Monday, January 31, 2011

At Last! The Last Campaign is up!

I could become exclamation point happy, for several reasons. One: THE LAST CAMPAIGN, one of my favorite westerns, is up on in Kindle format. Two: Its new cover is truly a work of art (thanks to JRG, artist extraordinaire) and Three: I figured out how to get it up there.

THE LAST CAMPAIGN is about the Tenth Cavalry (the famed Buffalo soldiers) and its campaign against the Mescalaro Apache,Victorio, and his men. The history alone is thrilling - filled with strategy from the wily Col. Benjamin Grierson, he of Grierson's Raid fame in the Late Unpleasantness, and running battles with guerrilla fighters like no others. I threw into the mix a Medal of Honor winner, our hero, who has grown soft in Washington D.C., hankering to find out if he's still capable of being "a real soldier," the woman he loved and left when he turned his back on his native South to join the Union Army, and the slave he freed when he did so. The kicker is that his lost lady-love, with a twelve year old son by her dead husband, our hero's best friend, is now ranching near Ft. Concho, Texas, with our hero's ex-slave. Yep, there's a romance as well, albeit nothing hot or heavy.

The story is totally PG. It could, in fact, work as a Young Adult. I hope teens and older will read it to find out about a little-known bit of American history and the people who lived it, as well as the fictional story of a man who thinks he's lost everything only to find out he has it all.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Daytona and Change

Not coin of the realm. Change as in: the new surface, lack of striping on the track, and the drivers who are testing have me both excited and sad. No Elliot Sadler. One of my fav photos is of a banana from his bay during testing a couple of years back. Don't ask. And Scott Speed, sitting at home, is a casualty of the Kasey Kahne deal struck with Hendrick to get him in a car for one year. I find myself wishing Rusty Wallace, Ken Schrader, and Michael Waltrip were still running regularly, which I guess makes me an oldie in terms of Nascar. While Sam Hornish never made a good impression on the stock car crowd, I keep wondering if he was really given a fair shake. Shouldn't he have started in trucks for a while before being thrown into the melee? I always worry about drivers who disappear from the scene, like Scott Wimmer.

The up-side is that the live streaming of testing on is great. Makes up, almost, for staying home this year. Locked myself in the office because I'm working hard to get some of my older westerns, including one I consider to be my best, The Last Campaign, into a format Kindle can read. Working on the third Tal Jefferson book for the same deal. Why not? I still have readers who want to know what happened to my slightly crazy heroine. SIGNS progresses slowly because it's a tricky book to write, and I'd like to nail it the first time around. Getting tired of doing a zillion rewrites. At this stage of the game, I should know what I'm doing, LOL.

This crazy cold weather is good for a writer. No temptation to work in the garden. However, the itch to do a little pre-season shopping for new plants and seeds is lurking in the background, trying to entice me into slacking off.

Get thee behind me, plant catalogue satan!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Law School and MLK Day

My law school alumni magazine contained a link to a YouTube hit called "So You Want to Go to Law School." I just about died laughing. It can be found at (Hope I entered that correctly. If not, just put in the title of the video in YouTube.) Written by a law school alumnus, it hits all the highlights of the young idealist (including switching from medicine to law because of a bad grade in biology) versus the burned-out cynic who has been through the wars.

Call me one of the burned-out cynics. On this day of remembering Dr. King, I wish I could have been more effective in protecting the rights of those the legal system has systematically treated with disdain and lack of protection of their legal rights. Whenever I had a black client in a criminal case, I knew I was already going to lose, no matter what the evidence presented. Black with a prior record? Done deal. Another black man in an orange jump suit. Now substitute cute young white guy/girl, same evidence, and it's a different story. Even if there was a conviction, time was usually suspended, probation imposed. Sorry, but those are the facts of my legal practice when I was a court-appointed defender.

Equality before the law is fundamental. Until we can achieve that, we're failing Dr. King's vision miserably.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Firefly and food

Watching old episodes of Firefly this weekend, and I notice Summer Glau progressed from crazy River to The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and now to The Cape. Not a great career choice, this last role. Firefly was fun and traditional while trying out both in space. Cape is just boring, so far. Guess they can't all be winners. Well, anything with Colin Firth can't go wrong.

Check out for simple, cheap meals for one or two people. I love how the Internet is one big cookbook, if you care to hunt for something to cook.

Oh, The King's Speech is wonderful...

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Food in America

While at the grocery store yesterday, I followed (without planning to), an elderly lady up and down the various aisles. You know how it is - you reach for something, and you glance at the cart in front of the shelf, and notice the contents without even thinking about it. I was buying salt-free green beans to add to the dog's food, and I saw that this lady was buying all the cheap, sodium-laden beans and veggies in the store's brand. Okay. Then it got worse. She bought the cheapest bread (nothing but air and chemicals), the cheapest hot dogs (don't ask), and that was it. No fruit, no fresh veggies, no real meat. The lady was living on canned beans and cheap hot dogs.

This morning's paper was filled with "how to eat right in the New Year" articles. Fresh vegetables. Add grains. Fresh fruit five times a day. Good enough. Then I thought of the price of fresh broccoli. $1.88 a pound. Canned beans? 42 cents a can. Apples? $1.89 a pound. Pepperidge Farm 15 grain bread? $3.99. Cheap loaf of white bread? 99 cents.

It's all well and good to tell people how to eat a healthy diet, but you have to be able to afford it. How I wish I'd connected the dots earlier and offered to pay that lady's grocery bill so she could have purchased some nutritious, fresh food. My lack of acumen shames me.

America, we have to do better by our less advantaged. NOW!

Monday, January 03, 2011

A New Year, Terminator, and Riddick

We're waiting for the VaTech game to start (who cares who they're playing, it's Virginia Tech!), and Terminator, the first flick, came on. We're glued to it for the thousandth time, no kidding. Everything about it has aged well, from the cyborg's metal skeleton to Linda Hamilton's messy/funky permed hair. Her jeans, however, remind me of the eighties when we all wore our waistbands high and felt fat, no matter how skinny we were. (And I was never skinny, LOL.) I still think it's a little weird that John Connor knows his father's identity and sends him back so he can be conceived. I mean, this whole deal where your father is younger than you and you send him back in time to be a sperm donor is totally sick. But who cares, it's the cyborg and Kyle Reese's story until the last fifteen minutes when Sarah Connor kicks in as an alpha female.

Speaking of alpha females, the women in The Chronicles of Riddick, the first one, kick some serious butt. In many ways, Sarah Connor is their cinematic mother. None of this passive "waiting" for what comes next, like the heroine of The Time Traveler's Wife. (I don't get why the book and flick were so popular. Can anyone explain it to me? The whole dangling-for-love shtick is such a drag.) Get on with your life, for heaven's sake.

Time for the game! Will think about alpha female heroines later.