Monday, October 31, 2011

Monday Morning Musings

Since it is Halloween, I thought I would tell you about our two new kittens who could be Halloween cats. We got them two weeks ago, but we didn't plan on getting black cats. I don't even like black cats, and the lady who was fostering these kittens, along with several others, had told me on the phone about all the other kittens she had available for adoption: A cute black and white tuxedo cat. An orange tabby. A silver tabby with little white paws that made her look like she was wearing mittens, and a gray cat with long hair and a regal stance.

And she had these two black cats. I cut her off right there, telling her that I wasn't interested in solid black cats. Not sure why. Maybe because solid black cats are so plain. Or maybe because of that old superstition about a black cat crossing your path being bad luck, even though I never thought I really believed that. Groucho Marx said that "A black cat crossing your path signifies that the animal is going somewhere."

Pretty benign actually. No. The reason I don't like black kitties is really because they are dull and uninteresting. How many people look at a black cat and say, "Oh how darling? What a cute little kitty."

That aside, when we went to see all the cats, hoping to take home one or two of those cute little kitties, one of the black cats walked across the patio table and right up to my husband. The cat then crawled up his chest, nuzzled in his beard - my husband's, not the cat's - and started purring.

No doubt about it, my husband had his cat.

Then it was my turn to choose a cat. I picked up the Tuxedo cat, hoping he would take to me, but he jumped right down. Ditto for the tabby with the mittens and the orange tabby and the pretty gray kitten. Meanwhile this other little black cat kept walking up to me, touching my leg and giving the sweetest little meow, as if to say, "Take me. Take me."

I picked her up and she nuzzled in my neck, and now she is living in our house.

We were happy with two new cats, then last week, I found this cat in my barn who was injured. I took her to the veterinarian's, and luckily she was not hurt seriously. I had two choices at that point. Turn the cat loose - I think she belongs to a neighbor who seems not to care about her - or bring her home where she could finish healing.

Now we have three new cats.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Book Review - Snakehead by Peter May

Thanks to Carl Brookins for another terrific review....

by Peter May
Poisoned Pen Press
Hardcover, 312 pages,
ISBN: 9781590586068

This is the ourth in the author's China Thriller series to be published by this press. Make no mistake this is one scary and thrilling book. So thrilling, in fact I had the sense toward the end of being carried just a bit over the top. The novel brings back two of May's most endearing characters, forensic pathologist Margaret Campbell, American, and Beijing detective, Li Yan. But they are no longer in China. Campbell is now the county medical examiner based in Houston, Texas, and Li Yang is learning about and dealing with America's multiple and complex law enforcement agencies as a member of the Chinese Embassy staff in Washington, D.C.

Until a major tragedy brings them together, Campbell is not even aware that they are again in the same country although still thousands of miles physically and culturally apart. The tragedy that brings these two together are the deaths of scores of illegal Chinese immigrants being smuggled to the United State via the same pipeline and organization which smuggles drugs from South America to the U.S. In this incident, the dead are found in a refrigerated truck abandoned in Texas. Those deaths appear to be accidental until it is discovered the bodies have all been injected with a dangerous virus that has no known antidote.

Now the race is on to determine what the virus is, who is behind the multi-million dollar smuggling operation, the Snakehead of the title, and Li Yan and Margaret must try to set aside their own emotional difficulties in order to help literally, save the nation from a devastating plague.

The pace is fast, the writing always to the point, the characters are genuine in their language and their emotions, and most worrisome of all, the science is real. This is a novel with the potential to scare the pants off you.  It's timely, international in scope, a whirlwind of a thriller.

Carl Brookins -
Case of the Greedy Lawyer, Devils Island, Bloody Halls, more at Kindle & Smashwords!


NOTE: My publisher for Play it Again, Sam, Uncial Press,  is celebrating its fifth year in operation, and it all ends tomorrow. To join in the fun with a scavenger hunt and have a chance at winning a KOBO reader, visit the website.

Another contest is being held by Books We Love Publishing. Enter between now and December to win a Kindle. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday's Odds and Ends

Heaven help us, we have twelve more months of campaigning that brings out such wonderful points for voters to consider such as this from the recent GOP debate:

Rick Santorum: Mitt, you're a lying hypocrite and I'm the only one here who cars about family.

Herman Cain: Nine apples, nine oranges, nine lives, whatever.

Mitt Romney: Shut up. I won already.

Rick Perry: I hate your guts, Mr. Vitalis, and I'm gonna take you down.

Newt Gingrich: Yadda-yadda-yadda. You're all stupid.

Michelle Bachman: I will hunt Mexicans with predator drones and Barack Obama's cake is cooked.

Before people start objecting because I took these out of context, of course, you are right. It's not fair to just pull out the gaffes. Every great once in a while the candidates did say something related to an actual issue facing our country, but the fact that these candidates would reduce so much of the debate to snark should make us pause.

Why do we have to be so stridently divided?

And would somebody remind the candidates what the definition of "debate" is.

And would one candidate actually give a direct answer to a question instead of a sound-bite.

Texas Ranger's fans, don't beat up on Nelson Cruz for the mistake he made in not playing deep enough to catch that ball in the bottom of the 11th inning. I'm sure he has plenty of self-inflicted lashes, and he needs to know the team and the fans are okay with him. It was a mistake, let's get over it and go into game seven with a positive attitude.

After being missing for three months a little Jack Russell Terrier was reunited Thursday with owner Jim Arrighi in Erin, TN. The dog had disappeared from the owners yard and was found 500 miles north in a suburb of Detroit. A homeowner in Rochester Hills, about 20 miles north of Detroit, saw Petey last week in his backyard and took him to a Humane Society animal care center. Arrighi was identified as the owner when the dog was scanned for an implanted microchip. Story and photo HERE

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wednesday's Guest - Slim Randles

When Dewey realized what he’d just told the woman of his dreams, he couldn’t say another thing. Struck dumb by the shock of telling her he was in cow manure, he silently handed her the flowers and looked down to see if the sidewalk would kindly swallow him.

But Emily Stickles, she of the perfect cheekbones and bureaucratic curiosity, smiled and looked at Dewey as if she’d just stumbled over a twenty-dollar bill.

“Mr. Decker,” she said, kindly, “thank you for the flowers. And I’m curious … how long have you had this condition?”

“Er … ah…”

“Never mind. That will all come in time. Now I was just on my way to the cafĂ© across the street there for lunch. Will you be my guest? That way we can discuss your problem and see if we can come to a workable solution.”

“Wha … bu…”

“Come along,” she said, slipping her arm through his. “One step at a time … that’s it.”

An hour later, Dewey was at the philosophy counter of the Mule Barn. The guys were there. Well, almost all the guys. When Dewey told them about how he introduced himself to the lovely Ms. Stickles, Steve, Dud and Bert suddenly had to go outside for some reason. The laughter out there made the plate-glass windows vibrate.

Only Doc was left to console Dewey.

“Well, Doo,” Doc said. “Leave it to you to make a great first impression.”

Then Doc had to turn his head away for a few seconds, too. Dewey pretended not to notice.

“See, the worst of it is she thinks I’m some kind of a nut with a manure fetish. I couldn’t have just told her I owned a fertilizer company. Not me. I have to sit through lunch making silly noises as she explained to me that there is always hope for an answer. I had no idea she was a graduate student in psychology, Doc.

“Doc?” Dewey’s face pleaded. “I’m a test case! I’m going to be doctoral thesis! I’m …. oh man…”

“And all that planning,” Doc said. “And all that washing. And then it has to end this way. Sorry, Doo.”

“Ending? No way,” Dewey said, the slightest smile emerging. “We’re having dinner at the Italian place tonight. She’s bringing her tape recorder.”

Brought to you by Slim’s new book and great stocking stuffer “A Cowboy’s Guide to Growing Up Right.” Learn more at


Just a few more days to enter the Uncial Press Birthday contest to win an e-reader. Every day there is also a winner of a free e-book. Hop on over if you would like to play the games and win.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday Morning Musings

I am really excited about an interview that Joanne Troppello did with me. Her site is very professional, and we had a good discussion about how some of my stories came to be. If you would like to read the interview and enter to win a copy of Open Season, here is the link:       Just leave a comment and I will draw a winner on Friday.   Now to our regularly scheduled program....        

It was interesting to read about four organizations who worked together to identify about $380 billion in federal spending that wastes money and harms the environment. The report, Green Scissors 2011, was recently released and I hope our government representatives are paying attention. The editorial in The Dallas Morning News identified these organizations as "left-leaning" or "right-leaning", but I think we do a disservice to people by labeling them. I would just rather name them in order: Friends of the Earth, Public Citizen, Taxpayers for Common Sense and The Heartland Institute.

Most of this waste is in the form of government subsidies for fossil fuel, nuclear, alternative energy, agricultural, transportation programs and projects, land and water subsidies. A full report can be found on the Green Scissors website, as well as other information about the organizations involved in this effort.

The main focus of Green Scissors is to get the government to focus on what is good for the people and the environment; not what is good for lobbyists. This was taken from their website:  The president and Congress must get tough with the special interest groups that jeopardize our natural resources and waste our valuable tax dollars. It will require tackling some of the richest and most powerful corporations in the country. Yet this is what is needed if we are going to protect the environment, regain fiscal and environmental responsibility and get our spending back on track.

Currently, Green Scissors is challenging presidential candidates to respond to the latest report and say how they plan to deal with special interests groups should they be elected. It will be interesting to see if any of them actually step up.

I would vote for any woman or man who had the courage to take back our government from the control of lobbyists. What this report and this effort is trying to do is not all that different from what Occupy Wallstreet is all about. Then common man has lost out to the greed and power of a select few. That is not the standards that America was formed on.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Book Review - Viper by John Desjarlais - Review by Carl Brookins

Thank you, Carl, for another review to share with my readers. John Desjarlais was a guest here at It's Not All Gravy, talking about how he developed this Latina heroine. Click HERE to read that blog post if you would like to know how he blended Aztec history with modern Spanish culture.

John Desjarlais
2011 trade paper release
Sophia Institute Press
238 pages.

Set in rural Illinois, the novel follows disgraced DEA agent Selena De La Cruz as she tries to re-order her life into some semblance of normality after a drug raid gone bad results in a tragic aftermath. Leaving that life turns out to be more than just difficult. It is impossible. And so Selena leaves her insurance company and re-enters the dangerous world of undercover drug enforcement among a Latino population that is turbulent, ever-changing and marked with friends who become enemies and family members short on  understanding.

The author cleverly establishes Selena as an independent capable woman beset on all sides by the chauvinism of her bosses and the cultural disapproval of her family. Good Latina women do not carry guns and arrest drug dealers. There is an invasive Latin Catholic presence throughout the book. The basic theme of the story is a list of names entered into a church’s Book of the Dead, requesting prayers for their souls.  The problem is that the people represented are still alive as the book opens. But one by one they are murdered. Since Selena’s name is last on the list, she has more than usual reason to be concerned. Her interaction with law enforcement and Church officials becomes more and more intense as the list is shortened, one by one.

The novel is smoothly written, logical and mostly gripping.  There are several sections of Aztec and other religious history and legends used by the author to explain some of the ritual Selena encounters which, while interesting in themselves, have a tendency to slow the narrative. Nevertheless, Viper is a worthwhile read, blending religious mystery with brutal modern crime.

Carl Brookins Books by Carl Brookins: Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday's Odds and Ends

In Texas, the Sons of Confederate Veterans want to have a license plate commemorating their part in the Civil War; a request that has raised all kinds of responses, most of them negative, and some downright strident. I will admit that I was agreeing with most of the negative, and even some of the strident reasons why there should not be something with the symbol of the confederate flag. That symbol evokes so many painful reminders for so many people.

However, after reading a column by Texas Land Commissioner, Jerry Patterson, I am rethinking my opinion. Not sure I am going to change my mind, but at least I am open to reconsidering based on the fact that the purpose of the plate is not to glorify the bad things about the Confederacy, but to honor the men who fought, believing in their cause.

Patterson also mentioned that throughout history soldiers have fought and died for causes that were not completely honorable. He used the example of the Buffalo Soldiers who served with great distinction in Texas after the Civil War. Part of their mission was to control the Indian population, eventually moving many to reservations. That is not a part of our history that we are proud of, but we can still honor the men who did their duty.

Patterson states that "In the end, offensive behavior can be found throughout history if you are looking to be offended. There is no statutory protection against being offended. Actually, it's the privilege of every American to be offended."

Texas Governor Rick Perry's wife, Anita, said recently that she can empathize with the unemployed because her son had to resign from his banking job to work on the campaign.


The only difference between loan sharks and short-term-lenders is that most people who borrow from the latter, don't have to worry about getting their legs broken if they don't pay the debt. However, they do have to worry about getting sucked into a vicious circle of unending debt. According to a report in The Dallas Morning News, the fees on a loan of $4,000 can be as high as $1,000 a month.

I had to read that twice to make sure it wasn't a misprint. Talk about usury. And the greatest travesty is that the companies that provide these short-term and auto-title lenders have seen record profits in the past few years, while their "victims" lose everything trying to pay off the loans.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wednesday's Guest - Slim Randles

The actual dressing and preening took place in Dewey’s house, witnessed by Doc and Steve. Dewey told them that morning over coffee and horoscopes that the stars were right. Today would be the day. This very day, before lunch had settled upon the land, verily, he would approach Emily Stickles and introduce himself.

Doc and Steve circled downwind there in the living room, sniffing, but failing to catch a hint of Dewey’s profession as the king of used hay, the sultan of assimilated sustenance, the pharaoh of fertilizer. Two showers had done their best. Our boy was ready.

“Now Dewey,” Steve said, “with your truck…”

“Washed it twice.”

Heads nodded in approval. Then Doc and Steve watched as Dewey tied the new tie on. The blue one.

“You have a tie clip or tie tack or something?” Doc asked. Dewey shook his head. Doc took his off and handed it to him. “Use this.”

“But Doc, it’s from a university, and I’m in the fertilizer business…”

“And your point is?”

“Oh … okay.”

Steve took the little bottle of Old Spice and pulled the little plug on it. “Hands up, Dewey.”

Dewey raised his arms and Steve got each armpit with the bottle.

“Cowboy way,” he explained.

Dewey was ready. He picked up the bouquet of flowers and paused at the door. “Hope I don’t blow this.”

“Dewey, just remember two things: tell her who you are and what you do, and be yourself.”

He nodded solemnly and walked out to the pickup with the fancy magnetic sign on the door and drove away.

He was sitting there, 20 minutes later, watching the front door of the county building. Waiting for Emily. Emily of his dreams, Emily of the cheekbones, Emily who kept an eye on the goings-on in the county.

And there she was, dressed in a business outfit, and she was walking toward him. Dewey knew. Now or never. He grabbed the flowers  and stepped out. She smiled back at him as he approached. Name and occupation, Dewey. Name and occupation.

“Miss Stickles,” he said, thrusting the flowers forward. “My name is Dewey Decker and I’m in cow manure.”
Brought to you by Slim’s new book and great stocking stuffer “A Cowboy’s Guide to Growing Up Right.” Learn more at

Monday, October 17, 2011

Monday Morning Musings

Two stories in Parade Magazine this past weekend were a study in contrasts. The first one was about Flash Mobs that have gone from gatherings to do something silly and fun, to looting and violence parties. These gatherings started in about 2003 when young folks - and some older ones - used social media to suggest getting together to do something outrageous. One of the first was people riding the subway in New York in just their underwear. Silly, but harmless.

But more recently the flash mobs have gone beyond harmless. The riots in London this summer were started by a flash mob, and the city of Philadelphia has a curfew now following the vandalism and looting at a Macy's store this summer.

According to the article in Parade, police departments are now monitoring social sites in the hopes of discovering plans for outbreaks so they can intervene.

How sad that what started out as just fun had to take such a downturn.

In contrast, there was a story about former U.S. Army Sgt. Adam Burke who found a unique way to recover from the physical and emotional damage caused when he was shot in Iraq. Burke suffered from a severe brain injury, PTSD, and a ruptured ear drum that left him unable to maintain his balance without a cane.

Two years after he came home from the hospital, he and his wife moved to his family farm in Florida, where they were given a few acres. He spent his days preparing the land, planting blueberry bushes and caring for them. After about a year he noticed that his balance had returned. So had some small measure of peace. That's when he decided he would offer the same opportunity to other veterans as they came home. He invited men and women to come on weekends and help with the care and harvesting.

By 2010, the enterprise was so successful, Burke decided to expand. He acquired funds from Work Vessels for Veterans, a non-profit that helps former military personnel start a new business, and bought eight more acres.

The farm has really been a godsend for returning veterans who need the healing power of working in the sun and connecting with living, growing things. Not to mention the support they find as they can share their stories with men and women who truly do know what they have been through.

Kudos to Sgt. Burke.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday's Odds and Ends

I started to do my usual odds and ends, then got into some research about this method of drilling for natural gas, and decided to just write about this issue today.  Wouldn't it be good to protect this beauty?

A town destroyed by Fracking - Dimock, Pennsylvania - “Fracking,” as it’s colloquially known, involves injecting millions of gallons of water, sand, and chemicals, many of them toxic, into the earth at high pressures to break up rock formations and release natural gas trapped inside. Not only has Dimock been affected on the surface with large areas of land cleared for drilling, the chemicals have gotten into the aquifer and seriously affected the water supply. People and animals are getting sick, dying, and wells are spontaneously combusting.

Yet the companies behind the drilling process claim that it is perfectly safe.

Hydraulic Fracturing - from the site Hydraulic Fracturing/Energy Tomorrow. Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” is a proven and well-regulated technology. First used in the 1940s, hydraulic fracturing has unlocked massive new supplies of oil and clean-burning natural gas from dense deposits of shale — supplies that increase our country’s energy security and improve our ability to generate electricity, heat homes and power vehicles for generations to come. Fracking has been used in more than one million U.S. wells, and has safely produced more than seven billion barrels of oil and 600 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

More Dangers - from the website, Earth Times - The dangers of fracking are not limited to the effect on water supplies. Fracking has been tied to earthquakes, and a recent study by a Cornell University professor shows that fracking has a higher greenhouse gas footprint than coal and oil because of the methane that is released during the drilling process. That gas is highly toxic, and one woman in East Texas who was exposed to that gas, now has a lung disease that is incurable.

Just like those favoring the XL Pipeline bringing tar sands oil from Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast, proponents of natural gas say it is all safe and we nay-sayers need to stop with the negative propaganda.  Of course they want us to stop. They want to be able to continue drilling and making profits without taking into consideration the long-term effects.

More Facts about Fracking

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wednesday's Guest

As you might have guessed from the title of this blog piece, I will be devoting Wednesday's to guest blogs. If you would like to be my guest, send me a message at with a proposed topic. I prefer shorter blogs - around 500 to 700 words - and that they not be just a book promo. They don't have to be writing related, either. On some Wednesdays, I will continue to offer essays from my friend, Slim Randles, and hope you enjoy his offering today.

I just heard from Slim and two of his books are finalists in the New Mexico Book Awards competition.   According to his publisher, Rio Grande Books, both Sweetgrass Mornings, an outdoor memoir, and A Cowboy’s Guide to Growing Up Right, advice for young people, were named. The winners will be named in November.  

A huge congratulations to Slim.

I am over at Venture Galleries with a new weekly blog, so I hope you will go over and check it out, along with the other wonderful blogs there.

I would also like to announce that another of my publishers is having a terrific contest. Win a Kindle for Christmas contest started at Books We Love this week. They are giving away two ebooks a week, a Spa Basket, a Sweets Basket, ebook sets, and a Kindle before Christmas. 

If they ever give a Nobel Prize for reading about science, our guy Bert Underwood would be a shoo-in. His own career had been strictly non-scientific, but his retirement absolutely reeked of cutting-edge discoveries, which he read about and tried to pronounce.

It was like that the other night when the Mule Barn closed. We had taken our wives down to split either a chicken-fried steak the size of a saddle blanket, or a fish and chips large enough to feed a cavalry regiment.  We stepped out into the chill of the night and looked up at the many stars.

“Nice night for neutrinos,” Bert said. His wife, Maizie, groaned quietly and looked for something in her purse.

“Neutrinos, Bert?” Doc said.

“You know what neutrinos are, of course, Doc,” Bert said.

“I think that’s the chess team in Fairweather, Doc,” Steve threw in.

“You’re wrong, Steve,” said Mrs. Doc. “Those are the Machismos.”

“So the neutrinos … aren’t they dogs that have been fixed?”

Bert was ready to bust a gut. “Are you kidding? You don’t know what neutrinos are? You don’t study astronomy?”

“Well, no, actually…”

Bert smiled in the darkness. “A neutrino,” he pronounced, “is a sub-atomic particle. It doesn’t have an electrical charge, and it flies around at the speed of light going through things. The word neutrino means ‘small, neutral one’.”

“Just like Gilbert’s Chihuahua. He charges around going through things… and I’m pretty sure he’s been neutralled.”

“I don’t know why I even bother bringing up these scientific things,” Bert said, in despair.

“Me neither,” said Dud.

“You probably don’t know about charmed quarks, either, I’ll bet.”

“Charmed, I’m sure,” said Steve.

Doc made wing-flapping gestures. “Quark, quark … QUARK!”

Bert got in the car and drove off.

Sometimes drive-by knowledge can hurt innocent bystanders.

Brought to you by Slim’s new book and great stocking stuffer “A Cowboy’s Guide to Growing Up Right.” Learn more at

Just a reminder about the contest my publisher for Play it Again, Sam is holding to celebrate its fifth year in operation. To join in the fun with a scavenger hunt and daily prizes, click on the birthday banner on the right panel of the blog or CLICK HERE  The major prizes are a Kindle and a KOBO e-reader, and every day an e-book will be given away free.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Monday Morning Musings

David E. Abbot, a Community Voices columnist for The Dallas Morning News went out on a limb in a recent column by suggesting that there be no more pink ribbons at NFL games and NASCAR. Lest he incur the wrath of women everywhere, he did start by saying he does appreciate the efforts to raise money for breast cancer research and applauds all the people who step up and participate in the various programs.

The point of his column was not to say that there should be no breast cancer awareness month or other campaigns to raise awareness of the importance of research, treatment, and early detection. What he would like to see is a prostate cancer awareness month and blue ribbons at NFL games and NASCAR.

Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States among men, and this disease is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in American males.

That is a fact I did not know until I started doing some online research. I also found out that when caught early, it is one of the most treatable of cancers that have a positive outcome. The problem is that the cancer is not caught early enough in many cases. Some men do not have the PSA screening on a routine basis, and the other test for an enlarged prostate is about as comfortable as a pelvic exam is for a woman, so many men say no thanks.

What Abbot would like to see is more encouragement for men to be screened and more research for a cure for prostate cancer. And he would like to see all of that promoted at events that are geared toward a male audience.

I hadn't thought about this disparity between breast cancer awareness and prostate cancer awareness, but there is no doubt it exists. And I agree with Abbot that both deserve equal exposure.


Just a reminder about the contest my publisher for Play it Again, Sam is holding to celebrate its fifth year in operation. To join in the fun with a scavenger hunt and daily prizes, click on the birthday banner on the right panel of the blog or CLICK HERE  The major prizes are a Kindle and a KOBO e-reader, and every day an e-book will be given away free. 

Also, my short story, SAHM I am is featured on Indie Snippets today. Good chance to read a sample for free.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Friday's Odds and Ends

Smart Meters for keeping track of electricity usage aren't so smart after all. In one area of Dallas, a resident's electric bill jumped from around $85 a month for a small apartment to $670. It took two months and numerous inspections by the electric company to finally discover that a heat strip was malfunctioning, and that caused the heat and the air conditioning to run at the same time.

Too bad it took so long and several extra high bills before anyone would go beyond a perfunctory inspection, telling the apartment dweller, "Sorry, it's not our problem."

A firefighter in Irving, Texas held the record as being the longest-serving firefighter in the nation. When Captain Billy Holder, 77, retired after 56 years as a firefighter, he held that distinguished record. 

Kudos to Captain Holder.

One smart move. The Dallas County commissioners approved the budget for Parkland Hospital, and there were no bonuses included for the top 12 executives whose areas were found deficient in a recent report from the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Reebok was recently fined by the Federal Trade Commission for false advertising. Seems like those shoes they advertised as "toning" shoes, really don't do what the hype says.

Hmmm... and I was just thinking about buying some. Maybe I'll have to do some regular exercises instead. (written with tongue firmly in cheek.)

Finishing up with two items of note. First, My publisher for Play it Again, Sam is celebrating its fifth year in operation. To join in the fun with a scavenger hunt and daily prizes, click on the birthday banner on the right panel of the blog or CLICK HERE  The major prizes are a Kindle and a KOBO e-reader, and every day an e-book will be given away free.

I am a regular contributor to the Blood Red Pencil blog, and the site has been nominated for an award by Voting is going on now, and if you have time and are so inclined, we would love for you to vote for us. To vote, CLICK HERE then scroll down to Blood Red Pencil. Thanks for your support.

If you have any interesting tidbits of news to share, please do.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Having Some Fun

While I'm over at The Blood Red Pencil blog today having some fun with writing tips from the comics, my friend Slim Randles stopped by to share the latest from the gang down at the Mule Barn's philosophy counter.

We knew. We looked at Dewey and we knew tragedy had struck. Naturally we assumed his carefully planned courtship of Emily Stickles had died a stillborn dream, but that wasn’t it. He still hadn’t met her, turns out. When he came to the Mule Barn’s philosophy counter, he sorta collapsed into a chair, moaned, and flipped his mug to the upright position.

“Who’s going to ask him?” Doc finally said.

“Oh hey, guys,” Dewey said. “My own fault, I guess. I mean, you know I wanted to get all rigged out with new clothes for my introduction to Emily, right? So both Mrs. Doc and Anita volunteered to go shopping with me and help me with color coordination. They said it was important.”

“Oh crud,” Doc said in a whisper.

“I mean it was nice of them and all …”

Dewey stirred sugar into his coffee. “But then we got to the necktie. Mrs. Doc insisted I get the aqua-colored one, and Anita spoke up for the one marked pastel pool. Before you know it, they were arguing, so I kinda sneaked out.”

“So did you buy a tie there?” Steve asked.

Dewey nodded.

“What color?”

“Oh yeah… got a blue one.”

Made sense.

“It really is your fault, Dewey,” Doc told our local fertilizer king. “You should’ve studied your Chinese better.”

We all looked at Doc.

Doc nodded. “Chinese. Yes, indeed. If you’d boned up on your Chinese a bit, Doo, you’d know that the Chinese symbol for trouble is two women under the same roof.”


Brought to you by Slim’s new book and great stocking stuffer “A Cowboy’s Guide to Growing Up Right.” Learn more at

Monday, October 03, 2011

Monday Morning Musings

The opening weekend of "Arsenic and Old Lace" ended yesterday with a matinee, and it might have been the best performance of the four. At least it was for me in many ways. I really felt connected to the other characters and "in" each scene.

Performing in a play is so much more than just saying the right lines at the right time or moving to some spot on the stage at the right time. The actor must become the character he or she is trying to convey, and the scenes have to become real.

Yesterday, the Brewster house was really my house, with my sister, Abby, and we were connecting in a special way. As the other characters came in and out of scenes, we had the same connections, and that helped make everything so real.

Thinking about that, I realized that that is what needs to happen in the scenes we write for books, too. We, as author, need to make them so real that the reader steps into a whole new world.

I am truly grateful to be working with such a terrific cast of very talented folks. Each, in his or her own way, raises the bar for the rest of us, and it has been exciting to discover those little nuances that help to make the characters and the scenes come alive.

We run again next weekend, then that will be the end of it. The Main Street Theatre is already looking ahead to auditions for the next show, and I will be moving on to the Readers's Theatre production at the Winnsboro Center for the Arts the end of this month. But even though the show is ending, and I am not sure when I will again have the pleasure of sharing the stage with these terrific actors, I will carry a bit of them with me. I am better at my craft because of this association, and for that, I say, "Thank you."

I also want to say "thank you" to all my writer friends who have offered support and guidance that has helped me become a better writer. Creativity does feed creativity, and when we are willing to share our gifts it raises the bar for all of us.

What about you? Where do you find support and guidance? Where do you share yours?

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Book Review - The Rock Hole by Reavis Z. Wortham

I'm over at Lelia Taylor's blog Buried Under Books, where we are talking about cats and crooks and mystery writers and mystery bookstore owners.  Stop by if you get a chance and share your experience with cats. And thanks again to Carl Brookins for providing another book review.

The Rock Hole
by Reavis Z. Wortham
ISBN: 978-1-59058-884-0
2011 release from Poisoned
Pen Press. HC, 284 pages

A sensitive, suspenseful debut crime novel. Full of twists, wry and earthy humor, The Rock Hole epitomizes the grit, the patience and the perseverance, of middle America. Folks who grew up in Texas, where the novel is set, or anywhere in the belt that runs from the northwest angle of Minnesota to the Padre Islands and from the middle of Pennsylvania  to Cody, Wyoming, will recognize themselves in this novel. Their humor, their practicality, their keen natural observations, are all here to savor.

Welcome to 1964. In Center Springs, Texas, farmer and part-time constable Ned Parker is faced with a puzzling series of animal deaths. That they are brutal, atrocious unnecessary killings, only adds to the tension and suspense. Across the river, the black deputy, John Washington, is trying to find reasons for the same killings, while also dealing with  the added difficulties of racism in the county. All these factors entwine to create a real and growing calamity for the small communities in the county surrounding Center Springs.

As the killings continue, strange footprints are found near bedroom windows and citizens begin to carry weapons and look at their neighbors with suspicion.

Laced with forthright humor, the novel proceeds at a racing pace through event after event as suspicion grows and plot twist after twist keeps readers off-balance until the stunning climax is reached. Ned Parker is a strong character who carries the story in an authentic and realistic manner.

The novel is not without its problems. Abrupt and annoying changes of points of view are occasionally confusing, but the writing, like the stories within the narrative is solid. This is an eminently satisfying novel. I look forward to the next.
Carl Brookins Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky