Friday, August 31, 2007

Sparkling Today




I'm Sparkling today at SPARKLE THIS!

Come over for a visit on An Unlikely Hero.

Until next time,
~Sandra

Thursday, August 30, 2007

13 Things You Don't Want to Hear your Kid Say



After mothering for almost a score of years, I've decided there are a number of things that no matter which of your kids (daughters or sons) say, it normally means disaster. At least a little one . . .

1) I don’t know what happened to the dog/cat/bird/hamster/guinea pig – honest.


2) But I only added a little soap. I don’t know where all those bubbles came from.


3) Sure I closed the fridge door. Oh, you meant all the way!


4) Little Johnny said there isn’t any stork. So where do babies really come from?


5) Did I get the keys? You mean, like before I closed the car door?


6) Little Johnny’s mom said he could spend the night – forever.


7) There’s something wrong with the car.


8) The puppy loved my bowl of chili.


9) Mom, something in the microwave just exploded.


10) Hey, look, mom, I can flick the lighter. See On. Off. On. Off. Nope, I don’t smell anything burning.


11) But Little Johnny swallowed one, too.


12) The teacher needs to see you. Again.


And my personal favorite . . . 13) Mom, we have a problem.

Monday, August 27, 2007

SOLD-OUT . . . next signing, Thursday, September 6th, 2007

All righty, then, my weekend at my HARM'S WAY book-signing was fabulous.

I sold out, yep, that's right, I sold out of HARM'S WAY in 45 minutes.

Lots of wonderful family, friends, and co-workers all turned out for the event at Barnes & Noble in N. Richland Hills. It was unbelievably to walk in to the store and see so many familiar faces.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for coming out to share this once-in-a-lifetime moment with me.

To all who took pictures, please feel free to send copies to my email: sandraferguson@sbcglobal.net

Here are a few pictures from my dear friend and Romance Writer's of America, Golden Heart finalist: LA Mitchell. If you were at the book-signing, she was the lovely lady seated to my left. Delores Shaffer, another special critque partner made sure you all received your 'autographed copy' stickers.

MY BROTHER

THE FOLKS

LOVELY, HISTORICAL AND CONTEMPORARY AUTHOR (AND AGGIE), GERALYN DAWSON, ARRIVED A FEW MOMENTS AFTER I SOLD OUT. THANKS SO MUCH GERALYN FOR COMING, AND PLEASE DO COME BACK. ALSO PICTURED, DEAR KELLEY WITH CK2SKwipsandKritiques. THANK YOU BOTH FOR COMING OUT.
BECAUSE I SOLD OUT . . . Barnes & Noble placed an emergency order with the book distributor and I will be signing books again.



So next book-signing:
Barnes & Noble
8525 Airport Freeway, NRH (near NE Mall)
Thursday, September 6th, 2007 @ 7:30pm

Friday, August 24, 2007

I'm Sparkling Today!

Good news about my book-signing event and an excerpt.Pop over and see me at SPARKLE THIS!

Oh, and BTW, you're all welcome at my book-signing this Saturday, August 25th, 2:00 until 4:00pm, Barnes & Noble, 8525 Airport Freeway, N. Richland Hills, TX 76180

~Happy Reading
Sandra

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Thirteen Thursday




What I learned since signing my publishing contact . . . in no specific order!

1) Take time writing your book blurb.
2) Share your good news with everyone you know.
3) Order business cards -- flashy and have them ready to pass out.
4) Start a blog or journal on your website. Keep people posted on what’s ahead.
5) Don’t be afraid of re-writes -- tightening with the help of your editor is priceless.
6) Join Yahoo groups.
7) Ask questions of fellow authors, where do you get the gold ‘Autograph Copy’ stickers, did you host a book-signing? What worked? What would you do differently?
8) Order some of your books in print when they become available.
9) Ask your CP and friends to post reviews on your website, Amazon.com, the publisher’s website.
10) Keep writing. Some editors do want the next book.
11) When you set up a book-signing, mail your own reminder cards for the event.
12) Determine your author brand and develop a slogan that captures the essence of your writing style. In a few words ONLY, what sets your writing apart from all others.
13) Post excerpts of your book everywhere on the Internet! Okay, maybe not everywhere, but research which sites allow excerpt posting then surf the site for a few days and see if excerpts along the lines of your book are posted there. Yeah, they are? Then post away.



Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Fort Worth Botanic Gardens


All right, all right, it's hot outside, but not unbearable. Right now, temps are hovering in the mid-90s and for Texas in August, that's almost sweater weather.

Okay, maybe it's not that cool. Fact is we, Fort Worth-inites are enjoying breezy afternoons, occasional cloud cover and the end of summer is almost upon us. Before the dog days of summer slip away, check out the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens.


Isn't that beautiful?

No, I'm not being paid by the Botanical society, although maybe I should send them a bill -- just a small one.

This is actually a message to my fellow Texans. If you're heading through Fort Worth, stop for a visit at the Botanic Gardens -- 109 acres of pretty spectacular stuff.

Address: 3220 Botanic Garden Blvd. It's off IH-30 (of course, what isn't off 30 when you're talking Fort Worth)



This year, my kids and I discovered a different aspect of the gardens -- the 10,000 square foot Conservatory. For a mere buck, we strolled through a proverbial rainforest -- a little humid, but then so is most of Texas. Nothing we couldn't handle. We saw extraordinary plants and bushes. No, don't ask me what they are. I wouldn't remember. Besides you'll see them for yourself when you visit.




Do you have a favorite garden spot? Share, please

Monday, August 20, 2007

Character Name

What’s in a character’s name?
How does a writer select the perfect name?

Is it the symbolism behind a name? Some personal preference? Just what comes to mind?

I recently watched I, Robot. Great film, heavy symbolism, terrific imagery – well worth the invested time to watch. However, it was one character’s name that stopped traffic for me, one name that held center stage, the robot: Sonny

The meanings behind such a simple name captured my attention. Was the robot so named because . . .

1) The doctor considered himself to be the figurative father of all these robots, but specifically this one that existed only because of his creative powers. He made Sonny personally – rather like fathering a son.
2) Or did the original creator of I, Robot, author Isaac Asimov, mean to enact a more literal link: Sonny as the actual son of God. Certainly, the imagery exists for viewers of the movie, I, Robot to make this connection. Watch the closing seconds of the film. Sonny stands atop a hill in front of a destroyed bridge (that closely resembles a cross) as thousands mass beneath the hill and turn expectantly toward him and the insight he can provide. What will these gathered masses learn? Sonny has the secret. All are created with the ability to choose – the ultimate freedom. It does smack of Christianity, does it not?

Whether you're a writer, a reader, a TV/Movie buff, you have an opinion on a favorite character’s name. Share and tell why. Are you a parent? How did you pick your children's names? Family tradition? Favorite name? What you'd like to be named? Come on -- do share!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Color, color, everywhere


Want to expand the color in your writing? Then visit me today at SPARKLE THIS! and learn some insider's secrets to highlight color.

Oh, are you just looking for a new shade to paint a room? Then click on the link and see what color surprises are in the bucket (sorry for the pun) for you.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Thirteen Thursday




Things that make me smile!


RELAXING


GIFT GIVING AND BEING GREEN


KIDS AT PLAY


CHRISTMAS


MY DOG, AUTUMN



VACATIONS TO NYC



MY SON (YES, WE LOOK REALLY SERIOUS -- THE SUN WAS IN OUR EYES!)


MY OLDEST


MY YOUNGEST


FAMILY

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BEACH TIME


FRIENDS


GREAT BOOKS

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Made me laugh

A recent article brought this blog to mind: 'If women ruled the world. . .'

All right, all right, I'm not insinuating that women can't drive. Far from it. I tool around in a full-sized van, 6600 pounds, thank you very much and I can park the puppy in a rat hole. Do remember, I'm from Texas and things are bigger here than in other parts of the world -- rat holes included. But gals are normally handling a number of things while trying to park and I think it's only fair we should get a bigger parking spot.


There would be a little 'bill' equality . . .


Tools would be simpler.


Now, you're talking my talk.
Don't ask, 'where's the beef?'. More importantly, where's the duct tape? No woman's purse is actually complete without duct tape. Want to know how to hold a fence in place? Duct Tape. Keep air from leaking out of a tire? Duct Tape. Prevent anything from flapping in the wind? Duct Tape. Okay, I rest my case.


And for traditional tools . . . I say, 'Who needs 'em' I have hung many a picture with a shoe, and no, I don't measure before I put it on the wall. Hang and bang--that's my philosophy. And I can screw anything in place with a butter knife or better yet a metal nail file.
Make sure to get a heel with serious heft to it, however. If you're going to bang away, you want it to be effective.





Oh, and not the good butter knife, for crying out loud. That's like your kids buffing the dog clean with your good kitchen towels. Keep an old - we don't have the rest of the silverware set anymore - butter knife in your special tool drawer. Don't have one. Hit any Saturday morning garage sale. A .25C max.










Hiking boots would actually LOOK good.




Toilet seats would stay in their proper position.



And guys would have the right toolbox. Guys, if you're going to help 'make em', then you get to roll up your sleeves and wade in.



Monday, August 13, 2007

Did someone say Dessert?

Oh yeah, it was me.

I should be writing, I have been writing, but I wanted to share this easy-to-do and simply delicious low-cal, low-sugar dessert.
What’s needed?
A package of Phyllo dough (generally found close to the frozen pie doughs). This is a great pastry for those who are watching calories and fat grams.
Fresh fruit (cook’s choice)
1/4 Cup Fat-free, plain yogurt
2 tablespoons Low-fat mayo or miracle whip
2 packets Splenda
2 teaspoons Cinnamon
1 tablespoon Honey
2 tablespoons Reduced fat margarine (I now use the Smart Balance Light because it has the Omega-3 oils)

I cut off about a three inch section of the Phyllo dough from one end – keep this moist.

Melt margarine (microwave), add Splenda and ½ of Cinnamon, stir and set aside.

Wash and cut fruit into bite size.

Mix yogurt, mayo, honey, and other ½ of Cinnamon, stir and chill.

Coat cookie sheet with spray cooking oil (if Teflon pan, omit the spray).

Begin building your cookie from the Phyllo dough. Unroll your moistened dough; remember to keep covered what you’re not working with as it will dry very quickly. Pull off a thickness of 3 to 4 strips of the Phyllo dough and lay on cookie sheet, brush with margarine, Splenda and Cinnamon mixture. Add another layer of Phyllo dough on top, brush with more margarine mixture. Repeat two more times. You will have a layered, cookie. Repeat this process until you have 4 laid-out lengths of Phyllo dough, bathed in the margarine mixture on the sheet. Bake dough per directions on the box. Cool, then cut into manageable cookie squares.

To finish the dessert:
Plate two cookies, top with bite-sized fruit, and drizzle yogurt mixture over the top.

Eat immediately.

Okay, this one is yummy enough to be well-worth the effort to make the cookie base.
This is a lovely treat after a hard day of writing.
The best payoff – it’s low-cal and delicious.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Spakling Today



Looking for me today?

I'm across the way Sparkling with my writing buddies.

Be sure to visit
SPARKLE THIS!
I have a great verb game I'm posting. Be sure to pop over and play.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Texas Biscuits

Got a request for another recipe on my site – something else Texan. Baking biscuits can be a fun Saturday morning activity – with or without kids. It takes a little practice, but I couldn’t cook my way out of a basket when I first married and I learned how to do it. So, belly up to the kitchen, gals and guys for a little homemade fun.

Okay, I know biscuits aren't just a Texas 'thang' but mine to happen to come from an old 'Texas' family . . . so I'm going to say that counts.

INGREDIENTS:
2 ½ Cups all purposes flour -- sift this into a large bowl
1 teaspoon salt -- I prefer Sea Salt or Kosher Salt
5 teaspoons of baking powder -- I will warn you, if your BP is old, it affects how well the biscuits rise.
½ teaspoon baking soda
4 Tablespoons Crisco - I like the sticks, it's easier to measure.
1 Cup + a kiss of buttermilk. I'll explain the kiss in a minute.
1 Tablespoon Canola oil

Okay, that's it. All you need.

Mix your dry ingredients together, and then CUT in the shortening (Crisco) -- you'll need a fork or whisk to do this. You want small pieces only (less than pea-size, like half of pea-size) when you've finished cutting in the shortening. Some people will substitute butter for the shortening.

**I don't use butter. I've cooked biscuits for a really, really long time -- you thought I'd tell you how old I was, didn't you? Not today. Let's just say I've been cooking biscuits longer than you've owned a lot of the appliances in your house. *GRIN* And I don't think butter cooks as well in biscuits. Sorry, Alton Brown.

Preheat your oven, NOW – 375 degrees or so. And I say ‘or so’ for a reason. Not every oven cooks at the same temperature. If your oven cooks true, then 375 will work. If it’s a little hot, then adjust down just a smidgen – and if you’re a country gal or guy, you’ll know what a smidgen is. The same goes for if your oven cooks a little cooler, then adjust up.

All right, you want to take the Canola oil and pour it on a ‘good’ cookie sheet. The double-metal layered cookie sheets work the best. About $10.00 almost everywhere.

Now, back to your biscuit dough. Time to add the ONE CUP of buttermilk. WAIT – not all at once. Pour in half then fold over the dry mixture. Then pour in the other half and fold again. The secret to light, flakey biscuits is to NOT overwork the dough. This is a by-the-feel thing and not a precise science. Sorry, I can’t get the webcam to work in the kitchen or I’d just show you how. If you have a dry section of the mixture left – then add the kiss of buttermilk. That’s enough. Too much and you’ll never get the biscuits in the oven.

The dough should be very, very sticky at this point. Let it rest for a few minutes, and you will see it start to rise. Buttermilk loves baking powder and baking soda.

I lay out a sheet of wax paper, roughly 24 inches or so long. Flour liberally. Then turn out your dough. Sprinkle flour on top of the dough. This kneading part is totally up to the individual cook. Some like to get their hands in there and some don’t. You can fold up the wax paper, sandwiching in the dough to work the mixture. Fold from one side, then squish down the dough. Release the paper, then fold from the other side and squish down the dough. Repeat this process – several times. If the dough sticks to the wax paper, add a pinch more flour. If you like to use your hands for kneading, just make sure to liberally flour them.

What are you looking for? The dough should have a fairly smooth look to it when it’s done. No gloppy chunks or pieces of dough hanging loose. Pat it out until the dough covers the wax paper – about 1 and ½ inches in height. DO NOT ROLL out your biscuits. Trapped air is what makes them great.

Use a biscuit cutter, a glass, or pinch off and roll a small amount to get the actual biscuit shape. Cook’s choice.

Put your cookie sheet with Canola oil into the oven for a few minutes – watch this – it will heat in a hurry. Remove then take your prepared biscuits one at a time and lay them on the cookie sheet, coating in the oil, then flip over and leave in place on the cookie sheet. Why? Because you want the oil on the top to keep the biscuits from having a powdery look when they’re done and because they brown better and because that’s the way everybody’s grandma whoever cooked biscuits did it. **Hey, just so you're aware and nobody tries to sue me for burning their fingers -- this oil will be hot when it comes out of the oven so be careful. I've never let my kids do this part because it's too tempting to touch the oil -- no matter how many times I've said, 'That's Hot.'**

Now, put your loaded cookie sheet into the oven and leave it for fifteen minutes. DON’T open that door. Biscuits are bread and they will fall if you jerk open your oven door during the cooking process. Leave ‘em alone. Check after fifteen minutes. Crack open the oven door, just a smidgen – we’ve already established you should know how much that is. Are they golden brown on the top? Then they’re done. If not ease closed your door and wait another two minutes. Check again.

Remove from oven – I don’t bother with cooling. Biscuits are for eating hot with butter and honey.

Enjoy, I always do.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

What's with?

My bulk email box is piling up faster than the kitchen floor when a two-year-old is loose with a box of cheerios. Okay, so I don't have a two-year-old anymore, but I remember.
Vaguely.



Back to the email . . . what is with all the e-card announcments from companies such as, greetings.com, shoebox.com, 123card.com, etc? Pick a card title and it's been in my Inbox. I supposedly have received e-cards from mates, friends, spouses, loved ones, school buddies and on and on. I managed 4 to 5 of these little missives per day. I don't know that many people, much less people who would like me well enough to send me an e-card. So what gives?

Is your Inbox filling up with an influx of e-cards? Then enlighten me, please. I can always stand some enlightening.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Writers Beware

Found a new site: Writers Beware
I've added this under my blogs and websites to visit.

What's it about?

Victoria Strauss and A.C. Crispin have designed a blog to give writers more practical information on protecting ourselves. It's a scammers world in publishing so helpful facts are always a must.

There are loads of past blogs on scam artists, specifically regarding agencies. It's worth your time to browse the post. Also, consider adding
Writers Beware website
to your list of frequently visited websites. Ann and Victoria spend time and effort to gather information regarding the scammers in this business. Law enforcement officials recognize the strength of this site and contact this pair to post warnings to authors.

Make sure to protect yourself with the knowledge.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Looking for me?

Looking for me today?

I'm across the way with my writing buddies.


Be sure to visit
SPARKLE THIS
I'm providing a list of reviewer and promotional sites. Be sure to pop over.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Top 5

Top 5 reasons I’m possessed to pound on the keyboard or, as it’s known in polite circles, why I write:

5) I can’t stand the voices in my head anymore – best way to silence chatty characters is type them on page.

4) I miss my characters and their shenanigans and/or adventures. I have characters who know how to pilot planes, sail boats, shoot guns, design buildings, paint beautiful landscapes, practice law, run multi-million dollar businesses – nope, I can’t do any of those things, but it certainly is fun going along for the ride with my characters.

3) I might earn some money from doing this. *GRIN* Okay, not much, but I can buy dinner at Sonic.

2) I can’t wait to find out what happens at the end of the story. No, I don’t plot all the way to the end. It’s too much fun to discover how the ‘happily ever-after’ works out.

1) Top reason I write, to delivery another story, in which one reader (more would be nice, but I can live with one) tells me, ‘This story kept me up all night. I couldn’t put it down. Couldn’t wait to find out what happened.’

What did I discover in compiling this list?

That I’m selfish. Uh-oh, not a great character trait, but a true one.

This process of writing is a solitary task. Not exactly the whole single-soul-locked-away-in-the-desolate-tower-until-the-writing-is-done, but it does feel like that at times. When there’s nothing but the blank computer screen, hands posed over the keyboard, and NOTHING in the brain, it can feel extraordinarily desolate.

So, do writers ever use outside help?

Sure. There are plotting sessions – my critique partners and I call them ‘plot-luck’ dinners. If my brain needs to work then food should be involved. Writers also use CPs or critique partners who ask tough plot questions, push for deeper character motivation, and overall better writing. Many writers use a BETA reader (someone totally not involved in the writing industry, but who loves to read – and will read the finished work just for fun). However, those persons claimed, the actual process of birthing words on paper, the creating of characters, building worlds, designing the perfect paragraph, well, that’s all solitary, lonely and oftentimes relentless in order to reach the end.

Maybe it’s not strange, after all, that my motivations for writing are so selfish. If I wasn’t motivated internally, what the psyche books refer to as ‘a real self-starter’ then I doubt I would ever have finished the first manuscript, much less five.

Okay, when there are a thousand great books to read, movies to see, things to do with family and friends, what motivates you to plunk in the chair and stay there until the writing is finished?

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Harm's Way review

Judy Thomas, a reviewer for The Long & Short of It said . . .

Harm's Way reminded this reader of Nora Robert's suspense books. It was so good, I had a hard time putting it down. I'm looking forward to the next offering by this talented writer. I predict, and truly hope, we'll see much more of Ms. Ferguson. I'm her latest fan.

Whew, did you just see my socks roll up and down, then right off my feet? That review blew me away. Okay to be likened to Nora Roberts, is just pretty darned good, but that this reviewer, as a reader, found HARM'S WAY enthralling enough to not put down -- that's worth a serious happy dance.


Thanks to the Wild Rose Press loop who opened my eyes to this particular reviewer's site.

Want to read the review in its entirety? Click on: The Long & Short of It

Texas sayings

~Watch your step! Cacti, tumbleweeds, and an occasional armadillo might be ahead.

~Welcome to the land of tar-bubbling summers, gas-guzzling pickup trucks, standard Stetson headgear, and mile-high hair.

~Welcome to the Lone Star State, and Romance With A Texas Twist!

Quote of the Day