Friday, May 29, 2020

Book Review: When the Stars Fade

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When the Stars Fade
It’s the year 2236, and humanity can’t catch a break.

While we’re licking our wounds from a bloody civil war, two alien armadas stumble into the Solar System fighting one of their own. At odds are the fearsome Boxti Horde and their ancient enemies, the Nangolani.

Naturally, we can’t resist picking sides and joining the fight, but after several crushing defeats, we’re forced to open Pandora’s Box to win the war: A top-secret special forces program.

Meanwhile, a hotshot starfighter has his mettle tested when the war separates him from his best friend and favorite wingman.

Tech-savvy and full of action, humor, and intrigue, When The Stars Fade is the first in a six-book series, The Gray Wars.

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The Good:
I have to say that Adam Korenman knows how to build a world that's familiar and yet strange at the same time. There are touching moments, a lot of action, and the book doesn't stop until it's done.

The Bad:
There are a lot of characters and it can be overwhelming to keep track of them. The book also starts out a bit rough, but by the time you're less than a third of the way through, it pulls together.

The Summary:
If you enjoy military based books, this could certainly be one that pulls you in. This book was first released in 2013 and since then only one other book in the series has been published (2017). That makes me a little nervous for how long it will be before all 6 books in the series will be completed. Still, it's a good read and one that, even though military books aren't my thing, I ended up enjoying.






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Thursday, May 28, 2020

Writing Prompt Thursday: Used

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Today's question has me doing some thinking...

Write about something that you bought used.

What do I choose? My cars? My couch? Books? Books! Yes!

Most people know that I own an insane number of books. What they don't know is that I've had a dream of owning one series of books since I was a child. The series is Cherry Ames. She's a nurse and has all sorts of adventures. I first read them when I was a child and the series has always stuck with me. The problem is...I don't really buy them online. I have this weird rule that I have to trip over them to get them. That could explain why I only own like four of them. I found one at a Goodwill and two at a candle store in Dundee, Michigan. Whenever I find one, it's like Christmas morning. I hold onto it. I won't set it down. I'm afraid someone will scoop it right up if I even place it in my cart. I don't know how many people even know about my love for this series, but now I guess everyone who reads this does!






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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Wordsmith Wednesday: Book Release Date

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It's time! I finally get to reveal to all of you our release date for Tales from the Toy Store! After working on this book for so long, everything is suddenly coming together. Eric did an amazing job on not only the interior art, but also the cover for the book. I couldn't have asked for anything better. I've done my first live reading with A Tiger's Tale....and now....the release date!


On July 14th, 2020, this book of children's stories will be available on Amazon! The book will be available in both paperback and ebook formats. I cannot wait to share this book with you.





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Monday, May 25, 2020

Crockpot Monday: Old Fashioned Pot Roast

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Old Fashioned Pot Roast:

Ingredients:
4 pounds beef roast (chuck or rump)
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced in rings
2 large Russet potatoes, cut in 2-inch chunks
1 cup baby carrots
1 cup sliced celery
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup beef broth

Directions:

Use a 6-quart slow cooker. Brown the outside of your roast if you’d like, but it isn’t required.

In a plastic zippered bag, shake a thawed beef roast with flour, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Remove roast from the bag and brown all sides in a large skillet with olive oil (browning is optional). While your meat is browning, place the sliced onion in the bottom of the cooker. Add meat, and toss in the potatoes, celery, and carrots. Pour Worcestershire and beef broth over the top. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.




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Thursday, May 21, 2020

Writing Prompt Thursday : Morning

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Writing Prompt Thursday
This week's question is definitely going to give you some insight into my personal life!

What is the first thing that you do when you wake up every morning? Why?

I could give you the silly answer and tell you that I open my eyes, which would be true. Of course, the serious answer would be that I reach for my phone. I check to see if there's a message from "the man" first thing. There rarely is, but I still check. I also skim my email, check Facebook, and clear any unnecessary notifications. By this point, I usually desperately have to pee so I give the cats a couple of scritches and hurry myself downstairs. I'm not an exciting morning person, but I'm me!

What do you do first thing in the morning?






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Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Wordsmith Wednesday: What Little I Know About Comedy

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So I said I'd write about what I know about humor.  But then I realized I couldn't just write down the word nothing a thousand times or so.  So I feel I should come with a disclaimer. This is how I work humor. Some of these tricks are universal. But the real challenge of humor is that it's a matter of taste. You have to accept that you aren't always going to be funny, no matter how amazing your dad joke is. Or mine in this case.

Ready?

So my novel is apparently pretty funny, quirky for sure. So how did I do it? Since “I have no idea” is the kind of answer that you didn't come to read, I'll give this a shot.

Comedy is hard

Groucho Marx wasn't kidding. Drama is easy.  We all understand pain. We all feel pain. Humor is a more fickle beast. Jokes that may crack you up. They may not. Comedy is very subjective. So with this great truth, how do we approach humor then?

It's okay for jokes to be bad

So let's look at Peter Parker. Peter cracks jokes all the time as Spider man. I find Spidey is written best when some of his jokes aren't funny. Peter David in particular is great at this technique. He will make Spider man drop some stinkers. Don't get me wrong, David definitely puts a few extra bit of punch in his zingers too. But part of how that works is the fact that some of the jokes are bad.

There are a few lessons to take from this approach. Comedy isn't a steady line of laughter. It's about taking your reader or listener on a journey. Sometimes you go up with the laughter, and sometimes you go down with the groans. Good comedians sprinkle their A material with some not quite so nice stuff. It accentuates the zingers and the A material when it comes out of nowhere.  We can't all be funny like Robin Williams. We just don't have that gift, but we can use technique, and this is a good one.

Dirty your jokes a little bit with some bad ones. They are the ones you tell that you think are funny but aren't. I recently wrote an interview with a zombie. My beta reader for said jokes didn't understand one of them. It wasn't that the joke couldn't work, but the joke didn't work as it was. I modified it to add a layer.

Is it my best joke? Nope. But it sets up my best jokes.

Fun is contagious

Now, there's a point where the quality of jokes don't matter anymore. Comedy and music are similar that once the song is fully in motion it doesn't matter what the tune is, people will dance to it. Finding that balance is tricky.  That all said, another great technique is to have fun with it. Enjoy your own material. Be okay that it won't all hit (it won't, no matter how good you think you are) , but that your authenticity will carry you through the routine.

Here's the thing about fun.  Fun and play are contagious. If you are having fun, and people catch on, they will start to too. Without much in the way of actual nuance, you will convince your audience that you're having a good time. Once they are convinced of this, you will find they will be with you.

Show me a person who doesn't like to play and I will show you a liar. Everyone wants to play. Give them that excuse and more often than not they will do the work for you.  This is true in fiction as well. If the reader can pick up that you are having fun, they will too. They'll want to interact with this experience the same way.

Surprise!

Great humor must include a surprise. One of the great joys of comedy is how they bend the expectations of the reader or listener. Comedy more than anything else, challenges expectations. If anything, expectations motivate comedy to distract you with those very things you come to expect.

Surprise is the true goal of comedy. The outcome will make you laugh, and if the comedian is great, they will make you think. Terry Pratchett is one of my favorite comedians. I remember Eric in particular is where Pratchett eviscerated expectations. There was a reference to a great and noble knight that was going to slay the dragon. Everyone knew it. They talked about it. It was all over but the shouting they'd say.

But the dragon won. That was funny. And then Pratchett took it one step further. The dragon, now in charge was requiring sacrifices and people were doing it. Because they were afraid of the dragon and the dragon would spare their lives for these people being killed.  Comedy turned into deep thought.

There was a famous line in watchmen that shows how a comedic line changed everything. Great comedy challenges convention. The great ones not only make you laugh, but consider the world around you in a new light.

There is more but...

I don't know much more than this actually. I hope if you read the Cloud Diver that you will be pleasantly surprised, and maybe laugh at some of my terrible jokes. That all said, my real hope is that I make people think while enjoying themselves.

Maybe. Or maybe I'm like Peter Parker. Only I laugh at my jokes.


I'm okay with that.

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Joshua Pantalleresco writes stuff and podcasts too.  His forthcoming book, the Cloud Diver is his first novel, and fourth book.  Joshua always has written poetry for Mirror World Publishing, and has been published in magazines such as Onspec.  He writes a column for First Comics and has made the leap into the freelance world.

His podcast Just Joshing is fast approaching 400 episodes. He has interviewed debut novelists, New York Times Bestselling Authors, musicians, illustrators, pro wrestlers, politicians, comedians and other creative people twice a week, and reads from his work, along with other authors every weekend. He has won the Aurora for his podcast, and has been finalist for that award twice.  He lives in Windsor currently, but has been known to wander at a moment's notice.

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Wordsmith Wednesday : Live Reading!

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Tales From the Toy Store - Live Reading

Tomorrow, on Facebook, I'll be doing a live reading of one of the stories from my brand new book! If you'd like to tune in, just click on my profile on Facebook at 7 pm Eastern and you should find it. I'm so excited to be sharing more of this book with all of you and I really hope that you can join me!






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Monday, May 18, 2020

Crockpot Monday: Lemon Pepper Ribs

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Lemon Pepper Ribs:

Ingredients:
4 pounds of ribs
2 Tablespoons garlic powder
2 Tablespoons kosher salt
2 Tablespoons black pepper
3 lemons, juiced

Directions:

Cut the ribs to fit your crockpot. In a small bowl, combine the dry spices.

Rub the  ribs with the dry mixture, covering all sides of the ribs. Put them into your crockpot. If you have extra seasoning, pour on top. Squeeze the lemons on top of the ribs.

Cover and cook on low for 7-10 hours, or on high for about 5. The meat will be more tender if you cook it on low.

These are delicious with corn on the cob and baked potatoes!






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Thursday, May 14, 2020

Writing Prompt Thursday : Living Space

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This week's question made me stop and think...Have I? Or was it more of an extended vacation?

Have you ever lived in another country besides your country of birth? Would you want to?

In 2006, I flew to England and stayed there for 4 months. I was recently divorced and really just needed a break from my ex-husband and everything that was going on at home. I was blessed to have people in my life who were willing to take care of me if I could buy myself a plane ticket. So, I went. I fell in love with the country. In a lot of ways, it felt like home to me. I don't think I would ever leave the US for good, but I certainly wouldn't mind a cozy cottage somewhere in England. Somewhere not far from the train station so that I could pop around whenever I felt like it.

How about you? Have you lived in other countries? Let me know! I'd love to learn more about all of you too!






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Monday, May 11, 2020

Crockpot Monday: Thai Beef

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Thai Beef:
Ingredients:
2 pounds beef chuck roast
1 (8-ounce) bottle peanut satay sauce
1 (13.5-ounce) can coconut milk (full fat is best)
1 (16-ounce) package baby carrots
*cooked basmati rice for serving
1/4 cup chopped peanuts for garnish (optional)

Directions:

Use a 6-quart slow cooker. Put the beef into the bottom of your cooker. Add the peanut sauce and coconut milk.

Flip the meat over a few times to get it good and saucy. Add baby carrots. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours, or until meat is fork-tender and pretty much falls apart. Stir well to distribute sauce, and serve over hot rice.

Garnish with a sprinkle of peanuts, if you'd like.






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Thursday, May 7, 2020

Writing Prompt Thursday: Death of a Pet

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This week's question got me right in my emotional center:

Have you ever had the rotten experience of having to put a pet down?

More than once. The last and perhaps the hardest one ever was about 18 months ago. I had to put my cat, Byron, to sleep after him being pretty much my best friend for 12 years. It's been so hard not having him around. After that many years, you develop habits and just get used to seeing him. It took me a good six months to not say goodnight to him at night.

I still miss him terribly and swear that my next cat will be a black one to honor him. That won't be for a while though. We currently have four cats and that's my limit. I love them all and have no desire to get another one. Now, it's time to give them all some scritches and maybe even a treat or two.






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Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Wordsmith Wednesday: Cover Reveal for Tales From the Toy Store

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Squeal! It's here! I can finally reveal to you the cover of my newest (and first solo) book! It was done by Eric Cockrell and I am totally in love with it. Somehow we managed to have the exact same image in our head and I think, with his skill, it came out perfectly!


What do you think? Isn't it fabulous? Stay tuned for more information on the book, including the release date which will be here soon! 




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Monday, May 4, 2020

Crockpot Monday: Harvest Stew

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I know that it isn't really harvest time, but I can't resist a yummy stew!

Harvest Stew:

Ingredients:
1 pound lean ground turkey or chicken
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 chopped garlic cloves
1 can kidney beans, rinsed
1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped
3 red potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 acorn squash, peeled and chopped
1 can tomatoes and chilies
4 cups chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon all spice
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Microwave squash on high for 2 minutes. Use a paring knife to cut away the skin. Peel and chop all of the vegetables and add to the crockpot. Break up the ground meat with your fingers and add it in. Pour in the kidney beans and the can of tomatoes and chilies. Add the broth and the seasonings. Stir well.

Cover and cook on low for 7-9 hours.







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