Monthly Archives: September 2012

Mona and the Young’uns

On Mary Keith’s wonderful business blog, today I’m selling out talking about the young people in my life. In particular my scary brilliant nieces and nephews, and the young writers I’ve met this past couple years.  The link is Mary Keith’s blog and if you happen to be coming to this late, it will be the blog for September 26, 2012.  Thanks Mary!

I’m thinking about a contest for the greatest time sucker of all. I thought it was Facebook, then Twitter.  But I find I was sooo wrong.  I’d been looking for some photos I took long ago to use on Pinterest to show some of the inspirations behind my books.  Lo and behold, I found them while taking those baby steps I need to help rework my life.  And I dropped in to Mona’s Pinterest Pages for “just a few minutes.”  As if that would ever be enough.  So my eyes are bloodshot and I’m mainlining Komodo Dragon Starbucks, but the pages are started. Drop on over if you get a minute.

And if you wondering if those photos were worth the time I spent looking, here’s a small hint.  I met this man many years ago and was honestly impressed by his intelligence and kindness as well as the more obvious attributes.


And when you’re done inpecting this inspiration, there’s some great writer advice going on at Kristen Lamb’s Blog

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When Writers Succumb to Chain Letters

You remember those multi generation reproductions you’d get in the mail?? Send something to the name at the top of

Jason, just ’cause it’s a cool picture. By L Trenholm

the list, add your name to the bottom of the list, and in only 90 days you would be inundated with recipes/poems/dollar bills.  Uh-huh.  Well Greta van der Rol,  of the amazing space operas tagged me in a blog challenge. The idea is to find the first instance of the word ‘look’ in your current WIP and post the surrounding paragraphs.  She has an excerpt from her new book, paranormal instead of space, which centers around tigers.  I am definitely looking forward to that read! Just so happens I was working on the “vengeance or redemption” story when that challenge came in, and doggonit if “look” wasn’t right there in the first page.

***At first glance there wasn’t much change to the town itself.  Maybe a new stop light or two but still on street slanted parking.  What had been quaint or charming when she had first arrived years ago as a confused young orphan was now just tired.  A closer LOOK showed peeling paint, potholed streets and too many shops with blank windows.    Willow Springs was a city on the downhill slide.  If ever a town needed an economic boost, she was driving down that street.***

Hmmm, and looking now I found the part that was bothering me so I could drop in a quick edit.  Thanks, Greta!  So now I’ll tag a few victims of my own, and give people an opportunity to meet some exciting new writers.

Jami Gray

Jennifer Moss

Zrinka Jelic

Alyssa Lyons

Piper Shelly


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Are Mixed Breed Dogs Healthier Than Purebreds?

Are Mixed Breed Dogs Healthier Than Purebreds?.

Jess Ruffner Booth turns out another fabulous blog on taking a reality check.


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Chocolate…Just Chocolate

My original blog title was Chocolate Obsession.  Then Chocolate Passion.  Then Chocolate Bliss.  Eventually I realized the food group Chocolate needs no modifiers.

Diet is a four letter word striking fear in the hearts of lovers of all things chocolate.  Sure, there are  chocolate “substitutes” and chocolate flavored drinks or meal bars.  For those who crave chocolate, those are a poor substitute, and we often over indulge in a search for that ultimate thrill of chocolate on our taste buds.  When Trader Joe’s came out with their low carb chocolate bars, the flavor thrill was possible though the texture lacked that sheer indulgence of fudge.

I found recipes for low carb fudge made with peanut butter, or almond butter and again, found some taste satisfaction but not exactly what I was looking for.  Then I came across a simple recipe Basic Low Carb Fudge Recipe and found a modicum of bliss.  Unfortunately I don’t keep blocks of baking chocolate around and I wanted fudge NOW.  So I did the substitution of one tablespoon of oil and three tablespoons of cocoa powder, and got a lovely rich fudge.  Not quite chocolate enough but getting there.

Last night I added another more cocoa powder and hit darned close to Nirvana.  Mmmmm rich dark chocolate in a sensuously smooth texture.  Oh, yeah.   The only thing left now is to figure out how much chile powder to add for that special “zing.”

So: The Ingredients.  Anyone who thinks they might be on my Christmas gift list close your eyes for this picture, since I’m making up vanilla extract for Christmas gifting, and that’s homemade vanilla in the antique glass jar..  You might also receive lavender sprays if I can figure out how to dry it effectively.  Hmmm, I’ve had some great chocolate with lavender flowers…

One stick of butter, salted or unsalted (I used unsalted) One 8 ounce cube of softened cream cheese, One teaspoon of vanilla extract, 3/4 cup of cocoa powder (not hot chocolate mix, straight cocoa) I added a bit extra since I really really like dark chocolate. One scant cup of your choice of sweetener. I’ve tried Xylitol, and some of the “baking mix” sweeteners.  So far I’ve preferred Stevia but there are more choices.  I go with less than a cup since most of the sweeteners come up way too sweet for me.

Melt the butter in a sauce pan on low heat, add the cocoa.  I sometimes microwave the cream cheese if it hasn’t set out long enough.  I find sometimes if I set it out it disappears, even from the back of the stove, if Hoda’s in the house.

This is Hoda the counter surfer

Take it off the stove, add the rest of the ingredients.  Beat for a while to mix.  Pour into your container of choice.  Try not to eat it all before it has a chance to set up.  Yep, yummmmmmmmmmmm.


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Confessions to an Orange

I have a monthly engagement with my old RWA chapter in California, and tomorrow is my day to blog.  So I thought I’d come clean with my latest and not yet greatest story, and give you another scary glimpse into my thought processes.  Yes, I do have some of those from time to time.

My Story Is Like The Princess Bride

No, it’s not about to be made into an iconic movie. No, it doesn’t have a classic line, uttered by an actor of impeccable reputation (“My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father.  Prepare to die.)  And it’s not filled with whimsy and sly references.  Nor, alas, was it written by an award winning Hollywood icon.

For more, hop over here

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Small Indulgences

I’m traveling again, which I didn’t do much of the last year while Tom was ill, and while trying to put my life back in order since his death.  Part of that putting back in order means getting back to my old routine, or starting a new

In “real people” clothes

one.  Which means getting to the quarterly American Kennel Club Delegate meetings, since I represent the Saluki Club of America.  And I’m remembering the little things that make travel just a little bit easier either with the airlines or at certain airports.

Tom used to do the airport taxi service, even though I would point out a few days parking were no more expensive than the gas driving to and from, not to mention less taxing for him.  Nope, he was going to drive me and pick me up.  And I miss that.  I’ve tried using the parking close to the airport, and found it’s pricey (though nothing compared to, say, LAX!) And not really convenient. There are numerous parking businesses in and around the Sunport, all of which pick you up at or near your vehicle and drop you back at the same location for about half the daily cost of airport parking.  Hmmm, not such an indulgence after all.

In spite of the fact most airlines use the same planes, there are small to huge differences in seating and I mean that literally.  When I was larger the seat width was a crucial factor in choosing airlines, and also the attitude of the crew concerning my request for extenders.  Yeah, I used those at one time and I have to say not needing one is a huge wow factor to losing weight.

Along that same thread, bathrooms in the newer or remodeled airports now have stall doors opening out.  So someone has been listening to my constant bitching while trying to maneuver a bulging briefcase and overstuffed wheelie bag into one of those midget proportioned stalls, nearly sitting on the toilet to get the door closed. I stuff less in my bags, use my laptop to carry notes and information, read from my Kindle.  But I still so much appreciate the extra space of doors opening out.  I hope this arrangement hits all airports soon.  What I do not find attractive are automatic flushing toilets.  I understand the need but having water gush up at me when I’m sitting in a vulnerable position is not all that much fun.

Even though the alcohol prices on planes are ridiculous I will occasionally indulge in a drink which is how I discovered Finlandia vodka.  Not sure if that was a good thing since it’s been nigh on impossible to locate since then, at least not where I normally shop.  I have found some cheapie vodka to use for vanilla extract but not even for drinking.  I wasn’t much of a vodka person before Finlandia but I could lean that way with not much of a nudge.  Then again I need to *sigh* watch those darned carbs!

Dallas airport had a restaurant kiosk with a really nice chicken Caesar salad though I’m not much for the dressing and I’m sure the chicken’s more processed than I normally eat.  But it was crisp and fresh and within both my food and diet budget.  Sadly, it’s no longer in A terminal food court.  So on this trip I wandered down to the Chinese food vendor.  Can’t beat Kung Pao Chicken and garlic green beans. No rice, no noodles.  Yum.

Seems strange to keep talking about food when I’m supposed to be changing my lifestyle.  Which I have, with positive results.  That doesn’t mean I don’t think about food, even have occasional fantasies.  But the fantasies now are more about chicken baked with crispy skin and a salad with ranch dressing.  A step in the right direction.  And a small indulgence.

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As promised, The Floogle


The Floogle has moved to Stories and Poems

Going to the show may not have been the smartest thing Marsha had ever done, but with the top winning Floogle Hound in the history of the breed, how could she let a death threat stand between her and one more Best in Show?



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Going to the Dogs

At first I thought I’d title this “Doing it Doggy Style” then decided that might give the wrong impression.  Instead I used my family’s description of my life, which they do try to understand.  I’ve been involved in purebred dogs for over forty years and have made most of my major life decisions with them in mind.   What I’ve done in that life isn’t relevant here except to underscore that I’ve been involved long enough to know how little I really know.

In my writing life, I’ve judged many contests for unpublished writers and read many books of (obviously) published writers many of which led to the previous blog on writing horses into books.  Far too often dogs seem to be added as an accessory, such as we see in pictures of celebrities with their big purses and tiny dogs, with little thought to reality.  So I’d like to put out a few suggestions.

In historicals, if you’re writing about a Scottish Laird and his hound, please don’t make it a Wolfhound since those were Irish, not Scottish.  The correct breed is Scottish Deerhound or if you wish “large shaggy powerful hound.”  That one alone can turn me off a new author, sorry to say.  Breed boxing, or identifying dogs by a narrow definition, came about during the Victorian era. Prior to then there were separate breeds but they were not as rigidly divided.  If you’re going to have your heroine breed dogs for extra money, be sure that breed was in that country, or even existed at that time.

Dog shows as such did not exist until the mid 19th century.  Kennel clubs are generous with historical information so there’s really no excuse to get that wrong.  As far as how dogs shows are organized, as a rule of thumb if you saw it on Disney it’s wrong. Sorry Walt.  And you need to do more than wander through a large dog show for atmosphere, unless you really want to irritate people who take showing dogs seriously.  Most of whom, by the way, read voraciously.

So again, seek out people who raise dogs, who compete with dogs in whatever endeavor you want to use as a background in your books, to be sure you’re getting it right.  There’s not much more exciting than a sled dog race, unless it’s a Sighthound chasing the lure or a driven Agility dog attacking the course.

As far as dog care in your books, I’m not about to say what dogs should be fed since I have my own narrow viewpoint about that which is not critical to putting dogs in books.  But dogs must be fed. If your hero is likely to go rushing off at the drop of a hat, make sure someone’s going to stop by to feed, water, and clean up.

Yeah, as far as cleaning up.  Food goes in one end and comes out the other.  Fact of life.  Since most of the time we don’t mention such things for our characters, we might not want to mention them for their pets but it is a part of reality.  Excrement occurs.  Which means your intrepid heroine’s noble friend is going to have to visit the bushes from time to time and we do hope she will be responsible enough not to leave the  mess for someone else to step in.

If you’re going to use one of those pocket size dogs please don’t have them jumping off the bed, even if yours does it on a regular basis.  For a dog that size it’s a long way to the floor so give them a stool or some sort of step and you won’t have toy dog people screaming at you.  Those breeds with lovely luxurious coats look great in the show ring or in perfume ads but they take hours to keep in that condition, a consideration when your characters are off saving the world.

Check with a local kennel club, and with breed clubs to get your facts straight, and you’ll make friends for your books and for whichever genre you write in.  You’ll also add another marketing tool.

As far as my own dogs, I don’t think I’d ever put a Saluki in a book requiring them to exhibit instant obedience.  It’s often been said “Other breeds come when called, Salukis take a message and get back to you.”


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Get it Right

Originally I planned to call this blog “If You’re Going To Do It Get It Right.”  But that was a lot of words for a title.  Especially if I used the whole subject: If you’re going to use horses and dogs in a book PLEASE get it right.  Don’t suppose since you hung out at a stable when you were younger you can toss your hero on the back of a black stallion so he can go dashing off to the rescue.  You’ll guarantee book tossing from readers who know better.

Horses don’t gallop all day, no matter what we saw on Ladyhawke or Lord of the Rings.  It just doesn’t happen.  In particular, they don’t gallop all day then stand all night tied to a tree.  Those gorgeous large bodies need a lot of fuel to keep them going, and in the wild they get that food by grazing a large part of the day.  When worked hard, they need extra energy through grain or other concentrates plus grass or hay.  And woe to any rider who turns his horse out in a lush green valley if they haven’t been in pasture lately.  Horse digestive systems can be very delicate.

If you’re going to dress your people in “horsey clothes” then be sure you know what kind of boots are worn with what kind of pants in any style of riding.  If you’re not 100% positive, have a knowledgeable friend check out that part of your story.  And unless you want your modern heroine to look like a careless fool, don’t have her riding blithely across the countryside with her golden hair flowing in the wind.  Smart riders wear protective head gear.

Stallions are not the mount of choice for even experienced equestrians.  Yes, they have those neat cresty necks and they look fancy prancing around.  Trained properly they can be a decent ride but all too often their minds are more on the mare in the next pasture than on cooperating.  Which might make for an interesting plot twist but again have a knowledgeable friend check over your story before you put it out to the world.

Then we have the dogs.  But maybe I’ll save that for another day.


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