"Roundheads and Ramblings"
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Recent Posts

A Deal New Authors Can't Afford to Miss
Why Does this Chicken Keep Crossing the Road?
Soup is Better Than Lemonade
Where Are Your Memories Stored?
3 Ways to Deal with the Holiday Calendar Crisis

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"Roundheads and Ramblings"

A Deal New Authors Can't Afford to Miss

Announcing a deal you can’t afford to pass up.

I’ll be taking some of the Thanksgiving holiday off, but in case some of you are already in a Christmas-gift-buying mood, I’m leaving a couple of Kindle deals to keep you shopping between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

First comes The Second Mouse Gets the Cheese: How To Avoid the Traps of Self-Publishing. This handbook is based on my own experiences as I made the transition from traditional publishing to self-publishing. By 2010 I had published three books with traditional publishers, and I was well aware of the delays and frustrations that accompanied those ventures.

When I started to consider self-publishing I learned three things:  (1) Self-publishing is quicker—much quicker. (2) Self-publishing gives the author complete control over the content and appearance of the finished book. (3) In most cases, an author makes much more money from a self-published book.

What’s not to love? Well, as in any business, you need to know what you are doing if you expect to be successful. “The Second Mouse” lets the reader in on all the mistakes I made along the way and offers some tips on how to avoid  the pitfalls of the publishing world. The book is currently available at:

On Thanksgiving Day at 8:00 a.m. PST, its price will drop to $.99 for a countdown period through Black Friday.  (Your savings amount to 67%) On  Saturday, Nov. 29 at 8:00 a.m. PDT, the price will increase to $1.99 and remain there for a second countdown period through Cyber Monday. (Your savings amount to 34%) It will return to its original list price of $2.99 on Tuesday, December 2 at 8:00 a.m. PST.

Don't miss out on this one!

Why Does this Chicken Keep Crossing the Road?

Dear Chicken,

I saw you for the first time a couple of weeks ago.  My husband called you a rooster, but I was pretty sure you were just a Rhode Island Red hen. You were puttering around our yard, digging the live bugs out of our fresh flowerbed mulch. I asked you where your home coop was because I knew you didn’t belong in this fenced-in condo community.  Our residents are mostly senior citizens, and they frown on any sort of animal life, except for their own leashed dogs. Cats are not allowed outside, and I know neighbors who nearly have  a heart attack if a mouse  or a water bug crawls under their garage door. I knew you would not be a popular visitor. And I can’t imagine what they would do if they found an egg in their yard.

That day, you took my suggestion and went clucking off toward the fence. I worried about you a little bit. I knew you could get past the fence. It is, after all, only a symbolic fence, with two rails. You probably walked right under it. On the other side of the fence, though, there’s a road, and I knew you were going to cross it. Oh well, I reassured myself, chickens have been crossing roads for a very long time. She’ll know what she’s doing. That was the end of our brief acquaintance. Until this morning!

What were you doing hanging around the Club House? The swimming pool is closed for the season, and even our resident wild duck family (with all their 11 ducklings) left last week for a warmer location. You were close to the road again —(See, I still worry about you!) — but you seemed quite pleased with the chance to investigate our flower beds. You were kicking dry leaves, too, and I know how much fun that can be.

But that’s not the real problem. Has no one told you that Thanksgiving will be here in three more days? It’s the most dangerous day of the year for poultry, as any turkey would tell you. And in this little community, where most houses have only one or two residents, a nice fat chicken like yourself would make an appealing substitute for one of those bigger birds. So please go home! Scurry back across the road and into the woods on your way to your home coop. I don’t want you to end up on a platter.



Soup is Better Than Lemonade

You've probably heard the old adage about making lemonade when life hands you a lemon.I admit it has its points, but for me, when I hit a rainy day, I want to make soup.

It's been raining here ever since we had breakfast and is showing no signs of letting up. The little ditch behind our house has turned into Schriber Creek, and the neighbor's soccor ball that landed in our yard yesterday is getting ready to float away. It's cold and damp, and the only thing I want to do this afternoon is make a pot of soup. 

Luckily, the fridge is full of odds and ends--half a bag of mixed vegetables left over from a recipe that turns canned biscuits into little chicken pot pies; a cup or so of diced ham, left over from a cobb salad; half an onion and some minced garlic from last night's been stroganoff recipe. I also have on hand a bag of frozen vegetable soup mix (lots of veggies including potatoes and turnips), a good supply of chicken broth, and some cans of stuff in the pantry.  

There isn't a recipe for this sort of day. It calls for invention. So I'll start with some water and the soup mix, which comes with its own seasonings. Then into the pot will go all the left-overs, along with about a quart of chicken broth. Cans? Maybe some white beans and diced tomatoes. And after a while, a handful of barley to add some starch and pull the broth together. Add that to a couple of other leftovers -- a heel of a French baguette and a half-opened bottle of this week's treasure, the first wine from the 2014 French harvest -- Beaujolais Nouveau.  Then let it rain!


Where Are Your Memories Stored?

Where are your memories stored? Sometimes they are caught up in a single sound.  That happened to me yesterday. On an impulse we decided to stop at a newish restaurant for lunch. The name alone--"Lettuce Eat"--made it a fun idea, particularly since we're still cutting calories around here.

What a find it was! They serve only fresh salads (and wraps made from salads) and the food was fabulous, but for me the best moment came when I heard a drumbeat-like sound that echoed faintly through the whole restaurant. It came from the salad choppers, using a wicked looking double handled blade to chop and blend each salad on a large white cutting board.

You can read more about this great addition to the Memphis restaurant scene here: http://styleblueprint.com/memphis/everyday/lettuce-eat/

And what was the memory stirred up by that pounding sound? It took me back to 1983 and my first visit to Mont-St-Michel in France. We stayed at La Mere Poulard Hotel, whose kitchen is famous for its omellette -- a frothy, almost meringue-like concoction unlike any American omelet you've ever tasted. The sound -- the same drumlike beat that goes on and on--came from the cooks in the kitchen, who were whipping the eggs with huge whisks in copper bowls.














Both restaurants are unique in their own locations, both for the same reasons, which include absolutely fresh food prepared by hard-working hands -- a combination that somehow produces a music all its own.

Thanks for the memory.

3 Ways to Deal with the Holiday Calendar Crisis

I've just been looking at my calendar for the next two months. Holy Datebook! November's almost over, or will be by the time we negotiate next week's Thanksgiving trip. Then it's December with my husband's birthday and our anniversary both coming before Christmas. And smack in the middle of the various scheduled holiday parties comes the week we will be spending in the condo at Hilton Head. Do I really think I'm going to accomplish much between now and the New Year? Not a chance of that, but maybe there are some ways to turn a lot of small tidbits into a productive whole. Here's what I'm thinking this morning.

1. Give up on the idea of racing all the other NaNoWriMo writers to the finish line.  On November 15th, I was ahead of the curve. Now I'm slipping behind at an ever increasing pace. OK, so be it. It's really not about how many words you can put on paper; it's about how important your words are. Better not to write than to write drivel. If my characters want to talk to me, they can go ahead. I can add some bits and pieces of conversation without feeling I have to create a whole chapter at a time.

2. Go ahead and start planning for Christmas instead of worrying that there won't be time to get everything done. I woke up this morning thinking about my mother's recipe for Christmas sand tarts. It's been several years since I've made them, and we're trying to cut the calorie intake around here, but  . . . why not just do it? The darn things last forever, so instead of waiting for Christmas week, I may mix up a batch by Thanksgiving and kickstart my Christmas memories. Oh, and I must remember to take last year's fruitcake out of the freezer and see if it has survived.

3. Relax by having a little fun in the middle of the work day.For the next few weeks, I may turn this blog into a scrapbook of items that make me smile for one reason or another. Serious blog posts on the art and craft of indie publishing can wait until I'm actually practicing that art and craft full time again. In the meantime, here's what made me smile today. Purely by accident I ran across a picture of a marriage certificate signed by Gen. Rufus Saxton, who is a prominent character in The Road to Frogmore, and who will appear again in Yankee Reconstructed. I don't recognize the names of the bride and groom, Minerva Morris and James Bythwood, but I smiled when I actually saw a sample of Saxton's signature. I know that many of my characters are real people, but it's still fun to find traces of their lives.