Monday, September 30, 2013

How To Bypass Your Fingers When Writing A Book

The biggest problem I have with writing is speed. No matter how fast I write it isn't fast enough for the amount of time I have to devote to my novels. Someone needs to invent a think machine. It could look like a laptop but all you'd have to do is look at it and that book in your head would appear. The only time consuming part of it would be editing. Editing would require actually reading the words and polishing the manuscript.

Most of my writing goes on in my head. How great it would be to go straight from head to computer. I could go about my daily chores and obligations, creating the book in my head and at the end of the day look at my computer and bam! Three hundred pages would appear.

Until that happens, frustration reigns. At present, I'm working on edits for The Art of Love and Murder that The Wild Rose Press contracted me for last week. There are blogs to write and promo points to mind for Amanda in the Summer which is partway into a three month Amazon run until the worldwide release in December. Southwest of Love and Murder is 2/3 done and I really need to pick up the pace so that this sequel is not to far behind book one. I need to begin the re-editing process for Honey On White Bread that Melange Books might reissue (my proposal they are considering) when I get the sequel written - which is only a glimmer in my head right now but needs to become black on white in my computer. Oh and did I mention I'd really like to tackle a book in the Viet Nam era? But I can't do that until I get book three done of my love and murder series.

I know I'm not alone in this. I'll bet there are plenty of authors out there would pay the price for a think computer. Are you listening Bill Gates?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Last Days of Harvest

 Tortuga Thursday
In 2012, on the plains of Northern Arizona, two families joined forces and began the trials and tribulations of building a small family farm with nothing in the bank but love.
Right when it seems summer and harvesting will last forever, the nighttime temps turn cold and yellow leaves signal the end. The more tender plants such as zucchini and golden squash died off a few weeks ago. But there were still so many cucumbers, tomatoes and butternut that they weren't missed in the daily harvest.

Today will see the last cucumbers taken from the vines and the last pickles and relish put up in jars. This has been a real learning season for pickling. Although we had the recipe for taste, the method wasn't perfected until near the end. We won't have as many jars to sell as we anticipated, so we're still debating on just how, where and to whom we'll market. When the labels are done, the licensing secured and the plan hatched, I'll let you know.

The rather massive butternut harvesting started and will wind up by next week. Butternut squash is a favorite on Tortuga. It's also a food we don't have to freeze or can right away. If handled properly, it should last for about six months. Once the vine is dead, it's cut off leaving about two inches of vine on the squash. After washing in a solution of water and Clorox (very weak), it's left in the sun to dry then stored in a cool place out of sun. The same process is applied to the spaghetti squash.

There are a few more onions, tomatoes and peppers to harvest. I think Lance will dig up potatoes and sweet potatoes next week.

Our good neighbor, Dave, came a few days ago with his tractor. He has a mowing attachment which we do
not have. He mowed down the weeds all around the outside of our property fence then asked if we'd like him to come inside the fence. The man loves his tractor. We welcomed him! Frank is going to bake him a pie with the end of last years apples. Dave loves Frank's pies.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Give Me Greenhouse Skin - New Ageless Breakthrough?

Tortuga Thursday
In 2012, on the plains of Northern Arizona, two families joined forces and began the trials and tribulations of building a small family farm with nothing in the bank but love.

Peppers drying
Drying and canning consume much of the day. This neat hanging rack holds three kinds of peppers and is half full. Last year we threaded thread through them and hung in bunches which was much more
Freezing peppers
difficult than tossing them in our hanging dryer. Yea, progress.

Some peppers will be made into hot sauce, salsa and sauce that could be used for any number of dishes such as enchiladas. In fact, Christie has a few jars of
Sauces and tomatoes
sauce already put up.

This year, we're using a short cut for canning the tomatoes. Instead of making sauce, soup or whatever and canning a finished product, we're canning tomatoes to be turned into other foods later. We aren't seeding or peeling them which is so time consuming you can't even imagine. I made some spaghetti sauce with a jar of our tomatoes and it turned out fine. You do run into a bit of noticeable skin but it really isn't a problem. And I think the nutrition is probably higher.

Black tomatoes, field and greenhouse
We have both greenhouse tomatoes and field tomatoes. They taste equally good but because of the outrageous amount of rain we've had, the field tomatoes are not as pretty. Too much rain or erratic amounts of water damage the skin of tomatoes. Looking at the difference in the
Processed tomatoes
skin makes me wonder if I shouldn't be sleeping in the greenhouse.

Xena (our dog that ate Frank's $5000 earring aids) is still being Xena. She ate the insides of a squeak toy and was a sick doggie. The squeaker didn't agree with her. She no sooner got over that when she zeroed in on a bag of trash we hadn't got put into the can. I think she tore into it and ate as much as she could as fast as she could before we caught her. She upchucked a whole, in tact paper towel. As much trouble as she is, the sweet quotient is huge. When Sadi sits in the floor, Xena moves to lay beside her and is fine with Sadi pounding on her back.

Paulden shopping mall
Paulden is really coming up in the world. As you can see, we now have a shopping mall.

One last note - I signed a contract with The Wild Rose Press for the first book in my Love and Murder series. This one is The Art of Love and Murder and is set in Flagstaff, Arizona. Yea!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Losing the Battle But Only a Few Casualties

Tortuga Thursday
In 2012, on the plains of Northern Arizona, two families joined forces and began the trials and tribulations of building a small family farm with nothing in the bank but love.

Squash plants living with weeds
We learned a lesson this time last year. Weeds can win. Flooding rows and not weeding everyday makes for horrendous weeds. Last year, we were involved in the wedding and a couple of other things that took us out of the fields often. Weeds took over and got so out of hand we gave up the battle.

We learned the lesson all over again this year. Only with a slightly different slant. We changed to a drip system, as I told you about in an earlier post. It worked beautifully and the weeds were under control for a while anyway. Then the rains came. Our prairie community normally does not get much rain. This year has been over the top. Results - same as last year. The
weeds have gotten so out of hand, we gave up the battle.

Some plants are greatly affected by weeds like the root veggies (onions, carrots, potatoes). They become stunted and won't grow to full maturity. We planted so many carrots that we don't really care if they're smaller or funky shaped. It did cut down on the size of the onions. I have managed to keep the potato rows fairly weed free. In fact, they are about the only ones I weed now. Other plants were affected by bugs which find housing in the weeds and grass. One row of green beans died before its time because of giant grasshoppers.

Fruit trees, green but barren
Yes, it's been an unusual year for rain but we're still going to do some more planning for next year. We're contemplating row covers and ground cover before planting.

Some of us relax better than others!
One good result from all this rain is the replenishment of the Big Chino Aquifer. We sit atop the Big Chino. It feeds our well and a good portion of Arizona. It was long over due for a splash.

New this year: Lance has taken up hunting. We have dove in the freezer along side the veggies!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Toot-Toot...Promo Pride

Keeping it short and tooting my horn about my latest release, Amanda in the Summer. The reader reviews so far have been fantastic. Thought I'd share a new excerpt (first time revealed) and some of those reviews.

July 28, 1968
Dear Auntie Tilly,
I didn’t get the whole of what happened while you
were here. You and my parents seemed all happy and
cool when you left though. You three are the most
important old folks in my life. What an odd threesome
you are to me, at times. You’re so very cool, free spirited
and groovy. Mom is—I don’t know what—
going through menopause? Daddy is Daddy and seems
to understand both of you. I felt some tension I’d never
noticed before, but I could’ve been projecting my own
insecurities into the atmosphere. Taking this step with
Kevin is huge, you know? Or maybe it’s just Mom’s
erratic behavior lately.

I can always count on you for the blunt truth. Like
when you told me that what I wanted with Kevin was
admirable. And regardless of how groovy I think the
way you lead your life is, I need to lead my own life. Of
course, I had no idea you’ve had a love relationship, of
sorts, all of your life…

A few of the Reader Reviews on Amazon:
This is a quick and rewarding read. I was captivated from start to finish and couldn't put it down. I became so engrossed in the various Amanda's lives and how they intertwined with Tilly's. This is a very poignant story reminding us that life, love, and friendships are not always what they seem on the surface. I strongly recommend this short and entertaining book.

If you remember writing to your dearest friend, telling her your deepest secrets, etc..... you will love this e-book!

Loved the lineage of the Amanadas. Clever approach for a heartwarming story. The letters were well written and I wanted more. Thank you Brenda.

This was well written. Once started I had a hard time putting this e-book down. As a matter of fact, I ended up going into work the next day sleepy! The only criticism I have is that when I got to the end, I wanted MORE.

"Amanda in the Summer" is a collection of letters written to a dear friend named Tilly. What makes this book unique is there is more than one Amanda. An aged Tilly gives all the letters to the youngest Amanda. Amanda learns more about her family through the letters than she could ever have imagined. I enjoyed the story, and did not want it to end.

On Amazon exclusively for 3 months:

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Where Are the Mice When I Sleep?

Tortuga Thursday
In 2012, on the plains of Northern Arizona, two families joined forces and began the trials and tribulations of building a small family farm with nothing in the bank but love.
The sun is rising on Wednesday as I write. We're back to clear, windless mornings after several wet ones. With all the rain and warm temps, we've had foggy mornings the first half of this week. It's delayed my walk time. There are some reckless pickup truck drivers in this area, and I don't trust they'd see me. Idiots. These dirt roads are not meant for four-wheeling. How stupid to tear up the roads we have to drive on every day. When they're so muddy from all the rain we've had, it really makes a mess.

It's a soapbox kind of day. The end of August and into September are tough months for a woman who isn't
Double rainbow over Tortuga Flats
fond of dirt in any form, loose ends, messy patios, mice, allergies and money woes. Two years in a row - I think this is how it will be on our farm this time every year as far as mud, mess and loose ends. The rest we can change.

Mud: so I've complained about the dirt since day one. Blah, blah, blah you say. But wouldn't you think I'd adapt by now? I'm beginning to think it isn't going to happen. Loose ends: even if there were enough hours in the day, it wouldn't help. There's never enough time on a farm to get everything done during harvest season. The bright side is - it's a season. Relax and enjoy. Where? On my messy patio? LOL Muddy shoes, muddy tracks, pails of harvested food,
coolers filled with ice and cucumbers, tools, etc. Mice: we can't seem to get rid of them. Funny thing is we can't find anything they've actually gotten into and eaten. I think they just want out of the heat and rain. We've killed a few. I know there's more. Mice and farms go hand and hand but the thought of them skittering around the house while I sleep gives me the willys. Allergies: that time of year. Christie, Sadi and I are having a time with them. Money woes: well, I told you from day one there might be those. This has been an experiment of building something from next to nothing. Jars of pickles and relish all over the house and the hope we can market them. We're investing what we have and betting on a good outcome. I have to say, we have the best tasting pickles and relish I've ever, ever tasted. We've started the independent taste tests and it's been exciting so far. Stay tuned. Once the logo is done and the labels are on, I'll tell you more.

Sadi's first taste of ice cream
So now the sun is up and I need to get out and get my walk in before the day is in full swing. I'll negotiate the mud puddles still hanging around, ignore the barking dogs and breath the fresh prairie air. When I get back, I'll play with my granddaughter for a few minutes, feed Rusty and head out to the fields for a couple of hours before I settle down to write my current book. Life is full. Life is good.

Off my soapbox. (P.S. I'll be on the road and unable to see your comments until Friday afternoon)