Dragons of Wendal Series:


Moon Shadow Series:

Ghost Shadow

Now Available:

Soul of the Desert

Review: Jackaby

savingJackaby by William Ritter was a delightful cozy paranormal mystery. Oh, it doesn’t bill itself that way. Apparently the publisher thinks it’s YA, but I’m not sure why–perhaps because it was delightful and fun, rather than grim? I don’t think the main’s age was ever given, but we know she was about to start college the previous year before she took it upon herself to find other adventures. It’s unclear whether she is eighteen, nineteen or perhaps twenty.

Several reviewers seemed very disappointed because it’s either too Sherlockian or not enough. Piffle. The book and the characters stand on their own. Yes, the villain was obvious to me, but it took a while to be sure. I don’t mind knowing the whodunit so long as the story carries me and wraps up well.

The time period is historical America–I’d say colonial although I didn’t make note of the exact time period. I was too busy enjoying the adventure. The style and clever dialogue reminded me a bit of Frank Tuttle’s work. Highly recommended. Its only fault is that it costs more than the usual bargain $5 and the next two in the series have an even higher price. Still, it’s a lovely five-star read, and I was thrilled because few books hold my attention these days. This was a delight.

Share...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on Tumblr
Posted: July 27, 2016
Filed in Book Reviews

Stop Thief!

IMG_1758Remember the really great sign I had made for book signings? Between book signings I decided to put it on the door of my SUV. I had it on the door for just under two months when someone at the grocery store grabbed it right off the door! I noticed it was missing when I was unloading grocery bags from the back seat.

Who in the world would want a magnetic sign made for my books? Why would anyone take someone else’s business sign??? It makes no sense.

I’m not sure if I’ll have another one made. At most, I do one or two book signings a year, and if I can’t use the sign in between, it seems like a lot of effort and cost just to have a sign hanging on my refrigerator. I could have a bumper sticker made, but I don’t really want anything too permanent on my vehicle because they get dirty and messy. The magnetic sign was glossy and could be wiped off.

People are so odd.

Share...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on Tumblr
Posted: July 26, 2016

Winding Road of Musicians

Remember when I did the post about The South Austin Moonlighters? and how much we enjoyed their music?

When we went to see them in Gruene, we were able to meet the entire band, chat with them and share war stories about selling CDs (or books in my case). Little did I know that Phil Hurley is practically a movie star–one of his previous bands (Gigolo Aunts) played on the sound track of Dumb and Dumber! Phil is the guy with the long hair in the video (It’s short now). Obviously, he’s playing guitar. And I even like the song!

It’s all very odd. The South Austin Moonlighters are the kind of regular guys that you’d invite over for burgers and grilled chicken! (Phil, I’d have offered you a chocolate chip cookie when you were here, but that batch sort of melted while in the oven because I wasn’t paying attention!)

Share...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on Tumblr
Posted: July 25, 2016

Mafia Kingpin

Clinton and Trump don’t seem to understand that they are running for President–not Mafia Kingpin. Either one would be a shoe-in for the mafia.

In other news, remember the book, Waiting for Wrigley by Paul Sullivan? Turns out every dog is getting into the act. Wrigley is running for President!

Share...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on Tumblr
Posted: July 25, 2016

Bird and Humans

A great article on birds and humans working together. Wow. If only we could learn to work with more animals–and each other!!

An interesting idea that perhaps Gary Johnson does have a chance to win? (He’s the Libertarian candidate.) I wonder what Johnson’s favorite book is–non-fiction and fiction. Do you think he’d write and tell me if I asked?

Texas has a catch, neuter and release program for feral cats. Scamper was one such cat. She was too feral to actually adopt, but we trapped her, had her fixed and, of course, we still tried to be her buddy (she was having none of that.) She was a very fierce hunter and a survivor. This article caught my attention because a no-kill shelter finally put ferals to work. And guess what? They are amazing!

We really need some rain here, but I say that every summer, don’t I? I changed my watering routine in the garden to do some overhead watering (as opposed to drip hoses). For the first time in two months I spotted a bee! I guess I’ll stick to at least some overhead watering. I know the bees and wasps (which also pollinate) like to drink water from the leaves of plants. I’m happy to give them water. I’ve been hand pollinating the cucumbers and I can promise you they are better at it than I am. I finally have two cucumbers growing. I’d like it to be a lot more!!!

Share...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on Tumblr
Posted: July 23, 2016

Articles: Salt Mining and Sunken Ships

I came across two absolutely fascinating articles while doing research for my writing (okay, okay, I was goofing off on the web!) Here’s a great article on salt mining in Peru. Some great photography too.

This next one is about ships buried in San Francisco — you never know what you are walking on or through! Some really interesting history here.

Adding another interesting article here. Here’s what Edward Snowden has been up to. He’s quite obviously brilliant. I think he deserved far better for trying to do the right thing.

An interesting article about Gary Johnson doing well in some polls. There was another article I read that said he was polling at 13 percent in some states.

Share...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on Tumblr
Posted: July 21, 2016

Deodorant Recipe

I’ve been working on a simple deodorant recipe for a while. There’s lots of them on the web, but it’s difficult to tell which ingredients are the ones that actually stop the smell (versus ingredients that make the bar harder or smoother, etc). I’m pretty settled on the ingredients now, although I may tweak some of them. This recipe makes enough to fill two typical deodorant sticks.

Melt over low heat:

1 ounce cocoa butter, by weight – you can use other butters, but cocoa butter was preferred by us because it is a harder butter. Some of the softer butters have lower melting points and in Austin, that can mean your bar is pretty soft in the summertime.

3 tablespoons coconut oil – this has a low melting point so it will help make the bar easy to apply. It’s cheaper than cocoa butter too!

1 tsp kaolin clay – helps everything stick together, absorbs moisture

2 tablespoons arrowroot powder – helps everything stick together, absorbs moisture

.3 ounce beeswax (POINT three ounces NOT 3 ounces) – this helps harden the bar and is antibacterial so can help keep bacteria from growing. It’s very soothing for skin and is protective.

2 tablespoons baking soda – I’ve made these bars with and without, but this is a KEY ingredient in stopping smells.***

2 tablespoons epsom salts – Another key ingredient in making the deodorant effective. Made with and without, in wins.***

1 ounce cetyl alcohol, by weight – this hardens the bar and helps with glide. It’s not a drying alcohol–it’s actually a fatty alcohol/waxy substance that makes the bar harder and helps it glide across skin. It is often used in lotions as as an oil-free moisturizer. It can be derived from palm oil or petroleum products. I found using just beeswax made the bar harder to a point, but it was also “sticky” and tended to clump off the sides of the container. You can leave this out, but if you do, you might want to add additional beeswax to try for a harder bar. I did try more beeswax, but didn’t like the texture much better. In cooler climates the bar might not be as sticky as it is here in Austin. I like the cetyl alcohol in these bars and won’t be leaving it out, but feel free to experiment!

During the cooling stage (below about 90 degrees) add and stir well:
1 or 2 capsules of probiotics – the theory here is that the probiotics will eat up the smelly bacteria that normally grows as you sweat.
Scent of choice. I use a few drops of lemongrass. (Also available at Walmart). The scents may or may not help with the deodorant properties. If you use baking soda and epsom salts you shouldn’t need to worry about covering up any odors!

Some of the powders do not melt so the bar retains a bit of “grit” that you can feel with your fingers. This is perfectly normal and pretty much expected in home made bars.

This deodorant works better than any store brands we’ve ever tried.

Share...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on Tumblr
Posted: July 19, 2016
Filed in Lotions, Lotions and Potions

Pink Floyd – Roger Waters

savingA rather interesting piece about Roger Waters in this article.

There’s an entire book of these fascinating stories out by Shindler and Patucchi called My War is Not Over.

Share...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on Tumblr
Posted: July 17, 2016

Now a Walmart Affiliate

I’m pleased to announce this blog is now a Walmart affiliate! There is a permanent Walmart link on the sidebar if you scroll down to “Favorites.” Any time you use that link to get to Walmart’s site, if you buy something, I will receive a commission. Being an affiliate at both Walmart and Amazon will allow me to link to both and let you know if one or the other has a better price on items I happen to be talking about.

I shop at Walmart a lot–online probably more than in the store because I can find out whether they carry a certain item, order it and then just pick it up. I’m not a big fan of wandering the aisles. We buy our cat food there and I am currently in need of a new garden hose. My backyard is huge so I need the longer one. As a gardener, I use that hose every single day. My old one is 15 years old and it’s starting to crack in several places. I guess it didn’t like the 100 degree sun shining on it. Imagine that. I hope to pick up the hose today.

I’m also looking into something called an Instant Pot. I heard about these because they were on sale at Amazon, BUT ONLY FOR PRIME MEMBERS. So I missed out on that sale, but the prices are nearly the same at both places. What I like about these things is that they are a pressure cooker, a rice maker and crock pot!!! I have ALL three of those things in my kitchen and use all of them. How cool if I only needed ONE item to do all those things. So I’m keeping an eye on the price. I don’t *need* to buy one since I have all three functions, but you never know when I might decide to replace 3 things with 1!

Share...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on Tumblr
Posted: July 17, 2016

The South Austin Moonlighters

savingOver the fourth of July weekend we melted out into the heat to see a band. It takes a lot to get us out in the Texas summer, but a lifetime ago, Husband used to be in a band. He owned a Marshall amp that, one day last spring, he sold to a guy name Phil Hurley. Phil Hurley plays in a band called The South Austin Moonlighters.

We drove two hours south to a little town inside a town called Gruene, Texas (pronounced “green” for some reason). I was prepared to maybe like a song or two, but it turned out that The South Austin Moonlighters were really, REALLY good. The show was suitable for families; good music that wouldn’t insult anyone, but so good, it could turn a fly into a ballet dancer.

(Click picture below for a larger version).


Every single one of the guys could sing. They all RULED on their respective instruments. Phil Hurley was not just competent on the guitar, he loved the thing. It was quite obvious from his playing that nothing makes him more at peace with the universe than making that guitar do his bidding. Chris Beall–what a voice. My favorite song of the night was his “Suburban Avenue” a kind of country rock song that is on their brand new album Ghost of a Small Town. Songs have to be more than just music; they have to tell a story because I love a good story. Chris Beall tells good stories. The great thing about the band was that every guy writes music AND lyrics. This meant there was a great variety of songs from soul, blues and rock to a mix of folk songs/country rock.

Lonnie Trevino Jr. played bass, and he sang the way Phil played his guitar. It was like he had twelve or thirteen voices ranging from a screaming falsetto down to a voice that reminded me of the preacher songs of the South. He looks like a normal guy until he starts singing. Then you’re wondering where all that fantastic sound comes from! Check out: “I’ll Be Coming Home” on the new album — a bit reminiscent of “The Band.” Or this one that totally showcased Lonnie’s powerful voice, the band’s ability to harmonize AND had some awesome guitar licks: “Jesus (Make Up My Dying Day)” – A deep southern soul song that is absolutely Stunning.

One favorite they played isn’t on any of the albums, not even the new one. Oh, I pity you not being able to hear it right now. Phil Hurley’s “Something About a Girl from Texas” was being talked about outside during one of the breaks before we even heard it. Wow. Now this is another of those songs that is a terrific story with great heart and a guy singing it with enough passion that you know he’s dedicating it to a very special girl. You want to sing along AND dance because this might be a love song but it’s got the kick of a big Texas hairdo. His voice fit the song perfectly with that sincerity that is integral to folk songs and country music. On the new album, you can get an idea of his talent by listening to “You Love & Me” or “Movin’ On.” TERRIFIC STUFF. YOU GUYS ROCK.

The drummer, Phil Bass, tended towards what I call bayou music. Yes, I know that isn’t a category, but there’s this sort of “Devil Went Down to Georgia” feel, only with more drums and a kind of haunting fast melody that makes you want to look over your shoulder. Bayou music–because you don’t know what might be lurking there. Check out: “Hold On” on the new album Ghost from a Small Town. AWESOME.

The band did mostly their own music, but they threw in a tribute to the late Merle Haggard and a generous hat tip to some early Fleetwood Mac–the Peter Green bluesy stuff, rather than the later pop/rock’n’roll. Chris Beall did lead singing on a James Taylor tune called “Machine Gun Kelly,” and I must say, the band took a kind of an ordinary croon by Taylor and turned it into a rocking out gem. Now THAT’S an outlaw song!

There was at least one song where the two lead guitars did harmony parts. Not all bands bother with the extra work or have the talent to play harmonies, but it was just another example of excellence by The South Austin Moonlighters. Shoot, not all bands can even sing harmony, but these guys layered the music perfectly.

If you visit Texas and have a chance to see them live–GET THERE! If not, check out their albums. If I could only buy one album this year, Ghost from a Small Town is it.

Album Retailers:
The South Austin Moonlighters Site
Amazon – The South Austin Moonlighters (Their latest is: Ghost of a Small Town.).
At CD Baby
Apple iTunes: Live At the Saxon Pub – The South Austin Moonlighters and Ghost of a Small Town

Share...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on Tumblr
Posted: July 12, 2016
Filed in Music
Next Page »