Snapshots from Eldredge

The life and writings of TJ Alexian


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Spring UP!

Today is the official first day of spring. Of course, here in New England, we are still digging out from the worst winter of snowstorms…ummm, EVER.

But there are signs of life. Take, for example, my dear friend St. Franky, who lives under a tree in our front yard. Here’s what Franky looks like now:

In contrast, here’s what he looked like two weeks ago:

So, PROGRESS! We’ve been joking that Frankie wasn’t actually under that pile of snow all winter. Our theory is he ran away to Florida with a saucy lawn gnome. But even if he did, it’s good to see the big guy back.

Now, if we could only see the rest of him! I am so sick of this horrible boring white stuff! REAL spring cannot come fast enough, in my opinion. I want St. Franky surounded by a field of verdant foliage and STAT! Come the true spring, he’ll have no need to run away with saucy lawn gnomes. They’ll want to come visit him!

Happy first day of spring, you all.


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Available free today (and for four days after that!)

CellarStairs_v4b

Just in time for the season, I wanted to let everyone know that my YA thriller, Pictures of You, is available as a free Kindle download for the next five days. Here’s what Star Book Reviews had to say about the novel a few days ago:

“Read the blurb and Pictures of You appears to be a typical supernatural young adult suspense, but you don’t have to dig for long to discover a real heart and soul that helps carry this work high above many of its contemporaries. This novel – presented in diary format – is written with a kind of brevity and care that you’ll go a long way to find again.

Despite its dark overtones – and at times I was genuinely surprised at the themes this book explored – every time I returned to reading, I felt as though I was receiving a nice warm hug, in spite of the wrath the story threw at me.

Author T.J. Alexian says that the novel is about learning to accept the ghosts of our past, and for Ashes, our 16-year-old main character, she’ll be forced to face an onslaught before this story is through. Her older brother Daniel passed away some years before this story begins, and both Ashes and her mother are going through the motions of life. How can you ever recover from the loss of a young life?

But her world is rocked when videos filmed on Daniel’s camcorder some years before suddenly begin surfacing on YouTube. The footage is filmed by her brother, but Ashes has never seen these videos before. As the videos increase in number, the mystery deepens. Who is behind this? And, more importantly, why?

In any suspense novel, there is that dreaded line between entertaining your reader, and allowing them room to uncover the mystery for themselves. Pictures of You perfectly balances supernatural and suspense elements, never letting the reader become too passive. While the well paced plot serves to bolster the mystery, the absence of any conceited romance story or typical teenage tropes linked to this genre, are a credit to the novel, providing room to further explore what should be paramount to Ashes: answers.”

For the rest of the review, go here. Or, just download it yourself and fine out what it’s all about!


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Enter…Ping the Merciless

Ping

This was not my idea, I swear.

I blame Corb’s mom. She was at home one day and saw a man sneaking behind her house. When she went to see what he was up to, she discovered a two-week old kitten underneath a bush. She immediately thought of us.

Corb immediately named her Ping.

My brother Tommy added “The Merciless.” And that kind of is what she is like. She is a terror! Part of that is because Corb’s mom had her for a few weeks before we picked her up (had to make sure she weighed enough and didn't have feline AIDS) and her live-in significant other liked to “roughhouse” with the kitten. “Maybe I played with her a little rough,” the old coot chuckled as dropped her off. “I had to start wearing gloves!” Gee, thanks for that.

Now the entire zoo is scared of her. Our dog Kyra has a nasty scratch on her snout from Ping. Hayley is constantly being tormented by her. I think Ping thinks of Hayley as a mother figure. Only, a mother whose tail you like to pounce upon and bite. That’s real love, there.

And as for the humans? Well, Theo loves her, although even he can find her a little distracting when he is trying to play video games. And as for me and Corb? Last night I was in bed trying to map out the rehearsal schedule for Superstar. Do you think I was able to get even a line written down on paper? Nope! Every time I tried she would jump onto the bed and wrap her mouth around my fingers. Start nibbling, ferociously. Then she’d get more aggressive. Corb was trying to sleep during this and she scampered across his face at least three times.

She just entered my study. After using my chair as a scratching post, she climbed up the side of it and is sitting her, perched like a buzzard, waiting to pounce. Hope she doesn't claw at my jugular or something.

She is awfully cute, though. I like her perpetually outraged look and her tuxedo bib. Hmm, let me just hold up from the typing a little bit to give her a little pat. Here you, go, Ping. Yes, that’s a good girl…wait…no, stop clawing…NO, NOT THE NECK! NOT THE JUGULAR! SHI–

(End transmission.)


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From drab to fab (Part One)

 

One of the things we had committed to this summer (and especially, during our week-long vacation coming in July) was to refurbish certain sections of Green Victoria that needed a little bit of care and attention. I’ve mentioned on many occasions that the guys who owned the place before us did an amazing job of making this place really special, but of course, there are still sections that need a little bit of fixing up.

The back yard needs the most improvement. Corb, who is the master builder, has a lot of ideas for what he wants to do–and some of it is going to take a few years. For one thing, he wants to grade the entire area so that it slopes downward (and doesn’t become a swamp during the start of spring). He also wants to extend the back deck so that we can install a swimming pool and fire pit. And around the swing area, we need to remove an old dead tree that is what is popularly known as a “widow maker.” It has a huge dead branch that extends over the swing set. If that ever feel while Kaeden was playing on it…

But, first for the easier stuff, and that’s why, this week-end, we started on the patio area. It was clearly once really nice–in fact, at one point, the guys had installed a jacuzzi, but while the house was up for sale, the area had fallen into disuse. The stones were covered in moss, and the garden beds had become overgrown with weeds. This week-end, Corb fixed up a power washer that his brother had that was broken (Corb is a handy one, no?) and Sunday morning, bright and early, we got to work.

I did my fair share, but again, I have to give Corb credit for the grunt work. He spent six hours power washing all the stones. It was like watching an archaeological dig, as he used the washer to line by line remove moss and dirt from each stone individually. The whole project (which isn’t completely done yet) went quite smoothly, except for one little rough patch, as we were weeding the flower beds and came across one bit of suspicious wickedness. Hence the following exchange:

CORB: Is it poison ivy?
ME (Still weeding): I don’t know…
CORB: It looks like poison ivy. Three leaves…
ME: Then we should get rid of it.
CORB: So get rid of it.
ME: I don’t want to get rid of it. You get rid of it.
CORB: Does it look shiny? Poison ivy is shiny. Is that shiny?
ME: Deep sigh…

Anyway, turns out it was climbing hydrangea. It is now dead climbing hydrangea. We didn’t figure that out until we had removed it with a steel rake.

Other than that, I am pleased with our progress. We still have some planting to do and have to pick out patio furniture, but I think part one of the “Drab to Fab” project turned out pretty nice!