Sunday, December 20, 2015

Party Season & Sassy Saturday Post

My!  As if the season could get any busier, my husband and I (Evans & Rogers) just got booked for a party on New Years Day.  It promises to be a lot of fun, and we're both looking forward to it.  We have lots of parties to go to with good friends to see.  Life is good.  God is good.

For my Sassy Saturday friends, here's the latest tidbit to show off of my heroine, Janette West.  This comes from my latest book, Man Trouble.

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Excerpt from Man Trouble, chapter two

It was quite chilly outside in the desert night air, but not inside that car. Kiss after long kiss, the windows began to steam up just like my head. Something told me it was time to end the evening before it got any hotter.

“Alan, we’d better go,” I wanted to say, once I could come up for air, but then I was distracted by a breeze down my back. I tried to ignore it until I felt his hands touch my skin where he shouldn’t have been able to. Immediately the fog lifted.

My outfit was a straight skirt that fastened in the back and a simple sweater that buttoned down the back as well. Alan, deft as a pickpocket, had undone them both.

“Stop it!!” I shouted and yanked myself away. “Stop it right now, Alan, and take me home!”

Instead of doing as I asked, he reached for me again with a seductive touch, stroking my skin and pulling me closer. “Look, just relax,” he said softly. “We won’t do anything bad. We’ll just cuddle close for a minute, that’s all.”

What a touch! This guy knew his stuff, and had I been a weaker person, it would have posed a real problem. But I stood firm and kept up my efforts to elude his grasp. “Alan, I mean it. Stop it and take me home!”

Still he would not comply and continued his attempts to make love, pulling me close again as he said,
“Don’t worry, baby. I’ll be good. I promise, I’ll be real good.”

But that didn’t work. Squirming until my hands were in front of me, I pushed against his arms with all my might. And still he wouldn’t give up. Once free from his embrace I didn’t expect him to keep going, but he grabbed me again to hold me tenderly, keeping me from putting my clothes back together and causing them to be even looser.

That was the last straw. This time I got away and jumped back to the far side of the seat. When he came after me again with more love and kisses, I made sure it was the last time.

Alan drove us home slowly with one hand on the steering wheel while the other nursed a bloody nose and a swollen eye; his lip was also cut. I thought of offering to drive once I saw the awful damage my little fists had done, but believed the lesson might be better learned without trying to make things easier.




Saturday, December 12, 2015

Writing Fiction: Past vs. Present Day

Many writers enjoy creating stories in a modern setting.  Not me.  Perhaps those who write historic novels and regency romances do so for some of the same reasons that I choose the past for a good story setting.

Somehow it is much easier to create intrigue and cause your characters all sorts of problems without the convenience of modern technology.  No cell phones to make a quick phone call or computers to get information.  Without modern media, communications and other technology, a person can disappear and not be found--intentionally or unintentionally.  All sorts of deeds and misdeeds can be done and not be so quickly, if ever, discovered. 

But also there is a warmth about looking backward to simpler, less complicated times, when the outside world was farther away and not sitting on our desk top.  My mystery/romance series, The War This Side Of Heaven, is set in the late 1960's.  The town is Albuquerque, New Mexico, but like Route 66, the story line winds from Chicago to L.A., especially the second and third books.  This period was the time that still held much of the old charm of the American Southwest.  The Mother Road was still the way to travel, with all sorts of interesting places to stop, including the ones you counted on, like Stucky's.  ABQ is where I saw my first drive-through liquor store, and the little motels on the west end of town had that wonderful look of paint on old adobe.  It had much more charm than the sprawling metropolis of today.

Ah!  Those were the days, especially for the kind of stories I like to write.  Mystery, romance, suspense, adventure, during a time when families sat down together at the dinner table on a daily basis and a highball was often the only drug of choice.  I would be curious to hear from some of you out there who write fiction, to hear your thoughts on Past vs. Present Day for story settings.  Any takers?

The War This Side Of Heaven:

  • Book 1 -- The After School Murders (on Amazon)  Trailer: https://youtu.be/nPqwJ34CuCY
  • Book 2 -- Man Trouble (on Amazon) Trailer:  https://youtu.be/ta0XpOxMUAk
  • Short Story -- Heart of a Man In Love (on Amazon) Trailer: https://youtu.be/D73k30F6ZZ0
  • Book 3 -- Killing Old Ghosts (expected release date Summer 2016)

SASSY SATURDAY HOP


This post is from the first chapter of The After School Murders.  Our heroine, Janette West, has been away for a while and her old friend Margo Townsend is catching her up on things. 

We finished our sandwiches and then went to her room to take a look at the file on Conrad. The one thing Margo kept in impeccable order was her ADG file cabinet. It only took her a second to put Mr. Conrad in my hands.

“I’m impressed, Muggs. Even on paper he looks good. And so much information! I’ve never seen a file this fat that wasn’t Jake Noonan’s.”

“It was a labor of love, believe me. He’s very nice and fairly easy to talk to, believe it or not. On the surface you’ll find that he tends to be rather quiet and even withdrawn at times, but don’t let that fool you. When he’s out of the classroom and relaxed, you’ll see that there really is a personality there and a very pleasant one. It’s all on the Personal Observation sheet.”

“I’m still checking out the Personal Information sheet. And these photos! How many did you take?” I picked up a bulging envelope that held about thirty snapshots and skipped through them. “Haut boy! That’s a nice car.”

“It’s a Jaguar. Custom made, if you can believe that. That’s what the boys tell me.”

“Yeah and I’ve always wanted one of those. Hey, far out! I see what you mean about the apartment. Margo, did he let you take all of these pictures?”

“Well—not exactly.”

“Margo, were you breaking and entering again?”

“No, dear, B & E wasn’t necessary. I went in with a partner. She actually managed to get him out of the apartment while we were there and I worked very fast while they were out. Also, some of the pictures are from the party he had. Still I had to do it without drawing his attention. I’m getting pretty good, ain’t I?”

“Yeah, but don’t let Fletcher find out you’re doing this kind of thing.”

“Aw, what’s he gonna do? Besides, he’s the one that taught me how so I can be a hotshot reporter someday. Thanks to him I got a new camera, too. Makes a big difference.”

Don’t let Margo’s words give you the wrong idea. We teased the man about his nervous habits and sometimes called him by his first name, but everyone in the Guild greatly loved and respected Bill Fletcher. He was a good friend whose wisdom and advice we valued. Without Bill the ADG might not have continued to exist; and it certainly would not be anywhere near the success it had become without the help and guidance he had so freely given.

“You will get me copies of this won’t you, Muggs? I mean the paper. I don’t think I’ll need the photos.”

“Sure. But in a few weeks I want to know your observations on Conrad. I’ve got a feeling about him. I don’t think it’s anything big, you understand, just something out of the ordinary. He’s got me curious.”

“Or maybe he’s got you smitten. Sure, I’ll tell you anything you want to know.”

“I am not smitten. He’s out of my league, too, you know. Oh, and that reminds me. There’s another file that goes with his.” She reached into a different drawer and brought out a thin little folder. “This is the one big chink I’ve found in his armor. Remember her?”

“Vicky Marshall. . . . Yeah, I remember her—the campus sex pot. Man! It was the funniest thing when Old Mac got a hold of her.” ‘Old Mac’ was what we called our principal, Mrs. MacGregor. “That dame had to buy a whole new wardrobe just for school. So she’s latched onto Conrad, huh?”

“I’m afraid so. Disgusting, isn’t it?”

“Yes, but men will be men. I mean, just look at her. She’s practically another Jayne Mansfield. But what’s worse than that is he’s dating someone he works with. That’s not very smart.”

“Oh? How so?”

“Well, a serious courtship is one thing because people have empathy for you if there are problems. But if he’s not serious—and who could be serious about her—what happens when you want to call things off? You don’t need scandal on a job you’re interested in keeping. It’s not worth it.”

“I never thought of that. Financially he probably doesn’t need a job, but—”

“There’s something inside him that needs it. And whatever that is, I suspect it’s a part of the mystery we’d like to solve.”

“I’m glad you said ‘we.’ Now the case is yours, since I don’t have him for any classes. Do you want a copy of Marshall’s file, too? I don’t have as much info on her as some of the guys might, but you’re welcome to what I’ve got.”

“Sure, I’ll take it. Why not? If I need more later, I’ll get it then. The boys’ll have plenty.”

“I’ll run them both through the mimeograph the first chance I get. Eventually I’ll get you the updates for your file on Jake the Snake, too. Say, can I get you a drink? I’m gonna have one.”

“Yeah.”

She disappeared for a moment and came back with glasses and ice. While I took a last look at Mr. Conrad’s file, she poured the wet stuff and put a drink in my hand. The first sip brought my taste buds an interesting sensation. It was my old usual, dark rum and RC Cola on the Rocks. I’d been away so long that I had forgotten what having a drink at Margo’s meant. 

###


Writers, please take note of my other post for today.  I would love to have your comments there as well.
  ----------------------------------------------
The War This Side Of Heaven:

  • Book 1 -- The After School Murders (on Amazon)  Trailer: https://youtu.be/nPqwJ34CuCY
  • Book 2 -- Man Trouble (on Amazon) Trailer:  https://youtu.be/ta0XpOxMUAk
  • Short Story -- Heart of a Man In Love (on Amazon) Trailer: https://youtu.be/D73k30F6ZZ0
  • Book 3 -- Killing Old Ghosts (expected release date Summer 2016)

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Good News & Sassy Saturday Post

On Monday of this past week (Nov. 30th), the Ascot Library here in Los Angeles--a place that was such a pleasant and important part of my childhood--was dedicated to my late sister, Wanda Coleman.  Wanda was a brilliant poet and short story writer and activist who won numerous awards for her work, including an Emmy and a Guggenheim.  Her books are available through the Los Angeles Public Library system, and soon mine will be as well.  The first two books in my series, The War This Side of Heaven, are The After School Murders and Man Trouble, and the librarians have happily said that they will acquire copies and make them available through the Los Angeles Public Library system.

To my delight, lots of people are showing interest in my latest book, Man Trouble.  But I'm planning to branch out and write other stories not related to the series.  I've got some interesting ideas outlined, and I'm getting excited about them as well.  But now, for those who have yet to read my stories, here is another vignette which shows off the heroine of The War This Side of Heaven, Janette West.  Enjoy.

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Excerpt from Man Trouble, 
Chapter Three "Christmas Jeer"

Then, as if life wasn’t interesting enough, it waxed more colorful on Wednesday, the 13th.

“Janette,” called a feminine voice. I turned and saw Vicky Marshall out in the hallway, hands on hips and staring at me with an expression strongly suggestive of being put out. The smile on her lips was strained, her head was tilted, and the daggers coming from her big green eyes were almost visible. Her voice was pleasant, however as she said, “Janette, could you come here a minute, please? I’d like to talk to you.”

Oh, God! Now what is it? I could have ignored her, but decided to get whatever it was out of the way. I followed along to her classroom and she closed the door behind us.

“Janette, have you been telling Mr Conrad that he ought not to go out with me?”

“What? No, of course not.”

“Are you sure of that?”

“Yes, I’m sure. We never talk about that sort of thing.”

“Well, I’m sorry but I don’t believe it. And I’m telling you right now that I don’t appreciate the way you’ve interfered in my relationship with him. You come along and then he starts asking me questions about God and what I think about faith and religion; now he’s called things off with us for no good reason. The only thing he had to say was that what we were doing wasn’t right, and that he just didn’t think we should see each other anymore. Now, why else would he say something like that if you hadn’t influenced him?”

Am I hearing things? He said that? That’s tough to believe. For a moment I was too stunned to answer. When I did find my voice I asked, “Are you sure that’s what he said?”

“I most certainly am. I made him repeat it. Then I asked him several times if I had done anything wrong and he said that I hadn’t.”

“What else did he say?”

“He said that if God was real then he needed him on his side and didn’t want to offend him. Now, naturally I asked him if there was somebody else he was interested in, but all he said was that it wouldn’t make any difference one way or the other because it was over with us.”

“Well, I’ll be! I had no idea. Honestly, Miss Marshall, Mr Conrad rarely mentions you or any of his other girlfriends.”

“Other girlfriends?”

“Oh, I just figured he had others. I don’t know for sure. Anyway, I never told him he shouldn’t see you anymore or even suggested it. Now, if you’ll please excuse me, I’d better get to class.”

“Not just yet.” She blocked the door until she could finish saying her piece. “Now, since you were the one that messed things up, I want you to have a little talk with Mr Conrad and fix it. Do you understand me?”

Lady, what side of stupid did you get up on this morning? Do you know who you’re talking to? A smile spread across my face and I nearly laughed out loud. “And if I don’t fix it?”

“Then maybe people might find it interesting to know that you’re trying to take my place with Mr Conrad, because I’m beginning to think you are; turning his head with your fancy clothes and that religious talk. Maybe the other woman he’s got is you.”

Now I did laugh openly. “Oh, man! You can’t be serious!” It felt like old times, having a teacher call me on the carpet. My anger didn’t rise up like it used to, though. Actually it was rather amusing, and would have even been flattering had the place she held with Mr Conrad not been such a low one. Finally, since this whole business was making me late to class, I began to get annoyed and decided to bring this conversation to a close. “Miss Marshall, do you have any idea why you still have a job at this school? Maybe you think it’s because you’ve changed the way you dress and stopped all those little games you used to play with the boys, but that’s not the reason. The reason is that certain friends of mine weren’t willing to give you up as a hobby, so they withheld evidence against you. Well, Miss Vicky, I have some of that evidence, and there are others who have collected even more since then. Now, if at any time you feel you would like everybody else to have it, too, then you just try and make good on your threat. Now, please step aside so I can go to class.”

Miss Marshall turned pale and swallowed hard. Then without another word, she moved aside and let me pass.

I wasn’t sure I would mention the incident to Mr C because it would likely upset him far more than it did me. Still, I was dying to know what was going on with him. Was that his real and only reason for dumping her, because it “wasn’t right”? I’d often thought he’d tire of her eventually and find another main squeeze, but this looked like something else. Well, whatever his reason, this news was a bright spot in an otherwise dismal season. But then I hadn’t made it to my next class yet.

BOOK TRAILER AT:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ta0XpOxMUAk
ON AMAZON AT:  http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B009YPOQ7U

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Sassy Saturday Post -- The After School Murders, Chapter 2

I wasn't able to post last Saturday for the Sassy Saturday group, due to entertaining the troops and the Moorpark Civil War re-enactment.  But here's another look at the heroine in my series, The War This Side of Heaven.  And in the following scene we also get a look at the killer who teaches one of Janette's classes.
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From The After School Murders -- Chapter Two

Friday, September 6:
Before we knew it, lunch was over and the next class period well under way; but we took our time walking back. Mr. Fletcher had no class that hour and it was much too late to hurry anyway. Once back in the Journalism room, he wrote me a note and sent me off to what was left of Gymnastics.

Being late from lunch also affected my getting to U.S. Government. It was a scream to see the look on Noonan’s face when I walked in. Not having dressed for Gymnastics, I arrived cool and completely unruffled five minutes before the second bell rang. And there he was all set to jump down my throat for being late again. Being well aware of the situation from the excuse he’d heard the day before, Noonan naturally expected a repeat of tardiness. His look of disappointment and perplexity was a pleasure to behold.

Academically, it was going to be a breeze to make it through this class, but still I made notes while there. Then in between my study notes were written my observations on Noonan’s interactions with the girls in the class.

I had never been one to sit in the back of any classroom. That was the place chosen by troublemakers and the dopes that didn’t care about getting a decent education—as if that were really possible without effort outside the classroom. Blending in had been my M.O. until I went to war and began terrorizing teachers. But now, sitting against the back wall, the position afforded the opportunity for such important revelations that I wondered why I hadn’t thought of it sooner. Sitting in the corner by the rear door and with a number of vacant seats around me, I could easily see most of what went on. The only thing was that I didn’t dare let Noonan see how carefully I was watching him.

It was a relief that the man was finally teaching his class as he was supposed to. This meant less boredom and frustration for me. Of course, under the heavy hand and watchful eye of the school’s principal, Mrs. MacGregor, Noonan had no choice if he wanted to keep his job. His style also afforded some amusement. After observing for only a few days, it was easy to see what his political leanings were, even though he didn’t take a soapbox approach to persuasion. This entertainment value would help in getting through the class each day.

Though he didn’t flirt openly as he once did, there were those that Jake the Snake gave more smiles, more complements and over-all attention to. Some were more susceptible to it than others, but I kept an eye on them all, just in case. Since my view from the back didn’t allow me to read all the expressions on the faces of these girls, I couldn’t get the whole picture and didn’t dare make assumptions. Then again, knowing what I did about my enemy and what he was after, their reactions really were secondary.

Noonan didn’t like dark meat. He had a particular liking for the brown-eyed senoritas, if they had that Castilian look about them. Otherwise it was the fair skinned, rosy-cheeked girls he preferred. I was the only exception, and the reason had nothing to do with a physical attraction; where I was concerned, it was simply hatred and revenge. Still, it was possible that, as Margo had said, my new look just might put some thoughts in his head about me—and that thought made me want to vomit.

The other exception was Noonan’s wife. It didn’t take a genius to figure out that he consistently liked his females young and vivacious, while Marybeth Noonan was twelve years his senior and suffered from polio. To the na├»ve, the man was a saint for joyfully taking on such a burden; but it was obvious that all he had wanted was her money—and she had plenty from Texas oil and cattle after her father died. Noonan was, however, enough of a charmer to make her and lots of other people believe he had a genuine affection for her. Either that or her family was glad to have someone to finally foist her off on, and had simply looked the other way.

So I would make my notes daily, and amongst my observations would be thoughts on which girls would most likely accept his advances, and which were most likely to heed a warning.

------- The After School Murders is available on Amazon

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Exerpt: The After School Murders -- Chapter 1

Today's blog and others that I will post on Saturdays, will introduce you to Janette West, the heroine of my trilogy and ongoing series, The War This Side of Heaven.  This edited tidbit from The After School Murders is from the very beginning of the first chapter. With the recent release of the second book in the series, Man Trouble, look for The After School Murders to be available at a discount, particularly on Kindle.

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WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 4, 1968:
Apprehension gave way to awe as I made my way through the small but growing crowd very early that first day of school. The definite sound of my high heels on the linoleum tile echoed the growing confidence in my heart. Up the stairs and down long hallways, people I’d known for years looked at me without recognition—and smiled! It was almost like being invisible.

There was Mr “Heavy on the Onions” Garcia, the Algebra teacher, unlocking the door to his room.   The very mention of my name made the hair on the back of his neck stand to attention. As I walked by, he offered a pleasant smile and said good morning. The question in his eyes said that he wondered who I was.

Reaching the stairwell a few feet away, I released the laughter I held back.
 
Oh, man! This is gonna be fun!

Upstairs to the third floor of the main building was my first class of the day, French III. Walking briskly, I managed to be the first student to arrive. Instead of the lady I’d known from previous years, a man stood at the blackboard writing his name at the top: Monsieur Conrad. He was a new one, at least to me. Brushing chalk from his hands, he turned to reach for the jacket on the back of his chair when I caught his eye. He did a double take and then unabashedly surveyed me from head to toe.

Obviously Monsieur Conrad assumed I was an adult—as did everyone else. But it was no wonder. The makeup alone must have added ten years or more to my brown-eyed baby face. Then there was my outfit: a gorgeous deep burgundy, three-buttoned silk suit that perfectly hugged my 34”-22”-36” figure. The tailored jacket had pale gold fabric on the deep cut open collar and the cuffs of the 3/4 length sleeves. The unadorned straight skirt had a hemline, which ended two and a half inches below the knee with a kick pleat in the back. My jewelry was gold toned Aurora Borealis earrings with matching necklace. Long, cream colored gloves graced my hands and forearms. My medium brown complexion, darkened by the summer sun, made the coffee colored stockings almost invisible on my legs, except for the seams up the back. Wearing simple dark brown leather pumps with slender ankle straps, the two-inch heels gave my petite, five foot one and a half inch frame a nice little boost. And naturally my hair had to go with all the rest. Thick and black, it was permed straight and trimmed to about three inches past shoulder length, curled and pompadour-ed in front, then down in back for a typical 1940’s do.

Although this teacher certainly liked what he saw, it wasn’t a lecherous look he gave me. More than anything, his expression showed pleasant surprise. For in this era of beads, fringe, plastic mini skirts, plastic flowers, and polyester double knit, my clothes were a serious departure from the latest fashion, even for adults.

Slowly slipping into his suit coat, he focused on my face and hair with interest and curiosity. Then pulling the garment into proper alignment with his body, Monsieur Conrad smiled slightly broader and stepped closer. His nostrils flared as they caught my perfume: roses.

“May I help you?” he asked in a deep, warm baritone voice that almost buckled my knees.

“No, I don’t think so,” I replied pleasantly and took my usual seat, front-row center.

I checked him out, too, but was more discreet. A well tailored three-piece, charcoal gray pinstriped suit, white monogrammed shirt, dark blue tie, gold stickpin, and shiny black leather shoes were the clothes that made this man. The man was even better. Close to six-foot tall, medium build, nice broad shoulders, medium blond hair—slightly wavy, perfect white teeth set off by evenly tanned skin, classic Caucasian facial features, and blue-gray eyes behind rimless glasses. And no wedding ring!

“This is French II and III,” he went on, still trying to convince me of being in the wrong place.

“Mais oui. Je sais bien, Monsieur.”

With my casual acknowledgment of the facts, he realized I was a student. Monsieur’s color deepened with embarrassment and he looked me over again in disbelief before sputtering, “Uh—tres bien, Mademoiselle. C-comment vous appellez vous?”
 
“Je m’appelle Janette. Janette West.”

 My reputation had certainly preceded me. At the sound of my name he gasped and the smile quickly faded and his blushing color faded to ashen. Again he looked me over, then finally exhaled. Though not as wide or genuine, the smile returned shortly. The color took a little longer. At last he said,
“Enchant├ę, Mademoiselle. I’ve heard a lot about you.”

Sunday, October 25, 2015

I'm Baaaaack! New book and busy, busy life

     Some things must go by the wayside, like writing a regular blog.  How can the artist work on his craft if he must constantly promote and involve himself with social media, email lists and whatnot?  With all the modern technology and time-saving conveniences of this present age, we have much less time to relax and enjoy life than we did 30 or 40 years ago.  And it's not about to get any better.
      But now, here I am again, an entertainer (www.evansandrogers.com) as well as the mother of a new non-profit organization (www.Dreamville.org) and giving the blog a try, while I prepare to start a new job.  With the soon release of the second book in my series (in about 5 days), I want to reach out and let my online friends know to look for it.  This new book is my husband's favorite in the trilogy.  I think my favorite is the third book, but I have certainly enjoyed them all.
      The title of the new book is Man Trouble.  In this one, my heroine, Janette West, has her hands full with all kinds of adventures.  Then on top of that, the man who is her teacher, David Conrad, seems to have far more than an academic interest in her.  In the beginning she figures she can handle it, while she subtly digs for clues to whatever secret the man is hiding.  Before she knows it, though, she falls in love with this middle aged playboy and is terrified of the consequences of involvement.
     But that's just one of her men.  Aside from a couple of young ones from her peer group, she gets introduced to another older man, and just in time for the holidays.  A handsome blond beefcake by the name of Teddy Molloy blows in from Chicago and shows up at the church house one evening in December.  In his late twenties, he is also out of her league age-wise, but that doesn't put her off.  After a rough introduction, the two find some good common ground and quickly grow into a tight relationship.  There's only one big obstacle to the two getting even better acquainted.  Molloy happens to be a Roman Catholic priest.
     So here we have one lovely teenaged girl (yes, "teenaged" is a proper word, just like "middle aged," which also closes with a "d") who has two very attractive older men who have greatly attached themselves to her, and she to them.  While she doesn't think of it as a triangle, once the men discover each other, war breaks out.  And while all this is going on, here comes the setup for uncovering and solving the mystery in David Conrad's past. 
     I've had lots of fun writing these books, and the fun will always continue, whether I have the time to blog about it or not.  Take a look at the new trailer that I've created for Man Trouble on You Tube.  It's there along with the others in the series, The After School Murders  and Heart Of A Man In Love.  The link to the video is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ta0XpOxMUAk
    I do hope that you'll like the video and that you'll pick up a copy of Man Trouble--either paperback or on Kindle.  You will certainly find some very good entertainment in its pages.  I made sure of that.