Thursday, August 30, 2012

I Got the Sunshine Award!


The Sunshine Award is awarded to bloggers whose positivity and creativity inspire others in the blogosphere. I am delighted to have been awarded one by Jennifer Wells, author of Magick Charm (A great book which I read.) and Practically Dreaming! (A book which is now on my TBR list.) Go check out her blog here.

Here are the rules for accepting this award:

* Link back to the person who gave me the award.
* Answer the following questions.
* Nominate ten bloggers for the award.
* Link my nominees to the post and let them know about the award.

How easy is that?

Now you get to see the questions and my answers. :^)


What is your favorite Christmas/festive movie?

It's a Wonderful Life has always been my favorite Christmas movie. It's old but it chokes me up every time, and hubby always watches it because there is a scene with an accordion in it!

What is your favorite flower?

This is a tough question. Flowers are all beautiful. I love every single one--wildflowers, invasive weeds, and as well as the cultivated kinds. However, even more amazing than the colors and shapes are the fragrances unique to each bloom. My top three for fragrance: roses, lilacs, and lily of the valley--though even the lowly clover has a deliciously sweet scent. I simply cannot choose a favorite. They are all wonderful.

What is your favorite non-alcoholic beverage?

I drink large quantities of tea, mostly ordinary black tea--sometimes with skim milk and sometimes without. I let it steep forever until it is really dark and lukewarm. In the evening I'll drink herb tea. My current favorite herb tea is Celestial Seasoning's Bengal Spice. I don't put sugar in my tea, which makes it very low in calories. :^)

What is your passion?

Aside from writing, I do oil paintings. Lately, I've been doing a series of seascapes. My paintings are very detailed and it takes me forever to finish a painting but I enjoy every moment. I also like to sing, which is a good thing because hubby sometimes wants me to sing along while he plays the accordion.

What is your favorite time of year?

I enjoy cool, fresh air so fall is the best. Spring is good if it's not raining. Summer is too hot, and there are mosquitoes waiting to drink my blood. Winter would be great without all the snow. Snow is pretty, but it turns into ice and that makes walking dangerous.

What is your favorite time of day?

Every hour of the day has its good points. I like to be up when the sun is up, and I enjoy being busy in the morning and in the afternoon. Nevertheless, the peaceful time after supper is done and the dishes are put away is a lovely part of the day. I rarely stay up late. Nightime is for sleeping.

What is your favorite physical activity?

I have never been good at most sports, although skating was a favorite of mine when I was younger and lived above a lake that froze over every winter. I used to enjoy bicycling, too, when I was younger. Now, I have a recumbent bike, which I like because I can exercise and read at the same time. I also like to walk. I tried the gym for a while, but I hated it--mostly due to the music.

However, hubby signed us up for a bocce team and we are now playing bocce. So far, I think I will be able to handle this game. It's easy.

What is your favorite vacation?

I like to go to places that are full of history and old houses. I loved Williamsburg and Plimouth Plantation. I also love to visit the homes of famous authors like Harriet Beecher Stowe and Mark Twain. But I don't always have to go that far to find old houses because New Jersey has plenty of them.

Here are several of my favorite bloggers and my nominees for the Sunshine Award:

1. Veronica Singleton at Thursday's Child

2. Irene Peterson at Days of Glory

3. Jon Gibbs at An Englishman in New Jersey

4. Debora Dennis at Scribbling Through Time

5. Kim McMahill at Embrace Adventure

6. Kiersten Hallie Krum at Two Left Shoes

7. Janet Lane Walters at Eclectic Writer

8. Aaron Michael Ritchey at The Blog of Ritcheyanity

9. Lindsey R. Loucks at Jesse Said Yes

10. Katie O'Sullivan at Author. Editor. Mommy. Dog Whisperer.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Summer in the Past

As summer draws to a close, I have been thinking about summers in the past. When I was young, my family drove (in our non-air conditioned car) out to southwestern Pennsylvania to visit my mother's family. That was our vacation. Every year. We never went to Aruba, Paris, or even Miami. Nope. We visited my grandparents, my aunts, uncles, and cousins. Since my mother had five brothers and one sister, we had a lot of relatives to visit. For the most part, we stayed in my grandparents' home because the majority of the relatives lived nearby--except for my aunt in Ohio. We had to drive even further to visit her.

My siblings and I slept in the attic at my grandparents' house. It was stuffy and hot. No air conditioning there either. It did not exist.

We had fun as I recall. We jumped into the hay in the barn. We picked wildflowers and berries. (Even if we handed Grandma a dandelion, she put it in a vase.) My mother made pies and jam from the berries.

The photo above was taken in 1966. It shows my mother's father and my father discussing world events--a coal miner and a journalist. My grandpa came to this country when he was sixteen and became a coal miner. He always spoke English with a heavy accent. While he had little formal schooling, he was smart, talented, and artistic. He maintained a small farm and built three houses on his property over the years.

Nothing was ever wasted in his household. He built a loom and in the wintertime he made rag rugs from scraps of fabric because nothing was ever wasted. I studied the rag rugs when we visited in the summer and could recognize former clothing woven into the rugs.

The pace of life slowed as we listened to everyone talk. In the evenings, we all moved to the front of the house because it was shady there. The house sat on a hill. A two-lane highway stretched below it and we simply listened to the conversation and watched the cars go by. No television, no radio. Sometimes heat lightning on the other hills gave us a little show.

Nobody complained or said they were bored.

Simple was nice.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

I Grow Stories, Not Plants


If I were a farmer, I would starve. So far this year, my chives, oregano, and basil did well. They must be hardy plants. I gave up growing tomato plants years ago because I would need an eight foot high fence to protect them from the deer. This year, deer ate my cucumber leaves.

However, deer are not my only problem. I have a brown thumb. Either there's too much shade or not enough. Either there's too much water or not enough. Maybe the soil is anemic and needs fertilizer or maybe I need to mulch.

I work well with words, but plants are impossible. If I type a story and save it, the document stays in the same place, ready to greet me the next time I open it. If I dig a hole, drop in a plant, and water it, it dies or gets eaten.

My sister, the horticulturist, gave me a flowering plant, Bouncing Bet. She thinks I may not be able to kill it. The flowers resemble phlox, but Bouncing Bet is an invasive weed. This is great. Invasive weeds survive on whatever rain falls on them. They don't need fertilizer and flourish in nutritionally deficient soil.

I found some interesting information about bouncing bet online. (Check it out here.) The plant is toxic. The deer should get a tummy ache. Perhaps they'll avoid my yard. Then I can spend less time outside trying to make things grow and more time writing.

Growing stories is fun.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Round Robin

I participated in a writing round robin with the authors of the Prism Book Group. A round robin has nothing to do with the bird of the same name. In a writing round robin, everyone takes a turn writing a segment of a story. This can be fun--or it can be a nightmare. Since I was scheduled to write the ending of the story, I was a bit nervous. In addition, since hubby and I went on our long road trip to Florida, I knew I would have to wrap everything up in the story after we returned.

We returned on Friday. I spent Saturday working on the ending of the round robin. I finished by ten o'clock that evening. It presented quite a mental challenge, but I found it a fascinating. The story, After the Storm, will be offered free at the publisher's website once it is edited. The first round robin, Lightning Strikes, put together by the authors at the Prism Book Group will be offered free at the website during their grand opening kick-off on Wednesday, August 22nd. There will be an opportunity to win a Kindle and a pitch day for aspiring authors.

So visit the Prism Book Group and join in the fun!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

A Matter of Taste

When Babci makes up her mind, there's no stopping her. She insisted upon buying a shirt for hubby and a blouse for me. We did not believe we needed anything new, but that did not matter to Babci. We went to Beall's.

Buying clothing is not fun for hubby in general and when she picked out a polo shirt, he groaned. He never wears polo shirts except in the band since the band's summer uniform is a polo shirt. However, I saw a tropical-style summer shirt with bright colors and bold flowers--the kind hubby favors in the summertime and pointed it out to Babci. She swooped it up and put it in the basket. Hubby muttered how he didn't really need another shirt, but it was an inexpensive shirt so he did not grumble too much.

My turn came next. Babci went to a rack of women's blouses and picked up several blouses with designs of the type she favors, the kind with large pastel flowers. (Maybe hubby's love of crazy tropical shirts is genetic.) It was actually rather funny because she kept pulling blouses off the rack that resembled stuff in her closet.

But that's not me. Lately, I tend to choose solids.

I found a simple pink tee and a somewhat fancier brown tee. Real exciting stuff.

Nevertheless, Babci was happy because she succeeded in giving us gifts. At least, we had a choice. A shirt or blouse given as a gift that is never worn is a waste of money.

Everyone has their own style and that sense of style extends to far more than clothing. It includes books.

I am not a fan of science fiction or vampire novels. I've read a few, but they do not appeal to my taste as a rule. To me, vampires are the bad guys and all that blood-sucking is gross. I liked Bram Stoker's Dracula, because Dracula dies in the end.

But that's just me. Plenty of people enjoy those types of books and that's great. Reading is supposed to be fun.

What was the worst gift you've ever received?

Monday, August 06, 2012

Thirty-Six Years

Hubby and I were wed on August 7th, 1976. Tomorrow is our thirty-sixth anniversary. Happy Anniversary to us! How time flies.

Friday, August 03, 2012

No-Wilt Lima Bean Salad

I found this recipe in our local newspaper six years ago and it has become a favorite, probably because I love lima beans, but the feta cheese is a real treat, too. I've taken this to many summertime potluck suppers and it always disappears so I know there are others who have enjoyed it.

Ingredients:

* 1 bag, 1 lb frozen lima beans ( approximately 3 cups )
* 1 sm red onion finely chopped
* 2 cups chopped tomatoes
* 1/2 bunch fresh parsley chopped
* 1/4 cup chopped green or black olives
* 1 tsp dried oregano
* 1/2 cup olive oil (I've used less and it's been fine.)
* 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
* 2 garlic cloves minced
* 8 oz feta cheese crumbled or as desired
* Salt and Pepper to taste if needed

How to make it:

* Cook beans to pkg directions and drain and cool.
* Combine remaining ingredients except cheese.
* Add lima beans and feta cheese.
* Mix to blend. Taste for seasoning
* Chill well, about one to two hours.

Serves six.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Special Guest: Jenn Nixon


Today I am offering a special feature! One of my author friends, Jenn Nixon, has had a new book released, Lucky's Charm. Jenn’s love of writing started the year she received her first diary and Nancy Drew novel. Throughout her teenage years, she kept a diary of her personal thoughts and feelings but graduated from Nancy Drew to other mystery suspense novels.

Jenn often adds a thriller and suspense element to anything she writes be it Romance, Science Fiction, or Fantasy. When not writing, she spends her time reading, observing pop culture, playing with her two dogs, and working on various charitable projects in her home state of New Jersey.

Here's the blurb for the book Lucky’s Charm:

To protect her family and find a killer, Felicia “Lucky” Fascino assumed her adoptive father’s identity and joined the network, an organization of moral assassins to finish the job he began. Eliminating the man responsible for murdering her mother has consumed her for the last five years. While keeping her Uncle Stephen and cousin Elizabeth at arm’s length, Lucky begins to feel the weight of her career choice and reclusive lifestyle. Then a chance encounter with an enigmatic hit man, during one of her jobs, turns into a provocative and dangerous affair. Distracted by the secret trysts with Kenji Zinn and mounting tension within her family, Lucky makes reckless mistakes that threaten her livelihood and almost claim her life.

Excerpt:

Lucky learns her uncle is retiring…

When Lucky decided to step into her father’s network shoes, one stipulation had been telling Bet. Although she wasn’t pleased to learn Lucky killed people for a living, Bet eventually accepted the truth.

During the last year, Bet integrated herself into network conversations and privately mentioned suspecting her father had been into something shady for a while. She’d been right. However, the more she learned about what Lucky did, the more she’d want to know. Always a cousin first, Bet was big on family and didn’t mind shoving her nose in everyone’s business. The reasons were simple: a family had to stick together. Most families handed down a farm or at least a tax preparation business, but contract killing was way out in left field.

Family first. That was their expression, had been for years. Bet said it more than once: family doesn’t turn their backs on each other. Even though Lucky never told her the real reasons that she did what she did, Bet had always been there to help.

“There’s not going to be any trouble is there? I mean, do people quit from this business and live to talk about it?” Lucky glanced over at him. It was rare a contract killer made it to “retirement.” The cops found you because you got sloppy, someone else killed you, or like her father, it wore you down and diseased your body. Handlers had a certain amount of anonymity and better survival rates, but they were still at risk.

“The network likes to keep tabs on those who opt out, just for safety reasons, but there’s no reason to fear retribution from Ruddy and his partners or other contractors. He knows I’ve been thinking about it; the few I know won’t be surprised either. Some think we’ve gone soft because of the earlier jobs I’ve turned down for you.” He pressed his lips together in a tight smile.

“Hey, don’t give me shit; you know how I feel about those scrap board jobs.” She ran her finger along the edge of the shelf and turned back to the fire. “I’ve kept us in so we can keep digging, and I’ve made us a lot of money.”

“Luke was the same way. He wouldn’t take a job unless he felt justified.” He patted the spot beside him, and when she sat down, he wrapped his arm around her shoulders. “You have enough money saved to call it quits too.”

The thought had crossed her mind many times over the last five years. What would it be like to feel normal again? Stop killing and start living. Lucky had no idea. She was in so far, so deep, she didn’t know if there was a way out for her. Even if she did get “out,” what would she do? Contract killing didn’t exactly give you real-world skills to work in an office building or retail store.

It didn’t matter; getting out was a long way down the road. She still had an obligation to fulfill to the people who adopted, raised, and loved her. Questions needed answers. She and Phen hadn’t come close to those answers in all the years they’d been searching, but maybe his renewed focus could change things. Her life stayed on hold until she fulfilled her promise and gave her parents a bit of peace.

“You know I can’t quit,” Lucky said, resting her head on his shoulder. She allowed herself a moment of comfort from Phen; he was still her uncle, despite knowing what she had to do to keep that promise. “When you get me some solid leads and I find out who killed her, I’ll stop. Until then, Lucky lives.”

You can find Jenn Nixon at her website:
www.jennnixon.com

Or her Facebook page:
www.facebook.com/JennNixonAuthor

Check out her tweets, too!
Twitter: @jennnixon