Friday, July 31, 2009

Free-Form Friday

The latest update on large beast watching. Today, on both sides of the river, the cattle were randomly spaced through the pastures. They were turned in all directions, contentedly munching grass. Many of them were lying down and they were scattered in random configurations. Hearkening back in my store of memories, I recalled that this odd behavior had also been evident last Friday and on more contemplation, I realized that, apparently Fridays are free days when the cows, calves, steers and bulls are not required to conform to any particular grazing patterns. Nor or they required to eat or drink together. So, I am designating Fridays henceforth to be known as 'Free-Form Friday'.

I also noticed that in certain fields, a few randoms cows had collecions of cowbirds grazing with them. In a field of perhaps 50 to 100 head of almost identical Black Angus beeves, only one or two cows would have bird companions. (Cowbird is the common name for white cattle egrets.) The question that immediately came to mind was: Why there were select cows with the birds in evidence, while the vast majority of cows had no accompanying birds? I had to give this some thought before coming to the conclusion that the birds were in it strictly for themselves. They seemed to congregate around the larger, more energetic beasts. After some logical angling, I have come to believe that the larger, more aninmated animals (pardon the pun) stir up more insects for the birds to consume, thus the seemingly odd behavior of cattle egrets. The only other explanation is that the birds are expensive and only the well-to-do cows can afford them or, perhaps, the cows attracting the birds charge less for providing dinner.... hmmmmmm. What do you think?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Cows and Goats

I'm an avid animal watcher. No matter what the animal, if it's in sight, I'm watching it. I don't know if this quirk is born of curiosity or fear.

Between my home and my workplace lies twenty-five miles of mostly open pastureland filled with everything from emus to llamas. Everyday I drive along, observing the various herds belonging to the local farmers and ranchers. I envy them in some ways, owning all that beautiful Texas countryside, rolling hills, ponds, branches, creeks and oak groves, but then, when I think of the work that goes into keeping their pastures free of mesquite and prickly pear, I say "God Bless Them, Everyone!"

Anyhoo, I'm driving and watching. In some pastures all the cows are facing north, in other pastures, they are facing west or south. Sometimes, they are all grazing. Other times, they are all lying down. I know that beasts of the field live by different rules from people and that they share something called the herd mentality or mass animal mind, but how, I asked myself, is it that some pastures are south-facing while others are north-facing on the same day?

It suddenly occurred to me today that it must be a contractual thing. I suddenly discovered by direct observation the following fact:

There is a bridge half way between my home and work. That bridge crosses a river and it is also the county line. All the lying down cows were in the county I work in. All the standing up cows were in the county I live in. VOILA!!

Cows in Mills County are working on a different schedule from those in San Saba County.

D'oh!! How dumb can I be?

Monday, July 27, 2009

New Title Added: RCG XII:. Son of the Moon

The twelfth book in the Red Cross of Gold Series entitled the Son of the Moon is now available on Kindle books at The saga continues as the Knight of Death struggles with his new role of Grand Master of the Order and attempts to recapture the Dragon. He must also devise a way to capture the ancient Djinni who has taken up with Yasmin (AKA Oshun, the Santeria orisha). The Djinni is bent on reclaiming his lands and starting a family.

Pet Peeves

I was recently reading in a forum topic entitled 'Grammar Pet Peeves' and suddenly realized that the persons posting in the thread seemed to have forgotten something: Pet Peeves and what they really are... they are called pet peeves because they are Pet-ty Peeves (aggravations) that are meaningful only to themselves. They ask questions or make generalized statements that leave something to be desired while giving an insightful glance into their own minds. If something is a pet peeve then it means that it (whatever it is) is probably over-looked by 99.9% of the population. For instance, if the misuse of words or phrases or the occasional slip of the tongue or pen (as the case may be) makes someone a moron, they forget that the majority of persons listening or reading would also have to fall into the moron category.

One such complaint that grabbed my attention mentioned that the writer was a college professsor. What the poster did not mention was that he/she, while not a college professor, was a self-proclaimed auditor of words. The point being that even though the college professor was a man of great learning and a best-selling author and the poster merely a reader, he was of necessity, a Moron simply because he used grammar and/or spelling that irritated her. Apparently, he did not seem such a Moron to others, now did he?

I find this quite humorous. As a writer, imperfect of spelling and grammar (as all writers are), I am eternally grateful that not all readers are so well qualified to denigrate and dissemble another's works simply based on the mechanics of the work. Surely there were errant brushstrokes in Da Vinci's Last Supper, in Michaelangelo's Sistina Cappella and yet, the overall impact of their work is breathtaking. I wonder if Leonardo had persons milling about with magnifying glasses looking to see if he might have gotten outside the lines on his paint-by-numbers once in a while?

I found myself on the thread defending our former President from persons complaining about his mispronunciation of particular words in his speeches before I realized how silly it all was in the first place.

Don't get me wrong, good grammar and correct spelling are essential selling points for authors who expect their works to succeed, but it is unlikely that we will ever be able to please everyone, unlikely that we will ever turn out a perfect book. I especially like the critic who suggests that an author need only turn on MS spell/grammar check to correct it. Geesh, if it was that simple!

But here's a pet peeve for you: What about the guy in the scooter chair that comes driving into the public restroom and rams the door of the handicapped stall and learns that it is occupied. He invariably begins to complaint about people using the handicapped stall who are not handicapped. Well, I usually ask him "How do you know that the person in question is not handicapped? Not all handicapped persons drive scooter chairs!" Well, duh!!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

P'zone vs. Pizza

A question of some great importance has recently come up around dinnertime, which might need some outside opinion for resolution. The question is whether the calzone or the pizza is better from Pizza Hut. The argument seems to be whether or not pizza sauce should be an inherent part of the construction or should it be a dipping sauce? It is my opinion that the P'zone would be better if the pizza sauce were included inside the crust pocket. Others believe that dipping is better, but I make the argument that a P'zone is nothing more than a folded pizza with a few special ingredients sprinkled on top of it. What is the general consensus? Are they two entirely different entities or the same only different? And another thing that bothers me about P'zone comes in only three flavors: meat lovers, classic and pepperoni. Why? I have learned that they do not come pre-made and it should be quite simple to make them 'to order'. So why only three kinds? I would also like to point out that the breadsticks are not breadsticks at all, but I believe are actually pizza crust cut in strips. If I am wrong, please correct me. These are extremely important questions that must be answered. If anyone out there knows anything, let me know.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Another Lazy Saturday

Just sitting around editing my next addition to my Kindle book list which I hope to release in this week, sooner than I expected. I might be able to do it tomorrow if all goes well and I don't get called in to work. I do hate working on my days off, but that is what happens when co-workers are not willing to pull their own weight. I suppose I must be in a rare somber mood today. Drinking Captain Morgan's rum and coke, looking at the bright sunshine through the windows. I'm hoping for a good thunderstorm later on and maybe a good movie. My editor/fan #1/critic/proofreader, Miss Mayellem Sockingfoot, has promised that we would actually try to finish the book off today and tomorrow and get it on line. My fans have requested that I hurry up and put it up there because they don't like to be left hanging, but really, I ask you... if I didn't leave some intrigue unfinished, why would anyone be prompted to read further? I'm currently reading a very interesting romance novel written by Maureen Miller and also available on Kindle. She has a real way with phrasing and description that makes the reader feel present in the scenes she describes. I haven't read a good romance in ages... well, I do enjoy a good romance from time to time... LOL. It's called "Widow's Tale" and it's set in Maine.

Anyway, the continuing saga of the Knight of Death's adventures will travel on in Book XII when he goes in search of the Djinni in the Mountains of the Moon. In the meantime, Happy Reading.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Great Weekend

I had a wonderful time yesterday even though I was away from my beloved computer... the sorry, domineering, arrogant work of art... mumble, mumble. Saw Ice Age 3-D with the granddaughter and celebrated lunch with my best friend. Also celebrated a fifteen year anniversary and received a Kindle for a gift. Yesterday was a great day!

This morning, however, got off to a bumpy start when my Word program had a glitch (this always hurts my heart). If you only knew how many pages of work, sometimes entire chapters, I have lost in less than the blink of eye... well, anyway, I struggled with that and finally overcame the electronic tyrant on my desk... at least temporarily. Looks like I'm going to have to break down and buy a Word 97 program and let the old one go. I've run through a couple of trial offers on the newer version and well, you know the story about old dogs and tricks and such.

Now I'm off to have homemade spaghetti with portobello mushroom sauce, fried chicken livers and fried mushrooms! I know that sounds wierd, but trust me, it's good. After that I'm going to work some more on editing my next release and try to finish getting my old stuff sorted out in the files and flash drives. They are becoming quite confusing. Have a great weekend!!

PS: That is not my eye. That is the all-seeing eye of Sister Discretion.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Newest Release: Ars Arabia

I just got my latest release up and running on Amazon Kindle book store. Unfortunately, I've been unable to pin the link to my link list on my blog page so I've pinned it on the bottom of this post. The Red Cross of Gold XI:. Ars Arabia is the latest adventure of the Chevalier du Morte, poor Knight of Solomon's Temple as he goes up against a powerful Djinn creature in the desert mountains of Arabia. He risks life and limb to preserve the Order of the Red Cross of Gold while his Brothers plot to assassinate him. Not only do they want to get rid of the Knight of Death, they want to do away with his lady, Miss Meredith and their children. The Brothers are torn between their age old loyalty to the Grand Master and their newfound respect for Mark Andrew. It is a game of wits, magick and mystery mixed with a little humor and a lot of intrigue.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Proofing Time

As most of you bakers know, proofing time is when you let your dough rise in a warm, dark place. Well, for writers, it means the same thing. I just received a proof copy of the Red Cross of Gold II:. the King of Terrors in the mail and it's time to go through it one more time before I push the publish button and make it available in paperback on Amazon.

This book has certainly lived up to its name 'King of Terrors' when it comes to proofing. I practically know the thing by heart by now and yet, every time I go through it, I find errors that drive me up the wall. They aren't big errors as far as some things I've paid money for and read in spite of the typos, but they are to me. First of all, when I first published it on Kindle, I somehow uploaded an older version that had only been proofread a dozen times and not the copy that had been edited six dozen times. Then I had to painfully extract it and make some corrections that might have cause some readers to back off and think that I just threw it together, which is as far from the truth as could be. The second book in the series was by far the most intense writing exercise I've performed to date and maybe that is why it seemed to need more post-operative care. But now, I think I have the thing ready for that shiney new cover. I'm hoping against hope that it will sell as a paperback even though the prices are going through the roof and the economy is going down the drain. It is still a wonderful yarn, a good read and something to take the reader away for at least a little while. Wish me luck on this last reading and happy reading to all. Brendan

Monday, July 6, 2009

Just Another Manic Monday

Don't tell anyone, but I loved that little song 'Manic Monday' simply because she says she was kissing Valentino by a crystal blue Italian stream. I have a partiality for all things Tuscan and I think that probably one of the most romantic scenes I can imagine is taking a big picnic basket out to some fabulous pastoral scene in Tuscany. Sharing a good, sweet wine and a few kisses... ahhhh. But strangely enough, in my first book in the Red Cross of Gold series, one of the main female characters that you just love to hate is named Valentino. I wonder if I took her name from that song? Don't get me wrong, she's not the type of girl one would dream of taking on a romantic picnic, nay, nay, not at all! But back on topic. I hate Mondays simply because I hate dragging myself away from my keyboard for almost ten hours (including driving time). The drive, I enjoy... cruising through the Texas hill country for about twenty-five miles each way. There's always some new cow or goat to see and some fresh road kill to admire and wonder "Wow! I wonder how much damage that sucker did?!" I have deer whistles installed on my car and so far, so good. I did, however, kill a raccoon one day before sunup, but he was just suddenly there. I'm not one of those fellas who swerves to hit turtles. In fact, when no one is looking, I might actually stop and help one of them across the road (another secret you should keep about me).

But today was not your average Monday. It started out normally enough, but soon I realized that not only was the day passing at a rapid pace, I was actually getting work done even though I had been gone all last week. By 4:00 PM, I had accomplished all my goals, fiddled around in everyone else's business and was out the door at exactly 4:01 PM without even making one person mad. It's always a good thing to walk along the sidewalk toward the parking lot without a lot of jeering, curse flinging, and insult shouting following me. Ha! Ha! And best of all, I didn't bring any work home with me.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Working Hard or Hardly Working?

Today has been both enjoyable and frustrating as I continue to work on getting my second and third books in the series into DTB versions on Amazon. I worked all morning on cover designs and when I finally got them perfect, I received all sorts of warnings in big red letters. It was like deja vu all over again! Warning, warning, Will Robinson! But then the robot shuts down and fails to explain what is needed to correct the issues at hand. I suppose I'll have to go off for a while and then come back in a better frame of mind.

On the upside, 4th of July grilling was a huge success, grilled chicken breast and pork steaks with 'tater' salad, beans and sweet buttered bread! Mmmmm, mmmmm, made everything worthwhile. About to go and get an after lunch aperitif. Ha! Ha! Some spiced rum ought to do it. Can't go outside though. Flying that flag in the 102 degree heat. Looks nice out the window.

Thanks to all the readers who've commented favorably on my books, I can't say the day has not been good in spite of the WARNING! ERROR! ERROR! Got to go and take a break. Happy Birthday, USA!!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Home for the 4th of July... I hope

I'm afraid that my weekly hobby takes me away into places where there are no computers and makes me extremely antsy. Glad to be home and wanted to say thank you to everyone who has purchased my books on Kindle and DTB at I really, really appreciate the opportunity to come into your life and perhaps bring a little entertainment and maybe a few daydreams or, at least, a few nightmares. One of my readers wrote that she finally finished the book and was hooked on the story. I'm sincerely grateful to hear this bit of news. She said that the story had given her frights and kept her up to all hours of the night. I'd say that is a grand compliment. If a story doesn't move you somehow, someway, then it is a total waste of time. Thank you all again and HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY TO ALL!!!