The importance of re-reading

I’m a huge reader. I probably read a book every five days or so. I’m also in a reading group and listen to that book while at the day job. I can’t get through a week without at least one book for the bathtub.

Because I’ve been living on next to nothing since 2009 when I was laid off from a well-paying full time job (and have only recently found another to replace it), I’ve been taking advantage of free or $.99 books for my Kindle. This means I read a lot of independent authors. Hey, a girl needs to support her tribe, even if my first novel has been accepted by a publisher.

However, I’m appalled at what some people publish–not the stories themselves–but the complete lack of spell check, grammar check, or at least a thorough re-read. In the last week, I twice found the word “reigns” used incorrectly. Obviously, someone isn’t watching Game of Thrones with subtitles. Reigns means to rule, like a queen or king. In both novels, the author meant “reins” as in part of a horse’s bridle; as in pulled the reins to stop forward momentum.

I know some authors use Scrivener to write; I use MS Word. If I’m not sure I’m using a word correctly, I can check Word’s Thesaurus, which will give me the meaning of a word if I’m too lazy to get the dictionary.

I have to admit, however, that self-proofing is tough. I can find typos someone else’s document. It’s much harder when it’s my own typing. Thank goodness I have a proofreader and an editor for “A Sort of Justice.”

Day in the Life

Because it was supposed to rain today (it hasn’t; at least not since early this morning), I decided to bake some cookies. I tend to do this anyway during the winter months as it’s an excuse to warm the house up without turning on the heater. I’m now gluten free, which means I have to use a flour other than wheat, and I prefer the ones that already have the ingredients necessary to make the rice/potato flour act like wheat.

So today I pulled out the can of pumpkin from the pantry and set to work. The recipe is iced pumpkin cookies, but I’ve already changed the recipe to pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. I mean, who cares about icing when you’ve got chocolate chips? Surprisingly, my significant other, Ken, will eat these. He’s not known for his fondness of any sort of vegetable matter in any form. Normally, he will eat only, corn, French style green beans, carrots, and baked beans (which I don’t consider vegetables).

These particular cookies call for a teaspoon of cinnamon, and I’ve discovered not all cinnamons are the same. I’m currently using a cinnamon from Vietnam, (purchased at Costco) and it is very different from any other I’ve used in the past. It smells more like Red Hots–you know, the hot, spicy candy, and it’s flavor is perhaps a little sweeter with the same cinnamon bite. I would NOT be tempted to swallow a teaspoon dry. However, I have increased the amount called for in this cookie recipe to a full tablespoon. Do you think that’s too much?

I suppose my point is everyone should feel free to tweak anything they’re working on, be it food, art, housecleaning, etc., to make it more your own. I rarely follow a recipe letter by letter, and I don’t do most things the way that is acceptable by the crowd. But then, I’m too old to really care what other people think. If they want to pay all my bills, then they can dictate how I do things.

PS–leave a comment if you’d like this recipe–the cookies are pretty tasty!




Last week I was struggling to put a stack of papers into a three-ringed binder and found myself wishing I had an extra hand. Then I got to thinking if I had an extra hand (or really an extra arm with a hand attached), where on my body would be the best place for it?

As a SF writer I can create a character who has three arms/hands, but where would be the most practical place for that extra appendage? In the center of the torso, front side? That would be handy (sorry for the pun), but it would make sleeping difficult for tummy sleepers. That would be the same problem for a third limb on the back. And if my character needed to use it in front of him, it would have to be longer than side arms to reach around his body. Think however, how easy it would be to scratch your back (or bum).

So where else–two on one side? I wouldn’t mind having two dominant hands, so have two arms on the right side would be fine with me. Ideally, I’d like to have a dominant hand on each side. Then I could use both sides of my brain at the same time. Can people who are completely ambidextrous use both both sides of the brain concurrently?

Can you imagine a character with a third arm attached somewhere else, say hip or head, or knee? Not sure of any advantages with any of these places, and frankly, it’s hard to imagine.

I can hear you asking, why not a character with four arms; two on each side? And why not; it’s SF after all.

What it’s all about

Not the hokey-pokey; This page is all about the Mark Praed novels. Currently, there are three books published, the fourth is written, although needs editing. There are at least two more planned and are in various stages of writing.  There may be a seventh (which is my lucky number), I have bits of pieces in my head, but only one scene on paper. I hope readers will enjoy reading the series as much as I enjoy writing it.

Here is the series description:

It is the middle of the twenty-second century. Humans have been exploring the known universe for over a hundred years, and have made contact with numerous alien species; some humanoid, some not.

Earth is a leading member and staunch supporter of the Commonwealth of Planets, where along with the Parliament of Planets, is the governing body for the known universe. Earth joined the Commonwealth some thirty years before the Tyrillians, a non-humanoid species of aliens, tried to subjugate the human race by invading the galaxy.

Mark Praed is a half-human, half-alien who has lived on Earth virtually all of his life. From his Kyreen mother, he has inherited the ability to read minds. Not long out of university, he was recruited as an agent for the Commonwealth Intelligence Service. Over the last two years he used his alien abilities to run a covert operation on the alien planet of Ludmalia, but betrayal and its aftermath requires him to transfer to the Commonwealth’s counterterrorist task force.

He is paired with Alexandra Lansing, a by-the-book two year veteran. Alex is not good with change and having to take on a new partner is one change she would prefer to avoid. She has always been partnered with Henry Davison, an older operative who, after sustaining an injury, is being promoted.

Henry has romantic feelings for Alex, and he is irritated that she’s been assigned a new partner, especially one who is not human. Henry fought during the Tyrillian conflict, and so has some definite prejudices against aliens. He always protected Alex on their operations, and he finds Alex’s new partner to be too young and too independent to watch out for her. And he doesn’t trust Praed, mostly because of his alien mind-reading abilities.

This series follows Alex and Praed, and the work they do fighting terrorism throughout the Commonwealth.