Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday Odds and Ends

Texas Gov. Rick Perry either had a recent meltdown, or he truly believes that the doctrine of the separation of church and state is a myth devised by Satan to drive Christians from public life. He also said, "American families are under siege and that Christian Warriors must defend the nation against secular attack."

Separation of chrch and state has often been misinterpreted and misused, depending on who was touting it. Athiests have said that it means there should be no mention of a God, or higher power, or religion in schools, governement offices, courts or any other place where it might offend someone. People of faiths other than Christianity have lobbied so no mention of Jesus or any holiday associated with Jesus can take place in a public venue that might be construed as government sanctioned.

What most people forget is that Thomas Jefferson first invoked the separation of church and state to assure a group of Baptists in Connecticut that the state's Congregationalist majority could not use government to impose its religious views on everybody else.

Think about what that means. It is not that we can't practice our religion. It is not that we can't have prayer in school. It simply means that the government cannot tell us what kind of religion we should practice.

On a professional note, I have recently received two wonderful reviews for my next release, Stalking Season, which is the second book in the Seasons Series that began with Open Season. The first review is from Kirkus: "So deftly plotted and paced that, although it’s certainly possible to grow impatient with the protagonists’ unwarranted impatience toward each other, they’re appealing enough to keep the pages turning."

Publishers Weekly  gave the book a starred review: “ . . . gripping second mystery featuring Dallas, Tex., police detectives Sarah Kingsly and Angel Johnson. . . . The relationship between the women is just as absorbing as the search for the killer. Few readers will anticipate the closing twist.”

I must say that I am blown away by these reviews. I remember getting so excited when I saw this type for one of my favorite authors and thinking, "how great." It is so hard to get my head around the fact that the reviews are for my book. So I thank the kind folks at Kirkus and PW for giving me such a wonderful gift. 

The book releases November 14th, but is available for pre-order, and you can request your local library to order a copy, or two, or three. (smile)

Now here's a funny from Non Sequitur:

Two men are sitting at a bar and one asks, "Why can't anyone running for office ever be honest about what they really stand for and what they intend to do?"

On the bar television a politician is saying, "I stand firmly on any divisive issue we can't do anything about to keep you distracted from the fortune I rake in from lobbyists for doing nothing."

To that the first man replies, "Geesh, I'd never vote for that guy..."

The second man says, "Which answers your questuon."

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hard Lesson Learned

 Here with another bit of wit and wisdom from The Mule Barn is my friend, Slim Randles. If you enjoy his offerings here, you would like his book, Home Country, which is a collection of these essays. You can order it through Amazon, or get a signed copy by clicking on the link at the end of the story.

It was that magic time of morning for those of us at the Mule Barn; the time when we're so full of coffee we can't walk, and it's time to decide whether to order lunch there or go home. That's when Bert walked in. Kinda limped in, actually. He made his way over and sat down and turned his coffee cup right side up.

"I'm hurting boys," he said. "That's a fact.  'Course Maizie told me it was a fool thing to do, but you know how she is, so I did it anyway."

"What's that, Bert?"

"Grandfathering, that's what. But what the heck, guys, you gotta do it, don't you? I mean, we owe it to the kids to start them on the road ... yes, that straight and narrow road leading to a fulfilling future, filled with..."

"Bert," said Doc, "you get tattooed with a phonograph needle? Just tell us what happened."

"My granddaughter, Gina," he said. "She's eight now, you know, and she's been staying with us for a while. Well, she's the best girl you ever met, but it's hard to get her up on time. Seems like every other day she fools around and misses the school bus, and then we have to drive her to school. I just got tired of that, and figured I'd teach her a lesson.

"Well, she missed the bus again this morning and said, 'Grandpa, you'll have to take me to school.' And I said, 'OK, Honey, get your books.' So she got her little backpack with the books on and I walked her to school."

"All the way to school? How far is it from your farm?"

"Eight miles, boys. Eight very long miles."

He grinned. "Several times people stopped and offered us rides, but I just said no thanks, and explained that it was an object lesson. Gina just mumbled that she hated object lessons, but she kept walking. Walked all the way up the canyon and didn't sit down once."

"How about Grandpa?" Dud asked.

"He didn't sit down, either. Hey, how would it look?"

"No wonder you're tired, Bert."

"Well," he said, grinning. "I don't expect I'll ever need to do this again. I believe the lesson got learned just fine."
  Brought to you by the personally inscribed new book  Home Country, at

Monday, September 24, 2012

Freedom - At What Cost?

Charles Lane of The Washington Post wrote recently in defense of some cartoons that were published in a French magazine Charlie Hebdo, claiming that freedom of speech trumps everything else like common sense and decency. The cartoons apparently poked fun a the prophet Mohammed, and there were significant concerns that the publication of the cartoons could spur more violent protests and riots in the Middle East.

Perhaps that claim that freedom of speech trumps everything is a good policy when the only thing at stake is someone who has their feelings hurt or otherwise object to what is said or published. However, when the safety of many people are at stake, perhaps the policy doesn't have to uphold a person's right to make fun of another person's religion just because they can.

We in the Western world understand satire and spoofs, but not all mid-east cultures do. They see those cartoons as a direct insult, and their reactions are not even in the same ballpark as ours. They don't have a constitution that supports freedom of speech or an understanding of what that means. What they have is a long legacy of retaliation against anything they see as an insult. 

So maybe we need to be more mindful of that.

Back when Voltaire made his famous remark, "I do not agree with a word that you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it," he was speaking to people of a like mind. In the Western world at that time, most people acted and reacted with a sense of civility and decency. Direct attacks on religion or culture were not commonly made, and when they were, for the most part, responses were tempored with that same sense of civilty and decency.

That doesn't happen anymore, and I cerainly would not like to see another 9/11 just so someone can make a film or draw a cartoon, or write an article that some radical extremest will take issue with.

On the other side of the issue, Charles Lane says that if we stop publishing the type of cartoons that the Islamist found offensive we are giving in to a "small handful of extremists who want to make everyone afraid, to shut us all in a cave."

I don't think that asking people to stop and consider the consequences of what they say or write takes away from freedom of speech. They can still choose to go ahead, or they can make the decision not to because of the potential grave danger.

What do you think? Should our basic freedoms trump everything else?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Book Review - Just Add Water by Jinx Schwartz

Just Add Water
Jinx Schwartz

  • Print Length: 341 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005S65704
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray: Not Enabled

  • This delightful book introduces Hetta Coffey in the series that continues with Just Add Salt and several other books that feature a smart and sassy protagonist and her best friend Jan, as they troll for men and adventure. 

    In Just Add Water, the duo are rebounding from "detestable others" and hoping to find some interesting men along the San Francisco waterfront. Hetta gets the brilliant idea that they need a boat in order to snag one of these yachtsmen with the tanned faces and bulging muscles. In order to buy a boat, the friends must learn how to sail - a rollicking adventure of its own.

    The story has a supporting cast that is unique and funny, including the dog, RJ, that I dare anyone not to fall in love with. When Hetta and Jan are off working or cavorting, RJ is tended to by Dr. Craig, a gay veterinarian who is also a good friend. Hetta calls him Dr. Craigosaurus because of his size. He is a BIG man.

    This isn't a book for straight mystery lovers. It is a romp, with mystery elements, and the actual mystery part came later in the story than I would have preferred. There is a prologue that introduces Hudson Williams, a man from Hetta's past, who is eventually connected to the story, but it takes so long, I started wondering when that was going to happen.

    Still, I enjoyed the clever, humorous dialogue and the various sub-plots were interesting and well done. There is a enough to keep the pages turning.

    Friday, September 21, 2012

    Friday's Odds and Ends

    In reviewing a play, "I am a Teacher", by Dallas playwright and actor, David Marquis, Dallas Morning News columnist, Steve Blow commented that we no longer just have standardized testing in education today, we have standardized education. "It's a rigid, regulated, one-size fits all approach to teaching. But schools are not factories and kids are not widgets."

    I wish every high-level school administrator would recognize that fact. Kids learned more when there were less regulations and oversight and teachers were allowed to teach - not be bureaucrats.

    Susan Gubar, a professor of English at Indiana University, the author of Memoir of a Debulked Woman, recently wrote an interesting column about being a cancer survivor. Actually, she said, "don't call me a survivor. Her main point was she thinks the term takes something away from those still fighting,.  She also thinks that the term somehow says something negative about those who do not win the fight against cancer. That somehow they did not try hard enough. "Does it cast those who died from the disease in the role of victims who somehow failed to attain the requisite resiliency to overcome it?"

    Non of the cancer survivors I know think that way. They honor and uphold every person who has succumbed. They are also first to say that surviving does not make them heroes. They are just the lucky ones who had several things in their favor, the cancer was found early, the treatments worked and they have been cancer-free for five years or more.

    "We urge Indonesian Muslims to calm down, because the majesty and greatness of God and the prophet Muhammad will not be diminished by these insults." Amidan Shaberah of Indonesia, a prominent cleric.


     Now for a little fun from The Argyle Sweater: Arnold Schwarzenegger is standing in front of a large to-do list. Number 1, star in movie with DeVito. 2, Get to know housekeeping staff.3,  Become governor of California. 4, Win Oscar. 5, Look great in a speedo after 60. 6, Make movie about baroque composer: "I'll be Bach."

    NOTE: I will be offline most of the weekend. Play nice without me.

    Wednesday, September 19, 2012

    25 Years in the Rearview Blog Tour

    I'd like to welcome Jaleta Clegg, one of my fellow authors from the brand new e-book 25 Years in the Rearview Mirror, 52 Authors Look Back. She is here today with a fun post from one of the characters from her own book as part of the 25 Years in the Rearview Mirror Blog Tour. If you enjoy magazine columns and Chicken Soup for the Soul books, then we're sure you'll enjoy our collection of essays, designed to warm your heart, raise your spirits and compel you to examine your own life. Get a full listing of authors, essay titles and retailers HERE 

    And now, let's say hello to, Leon Gravis, a character in Jaleta Clegg's book, Priestess of the Eggstone. Leon was a fun character in the story, and you will understand why I liked him when you read his post. Enjoy.....

    Hiya, Sweetheart. How ya doing? Got anything to drink around here? I'm parched. Just spent six hours arguing for an acquittal. I'm bleeding? *dabs forehead* Just a scratch. Bully boys thought they could push me around. But you don't work for a crime syndicate for ten years without picking up a thing or two about intimidation. You thought I was talking about acquittal in court, legal proceedings and all that. Naw, working on some back alley negotiations.

    Speaking of negotiations, did I ever tell you about how I got off Viya Station and away from the Targon Syndicate? Yeah, I used to work for them. Stupid, really, but I didn't have much choice. My wife's family is all Targon. Married into it, you might say. But I'm rid of her and her relatives.

    So, there I was, sitting in the office of Belliff on Viya Station, wondering what I was gonna do. The Patrol was gearing up for a raid. I could smell the trouble. The management had all disappeared. On a retreat seminar. *hand quotes* They left me to catch the blame from the law. You didn't know Belliff is a front for the Targon Syndicate? Everybody knows that.

    I was sitting there, deleting files while my wife's idiot nephew watched his vids, when this woman, Dace, walks in claiming to have a courier delivery for me. She couldn't have had worse timing. Those courier shipments were nothing more than illegal contraband. Brilliant idea for smuggling, if you could find a pilot dumb enough to fall for it. The smart ones would figure out what you were doing and either demand a cut of the pie or steal the shipment outright and sell it to the highest bidder. I'm not saying Dace was stupid, just naïve.

    I shifted some papers around looking for a way out. That cargo was going to send me away for a long time. I don't do well with incarceration, makes me break out. Ha! Sorry, bad joke. Anyway, I'm digging through the desk when what do I find but a stunner. My escape plan hit me like a sledgehammer. She was a pilot, she had a ship. She could fly me to Freeport, capital of the Federation. I'd take the cargo and sell it to finance setting up my new home. Yeah, the Federation is kinda small and more than a little backward, but they're a lot looser on the law enforcement than the Empire. But they still got laws. Where you got laws, you got lawyers. Like me. See? Genius plan.

    So I hide the stunner and make her take me to her ship. Everything was working according to plan until her copilot decides he wants to be a hero. He jumped me. Things got a bit crazy, especially after Dace convinced Viya Station to undock us. Insane woman flew us through a Patrol firefight with these aliens. We took a direct hit and you know what she did? She kept going. We made the jump to hyperspace with a failing engine.

    The woman is completely bonkers, you get what I'm saying? Totally bonkers, but she's the best pilot I've ever seen. *shakes head* I'll even forgive her for tying me up and locking me in the bathroom for most of that trip.

    Freeport? Nah, never made it. Dace took us straight to Tebros where the Patrol jumped all over me. I turned myself in, gave them everything I had on Targon. Yeah, Targon hates me now, but I'm legal again. You want the rest of the story? You're going to have to bribe the Patrol for it. I'm pretty sure Dace gave them a full report.

    And those rumors that she's some kind of secret agent for the Patrol? *leans forward and whispers* Don't believe it. She hates them almost as much as I do.

    Now I've got a question for you. What do you think of my suit? Manny made it. He's a great tailor. *stands up to show off blue and purple plaid with stripes of lime green and little yellow flowers* I like a bit of flash, ya know? Catches them off guard. *winks*

    Jaleta Clegg loves writing stories about interesting characters. She writes science fiction adventure, silly horror, and dabbles in every genre in between. Find more about her at

    Her second novel, Priestess of the Eggstone, is now available.

    Book Blurb: Pursued by the Targon Crime Syndicate bent on revenge, the Patrol intent on recruitment, and the Sessimoniss who want their god back, the last thing Captain Dace needs is a handsome copilot with romance on his mind.

    Monday, September 17, 2012

    Genre Favorites Blogfest

    This is another blogfest from Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh. Thanks so much for putting this together, Alex. 

    For this blogest, we are to list our favorite genre of Music, Movies, and books. Then share a guilty pleasure from any of the three categories.

    My favorite music is Country. Not the newest Country Rock, but the old classics like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Charley Pride, Glen Campbell, and Patsy Cline.

    Running a close second is folk and Americana. Among my favorite folk singers are Pete Seger, Peter, Paul and Mary, and Simon and Garfunkel. Their song, "The Sound of Silence" was written in 1964 by Paul Simon in the aftermath of the 1963 assassination of John F. Kennedy. (Note: I can sing every Peter Paul and Mary song on their greatest-hits album. Not as well as they do, but I've got heart.)

    While on the subject of folk music, I'd like to introduce my readers to a terrific duo who also happen to be good friends of mine, Adler & Hearne. They live in my little corner of the world, when not touring, and they have some terrific songs. One of the songs Lynn wrote, "A Hundred Years From Now" has won several awards and has a terrific social message. (NOTE: I will be taking voice lessons from Lynn Adler. I'll never sing like her, or Mary Travers, but my goal is not to be a professional.)

    My favorite movies are dramas that not only tell a great story but make me stop and think about life and social issues: "The Shawshank Redemption" "The Green Mile" "Philadelphia" "Sophie's Choice".  I think I see a pattern here. I really like stories, whether they be movies, songs, or books that say something significant.

    I also love the classic black and white films: "Casablanca", "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington", "The Maltese Falcon", "It's a Wonderful Life" "A Farewell to Arms".  (Captain Alex will note there is not a sci-fi movie listed. Sorry guy.)

    While I do enjoy books that delve into social issues, my favorite genre to read just for fun is mystery and thriller. I first started reading Agatha Christie and Erle Stanley Gardner, then moved on to John D. McDonald, and Ed McBain.  (for a long time I did not know that Ed McBain was a pen name for Evan Hunter.) It was the 87th Precinct series that first stirred my interest in police procedural mysteries and the primary reason that I write them. 

    My guilty pleasure is related to police procedural mysteries with continuing ensemble casts, and that is my addiction to the Law & Order series. All of them. I can waste an afternoon watching reruns of the earliest seasons. They don't stir my intellect and my consciousness the way some of my other favorites do, but it is always fun to see justice win out in the end. Well, almost always.

    Visit Alex's Blog to see his favorites and get a list of all the bloggers participating in the blog fest.

    Sunday, September 16, 2012

    Book Review - Priestess of the Eggstone by Jaleta Clegg

    Jaleta Clegg

    ·  Paperback: 278 pages
    ·  Publisher: JournalStone (August 10, 2012)
    ·  Language: English
    ·  ISBN-10: 1936564475
    ·  ISBN-13: 978-1936564477

    This sci-fi fantasy is the second book of The Fall of the Altairan Empire series featuring Dace, a space pilot who manages to get into trouble everywhere she goes. She was introduced in  the first book, Nexus Point, as was another recurring character, Tayvis.

    Dace is flying for a company that hired her to courier sensitive materials, but she does not know Beliff  is a front for the Targon Crime Syndicate, until she goes to get paid and discovers the Patrol is raiding the company offices.  She manages to evade the Patrol, only to discover another major problem. Jerimon, her copilot, stole a god from the Sessimoniss, and the entire sentient species is chasing him, wreaking havoc throughout space. Now the challenge is to find the Eggstone god and return it before the Sessimoniss declare war; a challenge made more difficult because they also have to avoid getting caught by the Patrol and the Targon Syndicate.

    Even though I am not a fan of sci-fi and fantasy, I was pulled into this story and, for the most part, enjoyed the read. Dace is a strong character, and strong female characters appeal to me. We have come a long way from the melodramas where Pauline had to be saved by the hero.

    The secondary characters were well done as well. I liked Jayla, Jerimon's sister, who joins the adventure when they need a navigator. Leon, who hijacks Dace's ship, is a fun character, and how Dace and Jerimon deal with him is a clever bit of plotting.

    There were some things in the story that didn't work as well for me. First was the incessant fighting between Dace and Jerimon. They are attracted to each other, but use the bickering to keep each other at arm's length. Dace, especially, is not open to any kind of romance because she still has feelings for Tayvis based on something that happened in the first book. The bickering just went on too long and kept repeating the same complaints against each other.

    The romantic triangle did not work for me either. I found it hard to believe that Dace could have the same strong feelings for both Jerimon and Tayvis, but maybe that was just me. I also thought the romantic issues interfered with the flow of the rest of the story, which was much more compelling.

    This was a good introduction to some fascinating alien species and a believable futuristic world.

    Jaleta Clegg will be my guest this coming Wednesday, so I do hope you will come back and meet her and her character, Leon. You can see why I liked him so much.

    Also, please stop by tomorrow for the Genre Favorites Blogfest,  hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh  Those of us participating will be sharing about our favorites in books, movies, and music and revealing one guilty pleasure.

    Friday, September 14, 2012

    I Need a Leash

    To understand the title of this blog post, I have to fill you in on my morning. My plan was to finish up some interview questions for Martha Alderson, The Plot Whisperer, who is going to be a guest at The Blood Red pencil later this month. Yes, you read that right, The Plot Whisperer, like The Horse Whiperer, only for writers. 

    Seriously, it is going to be an interesting interview, so I will remind you again closer to the date in case you would like to see what she has to say.

    Next on my to-do list was to update my blog. But, lo and behold, when I came to the blog, I saw that I had some comments that I had not responded to. I also saw some new friends, so I had to go visit their blogs. Yesterday I was off line most of the day, so I had not seen the comments.

    When I saw Helen Ginger's name, I remembered that she had a good blog yesterday about publicists. I had received a note about that in e-mail, but did not have time to go over yesterday, so I had to go check it out. Business, right?

    In between blog-hopping, I remembered I had to do some laundry, so I took a quick break to throw shirts in the washing machine. The thrilling life of a writer.

    I came back to my blog and saw Morgan Mandel's comment. That reminded me that she has a new book out, Her Handyman. I haven't read it yet, but it is on my Kindle. It sounds like a fun, light romance, which is always a nice diversion from real life.

    Thinking about my writer friends, I remembered that Marian Allen has a book contracted with Hydra Publications, The Fall of Onagros, and she shares how the story came to be on the  Literary Lunes blog. 

    Another interruption to take care of an issue at the local art center, then I was hoping to get back to this, when I saw my horse had pulled the rope loose from where I had tied him to munch on some green grass. He helps me not to have to mow so often.

    Maybe I should ask Martha to talk to him about staying put?

    I ran outside, got him tied again, threw the ball for the dog a few times, then came back inside to another phone call. Just when I thought I was ready to come back to the blog, then get on with the rest of my plan for the day, I heard the washing machine stop. Do I just let the wet clothes stay there and get lots of wrinkles, or do I get up and throw them into the dryer?

    Perhaps I should call this post, Friday's Follies.
    Courtesty of

     How do you handle days that go awry like this? Do you try to get back to your plan, or just say, to heck with it. I think I'll go read a book?

    Wednesday, September 12, 2012

    Shall We Dance?

    Before I let my guest take the stage today, I have a couple of exciting announcements. First, my friend Tim Hallinan, just got terrific news. His ebook series of comic thrillers about L.A. burglar Junior Bender  will be published by Soho Crime in hardcover and trade paperback and Blackstone will issue them as audio books. They have also been optioned for film and television by Lionsgate. How cool is that? Mega congrats to Tim. 

    My news isn't quite so exciting, but I am thrilled that Stalking Season, the second book in the Seasons Series coming in November, just got a great review from Kirkus. The first book, Open Season, got very nice reviews from Library Journal and Publisher's Weekly, and I am thrilled to get this one from Kirkus. Well, darn, I just checked the link and the review does not go live until two weeks before the book is released. 

    Oh, well, back to our regularly scheduled program. Here is an offering from my friend Slim Randles. Enjoy.....

    There is a payoff, Doc told us, for getting the aches and pains of old age. Doc should know. We have it on good authority that he is actually older than a flat, brown rock.

    "A payoff?" Steve said. Steve's an old cowpuncher who has collected hurt places for a long time now. He kinda wriggled around, reliving in two seconds' time two buck offs in the rocks, one horn wound from a nasty mama cow and a groin kick from a bronc mule.

    "Sure," said Doc, in his usual cheerful way. "You get gray hair, or maybe kinda bald like ol' Steve here, and you develop wisdom, which we all know just means you know not to argue with your wife, right? So then what happens? Your grandchildren think you have all the answers."

    "So you have to help them with homework?" Dud said.

    "Naw, not a bit. What I mean is, you have your grandchildren all primed for some real Olympic-style embarrassment."

    Doc leaned over conspiratorially. "I live to embarrass my grandchildren."

    We had a good laugh, but Bert wanted specifics.

    "With me," Doc said, "it's dancing. You see, they are all teenagers now, and therefore they are cool and know everything, and the world couldn't turn without them. So when their friends come over and they crank that stereo up to where it's killing the neighbor's geraniums, I ask them just once to turn it down."

    "Takes me a lot more than once," Bert said. "I swear those kids are hard of hearing."

     "But do you dance for them?" Doc asked. "You see, if they don't turn it down, I kinda totter to my feet and start what the kids call the Grandpa Boogie. I mean I shake it like an Egyptian pharaoh. I wiggle and jiggle and stick out my chin like this ... and sort of thrust myself around the floor until one of them dashes over and shuts off the music. Then I go sit down and read the paper again. The first couple of times I did that, the kids got me to one side and begged me never to do that again. I guess they were just jealous of my moves. Well, I hated to show them up in front of their friends, seeing as I could dance better than they could, but the music was too loud. I tell them when the music gets more than just kinda regular, I can't help myself and dance fever hits me like a sledgehammer."

    "So," Steve said, "how did you do it? I mean, show us, OK?"

    So Doc stood up and went into spasms, twitches and slides that had the whole coffee shop cracking up, and people didn't know whether to applaud or call the paramedics.

    "The really great thing," said Doc, sitting back down, out of breath, "is that these kids think they invented being cool. And I blind-sided them with great mo-o-o-o-ves! I showed them a slink or two.

    "And you'd be surprised how much quieter it is when they come over these days."
     Brought to you by the personally inscribed new book  Home Country,  at

    Tuesday, September 11, 2012

    Let us Remember

    Even though I normally do not post on Tuesdays, I could not let today pass without some remembrance of what happened on 9/11. I don't know when the sharp memories will fade. Perhaps when we are longer past the event. I don't know. I still have vivid memories of where I was and what I was doing when Kennedy was shot, and when Martin Luther King was shot, and the mass shooting at Columbine.

    I think such tragedies imprint themselves on our brains and the image never fades. I'm sure it is the same for Holocaust survivors and every man and woman who ever served in combat and saw terrible things that people should not have to see.

    So when I remember 9/11 I pray for all the families who were directly affected through the loss of a loved one. I pray for the first responders who displayed such courage and compassion throughout the aftermath of that fateful day. And I pray that somehow, someway, there could be an end to this terrorism that plagues the entire world.

    If we could only live in peace.

    Monday, September 10, 2012

    Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate

    All of us participating in the "What's Your Chocolate" blogfest are to write something about chocolate. What's not to love, right?  I have met few people who did not like chocolate, but my father was one of those few. That's why I would order chocolate ice cream when we went to the local ice-cream shop for a treat. He always liked to "help" us with our cones. "That little bit is dribbling there. Let me just clean it up for you."

    Several licks later, the ice cream would be half gone. When I wised up, I never ordered vanilla again. Or strawberry.

    But this post is not about chocolate ice cream. I want to write about chocolate cobbler. That's right. I've heard about all kinds things chocolate: chocolate cookies, chips or otherwise, chocolate cake, and chocolate pie, but I had never heard of chocolate cobbler until I did an Internet search for "chocolate." I couldn't believe it when several sites for chocolate cobbler popped up. I thought cobbler was made with berries or peaches or apples. Chocolate?

    BTW, if you count how many times I use the word chocolate, you will see that it is a lot. If you leave a comment with the exact number, I will put your name in a hat for a drawing for a free book. You can pick any of my books in e-format or paper. Your choice.

    Now back to the cobbler. Christy Jordan shares a recipe on her blog Southern Plate, which has a lot of great recipes. On her blog she clarifies that chocolate cobbler is also known as mud pie, and that is what she was accustomed to calling it. The first time someone mentioned how much they liked her mother's chocolate cobbler, she had no idea what they were talking about.

    It's mud pie, everyone. Just because it is cooked in a cobbler pan does not make it a cobbler.

    Christy has step-by-step instructions for making mud pie, and after looking at it for a few minutes, I think I need to take a break and do some baking.

    Back in an hour or so.

    OMG, this cobbler is to die for.

    I thought the Chocolate Better Than Sex Cake was the most decadent chocolate treat, but mud pie, or cobbler if you are not living in the southern part of the United States, is giving it a run for the money. If you'd like to try the cake, here is a link to a great recipe by Kimberly Pugliano. The main thing I like about this recipe is that not everything is measured, especially the candy, which the cook is free to munch on while preparing the batter.

    Do I dare take another baking break?

    What the heck. If you want to find more about chocolate while I'm gone, you can visit some of the others who are participating in the blogfest. We will all be on a sugar high by the end of the day.

    Sunday, September 09, 2012

    A Different Kind of Sunday Post

    In lieu of my usual Sunday book review, I am offering a bit of humor from the comics. I love to share the strips that make me smile and sometimes laugh out loud. This one from Sherman's Lagoon did make me laugh. Maybe because it is so true.

    Sherman's son asks, "Daddy, what are these blunder games I keep hearing about?"

    "Well son, Each lagoon picks once resident to represent it. Then, all the representatives have a big free-or-all battle where everything goes."

    The son says, "So it's like congress."

    "Except something actually gets decided."

    If you would like to read a good book review, you can find one here at my friend, Kevin Tipple's blog. He has been reviewing books, especially mysteries, for some time and is quite good at presenting a balanced opinion.

    Lastly, tomorrow is the "What's Your Chocolate" blogfest created by Laura Eno, Brinda Berry, Ciara Knight and M. Pax.

    Please come by and discover the millions of ways people love chocolate.

    Friday, September 07, 2012

    Friday's Odds and Ends

    Tonight and tomorrow I will be in Tyler, TX for the East Texas Bookfest in Tyler, Texas, and, as usual, I left too many things until the last minute, so I will be busy most of today getting everything in order. There are always so many little details, like don't forget the flyers and your toothbrush and your books. Not to mention the list of things to do to get all the animals squared away and make sure my husband has some help if he needs it.

    So, I have no blog post idea at all. Instead, I will just give you links to some online friends who have neat things to share.

    First up is Alex J. Cavanaugh. I love his brief music and movie reviews, and he always has updates on what is new with some other author friends. He is good about sharing.

    Another writer friend is LD Masterson. She frequently has humor on her blog, but also hosts authors who are on blog tours. A recent post is from a mutual friend, Marilyn Meredith who is touring with her latest book, Raging Water. 

    Helen Ginger, one of the team members at The Blood Red Pencil, also has a very popular blog, Straight From Hel, where she shares tips on writing and publishing, as well as offering book reviews.

    Susan Swiderski has a fun blog, I Think, Therefore I Yam. She does some great pictorial essays that I always enjoy. I admire someone who works so hard to entertain her readers.

    And in closing, here is your funny for the day from one of my favorite comic strips, Pickles. Earl is lying on the sofa reading a magazine and Nelson, his grandson leans over to ask, "Where do we go when we die, Grampa?"

    Earl says, "I don't know about everyone else, but I'm staying right here."

    "Right here?"

    "Yep. I'm going to have my ashes scattered over this sofa."

    Nelson then goes to Opal who is in the kitchen and asks, "You have a really good vacuum, don't you Gramma?"

    Wednesday, September 05, 2012

    Wednesday's Guest - The Toad

    Today one of my frequent Wednesday's Guests is over at The Blood Red Pencil, sharing some tips on improving the vocabulary of young people today. It is a fun post, so I hope you can hop over and see how Alphonse proposes to help kids, like, talk better.

    I am a guest on Terry Odell's blog where I have posted the recipe for some scrumptious hamburgers my husband makes frequently. 

    Now back to regularly scheduled programming.

    This absolutely wasn't planned, folks, but today's guest is the toad I found in my bathroom. I was getting cleaned up and dressed after my morning walk and happened to notice something gray at the top of one of my cabinets that reaches to the ceiling. I didn't have my glasses on so I couldn't tell what it was, and at first I thought it was a glob of plaster. However, I remembered I just refinished that cabinet and there was no glob of plaster on it.

    What could it be?

    I got my glasses and looked up. "Is that a toad? How did a toad get up there?"

    It didn't move and was so pale I thought at first it was petrified up there. Petrified, as in it had become a stony replica by petrifaction.

    I couldn't reach it without getting a step stool, and I didn't want to bother going to the shed, so I got a hanger and poked at it. I figured if it was dead, it would just fall down. To my surprise, it turned and looked at me. Obviously, it was just petrified, as in paralyzed with fear.

    I am going to have to get the stool at some point so I can put the toad outside. Otherwise God knows where it will go. If it isn't caught by one of the cats, it could turn into a toad mummy at some point.

    If you notice the little droplets of water in this picture, that's from me spraying him to give him a drink.
    I'm such a softie.

    On another note, I have taken my suspense novel, One Small Victory, out of the Select program at Amazon, and it is now available for  NOOK. As soon as I can, I am going to get it up on Kobo and Smashwords.

    UPDATE: The toad is now happily living outside.

    Monday, September 03, 2012

    A Puppet Show

    When I was a kid, my sister and I played often with sock puppets. Sometimes, when we were feeling a little silly while folding clothes, we would put a sock on our hands and have a little puppet show until our mother made us get back to the job.
     (Picture from Playsational)

    That is what I thought of when I first ran across the term applied to authors. I saw it on a forum a few months ago and wondered, "what the?" Authors are playing with puppets? What's up with that? 

    Then I followed some links that led to stories about authors who are called "sock puppets" for using assumed names and writing glowing reviews of their own work. 

    Really? Surely that is a rare occurance. Authors have more integrity than that. 

    Then more recently the news broke about British author, Roger Ellory, who writes as R. J. Ellory. He created two reviewer names to praise his work, but even more distressing, he also wrote scathing reviews of other authors' work.

    Really? Whatever prompted him to do that?

    When asked in an interview at the Daily Mail UK, Ellory said, "Everyone does."

    Um... excuse me. Not everyone.

    Ellory was outed by crime writer Jeremy Duns, who has campaigned on Twitter for some time to expose the practice across the board. If you would like to follow him, here is a link to his Twitter Profile

    Nobody will know for sure whether those fake reviews played a significant role in making him a best-selling author with millions of his books sold, but with the emphasis on Amazon for reviews, I would guess they did.

    Read more at the Daily Mail UK or The Mirror. Both have in depth stories that are worth the read. 

    As with the practice of paying big bucks for someone else to write a rave review of your work, doing it yourself under an assumed name takes away the validity of the review. I remember the time when a person's work stood on it's own merit.

    Wouldn't it be nice if that were still true?

    Sunday, September 02, 2012

    A New Book

    If you enjoy reading books such as the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, then you'll love this new release, 25 Years in The Rearview Mirror: 52 Authors Look Back. It is now available as a bargain e-book for Kindle, Nook, Smashwords, Kobo, and more. This collection of poignant and uplifting essays is the perfect book to enjoy over your morning coffee. The stories will warm your heart, raise your spirits and compel you to examine your own life.

    My essay "Family Fun at the Dinner Table"  is one of the stories included in the collection and tells about those special moments of family dinners that sometimes get a little crazy. Above all, we had fun.

    I was honored when Stacy Juba invited me to join the 52 other authors to answer the question “What were you doing 25 years ago?” She came up with the idea as a tie-in to her mystery book Twenty-Five Years Ago Today.

    In this collection you can read about school days, quirky jobs, romance, raising a family, hard times, the writing journey, and find out what makes your favorite characters tick. This book will help readers to discover new authors for their to-read list, and inspire them to reflect upon the small defining moments that have shaped their own lives.

    The book includes a foreword by Elaine Raco Chase, award-winning author of seventeen paperback novels with over 3 million books in print. The contributing writers are New York Times bestselling, USA Today bestselling, and Amazon bestselling authors. They also include recipients of the Romantic Times Lifetime Achievement Award, Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Award, Mississippi Author Award, Benjamin Franklin Award and Eppie Award, as well as nominees of the Pushcart Prize, Agatha and Shamus Awards, to name a few of the many honors.

    To purchase the book, visit one of these online retailers: Amazon:    Barnes & Noble:  Smashwords:     Kobo:     

    To see a full list of authors and essay titles visit Stacy's Blog  

    If you would like, you can follow the authors on the Rearview Mirror Blog and Radio Tour, with over 60 tour stops scheduled from September through December. Three "My Memories Suite Scrapbook Software" downloads will be given away via the Rafflecopter form you can find HERE. 
    Finally, we invite you to join the 25 Years in the Rearview Mirror Yahoo Group. Readers are invited to stop by and answer regular memory sparker questions, discuss which essays resonated with them the most, meet many of the authors, and get the inside scoop on their latest book releases, special offers and news. Download tons of freebies in the Authors' Corner! Here is the link to join.