German Potatoes

I was editing a scene in my WIP in which a character was cooking potatoes with greens and sausage, German style. Made me hungry.

I like sausage, but don’t eat it anymore (you know what’s in that stuff, right? Ugh.).

But the potatoes and greens—that’s yum. Here’s how my German family makes potatoes.

  • Scrub 2 pounds potatoes and boil in salted water until just tender; drain and allow to dry about 15 minutes. Peel and slice into ¼” to ½” rounds.
  • Fry 1 pound bacon until crisp; remove from skillet.
  • Sauté 1½ cups onions with 3 tablespoons flour and 1 tablespoon salt in bacon grease until onions are tender.
  • Add ⅔ cup sugar, ⅔ cup vinegar, and 1¼ cup water and bring to a boil.
  • Crumble bacon on top of potatoes.
  • Pour sauce over potatoes and bacon. Stir gently.
  • Optional: sprinkle chopped chives or parsley over the top.
  • Serve hot. (We usually made the potatoes first, and kept them in a warm oven while preparing the rest of the meal. That way the potatoes get a little more tender, and they’re good ‘n hot when served.)

How do you like your potatoes?

What They Should Be Asked

You know the kind of questions I wish moderators would ask candidates at town halls and debates? Some practical things that show how much the candidate actually knows about our country and the world. Such as:

  • What is the population of the US? Of the world?
  • How many people immigrate to the US each year?
  • What is the median income of US households?
  • What is the GDP, and how does that compare to the GDP of 2 or 10 years ago? How does it compare to that of China/Mexico/(country)?
  • Who is the current president of the UN?
  • Who is the president/prime minister/etc. of (country)?
  • Show world map with one random country highlighted:
  • What country is this, and what countries border it?
  • Is this country an ally?
  • What is our greatest import and export with this country, and how much per year is each?

Personally, I think anyone wanting to run the largest economy and (arguably) greatest power in the world should be able to easily answer this kind of question.

One more wish: turn off the mic of every candidate who’s not supposed to be talking.

Copper Plate

“I’ll do my best, but I can’t write as beautifully as Mary does. Her writing is just like copper plate,” Minnie said…  from Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

When I was a little kid, I wondered what in the world a copper plate – or any kind of plate – had to do with handwriting. When I got a little older, I realized it had something to do with printer’s plates, but still didn’t know why a copper one would produce writing more beautiful than any other plate.

The beauty of it actually has as much to do with the nib and technique of the writing as the copper plates. Copperplate Script uses a sharp, pointed nib held at a 55 degree angle. The sharper nib and that particular angle enables a more precise line to be drawn than most “fancy” (calligraphic) handwriting, most of which uses a flatter nib.

Copper, due to its particular elemental properties, allows cleaner lines in engraving than other metals; thus, when engraving plates to make handwriting copybooks for student to copy from, copper plates were preferred. The font derives its name from these plates.

It is interesting to note that because of the clean etching properties of copper, documents requiring a royal seal were historically inscribed on copper; this link to royalty is another cause of the popularity of Copperplate Script in the Victorian era.

My own handwriting can be more closely compared to a doctor’s prescription. Perhaps that’s because copper plates were no longer used when I learned to write.

FREE Today and Tomorrow

What does it take to survive when the Triad wants you dead? 

Zoey McFarland’s massage therapy business is thriving on referrals from local physicians. So when a new spa offering massage opens nearby, she isn’t concerned—until she sees a young girl crying outside the place.

Investigating the girl’s plight, Zoey uncovers an evil hiding in plain sight. But city officials won’t believe a human trafficking ring exists in their town, and law enforcement accuses her of trying to eliminate competition.

Then, taken by the ring and immersed in the very nightmare she’s fighting, Zoey discovers the true fate of the victims is more sinister than anyone imagined.

Can Zoey pierce the veil between good and evil, and find a way to survive?

This thrilling novel of hope and courage is inspired by true events.

And it’s FREE on Kindle today and tomorrow! Get it here.

Interview with Marilyn Read and Cheryl Spears Waugh

I recently had an online interview with Marilyn Read and Cheryl Spears Waugh, the authors of the inspirational Women of Monterey series. 

This historical series has elements of romance, western, and mystery woven into stories of forgiveness and redemption.

Q: How did the idea for Anna’s story come about?

An inspirational biography about Friar Junipero Serra set Marilyn thinking about the setting: Spanish California. Missions, friars, powerful ranchers, hunters, and native people.  Soon we began wondering what the lives of women must have been like in the male-dominated setting and began to research. We couldn’t find many fictional accounts of the time. It seemed to beg for a romantic story about a Spanish aristocratic woman and a Native American, both influenced by the dedicated friar. They faced very different challenges, but with a similar outlook: to do what they must to survive in a man’s world, guided by the precepts of God.

Q: Why did you select 1780s Monterey as your setting?

The beauty of the countryside was an appealing factor, and the pivotal events in that period of California history shaped the story of Westward Expansion in the United States. Only the strong thrived in early Monterey—men and women. God is the giver of strength to accomplish whatever He asks of us.

Q: What truths from Seek a Safe Harbor do you want readers to walk away with? 

God has a plan for each human life. In living out that plan, we find fulfillment. Fray Serra sold out to this idea early in his life and God enabled him as an ordinary man to accomplish extraordinary achievements. He was sixty-five years old when he walked from Mexico to California.

 Q: What truths from Dawn’s Light in Monterey do you want readers to walk away with?

The obedience to the call of God in life settles us into His plan. He can bless our lives as we obey the voice of His Holy Spirit. Aurora and Pia demonstrate how unexpected consequences can occur.

Q: What did you learn about yourselves from writing this story?

We saw more clearly the hand of God in events of our life as we searched for truth in each character’s life. Both women obeyed God’s plan and found deeper meaning for their lives. Our journeys with God are adventures, given significance in the lives of others He entwines into our time on earth. Through Him, we are given power to bless others.

Q: What life lessons do you hope to impart to those who read your books? 

Trust in God and obey His precepts as He gives us to understand them. Prayer and study are essential to growing in Him.

Q: What are some of your favorite quotes from Seek a Safe Harbor?

  • Prayer is where our fears go to die, Anna. We drag them out one by one and stand them before God. Courage does not panic—it prays.
  • God equips the called, but not until they are in the midst of the fray.
  • Suns set in our lives and darkness may prevail, but in God there is always a new day.

Q: Give readers a glimpse of what they can expect from your next book.

In Beneath the Texas Sky, Print English is a Texas cattleman bent on building a Texas Longhorn empire. First the Civil War interrupts his dream and then a feisty, auburn-haired lawyer’s daughter, Julie Denton, decides that God intends her to be the woman who shares his life. She convinces Print to marry her, but his headstrong ambitions precipitate a crisis with organized cattle rustlers and a crazed thief who has murdered one girl and sets his sights on Julie. Can Print allow God’s solutions to prevail?

About Marilyn and Cheryl:

Marilyn Read and Cheryl Waugh are Texans with a deep interest in history. God led them to work together in 2006, after the deaths of Cheryl’s mother and Marilyn’s daughter.

They write about strong women in the old southwest to inspire women of today in their journey with God.  Seek a Safe Harbor and Dawn’s Light in Monterey are the two books of their Women of Monterey series.

Please visit them at Inspired Women of the Southwest.


I’ve started so many blog posts in the past several months. But it’s mostly old news now, so there’s not much point in finishing them.

On the other hand, they would catch you up on what’s been going on in my life in the months since my last post.

So here’s a compromise: a bullet-point list by topic.

  • Drivers: Why are they so bad these days?
  • Good movies:
    • A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
    • Ford v Ferrari (You don’t have to be into racing to enjoy this one!)
    • The Good Liar
    • Harriet
    • Knives Out
    • Little Women
    • Richard Jewell

Well, you can see I go for character-driven stories.

  • I read some good books, too, but hope to post reviews, so won’t list those now.
  • Several medical issues.
    • The big one: Cancer. Hubby got it.
      • Also updates: Surgery, times two
      • Treatment: It’s TB. Really. Tuberculosis.
      • Waiting Is Hard (aka, Is It Gone?)
    • In other medical news
      • I broke my foot. First broken bone in my life.
      • Had surgery on a finger. The second one to remove a sometimes-painful growth on this joint, and it’s returning again.
      • Good news: found a medication that helped cluster headaches and both head and abdominal migraines. Bad news: it turns me into a total zombie, so I can’t take it.
      • Good news: Aimovig has tremendously helped the cluster headaches and head migraines. Bad news: it does nothing for abdominal migraines.
  • Writing & Publishing:
    • Got to attend 3 weekend writing retreats
      • And looking forward to an ACFW spring retreat and the SCN LifeLines workshop (in Denver!)
    • Working furiously to finish my novel this year. I’ve been working on it for 4 years, but mostly only a couple hours a month during those years. It’s getting close enough now that I see the light at the end of the tunnel, which is motivating!
      • Genre: Upmarket (i.e., character-driven [of course!], book-club appropriate. Think Jodi Picoult or Jojo Moyes.)
      • Working Title: The Jew’s Ornament
      • Setting: Alternates between present day Kansas & NY and 1930s-40s Germany & Poland (sounds complicated, but it’s not).
      • Possible tag: The secret behind a family heirloom could save them—or destroy them. Would that intrigue you enough to flip the book over and read the back cover?
  • Family:
    • My favorite cousin, whom I hadn’t seen in 13 years, came for a week-long visit with her 3 children! It was so good to catch up. They wanted to do “Texas things,” so among other things we
      • Went to a shooting range
      • Rode horses
      • Ate lots of BBQ
      • The high schooler did a tour of UT
      • Had a mini family reunion
    • Grandson graduated from high school. Proud of this kid young man!
    • Caught up with my favorite uncle and cousin on the other side of the family at a “real” family reunion.
  • Weather: It’s crazy!

I don’t know what was happening when I started a post about this, but nothing’s changed. Three days ago, on Tuesday afternoon, it was in the low 80s. Wednesday evening it snowed. Thursday (yesterday) morning it was in the 20s, and in the afternoon we were wearing t-shirts (mid-60s? Never looked.).

  • Politics: Not going there now.

Okay, that’s about it. Hoping—yet again—to get back on track with posting.

What’s up with YOU?

2 reviews in 1 post: Deliverance Dane & Temperance Hobbs

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, by Katherine Howe, is a fun book with an intriguing premise. As the book opens, Connie Goodwin is concluding her orals for her PhD candidacy. Her specialty is early American history, and she’s looking for something to set her research apart. As luck would have it, she’s asked to clean out her ancestors’ abandoned home. There, she finds clues to a previously-unknown primary source: a book of charms kept through several generations, all the way back to the 1600s. She also finds a heritage she didn’t know she had.

Interspersed with Connie’s search is the story of the book’s history and the women who created it, beginning with one accused of witchcraft in the Salem witch trials.

The tidbits of historical village life were fascinating, and Connie’s attraction to Sam the steeplejack was engaging. At times the writing was splendid; in other places, however, it was lackluster and elementary. There were several instances where Connie didn’t know or realize something that any Freshman history major would know, even though she’s a PhD candidate. There were also some conflicting elements in the story (e.g., in one place Connie doesn’t remember her grandmother but in another place she reminisces fondly about her). The ending was…well, readers interested in this type of book should expect to suspend belief.

If I had picked this book up as a YA, instead of a NYT-bestselling adult novel, I could give it a higher rating. But considering the inconsistent prose and the too-simple “clues” Connie can’t comprehend without a lot of explaining for the reader, as a book for adults it doesn’t hold up. Still, the interesting historical aspect makes it an entertaining read. Three stars.

The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs by Katherine Howe is a follow-up to The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane. Although Temperance can be read as a stand-alone, there are several references to happenings in Deliverance, and reading the first book will enhance understanding of the second.

As Temperance opens, Connie hasn’t entirely come to terms with her heritage as a descendent of a Salem witch. She puts up with her mother’s hippie-new age ideas with barely-disguised scorn when she has to, and otherwise tries not to think about it.

Then she gets pregnant, and plans to marry Sam. She can no longer hide from the fact that every husband-father in her ancestry dies an early death. All, that is, except one. Why didn’t the husband of Temperance Hobbs meet the same fate? If Connie can discover that secret, she can have her happily-ever-after.

The modern-day story is told alternately with that of Temperance Hobbs, who lived in the 1600s, and her daughters. As such, the reader is privy to the secret before Connie is. What the reader doesn’t know is how on earth a modern-day woman will be able to replicate the required action—if she can find it.

Like the first book, this one has an intriguing premise, and it could be called fun. But it has the same inconsistency in its delivery. I’d hoped that since this book had a different publisher, a good editor would elevate the execution. But poor writing was found along with the good. The author found it necessary to over-explain everything. Worst of all, the ending was so absurd I may not have finished the book if it wasn’t for my book group. Up to that point, the story was enjoyable if still not entirely believable. Every book doesn’t have to be fine literature, after all.

I wish I could give this book—and Deliverance—a higher rating, for several reasons. I’d like to see more books explore various interpretations of historical events. The premise and the concept are promising. It’s a fun read. And, less importantly but still admittedly part of the picture, our book group received copies of The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs from GalleyMatch. It’s the first time we’ve been so privileged, and fear that with a negative review, it may also be the last. But I have to give an honest review, and honestly, this book didn’t live up even to the low expectations set by its predecessor. Two stars.

Book Review: Bayou City Burning

It’s evident from the very first line that BAYOU CITY BURNING will be a throwback to the 1930-40s hardboiled fiction. The difference is that instead of Prohibition, in this book set in 1961 Houston, society is dealing with desegregation and space wars. But like any good hardboiled PI story, it still features a tough, wise-cracking PI with his own moral code, willing to bend the law for a good cause while dealing with both the mob and the corrupt political system.

Harry Lark is hired by a stranger to follow a couple NASA engineers and report on their activities. The stranger won’t say why, but he’ll pay—and Harry’s got bills. He thinks it’s over when he hands in the report, but the plot thickens when the stranger is later found murdered in Harry’s office.

Meanwhile, Harry’s 12-year-old daughter Dizzy—her father’s mini-me in personality if not looks—opens a Lost and Found with two friends. They aren’t expecting to be asked to find a “lost” father, but that’s what happens when 7-year-old Sissy doesn’t believe her father really died a train wreck. A Barbie doll arrived in the mail on her birthday, and she’s sure her father sent it. Dizzy and her friends agree to take the case.

It seems that father and daughter are working two very different mysteries, though they help each other out with advice, ideas, and (sometimes unbelievable) actions. However, author D.B. Borton manages to bring the cases together slicker than Harry’s oiled hair.

The pleasure in reading BAYOU CITY BURNING comes from both the delightful prose—which is full of wit, slang, and similes—and the characters. For although Harry is a hardboiled PI, he’s also contemplative and a caring father; and Dizzy is as empathetic as she is precocious. They’re a perfect team. I look forward to their next appearance.

My review is given honestly although I was given an advance copy of the book.

Guest Blogging Today

I have a short guest blog over at One Woman’s Day. Come on over and see what lesson I learned from a pothole.

Book Review: Sold on a Monday

Sold on a Monday was not what I expected.

When we’re first introduced to reporter Ellis Read, he’s killing time taking photographs. A couple of boys playing in front of a run-down house catch his attention. It’s not until he’s snapping their photo that he sees the sign on the porch: 2 children for sale.

Read’s editor wants to run the photo with a story, but the photo gets ruined. When Ellis returns to re-take it, the family is gone. In desperation, he takes the left-behind sign and stages a similar shoot with neighbor children (who are not for sale).

Sold on a Monday isn’t about either set of children. Rather, it’s about Ellis Read. How far will he go to make his career? More importantly, how far will he go to set things right when the far-reaching consequences of his actions are revealed?

Forgiveness, of self as well as others, is a major theme of the story. As one character states, “Even decent, well-meaning people could make poor choices under pressure.” How then can we determine, both individually and as a society, when leniency should be extended and when it should not? At what point should society make a judgement of a someone (for example, that a couple are not fit to be parents and should not be allowed to adopt children)?

Kristina McMorris obviously did her research for this historical novel. Elements of daily life in 1930s New York are sprinkled throughout, providing a firm setting. I could pick a few nits, but for the main part the book is well written. The characters are engaging and the chain of events is poignant. The pacing varies, as it should in any good story; however, it does drag in a couple of areas while racing too quickly in a couple of others. Overall, a good read worth the time. Four stars.