Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Guest Post by Author of "Moa"!!

Please enjoy this guest post by Tricia Stewart Shiu, author of the paranormal YA novel with a literary bent Moa. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including $600 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, 5 autographed copies of Moa, and 5 autographed copies of its sequel, Statue of Ku.


The Story Behind Moa
by Tricia Stewart Shiu

I've always loved Hawaii and was thrilled when my husband booked a visit for us to see his relatives in Honolulu, Hawaii in October of 2006. We packed light and brought our daughter, who was three-years-old at the time.

Our condo was close to parks and monuments that oozed history. We enjoyed wandering around and indulging in the local cuisine. I even tried poi and liked it!

The morning after we arrived, I rose early to push my daughter’s stroller through the quiet, cool morning air. It felt like such a gift to experience Honolulu before the rest of the island was up.

After a hearty island breakfast, we headed out for a morning at our favorite sandy reprieve, Kuhio Beach. The water was calm and protected by a breakwater. Our daughter enjoyed digging and splashing and my husband and I sat sit nearby without worrying about the strong current.

Afterward, we headed back to our condominium, ate a light lunch, and took a luxurious siesta. Although I'm not usually a mid-day napper, the fresh sea air and sun lulled me into a light sleep—the kind where I felt like I was awake, but I was actually deeply asleep.

I heard a voice say my name and a part of me awoke. I use the word “part” because I could definitely feel my body touching the soft material on the couch. And yet, another part was keenly aware of a young woman with dark hair standing over me. It felt real, but dream-like, so I decided to go with it and ask her her name.

She pronounced a long Hawaiian string of letters, which seemed to go on for minutes. After repeating the name three or four times, she told me to call her “Moa.” Through my exhausted, sleepy haze, I remember being skeptical. If this was, indeed, a dream, I would ask as many questions as possible. So I did.

Why was she here? Where did she come from? How could I be sure she was who she claimed to be?

Instead of any answers, she flashed a mental picture of a woman and said that she was a long lost friend of my husband’s. She told me her name and explained that my husband’s family and she had lost touch 15 years before and had been orbiting around one another trying to reconnect.

I awoke from that nap, slightly groggy. That was an indication that I was definitely asleep. Perhaps it was just my creativity kicking into overdrive, I reasoned, and decided to go on with my day. We walked to a park with my daughter and began playing. Suddenly, there was a squeal and my husband and I turned to see the woman from my dream charging toward us with her arms stretched out wide. As she spoke, I tried to gather my wits. Here was the same woman from my dream, someone I’d only seen a mental picture of, and she was standing on the grass right in front of me.

She and my husband exchanged numbers and promised to keep in touch. For the next few hours, I tried to make sense of what happened. I had never had an experience like this before, but there was no denying that I saw a picture in a dream before I met someone and then they showed up in real life.

When I went to sleep that evening, Moa visited again. She answered the other questions I’d asked earlier that afternoon and wanted me to know that I was protected and should share my experience with the world. Since this was definitely my first metaphysical encounter, I had no idea how to form the correct words to share what had happened. How on earth, I asked Moa, am I supposed to convey such undocumented, unsubstantiated, unusual information?

She said that our world exists on many levels which all play simultaneously. Her analogy was of a DVR. Several shows can be playing at the same time but are on different tuners. That, she said, is where she existed.

When I awoke, I began writing and continued to do so. The story evolved into “Moa,” then the sequel, “Statue of Ku.” My daughter, now seven, took the cover photo and illustrated, as well. The photo was taken a few years ago on the North Shore as we played on the beach. The artwork has been compiled over the last two years.

Since my visit with Moa, I began an extensive and sometimes circuitous search to explain my metaphysical experience. I took classes on mediumship, Huna, energy work and through my education, I learned to create healing essential oils and elixir sprays and incorporated that information in the book. Not only did my experience with Moa inspire me and guide me through four-and-a-half of the most challenging years of my life, I also believe that writing about those events and including information I received about that inspiration and guidance, brought my own deep physical, mental, emotional and spiritual transformation and healing. Writing, editing and publishing Moa has opened doors to a new way of understanding myself, those around me and the energy we share.

Whatever your belief or understanding of the metaphysical world, I believe that if one person is transformed through learning, then we are all transformed. I truly believe the Moa I met came through in this work and, just as I connected with her as I wrote, those who read the book will experience her as well.


As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Moa and Statue of Ku eBook editions have both been dropped to just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing either of these fantastic books at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include $600 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, and 5 autographed copies of each book.

All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment--easy to enter; easy to win!

To win the prizes:
  1. Purchase your copies of Moa and Statue of Ku for just 99 cents
  2. Enter the Rafflecopter contest on Novel Publicity
  3. Visit today’s featured social media event
About Moa: Eighteen-year-old, Hillary, anticipates adventure as she embarks for trip to Honolulu, but gets more than she bargained for when Moa, an ancient Hawaiian spirit, pays her an unexpected visit. Get it on Amazon.

About Statue of Ku: The second book in the Moa Book Series, "The Statue of Ku" follows Hillary and Moa as they jet to Egypt on the Prince’s private plane to reclaim Moa’s family heirloom, the inimitable statue of Ku. Get it on Amazon.

About the author: Tricia Stewart Shiu combines her addiction to the written word with her avid interest in the healing arts and all things metaphysical in her novels Moa and Statue of Ku and looks forward to finding new ways to unite her two loves. Visit Tricia on her website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Review: Lucy Come Home

"Lucy Come Home," by Dave and Neta Jackson is the story of a young girl - and an old woman. The young girl and the old woman are actually the same person, because chapters in the book alternate between telling the stories of first a young girl in Depression- and then WWII-era America, and then an old, homeless lady in modern day Chicago.

How did that young girl become the old, homeless woman? At the beginning of the book, Lucinda - who alternately goes by both 'Lucy' and 'Cindy' in the book - is the child of extremely poor migrant workers during the Depression. The family is poor, but they are actually somewhat happy because they really love one another and the mother does her best to care for the family, even providing the occasional treat.

There is a bad character on the periphery of the family, and there is foreshadowing that lets you know that something bad is going to happen to Lucinda. Actually, it bothered me that I could tell that Lucinda was headed for some kind of disaster, because she was such a likable character.

Disaster strikes and her new boyfriend, Bo, is there with her when it hits. Bo and Lucinda are forced to run. She is separated from her loving family, and eventually becomes Lucy the homeless woman on the streets of Chicago.

But, Lucy had a loving family. As migrant workers, however, they had no permanent address, and so would be hard to trace. Read this book to see what happens at the end!

My opinion of the story is that it had it had a really creative plot, full of interesting twists and turns. The characters - other than 'the bad guys' on the edge of the story - are very lovable people. Lucy is actually very honorable, faithfully holding onto something that belongs to someone else over about a 60 year period. I would recommend this book as an enjoyable, quick read about a lady of great and interesting character!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

War and Peace - Condensed Version

We meet several Russian aristocratic families. Napoleon invades Russia. Much drama in these households ensues. Some members go to war. Napoleon's army dissolves in Moscow - he retreats. Russians celebrate! Various Russian aristocrats marry!

This post was prepared so as to participate in the TrifecaWritingChallenge.com This weekend, we had to re-tell a favorite book in 33 words. Follow the link if you would like to give it a try :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wondrous Words Wednesday...with Verlence!

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a great meme over at bermudaonion.net where we share new (to us) words that we have found in our reading that week!

This week, I was reading several things simultaneously, one of them being "Spring Fever" by P.G. Wodehouse. In "Spring Fever," our protagonist has a Cockney butler who used to be a burglar before he found religion.

The unusual word that I found in "Spring Fever" is 'verlence.'

Here is the only problem with using this word for WWW - I already know it...and so do you! (It just took me a few minutes to catch it...) I guarantee that you know it!

Here is the context:

"You betcher there's going to be verlence. I'll give you two seconds to change your mind."

Did you guess it yet?

This is the butler speaking, and he has that accent....

Would it help if I told you that he was being threatened?

With violence?

Yep, verlence is just violence! I have had fun with this book! On the same page, the butler says, "It's been years since I bust a pete."

Apparently, this refers to safe-cracking!

Sandra's Writing Workshop - Mystic Lake

I had hiked to Mystic Lake several times, and this hike started the same as all the others. The only difference was that this time we had a small child with us, my little sister, Mary.

Our family was living in Montana at the time. My younger brother and I were junior high age, but my sister was only about three. Our dad was the fourth member of our little hiking party.

We made it up the mountain path to Mystic Lake, uneventfully. It was a stunningly beautiful place. We rested by a waterfall for a while. But, my dad was anxious to start back. If I remember correctly it was about a three hour hike and he was worried that it would start getting dark soon.

We started walking. As we had on the way up, we were leaving the trail once in a while trying to find more gentle slopes for my sister. We would take these little detours and then hook back onto the trail. We were going through mostly a rocky alpine terrain - not a thick forest - so it was not as though there were a well-marked trail to follow anyway.

The entire time that we were hiking we all kept up a lively discussion. If you knew my family, you would understand! We are all very talkative.

So, between the detours and lively conversation, we suddenly all realized that it had been a while since we were on the actual path. We became mildly worried.

We tried sliding straight down the rocks to see whether we would hit a switchback. But, we didn't.

We knew that we needed to be heading generally downward, because the lake was at a high altitude and we had been hiking up almost the entire way there. So, we kept picking our way down while at the same time trying to find the trail.

It started it get dark and we all started to speculate about bears. It was just twilight when we came to a river.

My dad said that we would follow the river downstream. He told us that whenever you are lost and you come to a river, you should always follow it downstream and it would always lead somewhere.

So, we followed the fast-moving mountain stream. It was getting fairly dark when we saw the lights on the other side. There were too many lights for it to be someone's house, but too few for it to be a town. It really did not matter what it was, we needed to get over there.

My dad held my sister up high and started to wade across the fairly narrow, but swiftly moving stream. My brother and I followed.

My brother is now over six feet tall, but this event occurred before he hit is teenage growth spurt. He was pretty short. When we got to the middle of the stream, I glanced back at him. Only his upturned face was visible, framed by splashing white water. He had a wild look in his eye.

I grabbed him and pulled him along until the water became shallow enough for him to stand, then I let go and struggled onward. It was hard work fighting the current, and when we finally joined our dad on the other bank, we found that we had been swept some distance downstream from the lights.

But, sodden, we trudged back toward the little outpost. We arrived at a little cluster of buildings. Wearily, we filed up to the largest, and Dad knocked on the door.

It turned out that we had stumbled upon a dude ranch! The proprietors took us in and offered us seats by the fire, free dude ranch sweat shirts, and hot drinks.

Later, they gave us a ride back to the car. We marveled as we drove on what a great distance we had traveled by foot - it took quite some time to get to the car!

It has been about 35 years since we got lost in the mountains around Mystic Lake. But, we still bring it up from time to time. It has passed into Myers family legend, and I am glad that I was there that day to be part of the adventure!

I have prepared this post as assigned by Sandra's Writing Workshop! This week we were to write from the formal, first person POV. Click on the link and take a look at the workshop. It's a great way to improve your writing skills!

Link to Picture Source.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Review: "Flesh" by Khanh Ha

I was excited to read "Flesh," by Khanh Ha because I am a huge fan of historical fiction, and this particular book was set in Vietnam - a first for me! I adore Vietnamese food and can see the French influences in the cuisine. But, to be honest with you, I have always been a bit murky about what was happening in that part of the world before the U.S. involvement.

I was looking for this book to fill in some of the blanks for me - and it did not disappoint in that regard. "Flesh" brings Vietnam - at around the turn of the last century - to life. Life was hard, and this book does not spare us. The book opens with a scene where our protagonist, Tai, is standing with his mother and baby brother at an execution. It is to be the execution of his father. Ha's powers of description are good, and we are brought into the scene and witness this act.

The execution is in the first pages of the book for a reason. The book starts there because the execution is the catalyst for nearly everything that happens in the rest of the book.

I am getting into spoiler territory at this point, but the execution generates the need for an acceptable burial spot. The Annamese - people of An Nam (See another post I did about this book, and specifically geo-political boundaries. It is pretty interesting, and includes a map of the old place names.) - believed that certain conditions had to exist at a burial location in order to facilitate a good after-life for the deceased.

This need sets Tai's quest into motion. Tai also has a mission to find the man who betrayed his father. This is not discussed much early in the book, although there is some foreshadowing in a few conversations.

The quests play themselves out, and there are plot twists...one in particular that I think you will find interesting.

So, the big question - did I like the book? I liked it. I think that the characters were very believable. I enjoyed the descriptions of a very different time and place. I think my only criticism would be a certain choppiness where we would start off in a new direction or on a tangent and I would be confused for a minute until I re-gained my bearings.

But, overall, I would recommend this book. Part of what I (and many of you, I suspect) love about reading is being whisked off to an exotic place for an adventure. And 'Flesh' fills the bill!

Episode 11


DO NOT send me any more emails until youse read this. Youse are not going to believe this!! We may even be in some kind of trouble. I don't know yet. I noticed on the last mail that you sent that there was another email address on the cc line. I am thinking we are sending our emails to someone else and not knowing it. I went back and checked our older emails. Sure enough, same thing. I am wondering - who is this person? So, I do a bit of detective work on the internet. You would've been proud of me, Bro. I nailed her! I got all the info. on this woman we cc'd. She has been reading our emails. But, here's the bad part. You are not going to be believing this. Seems she has a blog. Its a new thing - like ceviche. This blog is like your own personal website. So, this chick that we are copying by accident on our emails has been COPYING OUR EMAILS ONTO HER BLOG AND THE WHOLE FRIGGIN WORLD IS READING THEM! I told you you would not believe it. Its bad, Bro. Stuff about owgraying otpay. And ootbay egginglay alcoholay.

But, I got to thinking about it and no one can do anything to us for just talking about stuff, know what I mean? Talk is talk and its a free country. But, still I wanted to get even with her cause really - what the hell. So, I did more detective work and I find out this chick is big stuff on Twitter. Like blogging and ceviche, it is a new thing where you send little messages to people. Anyway, you remember David Snape from high school? Well, turns out HE is big stuff on this Twitter thing too! Small world, I know. So, I got him to call her out on Twitter! I know! Epic - right? And, then, get this - he BLOCKED her.

So, yea. I think she is going to think twice before she messes with us again, Bro. But, just to be on the safe side, be really careful not to cc anyone when you send me emails in the future. Talk to youse later.



This post was written as part of a competition involving the Billy/Jud saga over at ODNT. Take my word for it - it's hilarious!! But, it is too much for me to explain here! Just click over and take a look!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Weekend Cooking - Wine and Chocolate Pairings!!

I saw a romantic tweet the other day. A man was planning to bring his wife wine and chocolates. And, it got me to thinking...what kind of wine pairs with chocolate?

This post was written as part of Weekend Cooking over at BethFishReads.com.  Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to head over to Beth Fish Reads, grab the button, and link up anytime over the weekend.  (The button is on your right...)

I decided to do some research. Foodandwine.com seemed like a reliable source. And, sure enough they had an article on wine and chocolate pairs.

But, the article starts on a bit of a down note with the following words (my picture, above, is also from the article): "Everybody loves the idea of pairing chocolate and wine, and with good reason. But the flavors of chocolate and wine aren’t always that compatible. And the culprit is the chocolate."

The article goes on to talk about chocolate's strong flavor and recommends Ruby Port and/or Madeira to pair with it. Interesting... I decide to check a few more sources.

I found a Huffington Post article (also the source of this photo), and this is a paragraph from it that summarizes things nicely: "There is one standby that works wonders with most chocolate: the sweet red wine Banyuls from Southern France. Based on the Grenache grape, Banyuls seems to have the elusive balance of fruit, sugar, acidity and tannin that makes it chocolate’s perfect partner. Similar to Banyuls is Port -- in particular, the fruity style of port referred to as Ruby Port, which accounts for most of the branded port wines that the Port houses offer at very agreeable pricing."

Interesting, we now have Banyuls, and two votes for Ruby Port!

My final source was Godiva's website(!) They blew everything I had learned so far out of the water with a list of recommended pairings that included all sorts of different wines to go with the different Godiva flavors. You can click on the link if you would like to see the list. They also recommend a tasting party - fun!

I guess the bottom line is that wine and chocolate pairings - like beauty - may be in the eye, or palate, of the beholder. But, that the sweet wines, such as a Ruby Port, are a nice safe bet!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Trifextra Writing Challenge - Saving Annie

In retrospect, we should have known that flimsy fence would not be enough to protect poor Annie. With unbelievable speed, Ellie shimmied under the fence, sinking her milk teeth into the calf's jugular.

This post is an entry in the TrfectaWritingChallenge.com! This week we have to use this picture to write either a 33 or a 333 word story.

It you like mine, you can vote for me after 8:00 EST!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

That's What You Get!!

Kelly eased her car into the alley behind the Liquor Locker in Gary. Kelly and Cindy were not supposed to be in Gary - dangerous Gary. They were supposed to stay in the nice suburban towns. But, Kelly wanted Southern Comfort and Cindy was along for the ride and thrilled to be there.

A man walked toward them out of the shadows. Boldly, Kelly called to him. Cindy, in awe, said nothing. Kelly conducted the negotiations and handed him the money. They waited. Cindy was a little scared.

He came back. He handed Kelly a pint of Southern Comfort and started to rush away.

"Hey, I wanted a fifth!" cried Kelly, indignantly. "Come back here! At least give me my change."

"That's good enough..." Cindy started to murmur.

"No!" Kelly replied. The man had come back. Other men started to materialize out of the shadows.

"Give me my change!" Kelly demanded again.

The man was Middle Eastern as were the others who had started to gather, mostly in front of the car.

He leaned in the window, his face close to Kelly's. "You are very beautiful. Let me give you my ring instead." He pulled a ring from his finger. "It's gold."

He leaned in to kiss Kelly. Like a flash she scratched his face with a savagery that shocked Cindy. Kelly hit the gas pedal and the men in front of the car scattered. The one trying to kiss her had not fully withdrawn his head from the car and his body slammed against the side of it as they sped off down the alley.

Later, in another alley, Kelly and Cindy took turns hitting the Southern Comfort bottle as they washed the blood off the car with Windex and paper towels.


I have prepared this post to enter it into the TrifectaWritingChallenge! (Check out the link, it's fun!) This week we had to work the word 'alley' into our story!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Wondrous Words Wednesday - Southeast Asian Edition!

I am reading a book called "Flesh" by Khanh Ha. FTC disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review of it. I will publish the full review on June 18, 2012.

I am not too far into the book yet, but I am far enough in to know that it is set in north Vietnam at the turn of the 20th century (actually it also says that on the dust jacket!)

So, in the book the people that we read about are called Annamese. Why are they not called Vietnamese? Also, I am wondering whether Annamese has anything to do with animal worship(?)

It took a little while to get information because I found out that an Annamese is someone from Annam, and THEN I was able to get the following definition of Annam from Wiki:

"Annam (Vietnamese: An Nam) was a French protectorate encompassing the central region of Vietnam. Vietnamese were subsequently referred to as "Annamites." Nationalist writers adopted the word "Vietnam" in the late 1920s. The general public embraced the word "Vietnam" during the revolution of August 1945. Since that time, the word "Annam" has been regarded as demeaning."

The word is now demeaning, but this is a period piece.

I had not realized that the name 'Vietnam' came on the scene so late in history.

I have prepared this post as part of Wondrous Words Wednesday, a meme hosted by BermudaOnion.net where we discuss 'new to us' words that we come across in our reading.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Review (and Giveaway(!)): Glamorous Illusions

I recently read "Glamorous Illusions" by Lisa Bergren. It is the first book in her 'Grand Tour' series, and the idea of taking the Grand Tour has always seemed exciting to me! More about the Grand Tour later, but first take a look at the book summary that I received, so you can get an overall idea of the book's plot:


It was the summer of 1913, and Cora Kensington's life on the family farm has taken a dark turn. Not only are the crops failing, so is her father's health. Cora is carrying on, helping her mother run their Montana farm until a stranger comes to call, and everything changes. Cora then learns a secret that will radically change her future: she is the illegitimate daughter of a copper king who has come to claim her.

Cora is invited to take the "Grand Tour" of Europe, a journey intended to finish a person's education, to solidify an understanding of ancient culture and contemporary refinement. As she travels from England to France with half-siblings she's never known, Cora encounters the blessings of the Kensington family name, as well as the curses. But when an unbidden love begins to form, she realizes the journey is only beginning.

Faced with the challenge of accepting her father, new family, and the identity that comes with it, Cora also struggles to accept that she is also the daughter of the one true King-a Father who is the only One who can truly heal.


FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review of it.

So, as I said earlier, overall I am excited about this book and the idea of a Grand Tour series. Here is a description of what the Grand Tour entailed from the Metropolitan Museum of Art's website:

Beginning in the late sixteenth century, it became fashionable for young aristocrats to visit Paris, Venice, Florence, and above all Rome, as the culmination of their classical education. Thus was born the idea of the Grand Tour, a practice which introduced Englishmen, Germans, Scandinavians, and also Americans to the art and culture of France and Italy for the next 300 years. Travel was arduous and costly throughout the period, possible only for a privileged class—the same that produced gentleman scientists, authors, antiquaries, and patrons of the arts.

See? Doesn't that sound great? Why did this practice stop? We were robbed!! (Actually, this book begins in 1913 and I think WWI will start pretty soon, which would interrupt tour schedules...)

It is enchanting to visit the capitals of Europe with Cora, her half-siblings and her handsome escort! Cora is a very likable young woman. The siblings and their friends have only just found out that Cora even exists, and some of them are having trouble dealing with the embarrassing situation. But, even these characters you do not dislike too strongly, because their embarrassment is understanding given the times.

Actually, the only slight wrinkle for me was that I was shocked when I found out that she was illegitimate; I wondered how realistic that was. I am not prudish - I just did not know that these things happened in 1913...but, that may be naive of me.

Other than that, I found the book to be a light, enjoyable read, and I look forward to reading the next in the series!


Win a $350 “Glam” Visa Card Prize Pack from @LisaTBegren &
RSVP for 6/27 Facebook party!

What is our "true" identity? Join the conversation at Lisa Tawn Begren's
Author Chat Facebook Event
. On the evening of 6/27 we'll gather to talk about our spiritual journey,
share our stories and a few laughs.

In the meantime, celebrate with Lisa by entering her Glamorous Illusions

One "glamorous" winner will receive a "Glam Prize Pack":

  • A $350 Visa Cash Card (Oh ... think of what you could do: treat yourself
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  • Glamorous Illusions (by Lisa Tawn Begren)

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends
6/26/12. Winner will be announced at Lisa's
"Glamorous Illusions" Facebook Party on  6/27
 {Fun begins at 5pm
PDT / 8pm EDT}
. Lisa will be hosting an evening of meaningful chat, fun trivia,
laughter, and encouragement - bring your friends! She'll also be giving away some
GREAT prizes: gift certificates, books, and a Book Club Prize Pack! (Ten copies of the
book for your small group or book club and a live chat with Lisa via video or phone.)

So grab a few of your friends and your copy of Glamorous Illusions and join Lisa
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and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to
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Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Headhunter

I walked into the Johnny Rockets in the mall exactly on time. There were only three people in there. Besides the waitress, there were a fat, balding guy and a large-boned woman in a cream silk suit and a lot of makeup. I tried to look at the woman without staring. Could the headhunter be in drag? No, he just wasn't here yet.

I started to go back out, when the fat guy said, "Libby?"

I drew in my breath and turned sharply. No way! That couldn't be him. After we had concluded our business and I had accepted the new job, the headhunter had asked me to lunch to celebrate. We were both single, and over the phone I had asked him what he looked like - so I could recognize him, of course.

He had told me that he was a body builder, and a lot of other wonderful things. I was almost intimidated. But, I arranged to meet him anyway.

Slowly, I walked over to the fat guy's booth.

"Sit down," he urged.

I sat.

"Is something wrong?"

"No. No!" I pasted on a smile.

"Something's wrong," he insisted. "What is it?"

"Well, that whole body builder thing..." I floundered.

He replied a little nervously, "Oh, yea. Well, I just started."


This is my submission for this weekend's Trifecta Writing Challenge. This weekend's challenge was to write an actual account of something that had happened to us that featured the number...three!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Weekend Cooking - Suds in Your Eye!

The "Suds Books," as we call them, have been in the family longer than I have. They were introduced to my mother by her grandmother. We call them the Suds Books because the first book is called "Suds in Your Eye." And, it is about how Mrs. Feeley, Miss Tinkham and Mrs. Rasmussen all came to live together in a house in San Diego called Noah's Ark.

This post was written as part of Weekend Cooking over at BethFishReads.com. Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to head over to Beth Fish Reads, grab the button, and link up anytime over the weekend.  (The button is on your right...)

You can still find used copies of the series around the internet. There are more books than what I am showing here. All of the ones that I found on Amazon had five stars!

Here are what some Suds loyalists say on Amazon:

In 1956 I bought a used copy of this book in Colorado Springs. It wasn't a wonderful moment in my life and why I bought this little, worn book I cannot say. It might have taken me ninety minutes to read and the effect has held on for the last forty-four years and I expect it to retain its hold forever. Some years after that my Aunt played Mrs. Feeley in San Diego, and did so for several years. I was thrilled and she was amazed that I not only knew the character, but knew it better than she did. Read this book if you can get hold of it and be nourished, amused, amazed ( their brand of inventiveness is strangely missing today ) and wish you could pull up to the table and share a six-pack. Skoal!


Mary Lasswell's 'Suds In Your Eye', is the comic tale of three lonely women, Mrs. Feely, the owner of the junkyard with a wall made of beer bottles, Miss. Tinkham, an unemployed teacher, and Mrs. Rasmussen, A Norwegian women who could make a wonderful meal with the simplest of ingrediants, who are united in the first of what became a very popular series during and after world war II. Miss Tinkham, a very shy spinster, and Mrs. Rasmeussen, who is abandoned by her children, come to room with Mrs. Feely in her Junk Yard called Noahs Ark, in San Diego before the War. They embark on several adventures and really become a family. The book illustrated by the late George Price, is a hilareous romp and is not afraid to be a bit racy for its time. The book had several sequels, including 'Tooner Trolly', was turned into a broadwya play and even inspired Mrs. Lasswell, A navy wife, to create a cookbook as written by Mrs. Rasmussen, 'Mrs, Rasmussen' Book of one Armed Cookery' -the other arm of course would be around a bottle of beer.

And, it is from "Mrs. Rasmussen's Book of One-Armed Cookery" that I bring you two recipes: Chicken Fried Steak and Zucchini Pancakes.

Chicken Fried Steak

1 lb. round steak, 1 in. thick
Pepper, salt
Lard or Crisco to fry

Cut the steak into portions of suitable size. Pound well with a wooden mallet. Sprinkle liberally with pepper and salt, then dip in flour. Let stand a few minutes while the fat is heating. The meat will be damp on the outside: dip again in flour and rub well into meat. When the fat is very hot, drop the steak in and fry carefully until a golden brown all over. Reduce heat and finish cooking to any stage desired; rare, medium, or well-done.

Zucchini Pancakes

1 recipe of your favorite pancake mixture
1 clove garlic, grated
2 c. unpeeled zucchini, grated on the large crescent shaped holes of grater
1 tb. parsley, chopped
2 tb. chives, chopped

Stir in the vegetables and cook as for regular pancakes, making them very small. Delicious with fried chicken.

Note: I used some of the food photography techniques that I wrote about last week in shooting these last two photos. The main things that I did differently were, shoot the food on the back porch(!) and zoom in more tightly on the food. All of the book photos come from Amazon.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Sykosa - FREE! (For now...)

Below is a review of the YA novel, Sykosa, that I did a couple months ago. I am bringing it back today because for two days only - today and tomorrow - Sykosa (Kindle) is FREE. Yep - FREE! Nothing to buy - you don't have to follow my blog...although you certainly CAN ;)

Click here for your free Sykosa!!



I start reading Sykosa, and at first, I just think its this nice little book about this nice little Japanese-American girl sitting in class at this nice little school thinking about painting her fingernails. Seriously - that is how the book starts.

And, then... And, then author Justin Ordonez, starts dropping subtle hints that something is wrong. Something happened to Sykosa - but, what? This book really snuck up on me. Because during the time that I was reading it, I would find myself thinking about it when I was driving or doing other things. I would be mulling it over, trying to put the pieces together.

Puzzle Piece 1 (from page 11): " Last year. It’s hard to discuss, and like a lot of things that’re hard to discuss, it’s pretty much the root of every issue in her life."

Puzzle Piece 2 (from page 20): "...she thinks of all the scars that are on his right hand..."

Puzzle Piece 3 (from page 21): "...last year, she overheard a girl named Donna Harly crying about rape."

Ordonez masterfully drops just the right number of clues - enough to keep you hooked - but, not enough to let you figure out the mystery of what happened to Sykosa too soon! Meanwhile, he is also spinning a good coming-of-age story about a girl and her friends. Sex and drugs and family relationships are explored and explained in, what I think, is a really realistic manner. (However, this is NOT a book for minors.)

I liked this book! Once I got into it, it had depth and complicated characters, and that mysterious thread running through it.... What happened to Sykosa?!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Wondrous Words Wednesday

I am participating in Wondrous Words Wednesday over at BermudaOnion.net. Every week we get together and present the 'new to us' words we have come across in our reading!

I am reading a compendium of five P.G. Wodehouse novels (The 'Jeeves" books) in one giant book that I got from the library. This week's offerings are from this book.

Gyves - shackles (Our protagonist, Bertie, had a bit of trouble with the law.)

Coronet - This is actually a crown worn by a peer of the realm, but in more modern times it became a word used to describe the peer, himself, and not necessarily the actual crown.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Armchair BEA - That Will Be All, Jeeves...

This week the Giant Book Expo America (BEA) conference is going on in NYC. For those of us who cannot attend, there is ArmchairBEA! Today's assignment - write up the BEST book you have read in 2012!

That's easy!

Are you familiar with P.G. Wodehouse? Some people call him the best writer of the last century!

You know the Jeeves character from 'Ask Jeeves'? That is his character!

Wodehouse wrote a LOT of books. I am pretty sure that quite a few, if not all, of them are out of print. But, they are worth - VERY worth - scouting out in the library. Wodehouse had such a command of the English language. Here are some quotes from some of his stories:

I could see that, if not actually disgruntled, he was far from being gruntled.

“Unseen in the background, Fate was quietly slipping lead into the boxing-glove.”

“It is no use telling me there are bad aunts and good aunts. At the core, they are all alike. Sooner or later, out pops the cloven hoof. ”

These are hysterically funny stories about the British aristocracy, and I cannot recommend them enough!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Armchair BEA!

BookExpo America (BEA) is going on right now. For those of us who could not attend, there is Armchair BEA! For today's exercise, we are to answer questions about ourselves to facilitate a meet and greet! Please see below:

Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging? I am Elizabeth (Libby) Myers Rodriguez. I am an Urban Planner with a Masters from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. I do freelance planning studies as my 'day job!' I have been blogging for about 6 or 7 months...Why?...hmmm...because its there(?)

What are you currently reading, or what is your favorite book you have read so far in 2012? Currently, I am reading both a Wodehouse compendium and Les Mis - bopping back and forth, which I like to do...

If you could eat dinner with any author or character, who would it be and why? Salman Rushdie. He and Amy Tan are my two favorite (living) authors.

What literary location would you most like to visit? Why? The Marvelous Land of Oz - LOL! As a kid, I read all the Oz books and was just completely obsessed. So, if someone arranges a trip, yea, I'm in!

What is your favorite part about the book blogging community? Is there anything that you would like to see change in the coming years? I love the way that everyone comes up with challenges, memes, read-alongs, etc! I don't really want it to change, but I bet we will all keep coming up with new things and there will be exciting changes that I have not even thought of!

Emily's Reading Room designed the badge at the top!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Weekend Cooking - Food Photography

While browsing the web, I came across an article on food photography that I read because I would like to improve my food photos when I do cooking posts. I thought that this topic might be of interest to other Weekend Cooking bloggers. So, I researched several more articles and put together this post.

This post was written as part of Weekend Cooking over at BethFishReads.com. Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to head over to Beth Fish Reads, grab the button, and link up anytime over the weekend.  (The button is on your right...)

I think that my two main problems are the lighting in my kitchen and the fact that my speckled granite counters look a bit busy as the background in some of my photos.

It was interesting for me to find out that lighting is a problem for a lot of food bloggers who are taking photographs. I have good lighting in the kitchen...its good for cooking but not so much for photos.

There is a huge window and a lot of light comes in and bounces off the shiny counter tops and I get a lot of glare. It is a real problem.

Normally, I like natural light - I take a lot of photos outside. But, I did not want to take the food outside because that would look strange...as in, "Here I am today, demonstrating how to make a pot roast in the backyard." See? Kind of strange.

Well, blogger Dawnviola of Wicked Good Dinner had a solution to this very problem in a post she did for BlogHer. She actually has a cart (see photo) that she uses to take everything to the back porch and she uses a white apron to hide the hot tub! Genius! Wish I'd thought of it!

This other article says something similar with regard to lighting: "Use natural light whenever you can. The ideal set-up is a next to a large window, with a white curtain to diffuse the light.

If you can’t get natural light, don’t be tempted to use your flash. Flash photography is too harsh for food’s delicate sensibilities. It flattens everything out and makes for unappealing shiny spots."

So, I think my big window is ok, but the problem is that that I do not have a white curtain over it to diffuse the light. That is why I am getting happy little beams of light bouncing all over the place. I do not think that a white curtain is the solution right in the middle of the cooking area. It would stay dirty all the time, I am afraid. So, I am going to go with the solution of making a little outdoor photo area.

As I said earlier, I think that my other issue is 'busy' backgrounds. I think the same white apron solution takes care of that. Also, all of the articles that I read suggested a few props and garnishes.

A third source that I consulted, Epicurious, had an article about a "Food Blogging for Dummies" book. I did not know there was a "Dummies" book for food blogging! There are a few excerpts and they are very pro- natural lighting, as well.

I am going to try to incorporate some of these suggestions into future cooking posts, and we will see how they look!!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Trifextra Writing Challenge...It Wasn't the First Time...

It wasn't the first time he had been chased. He crawled 100 yards through muddy rows of corn until he reached the woods.

He paused and reflected. He really needed to start paying for his meals in restaurants.

This is my submission for the Trifextra Weekend Writing Challenge! This weekend we had to start a story with the words, "It wasn't the first time..." and finish it with exactly 33 more words!