November 14, 2017

T.V. Trash

In honor of Fall I thought I’d share my recipe for TV trash.  I have to make this every November.  My son and husband demand it, and my brother-in-laws try to come over after it’s made as well.  I believe it’s just the standard Chex mix recipe with a twist.  I got it from my neighbor who I’ve know since I was a teen(we bought my husband’s parent’s house.).  Enjoy!


T.V. Trash


Ingredients:
3 sticks of butter
3/4 cup Worchestershire Sauce
3Tbsp. + 1 1/2 tsp. Tony Chachere’s original creole seasoning
1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. + 1 1/2 tsp. red pepper
1 box Corn Chex
1 box Wheat Chex
1 box Rice Chex
1 box Cheerios
2 bags of pretzels  (I use the the honey wheat sticks)
2  14 oz. containers of mixed nuts (I always add a bag of pecans as well, because there is never enoughšŸ˜‰)

Directions:
Melt butter in pot.  Add in seasonings and Worchestershire sauce.  Divide cereals, nuts and pretzels into 2 large roasting pans. Once sauce is melted and combined, pour equal amounts into roasting pans on top of cereal mixes and stir.  Bake for 1 hour at 250 degrees stirring the mix every 15 minutes.



November 10, 2017

Superfudge

Nope, not the Judy Blume story which is a great one, by the way.  Actually I wish I were talking about the book, but hey if you can’t laugh at yourself...  

A couple of years ago, I was sitting on my chaise reading a book and my husband was at his computer. Our oldest came in and I forget the exact conversation, but my youngest didn’t believe something my oldest had told him. The story was really bad and not at all believable. Of course, that could be because the oldest was grinning ear to ear.

I looked up from my book and said, “Mase you have really got to get better at “superfudge”.”

I got dead silence and two wide eyed stares.

After several moments, my husband finally blinked and said, “What?”

I kind of sighed thinking, geez, apparently we need a vocabulary lesson. So I explained,  “You know....”superfudge.” It means deception. S-U-B-T-E-R-F-U-G-E (I actually spelled it out for them.)”

Again I got dead silence then both of them laughed.

“What?” I said.  “It really is a word. I can’t believe the two of you have never heard it.”

I got yet after another round of laughter then my husband said, “It’s sub-ter-foo-juh.”

“What?”

“That is how you say subterfuge.” My youngest, who’d been listening in his room, came in and explained through his laughter.

For years my brain read the word as superfudge.  Oh I spelled it right when I used it I knew exactly what it meant, but I had never heard that word spoken aloud and my brain supplied my own pronunciation. To this day every time I do something silly my youngest looks at me and shakes his head and with a big smile says, “Superfudge, mom.”


The reason I told this story is because today I wrote the word beautific and my spell check said beatific.  I was like, “Um, no! I mean beautific.”  But for the sake of argument I looked it up and low and behold I meant beatific.  The longer I write the more I wonder if I will ever truly have a good command of the English language. I swear I have a tremendous amount of respect for people who learn English as a second language. Bless you people, you are amazing! My hats off to you.

November 08, 2017

Register Your Copyrights

*This is an post from 2011 from my old blog, but the information is still good and I hope it may be some help to others, so I’ve included it in this blog.

Plagiarism. It’s an ugly word and an ever uglier act. I know some of you are aware that I was the victim of plagiarism a few months ago. I’ve yet to tell my side of things, and I’d like to do so now in hopes of informing other authors how to protect themselves. 

I received an email from a concerned reader asking me to check out an upcoming author’s excerpt on the author’s website. The reader said that she had not checked the excerpt side by side with my novella With Love, but she could swear just by reading it that it was very similar. I went to the site and checked out the excerpt and from just a quick glance it did seem familiar. More than the actual story, the flow and voice felt like mine. So, I sent off a note to my friend Kris and asked her opinion, then I pulled up my final copy of With Love. Before I got through the first paragraph of With Love, Kris had already emailed me back. She wrote only: Contact Samhain immediately because this IS your story. I read a few more lines and realized that it was indeed With Love. Only the names were changed with a few original sentences thrown in. The plagiarist didn’t even bother to change the color of the character’s clothes, only their names. It was quite shocking because it wasn’t even paraphrased. It was word for word. My words. And it was set to be published the next week.

I contacted my editor who sent an email off to Christina Brashear, the owner of Samhain. Crissy sent an email, to the publishing company, set to publish this story. She asked for a copy of the entire manuscript for comparison and offered a copy of With Love, so they might compare as well. Crissy then sent me, my editor and some of the office staff copies of the book from the other publisher asking us to dig in and see what we could find. I pulled up With Love in .pdf and the manuscript from the other author in .doc form and compared them side by side. I was amazed, with the exception of the names, the sex of one character and the addition of a few sentences here and there, the manuscript was nearly word for word With Love. Shortly after I received a phone call from Crissy asking me if I was seeing what she was seeing? We were both in shock at the blatant plagiarism as were the others comparing the two works with us.

The other publishing house pulled the story from their line-up immediately, but that wasn’t the end of it.  They called Crissy later after talking to the other author. The other author alleged that I had stolen it from her. She told her publisher that she had posted it on a blog back in 2000. Crissy, without even talking to me, told the publisher, “That is not true. Because of what I know of the work and the author that is not going to fly.” She pointed out that the author had used my edited, final manuscript to copy. The other publishing house agreed and indicated that they would be going after the author for breach of contract and the money they had already put out for edits (though there weren’t any that I could see other than my editor’s) and cover art. 

When next Crissy and I talked, I told her I could prove it was my story, because I had all my notes from conception to completion as well as my rough drafts and the testimony of my critique partners who witnessed With Love from the beginning. Apparently, the other author didn’t realize that With Love, was a collaboration with Ally Blue and Willa Okati for the anthology Hearts From the Ashes. The very concept of the anthology and the individual stories were discussed in length by Ally, Willa, our editor Sasha and myself. Crissy assured me she knew it was my work and would do whatever necessary to support me. I have to take a moment here and praise Crissy, not only for her faith in me, but also for her involvement with her authors. Had she not known me and my work as well, she would not have been able to support me so thoroughly. 

Nothing else came of the situation. The other publishing house was very cooperative and satisfied that I was indeed the author of the story.

Now all that said, I’d like to point out a few things and issue some advice to my fellow authors. Some good has definitely come out of the whole situation because it has been a learning experience and helped, not only myself, but those close to me be prepared should this happen again.  

Number one, and most importantly, keep all your notes, rough drafts and edits even after a manuscript is published. I did not need this, but it was very comforting knowing I had them. I know the plagiarist’s accusation against me was made in a panic, but she would have been in sad shape had she persisted because of the overwhelming evidence.  So, keep your notes, rough drafts and edits in a file where you know where they are. I deleted them all after the manuscript was published and had to scramble around looking through my back ups to find them. I now keep everything pertaining to a manuscript in one file after the manuscript is completed and back it up on a drive as well. This way should the need ever arise again, I have all the things to prove my case right at hand.

Number two, this is another function of a critique group that we all overlook. Not only can they provide character witness, they see your work from conception to publication. If you use a group on Yahoo or Google you also have group archives discussing ideas, brainstorming and critiquing at your disposal. My critique partners and I make a point to post every scene in our group. We also save copies of one another’s works and our critiques even after the manuscript is published. If you do not use a group, save your critiques and important emails pertaining to your work. Not only is it good evidence in a court case, but it’s very amusing to go back and see some of the harebrained ideas you discarded. It will give you a good chuckle. 

Number three, register your copyrights. Yes, it is true that a work is copyright protected from the moment you put words to paper (or screen), but without that registration you cannot go to court. And the sooner the registration is done the better. If you don’t file your copyright until you need it you cannot sue for court costs. Not to mention, those certificates are neat to have as a sort of a final accomplishment; they make a nice THE END. As a side note, a lot of small presses do not register copyrights. It is left up to the author, so please make certain that your publisher registers the copyright.  Just saying they do is not enough. You need that piece of paper.

Number four, be good to your readers. Readers are so very important. If it hadn’t been for a faithful reader that book might have been published, and it would have caused a lot more problems for not only me but the two publishers involved. 

As for the emotional side of things, plagiarism hurts. I, as all the authors I know personally, give their everything to their work. With me it seems like every manuscript is an emotional ride. There is the excitement, of course, but there is also the worry of getting it right, the anger when things aren’t working, and the endless hours of research and pondering plot problems. Writing a book is an emotional rollercoasteroverall a very positive and wonderful feeling—but it’s a long journey. It’s very distressing to think someone would claim your hard work as their own and really has nothing to do with the loss of money. Although the thought of someone getting paid when you’ve been the one to do the job is not a nice one. I feel I’ve earned the right to claim credit for that work be it a fine piece of fiction or a complete failure. I cannot even describe the rage one has at being wronged and then being accused of wrong doing. It would have been easy to try and make the other party involved pay dearly, but at the end of the day, is it worth it? Should her family have to pay for her mistake? Her lack of judgment has probably cost her dearly if she held any dreams of being a published author because her name has been tarnished. It’s a big business but word gets around. I think this has been a bad experience for everyone one involved. In the end, I hope it’s also been a learning experience. If I can help others and impart some wisdom on how to handle the situation then it hasn’t been all bad.

November 05, 2017

Puppy Spa Day

Today was puppy spa day at the Langley household.  Astrid hates puppy spa day.  She doesn’t like getting her nails done, she can’t stand getting a bath, and she barely tolerates getting brushed. She cries through the whole experience. It’s really pathetic and you’d think she was being abused. Hiccup isn’t crazy about any of it, but he deals with it.  The one thing they look forward to on puppy spa day is their puppy cookies.  So inobservance (I can’t say celebration or Astrid will get mad at me) I’m posting my recipe for Puppy Cookies. 

Puppy Cookies


Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup oat flour (this is so easy to make if you can’t find it. it’s only ground up oats)
1 1/2 cup brown rice flour 
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon honey
1 egg
1/2 cup water (you can add more of less depending on the consistency you want)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine all ingredients but add water last. Roll out on a floured surface and cut with cookie cutters.  Place on cookie sheet and bake for 22-28 minutes (depending on thickness) until lightly browned.  Note:  these do not rise so they will be the same size when they are cooked. 
To store these I put them in a glass jar and stick them in my freezer.  I just give them to the dogs frozen, but they would probably be okay at room temperature for a week or two. 




Astrid looking suitably pathetic.





Hiccup waiting patiently for puppy cookies.






November 03, 2017

What Is A Clip?

I did a post several years ago for my old Live Journal blog about magazines vs. clips and since I still see the misuse of these terms in books, I thought I’d revise the post in an effort to educate my fellow authors.¹ Honestly, this would probably be an easier post to do in video or podcast, but since I hate my voice, my hair is a mess and I’m in my pjs—what can I say? I’m a writer, it’s my work uniform—I’ll try it this way. 

I know you have all read a scene where a hunky cop fires his weapon to save himself and the other hero (or heroine), runs out of ammo, and loads another clip into his gun. I have too and I’m here to tell you that the word clip was used incorrectly. The word the author should've used is magazine. Sadly, I’ve seen this used by authors who should know better.  I get it, it’s used so often it’s almost become acceptable and people know what they are talking about, but wrong is still wrong. Which reminds me of a saying my Sifu
² is fond of: “Fast and wrong is still wrong.” We can't get anything past that man.šŸ˜‰ 

There is, however, such a thing as a clip. It’s a strip of metal that holds bullets and loads them into an internal magazine of a rifle. Don’t quote me on this, but as far as I know there are no clips that go into pistols.
 If there is, I’ve never seen one. After this post I will go pull out my oldest son’s Weapons: A Visual History of Arms and Armor book (nice research book btw) and see if there is a pistol with an internal magazine that uses clips. That said, I don’t want to confuse you. The rifles I talk about that use clips are a specific type of rifle, not all rifles use clips. The majority of the rifles you see nowadays; the popular AK47 and AR15, for example, use magazines, very similar to those used in pistols.

But I digress. We were talking about semi automatic hand guns. The magazine is essentially a rectangular box with a spring in it that feeds the bullet into the gun. Once a round is chambered the firing of that gun and the motion of the slide moving back, then forward again, is what allows the magazine to load another round into the chamber. Therefore, if you do not put a round in the chamber the gun will not fire. That is why you always see actors in the movies pulling the slid back and chambering a round before shooting. Not to say you have to write your hero (or heroine) doing this. If they are law enforcement or military or heck familiar with weapons, they’ve probably already done this step at home. Now, if your character has emptied a magazine, their slide will typically stay in the open position (there are a few guns that the slide does not stay open). Therefore, when they eject the empty magazine, slap another one into the gun and push the slide release (or pull back on the slide depending on the gun) the slide going forward is what loads another bullet.  So our character would not then pull the slide back again. If he did, it would eject an unspent bullet.
³  Whew... that was a long explanation. Hopefully, I didn’t lose you. 

That is the difference in a clip and a magazine. I found this picture on the internet, that shows the difference in the two, and it would seem I’m not the only one with a post like this LOL. So if you use the terms incorrectly now, at least you’re doing it on purpose. But keep in mind, I don’t know too many people who know their weapons who use it incorrectly. If you have a hard core Navy SEAL calling his magazine a clip, you are going to pull me right out of that story. If you have a character who knows nothing about guns using the word clip, it is a good way to distinguish their lack of knowledge.  

November 01, 2017

Themes, Formulas, Troupes, Likes and Dislikes

I’m not one to read reviews. I admit that I don’t have quite thick enough skin for it. I do well with constructive criticism, but reviews? Nope. Don’t care for them. I find the good ones make me feel as though I have to continuously live up to those high expectations and negative ones...well, lets face it, who wants to be told they suck? 

Don’t get me wrong I don’t hate reviews or think they should be banned. I’m actually very supportive of reviews and people expressing their opinions. As an American I believe in the freedom of speech one hundred percent. People have a right to speak their minds, even if it hurts others feelings. But I digress. That isn’t the point of this post.  

Sometimes glancing at a review can be unavoidable. It’s like finding a stash of toys at Christmas time in the back of your parents closet covered with only a quilt. As was the case the other day. I saw a review, a negative one actually. The reviewer remarked on how she thinks I write with a formula because I always have the same things in my stories.  Her examples were cowboy hats even on werewolves, bratty heroes, and evil families. Another criticism was that the story in question was just like an old Harlequin. Instead of hurting my feelings the comment made me smile. The story was written to pay tribute to my love of serial romance, so saying it was like a Harlequin was actually quite a compliment. But the other things made me think. My first thought was a very belligerent “I do not always have those things and I do not write to a formula!”  But then I stopped and really thought about it. I don’t always have those things, but I do have them in several books. Which brought another question to mind. Why? Well, because I like them. Those things are all things I enjoy. A bit of my personality if you will.  

I think all authors have these little things. I find that when I read authors who continuously have certain elements in their stories they tend to be comfort reads.  Not to say they don’t surprise me or that their stories aren’t fresh, but I know a little of what I can expect and I personally like that. I think that is the reason I love serial romance and all the varied tropes. 

So for all you new writers out there. I’d like to say this: Number one, it’s ok not to read reviews. Number two, be yourself and let your personality and your likes and dislikes show in your work. Don’t write to please others. If you please yourself you will undoubtedly please others as well. However, writing to please everyone else... not a good idea. 

Also for new writers, I highly recommend to new writers a book by Katie McAllister called Improper English. It's not a gay romance or a writing book. It is a contemporary romance, but it has a lot of valuable lessons hidden in it for writers. It’s also an enjoyable read and very humorous.  

Oh and for those of you, like me, that don’t recall my having written a werewolf in a cowboy hat, never fear... I will.  Very soon. I promise. ;)

October 30, 2017

JalapeƱo Bread

Friday night my bread machine finally decided it had had enough. I’d replaced the pan once already and as my son pointed out, I’ve had it for at least 10 years. After bidding it a final farewell, I bought myself the top of the line bread machine I’d been coveting for a couple of years now. The Zojirushi Virtuoso. I have to say though I was leery about spending that kind of money on a bread machine, I am impressed.  So far I’d say it’s worth it, though I’ve only used it twice. It sure beats the other bread machine I had.  It mixes better, it cooks better, and it looks a whole lot better.  Not that looks are really that important, but hey...  It will also do a whole lot more than my old bread machine. This thing makes jam, cakes, sourdough starter, etc. You can even set this thing up to make things custom, like set your mixing time, rest time and bake time. I doubt I'll use half of the things this machine does, but it's pretty cool anyway.  So, in celebration of my new bread machine, I thought I’d share a recipe.  This actually happens to be the 1st one I tried in the machine.  It's an old recipe but boy it sure tasted good in this new machine  LOL. Enjoy!


JalapeƱo Bread

yield: 1.5 lb. loaf


Ingredients: 

1 cup water
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
6 tbsp diced jalapeƱos
3 cups all purpose flour (I do 2 cups all purpose and 1 cup white whole wheat flour)
2 tsp yeast

Directions: 

Add water into bread machine first, followed by the other ingredients. Add yeast in last.  Bake on Basic Bread cycle.