Friday, February 28, 2014

Friday's Odds and Ends

As the political race heats up in Texas most of the candidates are waging war on Obama or fighting to stop his war on Texas. Ahem... I will repeat what I said a few weeks ago. Tell me what you are for, not what you are against, be respectful of the office of the president, and, please, could we make this a campaign, not a war?

I am proud of my home state of Texas for many things, but ugly rhetoric is not one of them.

While you are reading this, I will be heading to Killeen, Texas for the Take 190 West Art Festival, one thing in Texas of which I am very proud. This is the fourth year I will take part, and it is always such a great opportunity to be immersed in creativity for a whole day. The annual event is part of the Killeen Salutes the Arts program and it is all about the art of painting, sculpting, writing, firing, molding, and many other artistic expressions.

Take 190 West is Killeen’s week-long salute to the arts and is a partnership between the Killeen Convention and Visitors Bureau, the City of Killeen, and the Killeen Independent School District.
Planned events for 2014 include:
  • The Artists’ Preview Party - On Friday Evening
  • Book signings by local, state and nationally-known authors - On Saturday, March 1
  • A sculpture contest featuring professional sculptors from Texas and beyond - March 1
  • The KISD student Art Show. An invitation-only preview party will be held on Friday, February 28,2014 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.
The Saturday event will be open to the public free of charge.


This photo is from last year's KISD student Art Show, which is one of the best things about the fair. There are some incredibly talented young folks in the district and the work is fantastic.

One half of the exhibit hall is dedicated to the students, and the professional artists have booths set up in the other half. I am always glad that my daughter comes with me to take care of my book table, so I can go see all the wonderful art.

The Killeen Convention Center is a beautiful venue for the festival, and the authors are set up in the entry hall. There will be lots of writers there with a great variety of books for young readers, and not so young readers.

If you live close enough to Killeen to come by on Saturday, I know you would enjoy this festival, and I would love to meet you.

My other big news is that the e-book for Stalking Season, the second book in the Seasons Mystery Series is now live at Amazon. As soon as I have time, when I am not busy rehearsing for a play, I will get it up for all reading devices. I will have the good folks at Untreed Reads do that, but I have to do some formatting before sending it on to them. Meanwhile Stalking Season is available for Kindle and all Kindle apps. Thanks to Dany Russell for another wonderful cover.

Now to end on some fun. The following was taken from Great Clean Jokes. Please do click on the link to see a picture of Mildred and her friend. They are a delight.

“My memory is gone Mildred, so I changed my password to 'Incorrect.' That way when I log in with the wrong password, the computer will tell me… 'Your password is incorrect.'"

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

We Love Our Dogs

Please welcome our friend, Slim Randles, back as today's Wednesday's Guest. He brought his dog, so maybe we can share a treat with her, while the rest of us have a cinnamon roll and a cup of coffee. I've got the rolls, if you've got the coffee.

Image Courtesy of "Riches to Rags" Blog Where You can Find the Recipe
Image Courtesy of, the last site you would think would have a recipe for homemade dog treats.

One of the great pleasures of hanging around down at the livestock auction barn each Saturday morning is being able to take your dog along.

Why do we go to the sale barn? We love agriculture, and it’s part of living here to see who buys what and rejoice in their good fortune, even if our own grass is stressed to the limit by whatever varmint we’re currently feeding. Or, it could be that we figure we’ve already lived too long, and if the right horse or cow comes through there, and we buy it, our wives will see to it that we don’t suffer in agony for untold years.

This weekly auction is a treasure house for our dogs. It’s a dog’s day out, a chance to scrounge under the bleachers for dropped hot dog portions and the occasional sweet bun crust. It’s a chance for them to get reacquainted with dog buddies and to check out any new pickups in the parking lot whose tires have not yet been properly baptized.

My coonhound loves it. She had done her munching, scrounging and socializing and was curled up under my truck, waiting for me, as we were getting ready to leave. Dud’s blue heeler was flitting around in the bed of his pickup truck, guarding against anything that might deign to trespass. And Doc had a new dog, of non-obvious parentage, on a leash, which meant he was not yet broken in to sales barn etiquette. Once he got used to it, and had been introduced to the other dogs, he’d fit right in and the leash would be history.

“What kind of dog is that, Doc?” we asked.

“Why, he’s an Egyptian shepherd.”

“I never heard of an Egyptian shepherd. Does he work cattle?”


“What’s he do?”

Doc grinned, “He makes pyramids in the back yard.”

Have you seen “Home Country Minute” on television? Hop on over for a visit to see what Slim has to say. It's always interetsing and quite a bit of fun.

If you like what Slim shares here, you will enjoy his books. Check out his author page on Amazon if you have a moment. His books are a delight, and they make perfect gifts for any occasion,

Monday, February 24, 2014

Monday Morning Musings

Or maybe I should say Monday Afternoon Musings. I took pain pills and a nap this morning, so I got to my office a bit late today, which threw everything off schedule. I snagged some cookies from The Pastry Chef's Baking website since I didn't have time to make anything to share with readers. Grab one if you'd like.

First off I've got to say that the closing ceremonies of the 2014 Olympic Games was a spectacular show. I especially liked the way the dancers formed the Olympic Rings with the fifth one forming a few moments later than the others. To some viewers it might have seemed like the dancers had missed a sound cue like they did in the opening ceremonies, but it was just a little whimsey that fit so well with other bits of whimsey throughout the show. The bear was also another highlight for me. What a sweet expression he had on his face.

Last week I read an article that Jacquielynn Floyd wrote about a man in Dallas who volunteers in the cardiac unit at Baylor University Medical Center. Even though women are more likely to be hospital volunteers, there are more and more men who are responding to that need. What sets Clarence Griffith apart from those other men is that he is the oldest one to regularly spend time with patient families who are in the cardiac waiting room, anxiously awaiting the outcome of tests or surgeries.

Griffith is 101, and he became a volunteer at the request of his cardiac surgeon following a triple by-pass surgery at age 94. That in itself is amazing as most people of that age could not tolerate such a physically and emotionally traumatic surgery, but that is just another indication that Griffith is not like most people.

So today I am celebrating a strong man instead of a strong woman, but I think everyone can agree that Griffith deserves the recognition. From my years of working as a hospital chaplain, I know what the kindness and attentiveness of this kind of volunteer can mean to families during these frightening and stressful times of life and death situations.

Griffith does this because that's what people are supposed to do. In her column, Floyd pointed out that Griffith has a very concise interpretation of Christian theology: "The Bible says we are supposed to help people."

She compared that simple approach to the "...sour political season of candidates using religion to justify extremist rhetoric.

"It's a wonder that they're talking about the same book. In Clarence Griffith's Bible, providing comfort and care and practical assistance to other human beings is the prime directive."

So let's raise a glass, or a cup, of whatever you have handy and toast a truly remarkable man. Kudos to you Mr. Clarence Griffith.

Did you watch the closing ceremonies? What part resonated the most with you? Did you watch the Kerrigan/Harding documentary prior to the closing ceremonies?

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Book Review - The 2 Day a Week Diet Cookbook by Ruth Glick and

The 2 Day a Week Diet Cookbook
Nancy Baggett and Ruth Glick
File Size: 6006 KB
Print Length: 251 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Light Street Press (January 11, 2014)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English

Even if you don't do the 2 Day A Week diet, this cookbook has great recipes that will help you cut down on calories if you want to take a more traditional approach to weight loss, or just simply want to eat healthier. I found a number of recipes I am eager to try: Baked Apples and Guilt-Free Chile just to name a couple. For those doing the 2 Day diet, the book has menu plans for the dieting days, a helpful list of ingredients to have on hand for meal preparations, and suggestions for how to handle the "snack attack."

The diet plan is to eat normal meals five days out of the week, then on two days, which you can choose and alternate week to week, you eat 500 calories total.  Men can eat 600 calories on the diet days.

Soups, salads, main dishes, sandwiches, desserts and snacks are all covered in separate chapters with enough recipes to keep the weekly menus varied. And that is another bonus to the book. The authors provide menus for the two days of really cutting down on calorie intake. Most of the recipes are gluten-free, so this book will be helpful for those folks abstaining from glutens.

There are 75 quick and easy recipes and 50 beautiful photographs. All of the recipes have clear and  simple-to-follow instructions, and there is plenty of encouragement for sticking to the diet. The authors have done numerous other cookbooks, and that expertise shows in a well-written and lovely new cookbook.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Friday's Odds and Ends

Is anyone else wishing the Olympic coverage was more about the athletes and less about the news crew? It seems like they sometimes blather on and on just to hear the sound of their voices. Then we have the teasers for what is coming up later in the broadcast, and those are all about the announcers getting face time on the screen. One of the teasers last night was about a documentary that will air Sunday night about the Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding scandal at the Olympics 20 years ago. 

I thought it was tabloid television at it's worst back then, and I haven't changed my mind since. Yes, it was tragic that Nancy got attacked during the games. It was horrible that Harding's ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, and her bodyguard, Shawn Eckhardt, thought the best way to make sure Tonya won the Olympic gold was to break her main competitor's leg. But the media back then turned it into drama, not news, and in my opinion, the drama ended in 1994.
Image Courtesy of Free Figure Skating Clip Art
On a more positive note, the skating in the final event for the ladies' singles last night  was spectacular. Every skater went out on the ice with fire and passion and skated her heart out. I'm glad I was not responsible for judging because I loved all the performances, although it was clear to viewers, as well as judges, that Russia's Adelina Sotnikova deserved the gold. Her reaction when she finished her program was so emotional and so memorable, and we could see what the skate meant to her. Not just because of the possibility that she won. But she clearly rejoiced in what she had been able to do on the ice. There is a wonderful picture of her taken at the very end of her performance that you can see if you click on the link above. Since the picture is copyrighted, I can't borrow it.

To me, that is what the Olympic Games are all about. The athlete rejoicing in what she or he can do.

Now for some Friday Fun. The following one-liners were borrowed from the Clean Jokes Website.

I've just opened a new restaurant called Karma. There's no menu, we just give you what you deserve.
I had a dream I was a muffler and I woke up exhausted.

If you are running next to me on the treadmill, the answer is YES, we are racing.

The past, present and future walk into a bar. It was tense.

What fits your schedule better......Exercising 1 hour a day or being fat 24 hours a day?

Silence is golden, Duct tape is silver
I'm going to stand outside. So if anyone asks, I am outstanding.
That's all folks. Have a great weekend. Are you going to watch the Kerrigan/Harding documentary?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Wednesday's Guest - Cairn Rodrigues

Good morning everyone. Please do grab a piece of this delicious Fantasy Fudge and join me in welcoming Cairn Rodrigues to It's Not All Gravy as today's Wednesday's Guest. Cairn is doing a blog tour to let folks know about the Song Of Solstice stories, and was kind enough to make this one of her stops. She would like a glass of milk with her fudge. What about you? The picture of Cairn below was from The Diesel Electric Elephant Company. It is just so perfect for Cairn, I couldn't resist.

Photo courtesy of Alaska Michael's Recipes.
Greetings to all who muse with Maryann! She’s a warm and wonderful lady and I’m grateful she opened her blog to me. I'm Cairn Rodrigues, publishing neophyte, lapsed chef, and avid questioner of life. Recently my first novel, The Last Prospector was released. It's an alternate world fantasy that kicks off a much larger story, but this first one is all about Prospector He's a man with a sealed fate, but that fate is a mystery as is the reason he was chosen.

I know you have been working on the release of this book while also dealing with your father's cancer. Do you want to share anything about the challenges of doing that?
Challenge is a good word. There's been nothing but challenges since his diagnosis in September of last year. My dad’s cancer is pretty aggressive, he went from stage three to four in the space of a month and he’s currently in hospice. It was important to him that the book be published before he dies, so I had to push to get it done. I can’t lie, the pressure was enormous because most of my time was spent caring for him, taking him to radiation and helping to get his affairs in order. I did get a lot of help and support from great friends, and this probably wouldn’t have happened without them.

How long did it take you to write The Last Prospector, and where did the story idea originate?

It took about four months to write the first three installments of the Song of Solstice. The Last Prospector and book two, Travellers &Tramps were originally one long book. Thinking a 900+ page novel might be a bit frightful from an unknown novelist, I split it into two books. The idea started when I finished reading the fifth book of another wildly popular fantasy series. It really dissatisfied me because I felt the author was just milking his success at the expense of the story. That’s when I started thinking about what it would take for a series that would satisfy me, which led to me actually having to write. 

Writing the story is the easy part. One of the most sublime pleasures of my life is being in Solstice, exploring it as I write. It’s everything after that is so daunting. Being a first time novelist, and a self-published one, makes the hills much higher to climb. This blog tour is a great opportunity to talk about The Last Prospector and all the aspects of Solstice. Recently, I wrote about the influence of colors on the story on Alberta Ross’ blog, and yesterday I addressed Bruce Springsteen’s large contribution on The Doglady’s Den.

If you could go back in time, what one thing would you change about yourself?
I would have taken better care of my teeth! Seriously. My life-long terror about dentists was a fear that has cost me dearly in the long run. Running from, or catering to, our fears is the worst form of self-sabotage. Now I’m confronting those fears and taking some positive, but very costly, steps towards good oral hygiene.

What other creative things do you do?
I really enjoy creating goofy art installations in my backyard. Generally, it’s a way of using things that might otherwise be tossed away, such as the old rusted, dented wheelbarrow that became a portable floating candle pond. Last year’s big install was the rubber duck pond and for the upcoming season, I’m planning something I call Boulevard of Broken Pottery.

Do you have a pet?

Of course! We took in a lutino cockatiel last summer and named her Tyra Jackson.  She is a very reserved and somewhat hostile beast, but has loosened up quite a bit since we adopted a kitten in December. Viva is sweet gray and white tabby and Tyra loves her to pieces. Every morning, they meet at Ty’s water bowl for a very complex bird bath and chit chat session.

How did you come to write in the genre you chose?

Because fantasy is carte blanche to spin a really fantastic tale. There aren’t the constraints of other forms of fiction, such as historical, where there is a body of known facts needing acknowledgement. With fantasy, it can be anything, anything at all and the rules are made up by the writer. The opposite side of that is that readers need to have a certain amount of trust to embark on a fantasy read. They want to know the story will explain itself, that the author won’t leave them confused about the rules of the world they’re entering.

Now that you have met Cairn and learned a bit more about The Last Prospector, I'm sure you would like this convenient little BUY BUTTON to get your very own copy. And if you want to know more about Cairn, you can visit:  The Cairn Rodrigues Amazon Page  * The Light Stealers Song Blog  * FaceBook  *  Twitter – @CairnRodrigues *  Google Ploo [This blog always uses the French pronunciation of Google + since it makes Google + sound slightly more interesting] *  Cairn on Goodreads

Monday, February 17, 2014

Monday Morning Musings

Happy President's Day. I almost forgot it was a holiday. I liked it better when we celebrated Washington's birthday and Lincoln's birthday on separate days. It gave us an opportunity to remember the contributions each made to our country. Here are some interesting facts about George Washington.

Now that the frigid weather has gone away here in Texas, I took the opportunity to get my plants out for some fresh air and sunshine. My daughter and her husband came to help with that and some other chores, and we had a great time working together. Even my dog, Poppy, wanted to help.

These are only a few of the plants that "wintered" in my sun room.

Two big debates are going on in Texas right now - legalizing marijuana and the fallout from the Missouri football player, Michael Sam, stepping out of the closet. Dale Hansen, a Dallas sports announcer, came out in his own way in support of Michael Sam, defending the young man's right to play ball and not be banned because of his sexuality.

Response to Hansen was immediate and viral, with a mix of positive and negative. What bothers me is the tone of the negatives, spoken or written with strong does of "disgust" and "fear". One letter to the editor in the Dallas Morning News asked how Hansen, a heterosexual, might feel "in the shower with a homosexual man."

I guess that is a fair question if you think every gay man is always looking for the next sexual encounter. But wouldn't the football players have a lot more on their minds than that?

The fear and disgust associated with homosexuality have influenced public thinking for centuries, and it is past time for the focus to stop being on sexual intimacy. I don't care what gay men and gay women do behind their bedroom doors, nor do I care what straight men and women do. Maybe if we stop obsessing about that, we will discover we have nothing to fear from our gay neighbors or coworkers.

Regarding the "Reefer Madness", Mark Davis, a Dallas Morning News columnist came out strong against legalizing marijuana, challenging readers to name one, just one, "societal benefit" that could come from legalization. The readers didn't disappoint and here are just a few:
Legal markets eliminate the violence associated with the illegal sale of drugs.
Legal markets could be controlled for safety.
Legal markets generate tax revenue.
Legal markets greatly reduce prison populations and allow police to focus on more serious crimes.
And I will add one of my own. Legal markets make it easier for people to purchase marijuana for medicinal purposes. People I know who have suffered terribly during cancer treatment were forced to break the law for relief. That should not have to happen.

What do you think about legalizing the sale of marijuana? Did you know it is not as addictive as alcohol? The Committee on Drugs ranked marijuana 8th.  on the list of most dangerous drugs. More facts can be found via the Drug Policy Forum of Texas.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Book Preview - The Last Prospector by Cairn Rodrigues

The Last Prospector
Cairn Rodrigues
File Size: 455 KB
Print Length: 296 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Cairn Rodrigues; 2 edition (January 6, 2014)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English

You'll notice, dear reader, that I called this a book preview and not a book review. That is because of the most obvious of reasons - I have not yet read the book. Not that I don't want to, it's just that time keeps running faster than I can.

So, I will just tell you a bit about the book - a summary I stol... er, borrowed from a lovely blog called the Diesel- Electric Elephant Company.
Solstice is a world apart, created by a mysterious Boss and shaped by tempers of warring twin goddesses. Once it was a playground for sisters Ylumya and Ynoirya, but then the wars began. Now Solstice is the stage for the final battle between light and dark. Everyone must choose a side.
The Boss sired the first prospector 1,000 years ago. Charged to search for a treasure unnamed, an unbroken line of men have been caretakers, shepherds and warriors for Solstice since the misty times. Now, Grayme Ceruleya is the last prospector, he is destined to find the treasure. But what happens to Solstice when he does?
A runaway slave dies giving birth alone in the desert. The nomads who find the baby don’t realize that the child is the pawn of the gods and wields more power than they can comprehend. Except for one boy, broken-hearted Tonyo who makes a tremendous sacrifice to ensure the baby’s safety.
In Solstice the unlikely is probable, magicks are mundane and all the stories are true. It’s a land of stunning natural beauty, filled with exotic wildlife and vibrant cultures. Powerful factions like the whore’s guild make the rules, ancient enemies find new strength and dreamers are waking up all across the land with one message.
The Final war between the Twins has started. A victor must be decided this time. …
Oh, who does not like a good battle? Especially when good will win out, as certainly good must do to have a satisfying ending.

Cairn Rodrigues is a former professional chef who found that keyboards offer fewer cuts and burns, so she turned to writing. A life-long nerd, she has an affection for marzipan and a potentially unhealthy Twitter addiction. She resides near her hometown of Sacramento, California in a poorly decorated house. She also has a charming, rather quirky wit, so who knows what she will share with us on Wednesday when she will be my guest here on It's Not All Gravy. Please do come back and help her feel welcome.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Friday's Odds and Ends


       Happy Valentine's Day

Do you have special plans for the day - evening? I'm glad I have play rehearsal tonight so I won't  be alone.

Today is the last day for the sale at Untreed Reads where all romance titles are discounted 30% off. All categories of romance from sweet to sexy are offered, including my romance novel, Play It Again, Sam.  One of my favorites from Laura Parker, Rose of the Mists, is also part of this sale.

Have you been watching the Olympics? What are your favorite events in the winter games? Figure skating is always high on my list, as well as the ice-dancing. I always get a bit nostalgic, remembering when I used to do a bit of figure skating, and my brother and I would dance on roller skates at the neighborhood rink.  Those were good times.

Coverage of the events has included the complaints about conditions at event venues not being optimum, especially during the slopestyle snowboarding competition. Apparetnly accomodations for the athletes have not been optimum either. The following notice was given to the Olympics volunteers and staffers in Sochi: "Due to an extreme shortage of pillows for athetes who unexpectedly arrived to Olympic Village in the mountains, there will be a transfer of pillows from all apartments to the storehouse on 2 February 2014."

Huh? They weren't expecting the athletes?  If it's not too late, I have a few pillows to share.

Photo Courtesy of Alaska Sleep Clinic

The other day I heard a comment aimed toward politicians, "Remember, you are running for something not against someone, so you don't have to get ugly."

Someone ought to make a banner out of that and send it to every campaign headquarters to be prominently displayed. Campaigning has gotten increasingly ugly year after year, and right now I am getting so tired of hearing politicians in TX talk about "how they will fight Obama." I know plenty of people don't like him, specially here in TX, but could we please stop portraying him as the enemy? At the very least you could respect the office, and contrary to what some folks might think, he is not "waging a war on Texas." So politicians need to stop saying, "I will win the war against Obama."

Please stop.

I will vote for the first candidate for any Texas office who does not include the president's name in his or her campaign ad.

Now to end on a lighter note.  "Adults are always asking little kids what they want to be when they grow up because they’re looking for ideas." ~Paula Poundstone

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

An International Guest

Please grab a donut and your beverage of choice, and help me welcome Shuchi Singh Kalra as today's Wednesday's Guest. She wrote the light-hearted romantic comedy Done With Men that I reviewed here on Sunday. Shuchi lives and works in India, and I am so pleased to have my first international guest. While we're visiting with Shuchi here, I am at the Blood Red Pencil today talking about romance and sex. After all, they do go together.

Welcome Shuchi and please tell us a little bit about who you are and what you write.

I like to think of myself as a thinker and a dreamer. I live in my own idealistic little world and am cruelly jolted back to reality every once in a while when earthly responsibilities beckon. I am a proud military wife and mother to a beautiful two-year old girl.

I have been writing professionally for over seven years now as a freelance writer and editor, and I also run a small firm that goes by the name of ‘Pixie Dust Writing Studio’. While I have contributed to some anthologies in the past, Done With Men is my first solo offering. It is essentially a romantic comedy and I had tremendous fun writing it. I am keen to see how western readers will accept a story set in modern, urban India.

Are you a romantic at heart? Is Valentine's Day special for you? Romantic yes, but not hopelessly so – I do have my moments of cynicism every once in a while. I am not really big on “days” as such, because they somehow don’t fit in with my idea of romance. In fact I find them very cliché and pointless. But this Valentine’s Day is going to be special – very special!
 If you could go through a wormhole, would you go into the future, the past, or stay right here? Why? I would choose to stay in the now because this is such a fabulous time in my life. My life-long dream of publishing a book is coming true and I would like to savor every moment of it.

Have you always wanted to be a writer, or have you come to writing after another career? What was that career? I have always loved writing but I never thought I would one day take it up as a career. Few people know this, but I was an Optometrist before I took to writing. I worked at a leading eye hospital in India and soon realized that peering into slit-lamps and prescribing glasses wasn’t my thing. My family thought I was crazy to dump a seemingly good career to become a full-time writer but looking back, I believe it was the best decision I ever made.

What is your fondest childhood memory?
I spent my childhood in Libya, where my parents worked for some years before coming back to settle in India. We had this huge Spanish villa in a campus with a sprawling green belt around it. There I had my own make-shift tree house that I had built with palm leaves and some branches. It was pretty neat looking and quite sturdy too. I would sit in it all day with a bag of oranges and a pile of books.

How did you come to write in the genre you chose? I chose chick-lit/rom com for my first book because that is the genre I read and enjoy the most. Also, it was relatively easier to write about a theme that I identified with at a personal level. However, that does not mean I will never step out of my comfort zone – this is just my first novel and I would love to experiment and stretch my boundaries as I gain more confidence in my skills as a novelist.

What did it say about you in your high school yearbook? It says “The Tomboy”. As a teenager I always thought I was being all pretty and feminine (what with all the male attention) but I guess people didn’t see me that way (smile).
Shuchi Singh Kalra is an internationally published writer, placing work in popular magazines such as, Good Housekeeping, Home Review, Parent & Child, Vista, Investors India, Dogs & Pups, Women's Era and Time 'N' Style. Her short stories have been published in anthologies such as Love Across Borders and New Asian Writing's upcoming collection. She is the owner of Pixie Dust Writing Studio, a writing and editing firm that services a global clientele, and the Indian Freelance Writers Blog.

You can find out more about her at her website, read her blog, and meet her on Facebook and Twitter.

Book Blurb:

Travel journo, Kairavi Krishna (Kay) has had it with men. After a series of disasters (losers, philanderers, leeches, mama's boys and possessive psychos), she is all too tempted to walk out on the prospect of ever finding love. Accompanied by her best friend and flat-mate Baani, she sets off for Goa, hoping to get away from her miserable love life and vowing to stay clear of the male species.

Goa however, packs more surprises than she bargained for. Ricky, her pesky ex-boyfriend, is busy painting the town red with his hot new girlfriend. Now what is poor Kay to do other than overdose on vodka, smoke pot, get an outrageous tattoo and fall off the hotel balcony? She wakes up in the hospital to the tender ministrations of Dr.Vivian D'Mello--young, suave and handsome as hell. Will Kay stick to her guns or will she fall for his ridiculously sexy charms? And what's up with the mixed signals he's giving out?


If you would like to ask Shuchi any questions, I'm sure she'd be happy to answer them. I'm hoping she might share what is going to be special about this Valentine's Day.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Monday Morning Musings

First off some book news. I'm about to re-release a mystery, Doubletake, that I wrote with a co-author a number of years ago. It's another police procedural, but not part of the Seasons Series. It was published by a small publisher, and maybe sold ten copies, other than those I sold at signing events or out of the trunk of my car. Hey, didn't Grisham start that way? I think he did, but he put a lot more miles on his car than I did.

Not the finished cover, but close. What do you think?
Anyway, I did all the formatting myself, and gained a great appreciation for those folks who do that for a living. It is the most tedious, eye-straining work I have ever done, and there is no way I am going to do the formatting for the ebook version. I will gladly pay Untreed Reads their nominal fee to do that for me and get the book into all the outlets for ebook reading.

An article in Sunday's Dallas Morning News written by Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld was titled What Drives Success. In it, the authors of  the new book The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America talk about the ethnic groups in America that are currently experiencing the most upward mobility. While doing the research for their book they discovered that some of the most successful ethnic groups in terms of earning power come from India, Iran, Lebanon and Chinese.

The couple noted that it is usually first-generation immigrants who have the most success, perhaps because of the three traits Chua and Rubenfeld identified:
It turns out that for all their diversity, the strikingly successful groups in America today share three traits that, together, propel success. The first is a superiority complex — a deep-seated belief in their exceptionality. The second appears to be the opposite — insecurity, a feeling that you or what you’ve done is not good enough. The third is impulse control.
In the article the authors explain the seemingly contradictory "superiority" and "insecurity" and how the two traits work together to motivate hard work, which is another ingredient of success. The authors believe that anyone can develop these traits:
It requires turning the ability to work hard, to persevere and to overcome adversity into a source of personal superiority. This kind of superiority complex isn’t ethnically or religiously exclusive. It’s the pride a person takes in his own strength of will.
The article is quite interesting and worth a read if you have a moment. Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld are professors at Yale Law School. Chua, one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2011, is the author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, which unleashed a firestorm debate about the cultural value of self-discipline, as well as the bestselling World on Fire. Rubenfeld examined the political dangers of “living in the moment” in Freedom and Time; he is also the author of the international bestseller The Interpretation of Murder. (I'm tempted to buy this one as the write-up on Amazon intrigued me, but I really hate to pay almost $9 for an ebook. I do hope major publishers soon realize that prices should be a bit lower. I'm not the only consumer who does not buy an e-book priced over $5.)

Now a reminder about the special sale at Untreed Reads through Valentine's Day. All romance titles are on sale for 30% off. All categories of romance from sweet to sexy are offered, including my romance novel, Play It Again, Sam.  One of my favorites from Laura Parker, Rose of the Mists, is also part of this sale.

It is still so cold here that my hands don't always want to work. I'm tempted to get some of these gloves:
Available from Japan Trend Shop
Hope you are warm and toasty wherever you live.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Book Review - Done With Men by Shuchi Singh Kalra

Done With Men
Shuchi Singh Kalra
File Size: 803 KB
Print Length: 159 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Indireads Incorporated (December 16, 2013)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English

The central character in this romantic comedy is Kairavi Krishna, a travel journalist who has had a series of disastrous relationships with men and decides she is done with them. She even has a tattoo put on her wrist that proclaims that to the world.

However, fate has another plan for her.

She is sent to Goa to do articles for a magazine, and she takes her best friend and flat mate Baani with her. The friendship between the two young women and their banter is quite fun, and so is the way Kairavi, Kay, talks to herself via her Thought Bubble.

In Goa, Kay is sure she can get her articles done, spend some time at the beach and avoid any contact with men.

That plan goes awry when her ex, Ricky, shows up with another woman. Then Kay drinks too much vodka, has an accident and ends up in the hospital with  a broken collarbone. There, she is taken care of by the handsome Dr.Vivian D'Mello, and she feels an immediate attraction, an attraction that seems to be running both ways. So what is she to do? Forget her vow? And is she sure about the attraction he seems to have to her? He is giving her mixed signals.

That is all sorted out in a typical romantic manner, and I loved her reaction when she first saw the doctor:
The Pain was almost gone. Could this be God? I'd always imagined God to be an oldish man with white facial hair, definitely more Dumbledore than Clark Kent.
This was the first book I've read by an author from India, and it was nice to get a feel for that different culture. I questioned some of the things that happened in the hospital as they were so contrary to what could happen here in the United States, but I realize the medical world could be totally different there when it comes to the way patients can move around in the hospital.

If you like a light romantic read and don't mind that a few of the situations are a bit forced, you will enjoy this story.

Shuchi Singh Kalra is a writer, editor and blogger based in India and Done With Men is her first book.  She has freelanced with popular magazines such as, Good Housekeeping, Home Review, Parent & Child, Vista, Investors India, Dogs & Pups, Women's Era and Time 'N' Style among many others. her short stories have found a place in anthologies such as Love Across Borders and New Asian Writing's upcoming collection (to be published in 2014.

Shuchi will be my guest this coming Wednesday, so please try to come back and meet her.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Friday's Odds and Ends

Did you watch the beginning of the Olympic coverage last night on prime time? Did you find it odd that the coverage began before the opening ceremonies?

I did, so I decided to try to find out why. Sadly, it is primarily about the money. According to an article by Chris Chase in USA Today, Thursday's are the most popular night of television viewing and the networks covering the Olympics need to get the most bang for their buck. Because 12 new medal events were added to the competition schedule since 2010, scheduling is a challenge, so one more day of competition and coverage was added.

Image courtesy of
Traditionally the biggest draws for television audiences are the skating events and the networks did not want to compress the figure skating schedule. That would have put the women’s free skate, which takes place in two weeks on another night; not a good move for television ratings or sponsors. The women's free skate attracts thousands and thousands of fans and networks want the biggest night of skating to air on the biggest night of television.

While some consideration was given to allowing time between events for athletes to rest and for courses to be cleared for other events, the driving force behind the decision was money. As Chris Chase put it:
Scheduling and television are big reasons for the early start, but money is the thing that ties them all together. It’s the universal answer for sports queries like this. “Why did the NFL start playing games on Thursdays?” “Why do the NBA playoffs last longer than many celebrity marriages?” “Why is snowboard racing an Olympic event?” It all comes back to the green."

Now it's time for a joke. A lady went to a doctor’s office, and a few minutes into the examination, screeching could be heard from the exam room. Then the lady burst out of the room as if running for her life.

After much effort, a nurse finally managed to calm the woman down enough to find out what happened. The nurse then barged into the doctor's office and shouted at him, “Shame on you. Mrs. Smith is 82 years old, and you told her she’s pregnant?”

The Doctor continued writing on the chart and said, “Does she still have the hiccups?”

Image courtesy of Comedy where there is another doctor joke.

 That's it for me today, folks. We are still having record cold temperatures here in Texas and it is cold in my office. My hands are freezing and it is very hard to type with gloves on. Have a great weekend. Stay warm. Stay safe. Be happy.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

A Mythical Interview with Betty Ward

Please welcome Elaine Pereira as Wednesday's Guest this week. She had some fun with a mock interview with her mother, Betty Ward, whom Elaine refers to as "the heroine" of her recently released memoir. Sunday I reviewed her book, I Will Never Forget, in which she shared the journey she took with her mother throughout her life, most especially in the years that her mother suffered with dementia.  I thought Elaine and her mother might like a Danish and a cup of coffee while they visit. You can join them. There's more in the kitchen to share. 

Photo Courtesy of Gluten-Free Canteen where you can find lots of gluten-free recipes.
    Thank you, Maryann for inviting us here today and for the refreshments. First I'd like to just give a quick introduction to my mother. In 1945 she graduated with a BS in chemistry then went to work at Upjohn CO in Kalamazoo, MI where she met and married my father, Wayne Ward. They had three children before Betty went back to school for her masters in education. The ‘Life is Good Years’ continued until my father's stroke in 1995, followed in 2004 by both his death and my brother Jerry’s, and finally my mother's rapid decent into dementia. 

From the ashes of her eventual passing arose I Will Never Forget.  I hope you enjoy meeting my mother in this brief interview in which I pretended to be a reporter.

ECP:   You and Wayne had three children, two sons Gerald and David and a daughter
Elaine.  Tell me a little about her. 

BW:  Elaine was adorable but spunky and always testing the limits.  I use to say about her and at times to her: “There was a little girl who had a curl right in the middle of her forehead.  When she was good she was very good, but when she was bad she was horrid”

ECP:   That’s funny!  She did stay “horrid?” 

BW:    No, but she did remain spunky, which was an asset when I needed an advocate to speak for me when I no longer could. 

ECP:   Despite being Catholic, you have some liberal views on certain issues.  Tell us what you don’t agree with?

BW:    I had three children on the rhythm method of birth control so obviously that doesn’t work. Also, I wanted to have our daughter’s name be Elaine but was told by some opinionated nun that there was no Saint Elaine so I couldn’t use it.  Back then the church was pretty strict about using names of saints for our children. We had just buried our 20 month-old son David in August so the idea that the Church would dictate our child’s name while we were experiencing such unspeakable grief, was unacceptable.  Our Parish Priest however overruled the nun indicating that Elaine is a derivative of St. Bernadette.  I laughed! 

Lastly, I am not an advocate of pro-active measures to end life prematurely but I strongly support a quality of life.

ECP: How sad that you lost your son. What happened?

BW:  It was a car accident. I was four months pregnant with Elaine when it happened, killing little David. The rest of us were injured and the accident created financial devastation. The only thing I could be thankful for was that I didn't lose the baby I was carrying.

ECP:   You mentioned Elaine was your voice when you couldn’t advocate for yourself.  Can you tell us more about that time?

BW:    Well due to Alzheimer’s, I don’t remember everything (Ha!) but she was my rock!  At times when the dementia fog lifted though, I knew everything she was doing for me and thanked her.  When reciprocal communication was beyond my control I “spoke” with my eyes and she listened.

ECP:    You wandered from your care facilities on two occasions with dire consequences. 

BW:    The first time I thought I needed to take the groceries out of the trunk.  It was a crazy, misguided notion because I didn’t have a car anymore, wasn’t driving and hadn’t gone grocery shopping in the middle of the night. Alzheimer’s really plays terrible tricks on your mind!  I fell hard outside and couldn’t get up.

The last time, my dementia-induced hallucinations had me seeing my own mother, a wonderful woman who died when I was in my 30s.  I felt compelled to find her, thinking she was across the street and needed me to take care of her.  On a cold winter night, wearing only thin red flannel pajamas, I was able to wander out the front door of my locked facility because someone forgot to reset the alarm.  Five hours later I was found literally near frozen to death in severe hypothermia. 

ECP:    Tell us how you feel about having your life immortalized in a memoir. 

BW:  Unlike Elaine who shines in the limelight, I’m more private.  She has my blessing though because the intent of her book is to support others on their journey through dementia as well as supporting Alzheimer’s awareness.

She and I have always been able to express ourselves verbally and in writing with passion, integrity and honesty.

I am proud that Elaine’s legacy is telling this story, one that had to be told, as it is everyone’s story. I am especially proud that she donates a portion of the proceeds from the sale of each copy of I Will Never Forget to support Alzheimer’s research.

Don't forget the big sale at Untreed Reads where you can get 30% off all romance titles, from sweet to steamy. Perfect Valentine's Day gift for that special someone in your life who likes to read. My Play It Again, Sam is one of the books on sale now through Valentine's Day.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Monday Morning Musings

 It is another gray, cold day here in East Texas, so I'm enjoying some hot apple cider this morning. Just for something different. Grab a cup and sit back as I rant just a bit. Then we'll have some fun. I promise.
Photo Courtesy of A where you can find a recipe for Hot Apple Cider. Mine doesn't look this good. It is in a Mason jar without those cute garnishes. Still tastes good, though.
Did you watch the Super Bowl last night? I'll admit that I did. I have long been a football fan, although I have to say that my enthusiasm has waned in the past twenty years. Maybe even longer as more and more moral and even criminal behavioral issues arose with players that athletic programs seemed to ignore. They covered up what they could, didn't impose consequences, and basically gave the message that the only thing that mattered was what players did on the field. The game, and winning the game at all costs has become paramount in athletic programs from high schools to colleges and on to the pros.

I just read an article about Keith Frazier, a high school player in Dallas who was given a scholarship to SMU. I wasn't upset about the scholarship. What bothered me is that his school, Kimball High School, altered his grades and attendance records to make him eligible for the scholarship. Shame on the people who were involved. Had these actions not been discovered and revealed, what lesson would Frazier have learned? That it is okay to lie and cheat to get what you want?

There's way too much of that going on in our society without teaching it to more young people.

Another discouraging bit of news I saw over the weekend involved what is happening on some comedy shows on television. I haven't watched sit-coms on TV for years. Partly because I hated when the focus switched from humor to sex - who was having it and who was not - and also because of the irritating laugh tracks. I know when something is funny, thank you very much. I don't need someone to tell me when it is time to laugh.

Yesterday I read a letter to the editor in the Dallas Morning News written by Nancy Friedel in which she lamented the fact that sit coms have now started using theft as entertainment. She cited three shows, "Two Broke Girls", "How I Met Your Mother", and "Mike and Molly", that have used theft as bonding rituals between characters in episodes this year. Friedel asks, "When did theft become a comic plot device on TV?"

My question is, when did the viewing public accept that as okay? Geesh!

Okay, enough of the negative stuff. Here's a joke to start your week off with a laugh.

A new pastor was visiting the homes of his parishioners.

At one house it seemed obvious that someone was at home, but no answer came to his repeated knocks at the door. Therefore, he took out a card and wrote "Revelation 3:20" on the back of it and stuck it in the door.

When the offering was processed the following Sunday, he found that his card had been returned. Added to it was this cryptic message, Genesis 3:10."

Reaching for his Bible to check out the citation, he broke up in gales of laughter.

Revelation 3:20 begins "Behold, I stand at the door and knock." Genesis 3:10 reads, "I heard your voice in the garden and I was afraid, for I was naked."

 If you watched the Superbowl, which commercial did you like the best? The Budweiser commercial with the puppy and the horses was great. I also liked the Dorito's commercial with the kid tricking the dad about the time machine. Microsoft had a nice one called "Empowering", and the new Cheerios commercial was cute.

For those of you who did not watch the game but might like to see some of the commercials, here is a link to 2014's Best Superbowl Commercials on You can even vote for them if you care to.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Book Review - I Will Never Forget by Elaine C. Pereira

I Will Never Forget: A Daughter's Story of her Mother's Arduous and Humorous Journey Through Dementia.
Elaine C. Pereira
File Size: 435 KB
Print Length: 257 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: iUniverse (January 20, 2014)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
ASIN: B008132KMO

In the words of the author, "My mother's is a story that needed to be told. She was a kind, brilliant and talented woman all of my life until dementia took hold distorting her persona and leaving an agitated, bewildered and compromised person in its wake."

This is the story that Pereira does tell, and it is wonderful that she had such a close relationship with her mother and was able to help her in her declining years. Other women who are in similar circumstances - caring for a parent with dementia - will be able to relate and learn from example how best to deal with the challenges. There are many.

One of the messages that comes across strong in the book is the importance of treating the person with dementia with respect. It takes a great deal of patience to maintain that respect when dealing with the frustrations and fears that come with caring for someone who is slowly losing mental faculties. Pereira managed to hang on to patience and love, and she shared a lovely poem at the end that is comforting to those who think they have lost their parent even before he or she is gone. My father had severe dementia before he died, and it would have been nice to know he still loved me at the end.

I struggled a bit with the writing, however. The story was not told in a linear timeline, so it was a bit confusing to jump around in time. I also thought the story strayed away from Mom for too long in places. The incidents - like her son's fight with cancer - were important, but the telling of that could have been condensed and more focused on how that impacted Mom.

The best parts were the scenes with Mom, when the reader got to experience her humor and her steadfastness. That is where the emotional connection between author and reader was made, and I got a real sense of the "heart" of this story.

Elaine will be my guest this coming Wednesday with a fun "mock" interview with her mother. I do hope you can stop by and get to know a bit more about Elaine and her mother, Betty Ward.

You can get I Will Never Forget at the following retail sites: