July Book Discussion

Willie’s Women met this month, small in number but lively in conversation!

KARI: Kari simply RAVED about this book, Puritan Witch; The Redemption of Rebecca Eames ! With no prompting from the author who was present in the Zoom meeting, Kari graciously gave Puritan Witch a 5-star rating!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

BERTHA-ROSE has an interest in Canada’s indigenous peoples. She was delighted to share that their new governor general, Mary Simon, and National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations RoseAnne Archibald are both First Nations leaders. Bertha-Rose introduced us to Eskimo Stories – Unikkaatuat by Zebedee Nungad and Eugene Arima, a fascinating book about Inuit art. Although it’s hard to rate a book like this one, she gave this book 3.5 stars.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

JENNY is currently reading Lake of Dreams by Kim Edwards and gives The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by the same author 3.5 stars.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

PENI JO; Peace Like a River by Leif Enger is set in 1960’s North Dakota, my old home state! The story is sprinkled with little miracles here and there giving it a kind of fantasy feel. Enger is a real master of metaphor and I love how he describes things in his writings. 4.5 stars!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Willie’s Women Book Discussion meets on ZOOM at 3pm Eastern time on the 2nd Monday of the month. Non-RHS members are invited to attend one meeting, so come check us out!

June Book Discussion

A handful of Willie’s Women met this month for a fun and lively discussion. The result was a nice variety of recommendations for our readers.

BERTHA-ROSE gives Mary Lawson’s A Town Called Solace (first recommended by our Jenny) four stars and has read the ebook version as well as listened to the audiobook. Bertha-Rose is currently reading Five Little Indians by Canadian author Michelle Good, which won a number of awards including the Giller Prize. Although she’s only about a third of the way through this book, Bertha-Rose gives it four stars.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Later in the discussion, Bertha-Rose shared with us the journal in which she records the books she’s read; Bibliophile Reader’s Journal by Jane Mount.

JENNY gives Graham Norton’s Home Stretch four stars.

She also mentioned his two autobiographies, So Me and The Life and Loves of a He Devil as well as his other titles, Holding and A Keeper.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

BERNADETTE gave Hoda Kotb’s This Just Speaks to Me five stars although she hadn’t finished it yet. She read some quotes from the book such a s”we rise by lifting others.” Later, Bernadette shared a photobook hobby of hers. She gets these printed from Snapfish and really enjoys saving family photos in these bound books.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

PENI JO: Kristin Hannah’s The Four Winds is reminiscent of The Grapes of Wrath about Depression Era

suffering. Really well-written. Four stars.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The next book discussion is July 12 at 3pm Eastern on Zoom. Non-RHS members are invited to attend one book discussion, so please consider joining us next month!

Meet Author Shane Wilson!

Shane Wilson is the author of Smoke in His Eyes, A Magical Realism, Musical Novel, among other scifi/ fantasy novels. A musician and composer, he graduated from Valdosta State  University in South Georgia with a Masters in English. Read on to learn more about this talented artist!

1.You have a great talent for melding storytelling and music. What challenges, if any,  do you face in pairing the two?

I don’t think there is any melding going on here at all, really. I think music is storytelling, and any many ways any creative output is musical. A novel is written with a particular rhythm and linguistic economy. It’s not the same as a song, but it’s also not entirely different. 

I posit that all storytelling is music, and all music is storytelling. 

2. Where do you draw your novels’ inspiration from?

I do my best to mine all aspects of lived experience for story ideas. Sometimes, those ideas may take the shape of a novel or short story, and sometimes they may be a song. Life is an inspiring and magical endeavor, and it provided plenty of fodder if you remain receptive to its many beautiful and terrible experiences. 

Now, how those lived moments translate into the specific stories I write is something I’m not sure I understand. I suppose I take the basic (sometimes boring) idea and just start to slowly turn up the emotional intensity until it looks like something people might enjoy reading.

3. How would you describe your writing style?

I try to write fiction that travels the space between the sacred and the profane, the sublime and the ugly, the perverse and the pure. I like to use rough language when it’s necessary to describe something ugly, and I like to use poetic and heightened language when it’s appropriate. I’m really drawn to the places where the ugly and the beautiful intersect. I’m fascinated with the juxtaposition of these different ideas and how those things can be played against each other.

4. What can we expect next from you?

The very next thing you can expect is a brand-new novel set to release sometime in Spring 2022. The publisher and I are working on firming up the details on that release right now, so we should have a firm date soon. This will be the third novel set in my World of Muses universe, and if anyone is interested in following along with the publishing process on that project, they should check out www.shanewilsonauthor.com or follow me on all of the social media platforms at @thatshanewilson.

Chapter 5–Just because it’s so fun to share!

Photo by Bruno Thethe on Pexels.com


“That woman’s a menace to the entire town,” Harvey Dilwood grumbled to the man sitting next to him after Agnes Harper had been escorted out of the meeting. “It’s only because she’s a descendant of Jerimiah Dunn that she gets away with causing mayhem everywhere she goes.”
The meeting had been adjourned and the attendees were filing out into the late morning sun.
His neighbor nodded in agreement, rearranging the John Deere cap on his graying head. “James ain’t gonna press charges either.”
Harvey snorted in derision. “No doubt about that, Mack. The day that boy arrests his own grandmother is the day I kiss that mangy cat of hers right on the ass.”
Mack chuckled in agreement.
“If it ain’t her, it’s that stinkin’ monkey,” Harvey muttered, removing a handkerchief from his back pocket and dabbing at his sweaty brow. “Thank the Lord the windows were open or we could have all passed out from that stench. For the love of Oscar, who the hell has a monkey for a pet?”
Mack rubbed his sun-reddened nape.
“That new science teacher at Dunnville High,” he supplied.

“I heard he was in Afghanistan and suffers from PTSD. The monkey’s like an emotional support animal.”
Harvey snorted as he pocketed the handkerchief in his left pocket and produced his car keys from the right.
“Emotional support animal my ass. I did two tours in ‘Nam and I never needed a damn emotional support animal.”
Mack chuckled again as both men approached their vehicles; Mack’s Ford pickup and Harvey’s brown Buick.
“It’s almost noon, Harv. Meet me at Finnegan’s for lunch?”
Harvey retrieved his Jitterbug phone from his pocket and checked the time. “Not today,” he replied. “I want to keep an eye out for Salome. She ain’t been home for three weeks.”
“Leave out a dish of tuna,” Mack advised, climbing into his dusty truck. “Never met a cat that couldn’t resist tuna.”
Harvey gave a short wave to his retreating friend and unlocked his own vehicle. Agnes Harper’s careless actions had him thinking of last December’s explosion. The police claimed it was due to someone carelessly depositing a leaking propane tank in the bay, but Harvey was inclined to believe the reporters on Focus News, who believed it was the work of terrorists.
With this state of mind, Harvey drove home, knuckles blanching as he gripped the steering wheel. They tightened again as they always did when he drove past Agnes Harper’s ugly stucco house glistening in the midday sun.
That eyesore ought to be demolished, he thought, pulling into his driveway.
Due to the heat and the morning’s excitement, his blue polo shirt was sodden with perspiration. With keys in hand, he gave the ugly stucco house across the street a last dirty look before smartly saluting the flag as he ascended his porch steps.
Then he froze.
Slowly backing down the steps, Harvey retrieved the phone from the depths of his pocket and pushed the Emergency Alert button.
“Nine one one,” a dispatcher answered. “What’s your emergency?”
“This is Harvey Dilwood at 420 Applewood Drive,” he whispered urgently. “Someone’s left a bomb on my porch!”

Oh why not? Here’s Chapter 4!

Photo by simon on Pexels.com
Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

Adrenaline coursed through Alejandro’s little veins as he scurried across Town Hall Square and down Applewood Drive. His human had declined to attend the meeting, but Alejandro slipped in (and out) through the window like a furry spy, discreetly recording the meeting with the iPhone his human taught him to use. And that’s what he was doing, until the yelling and screaming and barking started.
Alejandro despised loud noises.
With the iPhone stowed in his vest pocket, he scampered purposefully down the sidewalk, sometimes pausing to leap over a fire hydrant or shimmy up a tree. Then he smelled something that caused his tummy to rumble and he was suddenly hungry,
The little simian followed the scent until he came to the stucco house with the brushes of brown paint. Lured by the enticing aroma of sourdough bread, he disappeared through the pet door and entered a tidy mudroom. Following his nose, he soon entered the kitchen where, wrapped in brown paper grocery bags sealed with masking, tape, were four loaves of sourdough bread cooling on the top shelf of a wrought iron baking rack. A bag of dry cat food slouched on the shelf just below the tantalizing loaves.
Alejandro was about to launch himself onto the baker’s rack and help himself to some warm bread when he heard a low growl behind him followed by a shrill voice.
Whrrt Whrrrrt!
Alejandro had not noticed the tabby slumbering in a sun patch on the kitchen floor. The feline rose stiffly, eyes narrowed and ears flattened. Alejandro was even more startled when a grey parrot flew into the kitchen and perched on the counter just two feet from him. The bird eyed him quizzically.
What’s going on? What’s going on? Whrrt Whrrrrt!
Alejandro shrieked and leaped onto the baker’s rack, upsetting both the bag of cat food and the bag of bird seed. They toppled, sending a cascade of kibble and grains onto the scrubbed linoleum beneath. The diminutive primate glanced quickly from cat to bird to bread loaves. His tummy rumbled again, and he hesitated for a brief second before snatching the nearest loaf. His sudden movement sent the bird squawking and the snarling cat launching to pounce. Clutching his prize, Alejandro bared his teeth, screaming shrilly until the cat ran out of the kitchen and the bird fluttered after it, shrieking Whrrt Whrrrrt!
Relieved, Alejandro jumped down from the counter and fled out the pet door.
Annie followed Agnes and Lieutenant Vickers, creeping stealthily down the Town Hall steps. She wanted to retrieve her waiting cart and head to City Park. Sometimes she sat in the hollow of Dunn’s Cottonwood, her cart positioned to block the view of passersby. Inhaling the grounding, woodsy scent, Annie could close her eyes and recall happier times, before her life took a disastrous spiral downward and she lost everything.
It was at the base of Dunn’s Cottonwood that she met her true love forty years earlier.
Drawing closer to where Agnes and Vickers stood, Annie held back, peering behind a pair of lilac bushes. Kaiser lay in the shade, panting. He cocked his ears and turned questioningly in her direction for a moment before turning his gaze back to the young policeman.
Annie felt a sad ache of empathy for Agnes Harper. As eccentric as the strange-looking house in which she dwelled, Agnes was one of the few people Annie didn’t despise on sight. From Annie’s keen observations, it seemed Agnes was still grieving her late husband and achingly lonely. It was also apparent to Annie that Agnes was sadly misunderstood.
After Agnes straddled her mount and pedaled away on the creaking trike, Annie sniggered in amusement as Lieutenant Vickers turned to Kaiser, who was dragging his rump on the brown grass.
“What the hell, Kaiser?” Vickers admonished.
The German shepherd rose up from his haunches and whined his apology.
“Well, you’re going to have to wait until after lunch. We have to go back inside now,” Vickers said, scowling in apparent disgust. “Come, Kaiser.”
Annie waited until the pair ascended the Town Hall steps and disappeared behind the heavy oak doors before she retrieved her waiting cart.
She heaved her burden down Applewood Drive, the old cart protesting rhythmically. She was just approaching 703 when the little monkey from the meeting burst through the pet door, a parcel wrapped in a brown paper sack gripped in its long arms. It scampered down the sidewalk until it came within ten feet of Annie and her cart. It gazed questioningly up at her, making inquisitive little sounds. The aroma of sourdough bread mixed with the monkey’s odor pervaded her nostrils simultaneously.
“Where do you think you’re going with that?” Annie demanded sharply. “That doesn’t belong to you.”
The capuchin cocked his head nervously, chattering softly.
Annie looked from the little thief to the house two doors down and an idea came to her.
“I’ll tell you what you’re going to do with that loaf of bread,” Annie said decidedly. She pointed toward the Craftsman bungalow with the American flag dangling from its sconce. “Leave it on that porch across the street.”
The monkey hesitated, looking from Annie to where she pointed, then at the loaf of bread in his arms.
“Go on,” Annie encouraged, shaking her pointing finger for emphasis.
Annie watched as, with a look of sad defeat, the monkey obeyed her command, looking both ways before he crossed Applewood Drive. He clambered up the porch steps, giving Annie one last look before depositing the bread right outside Harvey Dilwood’s front door. Annie smiled as the pouting monkey clambered down the porch steps and stopped at the sidewalk as if awaiting further instruction.
“Good monkey,” Annie praised him from across the street. “Go home now. You stink to high heaven.”
The capuchin scampered down the sidewalk, looking back at Annie as if hoping she would change her mind and command him to retrieve the bread. When she only scowled at him, he scurried away in defeat.

How to handle an embarrassing moment with Grace

This morning I was happy to discover the Starbucks at my local grocery store was festooned with this large Pride banner. I was encouraged to write a supportive message & was happy to oblige.

The banner was a bit low, so I bent at the knees to get to the right angle just as a young man stepped up to order his coffee.

Predictably, I tumbled backwards onto my plus-sized buttocks.

(Here comes the way to handle potentially embarrassing moments such as this )

I burst into laughter & quipped, “Now that was graceful!”

From my position on the floor I wrote a note on the banner and before I could even ask for assistance, the young fellow helped me to my feet. For that I paid for his coffee order.

“I’ll have to help people more often!” The young man said. “Thanks!”

And that, my friends, is how to handle a potentially embarrassing situation.

Meet Christine Orobitg, Laughter Yoga Instructor!

I recently experienced laughter yoga for the first time & was happily surprised to learn one of my RHS chapter members, Christine Orobitg, is an instructor! This Delightful lady ( members of Willie’s Women will get the double meaning there!) was kind enough to answer a few questions about this fun practice!

  1. What is laughter yoga? Laughter yoga (Hasyayoga) is a modern exercise involving prolonged voluntary laughter. This type of yoga is based on the belief that voluntary laughter provides similar physiological and psychological benefits as spontaneous laughter.[citation needed] It is usually done in groups, with eye contact and much playfulness between participants. Intentional laughter often turns into real and contagious laughter.
  2. What are the benefits? The benefits are better breathing and stress relief
  3. How long have you been teaching it? I’ve taught it since 2016
  4. Where can people learn more about you & your practice? I do it locally at retirement centers right now.