I fell in love with fiction long before I started writing.
My mother and I would make a weekly trip to the Sun Valley Library and come back with stacks of books. I always had Nancy Drew or Trixie Belden books, because I liked the idea of solving mysteries, but I ventured into Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov with the discovery of Star Trek.
I started writing fiction when I was eight years old, inspired by a friend who was writing a school play. My stories were wanted I wanted to see in books: people like me–girls–having adventures. That’s in my stories today: women having adventures.
Maybe even solving a mystery.
Private First Class Linda Maye Adams, U.S. Army
And I’ve had adventures of my own. I enlisted in the Army and ended up going to war. Story adventures are much more fun!
I just follow the front of the story like an explorer and see where it takes me.
Contact me at LindaAdams900 AT outlook dot com.
This week’s book sale was the big one at the library. They have one in October and another in April.
The sale itself is located on a floor in the garage. It’s a permanent fixture in the garage, but closed off behind a gate except when there’s a sale. The sale was advertised as having 75,000 books!
- Close to Shore: A True Story of Terror in an Age of Innocence (it’s about shark attacks)
- Drilling Through Time: 75 Years with California’s Division of Oil and Gas
- Espionage: The Greatest Spy Operations of the 20th Century
- The Island of the Colorblind (about a place where everyone is colorblind)
- The Man Behind the Magic: The Story of Walt Disney
- Law and Order: The Unofficial Companion
- Looking for a Ship: U.S. Merchant Marine
- My Secret Life as a CIA assassin
- The Raging Sea: The Powerful Account of the Worst Tsunami in U.S. History
- Shirley Jones: A Memoir
- Star Trek Memories
- Star Trek Movie Memories
I had to be creative about where to look for these books. Military was where I found the spy books, though I don’t think they have anything to do with military. I found the California one in the science section. Plot showed up in the Performing Arts.
The one that caught my attention the most was the Law and Order book. It’s just got the first 10 seasons of the show. But in scanning through it, the book made me realize why I like the show. It’s a lot like Star Trek, and also The Orville It presents stories that don’t always have easy answers, and often have a lot of differing opinions. It’s entertaining and makes you think a little.
The Washington DC weather is doing what it’s famous for: Hot, hot, cool, hot, hot, cold! I have no heat yet, and it’s freezing! We got frost last night.
If you’re not using these, they’re a cool discovery. One link, and it goes to a page where all the places your book is sold are listed. So much better than trying to track down different links!
Some different comments from readers. I’ll put down a book because it simply doesn’t grab me for reasons I can’t explain. But I’ve also put down a book for too much dialect, which makes it hard to read; too much profanity (as in multiple ones in a few pages), because it signals a taste level I’m not going to like; and anything that happens to annoy me. Reading is always very personal.
I ran across this book purely by accident, but it talked about data analytics (what I do at work), so I got it. I was hooked by the chapter on keywords. I’m terrible at keywords, so I was trying out something new to see what results will be.
After Randy left to try to talk to his father. Nikki walked back to the house to get her car. The sun sparkled at her, as if pleased she was walking out in it. But it didn’t lighten the fear that settled in her belly.
Randy had been frightened, too. And he’d admitted he hadn’t been honest with her. Once he’d done that, she’d seen the lie in his words that he had spoken…something he hadn’t told her. She had wanted to call him out on the lies, but she didn’t want to dynamite bridges that she might need later.
So she followed along the line of the great houses, her ankle boots clicking on the sidewalk. She paused in front of each house, giving it a lingering look.
Trying to feel the music.
She reached for each house, imagining that she was putting her hands on the brick walls.
No music. Only the wind as it ruffled fingers through the oak leaves high above.
She ran her hands through her hair, trembling. She wanted to think it was how far away she was from the houses, but a stench came to her…like a black hole rotting away.
The thought made her quicken her pace. She did not want that to happen to her house.
Yes, her house.
Almost as if she’d been telepathically transmitting her thoughts, a horn beeped right on the end of that thought. She turned, shading her eyes.
Brian. In his big Ford Bronco. The engine grumbled as he pulled up next to her. The passenger window rolled down.
He leaned across the seat, giving her that golden smile of his. He was wearing sunglasses, so she couldn’t see his eyes.
“I was wondering what became of you,” he said. “Why are you walking?”
If she’d been two, she would have reluctantly dragged her blanket behind her. She sighed and walked to the open window. He had the air conditioning on high and one of his remixes playing. A child’s voice cried with wonder, sliding into a man’s voice.
“I just came back from lunch,” she said.
“You should have called. I would have gone with you.”
She would have normally done that. It amazed her that she hadn’t even thought of that.
She rested her elbows on the bottom of the window frame, the weariness of the day suddenly hitting her. She did not want to deal with this. She wished she could find a hole and hide from the rest of the day.
“What do you want, Bryan?” she asked.
“C’mon.” He reached across to stroke her left hand. “I just wanted to be with you.”
That was a lie. One that hurt.
She reminded herself not to burn this bridge either.
“I wish you’d called,” she said. “It’s hard for me walking around my family’s house.”
He squeezed her hand, all smiles. His cheerfulness actually hurt because it was so plastic.
Nikki withdrew her hand, trying to make it look like she was only shifting position. “Please. Don’t go in fix-it mode, Brian. Sometimes things don’t always need to be fixed.”
He pushed his sunglasses down on his nose, looking at her over them. “Then why are you hanging onto the house for so long if it’s making you sad?”
The question scratched at her anger.
“I’ve been here exactly two days. That is not a long time. What the hell are you up to?” She slammed her hands on the window sill. It stung her palms and she didn’t care. “Which one of my family told you to get me to sell the house? What story did they tell you?”
So much for this bridge. But it had Brian squirming.
He pushed his sunglasses back up to hide his eyes. “They just want to help.”
“No, they don’t,” Nikki said. “That’s just what they’re telling you.”
A man in Bermuda shorts and a Dodgers t-shirt approached on the sidewalk. Nikki fell silent, waiting until he passed.
Then she caught of whiff of peppermint mingled with cigarette smoke. It awakened a memory in her.
Of the last time she’d been in the house as a child.
Nikki leaned into the window again. “Brian, make up your mind which side you’re on. Right now, I don’t know if I can trust you anymore.”
Randy and Nikki didn’t say anything as they walked into town with Molly bouncing along eagerly at the end of the leash. The dog stopped to provide an obligatory bark, once at another dog across the street and also at a bicyclist who whizzed past.
Nikki looked shaken by her encounter with the music of the house. Randy had heard it himself, which surprised him. He hoped that wasn’t a bad sign.
He wanted to take her hand and just hold it. But that would complicate things for her, especially with what he was going to have to tell her.
They stopped for lunch at a Thai restaurant on the main street of town. It was a small restaurant with an outdoor eating area fenced off with an iron fence. Molly sat outside the fence by one of the dog water dishes, sitting, her eyes intent on the tables above. She had the attention span of a gnat, except when there was food. Her attention then rivaled a virtuoso.
“You’d think no one ever feeds her,” Nikki said. It was half-hearted; her mouth was tight.
“If I fed her every time she asks, she’d look like one of those Goodyear blimps,” Randy said.
Nikki didn’t smile. Yup. Right.
Randy fiddled with his napkin-wrapped silverware. He felt like there was an elephant sitting between them.
“You know something,” she said.
The server brought their food and set down the two plates and bowls of rice. Nikki’s plate was unexpectedly pretty—white soup with a basil sprig in the center. Coconut milk wafted up. She dipped her spoon in, tasting it cautiously, since sometimes even the mildest Thai food was spicy. It was wonderfully creamy and only a little heat.
Randy scooped up rice and used it to soak up the liquid of his curry. He knew to stay mild with this restaurant. Even that was almost too spicy.
“Yes, I do,” he said. “If I’d told you before, you’d have thought I was crazy. Or worse.”
He glanced away. “I don’t want you to be angry with me, and I don’t see any way you won’t.”
“What was that I felt…that music?” she asked.
“Something the house is supposed to be. I don’t know that much. There was a feud between my family and yours, and no one wants to talk about anything.”
“What was the feud over?”
Randy shrugged. He stirred his curry, watching the green soup swirl. “I don’t know. I’m not even sure anyone else in the family knows any more. They just remember the anger. Father didn’t even want me talking to you. But the Southworths built the house—houses—for the Chandlers and the other families.”
Below him, Molly swept the sidewalk with an eager tail.
“There were originally seven houses,” he said. “Yours is the only one left that’s remained in the family. People haven’t respected the history of the others houses. They’ve remodeled, tore things out.”
“Broke the music?” she said.
He nodded. “Like cutting a thread.”
A baby two tables down screeched and threw a piece of food. It landed on the other side of the fence. Molly launched at it. Randy caught at the leash and pulled it taut.
“No, you don’t,” he told her, a stern finger extended. “We don’t even know what that is.”
Molly looked up at him, button eyes all innocence.
“But how does it work?” Nikki asked. “What does it have to do with—” She broke off, glancing at the family with the baby. “With what’s in the room? It does have something to do with it, right?”
That’s where Randy’s knowledge went askew. He remembered watching the house being built, the masons laying their stone. He’d felt the music riding the air, growing stronger with each stone and the ring of the tools. Father had told him this was a special place, destined for special things, for a special family.
He’d been too little to understand it. Special sounded so very important, and he remembered the Chandler men strutting impressively in their suits. And Adelia, who he had been charmed with (and truthfully had a crush on). She’d always smelled like music, if it had a smell.
All he could do was shake his head. “I don’t know. I heard people talking about the room, but they didn’t know I was listening. They called it a portal room, to place of gold and music.”
I went to my second book sale of the month this weekend. This was a fluke that I discovered this one…it wasn’t at a library.
It was at the State Department!
Yes, that State Department.
I actually didn’t expect to find much. As a result of my research class, I’m looking for used books to build my research library. My topics are:
- Hollywood (40s and 50s)
- the sea
- Science Fiction
Given that the books were donated by state department employees, I expected a lot of politics. But who knows?
So hoofed it down on Metro with a backpack to carry my books. Little did I realize how much of a challenge my trek was going to be. The site said the sale was near the Foggy Bottom metro stop.
I had show my ID to get into the building and passed by at least six police officers to get to the sale inside. It was a pretty building for a government building, and there were historic pictures of diplomats up on the walls. Also a very cool statue outside of a man with a globe.
The sale was in a large room with an extension of a tent off the room. Just tables with the books on top of it. I had to look pretty carefully in different categories to find books. Three was a section for the Hollywood type books, but I find all of the ones I bought in other areas.
I accumulated a small stack of about six of the books and one of the volunteers came over to put the books into a book check for me. After a few minutes, the book check lady came over and asked me where I had found the spy books (2&3). She thought they were great titles.
I accumulated more books, and by now I was hoping I could actually get them back to the Foggy Bottom Metro. I ended up with two bags of books (we do not discuss how much I paid; I wished I’d checked the price on one book. I would have passed on it as too much!).
Book check person commented that I had a lot of books.
Check out person commented that I had a lot of books.
Bag check person commented that I had a lot of books. I did ask her if everyone was just buying only a few. I’ve seen people at the county library sale get boxes of books. She said I was the biggest buyer of the day.
I packed most of the books in my backpack and carried the partially full second back.
Guard #1-5 commented that I had a lot of books.
It was a baker’s dozen:
- The Final Dive: The Life and Death of Buster Crabb
- The Encyclopedia of World War II Spies
- The Catcher was a Spy: The Mysterious Life of Moe Berg
- The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea
- Rock Hudson: His Story
- Black Holes: A Traveler’s Guide
- The Ice Master: The Doomed 1913 Voyage of the Karluk
- The Edge of the Sea
- In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whale Ship Essex (this was the higher priced book)
- You Must Remember this: Life and Style in Hollywood’s Golden Age
- The Untold Story of Getting from Here to There: Time and Navigation
- Exploring the Deep Blue Frontier
Uphill back to Foggy Bottom Metro. Just in time to catch a train! Yay! I think I had my exercise for the day. Now to figure out what to do with my books…
And then there’s another library sale locally next week.
Wow. This talks about the new way companies manipulate writers into writing for free. It used to be for exposure because it was hard to get. Now the tune has changed.
A pair of articles on writing women characters. I grew up wanting to see girls have a role in their own adventures besides being rescued. I know that women aren’t as strong as men, but there’s a difference between sitting around waiting for help and doing something…anything.
We don’t see this as much today, but during the 1960s, TV shows had be reviewed by the studios for offensive material. The studios were very nervous about the navels of women, how clothes fit women, and even a woman being seen in bed with her husband (this is why couples slept in separate beds in their bedrooms). Somehow showing what the rest of the world was doing was off limits.
Well worth looking at the video at the bottom of the article. It’s an in-depth look at how the dress was made, and the impact on our culture and our memories of Marilyn Monroe. My mother always liked Marilyn Monroe, so she has a special place for me (and my mother was also named Marilyn).
Nikki made sure that the front door was locked, and and then she and Randy circled around to the back of the house to check those doors. One of the neighbors must have been keeping the lawn trimmed. The grass was vigorously growing in the humid air, but not overgrown.
A door on the side of the house opened out on a landing nearly four feet off the ground—for carriages. Another door was inside a screen-enclosed porch on the backside of the house.
Nikki had to step carefully up the four steps to the porch. The screen door stuck a moment, then popped open with a loud screech.
“Some oil on the hinges will take care of that,” Randy said.
The porch was pretty, the kind of place where you’d come out on a summer day with lemonade and just sit. There was a small table with a pair of wooden folding chairs parked by them. Like everything else, it was covered with a layer of dust.
“I can bring a hose,” Randy said. “We can wash off everything. Screens need it, too.”
“You don’t need to try to fix everything.” Nikki pulled out the plastic chair nearest the wall and sat. She was already dusty and more dust wouldn’t matter.
“What can I do?”
Nikki shook her head. She felt lost. That was the only way she could describe it. She had something on the second floor she could not explain. Her family had kept secrets from her. Even her boyfriend seemed to be in on the secret.
And a sense of urgency pushed at her.
Nikki stared at the brick wall of the house. Real brick. Not a façade like today’s houses. Masons had laid each brick out, all the way up. She leaned forward, resting her hand on the wall, as if she could contact the people from long gone.
“What aren’t you telling me?” she murmured.
The mortar blurred. She blinked, rubbing at her eyes. But it was only the mortar blurring, not the brick.
She drew back her hand. Her fingertips were tingling. Faintly, as if she were underwater, she heard music playing. Like a harp, except that there were gaps that made the music stutter.
The gaps bothered her. They were wrong somehow. She dropped down further into herself, hardly aware of the porch, or Randy. The music caught her in its current, swirled around her. The gaps were icy, like the iciness in the room above. There were brighter spots, but the notes struggled to be heard.
They were dying.
Randy thought he would have run right out, back into the sunlight, and scooped Molly up, holding her close.
Instead, he followed Nikki through the house. She was like the cat on her shirt, coming back from the veternarian, and going from room to room. She went all the way up into the attic itself which stretched the length of the house and smelled like bats. She went into each room, making a circuit before exiting.
She got back down to the first floor, stopped at the piano. She hesitated, her fingers reaching for one of the broken keys, then she snatched her hand back.
Randy watched her, wishing he knew what to do. “What are you looking for?”
And she was looking. He was certain of that.
She started pacing. The plank floor squeaked and sputtered under her feet.
“I don’t know,” she said. “That…light show…felt like it was supposed to be in there. But it felt wrong, too.”
“Did you ever go into that room before?” he asked.
“That was the room I always stayed in,” she said. “My aunts told me that there were friendly ghosts in that room. I thought it was just a story…now I don’t know.”
Randy stuck his hands in his pants’ pockets, mainly to have something to do with them. He hated lying to her, but he was starting to understand how little he did know. That feud between the families had shut off all sources of information. Most of what he did know was secondhand and he wasn’t sure if any of it was true or just a fanciful notion. It wouldn’t be beyond Father to make stories up to scare off curious family members.
But he’d never heard stories about ghosts.
“What did they tell you?” he asked. “About the ghosts, I mean?”
Nikki’s pacing slowed, and it seemed like with the clear thought, she was calming down. Color filled her face again, brightening it up.
“They said the ghosts might come out if anyone played the piano. I remember the first time I banged on those keys. Aunt Rose was horrified and chased me away.”
Randy wanted to ask her if she’d seen any ghosts, or anything come out of the area where the opening was. But what came out was a different question entirely, and he had no idea where it came from.
“Why did your family stop visiting here?” he said.
Her fingers twisted into a knot. “I don’t know. We came here every summer for years. Then one year—I think I was eleven or twelve—we just didn’t. And we never came back. I asked—I think my mother said we just couldn’t afford to go and maybe later, only that never happened. Everyone stopped, even my cousins.”
“The adults knew something. That would explain why everyone wants you to sell the house.”
“So I don’t find out now?”
“Because whatever it was, it frightened them. And still does. Are you frightened?”
He didn’t add ‘enough to leave and never return,’ but it was a sour taste in the back of his throat. He didn’t want her to leave.
“Yes,” she said. “Of what’s in that room. We can’t go out and call someone to fix it. We’ll end up with scientists or military here trying to figure out how to experiment with it.”
The sour taste turned bitter. “They’d make it worse.”
Nikki nodded. “And we don’t even know what worse is.”
The hardwood planks creaked as Nikki climbed the stairs. It hurt her so much seeing them so dirty. She’d grown up in a house without any stairs, so finding them in a house was awesome and these had been a golden brown that shone.
Randy followed behind her. She was glad that he hadn’t brought up the question about selling the house, though she was sure he wanted to ask.
“What do you remember about being here?” Randy asked.
They emerged at the top of the stairs into a hallway that ran the length of the house. Rooms spouted off the hallway like tree branches. Bedrooms were on the left, and a full bathroom on the right. The hallway ended at a screened off porch that would be closed during winter. She stayed there on the summer visits, in the cooling night air.
“Thinking that this house should have a ghost,” Nikki answered. “I’d look at the outside, at the tower, and fancy that I could see a ghost in the window, waiting. My aunts never let me in that room. I didn’t know why.”
“Do you want to have a look?”
Nikki gave him a big grin. “Yes!”
To the front of the house, the hallway led through a pair of doors with grimy stained glass showing a peacocks, feathers spread in an elegant fan as they bowed. The doors led to a landing with another stairway, and two additional rooms. Her aunts hadn’t stayed in either of these rooms, which mystified Nikki. Both rooms would have overlooked the street and the beautiful view.
The tower room was on the right, the door closed, forbidding. She tried the door knob–actually, she just touched it. The door opened like it had been waiting for her.
The room smelled of being closed up for too long…and something else. She hesitated in the doorway, not sure what she was feeling. It was faint, like electricity in the air as a thunderstorm approached. Maybe one was coming?
This had been a woman’s bedroom once. Except for the dust, it looked like the original owner could walk right in here and go to bed. A large four poster bed was against the far wall, giving a good view of the two windows looking out over the street. The fireplace had an elegant, hand-carved mantle with more wood then she had ever seen. She had to restrain herself from opening the glass doors to a bookcase and inspecting the volumes, afraid they might be fragile. But she did open the dresser drawers.
Emptied, long ago.
She opened a door at the end of the room, thinking it went to a closet and expecting it to be large like the room. It was a pantry. Shelves lined the upper half of one wall, cupboards below.
“A pantry in the bedroom?” She glanced back at Randy, not expecting an answer.
He chuckled. “The woman of the house would have kept on the valuables. Spices, coffee, sugar.”
“But where are the closets?” Nikki wondered what she would have done if she had no place to hang up her dressed and blouses.
“They didn’t build houses with them. The government could have counted the closets as extra rooms and taxed the owners for it.”
“Really? A closet’s not a room you could do anything but store clothes.”
Randy snorted. “You should see where—some of the classrooms of the era. Our modern closets are bigger.”
The pantry had a door that opened out into the next room. A pale yellow glow came from under the door. Sunlight?
Her fingers closed around the doorknob. It was warm, but not uncomfortably so, like it had been in the rising sunlight. A vibration tingled her palm.
Hinges creaked as she opened the door. It caught on a rug, dragging, then popped open. Another bedroom. Near the great fireplace was the strangest thing Nikki had ever seen. An irregular oval shape hovered in the air, a patchwork quilt of yellows, oranges, red, and black.
A gasp came from behind her. Randy had come in through the pantry, staring at the oval, his mouth gaping open.
“Don’t touch it,” Randy said, his voice thinning out. He was frightened.
Nikki supposed she should be frightened too. Yet, she was drawn to the portal. She wasn’t sure if it was just natural curiosity or if the portal was calling to her. She moved closer, though cautiously, circling around it. Two feet away, she could feel both warmth and icy cold streaming from, it like two winds mingling. Smelled like water and grass.
Behind the oval, the room was ice cold. Her breath came out in wispy fog. The oval did not look the same from this side. There was more of the red, like paint being swirled around. It was mesmerizing to look at—
Suddenly she fell backwards, landing on Randy.
“You almost walked right into it!” he blurted.
She sat up, shivering and stared at the oval. The chill she felt like had nothing to do with the air in the room.
As always, there’s a writing bundle in time for Nano. I always like these bundles because the quality is pretty high.
Women in the Military Service for America Memorial Foundation
Women were recruited into the WACs because of a shortage of men. They were initially on civilian status, but were later given military status. The article gives some descriptions of the training, including how the clothes (didn’t) fit, and what it was like to be deployed. Some things do not change, no matter the time in history!
June Rivers on Little Things
The first movie I remember seeing is Dick Van Dyke’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (which I named a kitten after). And, of course, the walnut episode of the Dick Van Dyke Show (if you haven’t seen that one, it has aliens from outer space). This link is worth it for the video. I’d like to be like that at 90!
Arlington County, Virginia
George Washington’s Forest
I’ve walked around all these places. Had no idea about the mill–and I’ve walked under that bridge (though it looks better on the video. I always thought it looks like a place where you would get mugged). Have to check out the last stop and see the tree.