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Showing posts from 2013

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…

Step One...

My son, who cannot read, was helping me make mac and cheese.  He picked up the blue box and squinted.  "What's step one, Mom?"

I sniggered and replied, "Cut a hole in the box."
"K.  What's step two?"
Ummm.....I'll tell you when you're older.

A Conservative Christian That Supports Gay Marriage

As a Republican Gay Baptist pointed out, we are not a country that likes complexity.  We like simple solutions to complex problems.  Failing schools?  Test the snot out of them.  Crime problem?  Throw them in jail and let them rot.

Whether you're right wing, left wing, or you hang under the dark underbelly of the plane, like me, the debate over gay marriage is a hotbed of stoutly held opinions.  Lobbyists and other political players benefit from fanning  the flames of outrage on both sides of the issue, complicating things considerably.  In this instance, a simple problem has been made very complex, and the solution is in actuality very simple.

In my opinion, gay marriage shouldn't even be an issue.  It should be legal.  Government should not have its nose in the bedroom unless one partner doesn't consent.  Most of those who oppose gay marriage do it for religious reasons.  Religious intrusion into law and politics usually causes more harm than good.

To understand how reli…

Those Who Want to be Broken

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I'm a singer.  Most of the time stage fright is not a problem.  As a pianist, not so much.  I can have mini mental breakdowns in between the Gloria and the Sanctus when I'm playing organ at church.  As a writer I deal with my own fear of not being good enough on a daily basis.  As a music teacher, I teach my students how to deal with their fear from a very young age.  I've had to develop numerous techniques to battle anxiety because all but one of my private voice students are nearly crippled by it.

Though music is my game, fear is my specialty in a lot of ways.  I realized the other day that I've noticed a trend.

There are those who conquer their fears and feel amazing for having done so.  There are those who still feel it, but trudge on anyway.  There are those who quit because conquering fear is more difficult than living with it.  Finally, there are those who deliberately sabotage any effort at improving one's physical or mental health because, quite frankly, …

Those Who Are Irredeemable

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My father loves to argue a point.  As most of the people he knew did anything they could to avoid
engaging in an argument they'd never win, my sister and I got to debate with him as we were bouncing in the farm pickup's passenger seat.

He strongly believed that all people are born inherently self-centered or evil, ourselves included.  He saw it in his animals, and most especially in small children.  (Think about it.  Most kids have to be taught to share, to take turns.)  I can't find any numbers to back this up, but it seems as though most folks I run into believe the exact opposite:  that evil people are made that way.

There are a lot of misconceptions about psychopaths, most of which I've covered in a previous post.  I happen to agree with my father, that people are born selfish or evil, so I never thought much about how believing in man's inherent goodness could make one a victim.  One thing that's really been driven home to me while reading Lovefraud is t…

New Review Policy

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It's been a while since I've done a review here.  I've had several really bad experiences for a variety of reasons, and I've been taking some time to create a new policy to address several problems.

The majority of books I have received are self-published.  Many authors sent me books in dire need of editing.  I felt obligated to read the entire book, so my reviews wound up turning into editing sessions.  This was not always a bad experience.  As a teacher, it's fun to help folks find creative ways to address problems in their projects.  However, I was only able to manage to do it while I had a student teacher, which gave me a lot of time to ruminate on issues and how to solve them.  After I returned to full time teaching, editing was incredibly time-consuming and took time away from my projects.

Additionally, I felt I had to be honest, but I'm very good at spinning feedback in a positive way.  However, I had so many books that were substandard it was beginni…

Summertime...and the Livin' is Easy...NOT!

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School is officially out for summer, and it's time to get crackin' on my writing.

I put my novel aside for the school year to focus on creative projects for my students.  The results were pretty spectacular, if I do say so myself.

My students and I collaborated on creating a program honoring veterans and educating the audience on the challenges they faced throughout the years.  We made the Marines cry with, "Sticks That Made Thunder," a bluegrass tune by The Steeldrivers.  (Done with permission, of course.)  The National Guard presented us with a Patriot Award for our efforts.

My writing partner, Cathy, my husband, and I created and produced a kid's musical on rangeland ecology called, "Hairy on the Prairie:  The Search for Montana's Bigfoot."

The last program of the year was written almost entirely by the fourth grade kids.  The fourth grade recorder program used to be so boring, so we decided a few years ago to modify a musical and write recorder…

Guest Post by Brad A. LaMar

Pain Meds and Life Lessons Guest Post by Brad A. LaMar
I’d like to thank Scooter for letting me guest blog on Cowgirl Contemporary Fantasy, even though I am not a cow nor am I a girl.I thought I would share a story about my father and my uncle that brought a little humor to a rather depressing situation.
When my father, John, turned 50 he owned his own roofing business and was also a firefighter with great work ethic and big heart for helping someone in need.He never really needed anything from anyone since he was going to work twice as hard as the next guy and make whatever it was that needed to happen happen.I tell you this because about four months after he turned 50 he was struck by a debilitating virus in a condition known as Guillain- Barre syndrome (GBS). (You can follow the link to learn more, but essentially the covering on his body’s nerves known as the myelin sheath was stripped away and his body cannot receive messages from his brain to move.It can be experienced different…

How I Found a Fuzzy Beaver While Looking for a Kidney

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Just like the incident with my Grandma's vibrator, the beaver story takes a little explanation.  "Beaver" and "human kidney" don't often appear in the same sentence, much less be tied together by a haunted house.

My mom and dad found out about me about three days before I was born.  It wasn't like Mom had no idea she was pregnant.  She just didn't know I was hiding behind my sister.  It wasn't long before the whole family realized two adults, a four-year-old, and a set of newborn twins weren't going to fit into a two-bedroom trailer house.

My grandmother lived in the large ranch house at the time, and she had planned on eventually putting in a new double-wide for herself so my family could move into the seven-bedroom yellow house, what we grew up calling the big house.  She graciously offered to move up her plans to ease the housing squeeze.
My brother, at four years old, noticed that something wasn't quite right in the big ranch house w…

Guest Post by Rachel Carrington-Enjoy Olive Garden

Enjoy Olive Garden Guest Post by Rachel Carrington
When my assistant told me I had been graciously allowed to guest post at Cowgirl Contemporary Fantasy, I was excited. I love Scooter's stories and her sense of humor, especially her October 2011 post, Naughty Minds.
So in the interest of keeping with the humor aspect, I thought I'd share my latest faux pas. In the interest of full disclosure, I was extremely busy this holiday season (as most of us are), and I was frantically trying to finish a writing goal I'd set for myself. So I was admittedly a little scatterbrained.
Usually, I sent gift cards to my friends who live out of town because I don't like having to lug big boxes to the post office, and I don't know what they already have in their house. So I stuffed the cards in the envelopes, wrote an appropriately gushy note under the card's sentiment, and stuck the cards in the mail slot to await the forthcoming bouts of gratitude. (Hey, occasionally, my friend…