Word Confusion: Ca.

by Kathy Davie

Image courtesy of Cool Old Stuff For Sale which is selling this acrylic painting on its site.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, lol, you may be wondering about my choice of graphic. Why I thought this montage of 20th century musicians could exemplify the concept of circa. It’s all the fault of a book I read, Thaddeus Russell’s A Renegade History of the United States, which noted all the musical influences which led to rock ‘n roll as we know it today. So, there’s no real, one, agreed-upon date when rock ‘n roll came into existence. It’s more of a…circa thing. Approximately, one huge around such-and-such a span of years that began with the music of slaves on the plantations and split into such streams as the blues, ragtime, and the native brass-bands which influenced the evolution of jazz with Jelly Roll Morton one of the early musicians and Louis Armstrong taught musicians to improvise. It was the fun and energy of this music which evolved into the early rock and roll, a genre that continues to split and evolve today.

It’s an evolving list, these Word Confusions, and sometimes I run across an example that helps explain better. If you’d like to track it, “Ca. and Circa” can also be found on my website. Consider sharing this Word Confusion with friends by tweeting it.

Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com
Part of Grammar:
Circa (it assumes a following the)
In approximately

c., ca., ca, or cca.

Generally refers to a date

Commonly used in genealogy and historical writing when dates of events are not known precisely

This event occurred ca. 1860s before the start of the Civil War.

It was built circa 1906.

History of the Word:
Mid-19th century, originally from Latin

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?

Kathy Davie is an author, educator, and artist with a BS in Technical Writing & Editing with minors in Digital Media and History from Metropolitan State College in Denver, Colorado.

A huge believer in knowledge being power, Kathy has an ongoing and free set of Author Tools for authors interested in self-editing including an online tutorial in Using Microsoft Word’s Markup Tool, words commonly confused by authors and Punctuation and Formatting Tips.

Contact Kathy for various writing and editing services.

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Word Confusion: Surely versus Surly

by Kathy Davie

Surely, she’s a surly woman when she encounters a surely man who is surly running fast. Aye, ’tis indeed a gruesome sight and a horrible sound, lol. And shocking how one teeny letter can make such a difference!

It’s an evolving list, these Word Confusions, and sometimes I run across an example that helps explain better. If you’d like to track it, “Surely versus Surly” can also be found on my website. Consider sharing this Word Confusion with friends by tweeting it.

Surely Surly
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com

This quote from Airplane is one of the top 100 quotes from the movies:

Striker: “Surely you can’t be serious?”

Rumack: “I am serious. And don’t call me Shirley.”

Image by Clark, John Cosmo [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The top two men look rather surly.

Part of Grammar:
Adverb Adjective
A more formal usage than sure

Emphasizes the speaker’s firm belief that what they are saying is true and often their surprise that there is any doubt of this

Without a doubt, certainly

With assurance or confidence



Surely you see that this is true! He’s a surly cuss!
History of the Word:
Mid-16th century

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?

Kathy Davie is an author, educator, and artist with a BS in Technical Writing & Editing with minors in Digital Media and History from Metropolitan State College in Denver, Colorado.

She is the author of the arts marketing series, Your Portfolio & You, aimed at helping artists survive (and thrive) at the business of being an artist and include Accounting for the SMALL Businessperson, How Copyright Applies to the Artist, the Buyer, the Employer/e, the Sold Artwork, Dealing with Photographs, Slides, Digital Images, and Surviving the Outdoor Arts Festival.

A huge believer in knowledge being power, Kathy has begun a free set of Author Tools for authors interested in self-editing including an online tutorial in Using Microsoft Word’s Markup Tool, words commonly confused by authors and Punctuation and Formatting Tips.

Contact Kathy for various writing and editing services or explore her artwork.

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Book Review: Thaddeus Russell’s A Renegade History of the United States

by Kathy Davie

A Renegade History of the United StatesA Renegade History of the United States by Thaddeus Russell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A look at what makes America great, how the discontented, the criminal, the bad citizens changed this country. Yep, Russell thinks history has expended too much time on the good people — settlers, abolitionists, capitalists, suffragists, conservatives and not enough on prostitutes, pirates, gangsters, and slaves who set the stage for change.

Just to warn you, it is a wee bit on the long side, but it truly only touches on bits here and there.

My Take
I don’t buy all of Russell’s premise, but I can see where it comes from. There certainly are some facts in here I was NOT aware of from our history. Not from the history I learned in school, and it makes me angry. I hate revisionist history. If you screwed up, own it! Explain what you learned from those mistakes. Don’t change things around to make yourself feel better. Mistakes aren’t truly bad unless you DON’T learn from it. It’s that old adage: if you don’t learn from history, you are doomed to repeat it. Don’t make us do that!

You may well be asking what those mistakes are. Well…there’s Franklin Roosevelt and his New Deal — christ, this is a terrifying idea! Substituting fascism for democracy…ugh. And a good example of why censorship is so incredibly wrong. A different take on the implementation of welfare. It was a “deal” everyone ignored on pain of going out of business. How patriotic and enthusiastic America was about going “over there” to fight in the war. The truth behind the Japanese internment camps and the Boston Massacre which, I remind you, set off the American War for Independence. A new perspective on our Founding Fathers and their obsession with work, work, work, work, work, work…work… Fun? You ask about fun? Oh, my lord, bite your tongue! Well, unless you’d enjoy doing that!? I do like Russell’s point that historians chose to interpret people having fun as “resistance” against oppression when all they were doing was havin’ a good time.

“America developed a national culture that was more sexually restrained and work obsessed than Victorian England.”

Russell also provides an encapsulated look at the waves of prejudice America coughed up. Oh, brother. I didn’t learn until some five or six years ago, that part of my heritage is…shhhIrish. Shhhhhh, don’t tell anyone! I can certainly understand why my great-greats didn’t want to admit to that one! ROFLMAO. Truly. How incredibly stupid. No. Not them. Not my great-greats. People. I know I’ve read this description of the Irish in a wide variety of books, and again, I’m very curious as to the why of this. I certainly never felt that my grandparents were filthy, disgusting people. But then again, they’d “assimilated”…

Why do we have to feel so bloody insecure that we have to oppress others? Can you believe that people of the time thought the Irish, the Jews, and then the Italians were niggers? Because…shhh…they liked to dance! They liked music. They liked having a good time. Just like them darkies! *Eye roll*. If that what makes you of the negroid race, I’m volunteering. Yeah, race. Scientists of the times “proved” that the Irish, the Jews, and the Italians were of different races from Nordic races. When the Irish, Jews, and then the Italians immigrated to America, they saw nothing “wrong” with mixing it up with African Americans. They lived with them, married them, had affairs, danced, and had fun. But Americans, “normal” citizens, didn’t like how much fun they were having, thought they were a bad influence, so the Irish/Jewish/Italians were discriminated against. Finally Irish/Jewish/Italian leaders started to lean hard on their people to look down upon African Americans, that they must keep away from them if they wanted to succeed at anything in America. Martin Luther King was one of the African Americans who wanted to help his fellow man mainstream as well. All this is the equivalent of having to knuckle under to a bunch of bully boys.

When you think about it, every generation has its new omigod fashion, dance, music that the older generation claims will destory civilization as they know it. And that new generation cycles on to become the older generation shocked by what their younger generation brings forth. Parents were shocked by the waltz, the lindy, the jitterbug, tap dancing, the twist… It was dresses that came above the ankle, to the knee then above it!! Zoot suits! Blue jeans! Today’s hilarious habit of wearing your pants so they hang halfway off your butt, exposing your boxers. Duck tails, bobs, long hair on men, heck, I’m sure someone was shocked at buzz cuts.

Omigod, Russell lists the contributions the African Americans and Irish/Jews/Italians made to this country! Wow, just…wow…! And it includes, lol, the Jews’ and Italians’ valiant efforts to keep us wet during Prohibition! Seems the Jews were pretty athletic as well back in the day…until they were forced into assimilation. ‘Cause, you know, “real” white men don’t move with grace. Then consider Irving Berlin, Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, George Gershwin, Louis Armstrong, Sophie Tucker, Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, Bob Dylan, Burt Bacharach, Marvin Hamlisch, Randy Newman, Jelly Roll Morton, Frankie Avalon, Dean Martin, Ben Stiller, Larry David, the Beastie Boys, Edward G. Robinson, Kirk Douglas, and so many more.

I have to wonder if Americans saw these incoming Europeans as “disgusting” and “indolent” because they weren’t as committed to that Puritan work ethic. If it was because they took the time to have some fun.

This prejudice was disgusting, and it makes me wonder how we’re still doing it today. What I did love was the joy that people experienced when they “rebelled” and mixed it up — blacks, whites, Chinese, men, women, miners, Mexicans, Indians together! The shock!! LOL.

Some interesting sections on fashion, makeup, and hairstyles are scattered throughout. A look at the Ku Klux Klan and Russell notes that the KKK didn’t only go after African Americans, they also went after “vile places of amusement”, partially to protect their white women.

At one point, Russell notes how the Italians took a long time before they identified themselves as Americans, but in truth, we still identify ourselves by our ancestral origins. If I’m overseas, I’ll say I’m American. If I’m home, here, I’ll say I’m half-German, a quarter Norwegian, you know, a mutt. And it must be due…gasp…to not limiting immigration enough to keep out the “wrong” element. Omigod, we let mongrel races mix with AMERICANS! We’re, we’re…*gasp*…a mongrel race. Hullo??

One point that Russell raises continually is the very different culture of African Americans, and I’m hoping some African Americans will weigh in on this. Russell’s statements do seem borne out by what I’ve read in the news, and it makes sense if what he stated about slavery was true. It does seem as if African Americans were rejecting the white man’s work ethic and cultural expectations, which only makes sense if you are offered citizenship in name only.

All of this is a result of that Puritan work ethic of our Founding Fathers. Yes, the same ones who also went out and had fun in their own lives, but didn’t want it for anyone else. It’s a completely different perspective on Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson and others who thought there was too much wickedness and corruption — ’cause once we had their democracy, everyone behaved themselves from mine owners to business tycoons at the turn of the twentieth century to plantation owners to today’s venal corporations…*eye roll*… This idea continued through centuries even down to the labor unions wanting to cut back on working hours, so workers would find work “enjoyable”, a place they wanted to come back to. They thought that if workers had extra time at the end of the day, they’d be rested and want to sit through lectures on improvements, morality, etc. Even Margaret Sanger and those who promoted birth control were actually interested in eugenics and controlling the population.

The section on freedom for slaves after the Civil War is interesting. There’s a different perspective on how slaves were treated and what they thought about it as well as the why of Russell’s statements. I suspect it might have been less cruel to be a slave than a white child growing up with parents who believed in “spare the rod, spoil the child”. At least slaves had value…jesus. I have to wonder how much of my interpretation of it is based on novels and white historians rewriting history. I can see Russell’s point, and he does have a slew of facts and a few interviews that seem to support his conclusions. I’d want to read a lot more primary sources before I can buy it all.

“William Ellery Channing, an intellectual founder of abolitionism, made plain the ugly irony of his movement. The problem with slavery was that slaves were too free…”

Russell also looks at Reconstruction after the Civil War, and if his earlier statements are correct, then it puts a different light on Republican efforts. It also seems shameful. Play by our rules, however stupid, or you’re out. I dunno. I’d want to see more primary sources on this as well.

The democracy the Founding Fathers wanted was denial of desire, to feel shame for wanting, to instead desire restraint and more work. They actually liked the boycott of British goods as it would teach Americans to deny themselves luxuries! Hmmm, wonder if Jefferson would have denied himself his books…or Sally? They tried to tax pleasure — and it gives new meaning to the Whiskey Rebellion!

Russell notes that historians [and contemporary pundits] see consumerism as bad. That spending money on anything not essential to sustaining life is “bad”, that it distracts from finding joy in working. I’m wondering who decides what the minimum amount is and if everyone is expected to adhere to this minimum. The governor? The billionaire? The business owner? This desire to enforce a work ethic also explains why only landowners could vote! No manufacturers, bankers, merchants, or consumers need apply. Yeah, you won’t be able to believe it, but it does make sense if you buy into this. Of course, when you see how many wealthy men believe that consumerism is bad, ya gotta wonder why they manufacture anything. Although Carnegie did think the rich should be heavily taxed so the state would have a nice chunk of change to help people. Then again, Max Weber believes they wanted their wealth so they’d have more power to control people. That’s a concept I’d believe.

Then there’s his comment about psychologists saying “that sexuality informs all of our social activities and that people are obsessed with sex [NO?!!], but historians rarely mentioned it. Well, unless they’re talking about Henry VIII, lol.

If sex is so awful, why do we keep seeking it out?

There are reasons today why there are restrictions on various vices such as drinking. For one, back then, nobody had to drive home drunk and alcohol was healthier to drink than water.

I love this comment Russell makes about the Volstead Act, lol

“To try to explain the theory of prohibition … sounds interesting [but] … people of this type, who are otherwise law-abiding and patriotic and well-intentioned, protect bootleggers and otherwise violate the Volstead Act with the same faith in the justice of their actions that a group of Middle Western Americans would have in evading a law that prohibited them from planting corn…”

Ah, women’s lib. I’ve always loved this. Well, I am a woman. When you consider that any woman before this revolution was essentially considered a whore or “asking for it” if she wore makeup, was alone in public, attempted to be independent and more. In truth, real prostitutes had it pretty good, before the Revolution and in the Old West. Consider that the average weekly wage for a “good” woman in 1916 was $6.67 while a prostitute could earn $30 to $50 a week. Before laws were enacted against it, prostitutes in a bordello had free health care, food, nice clothing, a warm place to live, free birth control, safety, and legal assistance. None of this was a guarantee for “good” women. Ya gotta read what happened in Denver when the council decided to shame its prostitutes, lol. Russell’s comments on the Social Purity movement of the 1870s will make you shake your head in disgust. All it did was lead to women being turned out onto the streets and being subjected to pimps. Without health insurance. It’s not for nothing that prostitution and brewing alcohol are considered some of the oldest professions. Hullo?

Hmmm, the reason for Coney Island’s continued success back then…

Before America became independent, sex was freewheeling and women could work at anything; there were no laws about marriage or divorce; prostitution was not the horror we all think it was (remember who writes the histories!); and, gay liberation was in very interesting hands, lol. You thought the scandal about Marilyn Monroe and John Kennedy was salacious… Hah, it ain’t got nothin’ on Vito Genovese and “Fat Tony” Lauria!

What Russell emphasizes is that these “rebels” who enjoyed life, who danced, listened or created music, drank, gambled, had sex are why we (and the Soviet bloc) have the liberty we have today. In many respects, I agree with him. The entertainment we enjoy today — movies, dancing, music, Las Vegas etc. — are due to mobsters and ex-slaves who influenced others who helped spread such decadence as doo-wop, jazz, blues, rap, scat, rhythm and blues, ragtime, and rock and roll. The truth behind “Dixie” and the Selwyn Theater. And it explains why the whitey ain’t got no rhythm, lol. There’s Edison and his Trust versus the nickelodeons along with what led to the Hays Code. Interesting insights into the movies produced during World War II as well as why San Francisco became a mecca for gays! Oh, oh, and the start of growing marijuana!

I love it! An Italian opera house went bankrupt while an Ethiopian opera flourished, ’cause one was fun and the other wasn’t. I’ll let you decide which one.

“Elvis Presley ‘a Cold War Weapon'”!

Tons and tons and tons of facts in here, but Russell writes it well. He does have a tendency to run on and repeat himself and yet he is trying to make a point.
I’d like to see this book used as part of a history class in high school. And incorporate a lot of his facts into history classes. His book explains a lot about a number of legislative acts passed by the government. History should be balanced, honest, true, and not only the “victor’s” idea of true.

It makes me sad to think how much richer America would have been if the control freaks had simply left people alone.

It all comes down to embracing pleasure, being free with one’s body, and that work is simply a means to fun.

Or we could go back to the Puritan work ethic and give up our novels, movies, music, and Xboxes.


The Cover
The cover is a close-up of an American flag with “naughty” symbols replacing some of the stars. A skull for the poison symbol, a guitar, high heels (oh, no!), a cigarette, handcuffs, a marijuana leaf, and a smoking cigarette. I do like the title overlaid on the two white stripes of the flag.

The title is the perspective Randall takes at A Renegade History of the United States.

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Book Review: Andrea Laurence’s Facing the Music

by Kathy Davie

Facing the MusicFacing the Music by Andrea Laurence

Series: Rosewood, 1

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First in the Rosewood romance series with the couple focus on Ivy Hudson and Blake Chamberlain. Based in Rosewood, Alabama, and six years later.

This ARC was provided by NetGalley, Pocket Star, and Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review.

My Take
Laurence has really twisted the revenge-of-the-woman-wronged trope. It’ll make you laugh even as you start off feeling bad for the guy. Of course, once you hear his side of things, you’re likely to think he got what was coming! He made his bed, and now he’s lyin’ in it. I don’t feel sorry for him a’tall anymore especially with some of the dimwitted moves he makes It did surprise me how well his grandmother knew him. Lucky thing for these two!

This is mostly a fluffy feel-good romance, except that Laurence has some nice switch-ups — besides the twist I mentioned above. And Laurence keeps you wondering just what that song does refer to, ’cause I know what I was thinking, ahem. When you do finally learn what Ivy/Laurence is really referring to, well, it just makes sense and is so well done, you can’t help but laugh while you shake your head.

It’s rather tacky of Ivy to date guys just to use ‘em as she does. And I think Malcolm hit the nail on the head as to why this emotion is the only one she can write about. Ivy is missing out too, as it sure doesn’t lead to a happy life. She ticks me off with her feeling of entitlement; that scene where she locks her keys and phone in the cabin comes to mind. She sure is accident-prone, probably ’cause she hasn’t got her head on straight. Nor can she take what she likes to dish out.

I do like the sound of Ivy’s family; it sounds as though the three of them have always been there for each other. As for Blake’s family, if you discount his dad, the rest of them sound terrific as well.

Ivy must have had a really easy time of building her career as thin-skinned as she is. She does a nice job of lobbing most of Lydia’s zingers right back at her, but there are a number that just crumple her up. And they don’t make sense that they have that reaction. Ivy knows about Lydia’s antics, and Ivy’s childish reactions irritate me. I’m just not buyin’ it. Laurence needs to work on those Ivy-Lydia interactions to make them believable. It’s the only weak point Facing the Music has.

As for Lydia, I’m surprised no one has called that witch to account yet. She’s a selfish, self-entitled nightmare. If she behaves this way with people she wants, how does she behave with the “riff-raff” in town? Why hasn’t she been taken out yet? No, no, this should have been developed more with people’s reactions to make it believable or toned down. Instead, it’s as if Lydia is an invisible person in town. No one reacts to her except Blake and Ivy. I know, I’m whining. It’s just that Laurence has gone so over the top with Lydia, that I don’t see how anyone could possibly not notice her.

Huh, I like the point Blake’s grandmother makes about why all these publicity events are so important to rebuild the gym. I never thought of it this way. She sure makes a good point about the town’s sense of intimacy dying out. She’d be agreeing with Kevin about the press: use them even as they’re using her. Yank that attention they’re paying in the direction you want it.

Oh, crack me up!! Ivy’s so worried that the locals would chase her out of town with pitchforks, that when I read how the townspeople rally against the reporters, well, I can’t help but laugh. Makes you wish more “decent” people would react this way!

That message Rex delivers…I see his doing this as a loose thread…

Blake realizes he’s missing the end of Ivy’s show, so why doesn’t he simply turn around and go back for the end of it? It is such a no-brainer as to what she’s up to, and I’ve only known her for a few hours. And Ivy has her usual, lame reaction.

Laurence does do a good job playing on my emotions: Ivy’s reactions, Lydia’s actions, Blake’s thoughts, the story Grandmother told about meeting Charles and his fits of courting, that one taunt of Lydia’s that actually sounds as if it could be true.

“It’s the long, winding road…”

The Story
Thank god Rosewood contacted Ivy — again — about doing a charity concert in her old home town. Lord knows the town needs it after that last disaster, and Ivy is desperate to get some good publicity after this last fiasco, even if this will be her first trip home since the song that launched her career. The one about her break-up with the town hero, “Size Matters”.

Now her manager is requiring all sorts of PR stunts — in her old hometown — but also demanding she change the types of songs she writes.

All she has to do is get through these next two weeks and avoid Blake…

The Characters
Ivy Hudson has a reputation as a sweet-but-unlucky-in-love Grammy-award-winning singer. Kevin Lynch is Ivy’s manager, who knows what he’s doing to Ivy’s chagrin. Malcolm Holt is one of her best friends, and she’s been linked to him romantically. Lucky for Malcolm, the action film star… Dominick is her bodyguard.

Sarah Hudson is Ivy’s mother and owns a beauty salon, Curls, gossip central. Ivy’s dad, Trent, is the high school band teacher. Sounds like Ivy got quite a bit from her dad. Pepper Anthony is Sarah’s only, very insightful, employee and a former classmate of Ivy’s. Pepper’s being set up for a Grant romance. Brian Green, the former chess geek, manages the electronics store and is dating Pepper.

The Chamberlains are the town’s royalty, and Blake Chamberlain was the town’s golden boy and is a former NFL quarterback whose career was cut short. Now he’s coaching the high school football team. Adelia Chamberlain is Blake’s imposing grandmother and the family matriarch. Norman is his lawyer dad, and it seems that Blake may be taking after his daddy’s inability to keep his pants zipped. His mama is Helen, and we don’t know if she’s dead or alive. Maddie is one of Blake’s sisters, a snotty one, and she works at the town bakery; Mitchell is Maddie’s twin brother, and he’s going for a medical degree; Grant is a younger brother and a local fireman with some great insights; Simon is the youngest and a policeman in town; and, Hazel is his book-lovin’ baby sister. Winston is their houseman; Cookie is their cook.

Lydia Whittaker is the town rich mean girl who also went to school with Ivy. Her family owns a huge horse farm and two of the local restaurants: Ellen’s Diner and Whittaker’s where she’s an executive chef. She’s best friends with Maddie. Tells you what Maddie is like… Thomas is her little brother. Angus and Willow are the horses the Whittakers provide for the parade.

Francine Doyle does a nice casserole. Dorothy “Dotty” Baker is too old to care what she says, and she says anything she likes. Miss Vera‘s mac and cheese is to die for, and she always wins for her pies. Sheriff Todd. Emmett Sawyer is the new bar owner and bartender at Woody’s. Jesse and Curt are a couple of guys with whom Blake had gone to school. Mayor Otto Gallagher has been the mayor all of Ivy’s life; Marilyn is his wife. Mrs. Gloria Everett is Ivy’s favorite history teacher, although she’s now the high school principal. Miss Beverly Perkins owns Dressin’ Up, the go-to shop for ladies needing a nice outfit. Such as tea with the town grande dame. Ruth is a waitress at Ellen’s Diner; Fred is the cook. Miss Twila runs the B&B. Mr. Osbourne is the bank manager. Arthur Jackson owns the gas station. Miss Phyllis owns the antiques shop. Clark Newton is with the Rosewood Times. Petal Pushers is the local flower shop. Cheryl Buckman is a middle-aged lady working behind the counter of her daddy’s ice cream store, Scoops. The same protective daddy who was a decorated sniper in Korea. Estelle Townsend owns Rosewood Cakes & Cookies, the local bakery. Josh Baldwin is the kicker on the high school football team, and the way Blake handles him is just beautiful. I’m curious what Rex Campbell‘s motivation was; he’s another student on the football team.

Nash Russell is a tabloid celebrity reporter for Hollywood News. He’s made a career out of uncovering every inspiration behind every one of Ivy’s songs. Yeah, he’s a not-nice guy and a disreputable journalist. Larry and Ted are from Celebrity Weekly. Jimmy is the talk show host.

Sterling Marshall is the jerk of a teen idol Ivy is in trouble over. Perfect Harmony was his boy band.

The Cover
The cover is sweet with a relaxed-looking Ivy and Blake lying on the green, green grass, each lying in the opposite direction with their heads touching. Ivy’s guitar is off to the side, and they appear to be relaxing into the day.

The title means different things to Ivy and Blake. Ivy’s music is for the release of her emotions while Blake is Facing the Music for what he did so long ago.

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Book Review: John Sandford’s Night Prey

by Kathy Davie

Night Prey (Lucas Davenport, #6)Night Prey by John Sandford
Series: Lucas Davenport, 6
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sixth in the Lucas Davenport thriller series set in Minneapolis and revolving around the reinstated Detective Davenport. It’s been two years since Lucas was forced to quit.

My Take
Gotta give Sandford credit for this twist: a detective who’s fired, goes off to build his successful gaming company, and comes back to work. Most people would think (including me) that Davenport would be happy enough creating his games and being a millionaire, but Sandford provides a credible reason — and one that I suspect would apply to most of us — for Lucas coming back to work as a cop.

Another nice switch is the cooperation that exists in this between law enforcement. These guys actually seem to like each other, and they help each other out. Okay, not the FBI guys. They’re their own mess.

Well, sounds like you can’t be too paranoid about your keys. For Sara Jensen, the nightmare began when one of the movers took an impression of her key and passed it on to a cat burglar. The nightmare continued for her when the stalking cat burglar saw her collect her spare key from a magnetic case under her car bumper. Don’t use the usual. Don’t combine keys. Heck, go with the combination locks instead! This story will also make a girl paranoid about closing those drapes, or never walking around naked?

Koop is another example of why parents need to be licensed. It’s rather depressing how much the cops have to pay heed to the media. How much easier would a cop’s life be if they could simply concentrate on solving the crime and not have to pander to television and newspapers?

Lucas is a complex guy in some respects. Sandford keeps me quietly unsettled with Lucas’ indecision about settling down. We went through this thought process with Jennifer, and now it’s about Weather. Lucas wants to settle down, but worries that he’ll miss the variety, the chase. Yet each time he’s confronted with the possibility, Weather rears up and entices him right back. He wants her, and only her. And I love that Lucas wants to know more about how Weather’s job works.

Oh man, I do love how Sandford keeps it down home with Beneteau’s reaction to Ellie Mae being in the wrong bed.

Sandford does make his psychopaths real, and I will never understand them.

Jesus, that ending. In some ways, it’s a great out with very short-term suffering. It does make me feel grateful for dedicated cops. They hustled in this story. They tracked down every possibility, working it 24/7.

The Story
It’s a race against time for Meagan Connell. She’s the one who put it together. That there’s a serial killer on the loose, and she wants to solve it before she dies.

The Characters
Deputy Chief Lucas Davenport is a political appointee — he’s just too useful in front of the media, and he has a sixth sense in solving crime. Dr. Weather Harkinnen, a surgeon, is now living with Lucas. Sister Mary Joseph, a friend from his childhood, is a psychologist who also works trial runs of Lucas’ games.

Minneapolis PD
Sloan is with Intelligence. Del Capslock is one of Lucas’ best friends and an undercover operative. Rose Marie Roux is the police chief who took Daniel’s place. She’s more interested in gaining a U.S. senate seat and every case revolves around making her look good. She does look good: a problem solver, a prosecutor, and a liberal state senator with a good rep on race relations. Kupicek; Frank Lester is head of Criminal Investigation Division; Swanson is his deputy; Curt Myer is the new head of Intelligence; Anderson is the department’s computer specialist (he keeps the daily book); Bob Greave is a klutzy misfit who used to be Officer Friendly — the wife didn’t approve; Carrigan is notorious for his “small, fine feet”; Lonnie Shantz is Roux’s press aide; O’Brien; Harvey is running the surveillance van; and, Detective Kershaw is one of the guys who arrests Koop.

St. Paul PD
Sergeant Annalise Jones doesn’t realize how important a knowledgeable deaf interpreter is. Carl Erdrich is a patrolman.

Tom Davis — I think he’s a prison guard — knows D. Wayne Price, a convict, has some information.

Meagan Connell is state, BCA with membership in the state American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) — a big supporter of got a chip on her shoulder that Paul Bunyan would have trouble carrying.

D.T. Helstrom (from Eyes of Prey, 3) is a sheriff’s deputy. Lincoln County Sheriff Sheldon Carr (from Winter Prey, 5) makes a brief appearance and recommendation for Lucas to George Beneteau in Carren County. Ellie Rae runs the diner in Beneteau’s town.

Joan Smits caught Meagan’s attention. Jim Flory is in the wrong place; Jasper is a janitor at their building. Paul Warren is deaf and frustrated with the incompetent translator. Sara Jensen runs her own mutual fund and works at Raider-Garrote, a stock brokerage. Evan Hart is an attorney in the bond department. Harriet Wannemaker, Marcy Lane, and Eloise Miller are victims. Charmagne Carter is a locked-door mystery. Emily Carter is her daughter. Bob Wood was a neighbor and friend. Dex is a witness. Lawrence Wright is a guy Dex ain’t supposed to be hanging near. John Posey is another victim of the moving guy.

Jan Reed is a reporter with TV3 to whom Lucas is attracted. Ned owns the Startled Crane bookshop and is friends with Lucas. Too bad Connell can’t get into the schmooze. Earl Stupella is a bartender, Carl’s brother. Mae Heinz has some information.

Koop is a cat burglar-killer who likes to prey on shy, dispirited women. Junky Doog is a knife man. John Carlson is a drug dealer. Randy Leski is a mean little guy. Specializes in scam repairs. The Joyce brothers, John and George, are slum landlords. Ray Cherry works for them. Just Plain Schulz is a fence.

The Seeds
The Bad Seeds is more like it; a motorcycle gang interested in drugs, prostitutes, and weapons. Very bad boys. Brothers Joe and Bob Hillerod belong to them. Aaron Capella is their lawyer.

The Cover
The cover is a faintly distressed white background with a blocky font for the author’s name and title. It’s that swaying key just above the mold of a key with the red fingerprint that ties the cover into the storyline.

I’m not sure what inspired the title. The bad guy does seem to operate at night a lot, so perhaps Night Prey makes sense.

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Book Review: John Sandford’s Mind Prey

by Kathy Davie

Mind Prey (Lucas Davenport, #7)Mind Prey by John Sandford
Series: Lucas Davenport, 7
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Seventh in the Lucas Davenport thriller series based in Minneapolis.

My Take
Sandford sets the story so we’ll empathize when the action heats up. A sub plot is that ring Davenport keeps bouncing around, slipping on and off his finger, rumors are rife and the betting hot, lol. Sandford is just plain mean to us with Weather vacillating over how much Lucas loves his job and if she can handle it. Lucas’ own concerns — exacerbated by his ladykiller past — keeps us on our toes as well. Will he or won’t he? What I love, however, is the times when Lucas realizes how he loves her and why. Not the usual approach guys have about a beautiful woman, but in how she makes him feel. The intrigue and passion.

I know the husband is the most likely to have done it, but I like George Dunn. Yeah, he behaved like a jerk, but I like the core of him. Andi is different from him, as adventurous in her field as George is in his, and I like her too. I like how she works with her kids. I like too that she and Grace work at escaping, how they plan, the role playing they endure to figure out how to survive.

Okay, yeah, I got why confidential records should be kept private and protected, however, I did enjoy how Lucas rolled right over Nancy Wolfe and her protests. It does create problems when they run across the huge number of patients who are abusing children — and none of them have been reported to the cops. I was fuming about this until later in the book when Elle passionately defends the reasons these shrinks are ignoring the law. And I hate to say that she makes an excellent point.

Gawd, reading how Mail thinks . . . he’s pathetic. And ya just know that psychopaths like him actually believe what they’re thinkin’. As difficult as it is to buy into this, Mail really believes he and Manette are “building a relationship” . . . *gag* . . . And then he starts to focus on Ice!

Then these “friends” of Andi’s. . . W. T. F.? They’re more concerned with their own pride than helping the cops rescue or at least have a chance at rescuing Andi and her daughters. I just don’t get that.

I’m not sure what happened around the whole Davenport Simulations trap and Mail’s actions to escape. It was messy and convoluted in how Sandford presented the timing and the various parties’ moves.

Ah, jesus, then there’s Genevieve . . . Thank god for the grins those last four paragraphs engendered . . . oh, yeah, lol.

The Story
A high-profile kidnapping of a psychiatrist and her kids has everyone hopping, turning over some nasty possibilities. When the kidnapper makes contact, Lucas gets his computer company involved with a bit of compelling fakery.

The Characters
Deputy Police Chief Lucas Davenport has a mean smile and an obsession with that engagement ring. He also has a feminine side. I know, right? Lucas and feminine just don’t seem to go together . . . Dr. Weather Karkinnen is a surgeon who operates almost daily. She and Lucas are living together now. Dr. George Howell, a plastic surgeon, is Weather’s mentor. And, ooh-boy, does it piss Lucas off. Sister Mary Joseph, a.k.a., Elle Kruger, is an old friend from Lucas’ childhood; today, she’s a psychologist. Davenport Simulations is Lucas’ gaming company, and it’s managed by Barry Hunt, who doesn’t much like Lucas. Ice is a Goth gamer, one of the techies at Davenport Simulations.

The cops
Detectives Marcy Sherrill (Mike is her husband) and Tom Black, her gay partner, take charge of the kidnapping. Hendrix is a born-again Christian. Detective Bob Greave, well, he means well. Rose Marie Roux is the chief of police for Minneapolis, more politician than cop. Danny Kupicek is an intelligence cop; Harmon Anderson is their computer expert; Frank Lester is deputy chief for investigation; Sloan is Intelligence; Del Capslock is Narcotics; Haywood; Loring; Franklin; and, Peterson are all involved. Officer Don Carpenter is with Cottage Grove PD. Bill Path and Jesus Martinez are bomb squad.

The FBI Agent-in-Charge is T. Confrad Haward; behind his back, his people call him Dumbo. Marie is thirty-two going on fifteen. Danny McGreff will monitor Dunn. Brunswick is a medical examiner’s investigator on the John Mail jump. Dr. L.D. Rehder works at the nuthouse where Mail was incarcerated.

Dr. Andi Manette is a psychiatrist who has separated from her contractor husband, George Dunn, who owns and operates North Light Development. Genevieve and Grace are their daughters. Tower Manette is Andi’s father, a very wealthy man who runs the Manette Trust and the Manette Foundation. His first wife, Bernie, died; now he’s married to Helen. Ralph Enright is Tower’s gofer lawyer.

Dr. Nancy Wolfe is Andi’s partner and not too forthcoming on the details. Unless she can screw up someone else’s life. It is a complementary partnership with Andi good at business and Nancy building reputations.

“Dr.” David Girdler calls himself a psychotherapist — and I reckon the psycho part is right. He’s more interested in promoting himself in any way than in being correct. Clarice and Thomas Bernet are the jerk-off, unwilling parents of the second witness, Mercedes. Thank god one witness has some smarts! Marcus Paloma runs Erewhon, a game store in Dinkytown. Cindy McPherson is a gamer and a student. Gloria Crosby is a gamer, murderess, and forger who’s not very good at reading people. Marilyn Crosby is her mother. Irv operates a small concern, Irv’s Boat Works, on Lake Minnetonka.

John Mail is a born-psychopath and a made-sociopath — fits in with the Word Confusion I did on :Psychopath versus Sociopath”; I just didn’t realize one person could be both . . . Annnd another reason why parents need to be licensed! Anyway, Mail is a gamer, and he turns the kidnapping into a game, up against Lucas Davenport, the millionaire game developer. Martin LaDoux is the owner of the house. The original Martin had been an ultra geek and terrified of everything. Hecht is a neighboring farmer. Ricky Brennan is a druggie “friend” of Mail’s. Talk about a stalking horse . . .

The Cover & Title
The cover has a dark background and a close-up of a wooden match, lit, the flame burning well. The title and the author’s name are large and embossed with the title in silver and the author’s name in copper, blending in with the matchstick and its flame.

The title is what too many characters in this story are doing to each other, doing a Mind Prey on each other.

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Book Review: Clive Cussler and Graham Brown’s Ghost Ship

by Kathy Davie

Ghost Ship (NUMA Files, #12)Ghost Ship by Clive Cussler
Series: NUMA Files, 12
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Twelfth in the NUMA Files thriller series and revolving around Kurt Austin and Joe Zavala.

My Take
It starts as all Cussler stories do, with great drama and trauma. And it keeps going until Cussler/Brown screw up with Forrester’s overly exaggerated reaction to Kurt. One that makes sense on one hand, but is so over-the-top that it gets my radar humming immediately.

If it’s action and crazy antics while traveling the globe, underwater and underground exploits with James Bond-style you want and a touch of Tarzan, you can’t go wrong with Ghost Ship.

Now if you want true fear, keep reading. There’s nothing scarier to me than a computer virus that allows a computer to go rogue, especially when you consider all that computers run today.

I love the idea of the Chameleon Camo, but I do think they need to extend its useful life! Like the sound of those railguns too!

It’s fun, it’s exciting, it’s Saturday afternoon at the movies!

The Story
The stage is set with a hijacking in 1909 and starts with both loss and recovery.

It’s the storm in 2014 that will both reveal and take, and it does take Sienna and her children while her husband survives. Despite the nightmares, despite what he saw as he tried to rescue them, Kurt doesn’t believe she’s dead. He’s got feelers out everywhere hunting for a clue, any hint of where she is.

It’s his obsession that is worrying his friends and the government. Until the CIA picks up on one of those clues.

It’s the source of those clues that’s the real danger, for nothing is as it seems.

The Characters
Kurt Austin is director of special projects while Joe Zavala is the team’s assistant director, a creative engineer, and Kurt’s best friend; both work for NUMA. Kurt’s current lover, Anna Ericsson, is supposed to be his therapist.

Dirk Pitt has been the director of NUMA for several years since Admiral James Sandecker became vice-president of the United States. Congresswoman Loren Smith is Dirk’s wife. Hiram Yaeger is NUMA’s head of computer tech; Max is the holographic representation of Hiram’s ultra high-tech computer system. And doesn’t it just burn Hiram that he has to use pen and paper, lol. Paul, a geologist, and Gamay Trout, a marine biologist, run NUMA’s most important scientific studies. William “Duke” Jennings is one of NUMA’s most experienced submersible pilots. Elena is a former Navy diver. Jacob Fredricks. Dr. Elliot Smith is NUMA’s chief medical officer

The NUMA vessel Condor is sent to Durban to raise the Ethernet. The U.S.S. Bataan will play an important part in the rescue. Charlie is the radioman who notices the fake call sign. The Force Recon Marine leader is Lieutenant Brooks. Jones, Lance Corporal William Dalton, and Garcia are among his team. Air Force Staff Sergeant Connors explains the Chameleon Camo.

Trent MacDonald from CIA is wondering if Kurt isn’t right. Sutton is from NSA. Tim Hale is CIA station chief for the DMZ in Korea; Colonel Hyun-Min Lee is deputy director of security for the South Korean National Intelligence Service. Private Jeong gets a surprise.

Mohammaed El Din, a purveyor of information, is a contact of Dirk’s in Dubai. Abigail Banister was a telecommunications expert. Her husband, Stewart, was a satellite guidance specialist. They had two sons, Nathan and Zach, and a daughter, Olivia.

Desert Rose is the name for a racehorse and a possible handle for
a weapons expert and guidance system engineer. ZSumG, a.k.a., zero sum game, is likely to be a financial hacker. Montresor is the handle for Diego, and he builds doorways mostly dealing with finance. Xeno9X9 is the handle for Goshun, a Ukrainian who went missing a year ago.

The Ethernet is a private yacht on which Brian Westgate (an Internet billionaire), his wife, Sienna (an old love of Kurt’s), and their two children, Elise and Tanner, are sinking. David Forrester is the CEO of Westgate’s company. Phalanx is a security program to end all security programs, and it was designed by Sienna. A program now protecting all of the U.S. government.

Today’s Brèvards
Sebastian Brèvard is the head of the family and ruthless in his plans. Egan and Laurent are his equally ruthless, but less intelligent brothers. Calista is their youngest sister, a sociopath with a talent for computers and systems, who delights in destroying others.

Rene Acosta is an ally, they thought. Kovack is Acosta’s too-cocky messenger and right hand man. Solano is an art expert used by Acosta. Than Rang is a Korean industrialist specializing in mining, waste management, and energy with a desire for computer experts.

NUMA is the National Underwater Marine Agency dedicated to the study and preservation of the sea.

Cuoto Zumbana is a fisherman who caught the unexpected, a beaten old dinghy with a dead woman and her two sons.

Chief Inspector Robert Swan of the Durban PD is determined to stop the Klaar River Gang. Morris is one of his men, I think.

The S.S. Waratah is captained by Joshua Ilbery. Gavin Brèvard and Johannes are some of her passengers. Claude Sawyer was one who chose discretion.

The Klaar River Gang had escalated from being common highwaymen to robbery and extortion.

The Cover
The cover is purples and orange, deep rusty oranges as the ghost ship, S.S. Waratah, plies the purple waves under a stormy purple sky.

The title refers to a ship that’s been missing for decades, a Ghost Ship that holds the clues to prevent the theft of the century.

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Book Review: Marcia Clark’s The Competition

by Kathy Davie

The Competition (Rachel Knight, #4)The Competition by Marcia Clark
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fourth in the Rachel Knight series and revolving around Rachel and her friends.

My Take
Clark breaks your heart from the start as she focuses in on one student’s dream finally being achieved. It’s a great way to yank your reader in and get them emotionally involved. God knows, I cried.

Talk about déjà vu, as Clark takes us through a school shooting, and it reminds me of the day I heard about the Columbine shooting on the radio. I can still remember where I was that day. Picking up slides at the photographer’s. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. And now, reliving it in The Competition, well, it brings all that loss back and breaks my heart.

All those families. All that promise.

The massacres are a repeat of several mass shootings that have been on the news in the past years. It includes references to theories and discussions about warning signs, symptoms, causes, and how parents could not see such signs. The two doctors Clark brings in as characters provide conflicting information about the effect of video games on kids, and it makes sense. In both directions. They also have some great suggestions for the team to ask their witnesses.

I know cops are just as human as the rest of us. And they’re just as prone to wanting to cut corners as the rest of us. And that’s why no one trusts them. Too many have gone for the easy arrest and not pressed for the real one. For the person who is truly guilty as opposed to this’ll-close-our-case. And the problem is that even one is too many.

It’s a slogging round of questioning multiple witnesses, seizing on the smallest possible clues, chasing them down, narrowing the possibilities down to just the guilty. Reading Clark’s stories makes you aware of the hard work the police do. The thankless task and little reward they receive for trying to protect us, as we curse them and withhold information that could save others.

I do wish Clark had given us some background on if those teachers survived.

It’s about time — Graden and Rachel are finally having sex. Oy.

Why does Rachel get so ticked off because a couple guys refer to her and Bailey as “ladies”? What? Would she prefer they say “bitches”, “hey, you”? Ooh, maybe “gals”? Or “women”? Yeah, “you women”. That’d make me feel all competent and accepted *eye roll*.

That’s one of those problems with high-IQ students. They get bored easily in class. It’s one thing to want to treat everyone the same, but everyone is not the same. Each child is different and learns at a different level. It doesn’t matter if they learn fast and quick or slow and methodical. What’s more important is for each student to enjoy the learning. To want to discover more. By forcing them all to the same pace takes that joy away from so many. Challenge kids to keep their attention focused. That would be a better use of educational funds than more tests to see if “our” kids are up to an arbitrary government standard. ‘Cause we see how well that’s worked.

Shane makes some good arguments. The government uses soldiers up in war. They come home with problems and does the government help them? No. Puts them through red tape, denies claims. No help in getting a job, getting back into society again. Well, really, why should the government go out of its way to help the men they tore from their everyday lives and ordered to attack today’s enemies? At a pittance of pay? They’ve done the job the government wanted. They got their nickel. What more could they possibly want? Other than a leg, an arm, a peaceful night’s rest.

That sergeant’s comment at the park cracked me up…!

“Always appreciate it when visitors pick up their own litter.”

That was a dumb move on Dwight’s part. What could the “bomber” possibly do that the cops couldn’t counter? And if the corpse was so burned up, how could they identify it so quickly?

Jesus, this is just so sad, but I do like the final ending Clark put on this. A very positive outcome to a horrible, horrible tragedy.

The Story
It’s a regular school day, but it’s Christy’s first appearance with the cheerleading team. And there’s a pep rally today! Only she won’t be finishing her routine…

It ends quickly, the shooting that is, when the killers commit suicide in the library. Only, Dr. Shoe isn’t buying it.

The Characters
Rachel Knight, a deputy district attorney, is one of the few lawyers in the Special Trials division along with one of her best friends, Toni LaCollier. Romy is the young sister who was kidnapped back when Rachel was very young. Luis Revelo is the MBA-pursuing shot-caller for the Sylmar Sevens gang. I do like him! He’s so real with a great sense of humor.

Their ultimate boss, District Attorney William Vanderhorn, is a nightmare, and Rachel refers to him as “Vanderputz”. He knows nothing, but insists on getting all the limelight. Eric Northrup is the head deputy for Special Trials, smart, experienced, and savvy. The unmotivated Melia is Eric’s secretary. Judge J.D. Morgan is dating Toni; his clerk is Sophie. Sweeny is a defense counsel.

Bailey Keller is a homicide detective and frequently partners up with Rachel on a case. She’s also one of Rachel’s best friends. Her boss, Lieutenant Graden Hales, is dating Rachel. He has a younger brother, Devon, and they’re partners in a video game that Graden invented and Devon wrote the program, then shopped around. They’re millionaires. Cherie is Graden’s very short-lived secretary. Skipper Don Harrellson is another detective. Detective Gina Stradley is first on the scene at the Cinemark Theater. Jay Rollins is on the Target shooting. Officer Todd Santos is the La Conchita cop who has the tip. Lieutenant Scott Braverman is a dick. Detective Dwight Rosenberg is not, although he does make a stupid move at the parking lot; his partner is Meg Wittig. Captain Vroman warns the principal. Sharpshooter Officer Butch Cannaday sets up. Officer Craig Silvers was patrolling the back of the hill with Rosenberg.

Dorian Struck is the best criminalist and crime scene analyst in the business; Marco Herrera is a co-worker. Dr. Shoenmacher, a.k.a., Dr. Shoe, is the head coroner, and Scott Ferrier is the coroner’s investigator whom Rachel picks on. Ed Berry is a senior firearms examiner. Nick Parsons is with the Computer Crimes Unit.

A couple of doctors are brought in to help with profiling: Dr. Jenny Shelby is a child psychologist with lots of hands-on experience with juvenile offenders and Dr. Michael Malloy has had experience with pedophilia. Gavin de Becker is the world’s foremost authority on stalking. Dr. Jerry Bingham is another mental health professional.

Marion J. Fairmont High School
Christy Shilling has achieved the dream she’s worked so hard for as the school’s newest cheerleader. Harley Jenson is her best friend since that first day at preschool. His dad, Andrew, got laid off and his mother is worrying about how they’ll afford MIT for him. Dimitri Rabinow will sing for the pep rally. Tammy Knopler is captain of the cheerleading team. Bryan Scofield was one of the jocks who picked on kids.

Charlotte Kerrigan is one of the students whose house is where Rachel and Bailey meet with witnesses. Her two besties are Marnie and Letha. Meredith Charnosh offers up her house for interviews with Mark, Vincent, Harrison, and Paula. At the principal’s house, Bailey and Rachel interview Nancy and Carrie who are two of the nine students present.

Otis Barney is a geeky kid with the weird laugh. His parents are Tom and Sonny. Carson James is a fellow student with whom Otis did a science project. Logan Jarvis is one of the students they can’t find; Brad and Bonnie are his worried parents. His brother Luke is a mechanic at a high-end auto-repair shop; Alfred Bedigan owns the shop. Some of Logan’s friends include Caleb Samuelson, Kenny Epstein, Evan Cutter, Darnell, and Leo. Mikayla and John Cutter are Evan’s parents. Mrs. Amy Ester brings in her son, Jeremy, whose car got sideswiped. Chloe and Suzanne Eckman sang Otis’ praises. Lionel Franks.

Principal Dale Campbell loves to see the students as one big family. Adam Levy is the geometry teacher; Hector Lopez teaches Spanish and dropped back to distract the shooters; Angela Montrose is the girls’ soccer coach who shields students with her body; Sara Beason is the teacher on duty in the library; Liam Forster and Ms. Sherman are science teachers; and, Arthur Windemere is Otis’ English teacher.

Michael Dingboom is Taft High School’s principal. It’s where the Fairmont students have been sent. Marion Jenks is the principal at Platt Junior High; Joe Cooper is a phys ed teacher; Sophia Magana; Albert Packman teaches math; and, Cherry Fournier teaches English who remembers an incident with a jock named Hot Rod. Vera Littlefield is an elementary school teacher. Greg Kingsley is a counselor at the high school in Lubbock, Texas. There’s a parole officer there by the name of Stanley Addison. Amanda Kozak was a student there who transferred out. Mark Unger was one of the juries. Petey is her little brother. Her parents are Janice and Hank Kozak who likes to hunt.

Lupe Velasquez is the manager at Cut-Rate Kicks. Joy Pickerton and Ava Landau work there too. Shane Dolan was Luke’s roommate for a bit and works for a tree cutting service and at a gun range. George “Lock” Lockmire owns the gun range. Rusty is a lead cop in Ventura. Eddie Hemmings works the Army-Navy surplus store. Isaiah Hamilton is the owner of Camarillo Tree Cutters. Pedro is one of his workers. Nancy Findley was a stalker. Max is an old army buddy of Shane’s. Jax Esposito is running guns and drugs and skimming off the top. Enrique Sosa is the manager at Target. Forest is a homeless guy and a witness. Francis Spader sold his mother’s car. Charlie Herzog traded his junker Chevy.

Special Trials is a 24/7 job and partners lawyers up with detectives; they’re usually at the crime scene with the cops, and it allows them to build a tighter case. Rachel lives at the Biltmore Hotel in a special arrangement with a survivor. Rafi is the hotel valet who wishes Rachel would use her car more. Angel is the doorman. Drew Rayford is one of the hotel bartenders and has been dating Bailey for a while now.

Lilah Bayer, a psychopath who is after Rachel, gets a little buggy. Her partner in crime, Chase Erling, is still in a coma after Lilah tried to have him killed.

The Cover
The cover is a close-up of the pillars in front of the courthouse with Rachel’s back to us, her hair in a long ponytail and clad in a grayish green leather jacket.

The title is nebulous. Is The Competition the shooters? The students? The race between cops and shooters? Considering what a psychopath the creep was, I’ll opt for the latter.

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Word Confusion: Sic versus Sick

by Kathy Davie

I got all outraged when I ran across someone using sick in their story to indicate that the character was setting his dog onto someone. Well, because everyone knows that it should be sic to explain this action. And, oh, boy. I was wrong. I hate that!

Turns out that sic and sick can be used interchangeably, so about all I can whine about is consistency. Whichever version you choose to use, use it consistently. It’s one thing to vary your adjectives — whole words! — to make your story more interesting, but it’s considered very unprofessional to change the spellings of the words.

One note of caution. I have never seen sick used in text to indicate questionable or erroneous text.

It’s an evolving list, these Word Confusions, and sometimes I run across an example that helps explain better. If you’d like to track it, “Sic versus Sick” can also be found on my website. Consider sharing this Word Confusion with friends by tweeting it.

Sic Sick
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com

Image by Joseph Keppler [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The title is Sic ‘Em and is a political cartoon of “Mr. Parnell in his great feat of letting loose the dogs of war”. Copyright 1881 by Keppler & Schwarzmann.

Image by Ministry of Information Photo Division Photographer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Nurses at work on a ward in Guy’s Hospital, London, 1941.

Part of Grammar:
Adverb 1; Verb 2

Alternative spelling: sick

Past tense: sicce
Past participle: siccing

Adjective; Noun; Verb 3; 4

Alternative spelling: sic

Past tense: sicked
Past participle: sicking

Used in brackets after a copied or quoted word that appears odd or erroneous to show that the word is quoted exactly as it stands in the original, as in a story must hold a child’s interest and “enrich his [sic] life.”

Verb: 2; 4
[With object] Sic something on

Set a dog or other animal on someone

  • [Informal] Set someone to pursue, keep watch on, or accompany another
Affected by physical or mental illness

  • Of or relating to those who are ill
  • [Of an organization, system, or society] Suffering from serious problems, esp. of a financial nature
  • [Archaic] Pining or longing for someone or something
  • [Predicate] Feeling nauseous and wanting to vomit
  • [Of an emotion] So intense as to cause one to feel unwell or nauseous
  • [Informal] Disappointed, mortified, or miserable

[Predicate; sick of] Intensely annoyed with or bored by someone or something as a result of having had too much of them

[Informal; esp. of humor] Having something unpleasant such as death, illness, or misfortune as its subject and dealing with it in an offensive way

  • [Of a person] Having abnormal or unnatural tendencies
  • Perverted

[Informal] Excellent.

[As plural noun] The sick

[British, informal] Vomit

Verb: 4
[With object; sick something up; British; informal] Bring something up by vomiting

[With object] Sick something on

Set a dog or other animal on someone

  • [Informal] Set someone to pursue, keep watch on, or accompany another
“She had indicated that he [sic] had accomplished everything by herself.”

Sic ‘em, boy.

The plan was to surprise the heck out of the grizzly by siccing the dog on him.

nursing very sick children

We were sick with bronchitis.

The company organized a sick fund for its workers.

Their economy remains sick.

He was sick for a sight of her.

He was starting to feel sick.

Mark felt sick with fear.

He had a sick fear of returning.

He looked pretty sick at that, but he eventually agreed.

I’m absolutely sick of your moods.

This was someone’s idea of a sick joke.

He is a deeply sick man from whom society needs to be protected.

That’s sick, man.

It was a sick party.

visiting the sick and the elderly

That’s his sick.

Oh, brother, he sicked up.

Careful, I think she’s going to be sick.

No, she took sick last week.

I am sick and tired of always being the last to know.

History of the Word:
Latin, literally so, thus.

Mid-19th century dialect in a variant of seek.

3 Old English sēoc meaning affected by illness and of Germanic origin.

Related to the Dutch ziek and German siech.

4 Variant of sic 2.

Mid-19th century dialect in a variant of seek.

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?

Kathy Davie is an author, educator, and artist with a BS in Technical Writing & Editing with minors in Digital Media and History from Metropolitan State College in Denver, Colorado.

She is the author of the arts marketing series, Your Portfolio & You, aimed at helping artists survive (and thrive) at the business of being an artist and include Accounting for the SMALL Businessperson, How Copyright Applies to the Artist, the Buyer, the Employer/e, the Sold Artwork, Dealing with Photographs, Slides, Digital Images, and Surviving the Outdoor Arts Festival.

A huge believer in knowledge being power, Kathy has begun a free set of Author Tools for authors interested in self-editing including an online tutorial in Using Microsoft Word’s Markup Tool, words commonly confused by authors and Punctuation and Formatting Tips.

Contact Kathy for various writing and editing services or explore her artwork.

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Dangerous Hero (& Heroine) Challenge

by Kathy Davie

Paranormal Cravings has put together a Dangerous Hero Challenge that runs from August 1 to December 31, 2014 with the challenge being to read 10 paranormal romance and/or urban fantasy stories with a Dangerous Hero as the main or supporting character. Yes, the “hero” can be male or female.

It sounds like a fun challenge, even if it is easily achieved what with all the new books coming out — woohoo! — and I have until September 15…phew…to sign up.

So the rules are:

  1. One dangerous hero or heroine as the main or as a supporting character
  2. Must be a paranormal romance or urban fantasy
  3. The book itself must be at least 150 pages long

My current reading list includes Yasmine Galenorn’s Night’s End from her Indigo Court series; Mercedes Lackey’s new book, House of the Four Winds from her One Dozen Daughters series (although I suspect this is strictly fantasy); Jenn Bennett’s second installment in her Roaring Twenties series, Grim Shadows; Seanan McGuire’s Half-Off Ragnorak in her Incryptid urban fantasy series; and, Kelley Armstrong’s Visions from her Cainesville series. So I reckon I’ve got a good start on this.

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