Search This Blog

Saturday, April 2, 2011

What is your favorite "guilty pleasure" book?

I've really enjoyed reading the Friday Blog Hop and one of the blogs asked for a "guilty pleasure" book.  I thought I'd pass on my story here, too.  It's a great question--we all have those books that our friends or co-workers would go, "REALLY?!" 

I grew up with much older brothers (12 and 14 years) and my mom worked in the local library, so I've always been surrounded by books and readers.  I tore through my brothers' science fiction paperbacks and some still have honored places in my personal collection.  They were important to me growing up, influencing me to do well in math and science and I met my husband and most of my friends through the science fiction conventions I attended.  Most of my characters in my romance novels are fans and gamers, because those are the smart, funny people I know.

Anyway, I remember when I was ten or eleven, reading one of the Robert A. Heinlein novels written specifically for what they now call the Young Adult market, titled Podkayne from Mars.  It wasn't his best work, but I didn't care.  I adored it from the first page, because it was about a girl around my age who got to go on adventures, said the things she wanted to say and generally was successful because she was smart, even though she got in trouble for being a smart ass.  [SPOILER ALERT!!!]  It was one of those books I didn't want to end and when I read the epilogue, it was written by her brother.  I was totally and completely distraught, because my beloved character had been killed.  It was right after my oldest brother was killed in an accident and I'm sure that had a huge amount to do with my emotional angst. 

Skipping forward twenty or so years, I started writing essays for our local science fiction club AND writers guild newsletters.  BTW, I am The Queen of the 300 Word Essay, so this blogging stuff is cake.  But, for an essay on what books have influenced me (which is another blog topic), I decided to reread Podkayne.  Lo and behold, I got to the end and realized that all those years ago, I'd skipped over the sentence which implied she lived, but was only severely injured.  All those years, I'd been convinced she died and I was wrong!

A few more years later, I was with my husband at a World Science Fiction Convention (why, yes, I am a fan girl!) in Boston, at a panel titled "Women Who Love Heinlein."  Ian and Betty Ballantine were there as guests, as they had signed and edited many SF authors, including RAH.  I got up and told my story about how I'd misinterpreted Podkayne's fate all those years ago and Mrs. B explained that in his original draft, he DID kill her off!  Now, the book came out in the '60s for kids and it wouldn't do, so they convinced him to change the ending.  Mystery solved and I was glad they had a chance to share the story. 

Guess what came out from Baen Books a while later?  Sure enough, a trade paperback edition of Podkayne from Mars with both endings.  I spoke with a woman who works for them at another convention and said I should get a commission and she just laughed.  But, at a library sale a few years ago, a shiver ran down my back when I found an old, well-worn copy of that juvy, that now sits on my shelf. 

So, what's your guilty pleasure?  Harry Potter or Twilight?  You won't get any sneers from me, I certainly understand.  A trashy romance from when you were a teenager that fed your love of the genre?  I'd love to hear your story.  Bring it into the light and share, please. 

Friday, April 1, 2011

Follow Friday Online Writers' Blog Hop

Follow Friday Online Writers' Blog Hop

Welcome to my first ever Follow Friday Online Writers' Blog Hop!


Some people like to do it in the office. Others prefer it in bed. Some people like it on the dining room table. Get your mind out of the gutter! I'm asking where you like to write!


I do most of my writing on my ancient laptop, sitting on the loveseat in my living room.  Unfortunately, the TV is there and Jewel Quest III is loaded on that computer.....

Elizabeth Sharp of SomeSharpWords started this blog hop. So if you're a writer and want to participate, join in! Not sure if you qualify? Well, if you have a blog to add, guess what, you're a writer. Click the quill logo above to join the fun and view the spotlight writer, Liz Schulte from Bat Country, and her answer to this week's featured question. Here are the rules to follow:
  • Follow this blog (required).
  • Follow Elizabeth's blog, the originator of this hop.
  • Follow the featured author of the week.
  • Copy the image code on SomeSharpWords (Elizabeth's blog) and paste it in your blog. Add your link while you're there, too.
  • Copy and paste the rules to the blog hop, as well as this week's question.Answer the question.
  • Follow, follow, follow! Network, connect, make a community! We love talking to our followers and replying to your comments.
  • If someone stops by, says "hi," and follows you, the polite thing to do is to follow back.
  • Comment here; introduce yourself. You just might find a new follower or two.
Happy blog hopping, everyone!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What would you have in your kit?

I have a friend that went into the hospital last night, via the emergency room.  He came through surgery okay, but will be down for the count for a couple of weeks.  But, it was serious enough that when his wife called, I packed one of my canvas bags with some stuff to take with me.

First thing I grabbed was the book I'm currently reading.  I usually have a book in my purse, but just started Jo Beverley's An Unlikely Countess and didn't know how long I'd be sitting and waiting.  Next, I grabbed a bunch of magazines.  You never know what they'll have in the waiting lounge and friends and family might want to be distracted.  Then, I packed a needlework project, making sure I had a pair of scissors and extra needle in the kit.  I started to grab some snacks and sodas, but didn't have what my friends really like and don't have any bottled water, so I headed out the door. 

I did make a run to my friends' house to get their phone charger cord and got the snacks and beverages there, along with some quarters from their overflowing change bin.  Also, gave the cats some treats and told them their humans were "at the vet's." 

We're at the age where we're sometimes called to sit with friends or family at the hospital or funeral home.  It's best to be prepared.  You never know how long you may be there or what might be a comfort.

I worked this into my novel, where the sisters are in Vegas for a bachelorette party and one ends up in the hospital.  Instead of drunken revelry, they end up taking turns, sitting and waiting.  The hero and heroine take a turn too, because seeing how your character reacts under a stressful situation or even ordinary situation, should tell the reader a lot about them. 

So, while I hope we don't have any more situations requiring hospital runs for the foreseeable future, it's reassuring to know I was able to contribute to the situation and ease the burden a bit.  What would you grab, if you were called upon to do hospital watch? 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Smaller portions

My mom learned how to cook from her mother-in-law, my grandmother.  Grandmother didn't think anything of whipping up a church dinner for 300 and thought recipes were merely suggestions.  I regret that by the time I got old enough to know her, she was in a nursing home, having suffered a stroke.  But, she left a legacy of a well-loved cookbook and a red plastic measuring scoop. 

I was helping (okay, watching) Mom in the kitchen one day and she explained that she used a couple scoops of flour for what she was fixing.  Now, I was too busy taking math and science classes to take Home Ec in high school, but I knew that sometimes measuring was important and I asked how much that scoop held.  She shrugged, that's just the way Mom J did it, so that was the way she would do it.  Then, she told me how Mom J organized and cooked a chicken dinner for a couple hundred people to pay the insurance premium for the church.  Good thing, because they had a fire the next month and were able to rebuild.

So, I always grew up cooking large quantities of food and learned to eyeball things.  A few years after we were married, I bought a big stockpot.  Many thought I was nuts (and I am), but I've always been one to fix batches of spaghetti sauce, chili, chicken noodle soup, beef vegetable soup, etc., then we'd eat on them during the week.  Kind of the way Mom would do it.  Dad worked for the railroad and kept odd hours.  I remember eating steak at 2am on a TV tray.  That's the way we did it, we ate when we were hungry and there was always something on the stove or that could be warmed up.  The cooking shows where they fix only enough for one meal and sit down at a table are fascinatingly foreign to me. 

It's still the way I work.  But last night, I asked my husband if he wanted me to fix chili or spaghetti sauce with the ground beef and he threw me for a loop.  He said, "Why don't you fix both?"  Fix just a small batch?  Of two things?  In explanation, I have food allergies which include beef and tomato (and chicken and dozens of other things--it sucks!  But that's another story.), so I can only eat a serving of either say every other day.  I immediately thought about sharing some, making a casserole and taking it over to someone.  That's what Mom or Grandmother would do.  Or I could freeze some, so it wouldn't be sitting in the 'fridge forever.  And that meant I could fix the chicken later in the week and not worry the stuff I already had would go bad....

So, while I was grateful Chris actually gave me a suggestion, rather than saying "I dunno.  Fix what you want," I was also grateful that he made me think.  True, I still had to dirty up the pans, but that's okay.  I ate the spaghetti for lunch and he had the chili and life was good.

I've tried to put a little of this in my fiction.  Important scenes happen during meals.  My heroine considers what it would be like if she didn't marry the hero and ten years down the road would be fixing dinner for one and eating it by herself.  In another book, her niece gets a coffeemaker from her lover with the promise that he'll fix coffee for her every morning. 

Important things happen in life while cooking and eating or one could say cooking and eating are life and love.