Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Meet Mya

Well, we've had her for a couple months already, but I like to document our household changes here. So meet Mya.

Molly adopted her in October from ACCT in Philly. She's 3 years old, but acts more like a puppy. She's full of energy and loves to pick on poor Porter and bark at the dogs next door.

Mya is also a bit of an escape artist. I think we've finally got her escape hatches all closed off, but we still keep a close eye on her.

She's nowhere near as smart as Porter, but she never had any kind of training. Molly's working with her and we sure hope she'll soon stop jumping on us and leaping over the gates in the house.

But in spite of her bad behavior, Mya is very affectionate and loves to cuddle and give kisses. So welcome, Mya. One more addition to our full household.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Catch of the Day

Harry: Waiter, what's the catch of the day? Koi? Hmmmm, don't mind if I ...

Portey, running like hell: birdbirdbirdbirdbirdbird gottagettabird gottagettabird gottagettabird ... oh, crap, where'd he go?

Harry: Hmm, nice view from up here.

Betsy: I'm going to get my good camera so we can get a better picture.

Harry: Damn paparazzi! I do believe I will patronize a more accommodating establishment.

flap flap flap

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Grammar police on duty

I saw this picture on Facebook and it got me thinking.

I've been struggling a bit with all the grammar, punctuation, spelling and usage mistakes in my Kindle books. Even real published print books tend to have mistakes in them, books that have presumably been edited by a real editor.

What's up with that?

Why is it even book publishers are making errors now?

And what can I, one lonely grammar nazi, do about it?

Should I circle the errors in printed books and fax them to the publisher? Should I email the self-published authors and point out the multitude of errors in their e-books?

Or should I do what I've been doing, just shrug and sigh and move on?

I'm frustrated. How about you?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Top Five Romance Book Clichés

I love romance books. I've read about a thousand romance books over the past four or five years. My favorites are contemporary romances, but I've also read historical and paranormal.

I even started writing a contemporary romance story a few years ago, although I haven't come near finishing it.

One thing I wanted to do when writing was to avoid the most common clichés. Here's what I think are the top five romance book clichés.

5.  Marriage of convenience: For some reason other than love, the hero and heroine get married. Most common cause is for money—to inherit or fulfill the terms of a will, or to save a property. Less common cause is for the sake of a child or children, to gain custody or adopt.

4. Living together: For some reason—perhaps a misunderstanding or the terms of a will—the hero and heroine are forced to live together for a period of time. They don't like each other at the beginning, but of course true love overcomes all the obstacles.

3. Green eyes: Several different sources tell me that only 1-2% of people worldwide have green eyes, and it's less common in males than females. I haven't kept an actual record, but to the best of my recall, more like 20-30% of the heroes/heroines in romance books have green eyes.

2. Returning home: They knew each other way back when. Either the hero or heroine has been away for years and now returns home. Corollary: She had a huge crush on him when they were young, but he didn't notice her at all. Now that they're grown he discovers how appealing she is.

1. And the number one romance book cliché... Dead parents. Either hero, heroine or both have dead parents. Most likely cause of death: auto accident or plane crash. Cancer's another common one.

So what have I missed? What other clichés abound in romance books, or in literature in general?

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Blitz Kuchen

This is a variation on an old German recipe for "Lightning Cake." What makes it special is fruit topping and then crumbs. It came from a church cookbook my Mom gave me years ago, "German-American Recipes," published back in the late 60s or early 70s by Concordia Lutheran Church in Watertown, NY.

Blitz Kuchen

1 c. (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 c. sugar
4 eggs
2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
Squirt of lemon juice (or 1 tsp. vanilla)
1 can of fruit pie filling

Crumbs for top
1/4 c. butter, softened
1/4 c. flour
1/4 c. oats
3/4 c. brown sugar, packed

Beat the softened butter, add sugar then eggs, beating constantly. Add remaining ingredients and beat until mixed. Spread in a 9x13" pan or two 8x8 square pans or two 9" round pans. Spread fruit pie filling on top. Mix crumb ingredients with a fork or pastry blender and sprinkle on top.

Bake at 350F for about 40-45 minutes.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

An annoying trend

Recently I downloaded a free Kindle book, The Proposition, by Jennifer Lyon. It was subtitled "Book One, The Plus One Chronicles."

No problem, I thought. If I really like it, I'll probably go ahead and buy the subsequent books in the series.

I was really into the story when... all of a sudden it ended! In the middle of the plot! And the Kindle took me to Amazon so I could purchase the next book in the series for $2.99.

When I looked a little further, I realized that even part 2 wasn't the end of the story, and part 3 was another $2.99.

Then I discovered I could buy the entire trilogy for 99 cents. So I did. And I enjoyed it, although I rated each of the individual parts only one star and noted that they are incomplete. The trilogy as a whole got four stars.

The point is, "Book One" wasn't a whole book. It was only a third of a book. It was only about 120 pages long in real book terms. And each of the others was about the same length, so putting them all together gave you one 400-page book.

This is a trend that I find very disturbing. Publishers trick you into starting a book by giving away a free "book" that isn't really a whole book.

The other day one of my favorite romance authors, Susan Mallery, posted this on Facebook:

Quick clarification: RANCHER AND THE RUNAWAY BRIDE Part 1 is free. The other 2 parts are $1.99 each. My publisher chose to publish the entire 36 Hours series in this way. Just wanted to make sure you understand how the books are formatted before you get into the story (which I love, by the way).

So not only are new and self-publishing authors doing this, but also the publishers of established authors.

I find this trend annoying and disturbing. And from now on before I download a "free" book, I'm going to make sure it's not just part one. On general principles I will refuse to purchase these serial books unless and until I can purchase the whole story as a single package at a single price.

What do you think? Does this make you as angry as it makes me?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Worst Winter Ever!

Now that it seems like spring is really here, I just want to document what a terrible winter we've had. We've had cold winters, and we've had snowy winters, but this past winter of 2013-2014 seems to me the worst combination of the two since we moved to South Jersey 40 years ago.

So here's the story, as told through my Facebook posts.

Dec. 8, 2013: Portey loves the snow!!

Later: About 7 inches.

Dec. 10: Well, for once they were right... started snowing at almost exactly 8 a.m. But after an hour, just a dusting on the ground. Of course that's on top of what's left of the 7" we got Sunday.

Dec. 14: Snow to the west of us, Rain to the south... Stuck in the middle with... nada!

Dec. 19: Look who came to visit our pond this morning. He was disappointed, because we made sure there are no gaps in the netting this year.

Dec. 21: Four days before Christmas, and too warm for long sleeves! About 70F in the shade, that's 21C for you metric types, warmer in the sun!

Jan. 2, 2014, 9:31 a.m.: Per JC.... "There is still a small chance of over-performance with this system. We'll give that a 10% chance of holy crap and a 5% chance of dude, where's my car?" *snort*

6:41 p.m.: Snowing in West Deptford. According to JC at Severe NJ Weather, the statewide chance of holy crap has been raised to 20%. The chance of dude where's my car remains at 5%.

A few minutes later: It's snowing! Deck in the back already has a light coating. Portey was running around jumping and snapping at the snowflakes, trying to catch them.

Jan. 3: Portey loves the snow!

Jan. 7: Severe NJ Weather: No, the movie The Day After Tomorrow (2004) didn't happen today.
Me: It just feels like it...

Jan. 12: Good weekend to go up to the farm... all the snow melted.

Jan. 16: En Oheeal... stop it with the damn polar vortex, will ya, eh?

Jan. 21: No snow here in Savannah... Stay in, peeps!

Later: I'm so glad we're not in the middle of a Jersey snowstorm... :)

Jan. 22: Another beautiful day in SC, but COLD! Brrr...

Jan. 25: Last day on Hilton Head... windy!

Jan. 26: Betsy Hosier: Literally shoveled for 3 hrs since our driveway was a sheet of ice!! Man I'm gonna be sore, but hopefully I worked off those girl scout cookies

Jan. 30: The Canadian has been on fire, Enny.... Maybe you should try to cool it down a little bit! That's sarcasm, in case I wasn't obvious enough. Snow coming!

Jan. 31:

Feb. 11: Snowmageddon... Very high chance of dude where's my car?

Feb. 12, 9:57 p.m.: It has begun...

Feb. 13, 7:57 a.m.: Well, I just measured 8", but it's already sleeting, so it might have been a little more than that. Looks like a nasty day in Jersey. Stay home, people!

9:49 a.m.: Gee, West Deptford snowplow driver, thanks a bunch! :(

11:20 a.m.: Video: Portey wants to come in! 8" of new snow, and Portey's cold.

Feb. 15: Rain is turning to snow. Just what we need, more snow... NOT!!!

Feb. 19: Was that thunder?

Feb. 21: Holy smokes! Is it ever warm outside! 63F according to our thermometer, and the snow and ice are melting like crazy!

Mar. 1: Severe NJ Weather: South Jersey KABOOOOOOM!
Me: Great. Another one.

Mar. 4: 4" of light fluffy snow, after rain. Probably all ice out there today.

Mar. 8: Dear God,
Thank you for this lovely sunny day to melt the snow. Please don't send any more snow until next winter.

Mar. 9: Look! Magically appeared when the snow melted!

Mar. 14: Supposed to get snow again Sunday night/ Monday. But for now... Crocuses!

Mar. 15: Good day for studying outside.

Mar. 22: Looks like all the baby koi survived the winter. Counted a dozen today. Nice springlike day.

Mar. 24: It's really cold out again, below freezing, and they sprayed brine on the highway today. Doesn't bode well for spring-like weather in South Jersey, does it?

Mar. 25: Let's get this winter freakin' over!!!

Mar. 26: Just a dusting of snow last night. And just a couple more days of cold, according to the forecast, and then the spring weather will be here. Yay!

And there you have it, the worst winter ever.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

New blog

Hey, everyone, I've been invited to contribute to a blog for my church. So if you're interested, you might find me at Holy Conversations, along with our pastor and a few others.
See you there!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Elite Force Reviews

I bought the Elite Force series by Catherine Mann with my Christmas gift card. The books were exciting, lots of action plus romance. Here's my take on each book:

Cover Me (Elite Force, #1)

Cover Me by Catherine Mann
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Two-haiku review:

He goes to rescue
In off-the-grid Alaska
She finds dead bodies

Implausible plot
Technically well written
I didn't connect

Hot Zone (Elite Force #2)

Hot Zone by Catherine Mann
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Two-haiku review:

She's in an earthquake
He rescues her and nephew
Then there's kidnapping

Nonstop action tale
Series, but could stand alone
Improvement from first

Under Fire (Elite Force, #3)

Under Fire by Catherine Mann
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Two-haiku review:

Bad guys after her
Vet told her about traitor
She needs PJ's help

Liked these characters
And doggies made it special
Liked U.S. setting

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Two-haiku review:

She's agent, hostage
She sends code message to him
Looking for rescue

Spies and intrigue here
Characters can't compromise
African setting