Sunday, November 17, 2019

Sunday Update - Week 46

Hello again.  It's been a week.  For the most part, a good one, but a little bumpy here and there.

In writing news, I wrote 6587 words.  Would've done more, but I took Thursday and Friday off due to things.  Last night, before I wrote, I sat down and kind of roughed out the next several scenes. Then I got words out before things and then Live PD hit.

Marketing for the OUAD sale kind of fell apart.  The ad's supposed to go live today, though, so I have hope.  Not a lot of hope, but it's there.

Reading went well.  I finished three books, which is cool.  I do love reading so.

Yesterday was a baking extravaganza.  Okay, it was only two things, but after making granola bars and then oatmeal cookies, I was kind of shot for more baking.  I did, however, do a pot roast.  Yummers.  The day before I made a vat of chili.  Before that, I did pork chops and scalloped potatoes.  Today?  Maybe apple cranberry bread or apple cake, if I'm up to peeling and paring apples.  And leftovers.  Lots and lots of leftovers.

After baking, we went into the woods and played for a while.  Fun fun.  I love playing in the woods.  Maybe I'll do more of that today. 

The guy building his house next door got a survey done.  Now we know exactly where our NW pin is - three pins down and from that we can approximate where the 4th one is.  Yay.  We've been guessing for 6 years.  (Yeah, we thought we had a surveyor coming out.  He never showed.  We called again and he said next time he was out this way, he'd do it.  He never showed.  Then in the height of summer, he wanted to do the survey.  Umm, no.)

The leaves are nearly off the trees now and that means raking can begin.  I did the small south yard.  And then I paid for it on Thursday and Friday (and a little on Saturday).  It does look nice afterwards, though.  I love our trees, but cleaning up after them is a pain in the back.

Hunting season started here yesterday.  Keep a positive thought for our deer.

And I think that's about it.  Or at least, that's as much it as I can think of right now.  How was your week?

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Saturday Reading Wrap-up - 11/16/19

Well, I did better this week with the reading thing.  Three books finished.  And they were all good ones.  Yay.  And only one DNF.  Yay.

I've been scanning through the newsletters, but nothing was really compelling me to download until yesterday when I picked up a supernatural thriller and a paranormal mystery.  Otherwise, I'm down to 3 older unread ebooks - YA something, mystery, paranormal mystery.  :shrug:  I've also got hardcopies if I blow through those.

Book read:

102) Murder, Mayhem, and Bliss by LouLou Harrington (11/14/19) - Mystery* - 5 stars.  Not new or underappreciated.  I bought this because I'd read book 2 earlier in the year and when I saw this for free on the Robin Reads newsletter, I had to get it.
Review: "So much fun! I loved the characters and the plot and the setting and the mystery... Well, everything about this story."
Note: The series is set in Oklahoma, in case, you know, you happen to like stories set in OK.

101) Where Eagles Dare by Alistair MacLean (11/11/19) - Action - 5 stars.  Not new or underappreciated.  I mean, it's Alistair MacLean for pitysakes.  And it was made into a movie with Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood.
No Review.
Note:  I never saw the movie, which is weird because I'm into this type of movie, but I'm glad I didn't because if I had, I would've known what was going to happen in the book and I don't think I would've had nearly as much fun reading it if I knew what was coming.  Loads of twists in this one, folks.

100) Epitaph by Karla Brandenburg (11/9/19) - Romantic Suspense*# - 5 stars.  New to me and underappreciated.  Free off the Reading Deals newsletter.
Review: "I loved this book, even though it was totally not what I was expecting when I downloaded it. I was thinking something along the lines of cozy paranormal mystery. And that's probably my mistake. This is totally romantic suspense with a supernatural bent to it. And being a big fan of romantic suspense over the years, lemme tell ya, this gal has got the chops for it. The supernatural just added an extra yummy element. It did turn out a bit spicy on the romance side for my tastes, but I have weird tastes, so I'm not shorting this any stars for it. Like I said, I loved it and I would choose it again.


11/11/19 - Free.  This was the other one I snagged off Amazon's 100 top free thriller list.  Further proving that being on a Top 100 list doesn't necessarily equal being a good book.  In its defense, I probably shouldn't have started this after finishing an action thriller by one of the biggest names in the genre.  Total disappointment after only a few pages.

Currently reading...a political thriller I picked up on the author recommendation of a friend.  (She hadn't read this title, so if it fails, I'm not knocking her.)  So far?  I'm not really getting into the whole first person thing here and the POV character is kind of an ass.  I'll keep going and I'll let you know how it goes next week.

What did you read last week?  Anything good?

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Thursday This n That

I went fishing yesterday.  It was cold, it was windy, and chances were that the fish wouldn't be biting, but I really needed to blow the gunk out of my pipes.  You know the days - when you feel like throat punching the world and so you yell at the cat.  (Kira doesn't care, but it's still not a good thing to do.)  It worked... it usually does... and I came back in a better mood than when I left.  And HAH, the fish were biting.  I only caught one undersized bass, but I was getting loads of bites.

While I was gone, Hubs was raking leaves.  The guys were working on building the house next door and they waved him over to talk about stuffs.  While they were talking, Hubs learned that the one guy's lady is from Michigan.  He didn't remember the town exactly, but it's about an hour north of Detroit.  And when he was telling me what he thought he might've heard, it sounded like a town pretty near to where I grew up.  Not THAT would be totally 'small world'.  This bears further investigation, because if she actually is from there, it would be total old home week.  And if she isn't, it's still pretty small world if a gal from Michigan moves next door to two other people from Michigan in SW MO.  Know what I mean?

Back to yelling at Kira.  That's the thing about cats versus dogs.  You yell at a dog, and they are totally effected by it.  You yell at a cat and they're all like 'you got a problem, it's your problem not mine'.  If Kira could flip me off, she probably would.  On her way back to bed.

Oh, while I was out at the lake, I saw what I thought was an abandoned goose egg laying amidst the detritus from our last big rain.  And I thought 'wow, something that fragile survived all the wind and the rain and everything', so I picked it up to bring home.  Then I noticed it wasn't an egg at all.  It had spots top and bottom like a seed pod of some sort.  And it was empty.  When I shook it, it rattled.  Upon doing some internet research, I learned it was an Ozark Nest Egg gourd.  They only grow around the Ozarks near rivers and streams.  Cool.

My work email has been down all week.  Something about the provider getting hacked or something.  They're routing as much as we can through alternate addys and they're sending stuff through my private email, but because it's down, they aren't getting what they're supposed to be getting - ie most of the spreadsheets I do.  Blerg.  Hackers should be dipped in honey and staked to an ant hill.  They never think about who they might be hurting when they do their crap.  Little guys like me, that's who.  Little companies like my family's business, that's who.  And even if they go after big companies, that shit rolls downhill to the consumers.  The little guys.  :steam:

I saw a great blue heron yesterday.  Beautiful birds.  Not the prettiest of noises.  Anyway, he honked/grunted at me as he flew by.

Okay, that's about enough out of me.  What's up with you?

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Apple Cranberry Bread

The other day I made Apple Cranberry Bread and said I couldn't post the recipe because I hadn't typed it up yet.  Derp.  I searched this blog and found where I'd posted it back in 2010.  For some reason, I must've typed it directly into the blog because I had no copy on my hard drive, which is why I thought I'd never typed it up.  Now it's a freakin' file, so I can find it when I need it.  Sheesh.

Anyway, here's the recipe (doubled for two loaf convenience, even though I only made one loaf this time around):

Apple Cranberry Bread
(makes two loaves)

4 eggs
1.5 c. sugar
4 T vegetable oil
3 c. flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp Hot Apple Cider drink mix
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
4 medium granny smith apples (peeled & chopped into 1" pieces)
2 c. fresh cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray two 8x4" loaf pans thoroughly with fat-free cooking spray.  In a large bowl, beat eggs, sugar and oil until smooth and fluffy.  In a separate bowl, sift together dry ingredients.  Slowly stir dry ingredients into wet mixture.  (It will be very thick.)  Stir in apples and cranberries.  Spoon batter into loaf pans.  Bake for 60-65 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool for ten minutes before tranferring to wire rack or whatever you use for cooling baked goods.  Let cool overnight, slice and serve.

If you don't have the drink mix handy, it's good without it.  It's just better with it.

I need to make some more of this before the rest of the cranberries go funky.  Maybe today.  Or maybe I'll make an Apple Cranberry Crisp.  Also yummy.  We'll see.  Since today is supposed to be colder than a witch's nose, it'd probably be a good day for baking.  Lord knows I won't be going outside.  Brrrr.

Do you bake when it's cold?  

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Sunday Update - Week 45

Only 7 weeks left to 2019.  Whoa.

I am hip deep in NaNoWriMo.  Wrote every day this month - even though the NaNo site thinks I missed a day.  I forgot to update on one of those days and it won't let me go back and change it.  One day, due to a thunderstorm, I only got 133 words out, but I wrote that day, so it counts.  The counter thing here shows the truth of it.  As of last night, I'm at 11446 words for the month, 9341 of those this past week.  The book itself is at 67322 words.  Anyway, I'm really excited about this.  And as long as I can keep away from people online saying things like 'is your fantasy just a regurgitation of other fantasies?' (a general post, not someone speaking specifically to me) which makes me doubt what the hell I'm doing, I'll be fine.

I didn't do much marketing for the dystopian sale.  With FB not showing my posts to many people, it was almost like 'what's the point?'  I have another sale starting Wednesday and running through to the following Tuesday night - the Once Upon a Djinn books are all 99c/99p.  There'll be paid advertising for that one.

Also, not much reading last week.  I blame NaNo.

In baking news, I made another Romanian apple cake.  This time, I remembered that I had a secret ingredient - hot apple cider drink mix.  Add one teaspoon when you put in the cinnamon.  It elevates it to a whole 'nother taste level.  I also made meatball subs.  OMG, so good.  And BBQ pork chops.

It wasn't the best week for activity.  A lot of fishing at the beginning of the week, but few actual calorie burning things.  I did weigh myself earlier in the week - 179.6 - so that's something.  I can't seem to bounce past that number.  Maybe if I stopped making such yummy food.  ;o)

The fishing right now stinks.  Apparently, I missed the 'fall fishing' thing again this year.  It must've been like a week long or something.  I had people tell me they caught loads of bass, but I didn't catch doodley-squat for fish.  And now it's too cold and all the fish have gone deep again.  Bugger it all.

Speaking of cold, we're supposed to maybe have snow tonight.  I could care less if we ever got snow, but since we didn't want to move farther south than we are now, we have to put up with it when it comes.  Oh well. 

And that's about that for me today.  How was your Week 45?

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Saturday Reading Wrap-up - 11/9/19

Hello.  Welcome to the first Reading Wrap-up since NaNo overtook my life.  I only managed to finish one book this week.  It was a really good one, but it stands alone.

I didn't download anything new this week because I'm not sure when I'll be able to finish the books I already have downloaded.  There are five of them - thriller, 2 mystery, YA SF, and paranormal mystery.  I also have a boatload of hardcopies to read if it comes to that.  Right now, I'm at 99 books read for the year with a goal of 120.  Better step it up somehow or I won't make the goal.  :shrug:  If writing again means I miss the goal, I'm okay with that.

Books read:

99) Trail of the Hana K'ilo by Channing Whitaker (11/5/19) - Mystery*#2 - 5 stars.  Not new to me, because it was a book 2, but definitely underappreciated.  Picked this up at full price $2.99 after reading book 1.
Review: "Another excellent installment of the Skeptic Detective. Okay, so I did want to poke Harlan in the eye for a while there near the beginning, but I love him anyway. And I love Vieve. They'll go a long way together, if they keep their wits. I also loved this mystery and the resolution and the explanations of everything. The setting was neat, too. I'm always interested in Alaska and the author does an excellent job of putting the reader right in the setting. I'm looking forward to more Skeptic Detective mysteries in the future."


11/2/19 - Romance.  Free.  The beginning was creeping me out.  Sure, I get that the author wanted to show that the couple first met when they were kids in elementary school, but the way the hero at 10 was thinking about the heroine at 5 made my skin crawl.  More like a suspense showing a killer's early beginnings than the beginning of a romance novel.  Anyway, I flipped past the backstory and got into the today part of the romance and it all seemed so contrived and flat.

Currently reading... I had it down as a paranormal mystery, but I think, now that I'm halfway through, it's more of a romantic suspense with a supernatural bent to it.  Not really 'paranormal' in as far as it has no paranormal beings (vamps, weres, fairies, genies, etc.) - just the MC with a gift and another character with a gift.  So far, it's pretty good. A little spicier than I expected.  Whoa.

What was on your reading schedule this week?  What stops you from reading as much as you'd like?

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Thursday This n That

Last night, just after I sat down to write, a thunderstorm rolled in.  So my word count for yesterday was 133 words.  And that was all fixing part of the scene I wrote the day before.

I decided what critter was going to attack the band of intrepid characters and it ended up being one of my own design because nothing fit what I had in my head.  So, I wrote the scene.  Then yesterday, I realized the beastie needed to be beefed up a little in the description and it needed to be gray rather than black.  And it ended up being a battle scene without any battle.  Beasties defeated by cunning.  I thought my solution was rather brilliant at the time.  We'll see if I still feel that way in edits.

For a guy who didn't want his magic or any kind of leadership role, Aryl's pretty good at both.

On the way to go fishing, a little hawk flew across the road in front of me carrying its prey.  Not sure what kind of lunch it would be having, but it was definitely something small and furry.  Too small to be a squirrel, too big to be a mouse, too dark to be a chipmunk and the tail was wrong for a chipmunk anyway.  :shrug:  Eat hearty little hawk.

With the time change, I've been getting up at 4am.  Which is good because the cat expects to be fed at around 4:30 (she used to get fed around 5:30, but time change).  The worst part of it is that getting up at 4 means that by the time it's time to call the office at 8, the coffee is almost gone and I don't want to make another pot just for a twenty minute call.

Speaking of the time change, where is this extra hour of sleep I was supposed to be getting?  Total rip off. 

Can anyone tell me why people vote YES for new taxes?  I wonder if it's because they don't think that whenever they vote for new taxes, they will also be taxed.  Maybe they think the taxes will only hit the other guy.  I mention this because we voted on Tuesday and while we voted against the new tax thing, it passed - by a slim margin, but still.  Blerg.  I guess I shouldn't bitch overly much because some of you out there are paying outrageous amounts in taxes and Missouri is still pretty low.  But I want to keep it that way and apparently others here don't.  Double blerg.

Speaking of which, our property tax bills arrived this week.  Umm, yay?  Most of it goes to pay for our shitty school system, which we never used and never will.  I wouldn't mind helping pay for the education of our youth if the education I was paying for was actually worth something.  Know what I mean?

The bucks have been stopping here.  (Yes, I went there.)  We've got some really gorgeous boys this year.  If only I could get some pics. 

Speaking of pics, I really need to wash my windows.  It's hard to get a good photo when the glass you're shooting through is dirty and has spider webs strung across it.

Wow, I've been kind of chatty this morning.  Thanks for reading this far.  I'll let you go for now so you can get on with your day. 

What's up in your world?

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

NaNo Day Four - Paused for Research

Okay, so I'm writing a fantasy and there are beasties, of course.  But my memory of all things beastie is failing me.  Thus far, I've been leaving myself notes - :insert minor monster here: - when I can't think of the name of something and want to keep writing rather than stop and research.  Last night, however, I hit a spot where just leaving myself a note wasn't possible. 

You see, there's a spot where the intrepid band of good guys gets ambushed by something and there's a battle scene and in order to have a battle scene, you kind of have to know what your characters are up against. 

So, last night, I paused writing to do research.  I got one good scene out before I reached the point where I had to start this scene.  Then I stepped away, grabbed my big book of magical creatures, and got busy scanning through the pages to see if I could find the one that would fit this particular scene.  And I made a list for later of things that could potentially be used for all those notes I left myself. 

By the time I was finished, it was almost time for the season premier of Holiday Baking Championship, so I didn't get back to the book.  But that's okay.  I'm totally not kicking myself for being behind.  I wrote close to 800 words and that ain't bad, considering how many days this year I wrote zero words.

I'll have to do some more research before tonight's writing session.  I have a list but I'm still not certain what would fit.  Something smaller than a human but larger than a dog and semi-intelligent but totally vicious - made more vicious by being shut up in the mists for a thousand years - that hasn't been done to death in other fantasy novels.  And it can't fly.  I already have flying beasties elsewhere.  A dragon (naturally) and some wyverns.  Plus, flying critters would change the battle I'm envisioning.  And nothing too out of the ordinary.  If the average fantasy reader ain't never heard of it, I better have a really really good reason for introducing them to it.

Anyway, I'm having fun with the whole process. 

I know, doing research after the first of November is a no-no.  Maybe if I'd known for sure I was going to dive back into this, I would've done some research in October, but I didn't, so there I am.  And I think as long as you don't fall down the rabbit-hole of research, you can still accomplish your goals.

Right now, I'm about 2K words behind.  And that's okay.

So, how are things with you? 

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Sunday Update - Week 44

Hello again.

I'm writing again, cuz like it's NaNo time.  So far, I've added 2105 words to this Untitled Fantasy.  Of course that means I'm behind by 1229 words, but I'm okay with that because, hey, I'm writing again.  Sing it with me.  Hey hey, ho ho, this empty page has gotta go.  What I'm doing right now is going through what I've already written and adding stuff during the afternoon, and then I'm adding new words onto the end at night.  Slow going with the adding new words because I'm trying to get a feel for the story again but I expected that.  :shrug: 

You'll notice a ticker here at the upper right corner of the bar.  It shows where I'm at for the day.  There's a ticker on Outside the Box that show where I am overall.  Red means behind in either case.

The Dennis Haggarty sale wrapped up.  Let's not talk about it, okay?  October was a bad bad month for sales for me.  Today begins The Semi-Spectacular Dystopian Sale.  Blink of an I and Unequal are both on sale for only 99c/99p. 

Reading wasn't in the cards last week.  I spent the majority of the week reading through the fantasy so I would be ready to write come Friday morning.  Yesterday, I DNF'd a book and started the sequel to a book I loved the week before.  Oh, and I got some news yesterday - the third book in a series I've really enjoyed is dropping soon.  The author posted the cover and when I asked, he said sometime in the next couple weeks.  Squee.

Since it's NaNo, which means a boatload of writing but also a boatload of procrastination, I cleaned under and behind the stove Friday morning and yesterday morning I baked then I went and did woods work. 

The woods are a total mess since last I stepped into them.  Loads of fallen limbs and dead vines and leaves on the paths.  Yay!  One series of vines we hacked a couple years ago has finally given up the ghost.  And it was one that had a big widow-maker limb hanging off it.  Well, it dropped some and the widow-maker was within reach, so I grabbed the end and started walking away.  The weight of it pulled the rest of the vine free from the tree and it all came crashing down behind me.  Used the limb saw to hack it into manageable pieces and threw them on the wood pile.   It's good to be in the woods again.

As for baking, I made Apple Cranberry Bread.  Since the recipe is in a cookbook, I won't have it available to post here until I take the time to type it up.  It's pretty yummy stuff.  (And it's healthy, too.)

In activity, I did 5 days out of 7.  Cleaning and woods work and walking, with one day fishing.  No weighing this week.  Maybe I'll do it before my shower this morning.

I didn't catch anything worth mentioning during my fishing trip.  Froze my buns nearly off, though.  And got some good exercise as I clambered all over the park looking for where the fish might be biting.

This week, I really need to do some heavy duty cleaning.  I've been in such a malaise about doing anything this year.  Now that I've found my gumption to write, I'm seeing all the other stuff that needs doing. 

Oh, and the stupid time change was last night.  We don't set clocks back until we wake up in the morning.  Not sure about the wisdom of that since I originally got up at 4:30 which was now 3:30.  I made myself go back to bed for an hour, but meh.  I think Trump could win by a landslide if he did an executive order doing away with Daylight Savings Time.  Set the nation free from this travesty!

Well, that's it for me.  I should probably go do some marketing now.  What's been up with you lately?

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Saturday Reading Wrap-up - 11/2/19

The last week of October and the first wrap-up of November, and I've got nothin'.  And since yesterday was the beginning of NaNoWriMo, I'm not sure how many books I'll be able to read this coming month.  Probably should've thought of that before I upped my reading goal for the year, eh?

I did pick up a couple new ebooks this week - a mystery and a paranormal mystery.  Right now, I have eight unread ebooks.  The oldest is from 10/6.  I'll try to get those read as quickly as possible, but like I said...

Books read:

The only book I read this week was one that isn't even a book yet - the unfinished fantasy I wrote.  I read everything I've written so far.  The hope is to finish it this month.


I didn't try to read anything else, do I didn't end up DNFing anything.

Currently reading... Nothing.  I'm about to start a romance on my Kindle, though.

What was up in your reading world last week?

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Thursday This n That

I saw a commercial the other day for some kind of old people product wherein the lady laments that she's on a fixed income.  This phrase has irritated me since my long ago telephone fundraising days.  I mean, the majority of people have incomes that are fixed - as in they don't change from one paycheck to the next - so I've never been exactly sure why anyone thinks that's a thing to lament.  You know how much money you'll have, so you can budget accordingly.  You want to lament something?  Lament having a non-fixed income where you're not sure how much money you'll be getting and whether you'll have enough to pay bills when your next check drops.  Non-fixed income is why I have never been good at working on commission.  When I have to worry about making enough money to not eat dogfood, I get all tense and weird and can't sell shit.  And buyers can smell the desperation. 

For the record, working on royalties is like working on commission.  Except I'm worrying about where I'll come up with editing funds and not whether I'll be eating dogfood.  Hubs makes sure I don't have to eat dogfood.

Dogfood really should be one word.

Why are some things compound words and other things aren't?  Who makes the rules for that stuff?

Speaking of words, I refuse to put apostrophes in words that didn't use to have apostrophes.  Hallowe'en?  Oh, hell no.  Hawai'i?  Don't get me started. My blog editor is red-squiggling the hell out of those words with the apostrophes.

Oh, yeah, almost forgot.  Happy Halloween!

You know, I didn't really care who won the World Series.  I mean, I was leaning more toward Houston because of leftist DC, but I don't really like the Astros either.  Then the Nats fans had the gall to boo the President.  Then I was really rooting for the Astros. Not sure who won because I went to bed before the end of the final game.  :shrug:

When I'm out and about in the world, I literally don't notice anything about you - your skin color, your eye color, what you wear, tats, piercings, etc. - unless you give me a reason to notice you.  And usually the reason I notice you isn't a good one - you're loud, you're obnoxious, you're standing and talking in the middle of a grocery aisle leaving no room to pass on either side, your kids are running amok. I'd rather have good reasons to notice you - your cute and respectful children, a happy smile turned my way, a cheerful word - but it's your choice.  If you're old or look lost, I'll help you.  Unless you seem like a shit, then you're on your own.

Anyway, I think you've heard more than enough out of me.  What's the this-n-that for you today?

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

The Halloween Scrooge

Halloween is fast approaching.  Meh.

When I was younger, I did Halloween.  When the Kid was home and young enough to enjoy it, I did Halloween.  When we lived in town and there were children trick-or-treating all around, I did Halloween.  When I was still scarfing on the candy bars, I did Halloween - if only for myself.

Now, I'm no longer young, the Kid is an independent adult, and we live in a place with no children for the most part.  (One younger couple with one 6 year old and a baby do not make for a rush of kids at Halloween.)  I'm also done with the candy bar scarfing, so that pretty much means I don't do Halloween.

I don't even do scary movies.  Although this time of year, watching campy, non-scary, scary movies is kind of fun.  I watched Eight Legged Freaks and Lake Placid on Saturday.  I'm also into the Final Destination movies, which aren't scary to me.  I enjoy the suspense of how people are going to get killed.  If you've never seen them, pretty much everyone dies in one way or another and some of those deaths are pretty ingenious. 

Yep, I'm pretty much a Halloween Scrooge.  Bah Humbug. 

With my memories pretty much shot, I only remember one Halloweens from my childhood.  The one where they wouldn't give my older brother candy because the football team had already come through and wiped the town out.  I got one piece and my sister got one piece at only a couple of houses.  Bummer.  I remember a Halloween from when I was like 15 and shouldn't have been trick-or-treating anyway, but my friends and I got dressed up and wandered through a neighborhood in the dark.

When I was in college, I remember a party my friend threw.  I was a sexy modern-day vampire before those were cool.  (Pre Interview with a Vampire days.)  My friend walked around her house carrying a bowl of Cheerios and a knife.  (Cereal Killer... get it?) 

Between those years and the years when the Kid was old enough to enjoy Halloween, meh.  And since then?  Meh.

I don't have a problem with Halloween.  If you're into it, good on ya.  Go wild.  Have a blast.  I'll just be sitting here on another regular Thursday, reading and trying to decide if I'm really going to write a book starting the next day.

Do you still celebrate Halloween?  Are you taking a kid out or are you staying home to pass out treats?  What will you be giving away this year?  What's your favorite Halloween treat?  I used to really groove on the Snickers bars.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Sunday Update - Week 43

Hello again.  We're getting pretty close to the end of 2019.  Woohoo?

Anyway, still no writing, but it's getting closer to terminal mass.  Unfortunately, I have no idea what I'm going to write.  I sat down and looked through my 'ideas' file, and not a single damn thing blew my skirt up.  Except, of course, the urge to organize the file.  I guess the left brain is still in charge.  Time for a right brain coup.

The Dennis Haggarty sale was a bust.  And I'm now in the Sleeping Ugly sale (10/25-10/31), which isn't doing anything either.  I suspect my marketing posts to the FB group pages are not getting the reach they used to.  I used to be able to get at least one or two sales.  Now?  Silence.  I'll be lucky if I pull $8 this month.  Fingers crossed next month doesn't suck as hard.

In reading news, I only finished one book last week, but it was kind of an awesome book, so all is well.  Right now, though, I'm reading that book I forgot I wrote but never finished.  (Just reading, not editing or even note-taking.)  It's really good, especially considering it's a partial first draft of a NaNo novel so it was written in 30 days.  Sure, it needs a boatload of editing, but I'd say it'll be on par with the fantasy novels I've read.  You know, if I ever finish it. 

My activity level was okay - 4 out of 7 days.  I count fishing, though, and that's not always a super-active thing.  Weighed myself yesterday - 180.4.  Ya know something?  It's harder to weigh myself when it's colder because I am not inclined to strip down to my all-togethers and step on a cold scale first thing in the morning.  I feel thinner, though.  That's gotta count for something, right?

Let's see... I made oatmeal cake again.  This time I added raisins.  It's good, but all the raisins sunk to the bottom, so it's more like raisin upside-down cake.  Additionally, I used rolled oats instead of quick oats.  They gave the cake more heft and texture - which is good in my opinion, but your mileage may vary.  I also did pizza subs again.  Nailed it.  All they needed was more toppings and for the toppings to be cooked before they went into the sub.  So good.  And last week, I did a thing where I wrapped ham and cheese around chicken tenderloins and baked them.  Yummers.

Oh, I saw the first bald eagle of the season on Friday!  So, the frigid, windy fishing trip where I didn't catch a single blasted fish wasn't a total loss.

The other day I was at the feed store chatting with my friend.  Another customer came in and joined in the conversation.  My friend told him I was there to buy corn to feed the deer and he asked if I'd seen any really big bucks.  "Nope," I says, "we never see any big deer."  And my friend laughs and tells him I'm also not going to tell him where I live - which totally crapped out my 'hide the deer' lie.  Of course, no one can hunt back in here without landowner permission and even then only with bows because the houses are too close together to allow for firearm hunting.  I'm fine with hunting, just not where I live.  I would haz a sad if I knew for certain any of the deer we feed were hunted.  (I'm not daft enough to believe all of these deer are safe in their entire range.  And they need to be hunted to keep the herd healthy.  I just don't want to know about it.)

Getting older really does blow.  Other than the comic relief portions.  Yesterday, Hubs and I were having a conversation about all the various things that no longer work like they're supposed to or the 'old people' maladies that are starting to crop up.  At one point, I said "I am not wearing cornpads! I am not my grandmother!" and he about fell over laughing.  (For the record, I don't know if my grandmother actually wore cornpads, but it seems like a grandmotherly thing.)  Laughter.  It really is the best medicine.

And on that note, I'll let you get back to your Sunday.  What's up with you lately?  What are you laughing about today?

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Saturday Reading Wrap-up - 10/26/19

Hello again.  Not much to talk about this week.  I just wasn't in a reading place for most of the week, I guess.  Then I opened up a mystery and got sucked into it hard.

Picked up one new ebook on Friday morning.  I'm not even sure what it's about, but it was by an author I have enjoyed in the past and it was free, so I snagged it.  I think it's paranormal.  Then, last night after I finished what I was reading, I hopped over and one-clicked the sequel.  Other than those, I have 4 remaining ebooks to read - thriller, romance, paranormal mystery, and mystery.

Books Read:

98) One Night in Drake Mansion by Channing Whitaker (10/25/19) - Mystery* - 5 stars.  New to me and while it does have more reviews and ratings than I usually would consider 'underappreciated', it was so awesome I think way more people should read it.
Review:  "Every now an then I find an unknown-to-me author and book that makes all of my searching worth it. This book is truly enthralling, unexpected, and wicked awesome. I cannot wait to read the next book. In fact, I'm headed over to buy it now. Budget be damned. I love these characters. I loved the premise of this book and the next sounds like it'll meet the expectations this book sets forth. Yay!"


10/22/19 - I started a Helen MacInnes novel and then realized it was way far ahead in her writings.  I'd rather read the earlier stuff first.  I'll try this one again later.

Currently reading... Since I finished a great book last night, and it was Live PD night, I didn't start anything new.

Okay, your turn.  What things did you read last week?

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Thursday This n That

I spent most of yesterday doing spreadsheets, so I was kind of a toad.  I stopped for a while to take a walk.  Then I stopped for lunch and a nap.  Then I took a break to watch some of The Chase and do dinner.  I finished up after dinner.  It's days like that that show me what I could do writing-wise if I put my mind to it.  Of course, spreadsheets use an entirely different part of the brain, but it's the endurance I need to work on overall.

Yesterday, I was thinking about NaNo again.  I even went to the site and logged in a book called No Freakin' Clue.  LOL.  And then I looked at the last time I did NaNo.  It was kind of shocking. More about that tomorrow.

There's a dog at the animal rescue I really want.  His name is Theo and he looks like a super cool dog.  But right now, I've got all I can handle with Geriatric Cat.  I'll just settle for rooting for Theo to find a nice home.  It's what I do.

For some reason, the fish aren't biting.  The local reports are that fishing is slow.  Some dudes we talked to out at the lake said fishing was slow.  At least it's not just me.

The World Series is going on right now.  I predicted the Astros in 5, but since the Nationals took the first game, I'm glad I didn't actually put any money on that prediction.  As of typing this post so its ready for you now, the second game was tied 2-2.  Maybe the Nationals just want it more.  Since the Yankees aren't in it, I don't really care who wins.  (Update: The Nats won game 2, too.  Whomped 'em.  So much for me predicting the future.  Of course, if I could do that, I'd be rich.)

Still no eagle sightings.

Okay, time to get your day started.  Go have some coffee or something.  I know I will.  And leave a little this n that on your way.  ;o)

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Unearned Guilt? Kick it to the Curb.

Feeling guilty about something you didn't do, don't want to do, and never would do even if you had the chance?  Knock it off.

It seems like so many people are trying to make other people feel guilty for things they didn't do.  Slavery, for instance.  I have never personally owned slaves.  I don't want to own slaves.  And I would never own a slave even if it were suddenly legally and socially okay to do so.  Way back in the long ago, my ancestors owned slaves.  I would venture that anyone whose ancestors were in slave owning countries at the time when it was legal and acceptable can say the same thing.  Do I feel guilty about it?  Should I?

Oh, hell no.  I have no control over what other people did, especially when they lived a couple hundred years ago.

Just like I had no control over any ancestors who may have been Nazis.  (If you have German ancestors, chances are some of them were Nazis or sympathetic to the Nazis.)  Years ago, I dated a man whose family was nearly wiped out by the Nazis.  He is the only son of the only member of his family to make it through the Holocaust, the last of his line.  And, having grown up with tales of my Nazi ancestors, I felt really guilty about his family being destroyed.  I even apologized to him.  And he laughed at me and told me I wasn't responsible in any way for the things those people had done.  Looking back, that was my first step toward shaking off the unearned guilt.

That's what it's called, you know.  Unearned guilt.  When you feel guilty for something you didn't do.  It sucks and we as a species need to chuck it entirely.  You can't be responsible for something you didn't do, so you shouldn't feel guilty about it.

I mean, if you stood by and watched while something horrible happened, then I guess you could.  But that's probably pretty rare.  If I'd had a chance to stop the Nazis, I would've.  (Actual Nazis, not what the left calls Nazis these days - which are pretty much anyone that doesn't agree with them.)  If I'd had the chance to stop slavery, I would've but it was over long before I was born.  (Again, real slavery, not the so-called slavery of a sports figure making loads of cash but having to answer to his team's owner.)

I feel guilty sometimes that I don't do more to stand up against the evils of the world.  I would if I could, but I don't feel like I can.  Frankly, the crazies out there frighten me in staying silent most of the time.  And that's their ultimate goal.

Anyway, if you find yourself feeling guilty about something, ask yourself if you really earned the guilt.  If the answer is no, kick that ol' guilt to the curb.  Life's too short to carry all that crap.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Sunday Update - Week 42

Wait.  It's Sunday?  How did that happen?  Wasn't it just Sunday a couple days ago?  Gah.

I didn't write, but I did do a lot of thinking about writing.  It was mostly trying to decide if I'm going to do NaNo, and if I do do NaNo, what book I'm going to write, and then trying to get out of my own way so the path is open to write.  It's all very crazypants.

I did some marketing for the Dennis Haggarty sale.  Sadly, nothing seems to be working this time around.  Not much I can do about that. 

I did some reading this week.

Managed to get 6 out of 7 active days this week.  Three of those days were fishing, three days were walking and one walking day I also cleaned.  I haven't weighed myself lately.

As for fishing, it's nice to be out at the lake, but the fishing has been thoroughly unproductive.  I mean, I didn't get skunked, but I also didn't catch anything large enough to bring home.  Almost caught a couple big ones, but almost doesn't put fish in the freezer.  I did catch the cutest little baby bass.  Swim away little fishy and get big so I can catch you later.

I made pork chops and scalloped potatoes.  I breaded the pork chops and pan seared them, then put them on top of the homemade scalloped potato layers in a casserole dish, pop the lid on and let it all bake for an hour.  Yesterday, I fried up some of the leftover potatoes to have with fried eggs for breakfast.  Last week, I also made pizza subs.  I took uncut sub rolls, sliced them partway through so they'd have a good bottom for the toppings to rest upon.  Slathered the insides with pizza sauce, sprinkled mozzarella, lay down sliced ham, pepperoni, more cheese, mushrooms, olive slices, more cheese.  I propped the subs upright in loaf pans and baked them at 375F for 15 minutes.  The rolls were crusty, the cheese was gooey and the toppings were yummy. 

The deer are doing their usual fall deer things.  The bucks are coming in and sniffing around the does, the does are separating themselves from the fawns.  Love will soon be in the air.  The buck fawns are getting their buttons.  We have 3 buck fawns I know of.  Two of them are twins.  This is the first set of male twins I've seen since we moved here.  Usually we get one girl, one boy, or two girls.  This is the last set of twins born this year and the last fawns to lose their spots, so they're pretty small compared to the others.  Awww.

Eagle watch 2019 has begun.  No sign of them yet.

The temps jumped up slightly, so no time in the woods.  They're predicting a warmer winter this year, so I'm not sure how much woods time I'll get this year.  We'll see.  I'm chomping at the bit to get in there.  There's so much to do.

And that's it for me this week.  What's up with you?

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Saturday Reading Wrap-up - 10/19/19

Not a thrilling week for reading over here.  I mean, the political thriller was pretty good - not Vince Flynn good, but still good - and the cozy paranormal mystery was pretty good.  But I also had a couple DNFs.  You know me, I'm always looking for the next awesome indie read to pass along to you.  Sometimes I find it and sometimes I land a dud.

One new ebook - a mystery - and no new hardcopies.  4 ebooks left from before - mystery, romance, thriller, and paranormal mystery.

Books read:

97) The Vampire Knitting Club by Nancy Warren (10/18/19) - Cozy Paranormal Mystery* - 5 stars. New to me but not underappreciated.  Free off the Book Doggy newsletter. 
Review: "Really cute and fun story with an interesting and different premise. I'm looking forward to the next one.

96) The Assassin by Stephen Coonts (10/15/19) - Political Thriller - 5 stars.  New to me but not underappreciated. 17c at the thrift store.
No Review


10/17/19 - Political Thriller - Free.  The beginning was so full of backstory, I never got to anything thrilling before I got bored with the history lessons and gave up.  It was kind of a prequel, I guess.  Maybe the real series is actually thrilling, but I wouldn't know it by this one.  Seriously not the best way to sell me on the series.

10/17/19 - Paranormal Cozy Mystery.  Free.  The characters all seemed too stupid to live and so unlikable I didn't care if they ended up in the slammer for killing the 'everyone hated her' victim.

Currently reading...  I finished the paranormal mystery last night, so I haven't started another book yet.  

How did your reading week go?

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Thursday This n That

I caught the teeniest little bass the other day.  I would've thought it was a big minnow except for the perfect spotted bass coloring and markings.  So cute.  Run along little baby bass and grow up big so when I catch you again you can come home with me.  Get in my belly!

Speaking of getting in my belly, I've been making different dishes for dinner lately.  I did the baked meatball thing and the steak and redear sunfish night.  This week we've had breaded pork chops with scalloped potatoes and then pizza subs.  Gotta keep it interesting.

Does anybody still make pizza subs anymore?  I remember them being a huge thing in the late eighties and it seems to me that a lot of places had them on the menu.  Now?  Well, I don't eat out so I don't know, but years ago when I was eating out all the time, they weren't really there anymore.  Anyway, I got to thinking about how much I loved them so I made them.  So good.

If you want something that involves someone I care about to be kept a secret, you probably shouldn't include me.  If I think they need to know, I'll tell them.

I stopped yesterday and dropped off a couple books to my best in-person friend.  She told me she reads slow and she didn't know when she'd get them back to me.  So, I let her in on how I work.  (I was surprised this hadn't come up before, actually.)  You see, I don't loan books.  Ever.  If I hand you books, they're yours now.  Years ago, I would loan books out and then they'd either never come back or they'd come back creased or dogeared or whatever, and then I'd get irritated.  Life's too short.  If I give the book to you, I never worry about it again.  And then you don't have to worry about it either.  Yay.  Anyway, she'd never read Vince Flynn, so I gave her my copy of his first book, Term Limits.  And I gave her the book I just finished reading, The Assassin by Stephen Coonts.  Then we talked about other authors.  She'd never read Spillane, so I turned her onto him.  I love talking about books.  I know, duh, right?

Okay, I'd better get cracking on this spreadsheet I have to have done this morning.  Have a great day everyone.

Your turn to dish with the this-n-that's.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

You Deserve Better (National Domestic Violence Awareness Month)

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

The link above has some excellent examples of domestic abuse - which doesn't always present as 'violence' per se, but it sucks nonetheless.

If any of the things on that list sound familiar, walk away.

When I was 17, I was in a relationship with a burgeoning alcoholic.  Fun guy for the most part, but every once in a while, he wasn't.  Like the time, out of the blue, he slapped me across the face hard enough to leave a handprint.  And then said he was just kidding around and didn't mean to hit me so hard.  Lucky for me, I went away to college and by the beginning of my sophomore year, I woke up and ended the relationship.  Years late, I ran into the gal he dated after me.  He broke her arm.

I vowed to never stay with a man who hit me even once.  I told a boyfriend in college that if he ever hit me, it would be the last thing he did.  He laughed and asked what I, a girl, could ever do to him.  I said 'not a thing' and then listed all of the big dudes I was close friends with and reminded him that they would happily kick his lily-white ass.  "Tim and Matt would kill you, and then there's Mike and Chris and Jim and..."  Well, he got the point.  The relationship didn't last long after that.

I thought I had it covered.  But I didn't think beyond the physical abuse.  I never dreamed I would endure psychological and emotional abuse.  So when it came, I didn't think to walk away from abuse that doesn't leave a visible mark.

The extreme possessiveness.  The constant put-downs.  The never-ending efforts to shut me away from friends and family.  The insane jealousy.  The bizarre accusations.  All the ways he tried to make me feel stupid.  And the ways he controlled even what I wore and how my hair was cut.  He even made he feel bad about reading books because it took my attention away from him.

I woke up.  I got away.  Then about a month after I escaped him, we crossed paths in our cars as I was leaving a store and he was pulling in.  He whipped a u-turn and pulled up behind me at a stop light.  As soon as the light turned green, I was out of there like a shot.  I hopped on the freeway, even though it wasn't on my way, and sped like a bat out of hell toward the exit where I knew there was a state police post.  With him on my tail the whole way.  At the offramp, I caught a redlight and there he was in the right turn lane next to me, yelling for me to roll my window down.  I whipped right and then floored it.  Ran the next light that had just turned red and a mile later finally pulled into the police parking lot.  I was ready to grab the Kid and run inside, but I must've lost him in traffic or he saw where I went and thought better of catching me there.  I never said a word to the Kid.  I just told her we were taking one of our usual drives and when we stopped at the police post, I simply said something like 'this is where the state police live' all cheery while my hands were shaking and my heart was pounding.  I think he got the point because I never saw or heard from him again.

Years later, I found Hubs.  A most excellent man who would never dream of doing any of the things on that list.  And who would happily go back in time and kick the living shit out of those bastards.  But even after all the years away from those abusers, I still find myself jumping at shadows and apologizing for nothing (which Hubs reminds me I don't have to apologize for) and cringing when I think I might've said something wrong.

The asshole didn't need to lay a hand on me and I still have PTSD from being with him.  I still have the occasional nightmare starring him.

Don't let any man do that to you.  It's abuse.  Whether he lays a hand on you or not.  Whether you're visibly abused. Whether he said he was just joking.  Whether you think you did something to deserve it.  Whether he promises to never do it again.  Whether you feel like you love him or he loves you.  Love isn't supposed to be that way.  It isn't that way.  I know that now.

So, please, if you suspect you might be or know you are in an abusive relationship, find a way to get yourself out of it.  And if you can't do it alone, seek help.  You deserve better.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Sunday Update - Week 41


It's early Sunday morning after I stayed up late watching the Yankees shut out the Astros and reading.  Yeah, staying up late is definitely not a guarantee I'm going to sleep in.  At all.

I wrote some this week.  It's gonna be a short story.  I know I don't do short stories, but this kind of hit me, so I started writing it.  We'll see how it goes.

No editing.  No marketing.

I read 4 books last week.  Yay.  And I picked up a paperback I purchased a couple months ago that I'm about halfway through as of last night.  Good stuff.  I hope the end doesn't disappoint.

No baking, but I bought a bag of Granny Smith apples.  I plan on making Romanian Apple Cake.  And maybe apple bread.  Or apple crisp.  Who knows.  I just feel like making stuff with apples.

Did 5 out of 7 days of activity.  Mostly walking again, and one uneventful fishing trip, but I also got some yardwork in yesterday.  Yay!  And I'm at 179.6 lbs, so I'm counting that as a win.

Yesterday.  It was finally cold enough to not have to worry about getting drilled by oak mites, so I went out with the idea of weeding the flower beds.  Problem with that is that the beds are now so full of leaves that weeding them would be antithetical to winterizing them, so I left the leaves and pulled the tall weeds.  I'll get the rest of the weeds in the spring.  The beds that don't accumulate leaves got weeded better.  Then I went into the woods.  Just to look around and take some measure of how much needs to be done this winter.  As I was walking the trails, I came across a problem - a vine that we'd cut off at its base year before last had finally decayed enough to drop out of the tree, right across one of our dogwoods.  Had the poor thing bent so the top was touching the ground.  I trudged back up the hill, grabbed the limb saw and went back to rescue the dogwood.  Fingers crossed it isn't too damaged.  After I did that, I finished my tour.  Loads of fresh deadfall to move once it gets cold and stays cold.  Yay. 

All the rain - we got four more inches this week - means the wet weather stream at the back of our property is running.  It's really pretty and peaceful down there right now with the stream gently burbling downhill toward the lake.

The vacant lot to the north got obliterated.  They had some guy come in and strip off the top layer of brush, then knock over some small trees.  Later, they had some other guy with a backhoe come in and dig and knock over more trees to make room for their house.  Of course, they're drawing a bit of attention from people in the nosy Nellies in the neighborhood who feel they need to add their two cents.  Bleh.  They're not bothering anyone and it's their land, so everyone needs to leave them alone.  We're really the only ones who'll be effected by this and we're fine with it.  Sheesh.  Yesterday the guy brought his little girl with him while he measured stuff - we think for the foundation - and it was nice watching her investigating rocks and exploring in all the dirt.  Reminded me of me.  Man, I'd give my eyeteeth to wander around in there, looking for cool rocks.  Lucky kid. 

A family member had minor surgery this week.  Made it through fine, last I heard.  I'll know more today or tomorrow, but I don't expect the outlook to change.

Other than that, it's pretty much business as usual here.  I need to make plans to go fishing now that the temps are dropping and the fish are biting.  What was on your plate last week?

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Saturday Reading Wrap-up - 10/12/19

Sometimes, despite going through a lot of books I didn't find worth finishing, I discover one that makes me remember why I pick up unknown to me authors.  So I'll keep doing it.

Last weekend, I picked up 6 new ebooks - mystery, romance, 2 paranormal mysteries, political thriller, and thriller. 

Books Read:

95) Billy Blacksmith: The Demonslayer by Ben Ireland (10/10/19) - MG UF*# - 5 stars.  New to me and underappreciated.  Free off the Book Barbarian newsletter.
Review: "I really enjoyed this. Good characters, good premise, good ending. I think any kid would like reading this and plenty of adults would, too. The names got a little confusing at one point - one character has the same last name as another character's first name - but other than having to re-read a few passages, it didn't harm the story."

94) Sea Siege by Andre Norton (10/8/19) - SF/Post Apocalyptic - 4 stars.  Again, not either new nor underappreciated.  I've had this one for ages, but never read it before.
No review.

 93) Sad Cypress by Agatha Christire (10/6/19) - Mystery - 5 stars.  Umm, Agatha Christie, so not new or underappreciated.  Thrift store find - 25c.
No review.

92) Corruption of Identity by Jonathan Small (10/5/19) - Paranormal Suspense?*# - 5 stars.  New to me and way underappreciated, but I think I understand why.  It's a hard enough to classify book that some readers might not be willing to give it a chance.  Their loss, but unfortunately a loss for the author, too.  Which would suck.  Free off Freebooksy.
Review: "Not exactly sure what to call this book, except a phenomenally good read with an awesome ending."
Note: Seriously.  Phenomenally good.  I wasn't sure it would be, but it was.


10/5/19 - Paranormal Mystery.  Free.  Gah.  I was really enjoying this until the whole 'humans are inherently stupid and evil lesser beings who are ruining the world, but I need your help and you're the only one who can save my child'.  If you're so awesome and superior and magical, save your kid your own damn self.  Actually, I would've kept reading if the MC had said that, but he was all lame and ineffectual, so I'm not sure how he could've saved anyone.  Blerg.

Currently reading...  a political thriller by Stephen Coonts.  Oddly enough, I've never read Coonts before.  So far, so good.

What was up in your reading world this week?

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Thursday This n That

I keep thinking today is somebody important's birthday, but I've gone through everyone I care about and it's not any of them.  Might be that I'm confusing 10/10 for 10:10 which is my birth time.  Yes, I acknowledge my birth time.  If I happen to look at the clock at 10:10, I sing 'Happy Birthtime to Me'.  Yeah, I'm weird.  Are you surprised?

October is actually a busy month for birthdays and stuff.  Two nephews, a sister, an anniversary, and two brothers-in-law.  Plus, Halloween, which we don't even celebrate anymore.

Halloween is kind of boring when you don't have any kids at home and no kids in the neighborhood, and you're forgoing candy (for the most part).  I used to buy a lot of candy and then eat most of it before Halloween and then have to buy more for trick-or-treaters.  Now?  Not bag one.  Except Hubs' mini-Snickers and my bag of dark chocolate peanut M&Ms.  Can't forego candy entirely.  Sheesh.

I used to love the movie Hocus Pocus.  Looked forward to watching it every fall.  Then Bette Midler lost her everlovin' mind.  Now I can't watch it.  She ruined it for me.  Of course, if I had a nickel for every movie and TV show that is now ruined by some actor's off-screen behavior, I'd be able to buy enough books to never have to be sad about lost entertainment again.

I keep getting reminders from Amazon to review books I didn't like.  There's a reason I never reviewed it, guys.

Well, they're finally starting to work on the wooded lot to our north.  I guess we never expected it to be vacant forever.  A young couple has owned it all along, and now they're going to be building themselves a house.  Today, someone was over there with a skidsteer(?) scraping the weeds and scrub away and knocking over small trees to clear a space for their home.  The deer are a little freaked, but after the machine went away, the herd wandered around the dirt spot, investigating, so I guess they'll get over the change.

I suppose I should let y'all get back to your mornings now.  Have a great day. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

My Reading Spreadsheet

I thought I'd share stuff about my reading spreadsheet today.  Yes, I have a reading spreadsheet.  Created it just this year to keep track of what I've downloaded, how much it cost me, where I got it from, and whether I actually read it.

Here's a screen capture of what it looks like:

Pink indicates books I've finished.  Blue is DNF.  Downloaded but unread is white, but you can't see it here.  I also use green for the book I'm currently reading.  That was on the hardcopy tab when I did this screen capture.  That tab also has gray rows for books I bought for research or books I bought in error (duplicates, etc.) that I don't intend on reading.  Here, I hid the title column to keep a measure of anonymity for the authors I DNF''d.  And I blanked out a couple things on the Source column that would've given away too much info - like the title of the first book in the series.

Most of my finds are from book newsletters I subscribe to.  Some are from FB groups I belong to.  If a person suggests a book or I picked up the book because I'm familiar with its author, their name would go there. :ahem, Silver:

I debated hiding the money column, but :shrug:  It is what it is.  I've spent just over $60 this year on books - 2/3rds of that on ebooks.  Pathetic amount, but things happen.  I do spent money where I need to.  The first book on the sheet there was $4.99 - a book 2 I really wanted bad.  So, I'm not a total Scrooge.  And I try to review the free books to help the authors sell more, so there's that. 

I probably should've filled in the dates of the books I read so I can keep track of how long it takes me to read a book after I've downloaded it.  Maybe next year.

So, as you can see, I've picked up 139 new books this year - 90 of which are ebooks.  I've finished reading 92 books so far.  I've DNF'd 42 books - 33 ebooks and 9 hardcopy.  And I have 7 unread new ebooks on my Kindle.  (Unread hardcopies?  Let's not be silly counting those, k?)

Yeah, this is probably way more information than any general reader wants to know or cares about.  I started this because figuring out how much money I'm spending on books at the end of each year was a total pain in the ass - going through receipts and trying to remember if I got a receipt and well, bleh.  It also helps me figure out which marketing sources are a better bang for my advertising buck.  If I'm not finding anything good on a newsletter, then I have to wonder how effective it is for selling my own books.  The same with figuring out if I'm consistently DNFing books from a particular source.  If readers aren't getting what they need from a source, they'll stop using that source, which makes them ineffective for my marketing purposes.  There are several sources I won't advertise with anymore based on this data.

I'll probably do a year-end wrap up of all of this data, but I thought this was a good time to look at it all.  Only 12 weeks left of the year, folks.  And I'm so ready for 2020 to start.

Do you keep track of how many books you read?  Do any of you keep track of anything else about your reading?  Or am I the only weird one?

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Sunday Update - Week 40

Week 40?  Only 12 more weeks in 2019?  Well, ain't that interesting.

We'll just not talk about writing or editing, okay?

I did some marketing because Project Hermes was free for three days.

If you checked out yesterday's post, you'll see my reading week did not go especially well.  DNF-palooza. I did finish that book yesterday and I didn't want to throw it against the wall or anything.  Surprisingly good ending. 

Five active days last week.  Lots of walking, some fishing, some cleaning - with overlapping on those days.  Weight: 180.4.

Speaking of fishing, nothing major to report.  Fall fishing hasn't started yet because the water is still too warm.  I mean, I went out a couple times and caught fish.  I even brought one home to eat.  But it was mostly little worm-stealing baby punkinseeds and bluegills on the line.  I almost caught a little bass, but it got off.  Still good to be out at the lake again, though.

In baking news, Hubs had been out of cookies for a couple days, so I made a batch Friday.  And as always, I put half the cookies in the fridge and the other half in the freezer.  When I opened the freezer, I about fell over laughing.  Last batch's freezer half was still in there.  Derp.  I didn't even think to look up there.  So now Hubs has LOTS of cookies.   I need to make granola bars today.  I know for a fact he's almost out of those.

We ate the last of the chocolate cake yesterday.  Which is probably why I've been pretty active but haven't dropped any pounds.  :shrug:

We've settled into a routine of shuttling Kira to the litterbox every four hours or so.  Which is fun in the middle of the night, but neither of us has slept through the night in years, so no biggie.  And hey, no more accidents.  Totally worth it.

The fawns have all lost their spots and the baby bucks are all getting buttons.  They're not babies anymore.  :sniffle:

Okay, well that's about it for me.  How did last week go for you?

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Saturday Reading Wrap-up - 10/5/19

Not the best of reading weeks again.  I kept trying to find something to read, though.  Hard going and I am beginning to despair of finding anything new.  In times like these, I resort to old standbys, so don't be surprised to see me hitting the old crime paperbacks on next week's wrap-up.

No new ebooks.  I did stop at a thrift store, though, and came home with four paperbacks - All Things Wise and Wonderful, an Agatha Christie for the collection, another Helen McInnes, and a Nelson DeMille (who a friend of mine has recommended, so we'll see).

Books Read:

91) Last Call for Peregrine Walpole by Steven Elvy (9/30/19) - Mystery*# - 4 stars.  New to me and underappreciated.  Free off the 'Kindle Krazy! Authors Actively Seeking Readers' FB group.
Review: "Cute. I loved the nostalgia and the name dropping of all those older actors and roles was fun. Not the sharpest mystery, but it was a good distraction and the whodunnit was pretty well hidden until the reveal."


10/3/19 - a women's fiction 33c hardcover.  I didn't actually start this.  I read the jacket copy and decided I wasn't in the mood, so I set it aside.

10/3/19 - Cozy mystery.  Free.  The heroine was too stupid to live.  I realize she had to be a little stupid for the premise to work, but come on.

10/2/19 - Suspense.  33c hardcover.  One in a series I have enjoyed in the past, but I think this one was so far past what I've already read it was meaningless to me and so far along in the series that I think the author was looking for ways to make it fresh and interesting but just fell flat.

9/29/19 - MG Adventure.  17c.  Yeah, not what I thought it was going to be when I picked it up at the thrift store.

9/28/19 - SF.  Free.  Yeah, it didn't resolve the whole thing I was talking about on Sunday with the lack of a clear protagonist or a solid idea of who to root for in this galactic war by the time I reached 22%.  Very well written otherwise, though.  It felt bad about DNFing it, but I couldn't find anything to make me care.  =o(

Currently reading...  a strange paranormal thing.  Amazon has it in Paranormal/UF and Dark Fantasy.  It's kind of enthralling, even if I can't really put my finger on what it is.  I was over halfway through by bedtime last night, so I should finish it today.  If I don't throw it up against a proverbial wall, that is.  We'll see what the author does with it.  I really hope it finishes well.

How did your reading week go?  Anything good?  

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Thursday This n That

The other day I was out walking when a neighbor I'd only met once before drove past me, giving me two thumbs up and mouthing 'Good job'.  I was totally confused.  It's not like the one time I met her we discussed my activity regime or my hope to lose weight or anything.  Then I got to wondering, in a playful and jocular way, if I'm so fat she felt the need to give me encouragement.  Did I look like I was losing steam and needed a boost?  I mean, I was stopped on the side of the road.  I always stop and wait for cars to go by - because I don't want to get hit from behind and would like a chance to jump out of the way should someone lose control of their vehicle.  It wasn't even a particularly hard walk that day - coolish with a slight breeze.  I wasn't even sweating like a pig, which I often do, or huffing like a freight train, which I used to do before I started walking all the time. She should've seen me 6 years ago.  Man, I was out of shape and 14 pounds heavier then.  Then a 1.6 mile hard-target walk would've done me in.  :shrug:

I don't understand why people ride motorcycles.  Sure, I've never been on one.  But I've been on a four-wheeler and on a snowmobile.  Pretty much the same thing, I'd imagine - flying down the road, wearing a helmet and no other form of protection around you.  The four-wheeler was fun, but I was young and stupid and we could've easily been killed.  I screamed myself mute during the snowmobile ride and it wasn't from fun.  Sheer terror.  It was dark and snowing and I was riding behind a guy who didn't even have his driver's license yet.  Getting pelted in the face with ice.  Loads of fun.  Substitute bugs for snow and that's how I imagine riding a motorcycle would be.  I'll keep my car, where I can sit in air-conditioned or heated comfort, listening to my tunes and feeling pretty secure that if someone hits me, my crumpled body will not be thrown 30 feet or have its skin scraped off by asphalt.  Someone once told me there are no open casket funerals after motorcycle accidents.  Yeah, sounds like fun to me.

Monday I was scrolling through my blogroll and noticed a post on swearing in fiction.  The poor guy had a reader actually take him to task for swearing in his violent epic fantasy novel.  He, of course, schooled her good.  And he pointed out that while she had a problem with his use of curse words, she apparently didn't have a problem with the violence and had even laughed about a reference to a minotaur harming a prostitute.  (Apparently she was reading it in some form of posting a story wherein readers can immediately comment as the story goes along.)  What a world, eh?  I may have to actually pick up this guy's book at some point because it sounded awesome.

I found the above guy through a fantasy novel competition I've been stalking for potential good things to read.  I've wishlisted a couple that I'll buy as soon as the budget frees up a little.  I'd enter one of my books but apparently this thing is so popular, the spaces fill up almost as soon as he announces it's open for entries.  Right now they're in the middle of a cycle, so I don't even have to think about it until next year.  

Yesterday, I went fishing.  Nothing spectacular about that.  Caught a few little pumpkinseeds and a keeper redear sunfish.  After I put the sunfish on the stringer, I went back to fishing, occasionally glancing over to check on Burt.  (Yes, I name the fish I catch.)  The last time I glanced over, I noticed a kind of longish stick in the water I hadn't seen there before.  And then I noted how the stick was jutting out from the water.  And THEN I noticed it wasn't a stick.  I was a big honking snake.  Unsure at the time whether it was a water snake or a copperhead, I sprang into action.  To save my fish.  My fish had taken refuge under a rock.  I needed to reach out past the fallen limb I'd attached the stringer to to nudge him loose, but the snake was in the vicinity.  In fact, the snake had swum to the side of the rock where Burt was hiding.  After I pulled Burt in, I tossed a small rock into the water.  Snake didn't even twitch.  I grabbed a larger rock and tossed it closer to, but not AT, the snake.  When the water cleared, the snake was lying on the bottom with the bigger rock next to it.  'Oh, crap, I hit him in the head.'  My aim was never that good, you know.  But then the snake rose up from the bottom and stuck his head back out of the water again.  No damage done, but he still looked intent on Burt.  I grabbed a longish stick and swung it near the snake's face.  It opened its mouth as if to strike.  So I tapped it on the top of the head with the stick.  Poof!  It disappeared.  Okay, it actually moved away so fast, I missed exactly where it went.  Which meant I wasn't sure if this potential copperhead was going to visit me again.  I packed up my stuff and scurried up the ledges to get the hell out of there.  I researched it when I got home and it was a water snake, which are non-venomous but exceptionally bitey. 

Burt and I made it home with no snake bites.  And now Burt is in my freezer for future dining pleasure.

Okay, I think I've bored y'all enough this morning.  Have an awesome day.  I might go fishing again, so if you leave a comment and it doesn't show up right away, I'll approve it when I get home.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

I'm Not a 'Book Reviewer'

I keep seeing people offering their books for free in exchange for reviews.  And I can't do that.  Let's forget the fact that if Amazon catches you offering books in exchange for reviews, they'll smack your little paddies.  Or worse.  I can't do stuff like that because I don't work that way.

I can't agree to write a review of a book I haven't read yet because there's every possibility I won't like the book.  And if I don't like a book, I won't finish it.  And if I don't finish a book, I won't review it.  So, accepting a free book in exchange for a review would be accepting it under false pretenses.

Oh, I love free books.  If it weren't for free books, I wouldn't have read most of the newer books I read this year.  I wouldn't have found some of the new authors I've loved.  But if those authors offered me a free book for a review, I still couldn't take it.

You see, I picked up a book recently.  I got partway through and DNF'd it.  It wasn't blowing my skirt up.  When I went to the end - which I always do, so my Kindle recognizes it as 'Read' and doesn't pop it up when I'm looking for my next unread book - I noticed pages from another book by the author and I was all like 'well, shit'.  The other book was a book I loved.  Didn't even realize this meh one was one of their books.  All I knew was I didn't enjoy it and I didn't finish it.  And then I felt bad because I had enjoyed the previous books so much and I want to help this author succeed so they write more books and...  Well... Bummer.

If I had accepted it with the expectation that I'd review it, we would've both been screwed. 

So, yeah, I post reviews here every Saturday.  But I'm not a 'book reviewer'.  There's too much pressure down that road.  I read what I like and since I never know what I'm going to like on any given day, it's kind of hit or miss.  Basically, I'm a reader who likes to share her thoughts on the books she's read. 

Speaking of free books, Project Hermes is free today and tomorrow.  While I'd certainly appreciate reviews if you happen to download it, it's not expected and there's no tit-for-tat here.  It's just free.  For everyone.  Worldwide.  Do with the book what you will. 

Do you review books?  Even ones you haven't finished or didn't like? 

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Sunday Update - Week 39

I realized something on Thursday.  I went the whole day without thinking about writing or editing and without feeling guilty about not writing or editing.  And when I realized that, I immediately felt guilty about not thinking about it all day.  Not sure what all that means.  Something to ponder for a while.

Needless to say, nothing writerly was accomplished last week.

My reading week was a dud.  One really good book and loads of DNFs.

My activity for the week was also pretty much dudsville.  Of course, my knee giving out the week prior didn't help.  I sucked it up and went for a walk Thursday night.  Lazed out Friday, then walked again on Saturday night.  We'll see what today brings.

I went fishing!  I caught two little bluegills, a channel cat, and a redear sunfish.  I could've brought the cat and the sunfish home, but I wasn't in the mood to clean fish that day.  Off you go fishies.  I'll catch ya next time.

The weather got a bit cooler, so I baked stuff.  Sunday I made granola bars.  Also, I made a chocolate cake from scratch that was to die for.  The cake went well.  The frosting?  Well, I didn't realize I was almost out of powdered sugar when I started the Super Fudgy Frosting recipe, so there I am with all the other ingredients already doing their things and I reach for the powdered sugar.  Recipe calls for 3 cups.  Might've had 1 cup left.  Blerg.  In a frantic mindset, I cobbled together something I hoped would be passing fair.  Needless to say, it was really dark dark chocolate frosting which basically turned into a layer of fudge of top of the cake which actually worked out.  I couldn't replicate the frosting recipe if I tried - a little of this, a little of that, 3/4 of a bag of melted, stale mini-marshmallows - but the cake recipe is below.  AND I also made baked meatballs with were also to die for.  And that recipe is also below.

Not sure what the week ahead will bring.  At this point, I'm wondering if I should change the name of the blog from The Writing Spectacle, you know, since there ain't much writing going on around here.  :shrug:

What was up in your week?


Homemade Chocolate Cake

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup baker’s cocoa
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
½ cup vegetable oil
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp instant coffee
1 cup hot water

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease and flour 9x 13” cake pan.  Sift together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and baking powder in large bowl.  Beat in oil, milk, eggs, and vanilla until smooth.  In a small heat-safe bowl or mug, add hot water to instant coffee.  Stir until coffee granules are totally dissolved.  Stir coffee into cake mixture until totally combined.  Mixture will be wet.  Pour into prepared pan.  Bake for 30-40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Do not over bake. 

Original recipe said 25-35 minutes. Bake time for my oven was 37 minutes.

Baked Meatballs

1 lb lean ground beef
1 cup seasoned Italian bread crumbs
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbsp minced onion
¼ tsp garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp olive oil

In a medium bowl, use your hands to squish all the ingredients together until it forms one big ball.  Pull off chunks and roll into balls approx 1-1.5 inches in diameter (ping-pong ball size).  Once all the meat is rolled into balls, heat oil in frying pan on medium-high.  Brown meatballs.  Preheat oven to 375F.  Put browned meatballs into 8x10” cake pan.  Bake for 20 minutes or until no longer pink in the middle.

Alternate:  After placing meatballs in baking pan, cover with spaghetti sauce and sprinkle liberally with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.  Bake until bubbly and meatballs are no longer pink in the middle.  Serve over spaghetti noodles.