2 Blondes, 1 Redhead & a Reviewer

Archive for the category “Good News”

If you could talk to America ….

Oh my, get ready for a little ranting.  Our country needs a bitch slap.

Just read the headlines.  Here it goes…

Stop killing our children.  Need I say more to the creeps who hurt babies?  Children are innocent and the product of their rearing.  An adult hitting a child is the same as an adult being hit by a car. The power ratio is that far off.  And mothers killing their children–sorry, I can’t wrap my brain around that.

Ban automatic weapons to anyone except law enforcement and the military.  I have fired handguns, rifles, even an M16, and everything in between up to a 50 caliber machine gun.  Granted, for the latter, my targets were laser, but the guns were real and held the same kick or a bit less.  Without body mass power and training, firing the weapons gets out of control easily.  None but the highly trained can truly handle them or have the need.  Why does anyone need an AK47?  They sure as hell don’t need one to hunt animals and if you are, you’re not a real hunter.

Use the court system to divorce, not a hand gun.  Nothing, except defending yourself and  your family should push you to kill another human being to get them out of your life.  There is always another avenue to choose.

Stop producing reality TV shows. They are pathetic. I don’t watch them, any of them. Ninety percent is scripted.  I don’t get the fascination with seeing people show how low they can sink for money.  And really, is your life so terrible you enjoy watching people be vulgar and mean on TV?

Nastiness on the internet.  You are anonymous if you want to be.  If your ‘handle’ on the internet is something like kittygirl204 then you are not being yourself.  I’m not saying that the odd combination you’re often forced to use is bad, but when you don’t sign with your real name, you are playing the ‘I can be nasty and no one will know’ game.  People cause others to commit suicide with cyber bullying, you don’t think being mean will have repercussions?  You are wrong.  Post anything you like but don’t get defensive when someone comes after you.  Just an FYI, if they want to find you, they will.

Congress & Senate.   Get off your ass.  Do something to help America not your back pocket.  America hates you.  All of you. You live the high life, working perhaps six months a year for nearly $200,000, plus a staff budget, plus an entertainment budget… the list is long.  Sequester Cuts have taken a grand from my budget and millions of others who need that cash to survive.  What are you sacrificing?  Not even lunch in the senate dining room, I’d bet.  With that said, we need a squad of military wives (or any head of a household following a budget) to get in there and cut.  We’ve had our budgets strained and piecemealed away by YOU who know nothing about being frugal.  The House and Senate have made it clear in the last ten years (or more) that they don’t recognize unnecessary spending and fraud.  We do.  Honestly, I think the entire government should be fired and some laws rewritten.

From the daughter, wife and mother of US Marines…. don’t make me come up there.

I think we need a revolution.  Anyone with me?


My Cell phone etiquette rules…

Let me preface this with some facts. I am not glued to my cell phone and I am very careful of using it in public.  A cell is a tool, not my life line.  I’m a grown up and I have my priorities straight.

1.  No using a cell phone when it threatens lives.  As in while you are driving.   I want to ram the cars where I see someone driving erratically because they are trying to do it with a damn phone to their ear.  No text either.  Cars are 4 ton machines that need your complete attention.

2.  No using a cell phone while you are supposed to doing something else, like load your items on a store conveyor   It angers me that the rest of us have to wait on you because you can’t cut a call off when it’s your turn at the register.  And yes, I’m the bitch that calls you on it in public.  I get a cheer from fellow shoppers so I know I’m not alone in this)  Do the job, then go chat.  Did no one teach you how to be courteous to other human beings?

Which leads me to #3… if you don’t want anyone to hear your conversation, take it outside.  I will stop, stare you in the face and listen.  The person says, “Hey, this is private!”  I say, “And this is public.  Deal with it like an adult.”  I don’t want to hear your conversation.  Ever.  On the same vent, I won’t chat on a cell in public.

4.  No crass dirty monologue from a TV show as your voice mail. I won’t call you back nor will I leave a message.  Let’s be good and not vulgar.  Not everything on TV should be repeated ad nauseum.

5.  Do NOT answer a text or even check your phone during a conversation with me.  I’m a mom and old.   I’ll snatch that puppy out of your hand because you obviously don’t know how to hold a conversation and need to go back to grade school.

My advice, teach your children YOUR rules of using a cell phone and if you don’t have them, you should.   I will close my tirade with saying Jodi Arias Trial has proven that a cell and its camera should be used with caution.


What goes around….

I must preface this Bad Editor moment with a few details.  At this point in my career I’d sold over a twenty books and had been writing for two publishers non-stop for several years already.  This was not my first rodeo.  I didn’t need a third publisher at that moment but I was open to writing a contemporary paranormal.  At the time paranormal was just breaking out of its shell.

I didn’t submit anything, this editor called me.  I don’t recall the conversation but I was flattered, and later emailed her a short synopsis.  Then I did some research on her.

This editor, I’ll call her Gi Gi, was very young in comparison to me and the people I’d been working with in the past few years.  She was new to publishing, yet was a buying editor of a major publisher then.  A well respected publisher.

I had never seen her in person.  When I did, I was unimpressed.  She was slovenly dressed, showing skin that shouldn’t be, and I must say, I do recall the body odor.  She offered intimate sexual details of her life to perfect strangers and drank excessively.  All this went on under the impressionable eyes of new writers at a conference.  I wanted to shout this was not acceptable, but my friends sponsored the conference and I’ll always be professional.  I kept my mouth shut.

When I returned home I’d received an email with a brief comments on the synopsis I’d sent. She’d sent it before the conference.  She said it was like a chess game, and that my work ‘pretty much sucked.’  Yes, she used those words.  Really.   How is it remotely respectful, you little twit.  This and Gi Gi’s behavior at a professional conference was just too much.  Its people like this woman who give writing romance a bad name.  I called her boss and in true Marine fashion, I went right to the top.  He was appalled.  Well respected, remember.  Within a week or two, she  no longer works for the publisher.  Not surprising, she’d earned a nasty reputation very quickly.  People heard.  You can thank the word spreading power of internet for that.   Gi Gi’s no longer in the business.

My work is done.

The moral: behave as a professional and or some righteous bitch like me will call you on it.


And the Oscar goes to…

I can’t give an accurate prediction simply because I haven’t seen the movies.

So.. cross my palm with silver, booblishkah, and I will give my predictions.

Best picture—Agro.  I love Ben Affleck and his movies.  Also I’m pissed at the Oscars for not nominating him for Best Director.

Best Actor—Daniel Day Lewis or Hugh Jackman will get it, but I feel Bradley Cooper deserves it.  Silver linings playbook hasn’t been done 20 times in film already.   I could die happy without another remake of Les Miz….

Best Actress—Jennifer Lawrence.  I want her to win simply because she’s down to earth and adorable.  But I’m betting that French actress Emanuelle, who has never won or been nominated in her 50 year career will get it for those reasons alone.

Best supporting actress—I’d love to see Sally Field win.  Yes! We still like you!

Best supporting actor—Alan Arkin.

Best Director— Spielberg  for Lincoln


Now blog readers….if you’re out there–what are your predictions?

Bourne Again

What was my fave movie of 2012?


Okay, so I was skeptical.  A Bourne film without Bourne?  Well that’s going to suck.  Who is Jeremy Renner?  Didn’t we end the Bourne trilogy with Pam Landy about to tell all to the powers that be?  Yep, this had sucks written all over it.


However, one afternoon my hubby and I were at the theater and the Bourne Legacy was the next convenient show.  With a tad of trepidation and a bucket of popcorn with high butter substitute and enough sodium for two days, in we went to see the show.


It was a lunchtime showing (hence the need for the bucket of popcorn) so there were maybe ten of us in the theater.  Not a good sign.  I live in what I will politely call an elderly county in Florida and daytime movies are a really popular.  So being there with my ten friends did not bode well.


Coming attractions blared from the screen, the volume rattling my teeth.  Why do they have to make trailers so blasted loud?  Lots of horror movies.  Hate them, couldn’t drag me to one.


I was in love with Aaron Cross before he managed to climb, crawl and cunningly work his way through the Alaskan wilderness.  The location shots are impressive, so if you rent this, go Hi-Def.  Seeing it in the theater was worth the price of admission.  It has a plot, a purpose and the timing I so loved in the original Bourne movies lives on in the film.


That’s why The Bourne Legacy has made me a believer in sequels.  Matt who?


I know everyone is either cooking or preparing to cook.  In my house this year, its a southern Thanksgiving.  That means Fried Turkey ( I capitalize because it is SO good) instead of roasted, along with he classic southern sides, potatoes salad, cornbread, mac’n cheese.  Good thing for me, less work!

Now, for your celebration next year, here is the best recipe for Sweet Potatoes.  Its almost a dessert, looks good on the table and beware, this makes fairly generous portion.   It’s my mother, Kay Castellana’s recipe and its always a big hit.


3-4 cups sweet potatoes

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter

1 tsp vanilla

2 eggs

1/2 cup chopped pecans or raisins (or both!)


1 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup flour

1/3 cup butter

1 cup pecans (chopped)

Cook potatoes and peel, blend till smooth.  Mix with all other ingredients, except topping and spoon into a 9 X 13 pan.  In a bowl, add brown sugar, flour, and softened butter, cut with pastry cutter until crumbled.   Toss with pecans.  Spread topping, bake at 350 for about a half hour, until the edges bubble.  Mangia!

Freezes well, uncooked.  Thaw completely first.    Unless I’m cooking for a crowd, I always freeze half in small foil pans.

A tip for peeling sweet potatoes: after they are boiled, drain and toss a dish towel over the bowl and just wait a few minutes for them to cool.  The skin will separate and all you have to do is pinch the end and it will literally shed right off, whole.  no handling, no burn, no yuk.  Now blend away!

Happy Turkey day, y’all!




A last minute add to your menu


I do not like cranberry sauce, not freshly made or in a can, I do not like it Sam I am.

So my solution . . . Pineapple stuffing.  It gives that same sweet/tart but without the cranberries to yuck it up (though my sister adds cranberries to hers).


Here goes (easy as pie)

1 can crushed pineapple

8 slices of white bread cubed

1 stick of butter, softened

1 cup sugar

4 eggs beaten

Mix butter, sugar and eggs, fold in pineapple and bread cubes

Bake in a greased pan at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

This is also great with pork chops or really any part of a pig.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Electronic books, my opinion.

This opinion comes from  20 years of being published and staying published in print.

An electronic book delivered to your computer or E-reader is a FORMAT.  It’s no different in its content than a book delivered in print.  Note my word use.  E book is a format. NOT a new type of book.  Some of my books are available for E format, some not.  Print publishers think the same way.  Check out anything on the subject by Jen Enderlin, publisher of St Martin’s Press.   Anyone can upload a file.  It does NOT make you an instant writer.

The Author’s Guild & Mystery Writers of America don’t allow self published to be members and in both instances, you have to prove it by submitting two books for a membership.  (Or a copy of the contract pages, I can’t recall)

You are not published unless you have sold the work to a publisher who pays you an advance and then edits and prints it.  (or E formats it)  I wonder how so many miss this detail. It is the definition of a published writer.  I have never laid out one penny to see my books in print.  Not one.

A financial investment of any kind from you makes it Vanity press. I didn’t make the definition, or the standard.  Previously in RWA, that was a huge no-no.  Now, anyone can publish what resembles a book and call themselves a writer.  To me, after the hard work it took to get published, is insulting.  It’s also the reason I did not renew my RWA membership after 22 years.

Electronic books are a format.  Imo, there is no real question. You were either paid for your words or not.


Off Topic, A celebration

I’m ditching the blog topic today in lieu of a celebration.  Today, my parents, Catherine & Alphonse Castellana celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary.

Amazing isn’t it?

My parents are soul mates.  They dearly love each other and we saw it every day growing up, and still do.  I look back and see a great childhood.  Mom says she wished she’d done more with us, more playing and I tell her, my fondest memories are of us feeding old bread to the ducks in a pond and having a picnic. Or reading stories to us while we had lunch.

I remember clearly at 13, seeing my parents before the Marine Corps ball. My father was impressive in his formal dress uniform, and my mom wore a sleek black velvet gown with a slit up the side.  Her hair was swept up and showed off the sparkling band collar of the gown.  Sleeveless, it was like the cover of a magazine.  It was the first time I saw my mom as a women, her beauty and poise that now, reminds me of Audrey Hepburn.  Mom is an avid reader and loves mysteries.  Books were always in our house and loving the written word is something we share.

I get my creativity from my father.  He’s an artist and all while he was a Marine, he made things.  He made pixies for me when I was five.  He’s a master sculptor now and his work fills their church in the Stations of the Cross.

My dad understands that mom can’t relax completely in her own house. Mom ‘has her apron on’ as Dad says.  So he takes her away from it on little vacations to her favorite spot, a seaside inn.  They understand each other and are always considerate. We never saw them argue or share a cross word.  Respect for the other was felt.  They were tough and strict but I’m grateful for that.  I can honestly say, I was raised right.

So on their special day, Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad.

I love you.

My RWA Recap

Well, my trip started out on a sour note.  Like many others I spoke with, getting to Anaheim was a challenge.  In my case, I couldn’t get a flight out of West Palm Beach so I had to drive an hour and a half to Ft. Lauderdale.  Then I hoped on a flight to Tampa.  Changed planes and hoped a flight to Chicago.  Then hoped a flight to Phoenix, then finally landed in Ontario where it cost me $200.00 for a car service to the hotel.  Needless to say, I was exhausted before the conference even started.  Oh, and my flight was delayed so instead of arriving at 8:30 PM, I got there after midnight.

Day 1 (Wednesday) was full.  I went to Disneyland with Leanne Banks and Cindy Gerard (shout out to my brother-in-law who works for Disney and gave me some free passes).  We hit a few rides, and then shopped a bit before going back to the hotel to get ready for the literacy signing.

I’ve been attending RWA for 20 years and I’ve never seen a bigger cluster f*^% than what happened at Anaheim.  Instead of alphabetically seating authors with a select few stars having their own tables, we were spread out like a rash with no rhyme or reason.  Wait, let me back-up for a moment.  The event wasn’t held at the hotel, it was at the Anaheim Convention Center.  On the plus side it was a large space so authors weren’t on top of each other.  On the down side, you had to walk through a construction zone to get there.  Once there, attendees were given a map with names and table numbers on it with a free highlighter.  The print was so small you couldn’t read the author’s names.  They should have given free magnifiers instead.

Aside from people not being able to find their favorite authors, I experienced something that I found disturbing.  I was seated next to a woman who had no sense of decorum.  Every time a person came to me to have a book signed, she would lean over and hand out her promo stuff while I was signing a book.  I wanted to slap her hand but decided corporal punishment wasn’t the best tact.  So what did I do?  I left the signing after about an hour because I was put off by the aggressive behavior and frankly, embarrassed by her rudeness.  While I appreciate that if you’re an e-pub getting your name out there is very important, just please don’t do it at my expense.

I felt a divide during the conference.  A kind of Us versus Them when it came to print authors and e-pubs.  Again, I get that e-pubbing is probably the future and it does allow you to write anything instead of writing a manuscript for print publication, there shouldn’t be this ferocious debate among members.  I even heard one woman say that since she’d self-pubbed 2 books on Amazon, she no longer needed workshops because she was already successful.  Really?  I’ve published more than 40 books and I still attend workshops.  You can never learn too much.  For example, I attended several workshops on electronic publishing because I know I’m way behind the eight ball on that subject.

I also scoffed at those authors who told me they didn’t need editors.  Again I ask really?  Every manuscript should be looked at with fresh eyes to catch not just typos or grammar mistakes but also for continuity.  When you’re the author, you’re so on top of the work that you often miss glaring mistakes.  I know I do.  But saying you don’t need an editor is kind of arrogant to me and I wonder how repeat sales go if you’re slapping up manuscripts without that crucial step.

Enough about that . . . on to the fun stuff.  As always, RWA is a working conference.  I had some face-to-face time with my agent.  We did some strategizing but we ended up having to do it in my room.  The only places to sit were out in the open and you couldn’t have a conversation without interruptions.  On my behalf, she met with a couple of e-publishers since I am going – albeit kicking and screaming – into the world of electronic publishing.  That’s one of the great things about RWA, your agent takes meetings with publishers and does the pitching for you.  Since I hate – and am terrible at – pitching, I was very happy she assumed that responsibility.

Then it was time for the Pocket/Gallery/Simon and Schuster dinner.  As always, it was a wonderful experience.  The meal was incredible and the networking and chatting continued from appetizers on the veranda right into the private dining room.  For whatever reason, we were a smaller group so it had a more intimate vibe.  And did I mention the food was spectacular?

On Friday, my workshop was a lot of fun even though it was at 8:30 AM *g*.  My agent, my editor and I went through the steps of how a book goes from idea to sale.  I actually learned a few things from my editor about the process.  There’s nothing more satisfying than sharing information that a lot of people aren’t privy to or haven’t experienced.  My agent and editor were especially helpful, explaining all the steps that lead to production.  The handout of publishing terms is available on the RWA website.

Post workshop, my agent, editor and I went for a working breakfast.  It was wonderful and productive.  Like a lot of authors, I get nervous when meeting with my editor.  I’m always sure I’m going to say something irreverent or slip and reveal my potty mouth.  I did well.  I managed to enjoy my eggs benedict without a single inappropriate joke or slip of the tongue and we made a plan for the future.

Sadly I missed the free Pocket signing on Saturday because I flew out at 6AM.  Apologies to anyone who went looking for the latest Finley book!  But I had to get home.  Which wasn’t much easier than getting there.  I left Ontario at 7:30 pacific time.  Then hoped a plane in Phoenix.  Then hoped a plane in Houston.  Then hoped a plane in Tampa.  Then hoped a plane to Ft. Lauderdale.  And opps – I accidently parked my car in short term instead of daily parking.  $125.00 later, I was on my way home.  And as usual, I was exhausted.

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