Rebound by Noelle August

Rebound (Boomerang, #2)Rebound by Noelle August

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Rebound is the laugh-out-loud adult funny awkward story of online dating company owner Adam Blackwood and investor representative Alison Quick who struggle to keep their minds on business while they fight to control their intense physical attraction to one another. Adam needs the twenty-million-dollar investment of cash from Quick Enterprises to launch a business venture, so sleeping with the daughter of the investor would be a career disaster. Alison wants to impress her father with her business acumen, so she is sent to dig up everything she can on Adam and his company.

Can wealthy millennials balance business and pleasure without failing at one or the other? And when does due diligence become unduly personal?

This story can stand alone, though it has overlapping characters from Noelle August’s first book titled Boomerang. Don’t read these books in public places AND try to suppress your laughter, or you’re likely to snort coffee from your nose. Just saying, been there, done that. Not pretty.

Read an excerpt on Amazon.

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No TV Week 1

Television has brought me to the moon with Neil Armstrong, to Hogwarts with Harry Potter, and to the battlefields to witness war from a safe distance. It delivers world news as well as game shows showing people eating cave spiders. The challenge to live without television for a year is about better use of time. Television watching for me has become a mindless habit and a time suck. Can I meet this challenge?

I haven’t counted how many hours a day or a week were spent gaping at the screen, but even if it was merely an hour a day—that’s seven hours a week! How many times have I asked for more time in the day? Kinda scary to call my own bluff….

recycle bin after no tvDay 1 without television drove me to find things to do that I’ve been putting off, like sorting through a four-drawer shoulder-high filing cabinet for what to keep and what to jettison. We don’t need the warranty and maintenance records on the previous central air conditioner, or magazine and newspaper clippings from articles I’d published since college. Notes from a graduate class on Theatre Theory? Tossed. Lectures and syllabus from a writing course taught to middle-schoolers balled up and shot into the bin. Two points. Revisions of the police academy’s report writing classes I co-taught for three years with a detective and police lieutenant for the Polk Community College–gone. Fortunately the gents who man the recycling truck use a giant mechanical arm to lift the wheeled bins, or they’d be calling me unkind names.

Day 2, a Friday, and handsome invited me to the movie Unbroken. Some of you may say I lasted only one day, but this was a movie screen. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Day 3, after blowing dust off my iron, I ironed a few shirts to stay away from the tv. Later attended a Jewish wedding at a museum in St. Petersburg, Florida. Walked around the marina near the museum and saw dolphins playing among the anchored sailboats. Soooo much more fun that slouching in the sofa with a bowl of popcorn in one hand and a remote in the other. Could that be a contributing factor in my holiday weight gain? Hmmm.

No tv fly to VeniceDay 4, Handsome invited me to fly with him to lunch in Venice, Florida. Winds a tad too gusty for me, so he did all the flying. I haven’t piloted a plane in months, partly because the plane was in the shop for repairs, but also because my editing business picked up dramatically this year. Ahhh, the smell of avgas. The sound of the 550 Lycoming engine. I’ve missed you, sweet Centurion, N761XD.

Day 5, keeping up with dishes and laundry. Even filled the Keurig twice. Walked nowhere for an hour on the elliptical machine and then did yoga for thirty minutes. Instead of having television on, tunes played from my cellphone. Didn’t realize how visually oriented my life had become until the blinking screen turned dark.

Day 6, picked up pal Marylou Hess and rode down to Sarasota with a box of books for our mutual friend Martha Sibley George to sign. Martha’s first book is a beautiful historical set in WWII era. Martha has longed to publish her own book since college. What a joy to read Goodbye, Miss Emily at last.

Day 7. Finally have time to work on my own suspense trilogy. Round three of edits to streamline the structure and reduce the point of view characters from seven in early drafts to three. Thanks go out to critique partners: authors Melissa Hladik Meyer, KD FlemingCarol J. PostJamie BeckettJohn Foxjohn and the Lethal Ladies group. Your honesty and bluntness illuminate the flaws and guide the way to improving the stories.

Dear gentle reader, what would you do with an extra seven hours a week?

A Year Without Television

In 1949, 2 percent of homes in the United States had a television.

By 2007, 98 percent had a television.

–Parents Television Council

As a child I enjoyed television—all three stations (ABC, CBS, and NBC). When they were off the air they broadcast a screen that looked like one of these.

tv off air screen 2tv off airThe stations did not broadcast all day and all night, which meant families had to find other ways to entertain themselves. My brothers and I generally played outdoors all summer and after homework until streetlights came on. We played pickup games of ice hockey, football, baseball and such with the neighborhood kids and we learned how to share, take turns, work in teams, win graciously, and lose graciously. We learned how to settle disputes among ourselves, rarely seeking the advice of adults. Kids who did not learn to play well with others became spectators.

We discovered how to defend ourselves and how to take a hit. Mom’s rule—mom was a lawyer—dictated that we were not allowed to throw the first punch, but we were entitled to fiercely defend ourselves. There were bullies, but such kids were basically cowards who quickly learned from us to find other targets. The bullies also discovered whom we would defend—friends and any kids smaller than the bullies.

We used our imaginations and created games of tag (on bikes, on skates, on skateboards, on ice skates). On the rare occasion we found large boxes, or spare boards, we built forts, treehouses and worlds of our own. Rainy days drove us indoors to play cards, cheer over board games, or read books.

According to the Parents Television Council children watch about 28 hours of television a week.

Four hours a day?! I understand that times have changed and it isn’t as safe as it once was for children to play outdoors, but WOW, is childhood best spent watching television? Four hours a day is enough time to learn a second language, or master a skill, learn to play an instrument, play a team sport, or read great books. Are children getting their times’ worth from television?

Frankly, I’m afraid to tally the hours per week I’ve shot on it. In light of the lowering standards in television, such as reality shows, violence, and its general reinforcement of heinous behavior, I have decided to conduct a one-year experiment.

I WILL NOT WATCH TELEVISION FOR ONE YEAR.

MB900385403As my sports pals say, “Go big or go home.” As far as New Years’ resolutions go, this one feels BIG. So no television for me on the 65-inch screen in the living room, the laptop, the phone, the iPad, or any device. Cold turkey. Welcome to Zombies Anonymous. My name is Joni and I’m a television addict.

Will I miss Fox News and CNN putting their own take on current events? Gasp. Will I be forced to form my own opinions instead of being fed those of the broadcast media? Goodbye to the even-handed insights of Doctor Charles Krauthammer. Episodes of “Castle,” “CSI,” “Major Crimes,” and “The Librarians” will continue without me. Reruns of Harry Potter, Sabrina, and The Matrix will play on other people’s televisions.

Laugh if you must, but look around at children and teens hunched over tiny screens instead of interacting with the world around them. Last week I found two teenage girls in the same room texting messages to each other. As an adult, perhaps I should lead by example. Step away from the screen. Disconnect from the twenty-four-hour feed of violence, fantasy, and false realities shown on hundreds of channels.

What will I do with the time previously wasted staring at a blinking box? Time will tell. Wagers will be made among my friends as to how long I’ll last. I might learn a new language or write another novel, exercise more, read more, or take on more clients for my editing business. Each week I’ll post a blog to report on how it’s going.

Tomorrow is December 31, 2014, so pardon me while I binge on recordings stored on the DVR. Like Mardi Gras revelers celebrate in excess all the things to be given up for Lent, I intend to park on the sofa for one last, long viewing session.

What would you do with an extra four hours a day?

Mom Rules

I have learned that teenagers live in the age of forgetting. Simple skills–even basic rules of civilized conduct–they mastered at age seven disappear at age 14, like closing doors, saying ‘please’ and ‘thank-you’, putting things back where they found them, hanging clothes on hangers, using hampers, carrying dirty dishes to the kitchen. They forget where they put their belongings. They forget their given names and adopt nicknames like Moose, Bucky, Bubba, Skip, and Gator. They forget civilized behavior when it disagrees with what they want to do on the impulse of the moment—like telephoning a friend at midnight.

RulesAfter studying my daughter and her friends, I found that teens respond quicker to peer-pressure than to a parent’s decrees. To wit, I developed a method for using peer pressure to my advantage—to make Mom’s rules equally memorable and effective.

Teenagers are old enough to understand civilized behavior. They know better; they just don’t care. To make them care, I wait for them to make an egregious error and then name a rule after them. For example, the Emily Rule is that no one is allowed to drive the SeaDoo on the lawn. Doing so causes the loss of driving privileges. Sucking up dirt also damages the motor.

We have a home theater that seats seven and a small exercise room beyond the theater. I’d rather have the darlings at my home where I can watch them than worry about where they are, so we share our toys. Put teenagers in the dark, however, and anything can happen, so I made it my policy to occasionally open the door, offer to make popcorn and silently count heads. On one evening the count showed two missing. I strode through the movie room to the exercise room and found a pair of teens on the floor groping one another. This enacted the Megan/Scott Rule. Now when teens settle in for a movie, they hear me say, “The Megan/Scott Rule is in effect.” The students familiar with the policy explain it to the others.

Talk about a chilling effect. Teens want to be famous but not for dumb stunts. Fear of having a rule named after them works quite well. When Bucky, an 18-year-old who lives on his own, came to visit he brought over a giant convenience store cup. He’d always behaved wonderfully on previous visits, but this time he tried to smuggle in beer. It became suspicious when these germ-phobic teens passed the drink around. I intercepted it.

Bucky pleaded, “Oh, no. You’re not going to—“

“Pour it out? Yes. Name a new rule? Oh, yes.”

He groaned, apologized and then said, “Are you going to kick me out?”

“You’re welcome here without the beer.”

He hugged me. Perhaps he’d been kicked out of homes before. As we say, “Hate the sin, love the sinner.”

We recently held a going-away party for one of my daughter’s close friends. About thirty teens showed up to eat like locusts and sign a giant card. Near the end of the three-hour open house a few older boys showed up. They had accessorized their cars with the latest, most useless and expensive lights to illuminate the undercarriage and the stick shift and the headliner. The party moved outside where teens ogled the car. Others did flips and cartwheels on the lawn. One of the parents called to speak with her daughter, so I carried the cordless phone outside. That’s where I picked up the scent of marijuana.

I handed the phone to the girl and closed my eyes. The wind was blowing from the west, so I pivoted westward and started walking. Like a targeted missile I headed toward the bushes. The bushes suddenly shook and two older teens burst from them.

“We were just smoking,” said one who didn’t look at me.

“Do you have a note from your doctor?”

“Sorry?” Both looked up.

“Unless you’re being treated for cancer you’re not allowed to smoke marijuana on my property. It’s time for you to go home.”

“Who said we were smoking pot?” said the one with spiked hair. He glared at the other teens standing far off.

“I grew up in the sixties.”

They mumbled apologies and left. Before they had left the block a group of teens gathered around me and asked what I was going to do.

“I’m going to make a new rule. Since I didn’t get names, theirs is the Dope Rule. If this happens again I’ll call the police, so spread the word.”

Rules for TeenagersAnd yes, lest the gentle reader imagines that only visiting teenagers earn rules, let me state the Jessica rule. There will be no parties held at the house unless at least one parent is at home. The darlings cleaned up so well we almost didn’t detect the party, except for the drained boat tank and the rearrangement of pool furniture. Jessica was in full-denial mode until Bucky visited the next week and casually asked me if I was proud of how they cleaned up after themselves. The poor dear young man simultaneously received a pat on the back from me, and a kick in the shins under the table from Jessica.

Years from now when these young people graduate from the age of forgetting I hope they will remember the safe haven of my home. Mine won’t be the house they remember for the shooting or the Saturday night fights or the liquor closet. I hope they remember my house for the movies, the afternoons on the lake, the pizza parties, and the Rules. Perhaps they will even use my techniques on their own children. Let this be my legacy.

___________________

Tampa Bay Sounding, a publication within the high-IQ organization Mensa. Yep, I am a card-carrying geek and proud of it.

Damn Yankees and Other Pests

MP900314057Since moving to Florida as a Yankee, I’ve learned most things about the native pests the hard way.

Mutant-size Roaches

While unpacking that first week I learned the two-part horror of what the gentry euphemistically calls a Palmetto bug. The first horror is that it looks like a mutant-size roach, so when one skittered along the floorboard I mistook it for a mouse. Then it ran up the wall. After I crept up to it, with my arm drawn back, shoe in hand, the second horror manifested itself. The mutants fly! It flew at my face and landed in my hair. For a few minutes I flailed on the carpet, smacking my head with the shoe and screaming with my mouth shut. (My brothers witnessed it, so yeah, they will gleefully describe it to others at any opportunity.) Welcome to Florida.

Fire Ants

Within the month I learned the Fire Ant Dance. All the craze in this giant sand lot state, the dance begins by standing in one place on a green lawn. You will feel nothing as a legion of the tiny red ants sneaks up your legs. The ants attack with the kind of silent uniform precision that Navy Seals employ. The dance grows frantic in a combination of primal scream therapy and hopping, gyrating, and jerking movements that were popular in the sixties. But the dance doesn’t end when you’ve smashed the last hateful ankle-biter, no, then the itching pustules form to haunt you for days, lingering as tiny souvenirs of this nature encounter. I long considered bug repellent my signature scent.

Termites

The most expensive lessons on native insects came after we bought our first home. A Mediterranean style beauty, our first home consumed a decade of savings in the down payment. We were so proud to live in it. So, apparently were the termites. The subterraneans introduced themselves by burrowing up through a microscopic crack in the foundation, up the furring, to poke their tiny pinchers through a pin-point hole in the drywall. A small pile of sawdust was the first clue of their presence. Evicting them meant boring holes in the foundation inside and outside, into the porch, and into the pool deck.

But then their cousins, the drywoods, awoke from their mystic slumber in the lumber and chewed their way down through a door jamb. We had to temporarily move out while the exterminators filled our home with noxious fumes. Our cherished dwelling looked like a circus tent for days. The neighborhood kids gathered to ask if there would be elephants and cotton candy. Again, let me remind the gentle reader that Florida is a giant sand lot, the perfect breeding ground for armies of vicious, well-organized pests.

Mosquitos

Without porch screens Florida would be entirely uninhabitable. The mosquito, the state bird, comes in three distinct varieties—the blind, the biting and the oh-dear-Lord size. The blind mosquitoes swarm like gnats, rising in clouds off the lawn in their peculiar three-day life cycle then they die off leaving what looks like black snowdrifts at doorways. The biters, well, the males buzz and don’t bite. The silent females are so aggressive that they will suck blood through leather shoes. The third kind of mosquito might not be a mosquito at all, but it looks like one, only much, much larger. I’ve heard rumors that the State of Florida breeds these giants because they eat the larvae of the biters. The state-sponsored giants look like they can cart off half a pint of blood each, but they are the good guys. Nonetheless, it has taken years to overcome the instinct to swat them.

Spiders

web

Spiders bother me the most. Florida is home to the Brown Recluse, the Black Widow, the Banana and many other alarming varieties of toxic web spinners. Sure, they help reduce the mosquito population, but when my shrubs get covered in webs every fall gardening is over until January. I’ve learned to watch for the distinctive zigzag pattern of the Banana Spider’s web. Once I sprayed hornet spray directly on a Banana Spider, saturating him and knocking him off his web. He was back the next day. Chemical warfare was not enough. It took a shovel to prevent him from breeding.

Forget the cute fuzzy caterpillars of children’s books. Florida has poisonous caterpillars wearing Halloween colors. I suppose they become that way because they exfoliate Oleanders, you know, the tourist-killing plants whose straight toxic branches look perfect for roasting marshmallows. These caterpillars transform into red-bellied black moths, not butterflies. It figures.

After twenty winters in Wisconsin and Indiana, I’m in Florida to stay despite the insects, the hurricanes, the alligators and the snakes. I had considered drafting a brochure to warn newcomers about the pests here, but then my neighbor explained that the difference between a Yankee and a Damn Yankee is whether they visit or move here, so that brochure idea quietly vanished. So, welcome to Florida, the state where it is considered sacrilege to point out that the center of tourism is a rodent theme park. Pests? What pests? This is America’s playground and I’m thrilled to live here.

__________

Tampa Bay Sounding, a publication within the high-IQ organization Mensa.

Boomerang

 

Boomerang (Boomerang, #1)Boomerang by Noelle August

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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A feel-great, choke-on-your-coffee, cringe-worthy, awkwardly hilarious romp from page one, this adult romantic comedy makes me grateful I’m married. Torn between competition and yearning, Mia and Nathan’s relationship resembles the act of spinning plates on poles–creating awe and a heavy dose of impending disaster until the very last moment. The self-deprecating inner monologues of Mia and Nathan reveal the true depths of their conflicted, complex, want-but-can’t-have yearnings. There are no minor characters in this story because the friends, family and co-workers of Mia and Nathan’s world each sparkle and delight as unique. Wonderful!

Cheers to authors Lorin Oberweger and Veronica Rossi for combining your formidable talents to develop such a memorably marvelous story. I haven’t laughed that hard in too long. This is a good-for-the-heart read. This reader gets the impression that this must have been fun to write because it was so much fun to read. Thank you. Thank you. You owe me a night’s sleep. The book stuck in my hand.

Read an excerpt on Amazon.