Monday, March 30, 2009

Meeting the Public

A number of people came to the library in Tyler to meet the authors and it was fun to talk to folks about books. The children provided the most fun as they marveled at us "real writers." I guess some of them have no concept of what is behind their favorite book. Sort of like many kids think hamburger originates in the supermarket packaged in shrink wrap.

The other great thing about attending an event like this is the opportunity to meet other authors. There are a few that I have gotten to know from sharing other venues, and it is always fun to see them again, as well as meet new friends. Sharon Ellsberry writes the cutest books featuring spaniel dogs, and Jan Mathew has written haiku and prose about cats with very nice ink illustrations.

There were authors with self-help type books, including Elizabeth Baker who has written for for a number of years. Liza Ely was there with her book, Conscious Acts of Grace, which deals with end-of-life issues is a truly positive, uplifting way. Vina Lee is a life coach and has an interesting book titled, Get Out of Jail Free.

I enjoyed visiting with these authors, as well as Joe Lansdale and James Olson who both write fiction. We shared a panel discussion in the afternoon and the audience seemed to appreciate what we had to say about the wacky world of writing.

I always come home from an all-day event like this exhausted, yet energized by spending time around so many people who love books and love to write.


Here are links to Web sites of some of the featured authors in case you are interested in checking out their books:

Linda Ayers

Sharon Ellsberry

Joe Lansdale

James Olson

Vina Lee

Elizabeth Baker

Jan B. Mathew

Liza Ely

Friday, March 27, 2009

Random Thoughts

This has been a disjointed day for me as I have a lot of things going on. Started this morning when I decided to plant beans. Seemed like a good thing to do since we are getting a lot of rain here in East Texas over the last few days.

While I was out working in the garden, I discovered that something ate my peas. I had several coming up and had just put up a trellis to support the vines. Too late to replant now. Drat. Guess I will plant a few more beans and hope something doesn't eat them, too.

I am getting ready for an all day event at a library tomorrow, so I am working down a to-do list to make sure I have everything else taken care of. I will have to leave early in the morning to drive almost two hours to the library in Tyler.

If any of you reading this live near Tyler, do stop by from 10 until 4:30. There will be a number of authors there with a wide variety of books.

This event is called "Azalea Tales" and is running in conjunction with the annual "Azalea Trails" that takes place when the flowers are in their full glory.

I have a few azaleas blooming, but they are not as full and lush as the ones in this picture. I guess I need to add more compost for them.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Guest Blog

Here is your weekly dose of humor from my friend Tracy Farr. Enjoy.....

The Beckster

I betcha you’ll never guess where I am right now as I’m writing this. Go ahead, give it a shot. You’ll never guess. Not in a million years. Giving up so soon? Gosh, you didn’t even try. Okay I’ll tell you. I’m in downtown Ft. Worth, sitting in the Ft. Worth Convention Center watching the 2009 Marching Auxiliaries National Dance Championships.

That’s right – DANCE! And I’ve been here since 6 a.m. By the time I get home to edit all this, I will have spent 14 hours in a perfectly-good arena and not seen one hockey game.

Fourteen hours of nonstop estrogen-induced bust-a-move dance performed by little girls wearing a whole lot of practically nothing. No Red-Blooded American “Old Guy” should EVER be caught in a place like this when he could be out on the lake or watching NASCAR! But my little girl, Becky, is on one of the dance teams and that’s what makes it okay – so they say.

Becky is 11 and in 5th grade. Her full name is Rebecca Michelle, but we call her Becky. Sometimes we call her The Beckster, other times Beck, Becca, BeckBeck, Booster, Bebop, and for some odd reason, Parker. (Don’t ask me why because I don’t know.)

Beckster has been dancing for eight years, but she’s not your typical “dancer girl.” She likes to ride on my motorcycle. She’s the only one in my family who has had the nerve to go flying with me. She doesn’t mind watching me skin a squirrel. And she can belch better than you and me put together. Yep, she’s gonna make a good catch for some guy out there. But not just ANY guy. In fact, let’s just forget about guys for now. I’m sorry I even brought up the subject.

ATTENTION ALL GUYS: Yes, my Beckster can bust a move on the dance floor, throwing her hips around in such a way you’d bet money they were about to fly off, hit someone in the head, and give them a concussion – but, that does NOT mean she’s interested in YOU!

In fact, if you even THINK about coming over to my house to pick up my little girl, you better know something in advance – I have weapons. They’re loaded, and I know how to point and click! So, it might be best for you to go and pick on some other daddy’s little girl. I cannot be held responsible for what might happen if you don’t.

Just remember – goats eat everything.
The Daily Spittoon - – Not as good as a nap, but close.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Old Friends

Old cars can be a source of unlimited frustration and anxiety for their owners, and yet they can hold a certain amount of charm and sentimentality. While most old cars are barely held together with chewing gum and rubber bands, and they threaten to die at each stop sign, many people would rather get rid of the family dog than part with a cherished old car.

My friend in college had a battered old Plymouth, and its only redeeming quality was the fact that it would get us where we wanted to go, and most of the time it would get us back again. One of the most interesting features of this car, besides the fender that I would have to pick up from the pavement every time we stopped at a traffic light, were the two-by-fours across the frame that supported the seats.

Not having a floor in the car gave us a false sense of security, in that we figured if the brakes ever gave out, we could still stop the car by dragging our feet. It also provided an unlimited source of ventilation which was terrific in the summer, but a little uncomfortable in the winter, especially in a snowstorm.

Then there was my sister's dottering Chevy that could go almost forever on a tank of gas, but needed a quart of oil every other mile. If we forgot the oil, interesting things would start to happen under the hood, and we were sure that the engine was about to throw pistons and rods all over the road.

Then there was the friend who had an ancient Rambler that barely limped from mile to mile, but which sported a brand new set of seat covers. Since the car had over a hundred thousand miles on it, it is understandable that my friend hesitated to invest in new seat covers, but the choice was taken out of his hands when the springs started poking through the seat and tearing up his good suits.

Closing the doors in his car required more than just the usual wrist motion, as the driver's window had to be rolled all the way down before the passenger door would close. But at least the doors opened and closed and the windows went up and down.

The window on the driver's side of the Pinto we once owned didn't go up or down, and when I pulled up at the drive through window at the bank, I would have to get out of the car to do my banking.

I would get some strange looks from people waiting in line, but maybe most of them understood. Surely there was an interesting old car somewhere in their background too.

What about you? Do you have a story about an old car you'd like to share?

BWL Scavenger Hunt

Just read on the Books We Love Readers group on Yahoo that the Scavenger Hunt contest has been extended and incorporates a membership drive. I was busy all weekend so I didn't see that things had changed until today.

Books We Love (BWL) is a great place to find new authors and new books to read. On the actual BWL site readers can meet the authors and read excerpts of books. On the new BWL Readers group, people can join in daily discussions about books, read more excerpts, and get to know more about the BWL authors than maybe you want to know. :-)

So, here is the info on how the Scavenger Hunt contest is going to run.

Scavenger Hunt/New Member Drive

From now through the end of April, the BWL Reader's loop is having a grand opening Scavenger Hunt and new member drive. The events promise to be fun. Twenty authors have put up prizes, many of them autographed print copies of their books. The "travel/road map" for the Hunt will be posted daily on the BWL readers list. Answers to the questions are clearly displayed in excerpts, teasers, and descriptions on the designated websites on the travel/road map. Come and play, join the loop, you might get doubly lucky!

Please fell free to pass along the information.

To join:

Friday, March 20, 2009

Fun Scavenger Hunt

Tomorrow on Books We Love Reader's loop at
we'll be hosting a grand opening Scavenger Hunt. It promises to be fun. Twenty authors have put up prizes, many of them autographed print copies of their books, including me. A copy of Play It Again Sam is one of the prizes.

The answers to the questions you'll be given are clearly displayed in excerpts, teasers and descriptions on the designated websites on the travel map. Come and play.

This was organized by Ginger Simpson, who is terrific about promoting fellow authors as well as her own work.

The "road map" will be posted on the loop tomorrow morning and you'll have until Sunday at noon to email your answers to Ginger. Her e-mail is listed on the group.

The winners will be announced Sunday evening there. Hope to see you.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Why men like dogs and women like cats

As a change of pace from the last entry, here is another bit of humor from my friend, Tracy Farr....

Have you ever given much thought to why a majority of men prefer dogs and a majority of women prefer cats? I have. Not that I really care. But last Tuesday, having nothing better to do, I sat down and gave the question my undivided attention. Thirty minutes was just about all I could stand.

I believe men prefer dogs because dogs behave exactly the way a man wishes his woman would behave, but never will because women are smarter than that.

Dogs will fetch without complaining. They come when they’re called. T hey don’t mind rolling over to have their tummies scratched. And they’re always happy to wag a bit of tail. They don’t need extra time to “put on their face. ” They never grumble about how much football you watch. You can train them to do just about anything, and they never complain about how much more Debbie Howard’s husband makes compared to you.

Dogs have a one-track mind – they want to please. Women on the other hand are multi-faceted creatures that want to please up to a point – and if you don’t take out the trash, you’ll never get to that point.

Men would marry dogs if they could, but I think it’s illegal.

I have no idea why women prefer cats. I think it’s because cats purr. But other than that, cats and men have practically the same qualities – all of which are hated by women.

Cats stay out late at night and never tell you where they’ve been. They never come when called (unless it pertains to food), and they’re always spitting up globs of gunk that shouldn’t have been able to survive in their digestive system in the first place.

Cats leave hairs all over the place. They bring dead animals home and expect you to be impressed. They disappear whenever work needs to be done, and they expect you to clean up their poop because heaven knows they won’t do it themselves.

Women would never marry cats because that’s stupid. Besides, how would a cat support a family? On dead birds? I think not!

I told my man/woman, dog/cat theory to a good friend of mine. She said it was all bunk. She prefers dogs and her husband prefers cats.

As for me, I prefer goats. Goats aren’t like men or women. Goats are like goats. And as long as they eat my grass so I don’t have to mow, the more the merrier.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Another Absurdity

Joe Deshotel, a Texas state lawmaker, filed a bill this week that would create a pilot program designed to pay cash to students at low-performing schools for good grades in core subjects.

Freshmen could earn $50 for each "A," $35 for each "B," and $20 for each "C" in English, math, science or social studies. They would get half their money at the end of each grading period and the other half at graduation. They would also receive college and career counseling through the program.

Funding for the bill would come from $6 billion in federal stimulus money the state is planning to use on education.

At first glance, that might seem like a good idea. And I'm sure students are all for it, as are the parents who are already paying their kids for grades. Now they won't have to foot that bill.

But is it really a good idea?

Some argue that the kids need the incentive. Those on the "pro" side, also say that this helps kids prepare for the working world in which their pay will reflect their effort.

Those on the "con" side believe that education should be on a different level. That kids should learn for the sake of learning. That education is about so much more than performance and test scores and grades that could earn them a few bucks.

This debate has been going on for several years now, and there are other states already using some kind of payment reward for students. There isn't a consensus about whether it is the best approach or not, and there may never be a consensus.

I'm on the con side of the issue. Where do you stand?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Read an E-Book Week

In celebration of "Read an E-Book Week" there is a lot of buzz around the internet about e-books. Some blogs are offering contests, free books, and lots of other fun stuff.

On Charlotte Phillips blog, she has a list of e-books that have received good reviews and might be worthy of a look-see. Check it out HERE This is a book review site, and many of the books listed are ones that Charlotte has read and recommends.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Dead Horse

This is a joke making the rounds on the Internet, and it is just so timely I figured it was worth posting here. Enjoy...........

Young Chuck in Montana bought a horse from a farmer for $100, and the farmer agreed to deliver the horse the next day.

The next morning the farmer drove up and said, "Sorry son, but I have some bad news. The horse died."

"Well, then just give me my money back," Chuck said.

The farmer said, "Can't do that. I went and spent it already."

"Ok, then, just bring me the dead horse."

The farmer asked, "What ya gonna do with him?"

"I'm going to raffle him off," Chuck said.

The farmer said, "You can't raffle off a dead horse!"

"Sure I can," Chuck said. "I just won't tell anybody he's dead."

A month later, the farmer met up with Chuck and asked, "What happened with that dead horse?"

"I raffled him off," Chuck said. " I sold 500 tickets at two dollars apiece and made a profit of $998."

The farmer said, "Didn't anyone complain?"

"Just the guy who won. So I gave him his two dollars back."

Chuck grew up and now works for the government. He's the one who figured out how this "bail-out" is going to work.

Monday, March 09, 2009

New Interview

I don't know about you, but I enjoy reading different interviews of authors to find out more about them, their books, and their approach to writing. We all do some things pretty much the same way -- sit our butts down in the chair and write -- but we all have little idiosyncrasies and rituals that differ.

For a while now, Suite 101 has been doing a series on writer's rituals, and I am the guest author today. If you are interested in what my office looks like and what can distract me from writing, you can read my interview HERE

If you do go over to read the interview, I hope you stay for a while and read some of the others. Interesting, fun stuff there.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Free Books

This was posted on one of the groups I belong to, and I thought, who doesn't like free books? So let's all see what treasures we can find this coming week.

Just to let you know that we'll be helping to celebrate Read an eBook Week next week by having some eBooks available to download for free. The week starts on Sunday, so if you could spread the word, that would be great.

To celebrate Read an eBook Week, March 8th – 14th, BeWrite Books will be giving away a selection of eBooks to download for free. Please follow this link to download your free copies. Each day will have a different genre of books to chose from including Crime, Adventure, Fantasy etc.
More details on Read an eBook Week can be found here:

To download your copies visit BeWrite Books:

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Great Contest Coming

YOU DON'T WANT TO MISS THIS! In celebration of the grand opening of the new Books We Love Reader's Group at yahoo,, we're asking you to get acquainted with some of our authors by participating in a fun scavenger hunt. We promise it isn't hard. You just have to follow the provided links listed on the loop the morning of March 20th and answer some really easy questions. The answers are all just have to find and collect them all to be entered into a drawing for one of eighteen books. Some will even be personally autographed. You'll have two days, with the contest ending Saturday at midnight. All entries must be received by Ginger Simpson at by noon on Sunday, 3/22. Winners will be announced shortly after.

Whether you come to play or not, we hope you will join us in celebrating the beginning of what we hope will be a stimulating and pleasant group experience. If you aren't familiar with us, please visit and get an idea of who we are and what we're about. I'm sure you may have already played in a contest or two there. Jude Pittman has assembled a wonderful group of talent, but without readers, we don't have much purpose. Come join us, won't you. Remember, Friday, March 20th.

Join us in welcoming Spring!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The Epitome of Absurd

I just read this little tidbit of news on CNN news online. It seems the absurd lawsuit -- $54 million over a missing pair of pants -- just won't go away:

"The District of Columbia Court of Appeals denied Roy Pearson’s “voluminous” petition to rehear his case, attorney Christopher Manning said in a written statement Tuesday. Manning represents the family who owns the dry cleaners Pearson sued.

In December, the court denied Pearson’s initial appeal. His final option is to ask the U.S. Supreme Court hear his case.

The saga began in May 2005, when Pearson took several pairs of pants to Chung’s Custom Cleaners for alteration as he prepared to start a new job. Pearson said one pair of pants was lost and the Chungs tried to give him another instead."

I remember when this case was first filed in 2005, and I couldn't believe that it even got past the first judge. Talk about frivolous lawsuits. Not that $54 million is frivolous, but over a pair of pants?

It is fitting that the DC Court of Appeals denied this latest appeal, and I hope Pearson does not take it to the Supreme Court. There are more important things for the Justices to consider than giving a man millions of dollars because his pants were lost. Or even because the owners of the dry cleaners tried to pass off a replacement pair and not tell him.

If I remember correctly, once the duplicity was proven, the owners offered to replace the lost pants and apologized, and that should have been sufficient.

In fact, I thought it was, way back then in 2005, and breathed a sigh of relief that the case was settled and gone. So I was shocked to see the news this morning, and I only have one thing to say," Stop wasting the courts' precious time, Mr. Pearson."