Monday, April 30, 2012

Porches, Wrens and Heroes

I usually sit out on the porch, and under the guise of working, watch the birds. When I got home Friday night, the view was up close and personal. A little Carolina Wren had found a hole in our screen and had decided to stop by and say hello.Unfortunately, once in he had no earthly idea how to get out. For forms sake, I'll call him a he, going on the assumption a she would have figured out how to get back outside;) For any guys reading this, I'm just pickin' with ya. But back to the story.
We had no more of an idea how to get the little guy out than he did. The cats were also grousing.  Here was this fascinating new toy and we wouldn't let them out to play with it.
After much deliberation the HH got a shoe box. We put sunflower seeds and bread in it. Both of which were met with the disdain they deserved. This guy wanted insects, thank you very much.  You think herding cats is tough, trying herding a bird.  Back and forth across the porch we went. The bird would come almost right up to us, but we were both rather squeamish about trying to pick it up. Besides the possibility of damaging it, the HH didn't want pecked and I didn't want to feel the mad fluttering of wings and his little agitated heartbeat against my palm. After over an hour of walking him around the porch, the HH herded him into the box, slipped the lid on  and took the wren outside to freedom.
My hero.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Maggie's Last Coup

Maggie has caught her last mouse and emptied her last locked trashcan. In spite of cancer, she lived to  fourteen and a half and was always happy. I wish I knew her secret. Her outlook on life, though simplistic, was always much better than mine.  Like most dogs, she found joy in the little things: a treat, a belly rub, dinner, a walk, and sunshine. She loved unconditionally. Forgiveness was guaranteed. Maybe, unconditional love and forgiveness is the universal truth we all seek.
RIP, Maggie. You made our little corner of the world a better place.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Friday, April 27, 2012

Romance In The Garden

 I was out in the garden today and found an Iris I'd never seen before. No kidding. Either the birds and the flowers have been romancing and pollinating or I ordered a different strain a long time ago and it just decided to bloom. Either way, I was pleased to see it. Below are some of its neighbors.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Resrved Brit

I'm blogging today at Night Writers on the British Shorthair. If you're in the vicinity, I'd love to have you stop by.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Never Argue With a Woman

Never Argue with a Woman

One morning the husband returns after several hours of fishing and decides to take a nap. Although, not familiar with the lake the wife decides to take the boat out. She motors out a short distance, anchors and reads her book.
Along comes a Game Warden in his boat. He pulls up alongside the woman and says, “Good morning, Ma’am. What are you doing?”
“Reading a book,” she replies, thinking, ‘Isn’t that obvious?’
“You’re in a Restricted Fishing Area,” he informs her.
“I’m sorry, officer, but I’m not fishing. I’m reading.”
“Yes, but you have the equipment. For all I know you could start at any moment. I’ll have to take you in and write you up.”
“For reading a book?” she replies.
“You’re in a Restricted Fishing Area,” he informs her again.
“I’m sorry, officer, but I’m not fishing. I’m reading.”
“Yes, but you have all the equipment. For all I know you could start at any moment. I’ll have to take you in and write you up.”
“If you do that, I’ll have to charge you with sexual assault,” says the woman.
“But I haven’t even touched you,” says the game warden.
“That’s true but you have all the equipment. For all I know you could start at any moment.”
“Have a nice day, ma’am,” and he left.
Moral: Never argue with a woman who reads. It’s likely she can also think.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Feedback: How To Give It How To Get It

I'm very pleased to welcome Jo Sparkes who's blogging on her new book Feedback: How To Give It How to Get It.
Jo will be giving away a $50 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour.

Feedback … a kinder word for criticism, is an organic component to life.
When a toddler learns to walk, he falls. He screams, cries – and persists. What would happen to the human race if he gave up after a few bumps?
Before we could read self-help books, before we could understand a language and sit in a classroom, we learned by trial and error. “Feedback” is the natural teaching process. It’s how the creator set it up. It’s how the world actually works.
Here, at last, is a simple process for getting the most from all the feedback the world offers us.

Blog question for Jo: What's the best feed back you ever rcv'd, and why.   What's the worst and why.
Do you know, I had to really think about these!
The worst feedback is probably an incident when I was a junior in high school. I were taking a piano class with 30 others. I loved 'playing' at playing, and I was very good at memorizing songs. I had Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata memorized.
Learning to read music, however, was at a rough stage. I could slowly translate it, but not fast enough to play from sheet music.
The day came when we were going to have a recital, and the teacher listened to each student, and gave them feedback on the first six weeks. She complimented my playing, and urged me to be in the recital. I had a few reservations – I knew I couldn't read music, and was performing from memory. She didn't realize that, and I didn't tell her.
Besides, there was a really cool, popular girl in the class, who had all the cute guys hanging around her. She spoke to me – to coordinate what we'd play. I felt like I was one of the in crowd. How could I not play Moonlight Sonata?
As we prepared, my teacher listened and gave a few pointers. So did the popular girl, who was very good, I must say. That little voice in my head whispered I should be careful. But I was enjoying all the attention too much.
The day of the recital had an audience of forty parents, all dressed up and sitting quietly. The popular girl got such applause when she was done, and I wanted to hear that same applause.
I sat down, opened the music, put my fingers on the keys, and played the opening bars. And then my mind went blank. In my nervousness I had forgotten the song. And I certainly couldn't read the sheet in front of me.
I thought, I'll hit this next note – and if that's not it …
I struck the keys. That wasn't it.
I can still hear the dead silence in the room when I stood and faced that audience. “That's all I remember.”
You could hear a pin drop as I walked to the exit. Then there was polite applause – until the closing door cut it off.
Even as I write this now my cheeks are burning red.
The funny thing is, I would have loved to blame that on the feedback, or the teacher, or anyone else but myself. There is no one else to blame, however. And, well, I lived and learned.
The best feedback was when I started a karate class. I was out of college and working by then.
We began as white belts, and most tested for their next belt – an orange belt – within the first 4 weeks. I was not exactly a prodigy, however, and eight weeks later I was very discouraged.
The Master of the Dojo talked to me. He gave me feedback on improving my moves, on getting out of a wristlock, and how to practice a little more effectively. I bit my lip and nodded – feeling very much like that girl who couldn't play at the piano recital.
I think he saw where my emotions were. He took me to a class where the black belts were working hard. I watched them throwing each other around, moving at lightning speed, and looking like all the things I was not.
“You know what a black belt is?” the Master asked me.
“Perfection,” I sighed. “All the things I am not.”
He looked me in the eye. “A black belt is just a white belt who never quit.”
 That one thought has prevailed through a lot challenges. Whenever I'm not sure I'll make it, when I fear I am back at that recital – I look at the great writers, the great teachers, all the people I admire. They only got where they are because they never quit.
And then I push on.
Sandra, thank you so much for having me today!

- Jo

For some reason it's easy to cling to criticism. To walk through the world telling yourself, “I can't act my way out of a paper bag,” or “my work is sloppy no matter what I do.”
     If you think about it, you probably can recall criticism you heard as a child. When I was eight-years-old, I overheard my father tell my mother I was lazy. To this day, if I'm not getting everything done as fast as I wish, if things are piling up on my desk, I can hear him saying, “she's lazy!”
     Clinging to criticism, to all the negative comments or snide remarks we've heard over the years, creates a very heavy burden. If you walk through the world so weighted down, you will inevitably slow and finally stop altogether from the sheer pressure.
     All you can humanly do is what we just did. Take in the information, analyze it, and decide what to do. There is nothing more to be done.
     It – the criticism – has served you. Now send it on its merry way.

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

A well-known Century City Producer once said that Jo Sparkes "writes some of the best dialogue I’ve read." Not only are those words a compliment to Jo’s skills as a writer,but a true reflection of her commitment to her work.
She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Washington College, a small liberal arts college famous for its creative writing program. Years later, Jo renounced life in the corporate world to pursue her passion for writing.
Taking every class she could find, she had the good fortune to study with Robert Powell; a student of renowned writers and teachers Lew Hunter, and Richard Walter, head and heart of UCLA’s Screenwriting Program.
The culmination of those years was the short-film "The Image", which she wrote and produced single-handedly. And in so doing, she became fascinated with the dynamics of collaboration on a project.
Since then, Jo hasn’t looked back.  Her body of work includes scripts for Children’s live-action and animated television programs, a direct to video Children’s DVD, television commercials and corporate videos. She's been a feature writer on and a contributing writer for the Arizona Sports Fans Network; where she was called their most popular writer, known for her humorous articles, player interviews and game coverage. Jo was unofficially the first to interview Emmitt Smith when he arrived in Arizona to play for the Cardinals.
She has adjunct taught at the Film School at Scottsdale Community College, has teamed with a Producer on a low budget thriller, and a Director on a New Dramady.” She went in front of the camera for a video, “Stepping Above Criticism”, capturing a popular talk with her students.
Her new book, FEEDBACK  HOW TO GIVE IT  HOW TO GET IT, shares her lessons learned with writers, and indeed everyone dealing with life's criticism.
When not diligently perfecting her craft, Jo can be found exploring her new home of Portland, Oregon, along with her husband Ian, and their dog Oscar.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Seven Rings of Hell

The HH's theory is any rodent foolhardy enough to make its way into our house must think its entered the seventh ring of hell. For instance:
Last night he heard clattering and banging in the kitchen and ran in to find one of the cat's had caught a mouse. Now the HH has been programmed to extricate the mouse from the cat and toss it outside. If the mouse doesn't get snagged by the outdoor cats its chances of survival rise exponentially. As the HH was heading for the cat to get the mouse, the cat dropped it. The mouse weighed its options and headed for the dog. Chomp. Chomp. The mouse was gone.
Who would have thought a nearly fifteen year old decrepit, deaf, half-blind dog would become a mouse executioner?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sunday: The Day of Rest and Other Stuff

Faux Paw is a big believer in Sunday being a day of rest, along with Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Blogspot has updated. I'm not sure I like the new navigation system. Anyone else having problems with it?

A sharp wind blew off the water. My eyes closed. I stood perfectly still, except for the shudders that racked my achy body as fear and revulsion washed over me like the loud pounding waves below. 

Blogs of interest:
Amarinda Jones
Anny Cook
Helen Woodall
Jennifer Shirk
Julia Barrett

Thursday, April 19, 2012

An E-Book Verdict That Makes Cents

Read about it:

Have you been reading about this? The justice department has actually sued Apple, Penguin, Hachet, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins and Macmillan over their e-book pricing. One state attorney general said that the publishers had inflated the e-book prices by as much as $5.
I found this article fascinating. And it basically reiterates what we've been saying all along, that the larger companies are driving up the cost of e-books.
What does this lawsuit mean for us? Hopefully, lower e-book prices. And for some consumers possibly even restitution.
This ruling has been a huge plus for Amazon, who like to keep their prices lower as an incentive to buy and use the Kindle. Because of Apple's 'favorite nation clause' they weren't allowed to lower their prices, asked by these publishers, below the pricing in Apple's bookstore.
On the flip side, some authors are concerned about the large influence Amazon has over the book market. And this most certainly is a concern.
What's your take on the situation?
Jill Huey is giving away Unbidden, a historical romance today and tomorrow at

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

I Swore I'd Never Get Falsies

Okay, I broke my word. I swore I'd never get falsies, but three of my nails were broken so they glued on false tips. Ever had them? On the very tip of the nails, they glue on extenders that are a mile long. I'm not kidding a mile, okay maybe a couple of inches but they seem like a mile. Then they trim them down to the length you want them. Walla, no more stubs.
You can probably tell my life isn't filled with glamor, glitter and travel to exotic ports of call by the amount of blog time I spend on my nails.
What about you? What breaks up the mundane in your corner of the world?
Blogs of interest:
Amarinda Jones
Anny Cook
Helen Woodall
Jennifer Shirk
Julia Barrett
Shelley Munro

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Battered Women and Their Pets

My son sent me a story that was gut-wrenching on many levels. It was about a Great Dane who threw itself on top of his mistress when she was being beaten with a hammer and ultimately saved her life. Here's the link if you'd like to read the story:
Its hard to believe that some women live in fear of their life from the person who has sworn to love and protect them. Unfortunately, its only too true.
Nearly, forty percent of battered women stay in the situation they're in because they refuse to leave their pets.
Some women live in their cars because they can't take their animals with them to safe houses.
Over seventy percent of abused women have had pets maimed or killed by their abuser.
There are no race, age, or financial boundaries when it comes to abuse. Halle Berry, Madonna, Carol King and Tina Turner have been in abusive situations.
Nearly four million women are beaten each year by their significant other.
Nearly forty-five percent of women who are beaten are beaten during pregnancy.
The average prison sentence for men who kill their significant other is less than seven years.
Every fifteen seconds a woman in the U.S. is battered.
In the United States, domestic violence is the leading cause of injury for women in their teens through middle age.
Abuse normally increases and becomes more violent.
After the Great Dane incident, The Rose Shelter decided to add seven kennels so that more abused women could bring their pets when looking for a safe house.
*If you're interested in making a donation, the link can be found in the article noted above.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Blogging at DowntownYA

I'm blogging today at DowntownYA.
We saw Lock Out, with Guy Pearce, this afternoon. In spite of less than stellar ratings, we enjoyed it. Good action flick.
MINDER is coming May 1.
The beast had hibernated for thirteen years. Now it was awake and hungry.


Blogs of interest:
Amarinda Jones
Anny Cook
Helen Woodall
Julia Barrett
Shelley Munro

Friday, April 13, 2012

My Sister and the Celeb

2012 Westminister Best in Show Champion

My sister works at Purina and has an opportunity to see the winner each year.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Toni Sweeney's Back

Once again, I’ve pulled double duty!

I’ve had two books released within a week of each other! The same thing happened when Sinner, Book One of the kan Ingan Archives came out, and now, history’s repeating itself with Exile, Book Two. The other book is my futuristic novel, Earthman’s Bride, being re-released by Class Act Books on April 15, 2012. I certainly hope it doesn’t happen again with Book Three, because I’m running myself to a frazzle, trying to promote both books without repeating myself.

These two books—Exile and Earthman’s Bride—couldn’t be more different, yet, in an odd way, they’re also a bit alike. One’s about a dynasty which has ruled a planet for over 3000 years, the other concerns a people’s fight against aliens who invade their planet and one woman’s sacrifice to free her people. Common denominator? The aliens in both cases are from Earth.

One thing about writing about a dynasty, it covers a lot of territory and a whole lot of people...centuries of events...millennia of generations... I took the easy way out. I decided to write about the beginning and the end of a dynasty—the rule of the kan Ingans of the Emeraunt Galaxy. My series, The Chronicles of Riven the Heretic (Bloodseek, Blood Curse, A Singing in the Blood, and Barbarian Blood Royal, and soon to come, The Man from Cymene) told of the kan Ingans' origins. My series, The kan Ingan Archives, told of their inglorious end thirty-one hundred years later. I’ll admit I “borrowed” a bit of the plot from an old Greek legend: Phaedra. You know, the one about the young wife who falls in love with her stepson and tragedy follows? But I gave it my own little spin and made it different enough. Spoiler here: The young man doesn’t die. He’s exiled, which to someone like Aric kan Ingan—handsome, pampered, and titled—is almost like dying. When I was finished, and patting myself on the back, I realized it was begging for a sequel, so I began that, but as usual with characters with which I have more than one dealing, familiarity bred contempt—and Aric yanked the plot out of my hot little hands, and, in his superiorly Arcanian way, took over. I paid him back though. In his exiled wanderings, I set him down on a small planet where only a mining colony existed, made him a guard, and surrounded him by…gulp!…Earthlings, hundreds of them, and he’s the only person there who’s not from Terra. That definitely did something to that colossal Arcanian ego, believe you me.

As for Earthman’s Bride…

It started out as a short story which then decided it wanted to grow. Like Phaedra, the story has been told many times before with many variations. I imagine there’s probably a Greek myth about it, too: a young woman given to a conqueror as part of a peace agreement...he desires her...she fears him...eventually they fall in love...

The villains in this story are Earthmen, and definitely not nice people. Having depleted their own natural resources, they head to the stars looking for planets having the elements they lack, and they were ruthless in their determination to get what they wanted. They’ve been fighting a war for 30 years, and now, the rebel leader asks for a truce, offering his daughter as part of the negotiations. Rebeka has been charged with a difficult task…made the Earthmen’s leader fall in love with her and then kill him, and free her people forever.

Of course, Rebeka and Philip fall in love, and that should solve all the problems, but there’s an Artifically Intelligent fly in the ointment…Darius, an android programmed to protect Rebeka. Unknown to everyone, Darius has an empathy chip which enables him to experience emotion, and he’s fallen in love with Rebeka, too…

Aric kan Ingan has to make choices when his uncle returns to Arcanis with his young, Terran wife, and those choices get him exiled to a planet where’s he’s no longer royal and living the lowest life possible. Rebeka, Philip, and Darius also have choices to make and theirs are no less dangerous and heart-rending than Aric’s. Each decision carries with it the possibility for emotional as well as physical tragedy and calamity, and the greatest probability of all…death to those involved.

What do they do? How will their stories end?

Unh-uh, I’m not telling. Buy a copy of Sinner, Exile, or Earthman’s Bride—or borrow a friend’s—and learn for yourself. (I’d appreciate it if you’d buy the copy, of course!)

BLURB for Exile:

What do you do if you’re guilty of a crime--but not the one for which you’ve been convicted?

Aric kan Ingan is a Non-Person, an Exile, stripped of title and citizenship for treason against the Arcanian Empire, crimes of which he is innocent. Caught in the intrigues of a secret society determined to overthrow his uncle’s rule, Aric is accused and arrested, then compelled to allow the evidence saving him to be destroyed when the rebels threaten to reveal his affair with his uncle’s Terran wife. Aric has wandered the Emeraunt Galaxy a lonely decade, and now, destitute and addicted to the two most powerful substances in the Galaxy, he enlists as a guard for a Terran mining colony. Though he doesn’t know it, he’s about to meet the two people who’ll become the most important in his life.

Blurb for Earthman’s Bride:

For 30 years, Rebeka Spearman’s people have been at war with the Edarthmen who invaded their planet. Now, her father wants a truce and offers his daughter to Philip Hamilcar, the Terran’s leader in exchange for peace. Unknown to Philip, Rebeka has her own agenda; she’s to make him fall in love with her, lull him into trusting her, and then kill him, and end the Earthmen’s hold over the planet once and for all.

It’s a great plan, and it might work, except for one thing.

Rebeka and the Earthman have fallen love.

Will Rebeka ignore her people’s plight for her own happiness, or will she give us her love to free her people?

Earthman’s Bride placed first in the 2008 Maryland Romance Writer’s “Reveal Your Inner Vixen” contest in the alternate/SF category. It will be available from Class Act Books on April 15, 2012:

Buy Link for Exile:

Trailer for Exile:

Trailer for Earthman’s Bride:

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Carrier of Souls

I'm blogging today on the Sacred Birman, carrier of souls at Night Writers.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter and Muay Thai

Hope everyone had a great Easter and that the Easter Bunny was good to you.
Yes, he did find his way to our house and left the the much anticipated Fannie Mae.

Speaking of kickboxing class will be testing at the end of the month for armbands in Muay Thai. This particular martial art form uses arm bands instead of belts.
To give you a bit of background: Muay Thai was developed in Thailand as a means of protecting the country against invaders. The warriors of Thailand used the weapons they had: their hands, feet, elbows and knees. For training, they practiced their kicks on banana trees and punched coconuts. Ouch!
There are seven basic punches, three basic kicks, five basic elbows, two knees and the blocks.
Muay Thai is now recognized worldwide.

Sunday, April 8, 2012


Graphics Fairy

Wishing you an Easter blessed with family, friends, happiness and peace.
Oh yeah, and plenty of chocolate:)

Saturday, April 7, 2012


There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.

Albert Einstein

Friday, April 6, 2012

Hard Drive Overload

Last week the HH lost his credit card. The next day he forgot his wallet.
Today...I can't find my phone.
Senior moment? Maybe. But I'd rather put it down to Hard Drive Overload.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Route 66 and Blog Tours

I asked Karen were she would visit if she were taking a trip on Route 66 and here was here response:

If my husband and I were able to take a Rt. 66 trip, there are a number of places I would want to visit.

My first stop would be at Ted Drew's Frozen Custard Stand outside St. Louis, MO. I was only there once, with my dear friend, who died of cancer, and to whom Twyla’s Last Trip is dedicated. I would introduce my husband to the tasty treat and have one in my friend’s honor.

My next stop would be the Stubby Stonehenge in Rolla, MO. I was fortunate enough to have visited the actual ancient megalith in England, but I would be interested to see this partial reproduction. I’m sure it’s better than the Mini Stonehenge from This is Spinal Tap! J

I would not want to miss The Blue Whale of Catoosa, OK. The giant cement whale’s smiling face is irresistible. I would also stop and see the Cadillac Ranch near Amarillo, TX. No Rt. 66 road trip would be complete without viewing the 10 wildly painted cars planted in the desert.

Although I reside in Arizona, there are several Rt. 66 sites I have yet to see! I would visit the town of Jerome, which in known as America's Most Vertical City because it is set on a mountainside. The town is also known for its unique shop and art galleries. I would also visit the London Bridge in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. I also love lighthouses and Lake Havasu is said to be home to more lighthouses than any other city in the U.S In addition, I would take time to go “off the path” and finally visit the Grand Canyon. (I know it’s hard to believe I live in Arizona and have yet to see this natural wonder!)


In the romantic comedy, One Last Class, thirty-two year old, Zak Spencer, is a washed-up teen idol, who decides to rebuild his life by returning to college in Arizona. Trouble ensues when Zak falls in love with the young professor, Amy Campbell, who teaches the one class he needs to complete his degree.

In the romantic comedy, Twyla’s Last Trip, twenty eight-year old, Lucinda Starr is an uptight research psychologist, whose deadline to complete her doctoral dissertation is completely derailed by her estranged mother, Twyla Starr's sudden death. Lucinda must take her mother's ashes on a road trip on Route 66, in order to fulfill the requirements of her will and inherit her fortune. To make matters worse, Lucinda finds herself forced to travel across the country with her mother's easygoing country lawyer, T.J. Yates, who drives her crazy, and his drooling bloodhound, Dakota, who Lucinda finds revolting.

Excerpt from “Twyla’s Last Trip:

Lucinda peered intently into her microscope until Bunny's voice blared from the intercom—again. “I'm sorry to bother you, Lucinda, but Mr. Yates is on the phone. He says he won't hang up until he speaks with you personally.”

Lucinda took a deep breath, stood and exited the lab. She marched over to the reception desk and ripped the phone from Bunny's grasp.

“Lucinda Starr,” she growled into the phone. “How may I help you?”

Thirty-year old T.J. Yates, the epitome of all things country, spoke to Lucinda from his cell phone. “Miss Starr,” he said. “I know we've never met but I've been your mom's attorney now for nearly a decade.”

“Will you please get to the point?” Lucinda interrupted. “I'm in the middle of an extremely important experiment.”

“I hate to be the bearer of bad news but your mom has passed away.”

Lucinda flinched slightly but then it was back to business. “And what does this have to do with me?” she asked.

“Well, Miss Starr, you are the sole beneficiary of your mom's estate.”

“Estate?” Lucinda snorted. “My mother was a cat lady, who lived in a trailer.”

“Miss Starr,” T.J. continued. “I don't think you understand.”

Before T.J. could finish, Lucinda slammed the phone into the receiver and hurried away.

T.J. looked at his cell phone dumbfounded. People never hung up on him, especially women.

Dakota, his two-year old bloodhound, glanced up from her doggie pillow and gave her head a tilt.

“I think this requires a little trip up to Chicago,” T.J. said.

Dakota just yawned and plopped her head back down on her bed.

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Karen Mueller Bryson is an award-winning screenwriter, produced playwright and published novelist. She has been writing since she learned to read and fell in love with books! Karen is the creator of Short on Time Books, a series of fast-paced and fun novels for readers on the go. When she’s not at her computer creating new stories, Karen enjoys spending time with her husband and their bloodhounds.





Short on Time Books:

Karen will be giving away a $25 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Sneaky Easter Bunny

Easter is this Sunday?!? How did that happen? Did it sneak up on anyone besides me?
I just barely started preparations for filling baskets yesterday. I did happen to just glance in the closet (grin) and note that the Easter Bunny had received a Fannie Mae order:)
I'm bound and determined to have all my ingredients this year so I'm not 'hopping' down the road like a mad thing on Easter morning looking for grocery stores that are open.
The menu will remain the same as last year except for topping for the waffles.
Scrambled eggs
Cheddar Hashbrowns
French Waffles with Strawberries
Chocolate Cinnabuns
Whats on your agenda?


Looking for a freebie? Diet Another Day by Pamela Downs is free at Amazon until Friday. com/Diet- Another-Day- ebook/dp/ B007KPLXU4

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Making Maple Syrup and Maple Express Blog Tour

The Process of Making Maple Syrup

The making of maple syrup is a long drawn out process that involves the maple tree. The maple leaf is the national symbol of Canada, where the author of “Maple Express” is from. Canada is well known for its maple syrup, but the maple syrup that Sara Maple’s family is famous for is from the small town of Mapleton, Vermont.

The process begins when the farmer heads to the maple tree forest and the sap is extracted from the tree. In the old days, a small spout was driven into the tree and a bucket installed. The sap slowly drips out the spout and drops into the bucket. This can take many days to a couple of weeks to get enough in the bucket. “Maple Express” began in the same way. The story began to trickle out in small amounts into the computer bucket through the author’s fingertips.

The sap at this stage is a long ways from being clear and pure. It is mostly made of water. When the bucket is filled and the farmer has enough, the sap is then placed in a large pan where it is heated. The sap is brought to a boil. As it boils you need to skim off any foam, removing it and any other particulates that might be on the surface. Remember it takes 10 gallons of sap to create one quart of syrup.

The author of Maple Express had plenty of ideas that filled his brain pan but when the ideas began to boil it became apparent there too many contaminates in the story, so he stopped making it and shelved it for over a year. The maple syrup almost didn`t get made.

With a little prodding from his former neighbors who had been waiting in anticipation for the syrup, the author decided to try making syrup again. This time the syrup began to thicken like it is supposed to. The water began to evaporate and the pure Maple Express showed itself.

This story starts like all stories, a little cool at first with Sara attending school. She wants to skip class and drive to a town nearby but her temper begins to boil over when her best friend says she won’t come along. Angry, Sara sneaks out and drives out of town just as a huge thunderstorm erupts all around her.

Sara never makes it to her destination. She wakes up on the floor of a train surrounded by four other people who don`t know where they are going and don`t really care to find out.

Pure maple syrup is a mixture of the sap from many maple trees. Sara and her four new companions must combine their ideas to find a way to the front of the train and off.

When it finally cools, the sugars will settle to the bottom and the syrup can be poured off the top into jars for consuming.

“Maple Express” is a cool story and is ready for human consumption. You can buy a jar of “Maple Express” as an eBook for $1.99 at

If you want to learn more about the author please go to and to read his blog go to

BLURB: Sara Maple has a comfortable life—the only child of a wealthy family—a best friend who does everything she asks—and the admiration of most of her schoolmates. Unfortunately, her temper and “indestructible” attitude quickly place her in a very precarious position.

“The Maple Express” is a powerful novel that captures the author’s take on the miracle of the human mind. “The Maple Express” delves into the actions and consequences of a young girl who has never had to take responsibility for her actions before. The story brings the reader into a world where Sara’s determination to find her way off the train sends her on an emotional trip that bonds her to her new friends and changes her life forever.

Both young and old readers will love the emotional journey Sara Maple takes them on as she deciphers the obstacles that confront her. Sara’s story ends with a surprise twist and leaves the reader with a sense of discovery about his or her own humanity.


It took Sara a few seconds to comprehend where she was. As best as she could tell, she was staring at an upside down Thomas Cole painting that appeared to be zipping along at a tremendous rate of speed.

The wind in her hair and face made her eyes water and saliva run from the corner of her mouth. Sara closed her mouth and swallowed.

The last thing she remembered was stepping up on the ladder that led to the train engine. When she woke, she was staring at the scenery, dangling upside down, and being held by something that had wrapped itself around her ankle. Her face was mere inches from the ground. She couldn’t distinguish any one individual rock — they were all shooting past her too fast to see anything more than a blur.

Sara turned her head to find out where the noise was coming from. She knew the sound of the wind that rattled past her but the throaty metallic rattle that overpowered it was far more excruciating on her ears.

The wind spun her a quarter turn and what she saw caused a scream to erupt from deep inside. Two large train wheels were spinning along steel tracks. The sound she heard was steel hitting steel. The pistons created the swooshing sound as they pounded the wheels around, propelling the train forward.

Sara looked for something to grab onto but there was nothing within her reach. She felt like a side of beef dangling in a butcher’s freezer.

Author Info:

It only takes a few minutes of thought before Peter Brandt can devise a scenario that would make a fantastic story, and minutes after that before it begins to fill itself in.

“I have been able to think up stories all my life but it’s only been in the last seven years that I realized I was abusing my creative side by not writing them down.”

Peter retired from the Air Force and began a new career as a Technical Writer. His writing abilities have allowed him to work in Canada, the United States and even in the Middle East.

But its Peter’s love for stories that has brought him into a new realm of writing. His humorous memoir about his life as a soldier in the Canadian Armed Forces and the tragic memoir about his father’s life in a Prisoner-of-War camp at the age of 14 allowed him to refine his writing before he began to venture in writing Young Adult fiction.

“I have a very unique way of creating my stories. It begins with a craving, like a recent smoker who just quit cigarettes but still feels the addiction. I can’t shake it until I sit down and begin to let my mind wander. Many times I start my quest for a new story by wondering - What If. Soon after I begin to write and can usually get the first draft completed within a few weeks.

Maple Express began as a “what if” question and I’d share it with you but it would give away the storyline.”

I always write my stories as I would see them on the movie screen, which is why writing screenplays are also something I do. I am shooting a short film I wrote with a friend of mine within the next couple of weeks with another film shortly after.”

Peter has taken formal lessons in acting and has enjoyed some success as an actor in TV and film before his day job as a Lead Technical Writer required him to move out of the country.

“I can honestly say I have landed in the perfect job for me. I love to write...doesn’t really matter what I write, creatively or technically, writing is a pleasurable experience. It has allowed me to travel and for that I am grateful.”

Peter grew up with the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew hardcover books.

“I loved them. I remember sitting under my blanket after lights out, sweating from the heat and the fear that gripped me as Joe and Frank carried on with another of their adventures.”

It is with these wonderful stories in mind that Peter wrote “Holly Alexander and the Mystery of the Courthouse Square.” This young adult novel will be released summer / fall 2012.

“I never really grew up. I have tried to write for adults but I find it difficult. I was a small, shy, and bullied kid growing up. I was nothing special. I had terrible grades, no idea what I wanted to do with my life and, totally foreign to me. After I joined the Army those years faded quickly and I guess it has caused me to want to get those years back.

That is why I crave writing about young people who feel they are nothing special until I put them in a position where they have no choice but to become someone they never dreamed they could be. It is very uplifting for me to make heroes out of young people who believe they have nothing to contribute. It’s an eye opener for me as well as for them when it happens.”

Pete continues to write and publish through Simple Simon Publishing, a different type of publisher.

“Simple Simon Publishing is all about turning authors into entrepreneurs. For too long authors have felt dependent on the closed loop publishing industry to discover them and make them successful. Simple Simon’s philosophy is you are not just an author but the best person in the world to sell your and your writing.”

Peter and his wife Carly have five kids who are all grown and on their own.

Peter has some original prizes he's giving away at the end of his tour. Two winners will win a pint jug of Butternut Mountain Farm Vermont Pure Maple Syrup, Grade A Dark Amber, in honor of the main character of The Maple Express, Sara Maple, from the small town of Mapleton, Vermont. One grand prize winner will win an awesome Bachmann Trains Pegasus Ready-to-Run HO Scale Train Set.

Tour dates can be found: