100 Days of Happiness, Day Three: All About the Beef

The Viking and I bought ourselves a food dehydrator for Christmas. Today we made our very first ever batch of beef jerky. This stuff is amazing. We started with grass fed, low fat beef, marinaded it for about 48 hours, and let it dry for about six hours today. I don’t think it’s going to last long. jerky

100 Days of Happiness, Day 2 – Music

Tunes in the car aren’t just for road trips. Listening to music on the way in to work on the morning always makes for a better day.

tunes

Challenge Accepted: 100 Days of Happiness

I have accepted the 100 Days of Happiness Challenge, albeit with a little fear and trepidation. It’s not that I don’t think I can find 100 things to be happy for on 100 consecutive days – it’s more a matter of taking the time to post about these happy-making things. But hey, how hard can taking a picture and posting it every day really be?

Yeah. This comment will go in my famous last words category, I’m pretty sure. Even so, I love this idea and am going to give it a try. Starting today, every day for the next 100 days I will post a picture of something that makes me happy. Today, I give you my Christmas tree and my cat. I always leave the tree up into January because I love the lights on dark mornings. The fact that the cat’s eyes match the lights is just extra joy. I always knew she was spooky. Now I have photographic evidence.

cat&christmastree

What is your happy thing today? Feel free to post a picture in the comments or to take up the challenge yourself. Happy New Year!

Virtual Cookie Exchange Blog Hop

VirtualCookie Exchange Blog Hop (1)

Kickass paranormal author Linda Poitevin invited me to participate in a virtual cookie exchange blog hop. Obviously, I said yes. How can you go wrong with cookies? Especially when you can get all the new recipes while still wearing your pajamas! You can, of course, also bake the cookies while wearing pajamas. And test them.

Please remember that no responsible baker leaves the cookies untested. They could be poisonous or something. Testing cookies before sharing them is a sacrifice we make for those we love. We also eat the imperfect broken ones because serving those would also be wrong.

So where was I? Oh yes. Cookies. You should definitely click back to Linda’s page to see the recipe for SNOWBALLS. 

I figured I’d share Melting Moments recipe, but I must warn you to be careful with these because they are a disappearing cookie. I made a batch once and left them home with one of my boys home from college. The entire batch vanished in one day. Poof. We have no idea what happened to them. These are not dainty little confection cookies, although they are crisp and melt in your mouth.

Melting Moments

1 cup vegetable shortening

1/2 cup margarine

1 1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 1/2 cup flour

3/4 teaspoon soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

Rolled oats

Cream shortening and margarine together. Add sugar, egg, and vanilla. Sift flour, soda, and salt, and blend into above mixture. Make into balls and roll in the rolled oats. If desired, put a cherry in the center of each cookie (they will spread out a lot while baking). Bake at 375 for 15 -20 minutes until golden brown.

For more fabulous cookie recipes, check into these blogs next week, Dec 9:

Susan Spann

Heather Webb

Linda Grimes

Ara Grigorian

Kristina Wagner

 

BETWEEN Series Spotlight and Giveaway

 

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Vivian has one chance to save the worlds, and it could cost her everything…

In Wakeworld, a mysterious illness is killing healthy people in their sleep. While doctors and world leaders scramble to determine the source of the epidemic, Vivian Maylor travels through an increasingly unstable Between on a quest to stop it. She already knows the source of the disaster: Aidan the dragon queen has poisoned the dreamworlds. Every time a dreamworld dies, any dreamer caught up in that dream dies too. Much as Vivian despises the dark magic of the Sorcieri, they hold the secrets she needs to be able to pursue Aidan through the locked gates into the Forever. She has one chance to save the worlds—if she can persuade the Sorcieri to share their secrets, and if she is willing to sacrifice everything she loves…

How You Can be Part of the Story…

An unfinished series is a very sad thing. As a reader I am devastated when I finish a book and there isn’t another one and the story hasn’t yet ended. It reminds me of the time I bought a book and for some reason the last page was missing. There I sat, holding that book in my hands and screaming inside, “But I don’t know what happened!!!”

When I started writing a trilogy I made a promise to my readers that I would finish what I started. And I intend to do that. Ace Books has opted not to pick up The Nothing so I’m going to publish it independently. However, I would like for the quality of the last book to be at the same level as the first two and good editors don’t come cheap.

For all of these reasons, I’m running a Kickstarter to help give The Nothing a chance to find its way to more readers. If you would like to be part of this—either by backing the project or spreading the word—you can read all about it at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/574989945/the-nothing-is-comingdream-if-you-dare

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Right now, there is a GoodReads.com giveaway for BETWEEN!!! To enter to win a copy, check out the contest here, before November 13th.

You can also win a copy (either print, or ebook) by clicking on the rafflecopter link below. This Series Spotlight contest ends on November 11th.

Check out all of these fabulous participating blogs for another chance to win!

Literal Addiction

I Smell Sheep

Books Make Me Happy

The Qwillery

Fangfreakingtastic Reviews

Books That Hook

Binding Addiction

Coffee And Characters

CLICK HERE TO ENTER THE SERIES SPOTLIGHT GIVEAWAY

GOOD LUCK!!

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Spooktacular Blog Hop and Giveaway

halloween

UPDATE: The winner of the Spook Hop giveaway is Robert Grieco! Thank you to all of you for stopping by

~cue creaky door and scary music~

Well hello there. Welcome to my castle  blog. Never mind Igor, he only bites when he’s hungry. You’ve eaten today, haven’t you, Igor? There, you see? Nothing to fear except fear itself as they say. Now, please keep your hands inside the vehicle and your seatbelts securely fastened. Do NOT touch the slime toads–they are poisonous.

Lurking below is a short scene from Wakeworld, Book Two of the Between series. Comment and/or share for a chance to win a signed copy of Between. And then click on the links below to visit participating blogs. Ready? Here we go.

~organ music swells~

“Facing him was a creature straight out of nightmare. Needle-sharp teeth as long as Zee’s arm were set in jaws of blackish green, the texture of toad skin. It had no real face. Where its nose should have been there were only two black holes. Red-brown eyes goggled out of its head, independent of each other, the pupils spinning in opposite directions. It had an amphibian body, with powerful back legs, poised to leap. There were claws on its nearly human hands, but the arms were short and not well muscled. Batlike wings sprouted from its shoulders. A spiked tail twitched, catlike, hitting the ground at regular intervals and raising clouds of dust. Slime oozed out of its skin and rained down into the dust with a continuous plop, plop, plop.

Zee tightened his grip on his sword and stepped forward, putting himself between the creature and the wounded man.

“We wants no trouble with one such as you,” the thing said, in a lilting, musical voice. “We only wants what is ours.” Drool flowed in little rivulets from the corners of its wide mouth.

Zee’s stomach twisted with revulsion. “I want no trouble, either,” he said. “What is it that you do want?”

“Him what cowers there behind you.”

“And what do you want with him?”

“We wants his death.”

Zee could hear the man’s ragged breathing, close to sobs. A sharp, acid scent like vinegar rose from the slime on the earth around his feet, crisping the tiny hairs in his nostrils and burning his sinuses.”

Remember to comment or share for a chance to win. (Winner will be chosen by noon on Saturday, November 1). And check out the scary scenes at the links below. All of these fabulous authors are giving away cool stuff.

Lisa Alber

Heather Webb

Anna Lee Huber

Alex Hughes

Jennifer Delamere

Stacey Lee

Janet Butler Taylor

Hazel Gaynor

Thanks for stopping by! I’m also running a Kickstarter for the third book of the Between trilogy, The Nothing. If you would like to support this project, or are just curious, click HERE. 

Why Kickstart Nothing

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Hitting the launch button for the kickstarter for The Nothing is one of the scariest things I’ve done as a writer, but it feels damned good all the same.

When I first got the news that my publisher had decided not to pick up the third book of the trilogy, I was devastated. Sure, they’d dropped a lot of hints about sales for Between and Wakeworld being less than noteworthy. And they’d said they wanted to wait and see what the sales on Wakeworld turned into before making a decision on whether they wanted to pick up The Nothing or not. But hope is insidious and pervasive and somewhere in the back of my mind I was maybe expecting a tiny little miracle.

Yeah. Not so much with the miracle. Apparently my miracle quota got all used up in the flurry of excitement around the deal with the first two books. So I moped a bit. My self confidence took a dive. I doubted myself and the books and my writing and my reason for existing. That said, there was never any doubt that I was going to finish writing The Nothing. Or that I was going to get it out to readers in some form or another.

But I also knew I was going to need help in order to deliver a quality product. Editing, for example. It’s impossible to edit your own work well since the brain does this really cool trick of superimposing what it knows (or thinks it knows) over what is actually on the page. Not to mention a cover and a little marketing to make the book visible to readers once it comes out.

So I started reaching out to editors and found my way in the end to highly recommended copy editor Richard Shealy. We were discussing my plans and that I thought I was going to have to skip a developmental edit because of funds, when he said, “You should try a kickstarter.”

Um, yeah. That. Putting the book out there and asking people to support the project. With money. What if nobody backs the project? What if the first two books didn’t sell a million copies because they SUCK? Not to mention the fact that kickstarters all must begin with the project creator appearing on a  FREAKING VIDEO.

(Excuse me for a minute, while I wipe the sweat from my brow and settle my shaking fingers.)

I caught myself typing these words in response to Richard’s suggestion: “I’m scared to do a kickstarter.”

And then I said to myself, “Oh, shit, now I have to do it.”

Once upon a time, when I first began to venture into moving my writing from the desk drawer and computer screen into the big wide world,  I made a rule for myself. It’s this: if I’m scared to do something, then I have to do it. (I exclude truly life threatening activities from this list. Like, say, sky diving and bungee jumping. Hey, my life. My rules.) But a kickstarter can’t hurt anything but my ego, and rules are rules.

So I set up the project over at kickstarter.com. I got a video together thanks to some serious bullying by my Viking, video editing from my eldest son, Ryan, and some awesome cameo appearances by friends (bushels of thanks to Ara Gigorian, Chris, Susan Spann and Jennifer Spiller).

And thus it is that Monday morning, October 13th, I’m launching a kickstarter in a quest to produce a quality version of The Nothing.  Whether the project funds or not, I will have ventured where I feared to go. That, my friends, is a success in itself.

Interested in Supporting the Kickstarter?

You can get involved in backing the project for as little as a $2 investment. Helping with buzz is also immensely valuable. Any tweet or FB post you can spare, any friends you care to invite, can help this project succeed – #kickstartnothing is the official hashtag. I’ll be posting updates here, on Twitter and Facebook. Watch for updates!

Thank you in advance for your support.

UPDATE: I hit the launch button. The kickstarter is LIVE at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/574989945/the-nothing-is-comingdream-if-you-dare

 

 

 

Dust and Light – Love This Book

Carol Berg is rapidly morphing into my favorite fantasy author. I did a binge read of the Collegia Magica trilogy, relishing the strong characters, original magic, deep world building, and the strong mystery element that ran throughout.

Dust and Light manages to be equally good while being new and different. First off, there is that gorgeous cover. I buy paper books for a lot of reasons. One of these is that the book itself is part of the reading equation. Covers are art, and a spectacular cover like this one magnifies the pleasure for me:

dust and light

As for the story – well, we’ve got a whole new complex (and wonderful) magic system. A young hero who discovers that his entire way of life is built on a lie, and that this knowledge could cost not only his own life but those of anybody he cares for. All of this, within a complex plot that unravels clues like a mystery, one at a time. Here’s the blurb from the back of the book:

National bestselling author Carol Berg returns to the world of her award-winning Flesh and Spirit and Breath and Bone with an all-new tale of magic, mystery, and corruption…. 
How much must one pay for an hour of youthful folly? The Pureblood Registry accused Lucian de Remeni-Masson of “unseemly involvement with ordinaries,” which meant only that he spoke with a young woman not of his own kind, allowed her to see his face unmasked, worked a bit of magic for her….After that one mistake, Lucian’s grandsire excised half his magic and savage Harrowers massacred his family. Now the Registry has contracted his art to a common coroner. His extraordinary gift for portraiture is restricted to dead ordinaries—beggars or starvelings hauled from the streets.

But sketching the truth of dead men’s souls brings unforeseen consequences. Sensations not his own. Truths he cannot possibly know and dares not believe. The coroner calls him a cheat and says he is trying to weasel out of a humiliating contract. The Registry will call him mad—and mad sorcerers are very dangerous….

Don’t miss it!

God’s Pocket – Movie to Book

Every weekend the Viking and I pick up a couple of movies from the local Safeway since our satellite internet connection doesn’t allow for streaming movies and downloads. Sometimes the Safeway pickings are slim and we resort to films we might otherwise bypass. God’s Pocket is one of these, although it did intrigue me for a couple of reasons – the biggest being Philip Seymour Hoffman. I always liked Hoffman as an actor, and now that he’s dead there’s a special significance to seeing him in one of his last flicks.

But what a deeply dark and depressing world this movie took us to. Hoffman does a great job in the role of Mickey, a basically decent guy who is stuck in a bleak world where he can’t win for losing. Here’s the blurb:

When Mickey’s crazy step-son Leon is killed in a construction ‘accident’, nobody in the working class neighborhood of God’s Pocket is sorry he’s gone. Mickey tries to bury the bad news with the body, but when the boy’s mother demands the truth, Mickey finds himself stuck in a life-and-death struggle between a body he can’t bury, a wife he can’t please and a debt he can’t pay.

Written by I.F.C. Films

As we watched, the Viking kept looking at me and saying, “God, what a horrible life.” Most of the characters are unpleasant, and the only ones I found myself cheering for were the guy who kills the step-son, the crew boss who covers up what really happened, and the elderly florist who knows how to take care of herself.

That said, I don’t regret the time spent watching. The story sparked some thought for me about human nature, as well as serious gratitude for my own life and the good people around me.

Also, as it turns out, the movie is based on a book.

A few minutes research on Amazon revealed that the Kindle edition of God’s Pocket by Pete Dexter came out in May of this year. Apparently the paperback is coming out in November. Out of curiosity I had a peek inside the book and will definitely be reading, despite my usual reluctance to read books that are set in the dark and depressing. Dexter can write, though, and I’m prepared to follow him into bleakness for little gems like this:

“Mickey Scarpatto was forty-five years old and did not understand women. It wasn’t the way bartenders or comedians didn’t understand women, it was the way poor people didn’t understand the economy.”

Definitely worth a read, I think.

 

The Frost is on the Pumpkin

In truth, I have no pumpkins. But the frost is on the windshield this morning.

frost1

And last night, just past dusk, I heard wild geese flying overhead. That call always gets me, especially in the fall. It makes me restless, itchy in my own skin. I want to do things, go places, get things done.

Which means, in this case, that I’ve spent my morning doing everything but writing. Paying bills, minimizing the chaos that’s built up around me while I’ve been buried in writing stories.

Maybe it’s instinct kicking in. Winter’s coming. Get ready. Batten the hatches, bring in the firewood, make sure there’s plenty of food in the pantry.

Funny how that works. Yesterday I was still in summer land and decidedly wanting to stay there. Today I woke up feeling energized, as if the smell of snow and frost woke up the Viking ancestry sleeping in my blood.

As it turns out, I’ve never really read the Frost is on the Pumpkin poem, which I thought was by Robert Frost. According to Google I’m wrong about mostly everything. Here’s the first verse:

“WHEN the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock,
And you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin’ turkey-cock,
And the clackin’ of the guineys, and the cluckin’ of the hens,
And the rooster’s hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence;
O, it’s then the time a feller is a-feelin’ at his best,
With the risin’ sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest,
As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes out to feed the stock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock.”

The poet is a gentleman named James Whitcomb Riley, 1853-1916. Although I can’t say that I an enamored with this style of poetry, I will admit he sort of caught the way I feel. But the poet who really nails it for me is Bliss Carmen, with Vagabond Song:

“THERE is something in the autumn that is native to my blood—
Touch of manner, hint of mood;
And my heart is like a rhyme,
With the yellow and the purple and the crimson keeping time.

The scarlet of the maples can shake me like a cry
Of bugles going by.
And my lonely spirit thrills
To see the frosty asters like a smoke upon the hills.

There is something in October sets the gypsy blood astir;
We must rise and follow her,
When from every hill of flame
She calls and calls each vagabond by name. ”

Anybody else have an autumn poem or song that stirs your blood?