The Message: Newest Mattie Caper

front-cover-the-messageI’m back! While my creator, Mary Berger, is pounding out further adventures about yours truly, I have to tell you about this latest caper she has me—and Clare—involved in.  In The Message, we’re volunteering at a local thrift shop. I’m minding my own business (don’t I always?) when I discover a laptop that someone has dropped off.  Well, when I tap a few keys, this oddball message flashes across the screen.  Not being the nosy type—cough, cough—I give in to my curiosity. Before long, my computer-whiz nephew Scotty is involved, and that’s when the fun begins.  Would you believe I actually want to contact this online creep myself?  Trouble is, I know very little about computers, or the Internet, or chat rooms. And Clare knows even less.

You’ll have to read for yourself how we go about making connections in this wild tale of wacky shenanigans and culprit-manipulation. There’s even a bit of a romantic surprise for Clare that her fans won’t want to miss. (Clare, stop fanning yourself; they get the picture.)

So curl up with The Message and let’s spend some time together.

Mattie


P.S. The Message is available in paperback and Kindle through Amazon.com, as well as in paperback and Nook editions through Barnes & Noble.  Order your copy today!  (Also a great gift idea for Christmas.)

If you enjoyed this blog post, please feel free to share it or reblog it on your own website. If you’d like to follow my blog, just click on the “follow” button at the lower righthand corner of the page. You’ll be asked to enter your email address, and you’ll receive a confirmation email in return. And remember, I never share email addresses.
Posted in Shameless Promotion | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

They mean well, but . . .

Psst . . . Mattie here.  I’ve been eavesdropping.  (No—Really?)   I thought I’d share with you a few, ahem, “observations” of well-meaning, non-writers, whose remarks I just happened to overhear while my creator, Mary A. Berger, was promoting her books.

People mean well, but . . .  Okay, maybe you’ll understand better if I give you a few examples:

mouth-3“Well, if you enjoy writing stories about a nosy amateur sleuth, that’s all that matters. I guess it does give you something to do.”

“How could someone like you write about those awful people? Ugh.”

“Why is this ‘Mattie’ woman always poking her nose in where it doesn’t belong? She should just sit back and let others run things.”    

“Why not write ten books and have them all published at once? It can’t cost that much.”

“You should use a smaller print style.”  mouth-4     

“You should use a larger print style.”

“You should use wingdings print style. That would add a comical touch for publishers to decipher, and they’d pick up on your sense of humor.”

mouth-1  “Where do you get your ideas for stories? From supermarket tabloids?”

And the most notorious remark of all:

“You actually sell these books?”     mouth-2

Mattie again (slumping). These are real comments I’ve heard while sitting in the back row at Mary’s book promos or hanging around her book shows. I might be back another day to share more gems with you.

Meanwhile, (whispering) someone discovered a body in Holy Redeemer’s baptizing tub. Think anyone would mind if I sneaked in and took a few notes? Oh wait. That’s the new story Mary’s working on. (Head slap). Of course I’ll be there! See you then.

Posted in Nostalgia, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

On Grandpa’s Knee

“Tell me a story, Grandpa Charley.”  Those words take me back to the sweltering days of summer vacation, when my sister and I were kids, and there was nothing to do.

Grandpa Charley to the rescue!

My grandfather, Charles Henry Hollow, was born in Cornwall, England. He possessed the awesome ability to recall his days as a young man seeking adventure. Grandpa could spin those tales with accuracy and imagination—captivating us one minute, then scaring the daylights out of us the next. Spontaneous hand gestures, body jerks, and popping eyes were all part of his endearing yarns, and we never knew which “special effects” would prevail.  

One experience Grandpa enjoyed sharing—with my sister and me each propped upon a knee—was when he worked with the famous inventor, Guglielmo Marconi. Grandpa was part of a work crew that helped Marconi span the Atlantic Ocean with his historic wireless message.

In 1901, my grandfather and the others assisted Marconi in erecting sixteen 250-foot poles, along with a weird assortment of wires, all part of the elaborate setup Marconi devised for his wireless. From an experimental station on the English Channel, the crew watched as a wild gale blew in. (For the benefit of his granddaughters, Grandpa provided impressive huffing and puffing sounds to accompany this tale.) The storm leveled all the poles but one. It is said, the inventor was undaunted by the damage, and, soon, according to some versions, went ahead, with what remained, to send the first wireless message across the ocean to Newfoundland.

“What else happened, Grandpa?” we would ask in anticipation.

 “Well, that storm nearly blew all of us into the sea. You should have seen those waves. They were high as a building!” With that, Grandpa Charley’s arms flew upward, nearly sending us giggling and tumbling to the floor.

Later in life, Grandpa Charley worked mainly as a cabinetmaker. His skills took him to the diamond mines in South Africa. There, he became a cabinetry specialist for one of the mining companies. In Grandpa’s work, he preferred using glue, not nails, for better adhesion. As a kid, I still remember that reeking pot of thick, black glue heating outdoors in preparation for one of his carpentry projects.

Along the way, Grandpa Charley became proficient at the game of checkers. Records of his championships are on file both in England and in Michigan. But Grandpa could be quite the trickster: I recall one time when he appeared to be stuck, eyes fixed on his checkerboard. Then he would cast a pitiful look my way and ask, “Honey, could you help me? I’m lost here.”

At first, I jumped at the chance to beat an “old man” at the game and eagerly plowed right in. Then, in expert checkers fashion, he made moves like the pro that he was, and I was trapped—while he enjoyed a good laugh at my expense. I soon learned not to fall for such trickery.

Sometimes, Grandpa would tell stories handed down from the African natives he befriended, often adding one of their rousing campfire songs. My sister and I had such fun learning them, then out doing each other while singing: Hi lo minny minny cocka oocha oocha . . . and other memorable tunes. Well, the songs might have been memorable, though I doubt our singing was.

A fun and interesting man was my Grandpa Charley. Today, as an adult, I have only one regret, and that is simply that I cannot climb upon his knee and beg, “Tell me a story, Grandpa—please?” If he were still around, I’m certain he would be more than happy to oblige . . . hand gestures, popping eyes and all.


If you enjoyed this blog post, please feel free to share it or reblog it on your own website. If you’d like to follow my blog, just click on the “follow” button at the lower righthand corner of the page. You’ll be asked to enter your email address, and you’ll receive a confirmation email in return. And remember, I never share email addresses.
Posted in Nostalgia | Tagged | 4 Comments

Christmas in July?

The ad reads: Give Your Sweetheart a Surprise This Valentine’s Day! New Cupid’s arrow, brimming with tinsel and glittery snowflakes straight from Santa. Now, you can cover two holidays in one!

Christmas ads are popping up earlier and earlier every year. It used to be we’d hum along Santato White Christmas right around the same time we pushed Thanksgiving off the calendar.

Little by little, our holiday music began wafting through the wide aisles of Kmart and Target and “Wally’s World” around thirty seconds after midnight on Halloween night. Luke Skywalker and Spiderman costumes were barely off the racks when they were instantly replaced by inflatable Santas and automated reindeer.

Then, just when we were about to accept the hijacking of Christmas to that loftier spot on our shopping itinerary, the Wall Street advertising maniacs propelled it to a newer destination yet: Labor Day. I heard it for myself—ads combining the “early” Christmas shopping deals with the last picnic of summer. Hard to believe the tie-in with this high holy day and a backyard barbecue.

Now I love Christmas as much as anyone, but come on. What’s next? Pushing Christmas advertising up to July 4th? Picture this: Christmas shop ’til you drop while they’re shooting off fireworks shaped like the Star of Bethlehem or the Three Wise Men.  Can’t you just see a star-lit banner with hundreds of Christmas twinklers lighting up the sky with the words “Bargains galore at Ye Olde Christmas Store”?  Get your holy fireworks here!

What if Christmas ads got started as early as Presidents Day? Imagine the advertising folks’ glee at seducing shoppers with Christmas snow globes that settle over the 3D faces of Lincoln, Roosevelt, or Reagan when you shake them. And there’d have to be a holiday lottery: winner receives pre-recorded Christmas greetings from our current President to fill you with that humble, political Christmas spirit.

If this were to keep up, it would seem the advertisers might simply catch up with themselves. Talk about back to the future. We’d be toasting the New Year in with a glass of bubbly in one hand and a cup of eggnog in the other, while strains of Auld Lang Syne and Holly Jolly Christmas competed for top billing in the background. But which holiday would we be drinking to?  It would be so confusing!

I think we should call for a ban on all Christmas advertising that shows up before Thanksgiving. I say we should bury our billfolds and Mastercards and declare who’s really in charge here. TAKE THAT, you Wall Street wizards.

Now there’s something I really would drink to.  How’ bout you?


If you enjoyed this blog post, please feel free to share it or reblog it on your own website. If you’d like to follow my blog, just click on the “follow” button at the lower righthand corner of the page. You’ll be asked to enter your email address, and you’ll receive a confirmation email in return. And remember, I never share email addresses.
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Mess? What Mess?

Everyone says I should clean up my desktop, along with the surrounding clutter.  After all, it only takes two days to get to my desk, so what’s the problem?

I know, I know.  We authors need space in which to work—neat, uncluttered space.  On a personal note, I’ve misplaced a printout or two in that vast stretch of territory I call my desktop.  So there’s no one to blame but myself for such disorganization.

cluttered deskI am making progress, however.  These days, you’ll see fewer sheets of 20-weight, 92-brightness strewn across my office floor, requiring visitors to watch their step.  Thanks to my latest round of tidying up, many of those scrap pieces got tossed into a pile labeled “To Be Shredded.”  I mean, who needs phone numbers and business information of editors who have since gone out of business?  This fact signaled a major celebration—with a touch of white zinfandel on the side.

Starting with my desktop, I’ve come up with a few tips to help avoid desk clutter or at least bring it down to an acceptable level:

  • Don’t set something down and tell yourself you’ll file it later.  Find a home for it now—even if it’s a hastily marked manila folder that gets tucked away in a file cabinet somewhere.
  • Choose one area of your desktop at a time and concentrate on that area, be it the overloaded box of office supplies, a pile of reference books, or the ceramic vase filled with dried out marker pens.
  • Rather than taping or affixing sticky notes all over a desk shelf, hang strips of colorful duct tape about a foot in length, then adhere your sticky notes to those strips, one just above the other.  Your desk will appear more organized and might even show the world that your colorful area is a fun place to get some work done.

I’d like to leave you with one thought.  As you go about straightening your workspace, remember this: you control clutter; don’t let clutter control you.


If you enjoyed this blog post, please feel free to share it or reblog it on your own website. If you’d like to follow my blog, just click on the “follow” button at the lower righthand corner of the page. You’ll be asked to enter your email address, and you’ll receive a confirmation email in return. And remember, I never share email addresses.
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What’s Your Trademark?

Psssst!  Author Mary Berger checking in here.  Mattie’s outside doing some weeding.  She rarely lets me near this site (as if it belongs to her), so I’ll have to hurry and post this note before she returns.

I have to tell you about an author reading I recently attended.  The speaker was a middle-aged man who happened to be wearing colorful, striped Superman socks.  sock imageThey seemed to fit the somewhat light mood he was creating with his book on pet humor.  I overheard a voice in the audience whisper, “The socks are his trademark.”  Very clever, I thought.  I’d heard of female authors who wear different flowers in their hair for each speaking engagement, or men who sport wild neckties.

It got me thinking about creating a trademark of my own.  One day I let my niece use her imagination and paint my fingernails however she wanted.  toenailsShe painted each nail a different color.  Then she said I should surprise my audience at each book signing with a different wild nail color.  Now that’s not a bad idea!  Maybe I’ll try that Hot Pumpkin Spice at my next reading—or the Vixen Violet.

What do you think?  Have you created your own trademark?  Let us know, and maybe we can exchange ideas.

Gotta go.  Mattie’s coming!  We’ll talk again soon.

Mary

 

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Is Open Mic Reading Right for You?

Are you uncertain of your public speaking talents?  Do you wonder if the prose you’ve written has enough appeal to share publicly with others?
Open MicOne method of countering the wim-wams (butterflies) of public speaking is through open mic readings. In our area, there’s a great reading group headed up by the Western North Carolina Writers’ representatives.  Every third Monday our local library hosts open mic forums that allow prose/poetry writers the opportunity to share their work with other writers and the general public. Authors’ presentations of essays and poems range from light or soulful to downright hilarious.
You may want to give open mic reading a try.  Not only does the process help you cope with any uncertainties about your writing, it might well give your self-confidence a boost.  So gather up some of your best writing, seek out an open mic forum, and tell those wim-wams to take a hike!


If you enjoyed this blog post, please feel free to share it or reblog it on your own website.  If you’d like to follow my blog, just click on the “follow” button at the lower righthand corner of the page.  You’ll be asked to enter your email address, and you’ll receive an confirmation email in return.  And remember, I never share email addresses.
Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments