Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Careers In Crime: An Applicant's Guide (Book Review)

Someone on my gift list is getting my favorite gag gift next year, a CD of the Christmas Chicks singing various Christmas carols, because said person, obviously worried about my job prospects during the current recession, gave me a book designed to help in choosing a new career for these hard times.

In case you might be interested, Careers In Crime: An Applicant's Guide, rates 50 criminal careers in terms of duties, compensation and rewards, enforcement and penalties, stresses and hazards, and work environment. The book appears to do a good job of reporting on the careers it covers, because the top-rated job in this book is that of “Drug Counterfeiter,” and the bottom-rated job is that of “Prison Wife,” one of those guys in prison who serves a meaner, stronger guy in the prison in return for “protection.” This occupation rates an “F” for hazards and compensations and deserves its bottom listing.

“Currency Counterfeiter,” which is Number 10 on the list, sounds like a nice way to make a living. Very rewarding in terms of $$$$, but in order to really make a go of this one, you’d best have access to a large, commercial press. Using your home computer and inkjet printer doesn’t quite achieve that “real money” look.

“Rustler” doesn’t look half bad. It’s Number 6 on the list, still in the top 10 criminal careers. And you don’t even have to rustle live cattle or emus. Dinosaur parts are big ticket items these days, and if you can manage a good intact T-Rex, or even a good triceratops skull, you can make good money. However, if the landowner or rancher catches you and happens to have his rifle on him, your career could come to an abrupt halt.

Believe it or not, “Scalper,” one who resells tickets to concerts, sporting events, etc., only rates a 24 out of 50. Sounds like a sweet deal, until you read the hazards, which include angry fans and the possibility of getting “scalped” yourself.

In case you’re wondering, “Identity Thief” is Number 4 on the list and is one of the fastest growing criminal careers. Apparently you can work almost anywhere, as there are always identities lying around waiting to be stolen, and the chief danger to success in the field appears to be your own tendency to boast.

Frankly, I think I’ll keep my current job and pass this book on to somebody on my gag-gift list. It’s a great read if you’re looking for entertainment, but there are undertones of seriousness when penalties and hazards are discussed. In fact, I suspect the negative aspects of these “jobs” may be a tad downplayed.

In the meantime, if you’ve never heard a group of chickens “sing” Christmas carols, you can’t go wrong on the Christmas Chicks’ CD. It never fails to put me in the mood for egg nog and fruitcake.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Polar Express - on DVD

When a doubting young boy takes an extraordinary train ride to the North Pole, he embarks on a journey of self-discovery that shows him that the wonder of life never fades for those who believe.

This movie is incredible! The scenery is vivid and moving and the music is great! We watch this movie every year and we never grow tired of seeing it.

A young boy finds himself doubting the existence of Santa. A train pops up in his front yard on Christmas Eve - a train to the North Pole. On the train, he meets an interesting cast of characters, including a young girl and a boy from the wrong side of the tracks. A series of mishaps and life-threatening moments occur, giving this story an edge over the sweeter Christmas movies. This is a nice, enjoyable story and if you haven't seen it, you should give it a try!

Have you seen The Polar Exress? If you have what did you like about it?
Merry Christmas, everybody!

~Cecelia Dowdy~

Friday, December 17, 2010


by Molly Noble Bull 

Yesterday my husband and I listened to John Stossel’s new TV show on Fox Business Channel, and John had two guests on his show—one was an atheist and the other was a Catholic priest. John asked provocative questions on his show. Is God real? Does He really exist? Then John went on to say that he was an agnostic—which means he isn’t sure whether God is real or not.
His entire program challenged me to write John a letter; so I did. Read on to see what I wrote. When you have finished, continue reading all about Cecelia’s new book.
Dear John Stossel,
You seem like one of the nicest men on TV, and we have been watching your new show. I praise your honesty, but I was disturbed to hear that you don’t believe in God. Your lack of faith shows a serious lack of judgment on your part, John, and I don’t think the priest on your TV show gave very good answers to your faith problem.
The Bible calls those who refused to accept the truth found in the Bible fools. You and the atheist-guy you had on your program are gambling away your rights to true happiness for all eternity on a whim. Poor me, you say, I just don’t know if God is really real.
So I say to you. Is John Stossel really real? Is the atheist on your show real? Or are you merely shadows of the men God made you to be?
Science is constantly changing. What they prove to be a fact one day is disproved the next, but the Holy Bible never changes. The Bible is truth. Therefore, you will have no excuse on Judgment Day. Unless you repent and accept the pardon Jesus paid for you by dying on the cross to pay for your sins with his own blood, you and your atheist friend will burn in hell for all eternity. It’s just as simple as that. No exceptions.
Why, you say? I’m a nice person and lead a pretty good life. Why must I burn in hell for all eternity merely because I am unwilling to put my faith in God? 
Think of a men’s swimming club. You can’t enter the club’s swimming race unless you are a member of the club. You might be a better swimmer than any member of that team, but again, you can’t enter the race unless you are a member of the club. Club rules.
God has rules, too. I suggest you learn them and put them into practice. Otherwise, you will spend all eternity in hell whether you personally believe that hell exists or not. God knows it exists, and He makes the rules. Not you. 
There really is a heaven and there really is a hell. There really is a God and there really is a devil. God loved you so much, John, that he gave his only begotten son, Jesus, to die on a cross to pay for your sins, and if you were the only person who ever lived, He would have done it—just for you. God loves you that much. Can you not find it in that heart of yours to love God in return? And can you not show your love for God by getting down on your knees right now, humbly repenting of all your sins and promising to follow Him forever and in the name of Jesus? What do you have to lose except hellfire? 
That fire is real, John, whether you believe it or whether you don’t. 
May you seek and find the truth in Jesus Christ and find it today.
Tomorrow might be too late.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cheap Stocking Stuffer Idea - Only 99 cents

I wanted to mention that my novel collection, Chesapeake Weddings, is on sale at Christianbook.com for only 99 cents! It's a three-book deal all under one beautiful paperback cover and it's less than one dollar! If you're looking for cheap deals to use as stocking stuffers this year, then you should consider my book! It'd make a great gift for friends and church members!

Relax along Maryland's Chesapeake Bay as you read about three strong African American women who suddenly face upheaval in life. Monica is caring for her abandoned nephew and trying to pick the proper tutor for him. Emily is struggling to save the family farm when a CPA turns up to do an audit. Karen has been deceived by her fianci, and now she's expected to trust a neighbor who knows too much of her business. Can God rebuild their tattered lives with new loves?

Merry Christmas!

~Cecelia Dowdy~

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Hell Hawks! The Untold Story of the American Fliers Who Savaged Hitler’s Wehrmacht

Robert F. Dorr and Thomas D. Jones are veteran writers and former military men who collected information and memoirs from the men of the Ninth Air Force, 365th Fighter Group, who flew P-47 Thunderbolt planes.

The 365th was composed of three squadrons of fighter-bomber pilots fresh out of flight training, who flew in close support of the ground forces as the Allied forces entered France on D-Day and advanced across France, Belgium, and on into Germany. They had one mission, and that was to harass and destroy anything that looked Nazi.

The P-47 Thunderbolt was a big, stable plane that held up remarkably well, no matter how much flak was thrown at it. They flew on D-Day, providing air support and dropping 385 tons of bombs on anything that looked like a target and strafing anything that moved. Every day of the European campaign, the Hell Hawks flew their missions, and kept flying them until the war ended. This book tells the story of those fighter pilots and what it took to keep them in the air.

My father, a “civilian pilot” and a Hell Hawk in the 388th Fighter Squadron, found himself captain of one of the ground crews whose responsibility it was to keep the planes in repair, the runways ready, the and the pilots ready to fly. One of his favorite tales was the day the pilots ate a rice pudding dessert the night before and fled the mess hall during breakfast the next morning. He spent his day carrying soup to the pilots as they lay ill in bed, in a vain attempt to get them ready to fly the day’s mission. (My father rarely ate much and had given the rice pudding a pass.) The pilots could not fly the mission, the “Brass” descended on the outfit, and the cook was busted and reassigned.

This book is extremely readable and tells the tale of these ordinary men who found themselves in an extraordinary situation, and in true American fashion, they made the best of it. Mr. Dorr & Mr. Thomas interviewed many of them, including my dad, for as Mr. Dorr says, these men are fading away rapidly now, and their biannual reunions are much more sparse. This is the story of hometown heroes, who did extraordinary things during their youth, then returned home and reared families and lived ordinary lives.

I recommend Hell Hawks! to all who enjoy World War II history.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Family Christmas Traditions

Christmas Traditions should be kept fun and simple.

To celebrate Christmas with my family each year, we bake several kinds of cookies. Every weekend, I make a different type. Last weekend it was chocolate chip. This coming weekend with be peanut butter. The weekend after that will probably be oatmeal raisin and rolled sugar cookies. I've always loved baking and I have a major sweet tooth, so doing these activities with my son is fun, relaxing, soothing, and delicious!

As the years go by, we'll probably add more to our Christmas traditions. For example, my son is now five, and this is the first year he's asked for a Christmas tree. I was raised in a religion that didn't allow Christmas celebrations, and as an adult, I've never felt compelled to purchase a tree for my home. My husband never really wanted a tree either. When we went shopping for a fake tree at Kmart last Saturday, I suddenly felt overwhelmed from the crowds, long lines, and tall trees - trees that I did not want to bring into my home. The trees just seemed so big to me! So, we rushed home and I ordered a small 4 1/2 foot tree online. The tree even comes with lights! The tree arrived in the mail yesterday, and we'll assemble it within the next few days. I'm sure this will become another yearly Christmas tradition in our home - putting up the tree!

What are your favorite family Christmas traditions? Do you add traditions as the years go by? As you get older, do you stop certain Christmas traditions?

Merry Christmas! :-)

~Cecelia Dowdy~

Friday, December 3, 2010

What I learned During NaNoWriMo

During the month of November, I was involved with NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month challenge. I’m one of those people who perform better if I’m accountable to other writers who actually expect me to stay in my chair and write.

The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write a book in 30 days. 50K words isn’t really that much if you break it down. It’s less than 2 thousand words a day. But there are a lot of days in your average month that make writing anything coherent downright impossible. Take Thanksgiving for example, not to mention the days of shopping, cleaning, and preparing that lead up to it. Many of us have kids and spouses and full time jobs and appointments and pets that want walked.

Sundays are hard for me. I attend church twice on that day, and spend the few hours between services watching the Bengals lose, spending time with family and napping…not necessarily in that order. There were several NaNoWriMo days in which my word count was 0. That meant on the other days I really needed to produce. No procrastinating. No waiting for inspiration. No distractions. I had to fasten my rear to the chair and write even when I’d rather watch TV or take another nap.

The best thing about NaNoWriMo is the sense of urgency to put words on the page. On the NaNo page you can become writing buddies with your fellow scribes. As I mentioned earlier, when I am accountable to someone I don’t want to let them down. Nor did I want to let my book down, or even myself.

November flew by while I jammed away on my keyboard. I even learned a thing or two along the way. 50K words don’t get written by thinking about it. You wont’ put the words on the page by talking about it or discussing your project or telling everyone where you’re going to spend your advance once a publisher offers you a contract.

I’m happy to announce I reached my 50K words by the 22nd. At the end of the month I had logged over 70K words onto my NaNo profile. If you’re not ready to think about publication NaNo is a great exercise to learn discipline and tenacity. The best way to master anything is to do it. If you are already published or seeking that elusive book contract, you might still need the discipline NaNo brings.

Best of all, you might end up with a pretty decent novel or at least something to build on. You never know. This might be the one to land you on the New York Times bestseller list. Or at least teach you that writing a novel is hard work but worth the effort.