Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Scored at the Bookstore

I got quite a good haul tonight from the UBS (used book store). This is the first time I've purchased one book from each of four different sections of the store. Tonight's treasure includes:

"Touch of Evil" by C.T. Adams & Cathy Clamp, Tor 2006 - A paranormal romance by authors I've enjoyed in the past. In fact, these two are the only Tor romance authors I've found who write consistently good books.

"Harvest" by Tess Gerritson, Pocket Books, 1996 - I love Tess Gerritson's books, and I think this is one of only two or three books of hers that I'm missing.

"Endurance" by S.L. Viehl (also known as Paperback Writer), Roc, 2001 - I've looked for this one several times at the local B&N because Ms. Viehl on my "Autobuy-New" list. However, they've been out, and I haven't to buy it on-line because I don't want to charge anything to my credit card because of the mercenary sharks that I have to deal with there (a rant for another day).

and finally

"Gathering the Bones", an anthology of short horror stories, edited by Dennis Etchison, Ramsey Campbell and Jack Dann, Tor, 2003 - a remaindered book that showed up new and less than half price at the UBS. I'm not sure why this sounded good, except that I've been reading some horror stories on-line, and I'm craving some professional writing. I prefer intellectual/psychological horror to the blood-'n-guts, but I'll just have to read to find out I suppose.

Now I just have to find the time to read them all...

Monday, December 25, 2006

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A Reading Fiend

I’ve been on a reading glut since NaNoWriMo ended (and no, I didn’t win – otherwise you’d be seeing the little winner icon over there in my sidebar.) I cleaned off my shelves and took the books I no longer wanted to the used book store, where I traded them for credit and/or other books.

One of the books that I traded for was “The Ultimatum” by Susan Kearney. I’ve previously said that I won’t ever spend money on her books again, and I stand by that. (Trading isn’t really spending money.) I was pleasantly surprised, however, because “The Ultimatum” was better than her previous books. For one thing, the hero and heroine of this book are both likeable. A review is coming soon. She also has a fourth book coming out; I’ll likely trade for that one, too. It’s the last in the series.

Then there are the Montana authors:

I read “Iced” by Jenny Siler. The story is set in Missoula, Montana, where Ms. Siler lives and a place that I am familiar with. Which was much of my problem with this book. More on that later. It’s also clear from her writing that Ms. Siler is a big fan of James Crumley (another Montana author). Her style is VERY similar to his – short, choppy sentences and a gritty, seedy, noir feel to the story.

Patricia Briggs’ “Moon Called” was the last book I read. I thoroughly enjoyed this story, and I intend to check out Ms. Briggs backlist. More on this later, too.


So when I get back to my highspeed Internet access, I’ll put in the links to the books on Amazon. But for now, if you want to do more, you’ll have to a bit o’ cut and paste.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Editors Behaving Badly

I used to read this blog rather regularly, but today I quit.

In one of the comments on Ms. Genoese’s first post today, a poster mentioned not liking Susan Kearney’s “The Challenge” (Ms. Genoese is the editor who bought/handled this book for Tor.). I posted a response in agreement saying (and I’m paraphrasing here for reasons that will become clear below) that I thought Ms. Kearney was a good writer, had a good imagination, and knew how to put a story together, but that the “forced seduction” in the story ruined the romance for me because I thought that to be insulting and demeaning to the heroine. I also said that I liked the heroine a lot; I just thought she deserved better treatment than the hero gave her. Finally, I made it clear that this was just my opinion, and I knew that others had different ones.

Does that sound harsh? I didn’t think so. The nice stuff started out the post, and I also mentioned a couple of other books put out by Tor that I really enjoyed. And "forced seduction" is a topic that's been discussed in on-line romance circles before, and people have a variety of opinions. I was curious what others thought.

So this afternoon I checked back to see if any discussion had occurred on the posts and found the posts had been deleted. Ms. Genoese had this to say in her second post today:


Two things that make me crankier: when people slag off on my authors in the comments, and…(Don't bother going to look for them [the posts]--after I made snotty remarks to the posters, I screened the posts. I am totally piqued.)...Go write rude things about my authors and me [on your own blogs].(This is not to say that everyone is supposed to agree with me all the time. Far from it. However, gratuitous rudeness and a confrontational attitude is not welcome here.)

Later, in the comments, she referred to me as an idiot.

WTF?

Slagging off on her authors? Um, I said nice things about the author. In fact, I said nice things about several authors. I said I didn’t like certain aspects of this particular story.

Confrontational? **scratching head** I have no idea how what I wrote could be seen as confrontational.

Gratuitously rude? **scratching head still** WTF?

I never saw her “snotty comments” so I have no idea what she said in response to my post. Maybe that would explain her choice of adjectives.


Now I respect Ms. Genoese’s right to delete whatever comments she wishes – it’s her blog after all. And maybe I shouldn't have posted anything at all. Perhaps this was not the venue for this discussion. However, I strongly object to having what I wrote so grossly mischaracterized. I like Tor’s paranormal romance line, and I’ll continue to read/buy the books – but my days of reading Ms. Genoese’s blog are over.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Catching Up

It’s been one hell of a busy week.

I found out at a meeting on Monday afternoon that a project deadline had been moved up a week and that I had to have it done by Friday – as in yesterday. Grr.. That meant some long days, where I went in at 6:00 or 6:30 in the morning, stayed until 5:00 p.m., took a break, and then went back later in the evening.

To make matters worse, I also had a training seminar to go to from 11:00 to 1:00 on Friday. I already knew about 90% of the material, but I get Continuing Ed hours for it and it was free – so it was worth my time. I also took a colleague with me and about 60% of the material was new to him (and he really needed to learn it!).

I haven’t totaled up my hours for the week, but I think I’m approaching fifty. I got home from work last night, had a glass of wine, and fell asleep on the couch. It was that kind of sleep that is hard to come up out of, where something wakes you but fighting back to full consciousness is almost impossible.

So what else have I accomplished this week?

Outlining for my NaNoWriMo novel: zilch

Writing on first draft of story for Lynn Viehl’s challenge: zilch

Revising two poems for submission to an e-zine: zilch

I did attend a couple of talks at the Book Festival going on here today. One panel included four authors who, for various reasons, have self-published. One of the authors was RoseMarie London, who was a finalist in last year’s Needle Awards (see POD-dy Mouth). Another author was a girl who wrote a novel while she was in high school, and her parents loaned her the money to self-publish her novel as a senior project. It was interesting stuff, and I’ll write more about it soon.

The second panel was about fiction writing, and five authors discussed their latest works and their writing process. Two of their books sounded interesting enough that I’m probably going to buy them. My only complaint is that all of the author’s write literary fiction. There were no genre authors on the panel. It’s a minor complaint, though, because the discussion was still good.

And to top off the day, I score big time at the used book store tonight. I found Holly Lisle’s “Midnight Rain”. I have read her “I See You” (loved it) and “Last Girl Dancing” (liked it). I also found a second book by Annette Blair called “My Favorite Witch” I just finished her “The Kitchen Witch” and loved that as well. This book is about one of the secondary characters in the first book.

And finally, though I hate to admit it, I bought another Susan Kearney book, “The Dare”.

***ducking and running because asked someone to shoot me if I ever bought anything by her again***

It’s just that the main character of this book, Dora, was so funny in the last one. If the book includes any “forced seduction” scenes, well, I used my trade credit for the book…so it’s not like I spent actual money on it.

I’m trying to get caught up on reviews, but I haven’t much lately that’s been really snarky-worthy. Most of it has been just bland and unmemorable. Except for a couple of gems that I will touch on in the next post.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Pictures from Yellowstone (hopefully)

I've set up an account at photobucket to hold my Yellowstone pictures. Let's see how well this works...

Picture of a bison grazing

Bison and baby bison

What Park visitors like to call a "bison jamb" and, of course, a minute later.

We also saw a moose and baby. I haven't cropped the picture, and the woman you see in it is standing on the shoulder of the road. That's how close these moose were to the maybe 20 carloads of curious tourists.

This is Grand Fountain Geyser, quiet with the sunset behind it (I'll have to get the erupting geyser pictures from Youngest Sibling's camera this weekend). These are all of the photographers who showed up to take pictures of the geyser.

Pink Cone Geyser also erupted while we were nearby.

Some of the hot springs are very large and give off a lot of steam. Note the size of the people on the boardwalk in front of the spring.

This is the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone (you have to be there to truly appreciate their size):

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Inspirational Romance Gone Bad

So I'm browsing through the romance section of my local Wal-Mart Superstore the other night, and mindful of my monthly book budget, I grabbed a couple of series romances. I found out later that one of the two books -- "Silent Enemy" by Lois Richer -- was actually an inspirational romance. Not that you could tell that until you read the fine print on the back of the cover page.

Hm.... Inspirational romance is SO not my thing. But I decided to give it a try.

I'm about half way through, and this book is actually better written than many of the Harlequin Intrigues that I've read recently. I had been enjoying it. It's inspirational suspense, heavy on the suspense, light on the inspirational. Cool.

[A short time out here to say that I consider myself spiritual, but not religious in the organized-must-go-to-church-to-worship sense. A lot of God-this and God-that would have quickly turned me off.]

But then I got to the stupid part.

*sigh*

Our hero, who so far has come across as quite intelligent, educated, clever, etc., says of a tropical island paradise, "I can't figure out how Darwin could see all this and stick to his theories. It's obvious that only God could put this paradise together, that it didn't just happen to evolve."

**Julie repeatedly bangs book against nightstand** [Note: tossing books is too hard on my doggie's nerves so I've resorted to pounding the books on something hard. I'm seriously considering changing my rating scale to how many times I pounded the book]

Gr!! OK, look. Creationists drive up a frigging wall. The evidence for evolution is, frankly, overwhelming and anyone who espouses, in this day and age, that evolution is a myth is not...Oh, I don't know...not thinking rationally.

I have friends who are both scientific and religious. I have read books by scientists who are religious. I even took a course in college about religion and science. The generally accepted idea among those intelligent and articulate people seems to be that evolution did happen and that God was responsible -- for evolution that is. That evolution is part of God's plan for not just humanity, but this entire world that we know.

I can live with that.

The people who make me crazy are the ones who insist that the world was created 6006 years ago, that carbon dating is all wrong, that God created humans out of dust or ribs or whatever, etc. Grrr. Did God create the laws of physics or did he not? If he did, then carbon dating isn't wrong. If he didn't, then that opens a lot of questions for another post.

I know that I wouldn't be very popular with the Kansas Board of Education, but I hope I haven't offended anyone who actually reads this blog.

I'll keep on reading the novel because I (mostly) like the characters and the central mystery is intriguing. I just hope the let's-ignore-rational-thought trend does not continue.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Yellowstone Park and Back

The trip to Yellowstone was a much-needed break for me. Youngest Sibling and I made a girls-only trip of it. The weather was much better this year – only a minor bit of rain one evening – than last year, when it snowed SIDEWAYS on us for most of a day and a half. Brrrr….. That trip, we spent a lot of time standing in the steam from the geysers and springs, so much so that I think one of my sweaters still smells like sulfur.

Highlights of this trip include:

  • Seeing Castle Geyser, Grotto Geyser, and Grand Fountain Geyser erupt. I’ve seen Old Faithful several times and have been underwhelmed. The other geysers were much better. Grand Fountain was pure luck. We had a little time left in the day and decided to drive by it on our way out of the park. As we got near, we saw a lot of cars parked on the road, so we stopped and went down to the boardwalk. There we were told that the geyser could start erupting any time in the forty minutes. We stayed. We watched it erupt off and on for about 40 minutes while the sun set behind it. Awesome!


  • Seeing one coyote, two moose (mama and baby), three bears (mama and two babies), 227 elk and 326 bison (many babies). We also saw an osprey hunting, but unfortunately, he didn’t spot any fish while we were watching him. ….OK, I didn’t really count the elk and bison; it just seemed like that many.


  • Hiking to several beautiful falls and one lake, where we caught on (digital) vidoetape a flock of Canadian geese landing on the mirror-like surface of the water.


  • Getting asked three times if Youngest Sibling and I were still in school. *ego stroke* I’ve been at my current job full-time for 15 years.

  • Getting asked once if Youngest Sibling and I were twins. She’s nine years younger, and she’s blond. Sort of. And I’m, well, not.


  • Getting called “you girls” twice by a waitress who was maybe 24.


  • Seeing the license plates 46 of 50 U.S states (and also 5 Canadian provinces). Yes, we started counting.
  • Hearing at least 8 different languages – and we probably heard more. Those were just the ones we could identify.

So the question for my few readers is... How does one say, "Hey, stupid, get away from that bison" in another langauge, any language? I know how to say it "auf Deutsch", but after that I'm stuck.

I ask because I know that my Red-Cross-certified first aid skills are not sufficient to deal with goring injury from a bison.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Patience

I just got back from vacation (and I left the Internet behind except for the occasional check of my e-mail). I have a seminar to attend for work this weekend, but I'll be back to blogging next week.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Review of "Going to Extremes" by Amanda Stevens


Another review is up.

Check it out at Book Snark.

Grade: C

My Last Word on Plagiarism (for this month)

Some of the commenters on my Glass Houses thread apparently do not understand plagiarism and how plagiarism differs from copyright infringement.

Generally, copyright infringement means using another person’s words without his/her permission (there are exceptions for fair use, of course). If the copyright holder gives a blogger permission to use the words, then the blogger can do so without infringing on the original author’s copyright.

Plagiarism means using another person’s words and passing them off as one’s own. Or we could use the definition found in “A Pocket Style Manual”, 4h ed., 2004 Bedford/St. Martin's, pp 228-30 – "Three acts are plagiarism: (1) failing to cite quotations and borrowed ideas, (2) failing to enclose borrowed language in quotation marks and (3) failing to put summaries and paraphrases in your own words." (Rose is guilty of all three of these, in my opinion.)

So if the blogger from the second paragraph takes those words (for which she has permission) and tries to pass them off as her own by not citing them properly, then the blogger has plagiarized. Note that the blogger can have permission from the copyright holder and still be guilty of plagiarism.

Let’s look at an example to understand:

Lily is an aspiring, but rather crappy, poet. She loves the work of Anne Sexton. So she visits Madame Zora who contacts Ms. Sexton and asks for permission to use the first three lines of “With Mercy for the Greedy” in a poem. Ms. Sexton, not quite herself after being yanked back from the afterlife, says, “Sure, honey, go ahead.”

Lily then writes the following poem and vanity-publishes it as part of a collection:

To Ralph

I luv you so much.
I luv you so much it hurts.
But you sumtimes write to me and
Concerning your letter in which you ask
Me to call a priest and in which you ask
Me to wear The Cross that you enclose;
I think your stoopid to say such a thing
To me. Because you know I’m Knot relijus,
so their.


Let’s see…Lily has permission to use the lines, so there is no copyright infringement. But Lily has failed to put the lines she used in quotes and has failed to say anywhere that Ms. Sexton wrote them. That’s plagiarism. Ms. Sexton saying, “It’s OK to use my words” is not the same as “it’s OK to use my words and to pretend like they are your own.”

And even if Ms. Sexton, tired of Madame Zora’s fake Romanian accent and cheap perfume and wanting to get back to the Elysian Fields where she has been unusually happy, had said “what the heck, it’s also OK to pretend they are your own” – does that really make it OK for Lily to deceive the reader? Does that make it NOT plagiarism?

No. It’s still misrepresenting the words of others’ as her own work. It’s still plagiarism.

In Rose Desrochers’ case, she may think she has permission from ECT to deceive her readers. But ECT can’t give her that. No one can.


The following lines -- “Concerning your letter in which you ask / Me to call a priest and in which you ask / Me to wear The Cross that you enclose;” -- are from the poem “With Mercy for the Greedy,” by Anne Sexton, from the book “All My Pretty Ones,” Houghton Mifflin, 1962.


I should also add that the copyright holder for Ms. Sexton's work is most likely her estate or heirs, so in reality, Lily would have needed a less mystical method of obtaining permission to use Ms. Sexton's words. But that wouldn't have been as much fun in the example...

The Long Hot Summer...err..Weekend

So the weekend was a bit of a blur...

We're remodeling our dining room, which once upon a time (long before we bought the house), was a sun porch. The guilty parties who turned it into a closed-in room used things like old 2x4's--and I mean real 2" and real 4" wood--chunks of glulams, and newspaper to infill the walls, and their ability to frame a square and plumb wall is not in doubt. They didn't know how to do it. Grr.... But the electrical is mostly done and the new sheet rock is up. It needs more mud and much sanding, but it should be ready for painting by mid-week. Then we just need to replace the floor, and we'll be done.


I did get a couple more book reviews finished. I'll post those soon. I also read an awesome book this weekend that I can't snark about at all. It's "I See You" by Holly Lisle.

<-----

I hadn't intended to read the WHOLE thing at once, but I got started and I just couldn't put it down. This is how romantic suspense ought to be written!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Voices, Voices Everywhere...

One hears a lot as an aspiring writer about voice and letting the reader get to know characters through their dialogue. You don’t want your characters to sound alike, whether they are narrating (meaning first person from the character’s POV) or speaking. One book that impressed me greatly in this regard is “House of Sand and Fog”, by Andre Dubus III, published by Vintage Books, 1999.

"House of Sand and Fog" tells the story of two (well, actually three, but the two following are the main characters) people. Colonel Behrani moved his family from Iran to the U.S. in the wake of political violence that threatened their lives. Wealthy in Iran and now almost broke, he uses the last of his savings to buy a house at auction. This house will be the start of a new life of financial independence. Kathy Nicolo is the previous owner of the house, which was mistakenly siezed by the city and put up for sale. Her house, left to her by her father, is one of her sole possessions, and one that helps hang onto her sanity. The story centers around the two characters as they both fight for possession of the house. Of course, the story is much better than I’ve made it sound here (go read it! Oprah even recommends it).

The story is told in the first person, alternating between Kathy’s and the Colonel’s points of view. Dubus distinguishes the voice of the characters by using different language, sentence construction, and word choice. The Colonel’s sections are also told in the present tense, which usually drives me up a wall, but in this case, just added to the tone of those sections. You can flip this book open to any page, read a sentence or two and instantly know who is narrating – the differences are distinct.

For example, here is the Colonel narrating:

“Many summer evenings, instead of sleeping on the sofa in my office, I rest on the carpet near the sliding door of the terrace with my head on a pillow beneath the leaves of the tree plants my Nadi cares for like her own children. Last evening the sky was clear, and sleep came for me as I watched the stars through the screen.

I rise with the first light from the east, and, after a shower and shave and a breakfast of toast and tea, I wake Esmail for his newspaper route. Then I dial the Highway depot and inform them of the summer flu I am suffering.” (pp 23-24, TP edition, 1999)

And here is Kathy narrating:

“My husband got to miss all this, that’s what I kept thinking, that he didn’t have to be around for any of this, and I was stuck at the El Rancho Motel in San Bruno. It was a shitty little one-story L of rooms wedged between an electrical parts warehouse and a truck-stop bar near the 101 Freeway ramp…

…I was dying for a cigarette, which made me even madder because I hadn’t smoked one since a month after Nick left, and I hadn’t craved one in five. So I chewed
gum.” (pp 34, TP edition, 1999)

I highly recommend this book, whether you care about characters’ voices or not.

P.S. TP edition means trade paperback edition - not something else y'all might have been thinking.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Time Out for a Rant (Not Writing-Related)

Several years ago, eight blocks of a main arterial street in my city were changed from a pot-hole-ridden undivided four-lane to a divided four lane with a beautifully landscaped median and new lighting. Great! I drive this street back and forth several times a day--to work and back, and I go home for lunch. Traffic moves better than ever.

EXCEPT...

Every other week, the common-sense-challenged folks at the city perform routine maintenance on the median landscaping--during the morning rush hour. Yes, during rush hour!

They block off the inside lane in each direction so that they can park their service trucks and unload the mowers and leaf blowers and trash bags. What the hell are they thinking? Why can't they do the work between, say, ten and eleven a.m. after traffic has calmed down? The Lord--or maybe the workers' union--only knows.

This morning traffic was backed up several blocks as drivers tried to merge into one lane. Grr... I might have to find a new route to work.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Silhouette Bombshell RIP

The sad news today is that as after January 2007, Harlequin is terminating their Silhouette Bombshell line because of poor sales or as the announcement says, "Silhouette Bombshell has not been able find a broad-based readership".

The Silhouette Bombshell line is my favorite of the series romance lines. I'm a romantic person at heart, but I find a lot of the romance sans mystery or action to be too, um, boring. Particularly if it involves a secret bride, a secret baby, or cowboys. An endless dissection of a relationship simply for the sake of the relationship puts me to sleep...

Heroine: Does he like me? What did he mean when he said that? Was he being critical? Am I fat? Is he jealous of my very good male friend/neighbor/co-worker? Why do I do such stupid things all the time? etc etc etc

Hero: Does she like me? Does she hate me because she didn't go to bed with me? Why do I bother to try to help her? Why does she talk to my friend/her friend/her co-worker more than me? What does that mean? Am I fat? etc etc etc

*yawn*

The Bombshell line featured savvy kick-ass heroines. The line varied from the traditional romance book formula by allowing books to be written in the first person--not requiring, just allowing. Stories could also be told in the third person and stay in the heroine's POV for the entire book. I liked this a lot. I like being along for the heroine's ride and not knowing what the guy is thinking or planning until he says it or does it.

Harlequin Intrigue has the mystery, but the books still follow the third person, alternating heroine/hero POV formula. The focus is also more on the guy saving the day, not the girl. These are a weak alternative, in my opinion--but they will be all I have for a while.

Of course, there's always paranormal romance...kick-ass female vampires/werewolves/witches...

Monday, August 14, 2006

Mini-Plug for Buying New Books (Instead of Used)

I know that I talk a lot in my reviews about getting books from and returning books to a used book store. I do this--get and return books, that it--because like most of us, I don’t have a huge amount of money to spend each month on books. The library would be free, but they don’t carry what I want to read. Going to this store lets me to read each book for about ¼ of its cover price. Not bad.

A friend of mine suggested that I join Booksfree.com. I looked into it, and I’m tempted. As many books as I can read delivered right to my door for a nominal charge each month. Considering how many books I go through each month, this beats even the buy/read/exchange method.

However, there are some authors whose books I always try buy new – Lynn Viehl, Victoria Strauss, C.T Adams and Cathy Clamp (they write as a team), and a few others I'm sure will occur to me in about fifteen minutes. Here’s why:

Buying new makes sure that my opinion--Hey, I like this author’s writing!--gets counted.

I want publishers to know when I really like something, and the best way to let them know is by buying that product from them. Buying new also means that the author gets a cut of the money you spend on the book.

So support your favorite authors. Buy new whenever you can!

Occupants of Glass Houses

Plagiarism is a hot word on the Internet these days. Just look at the recent Kaavya Viswanathan scandal and Cassandra Claire fanfic mini-storm. Plagiarism is a very real problem, and one that should be taken seriously.

Let's look at the case of a certain blogger. Rose Desrochers has many posts on her website about supposed plagiarism on the 'Net. I'd actually call her rather rabid about "exposing" people and accusing them of stealing, copyright infringement, and other vile things. There appears to be no gray in Rose's world. Everything is black and white, and when something is black, it is BLACK!

Well....

Yesterday, she posted an item on her blog regarding a news article on Internet service providers' methods of cracking down on child porn. A good subject for a blog, no doubt. However, here are excerpts from her post about the article side by side with the wording from the original article. Note that Rose's post includes no quote marks to indicate the passages she lifted from the article.

Rose: …will be jointly building a database of known child porn images, creating a unique mathematical signature for each as well as develop other tools to help network operators and law enforcement better prevent distribution of those images...

Original Article: …will jointly build a database of child pornography images and develop other tools to help network operators and law enforcement better prevent distribution of the images.

Rose: AOL, plans to check e-mail attachments which are already being scanned for viruses.

Original Article: AOL, for instance, plans to check e-mail attachments that are already being scanned for viruses.

Rose: If child porn is detected, AOL would refer the case to the missing children’s center for further investigation.

Original Article: If child porn is detected, AOL would refer the case to the missing children's center for further investigation ...

Hmm, a clear-cut case of plagiarism in my opinion.

In all fairness, it is hard to summarize a news article about something this specific without quoting large chunks of it. That doesn't make it right to do it, it just means one needs to be very careful -- OR -- if it were me, I would have just quoted the first couple of sentences literally and with attribution and then directed my readers (all four of them!) to the full article.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Review of "Parallel Lies" by Kate Donovan



I've finally gotten a review of "Parallel Lies" posted at my other blog. Check it out.

My TBR pile has also increased dramatically thanks to a giveaway I won at Lynn Viehl's blog. She blogs frequently, and if you are a writer, I highly recommend including her blog on your daily "must read" list.

I've got a couple more reviews I'll try and get finished over the weekend, but no promises. Lots going on, and the weather is far too beautiful for me to spend my time sitting inside in front of the computer. Maybe what I need is a laptop with WiFi. I could sit outside at my favorite coffee shop and write to my heart's content.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Review of "The Challenge" by Susan Kearney



I've got a review of "The Challenge" by Susan Kearney up at my other blog, Book Snark.

More to come...

Monday, August 07, 2006

Long time no post

Work has been kicking my butt lately, so I haven't had time to devote to the old blog.

I'm really behind on book reviews right now. I may do some shorter ones just to get caught up because I really really need to clean off my bookshelves. I'm afraid for my dog every time he bumps against them trying to find a place to curl up and snooze. He's a bit skittish--even if he is 60 pounds--and his psyche would be greatly damaged if a pile o' paperbacks fell on his head.

I've got a couple romances to snark about including "Parallel Lies" by Kate Donovan and "The Challenge" by Susan Kearney.

Oh my God. *sigh*

Someone shoot me if I ever even consider buying another Susan Kearney book. I've read two books of hers now and in both books, the hero--and the author--seem to find forced sexual enounters not only acceptable but good way to arouse the heroine. Huh? In both books, the heroine should have knocked the hero over the head with the nearest heavy object and then called the cops (at least for the book set on planet Earth). In "The Challenge", the heroine repeatedly responds to the hero treating her badly (treating her like a child, demeaning her, etc.) by seducing him. Yeah, 'cause an erection will solve every character defect.

No more Susan Kearney for me ever. Never. I'm finished. Done. Finis.

And I want the four hours back that I spent reading the last book.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

And While We are on the Subject of Thorns...

Rose Desrochers has been busy lately. I don't keep tabs on her rampage across the Internet, but for some of her latest antics, check out the following:

Pooper's Scoops' post What a Weekend for Gossip

Katie's Blog (many posts).

James Landrith (Both "Ugly Roses" and "Shriveled Roses" have the bulk of the comments).

I also found an article that Rose has posted at free content sites around the Internet. The article is called "Don't Feed the Trolls" and contains this memorable statement (one of many, believe me!): "What is it that makes people twist the truth to justify their own needs?" My response to that question is, "I don't know, Rose. Why don't you look into your own heart and find the answer."

Previous Post on Rose Desrochers

The search feature here at Blogger is not turning up my oldest post on Rose Desrochers. So here they are again:

Portrait of a Narcissist - Part One

Portrait of a Narcissist - Part Two

Monday, June 19, 2006

Catching Up on Book Reviews

Well, it's been a busy couple of weeks on the reading front. I'm hoping to get caught up on book reviews shortly. I did find a couple of good books in my TBR pile, but since it's generally easier to write snarky reviews than glowing reviews that don't sound too fan-girly, the good reviews may wait for a bit.

The grade A books were:

BioRescue by Lynn Viehl
Last Chance Saloon by Marianne Keyes

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Literary Agency Red Flags

Literary agency web sites are cropping up like crazy these days. How to tell the good from the bad? Well, here's one red flag. When the agency posts misleading statements such as:

From the Desert Rose Literary Agency (member of Writer Beware's "Twenty Worst Agents") web site--

"...most agents avoid unknown writers and only want to work for authors who are already published."

From the Aspirations Literary Agency web site--

"Thousands of writers are turned away each year because they are unable to get past the stigma of being unpublished or self-published."


No and no. There is no stigma to being unpublished. Agents avoid writers who don't write well or whose work the agent doesn't feel strongly about. New writers probably find it hard to get an agent because about 95% of them simply don't write well enough--yet. I know I'm in the "not yet" category.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Barbara Bauer in Action

The Barbara Bauer Literary Agency has been listed as one of Writer Beware's "Twenty Worst Agents." Victoria Strauss and Ann Crispin run Writer Beware and spend many hours tracking scam agents and sometimes even assisting law enforcement in bringing them to justice (Yay!). The list is the culmination of a lot of hard work.

Tha list was posted on the Absolute Write forums back around mid-March. Then, a couple days ago, according to Teresa Nielsen Hayden in a post at Making Light, Barbara Bauer called Absolute Write's hosting ISP and pitched a hissy fit. Said fit resulted in the ISP taking Absolute Write off the air with an hour's notice. The post and the comments following explain it all.

Never fear though, Absolute Write will live on! The database is being uploaded to a new server, and Barbara Bauer is receiving a lot of negative attention.

ETA: Not too long ago, I--just for fun--requested a brochure from the Barbara Bauer Literary Agency. What I got was amusing. I'll blog about it more later when I'm not so caffeine-deprived.


Thursday, May 18, 2006

"The Deep Dark" by Gregg Olsen

I picked up "The Deep Dark" (Three Rivers Press) by Gregg Olsen on my last trip to Costco. The book is a closer look at a deadly fire that started deep in the Sunshine Mine, in Kellogg, Idaho, on May 2, 1972. The Sunshine Mine was a hardrock mine, the richest silver mine in the U.S. They extracted silver and other precious metals. While fires in coal mines were more common--and typically more dangerous (think: lots of fuel for the fire)--fires in hardrock mines were relatively rare. The mines were hot, but often very damp. And the only fuel source, so everyone thought, was the (wet) timbers that formed the bracing for the tunnels and shafts.

On May 2, a fire started near the main exit from the Sunshine Mine, a mile-long tunnel 3700 feet below the ground that led from the surface shaft to the shaft that took miners down to 4700 feet and deeper. Smoke quickly filled the mine. One hundred and seventy four men were in the mine that day. Just under half made it out. Of the ninety-three men trapped in the mine, only two survived--thanks to a small pocket of fresh air from a small, newly-bored shaft. The two survivors were stuck 4800 feet below ground with only a dim light and almost no food for seven days--until rescuers could clear out enough smoke and get the appropriate rescue gear to get into the mine. Carbon monoxide poisoning killed the other men.

I almost didn't buy this book. I love non-fiction stories like this, but I am one heck of a claustrophobic. Or perhaps I should say crush-trophobic. I can stand small spaces like closets or elevators. But try to get me into a cave or a crawlspace of a building? Eeek. I feel the same way about mines. You could not pay me enough money to go 4800 feet underground and then a mile down a horizontal passage away from the WAY OUT.

The book was great. It was a little slow to get going. The author follows a large number of people throughout the event, and it takes a while to get everyone's history. A bit too long, in my opinion. However, after the first 50 pages or so, once all of the main characters are in the mine, the pace of the story picks up. The author does a great job of bringing these people to life, and even though this story is true, it has all of the drama that makes good fiction.

I'll admit that about half way into the book, I just had to know what had caused the fire (which was something that puzzled the mine safety engineer at the time), so I jumped to the end and read the epilogue before finishing the rest of the book. Yes, I can be impatient.

I'd recommend this book to anyone.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Arrogance and Ignorance

So I'm reading the PublishAmerica boards again tonight (yes, I really was that bored!), and what do I find but more arrogance and ignorance from an aspiring writer.

The thread starts out innocently enough. The orginal poster states that when he tried to order a PublishAmerica book at a local Barnes&Noble, he was told it was a POD and was subtly discouraged from buying it. OK, fine. The saleswoman was trying to warn him, even at the cost of a sale. Perhaps not the best business sense, but then PublishAmerica does publish America's slush pile.

It's the second post that prompted this blog entry. Here is what the poster says:

It's also the attitude that they have at B&N in Mishawaka, IN..The people at Borders must have gotten the virus too, because their attitude is the same. My guess is that none of them has ever had a book published, with their name as AUTHOR. Since they can't do what so many PA authors have done, maybe there is a tinge of jealousy hidden away and it only comes out when they have the opportunity to put someone else's efforts down. They seem to enjoy the 'arrogance' of having done nothing.

Say what? The saleswoman wants to be an author, too, and is jealous? He doesn't know that. The poster just assumes that, because he wants to be a published author, the saleswoman has the same goal. I mean that must be the answer, right? Because it's not like PA offers unedited books with limited returnability and bad discounts to bookstores. How outrageously ignorant. How outrageously arrogant (on the poster's part). Or as Miss Snark would say--how outrageously clue free.

Slushpile has a good discussion on a related topic.

(And actually if the saleswoman wanted to be PA author, God forbid, all she would have to do is submit 60,000 words of whatever, and if she got in before the daily quota was reached, she'd be offered a contract. Of course, if she was turned down, she could just keep trying earlier and earlier each day until she hit the jackpot.)

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Traffic Control Follies

So about five years ago, the City decided to repave the street I live on. It's five blocks long and is a school and city bus route as well as a feeder into this residential area. And the street needed it, I'll admit. The pot holes had taken up arms and were demanding a toll price from drivers--five bucks or one of your axles, thank you very much. Repaving sounded like a good idea.

Homeowners were informed that broken sections of sidewalks would be replaced at the same time. Still fine, even though that's going on my property taxes for the next six years.

However, the City also decided that they needed to do something to reduce the speed of traffic on our street. Huh? Even though the City did a speed study and found the 80th percentile of traffic speeds was under 25 mph, something apparently needed to be done to curb those horrendous speeders flying up our street at 23 mph. For those who don't know, one of the bases for setting speed limits on streets is that 80% of the drivers will drvie at safe (or slower) speeds. So a speed study is done to determine the speed that 80% of the drivers are travelling at or slower than. And that's the speed limit.

So what to do? The letter that we got from the City said something about a roundabout at the end of our block (the second block). I've driven through roundabouts on busy streets in the Bahamas, but on a one way, lightly travelled, residential street? We would have lost two parking spaces on each side of the street on both sides of the intersections--that's eight parking spaces! The snowplows' rare winter appearances on our street would have been eliminated completely because the 12 foot blades could not have gotten past the roundabouts. It was also unlikely that the school and City buses could have made it around the obstruction.

So the City said they would put in a small roundabout--maybe six feet in diameter. Oh, yeah, that's better. Now instead of a nicely landscaped roundabout, we get a concrete circle that will go untended for years until it cracks and disintegrates and turns into urban blight. Unless someone ran over it in the dark and took out an axle or a oil pan or something. Then we could have urban art. A dead car in the middle of the road.

I went down to City Hall and met with the guy handling the project. He told me other speed-reducing items they were considering, including speed bumps and speed tables. All bad ideas in my book. Speed bumps and speed tables would have also prevented snow plows from operating on our streets, and we would also have to listen to every single car, truck and bus going down our street hit the brakes, down-shift, step on the gas, and up-shift again. I moved to this location to get away from traffic noise. This was crazy, and I argued strongly against it.

Finally--and I don't know if they listened to me or others, or just plain changed their minds--the City decided that they would narrow our street two feet and install curb "bump-outs" at the intersections. OK, I could live with that. Those things wouldn't change traffic on the street one bit.

Five years later, traffic still moves at the same pace down our street, but the number of cars being sideswiped has risen. My sisters's car had been hit twice, and the neighbors' brand new truck with less than 50 miles on it currently needs a brand new bumper.

We also had a bus get stuck on our block one winter. The street had been blessed/cursed that morning by the City plow. The plow had run down our street and piled two feet of snow in the parking spaces at the edge of the street. Not out of the street, mind you, in six feet between the street and sidewalk, but IN the street. A friend came to visit me, and he parked on the street (no other option) far enough from the curb that he could open his door and get out of his pickup truck. Thirty minutes later, a cop is knocking on my door. Will we please move the truck, he says, because the bus can't get up the street. The bus had apparently driven up the block, realized it couldn't get past the truck, backed down the block, gone around, and called the cops.

I told the cop we would move it, but that the bus driver should have called the street department instead.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

A Sad Day for Writer's Digest Magazine

So I was browsing through the magazines at my local Barnes and Noble this afternoon when I noticed the current issue of Writer's Digest. This issue had their yearly list of the "101 Best Web Sites for Writers." I had to look.

I agree with some of their choices: Absolute Write, Agent Query, Agent Research, Dictionary.com, Fiction Factor, Google (my favorite search engine!), NaNoWriMo (yes, I did this last year), Preditors and Editors, Ralan's SpecFic & Humor Webstravaganza, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Toasted Cheese, Writers Weekly, and Writers.net. I have experience with all of these web sites, either as a participant or as a lurker who has gleaned valuable information about the publishing world. Toasted Cheese is a lit mag which publishes very good poetry and short fiction.

I did, however, find the inclusion of one site to be troubling, That site is todays-woman.net. I have encountered--and blogged about--the webmistress of that site before, and a friend of mine was a member of that site (which shall not be linked to on my blog). Horrible experiences all around. Swearing, name calling, the throwing about of accusations--all from the webmistress with the slippery grasp of English grammar, spelling, and reading comprehension. It's dissapointing to see such poor site get a mention when I can think of half a dozen other sites that provide better information and a more supportive learning environment than that one.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

I am a Purple Flower...

Still in the test taking mode, I tried another couple from Blogthings and here are the results:


You Are a Purple Flower

A purple flower tends to represent success, grace, and elegance.
At times, you are faithful like a violet.
And other times, you represent luxury, like a wisteria.
And more than you wish, you find yourself heartbroken like a lilac.



Your World View

You are a fairly broadminded romantic and reasonably content.
You value kindness and try to live by your ideals.
You have strong need for security, which may be either emotional or material.

You respect truth and are flexible.
You like people, and they can readily make friends with you.
You are not very adventurous, but this does not bother you.


What's funny is that I find these two results to more accurately describe who I think I am than the previous test (am I really schizoid?)

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Book Reviews Have Been Moved

I've moved the previously posted book reviews to my new blog, which will be just for reviews and such. This will still be my main blog.

The other blog has a wider main column, and I think reads a lot better for longer posts. Now if I can just figure out how to get my previous posts to show up as a list in the side bar....

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Maybe I Need a Shrink

So I took this Personality Disorder Test on-line (thanks to Devrie for the link). You, too, can aswer a mere 55 questions, and all of your personality flaws will instantly be revealed. Here are my results:




Let's start with Schizoid, which the site defines as "individual generally detached from social relationships, and shows a narrow range of emotional expression in various social settings." However, the author of the test also adds a note that he or she doesn't think schizoid is a real personality disorder. Hmm...well, I am still single at 38 and do tend to like my space. But does that mean I'm schizoid?

The site defines antisocial as "individual shows a pervasive disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others. " The site defines narcissistic as "individual has a grandiose view of themselves, a need for admiration, and a lack of empathy that begins by early adulthood and is present in various situations. These individuals are very demanding in their relationships."

I honestly have no idea which answer(s) led to a high scores here. I do respect the rights of others, and I expect others to do the same for me.

I also try to get along with people, perhaps more so than I should. In my line of business, I sometimes have to suck it up and be the bad guy--not be rude or insulting, just be the person who says "it has to be done like this, period, no arguments." I often find that hard to do. People tend to get emotional when ordered around, and I find emotional conflict, well, uncomfortable. I have a co-worker who is very good at addressing and dealing with emotional conflict, and I have learned a lot over the years. But I still don't like it.

Maybe I do need a shrink?

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Writer Beware's 20 Worst Literary Agents

From out in the blogsphere comes the following list which was created by Writer Beware. These are the agencies about which Writer Beware has received the most complaints over the last several years. [ETA on 6-4-06: I've added the preamble in bold below at the request of the fine folks at Writer Beware.]:

Below is a list of the 20 literary agencies about which Writer Beware has received the greatest number of advisories/complaints over the past several years.

None of these agencies has a significant track record of sales to commercial (advance-paying) publishers, and most have virtually no documented and verified sales at all (book placements claimed by some of these agencies turn out to be "sales" to vanity publishers). All charge clients before a sale is made--whether directly, by levying fees such as reading or administrative fees, or indirectly, for editing or other adjunct services.

Writer Beware recommends that writers avoid questionable literary agencies, and instead query agencies that have verifiable track records of sales to commercial publishing houses.

Note that while the 20 agencies listed here account for the bulk of the complaints we receive, they're just the tip of the iceberg. Writer Beware has files on nearly 400 questionable agencies, and we learn about a new one every few weeks.
  • The Abacus Group Literary Agency
  • Allred and Allred Literary Agents (refers clients to "book doctor" Victor West of Pacific Literary Services)
  • Capital Literary Agency (formerly American Literary Agents of Washington, Inc.)
  • Barbara Bauer Literary Agency
  • Benedict & Associates (also d/b/a B.A. Literary Agency)
  • Sherwood Broome, Inc.
  • Desert Rose Literary Agency
  • Arthur Fleming Associates
  • Finesse Literary Agency (Karen Carr)
  • Brock Gannon Literary Agency
  • Harris Literary Agency
  • The Literary Agency Group, which includes the following: Children's Literary Agency, Christian Literary Agency, New York Literary Agency, Poets Literary Agency, The Screenplay Agency, Stylus Literary Agency (formerly ST Literary Agency), and Writers Literary & Publishing Services Company (the editing arm of the above-mentioned agencies)
  • Martin-McLean Literary Associates
  • Mocknick Productions Literary Agency, Inc.
  • B.K. Nelson, Inc.
  • The Robins Agency (Cris Robins)
  • Michele Rooney Literary Agency (also d/b/a Creative Literary Agency and Simply Nonfiction)
  • Southeast Literary Agency
  • Mark Sullivan Associates
  • West Coast Literary Associates (also d/b/a California Literary Services)

I got this list from a post at Absolute Write. I highly recommend this website to all writers.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Rain, Rain, and More Rain

Today's post is dedicated to my new little SUV.

In the 24 hours between 10:00 p.m. Wednesday and 10:00 p.m. Thursday, we received a near record rainfall--almost 2 inches. Now keep in mind that our average yearly rainfall is only 12 to 15 inches, and you'll have some idea of just how much water is still sitting on our streets and in people's basements. My basement fared quite well. We have a little water in one corner of our wine room, but since it has a concrete floor and walls and I have a Wet/Dry Shop Vac, nothing has been damaged.

The worst part was that I had to make a 240 round trip to a seminar yesterday. I left before the sun rose. It was pouring rain, and the highway was covered in large puddles of water that were really hard to see in the dark. Can you say "hydroplane"? I also had to go over a mountain pass, and as the road climbed upwards, the rain turned to slush and then snow and then lots of snow. Fortunately, the pass had been plowed and sanded.

Up until recently, I've always driven cars--mostly smaller, front wheel drive Chevy models. Then last summer, I bought a Chevy Blazer. It's better for my work and for hauling my babies around. Yesterday, I was digging the one-touch electronic shifting into 4-wheel drive. I remember as a young girl, the 4-wheel drive vehicles we had required one to get out and lock the front hubs--ususally in deep snow--before trying to force the lever on the floor into another position.

Ahhh, technology.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Review of "Silent Reckoning"


Grade: D

Silent Reckoning by Debra Webb
Silhouette Bombshell, December 2005

This review has been moved to my other blog.

Monday, April 03, 2006

An Older and Snarkier Review - "Her Last Defense"



Grade: C

Book Title: "Her Last Defense"
Author: Vickie Taylor
Publishing Info: Silhouette Intimate Moments, August 2005


This review has been moved to my other blog.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Review of "The Diamond Secret"


Grade: B

"The Diamond Secret" by Ruth Wind
Silhouette Bombshell, March 2006

This review has been moved to my other blog.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

First Rights, Critiques, A Rant...And All That Jazz

Those of you who post your writing anywhere on the Internet really need to read the latest post at the Writer Beware blog. Ms. Crispin makes two very good points, in my opinion. I have been a member of several on-line critique sites, but about eighteen months ago I stopped posting any of my serious work on the Internet for the very reasons mentioned in the blog:

One: By posting your work on the Internet, you can use up its first publication rights.

Copyright and first publication rights are two different things. You always own the copyright to your work (unless you specifically grant/sell it to someone else). What publishers want to purchase are its first publication rights. If you can't offer that--if you can only offer reprint rights--you're going to be out a big bunch of dough.

Second: Many writing/critique sites are (mostly) the blind leading the blind.

I find this to be true as well. At the sites I have participated in, I have always found a handful of members whose opinions I value, members whose critiques appear to be based on a real and working knowledge of fiction and poetry. A handful of members. Meaning I don't have to take my shoes off to count them. The majority of the members, however, seem to lack this knowledge and although sincere in their desire to help others improve, they have little of substance to offer. (OK, let the hate mail begin.) That said, I do think it is important to consider any and all critiques you receive on your writing, even if they are offered by someone who doesn't know much. There may still be one little kernal of truth, one little nugget of observation, one little...Ok, you get the picture...that makes you see your story or poem in a new and interesting way.

And now a mini rant. At one site, a few critiquees who didn't like my comments blasted back with, "Well, you haven't posted any of your work for me to read, so your comments are worthless." Arrghh. My blood pressure rises just writing that. The sheer stupidity of that statement is amazing. News for those people: if you can't discern the worth of someone's critique of your writing just by the critique, then you have a long, long, LONG, LONG, LONG, LONG way to go before you are writing at a professional level.

*sigh*

Writing and critiquing are two distinct--although related--skills. I believe that, as we learn to critique others better, our own writing skills can become sharper. We learn to see weaknesses (characterization, plot, POV, narrative, etc.) in the work of others, and then we can apply that knowledge to our own writing.

However, that also means that to become better writers, we need to learn to distance ourselves from our writing. We need to be able to look at writing objectively. I know through experience that I need to let at least a week pass between the writing of a story and the editing. During that week, I gain some emotional and intellectual distance from it, so that I can look at it with fresh eyes.

/end rant. off soap box....

Monday, February 20, 2006

Someone Asked for Pictures...

Since Snarky Writer asked for doggy pictures, here are a few. These aren't the best, but until I get my digital camera working again, I guess they'll do.

The black dog is my baby, the one who needs his pack:






















The brown dog is our anti-social gal:

My House, The Construction Zone

Well, I survived the weekend with my sanity and both dogs intact. The new kitchen cabinets are finally installed, and I’ve begun to research how to bring someone back from the dead—specifically, the person who built our house back in the 1920’s. I’d like to throttle him. He was either drunk or working with a faulty level when he built the walls and soffits. There’s not a square corner in the room. The soffit over the sink is a full inch lower on one side than the other—that’s a one inch drop in about seven feet. Two of the walls that should be parallel were two inches (!!) wider at one end of the room than the other, and one of the other walls bows out so that the room is 1-1/2” wider near the ceiling than it is at the floor. Arrgh.

However, after much practical geometry, creative use of a table saw and shimming, the cabinets are as plumb as they’re ever going to be. With a coat of primer, they look pretty darn good. And of course, there’s always crown molding to disguise the flaws we couldn’t fix without completely gutting the room.

The best news is that I have a brand new, shiny, black, functioning stove. Yay!! We were getting very tired of microwave and convenience store food. Now I’m coveting my new sink, which unforunately must sit in its box for a few more days.

The dogs handled the chaos surprisingly well. One of my dogs thinks people are only there to feed her, scratch her butt, and let her out to bark at the neighbor dog. She pretty much left us alone, bless her anti-social little heart. My other dog, however, is afraid of many, many things, including the Shop-Vac and the “smack” of his tail hitting things. He insists on being right in the middle of his “pack”—even when two of them are holding up a three foot long cabinet and the third is on a step ladder and wielding a drill. *sigh* At least he didn’t end up with primer all over him.

Tonight we do the dishwasher. Then it’s on to countertops and painting…lots and lots and lots of painting.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Philosophy will have to wait

I had intended to discuss my trip to the sunny south a bit more, but that will have to wait. My dad has been in the hospital twice in the last week to have an angioplasty done. Actually, the first time was just for a look at where the arterial blockages were. The second time--this morning--the actual procedure was done. The good news is that he came through it well and will be home tomorrow. The bad news is that this had to happen at all.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Back in the land of snow and ice

OK, I'm back and horribly jet-lagged at the moment. Flying east didn't bother me--maybe the excitement of the trip took the edge off--but flying west really knocked me for a loop. It took us about 18 hours of traveling to get from the airport in Freeport (Grand Bahama Island) to my front door. Ouch!

Grand Bahama was wonderful. The temperature stayed between 63 F and 73 F the entire time. Ahh, balmy and mild. Thunderstorms rolled through on Saturday afternoon, but otherwise we were able to stay outside and active most of the time. We rode horses on the beach one afternoon (and I'm still sore!) and took a glass-bottom boat tour over a coral reef another day. We saw sharks, grouper, and other fish whose names currently escape me.

One of my weaknesses is seafood. And I ate quite a bit of it the last few days. Lobster, snapper, and conch, in particular. I wanted to try grouper, but I couldn't bring myself to eat it deep-fat fried--or "cracked" as the Bahamians call it. Conch was the best of the bunch by far. Conch--which is basically a large snail-like shellfish--is very meaty and has a subtle flavor. It isn't slimy like clams or oysters. It makes for a very filling meal.

More observations are to come, but for now, I must actually do some work. Have to pay off all those credit card bills from the trip...

Monday, January 30, 2006

Going on Vacation

Wow, it's been a long time since my last post. But I have been busy...

I've bought into the business that I have worked for for the last 14 years, and I have been promoted to the Vice President (and yes, we have only one Vice President). Yay for me! And now I'm taking my first real vacation in two years.

On Wednesday, I'm headed to the lovely Bahamas for a week. A little sun...a little sand...a little rum...and maybe even a nice island boy.

I promise I'll start posting more often after I get back!