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Archive for November, 2010

A Happy Little Vegemite

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Things About Vegemite


1. Vegemite is a thick black spread that’s very popular in Australia and New Zealand.

2. Vegemite owes its origins to the Fred Walker Company. In 1922 they hired a chemist to create a product out of Brewers’ yeast.

3. Marmite (an English spread) was already marketed in Australia and very popular so it took a while for the public to embrace the new home-made spread.

4. Vegemite is a rich source of Vitamin B – thiamine, riboflavin and niacin – and folate. It’s good for vegetarians, is virtually fat-free and contains no added sugar.

5. Vegemite is the one thing I miss when I’m traveling, yet I don’t eat it every day when I’m at home. Go figure!

6. Prior to the outbreak of World War II, the British Medical Association gave official product endorsement to vegemite.

7. During the war vegemite was strictly rationed. The Armed Forces purchased vegemite for the soldiers because of its nutritional value.

8. Over 22 million jars of vegemite are sold every year.

9. Vegemite is very useful as a booster to stews – it adds lots of flavor.

10. My mother taught me to fix an anemic gravy with a teaspoon of vegemite. It adds color and flavor and is a lifesaver!

11. Men at Work sang about a vegemite sandwich in the song Down Under.

12. The secret to vegemite is to spread it thin rather than slather it on thickly. It’s powerful stuff.

13. There are several recipes using vegemite here. Personally, my very favorite way to eat vegemite is on toast and topped with fresh slices of avocado. Yum! It’s a marriage made in heaven.

Source: Vegemite

Have you tried vegemite? If so, what is your favorite way to eat vegemite?

Researching Cowboys–the things we writers do….

My special guest today is author Sherry James. She’s celebrating her new release, The Cowboy and the Hellcat and talking about cowboys. One of my favorite topics since I’m a keen rodeo fan. Don’t forget to check out the contest at the end of the post.

The Cowboy and the HellcatHey, everyone! I’m excited to be here today at Shelley’s blog home on the web. Thanks for having me, Shelley! This is an exciting week for me since my latest book, The Cowboy and the Hellcat is being released Wednesday, Nov. 10th from the Wild Rose Press.

Since I’m a writer it’s a good thing I love to do research, especially research that involves talking to real live, in the flesh, sexy cowboys. What a hardship! ;-) I know a lot about rodeo, bull riding, and the western way of life, but it’s always nice to talk to other folks who also live and breathe the life to get a fresh perspective.

I also love to write about cowboys and I always strive to make darn sure I’m depicting the life as accurately as possible for you, the reader. That’s why when my local radio station was giving away tickets to a dinner/meet & greet with PBR (Professional Bull Riders) bull fighters, stock contractors, and bull riders last December, I put three phones to work. My insane efforts paid off and I was the correct caller and got my name put in for the drawing. And by golly, luck was really on my side. My name was drawn out for the big package, including tickets to the bull riding. Yee-Haw! So, I called up my critique partner and good buddy, Julie Miller, and asked if she’d like to go. All in the name of research, of course! ;-) Even though Julie writes about cops in Kansas City for Harlequin Intrigue, she jumped at the chance to experience something new. I mean, what better way to talk bull riding, rodeo, and goin’ down the road then over a nice dinner and a few drinks with handsome men! Handsome men are always good inspiration for us romance writers!

Bull fighter, Cody Hollums of Midland, TX, was gracious and answered my slew of questions. He even asked me if I was going to write a book featuring a bull fighter as the hero. You betcha, Cody! And I can guarantee he’s going to look a lot like you. Keep an eye out.

Stock contractor, Chad (Bubba) Berger of Mandan, ND was a lot of fun, too, and I wish I would have had more one-on-one time to talk with him. Thanks for the beer, Chad!

Sherry & Cody

Then I sat down with bull riders, Markus Mariluch of Elko, NV, and Skeeter Kingsolver of Mclouth, KS. These two were so down-to-earth, just good ‘ol boys, and were more than happy to answer all my questions. We talked about the lifestyle, the travel, and if fear ever enters their minds before they climb onto the back of those 2,000 pound bulls. Markus knows all too well what it’s like to be stomped on by a rank bull. In 2008 he rode a bull who tried to make hamburger out of his face. Amazingly, Markus was back in the chute a week later and ready to take another out for a spin. Now that’s tough. Cowboy tough!

Sherry with Markus Mariluch of Elko, NV, Bart Miller of Oshkosh, NE, and Skeeter Kingsolver of Mclouth, KS

As for Skeeter. Well, what can I say? Skeeter is just as cute as a bug’s ear. I mean this guy is young enough to be my son, but he’s as sweet, polite, and common as they come. I just wanted to squeeze him! And keep your eye out for Skeeter. He’s a rising star in the PBR. Maybe you caught him in the reality TV show, The Posse, which aired on CMT late last year. The film crew followed Skeeter and other pro bull riders around for a summer to give fans a glimpse into the world behind the bucking chutes. Skeeter said it was fun doing the show, although at times he did get a little weary of the cameras being right there all the time.

After chatting with the cowboys that night, I went back the following and took in the bull riding. The bulls were rank, too. Big time. One bull was so rank that after he dumped his rider he decided to take on the outrider and his horse. That cowboy suddenly found himself on an intimate date with the fence, and his horse took a hard ride on the bull! Fortunately, neither the horse or cowboy were hurt, but it sure looked ugly. On a positive note, one young cowboy who’d brought his girl to the bull riding had worked it out to bring her into the arena. Much to her surprise, he got down on one knee in the dirt and proposed! Now that’s romance the cowboy way. And you can bet that’s going to show up in a book someday. To me, that epitomizes the cowboy. He’s a gentleman, shows respect for women and their animals. All the guys we met stood when we stood, offered their hands in a friendly shake, and tipped their hats. To me, they symbolize the honesty and integrity of the American way of life, and showcase the roots of our great country! Long live Cowboys!

So, do you like to read about cowboys? For you, what’s the allure? And do you prefer contemporary cowboys over historical cowboys? Or do you love them both? All of you who comment today will get their name put into the drawing for an electronic download of my new western historical, The Cowboy and the Hellcat. Hellcat is the first book in my Cowboys of the 4 Aces series. Yes, handsome Adam Ford has two younger brothers who have their own adventures to tell! If you’d like to read more about The Cowboy and the Hellcat, or my other books, please stop by my web site, www.sherryjames.com.

I’ll announce today’s blog winner late this evening. And if you want a second chance to win a prize, be sure and check out my T-shirt contest also going on at my web site.

Pix: Bull fighter Cody Hollums of Midland, TX & little ‘ol me!
And me with Markus Mariluch of Elko, NV, Bart Miller of Oshkosh, NE, and Skeeter Kingsolver of Mclouth, KS.

Cody Nite Rodeo

Camera Critters

My husband took this photo of the saddle broncs at the Cody Nite Rodeo. The night rodeo was a fun event and we enjoyed it very much. My favorite event is the bullriding. One day I might get to the PBR finals at Las Vegas.

Cody Nite Rodeo

To see more animal photos visit Camera Critters

Guy Fawkes Day!

It’s Guy Fawkes day today in New Zealand. We spent the evening at my brother-in-laws and once it got dark, the men let off the fireworks. During the drive home the night sky was very busy with fireworks being let off on back lawns and grassy areas.

I was the sober driver tonight, and we gave one of our nephews a lift home. There’s a large park near his house and lots of people were letting off crackers. As I was driving past a little white dog shot in front of me. I wasn’t going fast and slammed on my brakes. Luckily no one was driving behind me and I missed the dog. Mr. Munro immediately shouted at me for slamming on the brakes. I know experts say you should keep driving, but I hate even killing ants or other insects. A cute fluffy dog…heck, I would have felt guilty for days…make that weeks.

As an aside, I’m a bit angry at the owner. Animals don’t like fire crackers and he should have been locked up in a safe place!

So, my question for you today – do you brake or serve to miss or, do you steer straight and hope for the best?

My Evil Scheme by Tia Nevitt

My special guest today is fellow Carina Press author, Tia Nevitt. Not even a stint in the military as an aircraft mechanic could erase Tia Nevitt’s love of fairy tales. To this day, she loves to read (and write) books that take her to another place, or another time, or both. Tia has also worked on an assembly line, as a computer programmer, a technical writer and a business analyst. When she’s not writing, she keeps a book blog called Debuts & Reviews, where she focuses on debut novels. She lives in the southeast with her husband and daughter.

Today she’s letting us in on a secret—her evil scheme. Welcome, Tia!

Tia NevittHi everyone, and thank you, Shelley, for hosting me at your blog. Today, Shelley suggested that I write about book reviewing. So I decided to write about how I got started.

It was early 2007. I had a writing blog with a tiny handful of followers. I was an active participant of Absolute Write. I was querying my second novel, and wishing I had something besides my somewhat embarrassing nonfiction sales to put in my bio.

Fiction sales were hard to come by. I had been writing for roughly twenty years, with some lengthy intrusions of life. It didn’t help that I was very picky about where I would submit my work. I was a submission snob. If I couldn’t be published by a respectable publisher, by gum, I wouldn’t be published at all! It might not make much sense to you, but it did—and still does—to me. So I only submitted to pro and tough semipro markets. And I got rejected. A lot.

So I stumbled across this “Debut a Debut” blog event sponsored, in part, by blog buddy Susan Helene Gottfried. It kindled an idea to start a book blog devoted entirely to debut fantasy and science fiction novels. I figured it would be a good way to network with up-and-coming authors.

But I didn’t do anything right away. A few months passed. And then, on agent Kristen Nelson’s blog, I discovered a debut novel that looked like a lot of fun – Magic Lost, Trouble Found by Lisa Shearin. Right then and there, I decided to start the blog featuring that novel, where I would review the book as I read it.

Lisa made it a lot of fun because she kept popping in. I was hooked.

And it did turn out to be a good way of networking with up-and-coming authors. I even made a few friends. But also, I was building an audience, very slowly. By the time I submitted to Carina Press, I had over 300 Feedburner subscribers at my Debuts & Reviews blog. I don’t know if it helped, but I do know that it could not have hurt. Today I have about 10,000 monthly visitors, with around 400 regular subscribers visiting about 8000 times, and traffic from referring sites and search engines providing the rest.

As a blogger, I watch my subscriber numbers much more closely than the number of clicks or visits. I have my FeedBurner subscriber numbers displayed on my site, and I don’t care whether you visit my site or read the posts through a feed reader. I’m just glad you read them! For that reason, I always publish my full feed instead of a teaser.

And for that matter, I don’t care if you use Feedburner or Google FriendConnect—so I track both. FriendConnect is nice because you can actually put a face to a number, but I find everything else about it clunky.

I still love blogging. Since I moved to Debuts & Reviews, I have expanded my focus to all my favorite genres, which includes fantasy, science fiction, mystery, historical, literary, Christian or any combination of the above. I’m picky about the publishers whose work I feature, just as I was picky about the publishers I would submit to. And, I’m not crazy about taking review copies, because I really have to work on my own schedule.

So there you have it—my evil scheme for getting published. My master plan. And along the way, I’ve had a lot of fun.

You can visit Tia at her website or follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

The Sevenfold Spell

Have you ever wondered what happens to the other people in the fairy tale?

Things look grim for Talia and her mother. By royal proclamation, the constables and those annoying “good” fairies have taken away their livelihood by confiscating their spinning wheel. Something to do with a curse on the princess, they said.

Not every young lady has a fairy godmother rushing to her rescue.

Without the promise of an income from spinning, Talia’s prospects for marriage disappear, and she and her mother face destitution. Past caring about breaking an arbitrary and cruel law, rebellious Talia determines to build a new spinning wheel, the only one in the nation, which plays right into the evil fairy’s diabolical plan. Talia discovers that finding a happy ending requires sacrifice. But is it a sacrifice she’s willing to make?

Purchase The Sevenfold Spell

You Know Summer Has Arrived When…

The first ripe strawberry makes its appearance.




What sign says summer to you? And for those of you in the Northern Hemisphere, what sign says winter to you?

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