Monday, February 28, 2011

A Blogger Award....Interesting things

My first Blogger Award (thank you Cleveland!)....and I really have no idea what I am supposed to do with it. But hey, as for researching new things, I found that I need to say a few things about me...yes, me! Why must I always be asked about me? Ugh! I hate being the center of attention! That said...

1) I am a Leo, if you can believe that! I'm also married to a Leo, who just happens to be 6 days younger than me. And from my understanding, 2 Leo's in the same household NEVER get along. Well, I guess that's a load of bull. But we've been married 21 years now. HE'S the Leo. He's outspoken, always holding the stage. He's loyal, but don't piss him off! Me, well, I hate confrontation, I am very emotional, I don't hold a grudge. I'm the closet, quiet Leo. He's the open, boisterous Leo. Two ends of the same string! And we work so well together!

2) I'm a brat! Yes, you heard me right! I'm a brat. A military brat! I've moved around all my life. Every 4 years my father would get orders to someplace new. Hampton Roads, was the longest I had lived in any one place. Thirteen years was the grand total before I moved away. However, I did manage to hop a plane to visit a friend in Colorado when I was 20...4 years after I moved there. :P And, I still, to this day, get itchy feet. I'm still looking for a new job in the next couple of years. I'm hoping to get one in Japan. Or maybe go back to England for a bit.

3) I love genealogy! My father's mother's name is very hard to research as I don't know Hungarian. And my mother's maiden name is German. Researching in other languages is quite difficult! But, my maiden name's history is quite interesting!
  • My family helped finance the first settlement in Pennsylvania (and was best friends) with William Penn.
  • One of my family members married Betsy Ross.
  • One of my family members owned the first printing press in Philadelphia and printed the original, as well as copies of the Declaration of Independence, Constitution of the United Stated of America and even George Washington’s farewell address.
  • One of my family members is buried in Westminster Abby. 
  • my maiden name seems to have disappeared (or, rather, popped into existence) somewhere around 1500. But my first known ancestor's wife's family name can be traced through British and Danish royalty (I even have stories our family was part of the Templars). Some stories have surfaced about being related to Nefertiti, Constantine, and Jesus' brother, James, but documentation of such things is very difficult to secure.
4) Although I grew up with dogs, I am a cat person! Or, rather, I am their slave! We got one the day after we were married, and our house has never been without! Our first two lived a wonderful life. Born in Virginia, they traveled to Germany, and Texas with us. They are now buried in Florida and awaiting our next meeting at the gates of Rainbow Bridge. We now have a couple of oxymoron cats! :) Brother and sister, they are straight eared Scottish Folds. We've had them now for 4 years! The are adorable. Here's a link to all our cat's info

5) I am a jack of all trades, master of none. I have a lot of different interests. I can do most anything. And for that, I think I go in spurts with all my different hobbies. Reading, writing, quilting, making chainmaille jewelry, geocaching, gaming, gardening, whatever else you could throw in there. I've never found that one thing I was really good at. So, when I grow up I want to be that crazy cat lady!

6) I'm a geek, a gamer girl, and many people just don't "get" me. I never fit in to any crowd, yet, I could hang out with just about anyone. As a teenager, I molded myself to my surroundings in order to find the one group I could feel comfortable in. I never did. I still don't. Oh well. I've found the love of my life and we are friends as well. My family is all I need. Although, sometimes, I get a little sad that I don't have close friends outside the house....then it passes.

7) Oh, and I love roses! Not those cut, dying kind. But the ones you plant in gardens! I used to show roses back in Virginia. Somehow I managed to make it into the professional section with one of my roses and it won 3rd place! But, ever since I had to leave my prize winning roses...the love and dedication I put into my rose garden...when we moved to Germany, I just haven't been able to bring myself to such dedication again. Although, now that we've bought our own home, I do have some roses I've planted and have been taking care of for the past year. There are only 5 at the moment. But, our yard is too tiny for more! 

Well, there you have it! Me, in a semi-nutshell! There is too much of me to even begin to scratch the surface of who I am. 

Now, I guess I have to award it to 15 let's see. :)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus Review

Yes, Virginia: There Is a Santa ClausYes, Virginia: There Is a Santa Claus by Chris Plehal

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh what an amazing book to read!

When your child comes to you asking that glorious question, "Is Santa real?" this is the book to read with them!

I absolutely LOVE this answer. I've been telling this to my son for years! He never really knew the commercial Santa Claus except what he sees on TV. But he always knew of his Spirit and the Spirit of Christmas as well as the reason for the Season -- Celebrating the birth of Jesus.

Well written. Beautiful art work. Based on a true story. And they included the actual "Letter to the Editor and response" from the New York "The Sun" from back in the 1800s.

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Friday, February 25, 2011

Who am I Revealed

This was my first ever blog challenge so I wasn't sure what to expect. I loved everyone's different takes on the challenge and felt so inadequate with mine. But thank you all for stopping by, reading, and guessing! It was soooo much fun! And every guess put a smile on my face! And I am sure you are wondering what exactly is that little fib??

Ask me a question, and I tell you no lie. I never had a problem as a child, but quickly I learned as a teenager how I hated the lies told to me. The Golden Rule seems to have been drilled into my head forever. So, I struggled with this challenge, to come up with a "lie".

I will tell you all the truths in my previous post

I really do have a fairy tale marriage. I did met my husband (at the age of 20) and five days later, he asked me to marry him. A month later we were married. Twenty-one years later and we are still going strong.  We are currently on our 22nd year of marriage. Although, we do have 2 anniversaries. We were married in the eyes of the law on December 22, 1989. He deployed on a military exercise to Korea a few weeks later while I planned our wedding. We were married in the eyes of the Lord on May 12, 1990. He was only supposed to be gone for 3 months, plenty of time to come back and chill before the big day. Things happen and you get used to it with the military. He came back with 6 days to spare. And what's a fairy tale without a "wicked witch"? We do have one, she's called "Chronic Pain" and we thank the Army for that. (Thank you all who say I look too young! My body feels like it's 80. But my mind is that of a 16 year old! My age is comfortably in the middle somewhere! LOL)

I really wear my heart on my sleeve. My feelings have been trampled because of it since the day I was born. I used to weep openly, now I bottle it in. I have so much love to share, and it seems so many people want to take advantage of this, that my feelings STILL get hurt. I continue on in my quest to share my love. But the lack of true, close friends is evident. There are so many who have touched my heart and I hold dear...I just chose not to express it for fear of losing their friendship on a multitude of levels. 

I do really have a bad habit when I sit idle. I grab my hair by the ends and look for those nasty split ends. They do so bother me, and fascinate me at the same time. It's like a hunt for the elusive 4 leaf clover (for which I have found many!) to find that one that has 10 split ends on it. 

However, after several horrifying experiences at the salon and  hating the short haircuts that I had to get....I only get my hair cut, even just a trim, maybe once every 5 years...if not more! (my secret AND my annoying habit rolled into least to my husband who was the only one know knows!)

And last, but not least, I really am an introvert! Coupled with living in Florida and the HEAT of the stiflingsummers I really don't enjoy going outside! (my fib was saying that was my favorite thing to do) Although, now that our pool is being built, we may just be outside everyday. :) 

I do enjoy nature, though! Always have. And, yes, we've had an alligator not 100 yards from my house in the retention pond. Or what about the one down the street from where I work....just moseying along.... (he's peeking out on the sidewalk there in the picture above). We also have our friendly armadillo digging up our yard. NOT! And I LOVE dragonflies! So, watching nature is always fun to do! And oh! The things you see! I've once seen deer the size of dogs, and rabbits the same size! Amazing! An owl swooped down in my front yard to grab a snake once..or was it a glass lizard...too hard to tell. And then there was the dancing bald eagle on the flight line on base! Nature is wondrous!
(Isn't this the most awesome picture of a dragonfly?)

And yes, I DID look up what a fuliguline was...but I am still so confused on it's proper definition and usage! It wasn't in any dictionary I had come across and I had seen so many people use it so vastly different from one another.  I don't think the question was a "fib"! :P

Now that I've exposed myself, I hope you will continue to read me. Although I am still learning this blog business and I may not know what to blog about, I do so much appreciate your following! 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Who am I?

This is my attempt at Rachael Harrie's 1st Crusader Challenge.

Asking a writer to come up with a bio in less than three hundred words is definitely a challenge! But I do love to write. Writing about me is NOT one of my favorite things to do, either. I do not bloviate. But I will attempt to give you one secret and one lie, while I describe an interesting quirk, my best character trait, and a favorite thing to do.

I have a fairy tale marriage. I met my husband and five days later, he asked me to marry him. A month later we were married. Twenty-one years later and we are still going strong.

I think my best character trait is also my worst. I wear my heart on my sleeve, and because I care so deeply about my friends and family, I rarely let people in.

I have a nervous tendency to play with the ends of my hair, checking for split ends. I so hate split ends, and the longer my hair get’s the more I play with it. I should go to the salon and have it touched by the blade every now and again. But, I just can’t bring myself to even a trim.

One of my favorite things to do is go outside and watch nature at its best. We watch the bees, the birds, the dragonflies, the rabbits, the armadillos and even the alligators. Someone told me I should add fuliguline watching to my outdoor activities since I like watching nature all the time. What is a fuliguline anyway?

I may have revealed something about me that isn’t strictly true. Can you guess what it is?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

There Are Reasons Why We Have Editors & Publishers!

The Haunted E-bookThe Haunted E-book by J.L. Bryan

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I recently won an electronic copy or J. L. Bryan’s The Haunted E-Book in exchange for a review. I have been a fan of horror since my first encounter at the age of nine, when my parents bought me The Complete Short Stories of Edgar Allen Poe. Alongside Poe, I grew up with Stephen King, Peter Straub, and John Saul. I’ve never really been actually scared but the deep psychological thrillers always seemed to pique my interest. I hadn’t been reading horror for quite some time now as Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and children’s books have been capturing my attention lately.

When I read the synopsis of the book I thought it might be intriguing. So, I began reading. Unfortunately, the synopsis was better written than the book. I only finished because I was obligated to write a review.

You are introduced to the main character, Dee, in the first chapter but are not given enough time to get to know her, or connect with her before you are thrown into the book she is reading. You are hopelessly lost to find out who you are supposed to be rooting for here. Although, it is interesting that he tied them all together. The logic is not quite there.

This leads me to the next issue of reading a book within a book, within a book. It was an interesting concept to be reading a book within a book. However, Bryan does not pass this off well enough. There is too much jumping between the books. To have each book titled the same as the main book with just different chapter numbers separating them is very trying just to keep those books straight. It is very confusing to keep the people, story, and characters straight.

I was very disappointed with the lack of warning this book had in regards to the language and scenes. There were many adult oriented scenes that really had no place in the book. I understand, this is a “horror” book, but sex does not have to be a part of it. And the gore, well, I could see his descriptions of the “horror” scenes as nothing more than the “in your face kind of gore” you get with today’s horror movies. Whatever happened to the ones that make you THINK? I mean, those are the TRUE horror!

Bryan is not very colorful with his writing. He lacks the imagery necessary to keep the reader engaged. Most of his adjectives are repetitive and mundane. He also seems to lack the visionary of an editor. This does not even begin to touch on the fact that there are so many grammatical and spelling errors throughout this book. I feel it was poorly written and Bryan hurried to get it out in print, bypassing any editing process.

My impression of this book is very poor. I can see this book as nothing more than Bryan’s attempt at a novel during the NaNoWriMo challenge in November, where a writer challenges himself to produce a novel of 50,000 words in the span of thirty days. Just because you have accomplished writing 50,000 words does not mean that you’ve completed the task of writing a novel and it’s ready for readers.

I did a little research, as well. I found out that this book was published using “CreateSpace”, which is a self-publishing tool. This leads me to the conclusion that my gut instincts were right. He has bypassed the whole editing/publishing process just so he could get his name and book in print. There are reasons we have editors. They help eliminate the grammatical and typographical errors this book is riddled with. There are also reasons why we have publishers. They help weed out nonsensical and poorly written stories. They know the market. They know what will sell. They can weed people like J. L. Bryan out of the book market!

Please, don’t read this! It’s not worth your time!

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I Love You THIS Much Review

I Love You This MuchI Love You This Much by Lynn Hodges

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a lovely book to read to children. It's rhyme and rhythm make is a joy and very easy to read aloud. I love it's use of opposites as well. And, it can very easily be used as a beginning reader introductory book.

"I Love You This Much" is a poignant story of the love we have between parent and child. It also reinforces our relationship with our Father in Heaven by comparing the loving relationship we have with Him to that of the loving relationship we have with our children. It is a wonderful story for both parent and child.

I would recommend reading this on either a colored NOOK or the real deal. This was a promotional free eBook I read on my Sony eReader. The pictures were black and white...not as effective as they would have been in color. Also, no CD with this version.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Law of Nines Review

The Law of NinesThe Law of Nines by Terry Goodkind

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If you've read Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth Series, you will be familiar with the premise of this book. At the end of Confessor, Richard Rahl opens a gateway to another world where those without the spark of magic and those who wish to live in a world without magic can live without the continued corruption of Richard's world. Richard's sister decided to join this new world, thus continuing the Rahl line in the new world.

In The Law of Nines, we are introduced to Alexander Rahl, an artist. The book's setting is present day Earth, with all the technological advantages we have, without any magic, or so we think. We are thrown into the story when a young, beautiful woman (Jax) "pops" into Alex's life and turns his world, and what he knows of the world, upside down. With Alex's mother locked away in a mental institution, Alex quickly begins to doubt his own sanity. As events unfold and "magic" happens before his eyes, Alex's sanity is no longer questioned and he begins the quest to fulfill the prophecy from another world.

Just as The Fellowship of the Order in The Sword of Truth series wanted to eradicate all magic, it seems that history is doomed to repeat itself. A new "order" has formed and is threatening magic once more. It is said that the one named in The Law of Nines prophesy shall save their world, but that man is not of their world. Jax must go and find him. Over the course of a millennia, those who with magic have managed to bridge the void and enter the world without magic.

The Law of Nines is a classic conflict of good versus evil, where The Sword of Truth left off, The Law of Nines brings to light the continual history repeats itself issue. Life is a dichotomy and when there is a happy ending, there will always be a sad beginning. History always seems to repeat.

And, as with any of Terry Goodkind's books, it is such a slow build up to the action. All of his books I have read seem to start anything really good about midway through the book. This is no different. Another issue I have with this is the name of the heroine of this book (Jax). In the Sword of Truth series, Terry Goodkind embedded the love story of Richard Rahl and Kahlen Amnell. In The Law of Nines, the lineage is kind of odd. I understand that Alexander Rahl is descended from Richard's sister, Jennsen Rahl. But, Jax is supposed to be descended from Kahlen as Jax holds the name Amnell. Unless Kahlen kept the name of Amnell, and thus her children inherited that name...I cannot see how Jax would be descended from Kahlen, more like her father's house...Prince Harold, her half-brother, and thus her Confessor line would be void. But, in The Law of Nines, it is alluded to that Jax is a Confessor, based on the length of her hair and the fact she doesn't let anyone cut it.

I love the continuation of the storyline. So, I must overlook the problem. Just as I had to overlook the serious plot issue with Nathal Rahl in The Sword of Truth Series. Maybe this point will be explained deeper in Goodkind's new book, The Omen Machine, where he will continue the Richard and Kahlen story. One can only hope.

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Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Day!

Today is Valentines Day.

But I seriously do not believe in today. I'm sorry. But I believe that one day is not enough to show just how much you love someone. You should show and tell them EVERY DAY! It is nothing more than jewelry, roses, and chocolate stores pressuring you into a guilt trip, saying that "you don't love your woman if you don't get her roses and diamonds". It disgusts me, actually, worse than the commercialization of Christmas and Easter.

Why? Why do we have Valentines Day? What purpose does it serve but to lay guilt or torture those without?

I love learning.Education leads to enlightenment which leads to empowerment. It seems that the history of this day is shrouded in mystery. Even the Catholic Church cannot agree on the actual person that is St. Valentine.
Today, the Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred.
And some believe that this holiday was nothing more then the Catholic Church assimilating pagan rituals in order to win converts.
Lupercalia, which began at the ides of February, February 15, was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.

Check out History.Com for more information.

Whatever the reasons are for this day, it has mutated into guilt and torture and I really do not like it. I celebrate my love for my husband every day we are married. It has been a little over 21 years now and every day with him is Valentine's day!   Although my favorite flower is the Rose, he knows he has no need to get me flowers. He knows I hate the dying ones (cut flowers are just dying flowers). If he ever does get me flowers, he gets me roses I can plant in the ground -- LIVE roses. And he doesn't buy them on the 500% markup days before Valentines Day. It's the little things he does throughout the year that I cherish. Not the obligatory roses, card, and chocolate day of Valentines Day.

This is what I believe and thought I would share some information with you and a little insight into my person.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Critique Group rejection -- Just as bad as an MS rejection?

Currently, I am a part of an online critique group that I love. I love the interactions, support, and guidance that we all share with each other. I love the convenience of it. But you know what I don't like about it? We can never meet face to face and have the personal time that comes with a local critique group.

I thought joining a local critique group would be a wonderful addition to the online critique group. It would have added another point of view. And to have someone already published be a part of that critique group may have been a bonus as well.

Yesterday, I had an opportunity to join a local Picture Book Critique group hosted by Children's Author--Jennifer Swanson. I received their prospective member questionnaire and began filling it out. Everything seemed to be going ok, until I saw one of the last questions:
"Can you commit to 2 Thursdays per month from 10am- 12pm attending the meetings at the Southeast Library while critiquing the submissions in advance? Can you have something ready to submit at least once a month?"

I work full time and this was definitely not a good fit, time wise. I was hoping everything else would work out and filled it out anyway, along with a note: "
"Unfortunately, the times you list for meeting are not a good fit for me. But I hope that there is a possibility for an alternative time frame. Thank you for your time and consideration."
The response I got was that the times were "firm" and "Best of luck with your writing". Those words struck home. They felt like I had just received another rejection for one of my manuscripts. They felt just like any other rejection I've ever felt. But, rejection is a part of an author's life, right? And you have to be a good fit for the critique group just as they have to be a good fit for you.

I will always be a part of my online critique group...which I LOVE! They are a good fit for me! :D

Monday, February 7, 2011

Jacques & Spock

Jacques & SpockJacques & Spock by David Michael Slater

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A wonderful tale of two socks, a matching pair, until one day they were separated. They were identical brothers, one for the left foot, one for the right. However, their personalities were as opposite as the feet they kept warm. One was outgoing and always looked after the other -- the shy one. Happy to be rid of the burden, Spock quickly realizes just how lonely he is without his brother. Jacques quickly learns how to be more independent on his quest to be reunited with his brother. A wonderfully witty tale that teaches both sides of the story.

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Friday, February 4, 2011

The Christmas Sweater

The Christmas SweaterThe Christmas Sweater by Glenn Beck

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a very heartwarming story everyone should read. It is especially helpful for those going through tough times, as we all do. It explains just how things happen and they are not our fault. Atonement is the most important highlight in this book, just as in real life. Your life is yours, and the path you take is your choice. Do not blame anyone else for your circumstances. But there is always time for 2nd chances. Highly recommended!

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

His Majesty's Dragon Review

His Majesty's Dragon (Temeraire, #1)His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was my first encounter with Dragons. I intended to begin with the Pern series, but a friend of mine talked me into this one. I'm glad she did as I fell in love with Temeraire--his inquisitive and intelligent mind. I can foresee his coming philosophical ideals and challanges. I fell in love with Laurence's constant struggle between what is good, proper and expected and what is wholly life. Temeraire opens Laurence's heart and mind, with his "innocence of a child" questions and comments. All the dragons are so loveable. Historic events are included in this story that are accurate and make the story that much more real. Reading this book, we could all wish for dragons! There are characters you could love to hate, and character you would hate to love. There is potential for the rest of the series. I am looking forward to more. I must continue...

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