Friday, June 20, 2014

New Release! Always, Montana by Deb Martin-Webster

Always happy to share a new release! Today's book is Always, Montana by Deb Martin-Webster. It's the follow up to her book Love, Montana. Check out her books here at Shorehouse Books. Here's a little information about the books, and the first chapter of Always, Montana.

Love, Montana is a story of romance, commitment and eternal love. Set against the backdrop of the majestic scenery of Montana, this novel tells the story of western fiction novelist, Montana Joe and the love of his life, Rose. From their first tempestuous meeting, you will be drawn into this smart and funny story and will find yourself rooting for these two lovers as they realize that they are each other’s destiny.

Always, Montana is the sequel to the popular western romance Love, Montana. In this installment, author Deb Martin-Webster reacquaints the reader with the characters who weaved the story of Rose and Joe, an epic love that could not be diminished even by death. She also introduces us to new characters who come into Rose's world and turn it upside down. Twists and turns abound in this tale about the famous Joe Montana and his high-spirited family.

Chapter 1

"Excuse me Ma'am, I don't mean to interrupt your bitch session; however, you do realize your hair is on fire?"

Joe’s been dead for two years, and he still makes me laugh.  He was so relaxed in front of an audience.  Unlike me, who would panic at the thought of giving a five-minute PowerPoint presentation, Joe loved entertaining his fans for not only was he a renowned author and accomplished writer but a prolific storyteller as well.  The video was from a charity event he attended in Princeton, New Jersey.  Some affluent donors weren’t very happy about the lack of seating.  Joe was famous for drawing large crowds. He noticed a well-dressed, older woman sitting by the exit door complaining about the seating arrangement.  Joe, being the gentleman that he was, excused himself and headed toward the back of the room.  She was so engrossed in her own bitching that she failed to notice that he was standing directly behind her.  Inadvertently, she leaned into the table’s candle centerpiece and set the front of her hair on fire.  Without blinking an eye, Joe gallantly grabbed a glass of water from a nearby table and doused the flames.  Needless to say she was humiliated, but ever so thankful for his quick action.  

Joe flashed his infamous shit-eating grin and said, “You’re welcome, Darlin’. Now, how about you come up front and sit with me. And by the way, that’ll cost you another thousand dollar donation for my heroic firefighting service.”

The audience gave him a roaring round of applause.  He informed the guests that his tip jar was in the back and that it was pathetically empty – nothing her thousand dollar donation couldn’t fix.  Joe knew how to work a crowd and please his fans.  He was good at what he did, and he knew it.

I turned my computer off and continued to tidy his office.  Funny, I still called it his office.  Has it really been two years since his death – seems like yesterday.  I thought if I left the room the way it was, it would in some way comfort me.  Regrettably, it did just the opposite. It irritated me beyond belief.  I’m a neat-freak, and he was an incurable pack rat.  Receipts from gas stations, fast food restaurants, numerous coffee shops and illegible crib notes on discarded manuscripts littered his desk.

There was still the matter of scattering his ashes.  I couldn’t bring myself to do it, but I knew it was time to honor my husband’s last wish which was to scatter his remains at the place where he proposed.  In my mind, I knew I needed to let go and move on, but in my heart his untimely death still hurt like hell.  I’ve heard people use the term heartbroken or heartache.  I’d never experienced either – until Joe died.  It was an endless, helpless, hopeless pain.   I needed to let go.  I needed to move on.  No matter how painful the task, Joe’s ashes had to be spread. 

When the time was right, Raymond said he would accompany me to the spot Joe designated. He was very patient and understanding when it came to my grieving.  

“Joe was a procrastinator in life so why would he change in death—always needing to be in control,” Raymond would joke. “He still annoys me from the grave—arrogant son of a mangy coyote!”

I knew it was Raymond’s way of expressing his grief and how he too missed Joe.  To be honest, in some strange way, it made me feel better.   I missed being referee to their incessant bickering.  They had a lot in common.  Their inimitable friendship was cherished more than they were willing to admit.

Charlotte was now in her terrible-twos and quite skilled at navigating herself around the house. She was becoming quite a beautiful little girl.  I know all parents think that their children are beautiful and talented, but Charlotte was truly a beautiful child. I called her our little golden girl because of her glowing olive complexion and curly, sandy brown locks.   She had my focus and temper and Lash’s (Joe as his fans knew him) curiosity and smile. 

She toddled into the office and climbed onto his rawhide leather chair.  I remembered him gloating when he finished assembling it.  He wasn’t patient when it came to following directions or handling tools.  He called it his one-and-only successful IKEA achievement.  I didn’t have the heart to tell him that if I’d given Charlotte an Allen wrench she could have put it together. 

Lord, I miss him. I miss those final edit nights when I’d come in with coffee and sit in his lap.  It saddened me to think I’d never see him sitting at that desk again.  I picked up Charlotte and gave her a big hug.

I turned away to keep her from seeing my tears.  She placed her small hands on my cheeks.

“Happy . . . h-a-p-p-y Mama,” she whispered.

Her attempt to console me brought a smile to my face.  I kissed her tiny palms. 

“This one’s from me and this one’s from Daddy.”

Charlotte instinctively knew when I needed her happy reminder.  She was wise beyond her years.  Raymond called her “Nadie”. Blackfoot and loosely translated, it meant the wisdom of an old soul. 

Keough cracked the office door and peeked inside. 

“You gals okay?  Both of ya’ need to get some rest.  It’s long past your bedtimes.” 

Charlotte climbed off my lap and ran over to Keough and latched onto his leg.  He picked her up and swung her onto his shoulders. 

“It’s time for this little cowgirl to hit the hay. Come on let’s get you into your bunk.  Lou and I will tell you a story about the time I tried to lasso and ride an ornery wild mustang. Would you like that?” 

She bounced up and down on his shoulders squealing, “Pap-Pap, horsey!”

“Don’t worry, Rose.  It’s a very short story.  It took me three seconds to lose that man-versus-beast battle.” 

I chuckled at Keough’s honesty and said goodnight.

“Okay, Baby Girl –a quick story then bedtime.  That goes for you too Mama.”  He paused for a moment and whispered, “And don’t think I haven't notice you sneaking into this office in the middle of the night.  It ain’t healthy for you to deprive yourself of sleep.  And it ain’t good for this baby to see you so dang sad all the time.  Now, don’t make me tie you up and drag your ass to bed.”  

“I promise I’ll go to bed.  Just a few more minutes, okay?  Thank you Keough.”

 “You’re welcome, Darlin’ and goodnight.”    

I was leaving the office when I noticed something on the side of the door jam.  Funny, I’d never noticed it before.  There were two perfectly shaped hearts carved into the trim with the initials MJ loves R.  I rubbed my finger over them.  When did he do this?   What other little treasures has he left behind for me to discover.  I went back to his desk, picked up some paper and a pencil and rubbed it over the carving and then tucked it into my shirt pocket. We miss you too, Joe.

About the Author
 Originally from Pennsylvania, Deb and her husband Pete moved to Western North Carolina and live on a small farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

She enjoys the simplicity of their country lifestyle and takes pleasure in the daily antics of their horse Colonel, half dozen rowdy barn cats and a large but friendly black snake they’ve affectionately named, Licorice. 

After retiring from a successful career in Art Administration, Deb has taken on a new career as a novelist and humor writer.  In October of 2012, her novel Love, Montana was selected and published by HumorOutcasts Press.  The sequel, Always, Montana is published by Shorehouse books.  Her other books include, A Hot Dog Stand in the Himalayas  a daily diary for their granddaughter Sammie that  develops into a collection of heartwarming fictionalized short stories and The Adventures of Annie Banana Bread and Larry Cranberry a  tale that teaches the acceptance of children with disabilities and diverse health conditions.  

Deb is one of the original writers forming the successful online humor magazine,

Get in touch with Deb on 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Kitten Rescue - Need Help!

This last year, we have noticed an dramatic increase in cats in our neighborhood. I have three older cats in my backyard who have been spayed. Since I have food out there for them, more cats have started hanging out in our yard - some of them have collars. I don't know who they belong to, but the owners have not had them fixed. I've caught several of them and have taken them to the low cost spay and neuter clinic here in town, but I can't afford to get them all fixed. As a result, three of the cats got pregnant and decided our yard was the best place to have their kittens.

The first litter was born on April 19th to a cat who was mostly feral. Soon after, she got a terrible abscess wound on her stomach, so we were able to catch her and bring her and the kittens inside. We treated her, and she has completely healed. She had four kittens.

The second two cats are co-parenting, which is really interesting to see them taking turns nursing and cleaning all of the kittens. They had their litters on May 7th and May 13th, and they keep them all together. It's so cute. One had a litter of four and the other had five. So there are 13 kittens altogether.

My plan was to take care of them and get them used to people, so that, at eight to ten weeks, I could take them to a cat rescue, where they would be spayed/neutered, and put up for adoption. However, I started calling around to the different no-kill shelters, and everyone is having the same problem. There are way too many cats/kittens who need help, and the rescues/shelters are overflowing. The animal control places who euthanize animals will take them, but there is no way I can do that. It's not an option.

I'm afraid I'm going to have to adopt these little kitties out myself, but I don't want to add to the growing feral cat problem. I don't want give these kittens to people not knowing whether or not they are going to have them fixed. I would like to work with the low cost spay and neuter clinic to get all the kittens and their mothers fixed before I send them out to new homes. However, I can't afford to pay for all of them. It costs $35 for males and $56 for females. I don't want to be part of the kitty problem here, so if there is any way you can help, I would appreciate it. I am doing a Go Fund Me campaign to try to take care of the kittens myself. If there is money left over, it will go towards food (kitten food is expensive) and vet bills (one kitten had an eye infection, and it cost $81.00). I would also love to be able to pay for them to get their first shots. Any money that isn't used directly for the kittens will get donated to one of the local no-kill shelters. Thank you for taking the time to read about our bitty kitties!

You can find out more about the kittens and follow them on their journey on Facebook. And follow us on Twitter @KittyPosse1.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Ugly Truth About Funeral Costs

Sorry I haven't been around lately. I know people say that if you want to write, you will. You'll find a way. But sometimes, life has to take priority, and your time isn't yours to use. That's what's been going on with my life for awhile now. I don't mind taking care of loved ones, so it isn't a burden, but it is time consuming.

For those of you who follow my blog, you know my terminally ill father has been living with me for almost 10 years. He has a neurological disease that is slowly killing his brain. We finally got him into a care home in October, but we have been dealing with other personal and financial issues for him during the adjustment period. Having him in care, I thought I would be able to take a breath and return to writing. Then my grandmother, who had been stable in a wonderful board and care home for some time, took a turn for the worse. I have dealing with her financial issues and trying to find a good nursing home for her.

With the little bit of money she had left, I wanted to prepay her funeral expenses. She doesn't believe in cremation, so I wanted to honor her wishes. She and her second husband bought a plot together at a cemetery shortly before he passed away, and she wanted to be buried with him.

Since she didn't have a lot of money, I opted just to have her buried without any services and planned to do something privately with the family. I knew funeral expenses were insane, but I was in for a shock. I knew she already purchased the plot, so I didn't think it would cost a ton at the cemetery. I was wrong. To open and close the grave, lower the casket, and pay for some kind of holder for the casket, it cost almost $3700.00. I told him I could rent a backhoe and do it myself for much less. He wasn't amused. I told him he was lucky he wasn't talking to my grandmother.

That didn't leave me much money for the rest. But I didn't think it would be a lot, since it would just be a casket and transportation to the cemetery. I was worried about the cost of transportation though, since she will have to be transported over 200 miles to the cemetery.

I decided to try to use the same company who owned the cemetery, hoping I might be able to get a deal. Nope. No deals. I spoke to a woman on the phone who agreed to meet me at the funeral home to discuss details. When she told me how much it would cost, I felt the same way I do when I'm at the movie theater, and they charge me $7.00 for 50 cents worth of popcorn. It's a slow rage that makes me crazy. I want the popcorn, but it isn't like I can shop around. I'm in the movie theater. If I want popcorn, I have to pay the crazy inflated price.

That woman (with a straight face) told me that it would cost $4362.06 to transport and bury my grandmother. I just stared at her, blinking the same way I do at popcorn lady at the movie theater. I keep waiting for them to laugh and say, "I'm just joking! It doesn't really cost that much. I'm just messing with you."

They wanted $2995 for an immediate burial. That means, no embalming or other services to make the person look nice for viewing. It's just putting the person in the casket. Then she added on the additional mileage for travel, the casket, and don't forget the tax, which added up to the final total of $4362.06. No funeral. No flowers. No limos. No graveside service. Nothing but picking her up, putting her in a casket, and taking her to the cemetery. I did ask her if she thought those prices were a little high, and she didn't even bat an eye when she said "No."

Unlike the movie theater, I wasn't stuck with this funeral home, so I decided to shop around. I was able to find a very reasonably priced funeral home that was able to give me exactly what I needed for my grandmother for half that price.

Before doing this, I didn't believe in cremation either. But this made me a believer. Even cremation costs start at around $2000.00. I'm not going to make my family pay $10,000 just to put me in the ground. That's crazier than the price of movie popcorn and nearly as tasty.