that dissects every aspect of the meaning of every bloody Greek word. The other book tries to compare the writing with all the other writers from the time period like Josephus, Philo, Plato. Epictetus, etc. Going to have to wing this one. Hello seminary class notes from 1977.

4. Last Saturday my  wife and I joined a gym. We've tried exercising at a gym with only exercise equipment. We'd be faithful for about a month and then pay for year without going. This gym is twice as much, but it has classes and a pool. We worked out Saturday and walked in the pool. Monday I just worked out, but wife walked in the pool. Today we did an Aqua Pilates class. Doubt I'll be able to get out of the bed tomorrow. 
We both need to lose weight and this looks to be something that will work. If it helps me cut down on the insulin I'm using it will be worth it. Aqua Pilates again Thursday. Those noodles are torture devices. 

5. I need to pull a short story from twenty years ago, edit it and then share it with W2W at February's meeting. I might post it here once I'm done.

6. The ARC I've taken on is sending me a book to review every week. They're not very long and easy reading, but it's getting time consuming.

I'm ready to go back to work to slow down.

Monday, January 13, 2020

All my books

Optimus: Praetorian Guard, Optimus is a hard living, hard drinking legionnaire. He's assigned to guard a man named Paul, who converts him to belief in Jesus. He  then attempts to place a Christian on the Eagle throne of Rome.

Human Sacrifices
: A woman trying to recover from an abusive husband. Trying to be a good Christian while being abused by her church. Trying to be a good teacher while frustrated by the administration, parents and tuned out students. She finds a good man to marry and tries to live as happy a life as possible.

Vander's Magic Carpet
: A physics professor is falsely accused of selling drugs and spends two years in prison. His wife is murdered and his daughter commits suicide while he is away. 
Vander's develops a way to place superconductor plates under anything and it will fly. He develops the first flying car and uses his invention to make the system pay for his wrongs.

Fan Plan Trilogy
Meteor Strike:  In 1965 a meteor strikes a super volcano: Yellowstone. At Trans World Oil their computer analyses the data from the earth quake and determines in 50 to 100 years the volcano will  explode creating a volcanic winter. The company decides to try and save not only members of their family, but to salvage civilization so the world is not turned back into the stone age. Their motto: When it hits the fan, you need a plan. One part of the plan is to create a Scientific Secret Police. After the eruption and they are trying to save civilization the SSP is to stamp out all superstition and anyone claiming they speak for God.
Preparation: The second generation Drakes and O'Neil's continue setting up the principle on the Fan Plan Account needed to fund their efforts. Through the 1970's and 80's they start collecting literature, technical manuals, artwork and other cultural artifacts from across the world. A private island owned by TWO is named World's End and this is where they plan to stockpile everything needed to save humanity.
Countdown: The 1990's and the beginning of the twenty first century bring the third generation to the forefront. One of the family in college is abducted, raped and left for dead. This brings TWO into the spotlight during a public trial of the drug gang facing the death penalty.
The secret of the Fan Plan becomes public. It is met with skepticism and laughter. Volcanologists refute the computer's prediction and TWO is subject to investigation for defrauding it's stockholders. Doubt begins to creep into the family until an unlikely member of the family proves them right and that Yellowstone will explode within the time frame.

Fletcher Family Battles:
Crécy: John Milton is becomes a knight and is a vassal of a powerful lord. England is peaceful and all the worry he has is in finding a wife. Once married and he thinks the future is bright, King Edward musters all the knights for an invasion of France. He fights in the invasion, capture of a castle and the battle of Crécy.

Poitier: Milton Fletcher is the son of John who fought at Crécy. He raises Destrier's for his liege lord, Sir Arthur. The Black Prince musters up knights and Milton follows his lord to battle.

Flodden: King Henry (the eighth of that name) sends an army to help his father-in-law Ferdinand of Spain. John Milton joins up to fight. He's a great-great grandson of Milton Fletcher who fought at Poitier. Known as Wolsey's war it's a disaster and all left alive are sent back to England in disgrace.
Milton Fletcher, another descendent of John and Milton is a priest attending Bishop Wolsey, the almoner to the king.
When Henry decides to invade France he is one of the many minions of Wolsey to make sure this time the war is a success.
Gregor Fletcher is from clan Fletcher is Scotland. King James is enticed to invade England by the King of France and he calls up all the clans. Clan Fletcher obeys.
John upon returning to England finds work hard to find and is nearly reduced to begging when Queen Catherine calls for a muster of troops to defend England from the Scots. He happily enlists and marches to battle at Flodden. 

Apple of SuccessA teacher in a small town moves to the big city leaving behind students for an executive position in the banking world. Will her small town values and faith survive?

Cloisonné Heart: A man's slow descent into divorce.

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Wednesday Challenge

My goals for 2020:

1. Finish proofreading Stephanus and get self published.
2. I'm working on a sci-fi story, tentatively titled A Private Pain.
3. Continue reading as many books as I can off of Amazon's unlimited. 
4. Try to get through my TBR list while keep adding more to it.
5. Build up Writers2writers reading group. Right now we're running from four to six attending. We're starting to share what we're working on and getting feed back. Next month we're going for two hours instead of one for the meeting time.
6. Try to keep up with TTT and Wednesday challenge. I enjoy the comradery of both groups.

My Sci-fi book about marketing flying cars. Available on Amazon for .99. 

Saturday, January 04, 2020

Short reviews

These are some books I've enjoyed lately:

Irreparable Harm by Melissa F Miller. This is the first book in a legal thriller series with Sasha McCandless. She's half Russian and Irish, five foot even and weighs a hundred pounds of Krav Maga trained dynomite. She also works at a prestegious law firm in Philidelphia and is assigned to defend an airline when one of their planes crashes into a mountain.
The story is full of insights into the Olympian world of high class lawyers. One insight I loved was: First year lawyers are like gold fish, when one dies you flush it and get another. 
Sasha gets involved with an Air Marshal trying to figure out how someone was able to control the plane and fly it into a mountain by remote control. She meets Leo Connolly when he holds a gun on her and she gives him a broken nose, and a broken trigger finger when she yanks the gun away from him. 
All the reader can do is pity the poor thugs sent to get a file of information they think she has and live to regret it. It's a fun read. BTW the law firm she's working at is Prescott & Talbot.

Cavern of the Lost Souls by Nicholas Harvey.
This is an intriguing story. There's not much dialog in the beginning, but it's captivating. Jonty Gladstone is a scuba diver that loves to explore underwater cave complexes. He makes a big mistake while on a dive, he doesn't have a spare mask when the one he's using loses its lens. He finds his tether line is broken leaving him blind and lost. He can get above the water line, and he has to find his way out before dying for lack of water and food with what air he has left in his tanks..
AJ Bailey is just starting out with a boat to take  tourists out and dive the reefs around Grand Cayman Island. She hears about a diver reported as a missing person and gets talked into trying to find him.
This is a simple survivals story, but it keeps you captivated the whole way. It's listed as book 0 in the series as a way of introducing you to AJ in the next books.

The Eighth Sister by Roger Dugoni. First in a series on former CIA operative Charles Jenkins.
This starts as a regular spy thriller. Twenty years after Jenkins walks away from the CIA he's roped back in because some Russian agents are being killed. Someone is selling their names and he's sent into Moscow to try and find the traitor.
His cover is blown and a Six foot five inch African American is trying to hide in Russia while attempting to escape.
The second part of the book is after he makes it back home. He's the arrested for being the traitor. Naturally there's no record of his having been sent on the mission. This turns into a legal thriller as he figures out who the real traitor is and trying to prove it.
The book keep your heart pounding and adrenaline flowing at the climax of each part. It has an unusual twist at the end.