Alex Cross

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An actual picture of my personal Alex Cross collection, spanning 3 VERY FULL boxes on my bookshelf.  Yes, they’re in order.  I’m not a monster.

According to goodreads.com there are 25 Alex Cross books in James Patterson’s detective series.  I personally consider the 2 “extra” books (Merry Christmas, Alex Cross and Alex Cross’ Trial) to be a part of the series.  So for me there are 27.

I’m obsessed.  I reread them.  Seriously.  I reread the entire series from start to finish in honor of the one goodreads considers to be the 25th.  It took me about 4 weeks because I can read one of these badboys in a day.

Today I finished #27, which I got for Christmas.  I’m feeling nostalgic.  Let me explain why I love Alex Cross.

When I was young (so young that it’s that period of time when I cannot remember how old I was, let’s call it high school adjacent) someone (lets say my parents) bought me a copy of Kiss the Girls.  This had to be around the time they decided to make a Kiss the Girls movie, because my cover is the movie-inspired cover.  Anyway, I read it.  I was WAY into mysteries at the time.  I loved books that surprised me and had me trying to solve mysteries.  Casanova was HANDS-DOWN the scariest villain I’d ever read.  I (stupidly) started reading the book at night.  It was quiet in my house, everyone else was sleeping, and I was sitting in bed reading by a book light.  I was SHAKING with fear and had to keep reading to see if this detective could bring it all back to safe ground.  I read the book in one night.  The sun came up and helped light the room to help me finish.  It was AMAZING.  It was my first all-night read.

I soon found out that Kiss the Girls was part of a series.  I bought myself Along Came a Spider (the first book) at a used bookstore.  It was equally as good, with an equally scary villain, one who goes down as a personal favorite in the history of villains.  This one took a delve into psychological more than I expected and followed our hero for much longer after the arrest, which I loved.  This book gave me chills.

I continued hunting down and reading the books in order.  By the time Roses are Red was published (2000) I was caught up.  I was also in college, so I didn’t buy this one the second it came out.  Instead, I bought a book club copy a few months later from my favorite used book store for about $4.

At the time I remember being convinced Roses are Red would be followed by Violets are Blue and it would be the last Alex Cross book because it seemed fitting for these titles to end it.  They go so well together!  If you’re not up on the series, those were books 6 and 7 (so I was really wrong).

I got my grandmother (an avid reader herself) hooked by book #9 and we developed this great (to struggling college student me) system.  She bought the book BRAND NEW when it came out, read it in about 48 hours, and handed it off to me.  It was a wonderful system.

Fast-forward to today, when I am still reading all James publishes about Alex.  They’re my favorite James Patterson novels, I still read them quickly, and I got my husband hooked on them too.

Alright, a few more quick facts and then I’ll quick geeking on Alex Cross until the next book.

My Original Favorite: Kiss the Girls (first loves, man)

My New Favorite (after rereading entire series): Roses are Red (it’s just great writing)

What About the Movies: Thumbs WAY DOWN, they got it all wrong every single time

Why Alex: He’s a genuinely good guy, like in his core.  His family is amazing and I just want to sit down and have family dinner with them.

How do I see it Ending?: I was SO WRONG last time, but here goes.  James can’t quit Alex, man.  I am not sure he ever will.  BUT if he decides to stop writing Alex it’ll be because someone close to Alex dies and Alex can’t continue.  Honestly, I’m worried about Nana.  I don’t know if I could handle it, Mr. Patterson.  Be gentle.

I’ve Never Read One, Should I?: YES.  They’re amazing.  You don’t need to read them in order to fall in love, I promise.  If you’re not an avid reader naturally maybe try one of the bookshots first (they’re shorter).  Otherwise I’d suggest one of the first 10 as your first.  They have more character development to help you fall in love faster.

Alright, that’s all from me.  Thanks for reading about one of my obsessions.

Here’s some links, if you’re interested.

The expert himself, James Patterson and links to the books:

http://www.jamespatterson.com/alex-cross#.WkUO4t-nGM8

My book review blog, where I’ve reviewed the most recent (and probably most of the others if you scroll around):

http://tabreviewd.blogspot.com/2017/12/the-people-vs-alex-cross-by-james.html

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Dream

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I have been having this recurring dream lately.  I wake up in the morning, before the alarm clock, no clues about what may have caused me to wake up.  In that exact second, I can remember the entire dream.  I wonder why I have been having the same dream.  I want to close my eyes and fall back into it.  I want to play it out.

 

This morning it occured to me that I should write a story about it.  I should write down the dream, play it out, and write the story. It’s obviously coming to me over and over again because it wants me to write it out.  The characters are begging me to write their tale.

 

But then it begins to fade.  Little by little the details drip out of my memory until they’re gone.  I can’t remember what I dreamt about at all.  I can’t remember if it was in a house or a campground.  I can’t remember if it was a lady, a man, kids, or animals.  I can’t recall a single detail.

 

Tonight I hope I’ll dream the dream again.  I hope I’ll have that time when I realize it’s the same dream.

 

Maybe tomorrow I’ll even have enough to write down in the morning.

 

Stream of Consciousness

I have five minutes.

I shouldn’t start something.  I only have five minutes.

I can probably write something, if I write it fast.

My hair is in my way.  I need a haircut.

Alright, I need a brilliant idea.  Of course I only have four minutes in which to turn said brilliant idea into writing.

Four minutes.  That’s a good amount of time.  Here we go.  Create post.

What could I write about?

It’s kind of cold in here, I should find a sweater.

Alright, three minutes left.  But I’m in my sweater now, so all good.  Cozy and warm. Wonderful.

What should I write about?  Let’s see, I could start a new story.  Something about a magic plot of land.  Maybe when you plant something there it instantly grows to full size.  Drop an orange seed and BOOM orange tree.  But what are the limits of said land?  (Two minute left, I should hurry).  Can you, for example, drop an entire apple and create a tree or must it be the seed?

Alright will jot down this idea for future, seeing as I only have one minute left of my break.

And…time’s up!  Thanks for spending my break with me, folks.

Hope your day is well!

First Line Prompt

The Challenge: Take the first line “I have to do something to help that child” and write a story.

“I have to do something to help that child,” she whispers.

I lean closer, rest my palm on her leg to hold her still.  “Absolutely not.”  I try to hit her with my best I-mean-business glare, eyes narrowed and lips pursed.  The look I used to get from my High School English teacher when I talked out of turn.  “You do nothing.”

I feel her relax, slightly.  Her weight shifts back toward her rump.  “Fine.  Whatever.”

Across the room, the child scribbles something and sighs.  The sound is too loud, too dramatic, for the situation.  We both turn our attention to her, watching.  She throws both her hands up, sandwiching her face between them and sighs again.  “I don’t know how to do this,” she whines.

Again my partner’s weight shifts.  “Let me just go see if she’s made–”

“No.  Just let her struggle.  Watch, wait.”  The truth is, I don’t know if this plan will work or not.  All I know if we have fought with this child about her homework every single day for the last month.  There have been tears from both parties.  There have been assignments that I know were not successfully completed.  There have been assignments that we gave up on.  This week I have convinced my wife to let me handle homework in a different way.  This week I decided to let her fend for herself, our eight year old, and see what comes of it.  It’s Wednesday  We made it through Monday easily.  We made it through Tuesday with only a little bit of struggle.  Now the real battle has kicked in.  It’s the paragraph that did it, I think.  I keep hearing my little girl whine about “five whole sentences” and I’m sure that’s the part that’s done her in.  Of course it would be easier to “suggest” ways to write the sentence, but then we end up with the fighting and the tears.  No, this is the way this week.  She will get through it.  “We have to let her do this.”  I say the last thought out loud, sharing it, willing it to be true.

At the table, the pencil is pinched between the fingers again.  The tongue finds its home at the corner of the mouth, slowly wiggling along the upper lip as the words begin to form on the page in front of her.  There’s writing for a full minute before the pencil is flung back down.  “DONE!” she bellows.

“Do we check it?” my wife asks.

“Do you have enough sentences?” I call.

“Yes.” Not even a glance down at the paper.

“How many?”

Pause, looking at the paper.  “Five.”

“Good job.  Did you answer the question?” I ask.

“Yes.”

A whisper from my elbow, “She could be lying.”

I shrug.  “Are you lying?”

Her little blonde hair goes flying as she whips her head around to shoot me with a glare that perfectly communicates her irritation with my doubt.  “No.  It’s good.  Do you wanna read it?”  

I smile.  “Nope.  I trust you.  Put it in your backpack and go wash up for dinner.”

I wait until she has disappeared around the corner before smiling at my wife.  “There, done.” I kiss her gently on the lips.  “And no one cried.”

Her lips tip up to the right, her I’m-still-not-admitting-defeat smirk.  “It’s only Wednesday, bub.”

“Just admit it, I’m right.  This is working.”

She chuckles.  “One, we haven’t seen the grade for homework this week.  Two, that was painful to watch.  Three, and most importantly,” she rises and heads for the kitchen, “we have two more nights of this and spelling sentences are tomorrow.”

She flicks her hair over her shoulder as I feel my confidence drop like a concrete brick in the water.  “Oh God, spelling sentences,” I whine.  

Homework is going to be the death of me.

 

What’s in your Fridge?

Someone once told me you can learn a lot about a person by looking in their refrigerator.  So I tackled the question; What’s in your Fridge?

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As the resident grocery shopper in the household, I’m the most cutout to answer this particular question.  I’m not even going to get up off my seat on the couch to answer this one, I’ll do it from memory.

  • There’s an open half gallon of milk and an unopen half gallon.  Why not a full gallon?  Well the second one expires about a week after the first.  We don’t drink it fast enough to go through a gallon before it expires.  
  • 2 gallons of chocolate almond milk (one of them is probaby open) and a gallon of vanilla almond milk (maybe open).  This probably explains how we manage to not go through enough “regular” milk.
  • 3 flavored coffee creamers (2 pumpkin and 1 hazelnut)
  • Probably about ½ a dozen eggs
  • An open soft, spreadable butter and an unopen one hiding behind that.  
  • 3 Sticks of butter for baking (‘tis the season)
  • Fresh brewed iced tea
  • Leftovers, conveniently packaged for lunches
  • Yellow Onions
  • Green Onions
  • Cilantro
  • Apples
  • Tomatoes on the Vine
  • Pickles
  • Zucchini
  • Probably a single cucumber
  • Maybe some lemons
  • Coconut flavored seltzer water
  • Cheese.  So much cheese, man.  Probably 3 blocks of mild cheddar waiting to be shredded, a small bag of recently shredded, a block of parmesan half shredded, maybe some recently shredded mozzarella, sliced cheddar, sliced colby-jack, sliced white american, and one of those green containers of pre-shredded parmesan.
  • Grape Jelly that’s probably sticky from kids making their own sandwiches.
  • Homemade honey mustard
  • Homemade tartar sauce
  • A hidden jar of tartar sauce in case the homemade was awful
  • Mayonnaise, probably almost gone (it’s always almost gone)
  • A container of gravy useful for spoiling the dog
  • Celery (maybe)
  • 1 ½ blocks of cream cheese
  • An open Caesar dressing
  • An open Ranch dressing

I think that’s about it!  Or at least that’s the end of the things I feel confident naming without vacating my warm spot on the couch.  Your turn; What’s in your Fridge?

 

#30DaysWithoutWings

Writing is a business.  I’m learning this the hard way.  Like any good business, it’s hard to break into.  I liken it to trying to get your very first job.  You remember how that went, right?

Interviewer: Describe your previous experience.

You: Well, I’ve never had a job before.

Interviewer (frowning): We are looking for someone with experience.

It’s the same in any business.  James Patterson, for example, could write anything right now and get it published.  Dude has experience (rightly so, I love him).  Me?  Not so much.  I don’t belong in the same ball field as him (yet) but here I am trying to sneak onto his field.

Publishers and agents are too nice to come right out and say it, mostly, but I’m a risk.  The advice is all the same: develop a platform and grab readers.

Then, suddenly, a crazy idea hit me.  I have this book, 30 Days Without Wings, that isn’t going to be published.  I love it and it has merit, but it’s not the one I’ll fight for (if that makes sense).  I have 5 finished books.  This one falls in that grey area for word count, it’s too short.  So it got put on a back burner to simmer for awhile.

What if that back burner could work for me?  What if I can make that one pull in readers?

I thought about publishing it somewhere as a short story.  Blogging it, sending it to magazines, etc.  Quick research showed me what I suspected…it’s too long for that.

I was sitting on the couch, drinking a glass of wine, online shopping by looking through someone’s online clothing Facebook group when it hit me: Facebook.

What if Facebook could be the answer?

People share things on Facebook all the time: pictures, videos, news stories, opinions, jokes, etc.  Would they share a book?

It didn’t take long to get other people (we’ll call them my brain trust) on board with the idea.  Here’s what we finally came up with:

Release the book a chapter at a time

Measure it’s success or likability by counting LIKES to the page

Release it as a video (reading the chapters) but then “publish it” on wattpad at the same time.

As we garnered enough likes, we would release more chapters.

Now I’m a perfectionist, so it was hard to pull the trigger on this idea.  Epic failure is an absolute option.  I even said to the brain trust “what’s going to happen when no one wants to hear it?”  Brain Trust seemed to think that was NOT going to happen.  (They’re fans of some of the other books already and they were confident this one would be just as good).  Brain trust was more worried that I couldn’t “keep up” with the page/chapters if it came as fast as it COULD.

So I (probably over-)prepped.

Then we launched.

Chapter 1 went up on July 6th.  I told viewers that once we hit 50 likes on the page I’d post Chapter 2 (keep that number small, brain trust said).

We hit that many by July 7th.  Chapter 2 went up immediately.  It was less than 24 hours.  I was pleased, but still reserved.

We have been going pretty strong since then, having earned Chapters 7 and 8 on October 24.  We are about 50 likes to the page away from Chapters 9 and 10 as of this evening.

What is the plan?

Short Term: Keep giving away the book, if there’s interest.

Long Term: Maybe people will see what kind of writing I do.  Maybe people will want to read more.  Maybe one of those other 4 books will end up somewhere people can buy it.  Maybe they buy that one.

The long term dream is the same, man.  This is just my entry-level job.

Check us out on Facebook by searching #30DaysWithoutWings

We’d love to have you.

Thanks for reading!

Potential Titles

I like to randomly scrawl out all kinds of things: character names, character traits, story ideas, time periods, and even potential titles.  Sometimes I have a specific idea in mind and sometimes I just really like the title.

Here’s a list of some I’m itching to find a reason to write.

  • Bringing him back
  • Envious Storm
  • Under-cooked French Toast
  • Someone’s Eating Dry Erase Markers
  • Perfect Monster
  • A Disastrous Coronation
  • The Day the Clock Stopped
  • Hitman
  • The Sound of Anger
  • Actually, This is Closer to the Truth

What do you think?  Are there any crazy titles you’d love to write?

Free Chapter

This will be a quick post.

It’s an invitation.

Head over to my NEW author Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/AuthorTabathaShipley/

There’s a video there that explains everything.

Beauty and the Beast

Alright fellow Beast-iacs, I have questions.

Disclaimer: I am fully aware there are many different version of the fairy-tale (including the original).  I have read/seen at least 5 different versions.  This post relates to the newest version starring the always wonderful Emma Watson.

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Spoiler Alert: This post (and the comments, hopefully) may contain spoilers.  If you are slower than a mother-of-two whose life is consumed by hockey and you haven’t yet seen the movie, read at your own risk.

Having (finally) watched the new movie, I was pleasantly surprised by this one.  I loved the changes to include some background story we have never had before.  I loved the new songs.  I also fully believe Dan Stevens (the Beast) stole the show more than I expected.  This version found a nice way to tie up a few of the small plot holes the previous cartoon left open.  But there are a few more.  Let’s see if you have theories for these ones:

  1. What is his name? I mean, C’mon. I get he was Prince…but Prince who?  Help me.
  2. If his father and mother are dead…isn’t he the King now?
  3. When the enchantress casts her spell, rendering the castle invisible and forcing the townspeople to forget about them, what kind of government did they have?  Clearly they “forgot” about their monarchy…
  4. More importantly, when the two worlds recombine at the end of the spell which form of government took over?
  5. Why did this lady choose to also ensnare the people working in the castle?  She easily could’ve let them run home (like the townspeople) and forget.  I’m especially thinking Chip Potts, who obviously had a father nearby.  Couldn’t he have gone home with dear old Dad and been saved from the spell?
  6. What timeline are we talking for this spell?  Everyone recognized everyone else at the end.  This makes sense for the people under the spell, which we know didn’t change, but does that mean the townspeople also didn’t change?

Comment and help with those theories, folks!