Susan Marie Molloy

🌺 Life in the Oasis 🌴


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Putting a Neat Little Bow on 2017

Thank you, Everyone! You made 2017 a good reading, writing, and blogging year.  Following are a few of my thoughts about this past year and how I’m looking forward to the new one.

I Thank You.  I can’t begin to name and thank all of you whose blogs I follow, read, comment, and learn from. The same goes for all of you who followed, shared — particularly by The Militant Negro —  and commented on my blog this past year. These lists are long. Nevertheless, thank you, thank you!  I have discovered many fabulous blogs here on WordPress, and I will say there is a lot of good talent here.  (To see whose blogs I follow, please take a look at my blogroll.)

2017’s Theme. A little over a year ago, I declared that 2017 would be a Year of Change for me. I had no idea how “changed” it would be from any other year. Silly. Silly, because every year, every day, every hour, every moment produces change of some sort. If we recognize that change exists, no matter its enormity or minuteness, or its quantifying levels, we’re halfway there to using it for good, or not. It’s up to us, nevertheless, how we accept, handle, and manage it.

Writing, Published Books, and Photography. Another change was writing more, and my skills improved. Perhaps that led to more of my poetry being published. Moreover, one of my photographs for a writing anthology’s cover was chosen, and several more photographs and my poetry, were published in it, too. I’m chuffed.

Left the Old Job.  About a year ago, I knew there were changes afoot with the ol’ job. I already planned on leaving that long, horrifying, so-called career I had.  (Oh, the stories, or book, I could write!)  Life would – and did – become blissful again without the lousy job and its surrounding aggravations.

Staying in Touch. Remember letter-writing, phone calls, emails, visiting? Yeah, me, too. That’s how I continued to stay in touch with my friends and family. As long as we’re on the subject, when did it become de rigueur to use Facebook messenger only? Give me a box of nice stationery and a good Cross pen, and I’m ready–

Social Media Change.  No longer do I feel like a dirty voyeur being force-fed pictures of dead or near-dead relatives laying in the hospital bed, the perfect marriages and angelic children, announcements of divorce when those “perfect marriages” fell apart, hatred, the passive-aggressive posts, the Woe-Is-Me Crowd, and particularly the incorrect quotes and statistics on memes, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.  I left Fakebook as a whole at the beginning of the year, returned for a five-week engagement in October-November, and left again – this time permanently (except for my author page). Those couple few weeks where I popped back in solidified my thoughts that Fakebook is a vast wasteland for The Bored, The Braggarts, and The Attention-Seekers. “Silent noise,” I call it, and I am done with it. And you know what? I’m back to my old self: calm, cheerful, creative, and relishing all the productive time within my days.

Reading.  I went crazy with reading this year.  Goodreads is a good way for me to keep track of what I read, what I like, what I want to read, and to connect with other readers and authors.  This year, I read 245 books.  How did I do this?  For one, I don’t watch television.  Cut out that crap, and voilà! you have more time to accomplish real, productive things.  At work, I was able to read in my office, in between doing nothing (it was a horrifying job with no work).  Plus, many of the books I read were a length that could easily be read within the course of the day or within an hour.  I discovered a lot of writers, too.  Expanding my horizons, you see.

The Lost Art of Thanking.  This year opened my eyes to the lack of thanking, which seems to have become a new national pastime, with its passé, quaint little politeness that went the way of good manners.  This year, I was dumbstruck at the lack of thanking for the simplest things.  People don’t thank for holding a door open for them, they don’t thank for a gift made or bought for them, they don’t thank for that unsolicited compliment you give, they don’t thank for anything.  I’m speaking in generalities here; some people do thank.  However, I notice it’s more people who don’t, than do.

Tales from Daily Life.  My beau and I are enjoying our lives more and more each day, and I shared our experiences with you during this past year.  We did a little travelling. I visited my hometownCooking is still one of my passions.  We saw a lot of new movies this year, one of which we thought was bad, but most we liked.  Nevertheless, there’s a lot to do and see in our world.  Yes, there was a lot more that happened in 2017, and much of it was good,  and some not.  

Peeking into 2018.  I’ll continue to share my experiences, and keep the positive theme of my blog.  Something new is that I plan to set aside a day each week to share a blog or two of yours that I find inspirational, educational, or just plain re-bloggable.  I’m working on three (yes, three!) books to be published this year.  I’ll be gardening more.  Golfing is in sight for me.  I have some art projects that I’ll finish.  I plan to re-acquaint myself with the art of sushi-making at home.

I hope you had a good, productive, happy, and healthy year, and I wish for you the type of 2018 you want and deserve.

Tonight my beau and I are headed to a New Year’s Eve party, and I’m looking forward to turning the page on the ol’ calendar.

Be happy you’re alive. Be happy you have today. Look forward to tomorrow.

See you next year (ha ha ha).

As ever,

Susan

To see what was up in 2016, read “Wrapping Up 2016.”

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My FREE Books – Good Through December 27 – 29, 2017.

I am offering my poetry chapbooks for free on Amazon starting today; some run through December 29, and some through December 31.  Look for me, Susan Marie Molloy, on Amazon.

This is my last free offering of my poetry chapbooks for this year. Pick up one, pick up all. I appreciate it, and thank you. Happy New Year, and Happy Reading!

As ever,
Susan

 

 


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This Morning’s Work and My Christmas Reading Gala 2017: Update #2

Hi!  How’s it goin’?

I got up early this morning and worked on the menu for our Christmas Eve party. Our secular tradition involves preparing only hors d’oeuvres (no meal per se), picking up Mogen David wine, making sure the bar is stocked for drinks, my homemade cookies and date nut bread from scratch are plentiful, and festive music (Mitch Miller, et al) is ready to go throughout our cottage. Then, at the party, all the Christmas lights and our tree are lit up, with just the softest ambient light in the hallways so no one bumps into walls. Getting ready for the party and looking forward to Midnight Mass makes Christmas Eve a welcome break from all the reading I’ve been doing lately.

A couple weeks ago, when I set a reading goal for myself, it was an imposing ambition.

Here’s what I accomplished, and I reached my goal:

Rest in Fleece: Ghosts Tall Tales & Horror Stories by Jan Olandese
There are so many funny and ghostly stories, so many funny lines, and hysterical character names in this book, that I had to keep reading it to the end – without a break! Jan Olandese has that sense of humor I like – off-the-wall, the play on words, and best of all, the unexpected, sometimes warped, endings. If you like these kinds of tales, I recommend her books. You can’t go wrong. It’s the right thing to do.  Check out her blog at Book ‘Em, Jan O.

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
• This was an intriguing novella that captivated me, and I couldn’t put it down until I finished it. On the surface, it’s a ghoulish, creepy tale—nothing more, nothing less. Conversely, it’s a story of the condition of mankind, the nefarious side of some people’s souls, and their systematic destruction of all around them, including themselves, and how their acrimony and bitterness has the potential to lead others down a path of the same, or similar destruction. This is very good reading, if you like this sort of writing.

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie was my first experience with her works.  I first read this mystery in 1974, right before that movie version came out. This month, the re-read was a blast for me. I enjoyed every line, every paragraph, every chapter, and let me put it this way – I don’t tire of Christie’s writing. I recommend “Orient Express” if you like this sort of genre.

Southern Reconstruction by Philip Leigh is a refreshing look into Reconstruction in the South after the Civil War. Leigh provides a plethora of primary sources, statistics, and a smattering of photographs in this must-read book. There is a lot here that we weren’t taught in school, or college for that matter, and this book helps flesh it out. Because of Leigh’s detailed references to primary sources, I found other books to read, such as Susan Dabney Smede’s 1888 publication, Memorials of a Southern Planter, which is on my to-read list. I highly recommend Southern Reconstruction.

Then I finished a few novellas by Bobby Underwood, one of was  Night Run, which has parts that were pretty rough, specifically a disgusting rape recollection and the aftermath of said rape. There is a paranormal slant to this story.  Although I enjoy ghost and paranormal stories, this book wasn’t my cup of tea because of the rape theme; I wish I knew that before I picked up the novella.  Dark Corridor is tale of a former soldier who has no memory of his pre-War life, until something brings it all together and into the light. I think I’ve been here before, somewhere— A 1930s-1940s setting is No Holiday from Murder and Johnny’s Girl, and is a story within a story.  The main characters, radio play writers, were on vacation in Hawaii, they couldn’t get away from real-life crime, and the real-life crime was inspiration for more of their radio plays. In Johnny’s Girl, there’s a controlling husband, a wife who escapes from what must be an intolerable marriage, and the mysterious man she meets.  Holly is a gangster’s wife who leaves him, and he hires a Miami private eye to find her.  Galveston has drugs, murder, cops, intrigue, tragedy, and a bit of romance. Life seems to be going along for Buford, although haunted by past tragedy, until he meets the delightful, and younger, Candace, who turns his world around.  Nautica City  is set in a 1960s California coastal town, involves a murder, a sheriff who recruits a group of kids to help solve the crime, aliens, and unexpected love.  In Beyond Heaven’s Reach there is some steady action, a California scenario, and a paranormal premise.  Lastly, in Passage to Tomorrow it’s two love stories that parallel one another, one in the past and the other in the present, and what ties them together is a long letter-story found in a bottle.

I’ll be taking a short break from any serious reading between now and the end of the year, and then it’s back to business.  In the meantime, I invite you to read my all of my reviews in depth, and see my taste in books on my Goodreads author page.

Thanks for stopping by; I’m glad you did!

©2017 Susan Marie Molloy and all works within.


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How I Do It

I am A Reader, and have been since I learned to read in first grade, with the famous Dick, Jane, Sally, Spot, Puff, Mother, and Father reading primers published by Scott Foresman and Company. By fourth grade, I was reading The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood of Great Renown in Nottinghamshire by Howard Pyle. By college, I was pouring over The Riverside Chaucer, the works of Geoffrey Chaucer published in the Middle English language in which he wrote.

I’m well-known within my family for checking out at least eight or ten books from the library at a time – that was back in the days of the Dewey System of index cards in old oak card catalogues and barely audible whispers within the library walls.

It helped a lot to have parents who are readers themselves, and encouraged us kids when we were growing up to read as much as possible.

Then, about five or so years ago, I discovered Goodreads, and for me it became a convenient way to keep track of what I read and what I intend to read, and trends thereof.

Goodreads has a yearly challenge, wherein you mark down how many books you would like to read, and at the end of the year, you can review your statistics. For 2017, I pledged to read 104 books, which meant that I thought I could read two books a week.

Well, that’s not what I did.

As of today, I read 259 books, which is somewhere around five books per week.

How do I do it?

First, I don’t have television, nor am I on Facebook anymore. The time spent on those two inane time-wasters alone would probably prevent me from finishing one book per month.

Second, I read just about everything, so my interests are varied, which leads to an almost infinite choice of material. Conversely, I do shy away from books that are teeming with base vulgarities, so tossing that aside, I read in a wide variety of genres, if the language is not offensive.

Next, the length of a book can be novel or novella length. Since novellas are relatively short, I can usually finish one (or two) within a day, or evening. A book doesn’t have to be the length of The Brothers Karamazov or War and Peace to count as a “book”.

Subsequently, I read during breaks in my day. That includes a little time before bedtime, a few minutes after a meal, and in that quietness, you’d be surprised how many pages you can fly through.

Lastly, I had a job where I barely had any real time-consuming work to do, so I read a few pages here and there – at lunch, during breaks, when I was the only soul in the office.

It helps that my beau also likes to read, and you can often find us sitting together in the front room reading. There are times when, if he isn’t reading and I am, he’ll play his guitar. It makes for nice mood music.

So, I think you get my drift. I didn’t dream that I would finish so many books this year, but I did. It wasn’t a matter of quantity, but a matter of what types (novels, novellas) and of what quality of books that made it to my reading table. I contend that just about anyone can finish reading a stack of books, provided that there are wise choices, interesting genres and topics, and most definitely cutting out the crap of television and Facebook.

I hope this is an inspiration, particularly if you are looking to read more.  You can do it.

That is my methodology.  That is my opinion. That is how I did all that reading this year.

©2017 Susan Marie Molloy and all works within.


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BOOK REVIEW: Where Flamingos Fly and Slow Hot Wind

It’s been awhile since I wrote any type of book review or author discussion here.  As you know, lately I’ve been focusing on amusing posts and photography that reflect my daily life. Reading is part of my daily life, and my negligence on writing about the best-of-the-best books that make my reading list is, well, not giving you the full aspect of my daily life and what I call A Year of Change.

I discovered a (new to me) author, Bobby Underwood, who writes some of the best noir-type books that I’ve come across in years. If you think of authors James Ellroy, James M. Cain, Dashiell Hammett, and Raymond Chandler, films such as The Glass Key, I Wake Up Screaming, and Call Northside 777, and actors and actresses such as Alan Ladd, Veronica Lake, Richard Widmark, Lana Turner, Lizbeth Scott, and Humphrey Bogart, you will see that Bobby Underwood’s books and characters follow the similar path of the cynical hard-boiled and rather damaged characters that when combined, help define the excellence of this genre.

So far, I’ve read four of Bobby Underwood’s books: Where Flamingos Fly, Beautiful Detour, Glass Alibi, and Slow Hot Wind.  Each captured my attention and kept it, each filled with action and well-developed characters. His writing style is so right-on the mark that the reader could presume they were written in the 1940s or 1950s.  In fact, these are more recently-written works, and it takes uncommon talent to capture the feel and language of this genus.

Each of these books are just the right length to read in an evening or two, or if you’re like me, you can read one during your long lunch break. What I especially like is that there is no vulgarity (those pesky four-letter words I deplore are thankfully absent), and any sexually-charged scenes are written so well using metaphors and entendre, that it adds to the sophistication of the stories.  The books’ titles are right on the mark, cleverly created.  And the book covers!  They are eye-catching.

Bobby Underwood is a prolific writer, and his books are readily available through Amazon.  I recommend you pick up one or two or all of his books.

You can read my reviews on my Goodreads site; more will be added as I finish his books on my “To Read List”:
Review of Beautiful Detour
Review of Slow Hot Wind and Glass Alibi
Review of Where Flamingos Fly

©2017 Susan Marie Molloy, and all works within.