Red River Radio Presents Dellani’s Tea Time with Addison & Nancy

Dellani's Choice - Books

red river radio logoBe sure to join us for Dellani’s Tea Time on Monday, October 15th from 4-6 PM Eastern, when our guests will be Addison Brae and Nancy Stohlman!

addison brae

Addison Brae lives in Dallas, Texas on the edge of downtown. As a child, she was constantly in trouble for hiding under the bed to read when she was supposed to be napping. She has been writing since childhood starting with diaries, letters and short stories. She continues today with articles, video scripts and other content as an independent marketing consultant.

When she’s not writing, Addison spends her time traveling the world, collecting interesting cocktail recipes and hosting parties. She’s still addicted to reading and enjoys jogging in her neighborhood park, sipping red wine, binge-watching TV series, vintage clothing and hanging out with her artistic other half and their neurotic cat Lucy. Her book, Becker Circle, is available from Tirgearr Publishing.

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Alphabet Challenge Too – Letter D from Double Trouble by Dellani

ABC ChallengeI’m still working on this one. It’s been a lot of fun, and I hope to finish it soon. The Bates brothers, Trey and Chay, are an interesting pair. One is rather subdued, the other extremely outgoing. See if you can figure out which.

She opened the stained glass door to the office with trepidation. Never having done this before, her hands shook. Identical platinum haired men greeted her with dazzling smiles. Paige halted as the effect of their stunning good looks left her breathless. One stepped forward, hand extended.

“Good morning and welcome to Bates Brothers Investigations. I’m Norman and he’s Master.”

“Dude, be serious,” the second twin said, hanging back a little.

“Seriously, he’s Norman and I’m Master. Our folks run a creepy hotel. Middle of nowhere, house on a cliff? No?”

“I’m Chay and he’s Trey,” the second one said, shaking her hand.

“But Dad totally wanted to name one of us Norman,” Trey contributed.

“It was all our mother could do to stop him,” Chay added with a smile.

“Did she stab him with a big, scary knife while he was in the shower?” their visitor asked.

“No, but she does love her rocking chair,” Trey replied with a grin.

“We named the dog Norman,” Chay said.

“So, neither of you is Master?” she asked slyly.

“Well….” Trey began.

Chay punched his brother. “No.”

“But we….”

“Don’t need to explain that one,” she interrupted.

“How can we help you?” Chay, the calmer of the two, asked.

“I need you to find someone for me.” She held out a photograph in shaking hands. “I think I’m being stalked. I got this picture on my phone.” She handed it to Trey, who was closest.

He examined it carefully before handing it to his twin.

“Has he spoken to you? Approached you in any way?” Chay asked.

“Not exactly. But I get these creepy calls sometimes. The number’s blocked, but there’s someone there, breathing….

“Then they hang up?” Trey concluded.

“Sometimes they whisper something. It sounds like a name. But it’s not something I ever heard before.”

“Not Rosebud?” Trey supplied.

The young woman cut her eyes at him. “Yeah, could be,” she replied sarcastically. “The closest I can make out, they say Katrinka. But I can’t be sure.”

“Why don’t we have a seat in my office,” Chay said. “And you can tell us all about it, Miss…?”

“Turner. Paige Turner. Yes, that’s my real name,” she directed at Trey before he could comment. “My father’s sense of the absurd. Mom couldn’t curtail him.”

“Do you have a sister named Leaf and a brother named Pancake?” Trey winked one brilliant blue eye.

“Funny, but no. I’m an only child. We named the dog Pancake.”

The men laughed in perfect unison, their booming voices filled the confined space. For the first time in weeks, Paige laughed too. Humor had been hard to find lately.

Chay ushered her into his office. Some would call it shabby chic, some less kind, just shabby. It was obvious they needed her case. Everything spoke to her of lack—from the battered wooden desk to the dented metal folding chairs. Despite the absence of glamour, it was neat and tidy. There were no files stacked on the desk, no half empty coffee cups. There were McDonald’s wrappers in the trash, but they were folded neatly and at the bottom of an otherwise empty basket.

“Sorry we aren’t fancier,” he said with a blush. “Please have a seat.” He indicated the one folding chair with a cushion.

Chay sat in a rickety wooden chair behind this desk. Trey perched on the corner.

“Tell Uncle Chay all about it,” Trey said with a frown of concern.

Paige grimaced at him. “And what does that make you?”

“I’ll be your daddy,” he replied with a nod and sly raise of an eyebrow.

Paige burst out laughing. “I hope that’s an act and you aren’t seriously using that to hit on me.”

Trey smirked. “Planting the seeds of discord. If you think of my bro as an uncle, then it’s sick if you hook up with him.”

“I see.”

“And if I were hitting on you,” he replied quietly. “You’d know it.”

Now that, Paige decided, was a come on. She smiled.

“Trey, stop and be serious for five minutes, huh?” his twin reprimanded.

“Do you want me to stop and then be serious or stop being serious?”

“Stop being you and try to be serious.”

“I can do that.” Trey closed his mouth, lowered his eyebrows and pursed his lips.

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

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Alphabet Challenge Too – Letter C from Conduct Unbecoming by Dellani

ABC ChallengeTired of constantly being on the defensive, Teague had intended to directly confront Quartermain and the others at the condo where they are staying. Nadeya discourages. She knows he can take Quartermain, but the other two are far more dangerous. She and Joel think baiting the bad guys is not only inappropriate, it’s dangerous. Still not liking it, Teague tells them he’s going for a walk on the beach.

Joel rose as his cousin walked by. “I’m going too.”

“I won’t do anything crazy!”

“Yeah, well I want to go for a walk too.”

Teague couldn’t think of a good argument against, so he agreed. They walked down the stairs, heading to the beach.

“He’s right down there,” Teague said with a groan. “Within reach!”

“No.”

“But he’s—”

“No! Dammit, Teague. Don’t make me drop you.”

“Like you even could,” was the disgusted reply.

Joel moved quickly, grabbing Teague’s arm. He tugged, spun and dropped, pulling Teague to his knees. Another move bought his cousin to the ground. Stunned, Teague lay on his belly. After a moment, he tapped out and Joel released him.

“You aren’t Superman,” Joel said.

“So, folks keep tellin’ me.” Teague rolled his head and shoulders rubbing his neck with a hand.

“Did I make my point?”

“Yeah. Shut up.”

Joel’s face fell, discouraged that Teague hadn’t really acknowledged his ability to take him down or taken his warning seriously. Teague noticed his cousin’s mute disappointment.

“I’m sorry. This gets to me. I don’t do waiting well.”

Joel clapped his hand on Teague’s shoulder. “Come on, I’ll buy you a beer.”

They went to the cabana by the pool. Taking stools, they ordered their beers and sipped them thoughtfully.

“We’re going at this sideways,” Joel mused. “You can’t go at them balls out with both barrels. They want that.”

“So, what do we do? I hate waiting. I waited on Mac and damn near got us both killed. They picked the time and place and were far stronger than I anticipated.”

“You didn’t know he was the enemy. This time, we know the players. We are at a home field advantage.”

“I’m not running away again. I won’t do that.”

“Not saying you should.”

“Then what?”

“Go home. Have a beer. Take your lady to bed.”

“That’s nothing.”

“Exactly.” Joel raised his beer at Teague.

“I don’t get it.”

“Do nothing. Go home. Relax. Let them come to you. No hiding, no running.” He shrugged. “Simple.”

Teague grinned. Taking Joel’s head in both hands, he planted a kiss on his cousin’s brow.

“You’re a genius.” Teague ruffled Joel’s hair.

“Been told that.” He rubbed at his head to smooth his waves back into submission.

“Let’s go home.”

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

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Alphabet Challenge Too – Letter B from Beach Babe by Dellani

ABC ChallengeFiona Cartwright has just been hired in an ensemble cast, for a show which is set, and filming, in Florida. The following is the opening scene of the book, where we are first introduced to her.

The yellow sun beat down on the sand. Sailboats drifted across the horizon, slipping along the surface of the ocean like leaves across glass. On the beach, bronzed, oiled bodies lay along the strand, cooking in the midday heat. My lush, thick blonde hair wafted on the warm summer wind—tangling around my ears and obscuring my vision. It might look sexy as hell to have three feet of hair, but it’s a pain in the ass. I shoved it out of my face, spitting and swearing.

“Cut! Lexi, what the hell?” Don, my director yelled at me from the shade of a huge umbrella. “We’ve been half the day on this damn shot. Just this shot, Lex!”

I said nothing, merely stood up, squaring my shoulders as he continued to screech. I’m almost six feet of woman. He’s tall, but comes across like a pipsqueak, because he’s skinny as a rail. I’m sick of the man, but I don’t control who sits behind the camera telling me what to do, or I wouldn’t be out here with all this damn hair!

“Someone fix her,” Don said, pointing at me.

The hair was really whipping around, lashing me like a whip. When your body is minimally covered in the skimpiest bikini ever, and you’ve got three feet of fake hair weave slapping you around the face, back and abdomen, it’s not the most fun.

“Lose the hair,” someone suggested. “She doesn’t need it. She’s hot and sexy enough without that mane. Her own hair is gorgeous.”

I couldn’t see who was speaking, but I was all for it. I didn’t offer my two cents. I’d only been working with Don the Dweeb for the last few days and already knew he’d do the opposite of what I wanted just because he could.

“We don’t have to reshoot,” the voice continued. “We’ve been in rehearsal all week. This is the first actual camera time. Give the girl a break, and get her out of that ridiculous weave.”

Don huffed angrily. “Do you think you could do the scene appropriately without the hair to distract you, Precious?” he directed at me.

I held my tongue, really wanting to cut into him, but this is my first big role. I’m not going to mess it up because the director is an egotistical prick.

“Yes, Don. I think that I can manage that.”

He gestured at me angrily.

The hair dresser came over, smiling. “Thank God,” she whispered. “Let’s get you in the trailer, Sugar,” she said with a smile.

“Thanks. This weighs a ton and I look like a Wookie—no offense to you, Shawna. It’s just a crazy amount of hair!”

“I know but himself liked this one. And I’m not offended, I didn’t make this monstrosity.”

I sat in the chair and she went to work, disconnecting the weave quickly and efficiently. It felt so good to get that extra weight off. And that doesn’t even factor in the heat index that mane produced. Shawna fluffed and styled my own hair, which is well below my shoulders, and declared I was perfect. She didn’t allow me to leave the trailer until I’d had something to drink and a chance to get out of the heat.

“He has no idea how long it will take.” She winked at me.

“Thank you.” I gave her a hug. “Would it kill him to get my name right, though?”

Lexi is the character’s name. My own name isn’t glamorous, but it’s easy enough to remember. Fiona. How hard is that? I suspect it’s his way of trying to keep me in character, but I also think he can’t be bothered to learn my name. I’m one of five key characters in this epic—and the only woman. The men are all devastatingly handsome, jacked and single. They are also slightly more famous than I am, so I’m the new kid and the only girl.

They’re eye candy, though. (Cue drool.) This takes place at the beach and they each take off their shirts at least once during the show. We’re sort of a low budget Baywatch, set in Florida, not California. They seem to think that beefcake will sell better than tits and ass—which is my role in the show.

Once I’d been rehydrated and cooled down a little, Shawna allowed me to go back outside. Don was pacing.

“How the hell long does it take to remove fake hair?” he bellowed.

“Nearly as long as it takes to put it on,” Shawna said, following me out. “Unless you want me to snatch the girl bald.”

“We could shave my head and make me a chemo patient,” I suggested very quietly.

“Shh, don’t give him the idea.”

“Let’s try it again, shall we? I’d like to get something on film today!” He waved his hands around. “Places, Lexi, if you will!”

“Fiona,” I corrected quietly.

“Excuse me?” Don raised his hand to his ear. “Did you say something?”

I waved, trudging over to my spot. Taking my mark, I loosened up a little, bending and stretching as I waited for Don to bellow out more instructions. Wolf whistles and cat calls accompanied my performance. Rather than risking another screaming session, I ignored them—my partners in crime, the men of the cast, were admiring my workout routine. For fun, and to loosen myself up a bit more, I did a silly dance with my back to them. Still on my mark, I fluffed my hair and wiggled my scantily clad ass in their direction.

“Whoot! Ooh, baby!” and various other comments accompanied my antics.

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

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The Choice is Made! Introducing Sidetracked ~ A Mystery by Dellani Oakes Part 1

Dellani Oakes

I got a bit more feedback this time. Thank you all who helped me out. Two books, Sidetracked and Alton & Velda got an equal number of votes, so I discussed it with my son, and decided to post Sidetracked this time. For those of you who wanted Alton & Velda, I will post it once this novel is done.

Sidetracked began as a challenge from author friend, Karen Vaughan. She encouraged me to try a cozy mystery. I didn’t expect it to be particularly easy, because cozy mysteries aren’t supposed to contain sex or bad language. (Well, there went that idea.) She suggested, as an alternative, I should simply write a mystery. I thought I could probably handle that, and I’ve been wanting to try one, so I set out on the first of November with a happy heart. By page 11, it turned a bit downbeat. By page…

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Alphabet Challenge Too – Letter A from Author of Love by Dellani

ABC ChallengeI had a lot of fun doing my ABC Challenge. It was, not to put too fine a point on it, challenging. I enjoyed it so much, I decided to do another one. This will be even trickier, because for the first one, I was able to reuse something I did years ago. We’ll see how this goes.

This time, I will present excerpts from my novels, both published and unpublished. I like finding good quotes and scenes from my books, to share with you. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do writing them.

The following scene is from my novel, Author of Love. It’s not published yet, but is on the agenda for sometime in this life.

Blake Arbuthnot is a photographer/ book cover designer/ book cover model. He’s on a trip from his home in Mississippi, to see the sights, and take pictures of, Florida. On his way to Miami, he witnesses an accident where a semi jackknifes and flips. The driver is killed. A young woman in the back, is injured. He’s allowed to ride with her to the hospital, where he meets her doctor.

The doors behind and to my left, opened. A doctor stood there, her scrub top mussed and sweaty. Blonde hair escaped under the edge of her surgical cap.

“Are you the guy waiting for news on the truck wreck girl?”

“Yes. Blake Arbuthnot.” I smiled, holding out my hand.

“Dr. Grace Healey.” She held out her hand, taking mine.

She was a pretty, little thing. Let me clarify, before anyone jumps on me for that sexist sounding remark. I’m a big guy, about six two. To me, anyone under five foot eight is a little thing. This woman was probably five four, tops. My hand circled hers, looking more like a bear paw than a hand. Tanned and well muscled, it was a stark contrast between it and her ivory colored one. She smiled up at me and I felt my heart flipflop. Then I noticed the wedding ring on a chain around her neck. My heart plummeted and the happy dance that had started in my pants, stuttered to a halt.

“How is she?” I was still holding her hand. She didn’t take it back, so I waited, suddenly feeling like a social inept. Then again, if I took my hand away…well, it was awkward.

“She’s doing as well as can be expected. She was pretty messed up.” She slowly took back her hand, gesturing to a chair. We sat side by side in the waiting room. “Did you know her at all?”

“No. Never met her. Just saw the wreck and stopped. I didn’t even know she was in there until they pulled her out. Why?”

She glanced at Rose and decided it was safe to talk in front of the older woman. “We think she’s been—assaulted. We aren’t a hundred percent sure, but I did a rape kit just to be safe.”

“How can you not be sure? Isn’t there—evidence?” I shuddered. The idea that pretty, little girl had been violated, was repugnant to me. Men that rape are the lowest of scum and should die horribly. If it was the guy in the truck, he had paid for his sin.

“There were some indications. She was pretty banged up by the wreck. Doesn’t look like she was wearing a seat belt. We think she might have been asleep, or unconscious, in the back. Being that relaxed probably saved her life.”

“Poor kid. I don’t know what help I can be, but I’d sure like to see her when she’s able to have visitors.”

“Are you from here?”

“No. I’m from Natchez, Mississippi.” It’s not exactly Natchez, but as close as may be. I saw no reason to belabor the point. People have heard of Natchez, nobody’s heard of Miracle.

“I knew you didn’t sound like a Florida boy.”

“No, ma’am.” My Southern comes out when I flirt, too. I winked at her. Married or not, she’d just saved that girl’s life. And she was pretty—damn pretty. “You from around here?”

“No, California. We moved here a few years ago.”

She and her husband. Damn.

“Anyway, if you’ll leave your number with Rose, I’ll make sure you’re informed when she’s awake and able to have visitors. I need to get cleaned up. Sorry. I wanted to give you the information as soon as possible.”

“Not a problem. I’ve worked as a first responder for five years. I’ve seen worse.”

“I’ll bet you have. Thanks for your concern, Mr. Arbuthnot.” She held out her hand again.

I shook it, admiring the strength in those small, long fingered hands.

“And thank you, Doctor Healey.” I kissed her hand.

She blushed, smiling at me. Her eyes were an amazing shade of blue and twinkled. How I wished she wasn’t married. Ah well, the beautiful ones get snatched up first. She made to rise and I jumped to my feet, helping her up. Slowly letting go my hand, she headed back to the ER.

Rose watched all this with a smile and raised eyebrows. “Well, I’ll be!”

I frowned, tilting my head in question.

“I haven’t seen Grace smile in a coon’s age. Poor girl. Her husband was killed in an accident a few years ago.” She shook her head, red waves hardly moving, but her dangling earrings did quite a dance by her large, square face.

Not married? Hmmm….

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

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And Finally—Z by Dellani

ABC ChallengeI thought of this story when I was driving down State Road 44 into New Smyrna. The traffic is horrible at certain times of day, particularly in the summer. I can’t remember now why I was there, rather than taking I-95. There had to have been a good reason for it, because it’s usually a drive I avoid. In any case, this story, Driving Blind, was born as I languished in traffic.

It had been an indescribably horrible day. Zenobia drove with the top down, listening to Battle Without Honor or Humanity at full volume. Her red VW Beetle zipped along Interstate 95, her sun-streaked blonde hair billowing behind her like a standard.

She pulled off at the New Smyrna, eastbound exit, slowing way down for the sharp curve. Checking traffic, she eased her VW into the flow heading toward town. At the stoplight on the east side of I-95, she slowed as the light changed to yellow. She could have driven through, but there was a motorcycle cop three cars behind her on the left. She turned down her music and waited for the light to change. The left turners eased across State Road 44 and the police officer on the motorcycle pulled up next to her.

Zenobia risked a glance at him. She couldn’t see much because of the helmet and glasses, but she saw a strong chin, broad shoulders and tanned arms covered in silky black hair. She smiled and looked away when he turned toward her. The light changed and she carefully put the car in gear, moving forward slowly in the heavy traffic.

As luck would have it, the next light was also red. Slightly frustrated, Zenobia checked the traffic to see how badly it was backed up. Another look out the front window showed the cars were thick ahead as well as to the rear. The police officer was a car behind her, but eased up once more, crowding the SUV ahead of him. The driver peeped over her shoulder guiltily, but the officer did nothing.

Zenobia felt eyes on her and looked around to see the officer staring at her. She smiled again, nervously, and flipped her hair to cover her face. A furtive glance in her rearview mirror showed the officer staring at her, smirking. He had full lips and a hint of a five o’clock shadow. Of course, with hair that dark, he probably had a shadow right after he shaved. What little she could see of his hair was so black, it had a bluish cast to it.

The light changed and the car behind Zenobia honked. Flustered, she forgot to put her car in gear. Scrabbling around, she put it in first, took her foot off the clutch but not the brake and the car stalled. More honking followed. Mortified, she got the car started, put it in gear and jack-rabbited through the intersection as the light changed to red.

Flashing blue lights and a whoop of a siren warned her to pull over. There was an abandoned driveway from a long defunct business. Zenobia rolled over there, turning off her car. She pulled out her license and registration, ready for the officer. He was busy on the radio, calling in her humiliation and probably checking to see if she had any priors or outstanding warrants. Thankfully, her driving slate was clean. She lived a steady, boring life. At 29, she lived with her parents, putting her advanced computer degree to less than great use working on the Geek Squad at Best Buy. Far from ideal, her circumstances couldn’t be helped. She’d had a lot of difficulty finding a good paying job in her field that was also close to home.

Feeling an overwhelming desire to cry, Zenobia put her head on the steering wheel. “This is the worst day ever!” she sobbed into her lap. She forced the tears down, but couldn’t keep her shoulders from shuddering.

The clearing of a deep, male voice got her attention. She looked up in the the darkest brown eyes she’d ever seen. Black eyebrows arched over thickly lashed eyes. His nose was almost too big for his face, but he made up for it by having a square jaw and a cleft in his chin. He smiled down at her.

Zenobia handed her license and registration to him. He gave them a cursory look, jotted something down on a pad with his left hand and gave them back to her.

I’m sorry about the mess back there,” she apologized quietly. “I’m still getting used to standard.”

No big thing,” he replied. His voice was deep, husky and flavored with a true Southern accent.

Are you gonna write me a ticket?” Her voice cracked making her feel even more foolish.

You okay?” He frowned, taking a step closer.

Unable to control herself another second, she burst into tears. “I’m sorry. I’m not trying to get out of the ticket by crying,” she sobbed. “I just don’t know what I did wrong and I can’t afford a ticket and I’ve had the worst day ever!”

Rather than being sympathetic, he laughed. Zenobia glared at him. He laughed harder.

I’m sorry,” he gasped. “I’m not laughing at you—well, I am—but not because you’re crying. I pulled you over to make sure you aren’t having car trouble. You had such a problem at the light, I thought maybe your engine stalled. I wanted to get you out of traffic.”

You—you aren’t giving me a ticket?”

No. No.” He chuckled again. “I’m really sorry, Miss Vlachos. I didn’t mean to scare you.”

Zenobia squinted up at him, surprise replacing worry. “You pronounced it right. No one ever gets it right.”

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

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Y Do I Bother? by Dellani

ABC ChallengeThere’s an invisible spot beside my sink where dirty dishes go to hide. Really clever dishes can hang out there 3 or 4 days without being detected. It’s a great hiding place for greasy pots and tomato sauce encrusted spoons, dirty plates and disgusting forks.

The most interesting thing about this invisible spot is that I’m the only one in the house who can see into it. The dirty dishes cannot hide from me. The men in my family—well, that’s an entirely different ballgame. It’s completely hidden from them. Anything to the left of the sink—at the edge of the metal lip, can’t be seen by male eyes. Something about that Y chromosome, I’m sure.

I’ve found that the Y chromosome also seems to make them incapable of changing out toilet paper rolls, voluntarily emptying trash cans or putting new bags in when they’re done. It makes them deaf to the sound of my voice too.

That Y chromosome’s a pesky bugger who really likes to get under my skin. It makes my youngest son stare at me wide eyed, wondering why I’m yelling at him for riding his bike all over town without permission.

It makes my husband say things like, “You got your hair cut? It’s going to take some getting used to.”

My middle son simply doesn’t hear me. I can say the same thing to him sixteen times and not get a response. “Why didn’t you tell me dinner was ready?” “I told you already.” “I didn’t hear you…..”

All of them, without fail, put things away in the wrong places in my kitchen. It’s got to be a Y chromosome problem. No woman in her right (or wrong) mind would put things where they do. I’m missing several things right now. Got no clue what they did with them. Mr. Y also makes them forgetful.

“Who put the potato peeler with the measuring spoons?”

“Wasn’t me,” my husband declares before I even finish speaking.

“I didn’t do it. I know where those go,” the youngest says.

“I didn’t put those up,” the middle one tells me. “Must have been Dad.”

Sometimes, based on where things are put, I can tell who did it. Each of them has a favorite wrong place for things. The measuring spoons are mixed with the peelers (husband). The ice cream scoop is put in the knife drawer (middle son). The metal bowls aren’t properly stacked (youngest).

It’s getting so bad that it takes me twice as long to fix a meal because I’m having to search for food items or kitchen tools as I go. I neaten the bowls only to have the plastic containers fall out of the cabinet at my feet. My spoons & forks are mixed up, spatulas & rubber scrapers are stuck in the wrong drawers.

Since my eldest son and his girlfriend have been living here the last year or so, the Y factor is even stronger—so much so, it even affects us two women from time to time.

The sink isn’t the only area where things can hide. Other places also harbor the occasional invisibility vortex. One day, my plastic wrap went missing and was gone for quite awhile. I finally asked the household at large where it was.

“Where is my plastic wrap?”

Blank stares.

“It’s red and has a baby on the outside of the box.”

More blank stares and not a word spoken.

I knew exactly where the box is. I’d located it in the garage where one of them left it. I just wanted to see if they’d own up to it or at the very least, bring it back inside. I bought another one, complaining loudly about the loss of the first one. It’s probably still out there.

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

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The X-Factor by Dellani

ABC ChallengeI’m always looking for ways to expand my vocabulary and this X Challenge gave me a good reason to go looking for new words. I don’t know a lot of X words, apart from Xylophone, X-Ray and Xanadu. Xenon and Xenophobic also are ensconced in my vocabulary. However, I wanted to expand upon that, so I went to Collins Dictionary and did a little excavating.

I recently watched a silly show on Netflix. One of the characters was named Xanthippe. I found it interesting to read that Xanthippe was the name of Socrates’ sharp tongued, spiteful, harping wife. They writers had obviously chosen this name for a reason, because the character was all of that and more.

I discovered, in my explorations, that xylophagous is an adjective pertaining to certain insects, crustaceans, etc feeding on or living within wood. With xylo as the root of the word, I wasn’t particularly surprised to find that xylobalsamum is the name of the dried, fragrant wood of the Balsamodendron gileadense that produces resin known as Balm of Gilead. And just as logical that xoanon is the name of a primitive image of a god, carved, especially originally, in wood, and supposed to have fallen from heaven.

If that weren’t enough, the x-factor, a noun (informal) an unknown or unexplained element that makes something more interesting or valuable, the excellent apogee of this exciting article, we come to the last X entry in the Collins Dictionary. I didn’t know that a xyster is a surgical instrument for scraping bone; surgical rasp or file. To be honest, I never thought about it having a name. I’m not surprised such an instrument exists, as I’m sure it’s extremely important.

I believe I’ve had enough of X today. Perhaps another time I’ll be more interested in extolling the excellent exigencies of X, but until then I’ll relax, enhance my Xi and plan my trip to Xochimilco noun a town in central Mexico, on Lake Xochimilco: noted for its floating gardens. Pop: 364 647 (2000).

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

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What Happened to the Cat? by Dellani

ABC ChallengeMy husband is a detail oriented person. As a medical professional, he has to be. It amazes me, however, what details his analytical, scientific mind will latch onto when he reads my novels. He’ll read the entire story and start demanding clarification. Some of it I’ve thought of, other things I make up, glad of my improv experience, because I honestly hadn’t thought of it.

It’s not unusual for me to make up some BS answer out of thin air just to get him to quit asking. Sometimes, if the subject really interests him, he’ll expand on it to the point where I’d pay real money just to get him to shut up.

Often, these sessions are helpful, clarifying those nebulous ideas that I hadn’t fully considered. A typical exchange:

“Have you thought about insert random weird concept?” he asks me.

“The readers don’t need to know that,” I reply, somewhat miffed.

“But it’s interesting. You could….”

“Yes, maybe, but why? It’s not the least bit important. Why do you do that?”

“Do what?”

“Ask about the most unimportant elements?”

“I don’t do that. Now, what about…?”

He’s gradually learning not to ask what I’m working on, because ninety percent of the time it’s something I haven’t told him about. I shuffle projects and might work on a dozen different stories in a week. I love the fact that he’s interested, but I don’t always want to stop what I’m doing and explain what the book is about.

Once, in a weak moment, I told him about one of my unpublished novels where the psychotic ex-wife of the hero breaks into the heroine’s apartment, shaves her cat and duct tapes it to the hood of his car. Yes, it’s messed up, but the neighbors find the cat a short time later, call the police and take the cat to the vet. I mention in passing that the cat is at the vet’s and he’s fine. I read the passage to him, pleased with how well it came together.

NEW AT LOVE

“Someone broke into your place, Mandy.”

“My – what?”

Pale and shaking, she leaned against Derrick for support. He and Jasper helped her sit on the bench just inside the entry way.

“Why? What did they do in there?”

“They took your cat,” Jasper said quietly.

“What? Muse? Where is he? Is he okay?”

“Yeah. He’s okay. We sent him to the vet. Someone shaved him and taped him to the hood of Derrick’s car.”

“My car? Why the hell would they do that?”

“I was hoping you could tell me.”

Apparently, there wasn’t enough information for my husband. “What happened to the cat?” He asked when I got to the end of my explanation.

“What? Which cat?”

“Amanda’s cat, Muse. What happened to him?”

“He’s at the vet’s. I said that. He’s fine.”

“But you don’t mention him again.”

“So? You don’t even like cats. Why are you worried about the cat?”

“I was curious.”

“Forget the cat. He’s fine!”

“Whatever you say, baby.” There’s a long pause, to the point where I’m busy again and have forgotten about the conversation. “You really need to clear that up.”

“Clear what up?”

“The part about the cat….”

The point I’m making is that little details, things we forget about or think are inconsequential, can bother our readers if left unresolved. My husband, who positively loathes cats, was worried about Muse to the point that it detracted from the climax of the story. So I gave him a little more to help satisfy him

When Amanda opened the cat carrier door, Muse came out. He looked hopelessly thin in his shaven state, but rubbed against Derrick as happily as ever. Amanda looked inside the carrier.

“Where’s your friend?” she asked Muse.

The cat, as if he understood her, went to his carrier, nosing at the door, mewing softly. An answering mew came from inside the carrier.

“He made a friend at the vet’s. They were both traumatized and the little one latched onto Muse. He comforted her, wasn’t that sweet?”

She reached into the carrier, gently pulling out a small, scrawny white cat with blue eyes.

“She’s beautiful, Amanda. What did you name her?”

“Aphrodite. I couldn’t resist.”

Muse hopped into Derrick’s lap as he lounged on the couch with Amanda snuggled next to him. Aphrodite leaped prettily into her lap, turned three times and settled into a comfortable mound of white fur.

I’m not suggesting that every reader is quite so easily misdirected as my husband, but some are. Those are the people we have to satisfy by tying up the loose ends. Make sure the subplots are resolved. Give enough of an explanation that it sticks with the reader. Keep distractions to a minimum so that the thread of the story isn’t lost along the way. A few moments spent on housekeeping will prevent the inevitable question: “What happened to the cat?”

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

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