I Never Drove a Bulldozer

With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come. William Shakespeare

Did old age sneak up on you? Me neither. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know the difference between freckles and liver spots. We can either give in to the crushing depression caused by loss of beauty, strength, and bladder control, or laugh in the face of impending olditude.

Bulldozer mediumI chose the latter when I released my new humor book, I Never Drove a Bulldozer / There’s a Hole in my Bucket List. Several agents critiqued the manuscript and gave me a double thumbs up, then went on to say that humor doesn’t sell. In the service to the newly old, and flying in the face of common sense wisdom, I decided to release my book anyway.

Topics to help ease you through the rigors of middle age:

  • Unless you are the Unibomber, you’re going to find yourself in the company of other people. Our relationships can either evolve as we grow older, or we can get used to writing manifestos and cleaning litter boxes.
  • Memory is one of the first things to go as we age. Be careful not to get arrested for vagrancy as you stand outside the Starbucks trying to remember the difference between a tall and a grande. Bail is normally set at the price of a tall.
  • I’ve looked in enough three-way mirrors at the mall, that I’ve decided the only way to draw the eyes away from my trouble spots is to set fire to the dressing room.
  • I’ve started planning on how to fill those empty hours once I retire. The senior center is planning an arts and crafts day teaching taxidermy. It’s BYORK (bring your own road kill).

You too can join the cool crowd and have a copy sitting on the back of your toilet seat. The book is available in paperback or Kindle at Amazon.

Karla Telega is the award winning author of Box of Rocks, a humorous mystery. She has edited two humor anthologies, blogs for Skirt.com Emagazine, and owns the Tart Cookies publishing imprint. She has dedicated her remaining years to making people laugh, losing twenty pounds, and avoiding periodontal disease. You can follow Karla on her humor blog at telegatales.com Click here to see all her listings on Amazon.

Review: Box of Rocks by Karla Telega

WARNING: Do not read this book while eating. To do so may cause you to choke to death on your own laughter.

Box of Rocks Cover

eBook is $2.99, Paperback is $9.95

I’ll start by paying new author Karla Telega the highest form of compliment I can give: in many ways, her writing reminds me of that of bestselling author Janet Evanovich. Another reviewer has compared Maggie and Cher to Thelma and Louise, and I can see that…but to me, they’re more like Stephanie Plum and Lula for the AARP crowd

I’ve been a fan of Ms. Telega’s blog for some time now. If you haven’t yet had the privilege, check it out–you’re in for a real treat. Telega has her liver-spotted finger on the weak pulse of over-50 women everywhere.

But getting back to BOX OF ROCKS–Karla Telega has created characters that are outrageously funny but at the same time people readers can relate to–even Bear (admit it–who hasn’t had a Wile E. Coyote moment in their lives?).

As author and co-founder of upstart publisher Adoro Books, Karla Telega has published a book that’s been handled with pure professionalism, start to finish–from Karla’s exceptional writing to the fine editing skills of Martin Rus and Rosanne Dingli to the brilliant cover art of El Kartun, which would stand out anywhere. I am so pleased to see that this is just the beginning of a series!  

Secrets, Friends, and an Inept Killer: Box of Rocks

This is a reprint from my blog for Karla Telega’s Box of Rocks, which you may have missed the first time out….
“I imagine that you and Cher can come up with something that will test the bounds of the legal system.”A remark early on from a therapist, and it entirely fits the events in Box of Rocks. The novel is the first by writer Karla Telega, and combines mystery, comedy, secrets, and the bond of friendship into a good narrative. At its heart are Maggie Gorski and Cher Anderson, two South Carolina friends in their fifties. Maggie is happily married to Ted, while Cher is a single woman after her first and only marriage ended years before. Maggie copes with anxieties and phobias, particularly about designer dogs (that rates as an odd phobia, but she has good reason), while Cher seeminglylives a carefree life. Their idea of recreation is finding odd misadventures to occupy their time, from following ghost tours to target shooting. The latest notion to cross their mind is to go panning for gold in the wilderness.There are, of course, other players in the book. Paul Lakeland, a graduate student in archaeology, makes a discovery in the woods related to his doctoral thesis, within an abandoned mine, finding evidence of an old legend linked to the Creek Indians. If the evidence leads in the direction he expects, it could be the discovery of a lifetime. He shares his hopes with his graduate advisor, Samuel Peters, who, as fate would have it, conspires to take credit for the discovery himself. Apparently the good professor forgot to take classes on ethics when he was a student.

The last key player of the book is a man nicknamed Bear. He and a confederate have been working deeper in that mine, and we quickly discover that they’re working on extracting a vein of gold they’ve discovered. Bear has been watching Paul, who’s oblivious to being watched, let alone to the other work going on in the mine. He views Paul as a potential threat to the payday he has coming, and decides to act to remove the threat.

Paths cross between the characters out in the rural backwoods and in the city. Bear makes attempt after attempt to kill Paul, each time failing. It’s a combination of bad luck for Bear, and very good luck for the otherwise clumsy Paul. Maggie and Cher meet Paul and Sam while starting out on their prospecting misadventure. After Sam gets killed by Bear- who was aiming to kill Paul- Maggie and Cher discover the body, and find themselves looking into the crime.

The book hinges on the quality of its characters, and particularly on the friendship and chemistry between Maggie and Cher, who are its greatest strength. I liked the way these two have history, a mutual understanding and support of each other. Cher, who could very easily be just the comic relief of the book (her general and funny stereotyping of rural folk is one such example), shows unexpected depth when discovering a connection to another character. As Maggie finds out something about her friend that even she didn’t know, it would be easy, given the circumstances, for Cher to feel resentment towards the character in question, but instead feels a great empathy. I found this a good touch. It gives the character depth.

Maggie herself is a good character too. Her phobias come across as real- and funny- and her way of dealing with it even more so. She has a good, easygoing chemistry and relationship with her husband Ted. Their banter and scenes together have a natural feeling. She’s got a ferocious loyalty to the people she loves, and her personality has layers and quirks, which add to how real she feels to the reader. She’s someone we can particularly relate to.

Good characterization extends to the rest of the book. Paul has the luck of the Irish, it seems, surviving multiple attempts on his life with unexpected grace. He’s very likeable… if a bit incapable of seeing potential threats around him. I find that a good touch, actually. Academics can be so narrowly focused on their own interests that they’re oblivious to anything else. And Sam’s unethical turn to try to claim credit for Paul’s discovery rings true too. There’s more then a share of devious academics out there.

Bear, as he’s known early on, is an unlikely funny criminal. Writing from his point of view is a challenge- for reasons that come clear later on in the book- but his decisions are understandable; he’s driven by his own greed. And the failures of his attempts to kill Paul made me laugh, almost cartoonish in the way they come apart. Each time he’s a target, Paul comes across as the Road Runner, surviving certain death by sheer luck. That, of course, makes Bear the Coyote. His intricate plans come apart on him time and time again, and he’s left wondering just how did that happen?

There’s a good attention to detail throughout the book. Karla lives in the Carolinas, and so is writing about her proverbial back yard. From setting details such as plant life or architecture to the cultural details that are inherently part of the region, these are things that give the book a sense of authenticity that an outsider wouldn’t otherwise have picked up on.

Murder and danger drive the plot along, but she uses a healthy dose of humor along the way. It gives the book a sense of levity and lightness, and makes us like the characters all the more. I’m not usually a mystery reader, but I quite enjoyed reading Box of Rocks, and it’s the humor, pacing, and especially the two leading ladies that make it work so well.

Book Review – Mayan Calendar Girls: The Great Meso-American Novel by Linton Robinson

Mayan Calendar Girls Cover

Available in Print for $18.95 and eBook for $5.95

Mayan Calendar Girls is a book unlike any I have ever read and I honestly am going to have trouble putting the style into words but will attempt to do so. It reminds me a little bit of the movie Crash, in that there are several, simultaneous stories going on at once with various characters who at times, will influence others in ways that they are completely unaware of. That is the case here. The biggest difference, however, is the amount of humor present in this book.

Another aspect of Mayan Calendar Girls that makes it stick out is the humor and satire present. Realistically, even if the story doesn’t intrigue you, you may find that reading this is great just for the humorous way it is written. Some examples of amusing lines:

“It might actually be water level rising, Global warming, perhaps? I lay the blame squarely on Al Gore.” To which is replied: “Inconvenient, if true.”

“She had only heard of crack, but lusted for a taste because the name itself just sounded so very, very bad. Which is to say, of course, extremely good.”

Political satire is strong here and is probably one of my favorite aspects of the book. President Obama has his own show. Other political figures actually take active roles in this book. Again, an amusing set of lines starting with Joe Biden:

“Is it like a real honeymoon, Barry?” to which was replied “Not really. They don’t screw you until the honeymoon is over.”

To give you an idea of just how much witty banter is here, even the descriptions read like some of these sarcastic dialog lines. For instance:

“She was quite a sight for anyone who cared to stare instead of blathering about cryptoarcheology: breasts as spherical as stone temple houris in India, Chinatown cheekbones, matte skin the color of cinnamon sugar, and sleek black hair so long it brushed the floor every time she shifted her delectable ass (which was the only time it ever got swept).”

“The best way to explain Ganzo might be to just realize he marched to a different drummer. A really slow, muted drum with wacko syncopation.”

There are a couple of things to warn potential readers about. First, the language. Swearing. Yes, swearing. If that’s a problem, you may want to look somewhere else (like a Little Golden Book or something). Graphic sexual encounters. Yes, there’s sex in this book and quite a bit of it. Matter of fact, it starts with a woman having a major orgasm. There’s another part where a woman is climaxed by a dolphin. It can get extreme. If you’re sensitive to this kind of stuff, you are dually warned. Finally, there are themes around racial tension and other such sensitive topics.

Basically, this book isn’t for the overly sensitive. It’s funny. You will most likely find yourself laughing through much of it. If you like humor, this is a great book because it mixes so many different types: political, racial, sexual, etc. Have some fun with it. The short chapters insure that it keeps moving along.

Idiot Reviewers Don’t Seem to Go Away

Authors are human, despite rumors to the contrary. That means that we have friends (well, most of us do), but we also have enemies. Not everyone likes us. I could list all of the people that I know about who don’t like me but the data overflow might crash the server, so I won’t bother. Those people also aren’t worth my damn time.

Something Funny Happened on the Way to the Moon

Anyway, sometimes we get petty, whiny, brats who decide a great way to retaliate is to leave a negative review on our books. Sometimes they buy the book (if they are leaving the review on Amazon, they can attempt to make it more “legit” by having the “Amazon Verified Purchase” appear). So here is the first one, written about Something Funny Happened on the Way to the Moon by Sara Howard:

I really do not understand how this book got such good reviews. The writing style is terrible and chapters ridiculously short. I have asked amazon for a refund.

stupid

First of all, I really don’t give a damn that you asked for a refund. Maybe, if that was the last sentence of a comprehensive review, the sentence would have added a bit of flavor to it. You wrote three sentences. When I see reviews like this, I often wonder if it is nothing more than a personal vendetta or such a sore lacking of intelligence. What’s really funny is if this fool had bothered to read the first sentence of the description, he or she would have seen “This book is a light-hearted, funny story . . .” It’s light reading my friend. It’s not meant to be some in-depth, science-filled informational book. Man, this kind of stuff makes me lose faith in humanity. If you want to give a negative review, fine. Actually review the book with real reasons why it deserves such negativity!

Crawford

The next one is from A Promise Kept: The Story of One Widowed Bride’s Journey Through Grief by Elise Crawford. Just take a look at this:

What a bunch of self-pity crap. Plain crap. Ladies and gents, the author makes up so much here that the book is total fantasy. If pity is what you want to give, well, you came to the right place.

When Mark was killed, Liz ran away like a little child. She ignored Mark’s two kids, and in fact locked one of them out of Mark’s house a day after the tragedy. Let me repeat – locked one of Mark’s kids out of his own house, because she couldn’t “handle” his emotions.

So many lies, so few pages!

When confronted, she ran and hid. Mark did not put her in his will. They were NOT married. She was the one who broke ties with the McLaughlin family. She could have had many of Mark’s items but hid from all attempts to be contacted.
Her writing “style” is plain boring. The positive reviews are obviously from people trying to sell the “book” – what a farce!
Her book is a scam – enjoy. Wish there was less than one star to leave.

“Liz” huh? Obviously, this person knows the author and is probably a bitter in-law or something like that. Guess what: I DON’T GIVE A &*$% ABOUT YOUR DAMN PERSONAL VENDETTA! If you have an issue, why don’t you write a column or publish your own book. This isn’t a review on a book, this is your whiny, griping, gibberish. Oh wait, right at the end, there is one sentence on the writing style, and its 6 words long. Thanks. This review is about as helpful as a hemorrhoid.

People who write garbage reviews like this remind me of why we need to chlorinate the gene pool. Air your personal baggage to someone who gives a *$%#, because no one here does.

chlorine