Monday, April 20, 2015

The great equalizers

I've always thought of Big Box stores as the great equalizers. If you go, no matter who you are, you shop the same merchandise and stand in the same long lines. I used to think of airport security as the same, but now that there's the Safe Traveler (it has another name) line, the wait can be cut short and said Safe Traveler is equalized with his or her equals and not the rest of us.

But I've now found another great equalizer and it has to do with why I've been absent from this blog: a hospital surgery waiting area. No matter who you are, you wait in the same place. You watch families come, sit in moderately comfortable chairs, pace, get up for coffee, thumb idly through a magazine, commiserate with friends who join the vigil. You watch as doctors or nurses come through the large doors, escort the family elsewhere or talk lightly to them there. It doesn't matter who you are. You sit and wait.

The outcome for me and mine was good. I know it is not always so. I know there's a place equality ends.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Money Shot


That's what a photographer calls the one photo in dozens which might earn him some pay. This is my version of such, which of course, isn't going to earn me anything but a smile.

I took this photo with my iPhone at dawn last week. It had rained all weekend and there were puddles in the low spots. In the background is our old railroad depot, now a history museum. Everyone around the area was out photographing, but this is my favorite.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

March Round Robin: Research!

The topic for this month's Round Robin: Research: How much do you do and does it bother you when you read something in a story that is inaccurate historically, socially, scientifically, etc.?

Ah, research. I loved doing research in high school, less so in college. Probably because I felt I had more interesting things to do with my evenings than be in the college library basement going through encyclopedias and Reader's… what was that called? Ah--The Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature. It was red.

Now with the Internet, things are a bit speedier and can certainly be more social, if less sure in their content. My second grade granddaughter had to do a research paper recently on the founders of Texas. No Internet allowed. Which is a good thing, but grandmother got to visit the local library for appropriate material. It's great to be a resource!

With my own research for my contemporary writing, I try to stick to what I know geographically. We visited Portland, Maine, and it is the setting for Ian's Image. We took two train trips across Australia and I have my third person POV character, Fletcher, do the same. A friend of mine owned a marina on Lake Texoma, the main setting of the Bone Cold--Alive series. If I don't know the parts of something, like a cello, I've found that children's books are the best source. I don't usually need the details, just the basics.

Does it bother me when something is inaccurate in a book I'm reading? If it's egregious, yes. I love Regencies, and I usually go along with the story. They'd have to be using the telephone for me to balk! OTOH, don't have a Southern character ask if a guest wants a pop or a soft drink. In the South, we ask if a guest would like a Coke, and then sort out which kind when answered in the affirmative.

In general, I'm a generous reader, less forgiving of editing and poor spelling (and that includes traditional publishing) than historical or social inaccuracies. Basically, tell me a good story and I'm yours.

And I hope you feel the same about me and mine.

Now, if you'd like difference takes on research, please check out the links for my fellow Round Robin-ers:

Margaret Fieland
Beverley Bateman
Skye Taylor
Rachael Kosinski
Heidi M. Thomas
Marci Baun
Anne Stenhouse
Helena Fairfax
Connie Vines
Fiona McGier
A.J. Maguire
Judith Copek
Lynn Crain
Rhobin Courtright

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The New Neighbors

Have you ever heard a Carolina wren? Raucous is one descriptor for its call.

I heard something going on on the front porch and went to investigate. We have columns at each end of our porch and there's a small, less than a foot, space above each before the roof line. Sparrows have built nests before, and wasps!, but this time, the one at the north end of the porch was being loudly proclaimed as belonging to a Carolina wren!

He or she, I don't know, but there's a nest being built about 10 feet off the ground and protected from rain and most predators. And me. But perhaps I can watch from a distance and see a new family being launched.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Me--the Bread Baker



I am a bread baker and I've earned that title the hard way: bad bread. Rock hard bread. Bread that didn't rise. Bread that spread all over the cookie sheet instead of staying in nice little knots. Bread that just didn't taste like… bread.

When I was a little girl and wanted the crusts cut from my bread, my mother wouldn't do it. Now, was she lazy? Stubborn? Perhaps she didn't find that step in the sandwich process warranted. What she said was: That's where the vitamins are. Eat the crusts.

I hate to admit to being a bit slow, but I was grown and making bread before I realized the nonsense of this. (As an aside, this can stand up to her other dictum: Don't feed the cat ham. That one kind of made sense, after all the cat didn't need all that salt, but my husband got tired of hearing it and asked the vet if it were so. Her succinct answer? Only if the cat kept kosher. My mother's credibility continued to slip.)

I really got rolling on the bread baking bandwagon in the '80s, quite often having bread fresh from the oven when my sons got home from school. Butter, honey… it would hold us until supper. I used one book in particular, The Red Star Centennial Bread Sampler. 1981 edition, this one is available from Canada. Says it's in good condition. Cannot say the same for mine. Its condition could best be described as "loved."

I stopped using it when I found other go-to recipes, but recently I've been bored with them, so I've ventured back. And things have changed! I was reading the basics (never hurts to go back to the basics) and found out there was a flour available some places called bread flour. Of course, it is widely available now and is all I've used for loaf bread for many years. There were notes on compressed yeast and I haven't seen that in a while, but perhaps my stores just don't carry it. Shortening was listed as an ingredient in the recipe I chose to tinker with today and I haven't had that in the house in years. On the other hand, subbing butter may not have been a good idea but I won't know for an hour or two yet.

What I did learn from this wonderful book and still use and, except in rare instances change every yeast bread recipe to, is the method of putting the yeast in with the dry and adding hotter liquids instead of plumping up the yeast in milder water first. Do not like that extra step. Will avoid.

I love to make bread, but there is one thing better: sharing it. The one I've got rising now should make 4 loaves. What a treat!

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Bo's Beauty goes live!

Bo's Beauty, the sixth and final installment of my Bone Cold--Alive series, is now available for Kindle and Nook. In it, I'm able to not only give the remaining bachelor band member his romance, but also help Fletcher, the band manager, come to a resolution with his first love. He's chased her all over Australia, but will he be able to catch her in California? As to Bo's Beauty, she's proving to be elusive as well.

Friday, February 20, 2015

February Round Robin: The Old Bucket List

I've never had a written Bucket List. Nothing written down, just things I'd like to accomplish. OTOH, I think a Bucket List ought to be doable. I think space travel is cool and wonderful and wouldn't it be beyond dreams to see the Earth from scads of miles above, but… let's face it. Not going to happen for me. Not realistic. Not doable.

I had always wanted my own large vegetable garden and 35 years ago, when we moved to the house we still have, I got it. A large plot plowed and seed scattered. It worked for several years, but eventually we needed a basketball court for the sons and then a smaller driveway for their vehicles and then… no more garden.

I'd love to be a NYTimes best-selling author. Now, this is doable, if I knew how to write what the public wants to buy. And buy. And buy. Alas, I have yet to meet my market niche. But I enjoy writing and I keep at it. How does that go? A writer can't not write?

But the verbal Bucket List now consists of mainly travel. Always wanted to go to Australia. I've been twice. New Zealand. You bet! Cross Canada, Halifax to Vancouver, by train. Been there, done that. Don't know many people who have, although I'm sure the numbers are legion. Go around the world? Got it on the schedule. See Iceland? The Antarctic? The NorthWest Passage--small ships cruise there now. Doable!

(And why, as a warm weather girl, I want to go to places full of ice and snow, I haven't a clue. They intrigue me, I suppose. And no one else I know has done it.)

And writing of cold things to do, the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show has always fascinated. We sit glued to the TV, watching these beautiful canines at the top of their breed. The spaniels, in all their forms, are our favorites. We'd liked to go someday. The problem? It's in New York City. In February. I'm much more inclined to try the Antarctic.

Read about other bucket lists from this talented group of writers:

Skye Taylor
Fiona McGier
Marci Baun
Diane Bator
Victoria Chatham
Anne Stenhouse
Beverley Bateman
A.J. Maguire
Rachael Kosnski
Geeta Kakade
Connie Vines
Judith Copek
Rhobin Courtright