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Cats and Danglers

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My husband and I were each getting ready for work the other day, he in the downstairs bathroom and me in the upstairs.  Our five-year-old had been instructed to get dressed in his room.

His bedroom and the upstairs bathroom share a wall.  I can usually tell if he's getting dressed or not because it seems to be physically impossible for him to do anything without singing or talking to himself, a habit I'm certain came from me.  If it's quiet, usually he's gotten distracted by a book or toy.

It had gotten quiet, so I began to listen closely.  Soon, I heard a "MEEP!"  Not usually a sound that comes from his mouth.

"Honey?  What's the matter?" I called.

"Kitty's being mean," he answered, and I figured he was letting his legs dangle off of the side of the bed.  The cat loves to play with his toes while he bounces his feet this way and that.

I yell, "Are you dangling anything?"

"Well, I am naked."

I think I would have…

A Cowgirl Without a Cow

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I love to wake up to hear the sounds of grass and tree leaves rustling, mixed with the song of the western meadowlark and the wind whistling through the crevices in the wood and steel outbuildings.

Out of necessity, I must listen to the sounds of car horns, airplanes, and dogs barking, and have done so for well over a decade.

The hardest thing I have ever done is to walk away from the farm and ranch, knowing it would not flourish under my hand.  I still think of myself as a cowgirl, but I find myself without  a cow.

Perhaps that's why I write: to take myself away from the scent of refineries and pavement and back to, as Tolkien puts it, "good clean earth."  But dreams only last as long as sleep, and one cannot sleep forever.

As I step forward in my life, I often wonder if my footsteps will ever be able to turn toward the Badlands, and I pray that God sees a path that I cannot.

But for now, trapped near pavement I must be, but I long to see scoria roads and cow paths.  S…

Food for the Gods, by Karen Dudley

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Anyone who takes a good look at me will quickly realize that I'm not afraid to enjoy a meal, especially now that I'm pregnant.  My grandmothers were exceptional cooks and bakers, so I was lucky to learn firsthand how a little bit of love, the right ingredients, and mixing things until it looks right can make for a fabulous dish.

Consequently, I love culinary mysteries, especially if recipes are included.  When I was asked to read, "Food for the Gods," by Karen Dudley, I was told it was a culinary mystery taking place in ancient Greece.  My first thought was, Oh, hell yes.

I'm very glad I said yes.  The world-building was effective and unobtrusive.  The characters were interesting and diverse, and the dialogue was pithy and sarcastic.  One would think that ancient Greek characters with British/Cockney accents would be a bit odd, but in the context of the book, it made social classes immediately clear.

Thanks, Karen, for a fantastic read.  I fell in love, and my on…

Review: Originated Under Twin Suns, by Michael Pickard

I'm notoriously nitpicky about my sci-fi.  I've been a fan of all versions of Star Trek since before I knew how to properly pronounce Rene Aberjoinois.  I like Star Wars, but I don't feel the need to wear my light saber to work.  Other than that, I really am more into Tolkein and Butcher than Bradbury or Asimov.

When I received Michael Pickard's novel, billed as "space satire," my ears perked up a bit.  The first chapter made me chuckle, so I threw caution to the wind and decided to dive in.  

The Good
Mr. Pickard's experience as a previously published author made this book's quality a definite cut above most self-published books.   The text had good flow and a defined voice.  Language use by the Frobs were consistent and had voice.It was filled with clever puns that made me chuckle.There were parts that reminded me of Monty Python, which always brightens my day, even if it doesn't involve fish slapping, silly walks, or shrubberies.It was easy to v…

Bodacious Creed

As a ranch brat that hid my fantasy novels behind my 4-H projects, I have a thing for fantasy and westerns.  I wanted to BE John Wayne, Sparhawk, a Rider of Rohan, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, occasional sex changes be damned.  It's not that crazy to me to mix genres up a little, so when I got a review request for a zombie steampunk western, let's just say it got my attention.  
The only thing is that it wasn't really a review request.  It was a preview request from Jonathan Fesmire for his upcoming novel Bodacious Creed.  Jonathan has decided to do things a little differently by using Kickstarter to fund his project before it has even begun.  (Basic details for his project and how Kickstarter works can be found here, in case you've never heard of Kickstarter.)  
After reviewing his plan, I had a few questions for Jonathan.
Pretend for a moment that my readers have no idea what Kickstarter is or how it works.  (I'd never heard of it until now.)  Explain how it works …

Review: A Once Crowded Sky, by Tom King

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I was approached by Simon and Schuster about reviewing A Once Crowded Sky, by Tom King. After reading the description, which, "...fuses bombastic, comic-book-style storytelling with modern literary fiction..."I knew it wasn't up my alley.  However, I married a man that has been glued to every comic book movie ever made and knew it would tickle my hubby's fancy.  I've summed up my husband's thoughts on the book, which are largely positive.  He really enjoyed the book.

A devastating force called the Blue attacks all, superheroes and villains alike.  The Blue causes supervillains to commit suicide, leaving only the heroes left.  In order for the superheroes to defeat it, all superheroes but one to sacrificed their powers to defeat the Blue.  The world is left with left with powerless superheroes trying to cope with being normal, save one, a hero named Pentultimate, superhero Ultimate's former sidekick.  (The play on words makes me giggle.)

The Good:
Overall …

Branding Time

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I think that when most folks think of cowboys, they think of horses, boots, spurs, ropes, calves and branding irons.  Historically cowboys used to rope a calf by the hind leg, drag it to the branding area, and then two people held it down while others did the branding and castrating.  My family uses a calf table, which allows us to do our job with fewer people and finish each calf more quickly.

Branding, vaccinating and castrating is a big job, and it probably seems terribly cruel to most.  However, ranchers don't just do it for fun.

Selling calves is where ranchers make their money, and calves can't be sold if ownership cannot be established.  Hence, the brand.  Good brands are hard to alter and are clearly readable from a distance.

Compare the brand to a tattoo, which I understand can be a terribly drawn out and painful affair.  The brand takes only seconds, and the calf's skin is far thicker than our own.

An animal rights activist once asked one of my dad's frien…