Friday, February 24, 2017

The Cephalopod Coffeehouse _ Pretty Girls

Welcome to another edition of the Cephalopod Coffeehouse. The idea is simple: on the last Friday of each month, post about the best book you've finished over the past month while visiting other bloggers doing the same.  In this way, we'll all have the opportunity to share our thoughts with other enthusiastic readers. 

This month I'm going to tell you about Pretty Girls by Karen Slaughter

More than twenty years ago, Claire and Lydia’s teenaged sister Julia vanished without a trace. The two women have not spoken since, and now their lives could not be more different. Claire is the glamorous trophy wife of an Atlanta millionaire. Lydia, a single mother, dates an ex-con and struggles to make ends meet. But neither has recovered from the horror and heartbreak of their shared loss—a devastating wound that's cruelly ripped open when Claire's husband is killed.

The disappearance of a teenage girl and the murder of a middle-aged man, almost a quarter-century apart: what could connect them? Forming a wary truce, the surviving sisters look to the past to find the truth, unearthing the secrets that destroyed their family all those years ago . . . and uncovering the possibility of redemption, and revenge, where they least expect it.

I read this in a single sitting for two reasons: I was sick, and it was really good, even though I don't read a lot of books like this, ie thrillers with women in peril. But I grew to like both these sisters quite quickly, especially Lydia, whose sarcastic wit among the soccer moms totally cracked me up, and helped her stay strong later. If you do like thrillers, I highly recommend it. If you can't read about torture (it isn't gratuitous; the author tells you enough to horrify but doesn't drown you in all the details) then you might not enjoy this book.

In other news, 23 days til spring...

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A Little Romance

Katherine Kennedy has it all; she’s beautiful, she’s wealthy, and she’s engaged to the perfect man: Antonio D'Salvatore. There’s just one problem. She can’t marry him. Worse yet, she has no idea why. All she knows is there is suddenly nothing she wants, not Antonio, or any of the other hundred thousand things money can buy.

Jack McCabe comes home from the war with a pretty medal and a lot of ugly pictures in his head. He has little in the way of possessions, less in the way of wealth, nowhere to go and no one to go anywhere with. All he has is a vague sense of discontent, a restlessness that will not abate.

Separately, they are drawn to Paradise Tours on the privately owned Cristobel Island. There they meet Louis Cade, a man who offers them the unimaginable, something neither can quite believe until they actually find themselves over 125 years in the past, 1881 to be exact.

For Jack McCabe it’s the adventure he always dreamed of – until he meets a beautiful but deadly train robber. Katherine can't believe an ignorant bounty hunter has mistaken her for a criminal – until she sees the picture, which looks exactly like her.

Neither of them can imagine how the past has a way of catching up with the present.
Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 13, 2017

35 days and a Cedar Waxwing oh my!

I'm a bit late posting today thanks to 8 tons of snow currently getting dumped on my state (Maine). Everyone has been advised to stay home unless it's an emergency. They even grounded the plow trucks here for a bit! I think I've shoveled five times since I got up this morning.

That's the end of my driveway down there somewhere...

In other news, there's only 35 days til spring - which seems laughable to even speak of in light of today's weather - and I have two more bird pics to share, much thanks to my son for sharing.

Cedar Waxwing - tell me he isn't beautiful
Mr. Cardinal - don't you love his crest?

Last but not least, I've sent my manuscript, currently titled BELL, BLACK, & BRIAR off to be read and we shall see what comes of that, so there's one goal met. Go me!

Now, how are you doing? Got weather?

Monday, February 6, 2017

A few Black History facts you may not know...

As most of you probably know, February is Black History Month but I'll bet there's a few people associated with Black History that you don't know.

Claudette Colvin was 15 years old in 1955 and 9 months before Rosa Parks made a name for herself Claudette refused to give up her seat on the bus when asked. However, the NAACP felt that Rosa Parks, a respectable middle class adult, would better represent the movement and so became the face of resistance. Imagine being 15 years old and black in Montgomery Alabama in 1955 and having the courage to say no.

Another interesting person is a man called Onesimus (sorry no pic), who was likely born in Africa in the late 17th Century and arrived in Boston as a gift to Puritan Minister Cotton Mather from his congregation. At some point, Onesimus told Mather about an old tradition of extracting material from an infected person and then scratching it onto the skin of a healthy person in order to make them immune. During the smallpox epidemic of 1721 Mather convinced Dr. Zabdiel Boylston to try Onesimus' method and of those who contracted smallpox, only 2% of the inoculated people died vs 15% of the non-inoculated.

Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950) was an author, journalist and the founder of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, and The Journal of Negro History.  In February of 1926 he launched the celebration of "Negro History Week" which was the precurser to Black History Month. Woodson believed that education and increasing social and professional contacts among blacks and whites could reduce racism and he promoted the organized study of African-American history partly for that purpose.

How many of these people did you know? I'll admit, I knew none until I looked up Black History. I purposely chose the ones I didn't know. I thought it was interesting that Onesimus knew all about inoculation from tradition. It was common knowledge among his people. I should also mention that Cotton Mather did eventually free him, though not without conditions.

In other news, I'm making one last pass through my manuscript before sending it off to readers, and there are now 42 days left til spring...

Monday, January 30, 2017


As some of you may recall, my son is a birder. That means he likes to go out and search for birds, especially birds he hasn't seen or birds not commonly seen. He'll drive hours to go see a rare bird that's stumbled into Maine or be perfectly happy going down to the mills and watching the ducks and geese. Recently he bought himself a nice camera to take pictures of the birds he sees, something he'd been wanting for quite some time. Today, I'm going to share some of those pictures...

The first pic he sent me was of a Mockingbird, from the Mimidae family, who are best known for the habit of some species mimicking the songs of other birds and the sounds of insects and amphibians, often loudly and in rapid succession. They're here in Maine, but not commonly seen, like goldfinches or chickadees.

Second pic is a Red-tailed hawk, which belongs to the Accipitridae family (no idea how to pronounce that) and is a bird of prey which is colloquially known in the US as the "chickenhawk," though apparently it rarely preys on standard sized chickens. The majority of hawks captured for falconry in the United States are red-tails.

Seagulls belong to the Laridae family and are generalist feeders, equally adept at swimming, flying, and walking. In the air, they are able to hover and they are also able to take off quickly with little space. Some people think they're a nuisance but I like them, even if they can be NOISY!

And finally an extra pretty House finch (Finch family), which I occasionally see at the feeders at my work. Originally only a resident of Mexico and the Southwestern US, they were introduced illegally in NYC and sold as "Hollywood Finches". To avoid prosecution, vendors and owners released the birds which have since become naturalized. The girls aren't nearly as pretty, poor things.

And that my friends is your lesson on birds for the week :)

Do you like birds?

Friday, January 27, 2017

The Cephalopod Coffeehouse - We Were Liars

Welcome to another edition of the Cephalopod Coffeehouse whose idea is this: on the last Friday of each month, post about the best book you've finished over the past month while visiting other bloggers doing the same.  In this way, we'll all have the opportunity to share our thoughts with other enthusiastic readers. Click on the pic/link to see who else is doing this and consider joining to share a book you've read.

This month I'm going to tell you about We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, which was not my favorite book of January but I'm going to tell you about it anyway.

The Premise (stolen from Amazon): Each summer the wealthy, seemingly perfect, members of the Sinclair family gather on their private island. We Were Liars is the story of those annual reunions; in particular what happened during a summer that protagonist Cadence is unable to remember. Prejudice, greed, and shifting patriarchal favoritism among the three adult sisters contrasts with the camaraderie and worldview of the teenage cousins and their dear friend Gat. Lazy days of sticky lemonades on the roof and marathon Scrabble games give way to twisty suspense, true love, and good intentions gone horribly wrong.

A lot of people have reviewed this book on Amazon, and over 75% gave it four stars or better. I don't know how many stars I'd give it. I didn't love it, but mainly because I didn't love any of the characters. In order for me to give a book four or five stars I really need to care about someone and for whatever reason I just didn't feel that for Cadence, or any of the other characters.

On the other hand, I absolutely did not see what was coming, even when a pretty good clue was thrust right in my face, and then when I thought it wasn't going to get worse it did. Cadence has good reason to want to forget what happened and I was determined to find out, even if I didn't love her, or her dysfunctional family.

Hence my hesitation in giving the book a rating. Because even though I didn't love the characters I really wanted to know what happened and I think I read it straight through one evening when I was sick.

Has anyone else read this book? If so, I'd love to know what your thoughts were. If not, tell me what you're reading and whether you're liking it...

Have a wicked fun weekend :)

Monday, January 23, 2017

Goals? What goals?

So. I’m nearing the end of Season Three of Buffy and approaching The Ascension. God, I love the Mayor. He’s so cheerfully evil. He’s my favorite kind of evil. You want him gone, but damn he’s entertaining! Sort of like Crowley in Supernatural. Not like Geoffrey in GOT. He couldn’t die soon enough, imo.

Meanwhile (huge sigh), it’s still winter, even though I wish it wasn’t. But...(and by the time spring gets here you’ll be sick of hearing me say this)…only 57 days til spring! I know it's just a date but it means the end of winter is in sight.

That’s what I wish it looked like out on my porch. Alas, it’s more like this:

(ok, so maybe I'm exaggerating a little, but I think I've illustrated my point)

But I digress. Let's talk about goals. I thought I'd keep myself honest by mentioning them once in a while. As far as books go I've done well so far, having read three whole books, all of which I enjoyed. I'm currently reading The Bone Clocks. I am also making progress with my revisions, and I've sent out a few queries on my scifi,  NO REST. So that's good. As far as exercise and food...well, not so good. I have been walking every morning and soon it will be light enough to walk at night when I get home, which will help. But. I found these awful Boston Creme Muffins with a chocolate glaze that are just soooo good...I really need to stop buying them.

But nevermind me, how are things with you? Enjoying any shows? Getting outside? Eating anything awful?

Monday, January 16, 2017

Martin Luther King Jr.

"Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think."

"An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity."  

"Nothing in this world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."

"I refuse to accept the view that man is so tragically bound tot he starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality...I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word." 
Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.
Read more at:

Monday, January 9, 2017


So. Buffy. And for those who don’t watch feel free to skip this part. Anyway. I’m at the end of Season 2, and things are getting good. Spike and Buffy are about to have a chat about Angel. I love when good and evil come together—briefly—to ally against a greater evil, and Spike is so good at being bad. He’s like Billy Idol if he ever became a vampire. The other great thing about watching Buffy is there isn’t that urgency to binge watch like there is with something new, which gives me a break from writing, but not an excuse to stay away.

As for revisions, I am now up to Chapter 31, which is more than the half way point. I would probably be a bit further along if I hadn’t been felled by a horrible head cold that basically stole 2 days away from me. I don’t know about you but head colds ruin my creativity. I did however finish reading The Girl from Everywhere (which I will review for the Cephalopod Coffeehouse at the end of the month), read Pretty Girls over the course of Saturday and We Were Liars Saturday night.

Lastly, I did get to see Rogue One over the holidays but I didn’t like it as much as I hoped. I would however go see it again to make sure. Loved the Imperial droid and seeing a few familiar faces. Couldn’t help but think of Carrie Fisher.

Now, tell me how things are going with you. Anything new or notable?

Monday, January 2, 2017

Bring it on 2017

Well. I can’t say I’m too sorry to see 2016 go. It was not the worst year (any year between 1346-1353 would better qualify) but we lost a lot of great people—Alan Rickman, David Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen, and Carrie Fisher, to name a few. I saw a nice tweet on FB from Prince William, I think, that said, ‘Condolences from the House of Windsor to House Organa.’ That’s how much she was loved. Then of course there was the awful election, and no matter how you voted you can’t tell me it wasn’t awful. Not to mention my own personal woes (*sigh* still waiting for my house to sell).

The good news is I’m not going to talk about any of that stuff. Instead I’m going to tell you something good. I completed my WIP, BELL, BLACK & BRIAR (a paranormal murder mystery…) and am now revising. This means in the future I may also talk to you about how much fun it isn’t moving scenes about and then revising because you moved some scenes about. I might also tell you how important it is to keep track of all your clues and leads and discoveries when you’re writing a mystery (trust me, it's really important). Or, I might deviate and tell you about Buffy (yes, I am re-watching for the third time, don’t judge), and am I the only one who thinks that Angel is a bit of a wuss and Spike is awesome?

Lastly I am going to publicly state a few goals, which shouldn’t be too hard for me to reach:
  1. Finish revisions on BB&B, send out to readers, and have it ready to go on submission by summer
  2. Read more books – I was a crappy reader last year; I need to do better this year - currently reading The Girl from Everywhere
  3. Make better health choices (less sugar, more vegetables and fruits, more walking, blah blah blah) cuz I ain't no spring chicken anymore!

Bring it on 2017!

Monday, December 5, 2016

First Impressions - Curiosity Kills

Welcome to another edition of First Impressions whereby one brave writer submits their first page for a critique by three authors: me,  Dianne Salerni, and Krystalyn Drown. This month we have a first page from a young writer named Jasmine. Here is the first page of her scifi story, CURIOSITY KILLS.


The air was light and crisp, the wind lightly flowing through the trees, gently shaking the leaves, which slowly moved (moved is a weak verb, how about fluttered?) their way down to the soft dirt ground. The mood (what mood? Do you mean clouds perhaps?) slowly departed to let the sun take over the sky. Purples, pinks, oranges and reds all painted the sky like a brand new canvas waiting to be framed. Axel sat patiently on his smooth wooden windowsill seat. He waited for the perfect time for the sky to set in its place.
“Bingo.” With his notebook in hand, he very gently and gracefully colored a picture of the sky in all its beauty. He grabbed all different kinds of colors form the new pencil set he bought from the store. He had finally saved up enough to buy the best pencils in town. Many of the townspeople (who? Many implies that a lot of the townspeople know him. Is he that well known in town? I think this would be more effective if it was more specific) would tell him that it was a waste to buy pencils when he could spend his money on something more useful and important. (such as?) He was very talented, though many people (again, not very specific. And why don’t they approve?) did not approve. He didn’t listen, though. He made quite a good profit by selling all of his artwork, (if he’s making money with his art, why would people be against him making art?) proving to people that it wasn’t a waste. Despite always being busy helping his mother around the house, he usually found time to relax and draw. (if he’s always busy, then he wouldn’t have the time. Maybe delete the word ‘always’)
After a while, Axel finished his drawing, satisfied with his work. He sat at his windowsill for a little while longer, watching the sun climb up the sky and the white, puffy clouds roll in. He then stood up, put his notebook on the seat, and walked over to his mirror. He was quite the handsome boy, just like his father. His raven black hair was slicked back and curling a bit on the ends. Crystal blue eyes, like his mother’s, shone like large diamonds on his white pale face. He had broad shoulders and a strong voice. A strong voice he faked 80 percent of the time only to impress the girls his age in the town. (lol. This is good. It shows rather than tells that he cares about making an impression with the girls)
Axel ran his bony fingers through his hair, making it messier than it already was. Even though he went to bed pretty early the previous night, he was still exhausted. (why?)The clanking of pots and pans, and the sound of running water could be heard coming from their large marble-based kitchen. The delicious smell of pancakes and bacon came wafting up the stairs and into his bedroom. (mmm, I can smell them, too)

My thoughts: The first thing I noticed was the number of adverbs (words that end in –ly): gently, lightly, slowly, patiently, gracefully. Adverbs are fine in small numbers but too many can overwhelm. So, for example: “The air was light and crisp, wind flowing through the trees, gently shaking the leaves, which slowly moved their way down to the soft dirt ground.” This way light is only used once and there’s only one adverb here instead of two. I should also say that I tend to use too many adverbs in my first drafts and often have to go back and rewrite.
The second thing is Axel going to the mirror. This is a common way to show what our characters look like but it’s a little too common. A better way might be to open with Axel watching the sky and describe him there. That way it seems like the narrator is showing the reader rather than Axel thinking he’s handsome and has his mother’s eyes, etc. I’d definitely keep the voice thing. Love that!
Third, this is supposed to be science fiction and I’d like to get a sense of that somewhere on this first page. It doesn’t have to be a lot, a hint will do, but even a suggestion could make this first page pop. I’d love to know why so many people don’t think he should make art when he’s obviously successful at it. Is it all the people, or just some of the people? And if some, which ones? That might be an interesting idea to explore.
Finally, I realize this first page is from a young writer, not someone who has been at it for a while. It usually takes many rewrites to get everything right on the first page (not to mention the succeeding ones). I would definitely recommend a class in creative writing if available, maybe through the local adult ed? It’s amazing how much we can all learn from each other no matter how old we are.
Jasmine, I hope you keep writing and practicing. You’ve got a great start here! Oh, love the tile, too :)

Readers, I’d love to hear your thoughts, and I’m sure Jasmine would, too.

Last but not least, due to family illness, I probably won't be back 'til after the new year. Be well and enjoy the holidays.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Me - Featured!

Just want to share with you all that I'm the featured writer at Writing and Wellness. A big thanks to Colleen for this :)

Monday, November 7, 2016

First Impressions - Untitled

We have a special First Impressions today from an aspiring 7th grade writer, as yet untitled. My partners in crime - Dianne K. Salerni and Krystalyn Drown - will also be critiquing this first page on their respective blogs, so I hope everyone will pay them a visit to see what their thoughts were.

Tightly clutching a twenty dollar bill in her hand, 23 year old Maya approached the counter at an Asian takeout restaurant.
“Uhm, could I have an order of spring rolls?” she uttered. In most cases, use he said, she said.
“Is that all?” The woman at the counter inquired.
Maya nodded. 
“That will be 11 dollars.” The woman added.
Maya handed the woman the twenty dollar (make it either 11 and 20 or eleven and twenty for consistency) bill and received her change. She situated herself on one of the red leathery cushions positioned throughout the wait area. She had heard good things about this restaurant, (no comma needed here) and was hoping that it would live up to the rumors. It was strange, really. The place just appeared one day out of nowhere. (ooh, interesting…) A different employee (a man this time) tugged on a short string connected to a bell, making a shrill ring that grabbed the attention of all the customers. He then placed a grease soaked takeout bag marked ‘spring rolls’ on the mahogany countertop. Maya stood and paced (walked or went is fine. Pacing implies repetition) over to the countertop and grabbed her food. She peered up at the man at the counter when she realized he had been staring at her the entire time she was here. He winked at her then continued staring. What a creep… Maya thought to herself and hurried out of the building. She shivered. That’s definitely a drawback. This place better have amazing food. Maya weaved through the bustling crowds of people out on the terribly paved streets of Vladivostok.
 A chunk of her ash blond hair slid into her face, covering one of her bronze-colored eyes. She ducked into an alleyway, pulled her hair away from her face, and continued walking down the alleyway. Her nose caught whiffs from the white paper bag in her hand, and she could almost taste the crispy, almost sweet parcels filled with a variety of vegetables. She navigated through a labyrinth of alleyways until she got so far out she came to an entrance to a forest. Maya loved this getaway from the busy life in the town. She would come here almost everyday now for some peace and quiet. The thick treetops were comforting, as they reminded her of her childhood that was full of adventure. Pulling back some blooming branches to create an opening, she entered and began to wander around. 
Following  the sound of a trickling stream, she came upon an old, eroded wooden bridge that was surrounded by lush underbrush. She maneuvered around the shrubs and sat down on the side of the bridge. The bridge was still damp from the morning dew. Maya slipped her flats off of her feet and set them next to her, swung her feet over the side of the bridge and opened her bag. She scarfed down the spring rolls(which really were as amazing as people said they were) and went to roll up her trash in the bag. I almost forgot. She pulled out a fortune cookie encased in a transparent plastic, tore away the wrapper, and snapped the cookie open. Setting the slip of paper holding her fortune to the side, she ate the cookie. When she picked up the slip of paper and read her fortune, she suddenly felt sick to her stomach. This must be some sort of a joke.. Her mind was racing. The paper read ‘Your life's in danger. Talk to nobody about this. You must leave to a different country immediately’. (This sentence reads awkwardly; I'm not sure you can leave to a different country. Maybe, You must get out of the country immediately.) Maya quickly gathered her trash, slipped her shoes on and ran all the way back to her flat that overlooked the ocean.

My thoughts: Aside from the grammatical errors (and I can tell you my grammar was waaay worse in 7thgrade) this is an intriguing first page. Did the take-out place actually appear overnight? Does it give out fortune cookies of a similar nature to all its clients, just some, or just Maya?? And why is Maya’s life in danger?!!! I don't know about you but I'd be curious enough to turn the page to find what happens next.

Readers, please chime in and help out by offering any suggestions you might have for improving this page. Aspiring author, thanks for submitting and keep writing!

Monday, October 31, 2016

You tell me

As some of you may remember, I posted at the beginning of the summer how I was trying to sell my wicked cute little house. It is now almost November, and I've had quite a few lookers, but no takers. I'm considering the idea of renting my house out, which would allow to me to move in with my sister, but I wonder how having renters in the house might affect selling. I'm also hoping some of you are landlords and can advise me of all the things to beware of, should I decide to rent. Certainly I'll check any potential tenants out, but beyond that, what should I know before committing to the idea? Maybe it's more of a headache than I want.

What do you think?

I'll leave you with the hope for a wonderful week and a few more pumpkin pics from past years...

Happy Halloween :)

Friday, October 21, 2016

Pumpkin Pics - Fail

Due to circumstances beyond my control (family emergency, family trouble, weather, etc), I don't think there will be any new pumpkin pics this year. I wasn't able to get into town on Sunday (my one day off) and I have doubts about this Sunday not to mention that the pumpkins are starting to...well, rot. Cuz that's what happens. I imagine they'll come to cart them away soon. Anyway, as consolation I'm posting a few of my favorites from years past...

In other news I am still making (slow) progress on FAIRY TAIL thanks to my Monday night practice, and I will also have a First Impression for you all the first week of November. And in case you forgot, First Impressions is a triple critique of someone's first page by authors Dianne Salerni (The Eighth Day), Krystalyn Drown (Legasea), and yours truly. If you're interested check out the FAQ on my sidebar.

Have a wicked awesome weekend :)

Friday, October 14, 2016


One of my mottoes (which I got from my son) is, Practice makes pretty good (our variation of Practice makes perfect), and one of the ways I practice writing is Monday Night Practice with four other regular writers. We check in with each other before it begins at 8pm, and tell each other what we plan to work on. At 8pm we (are supposed to, ahem) turn off all distractions and write for a solid hour. At 9pm we check back in to discuss our progress, or lack thereof. For most of the summer I've been revising FAIRY TAIL, which as some of you know has been kicking my ass. But pretty much every Monday night (I did skip on debate night) I check in and work on fixing the mess I wrote. The interesting thing is I often make a fair bit of progress that night, which often leaks over into the next day or two, which means that I am - albeit slowly - making progress. I can't see the light at the end of the tunnel quite yet but I know it's there.

My point? My point is sometimes having some other people to answer to can help make writing happen. More than a few times I went into practice after having got stuck on how to make a scene work, what to salvage, what to toss, and how to weave everything back together properly. And most of the time I managed to finish and make sense of what I'd written, complete the task I'd set for myself for that hour.

And it's only an hour, once a week. Totally doable.

A huge thanks to the gals who show up every week, Maria, Carey, Krystalyn, and Dianne.

Do you have anyone to practice with? Do you find it as beneficial as I do?

As for pumpkin rained last Sunday which was my day to walk in to town so I'm hoping this Sunday will be nicer and hopefully Monday I'll have some pumpkin pics for everyone. Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Monday, October 3, 2016

The Swainson's Hawk

As some of you may recall, my son is a birder, which means he goes and 'gets' birds. Getting a bird does not mean capturing it. Getting a bird means you see and identify the bird. Some birders also count birds they can identify by song as well (no easy feat I might add). To get an inkling of what the birder is like, I highly recommend The Big Year, which perfectly illustrates the lengths birders will go to to get the bird.

Like the guys in the movie, my son has lists. He has a yearly list, to tally all the birds he sees in a year, a Maine list, to tally all the birds he sees here, and a lifer list, of all the individual birds he's seen ever. He may have a yard list, too...Anyway, there's a listserve for Maine (and probably other states as well or something like it) which alerts birders to unusual birds that may have ventured out of their normal range. Like the Swainson's Hawk, which is 'a common sight over grasslands of the Great Plains and the west, but only in summer: every autumn, most individuals migrate to southern South America. Although Swainson's Hawk is big enough to prey on rodents, snakes, and birds (and does so, while it is raising young), at most seasons it feeds heavily on large insects instead. Flocks are often seen sitting on the ground in fields where there are many grasshoppers or caterpillars (courtesy of'

The important fact here is that that this hawk primarily resides west of the Mississippi and migrates to South America. Not Maine. But there he was hanging out at the Millinocket Airport.

A Juvenile Swainson's Hawk

My son drove two and a half hours to get this bird, and the picture, which brings his yearly count to 191 different birds seen in Maine this year. A personal best, I might add. Also a pretty awesome bird to get in Maine :)

Here's what the adult Swainson's Hawk looks like -

So. There's your bird lesson for the day. I should also mention that Dianne, Krytalyn, and I are still doing First Impressions (we've cut back to one submission per month) so if you have a first page you'd like critiqued by three authors, email me and you can have November's spot :)

Finally, Pumpkinfest fast approaches, and I will be making my annual walk into to town to photograph them. For those who think this whole pumpkin decorating thing is silly, here's a reminder how creative these decorators can be:

Have a fabulous week :)

Friday, September 30, 2016

The Cephalopod Coffee House - Did You Ever Have a Family?

Welcome to another edition of the Cephalopod Coffeehouse. The idea is simple: on the last Friday of each month, post about the best book you've finished over the past month while visiting other bloggers doing the same.  In this way, we'll all have the opportunity to share our thoughts and our books with other enthusiastic readers. Please join us:

This month I'm going to to tell you about this book:

This story is about a woman, June, who loses everyone she cares about in one fell swoop. Her lover, Luke, her ex, Will, her daughter Lolly, and her daughter's fiance, Will. Poof. Gone. Just like that. Then, not long after the funerals, she ups and leaves, just gets in her car and goes, with pretty much nothing but her wallet. At some point she finds her daughter's bags in the car, and an old journal which reveals itself as June heads west. Meanwhile, there's what she's left behind and the chapters move between the various viewpoints until we find out exactly what happened and how and what's left.

I read this book quite quickly because even though you know how everyone dies right off, there are still questions. And when June just gets in her car and goes, without a plan, with nothing except her wallet I had to find out where she was going, and where she would end up. Fortunately for her, she has money and can afford to take indefinite bereavement leave from life. Meanwhile, Luke's mother, Lydia--who thought she and June were beginning to be friends--is stuck in the same town with all the people who brag about their lives and their kids and think Luke was the cause of the tragedy, because according one snotty minor character, he was 'an ex-con, and black, not that it matters.'

Mostly the book is about June and Lydia, and how each of them deal with their own private hell, but there are other secondary characters who are just as interesting. Yes, it's sad, but sometimes it's good to read the sad books, too. Plus, it's the sort of book you think about after, and wonder where the characters are, hoping things are better for them.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Imagine my dismay

When I last spoke to you all about my time in revisionland for FAIRY TAIL (where I still reside except for the occasional foray into SNI land which I allow myself ONLY after I've made some substantial progress), I had finally rectified the whole motivation thing for one of my characters and was feeling fairly confident about moving forward. I managed to revise the first third of the novel to my satisfaction, and then moved on to see how the rest stood.

Imagine my dismay upon discovering that the final two thirds of the novel were an even bigger mess, with more characters doing things that didn't serve the purpose at hand, scenes that didn't move the plot forward an inch, and descriptions (many, many paragraphs full) that were there just so the author could describe something lovely and the reader would be suitably impressed.

The good news is that while there's a big mess I have to fix and a whole lot of words that will not make it to the next round, the novel IS essentially complete, which means I have something to work with. Better yet, I have my chapter by chapter outline so I can actually see which chapters aren't working and what I can salvage from them. Hence the value of this outline, written mostly during during and after (because I pants first, then plot - although obviously in this case I did very little plotting).

The bad news is I have no more Supernatural to watch until the next season is released and I'm all caught up on GOT, which leaves me nothing to watch - unless perhaps you have a suggestion? Preferably something that doesn't take place in the world as we know it.

Anyway. That's where I'm at. I'll leave you with a few late summer pics taken on my road...

Great Blue Heron, aka GBH. Wish I had a zoom lens. He was pretty.

Have an awesome week and I'll be back on Friday with a review of Did You Ever Have a Family? for the Cephalopod Coffee House.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

night spider

I know, spiders, ick. But as much as I don't like them (and I really don't), I do find them interesting, especially when they're OUTSIDE where they belong. I have a rule. If spiders come inside, they risk life and limb. Outside, perfectly safe - from me.

Anyway. The night spider.

 I spotted her the other night on my porch, building her little web and looking quite icky as far as spiders go, with a big giant bulbous body, you know, like Shelob, only not quite as scary. Not that I didn't keep my distance. Just admired from afar. On Wednesday my son stopped by at lunch and I told him about her, showed him where she hung out, but, no sign of her or her web. Then tonight, there she was again, spinning away, and I thought, how clever! She picked the perfect spot just outside my door where the light attracts all the insects that gather every night.

Just so long as she stays there and doesn't get any ideas about coming in for the winter.

How do you feel about spiders? And why are so many of us creeped out by them?