Prepping for Thanksgiving Dinner

This is the first year I’ve ever cooked Thanksgiving dinner. Gulp. How did I get here?

I’ve been fortunate to always go to a delicious dinner and bring side dishes rather than prepping turkey and all the fixings. It’s a small gathering I’m cooking for, perfect for this recipe from Skinny Taste:  Butternut Stuffed Turkey Tenderloin.


I’m really excited to try out this recipe. I’ve tried a variety of recipes from Skinny Taste over the years and loved many of them.

Until then, I’m dreaming of it.  What’s your favorite item on the menu for Thursday?

Book Banter: The Crossing

crossingTitle: The Crossing

Author: Michael Connelly

Length: 388 pages

Genre: mystery

Where Bethany’s copy came from: IndyPL

Plot Basics: Harry Bosch gets a call from defense attorney Mickey Haller. Haller needs an investigator to prove his client didn’t commit the murder he’s accused of. Bosch, still out of the LAPD, doesn’t want to switch sides, but as he takes a look, he realizes Haller might be right  — his client might be innocent. That, Bosch realizes, means a killer is free and he can’t let that stand.

Banter Points: This is a great entry in the Bosch series, with a great crossover to the Haller/Lincoln Lawyer series too. The last few Bosch books, to me, were OK but not great. This one forced Bosch to grapple with his likely permanent retirement from LAPD and what he could do instead. It cast his principles in good contrast with Haller’s. And, like always, it was a great investigative procedural.

I was totally hooked on the plot as Harry worked the case. Everything that seemed clear at the beginning kept getting untwisted in unexpected ways.

Bummer Points: It ended and it’ll be another year for another Bosch book.

Word Nerd Recommendation: Bosch fans should be running to pick up this book. Those who like mysteries, but who haven’t read Bosch, need to go back to the beginning and read the whole series. You’ve got great reads ahead of you.

Friday Fun


It’s Friday! And my plans include laundry, hot tea, and a good book.

But the market in Saturday morning? You’ve got to be kidding. That’s the busiest time. Maybe Saturday night instead.

(Yes, this Word Nerd knows how to have a rollicking good time.)

Book Banter: Bats of the Republic

BOTR0Title: Bats of the Republic

Author: Zachary Thomas Dodson

Length: ~450 pages

Genre: literary fiction

Where Bethany’s copy came from: IndyPL

Plot Basics: Two intertwined stories weave through the book — one in 1843 about naturalist Zadock Thomas sent on an errand to the Republic of Texas in order to win the hand of Elswyth Gray and a second about Zeke Thomas, set in 2143, in a steampunk Texas in a post-apocalyptic world as he tries to figure out a mystery.

Banter Points: When I saw this book go by in Wowbrary, it was listed as an “illuminated novel.” I love grown-up books with pictures or the like in them.I was hoping for a find like “S.” for this year and “Bats” seemed promising. At first the back-and-forth for Zadock and Zeke’s stories was fun. I was confused, but in a good, compelling way.

Bummer Points: I liked it, but, um, I got lost. Granted, there were three days of Murder and Mayhem and then three sick days that interrupted my reading, but still. It shouldn’t be that complicated. (I mean, I read “Brothers Karamazov” and “Anna Karenina” over a span of weeks and didn’t get lost.) I think Dodson was being all meta about stories, but I just wanted to be entertained with the pictures and the interwoven narratives. Instead, I came away feeling stupid (I’m not stupid).

Word Nerd Recommendation: “S.” or “The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet” this is not. Maybe it’s a good read if you want the meta read, or are willing to play along (as I was at the beginning).

Re-reading Thoughts

Recently, I was stabbed in the side by someone stating that they never re-read a book (Gasp!).

After I adjusted my mental review if their status as a friend, I listened to their next words: There’s too many books I want to read to spend my reading time on re-reading.

Okay, they redeemed themselves. However, I am seriously dying to re-read some books in 2016. I’ve undergone some major life changes and the titles that come to mind are ones that are life changing to me. They provoke deep thoughts on Life. They have provided answers and guidance in my life. They are books on my shelf because they are worth my hard-earned dollars. I averaged about 101 books a year, but I’ve read as many as 168 in a single year. This year’s goal (stay with me, I have a point here) was to read about a book a week. I’m well beyond that.

What if next year’s goal is to re-read? And read as many books as I can? Could I make it a 200 book year?  It’s no secret to those that know me in real life know I spend a significant amount of time with a dreamy far off look and my nose stuck in a book. It’s a lesser known secret that I re-read at 1.5 to 2.0 times the speed of a first read.  Exceeding 200 books in a single year seems totally achievable in these circumstances.

I can think of 30 books I what to re-read, right now (15 of which are the Dresden files in prep for book #16’s release next year, assuming Butcher stays on track for the current release date.) Finding books to read becomes a non-issue.

I am going to have to give serious consideration to this. But now? I’m off to the November reading challenge and my non-fiction book. Cheers!



It’s going to be a long time before I eat eggs over medium again. over_medium

Last week, I was down for the count with a gastro-bug thing that might have been a virus or might have been a touch of something really nasty like salmonella. The doctor (I was that sick) said something was going around, but since I had a fever that spiked to 101, I’m not convinced. I’d eaten eggs Sunday morning and then about 12 hours later got whammied.

From Sunday evening through Thursday evening, I was sick. I can’t remember the last time I was sick like that. Even eight years ago when my appendix exploded, it wasn’t like this. For days, I subsisted on boring, bland food.

As everyone has pointed out, I’m glad I got sick last week and not say, the week before or of the wedding.

But, if the eggs were to blame, it’s going to be a long time before I’m willing to risk that again. Like, maybe, ever.

Should I make art?

In my day job, I often need to explain complicated processes to people who interact with my team, but don’t actually care about what my team does (the U.S. government, however, cares deeply.)

I love taking a really complicated process and setting up either a process flow or a PowerPoint that makes people think, “Wow, I’m really glad I understand that.” It’s something of a skill that I’ve developed over the years and one that I pride myself on.

So when I see it in action from others, I stand and clap.  This chart, my friends, is cheer worthy:


It really is that simple. Make art. Write stories. Paint pictures.

Art is an expression of self. It has little to nothing to do with skill or talent. Art is beautiful because of the person who made and the self expression that is now there on the page.

So go out there and make art this weekend.


Post Murder and Mayhem

The week after Murder and Mayhem is infused with bittersweetness.

The Good: image

  • The Word Nerds get to chat in person, instead of through the technology that connects us (for those that aren’t aware, we used to live in the same town, and are now separated by a several hour drive. Cheers for technology!)
  • Connecting with other writers, fans, and like-minded kindred spirits
  • Talking to a writer about their books, journey, or process
  • Hearing moderators ask questions that I wouldn’t have thought to ask and the subsequent answers
  • The accessibility of the panelists, moderators, and organizers. This conference is all about making sure that everyone gets to talk books and writing all weekend long
  • Re-energized / enthused for writing again

The Bad:

  • Going back to the real world where books are less important and filled with demands from family, co-workers, and bosses
  • Collecting more titles, books, recommendations, and new authors to read than my approximately 100 titles a year allows for

M&MM is more than a writer’s conference for the weekend. For me, it’s also a chance to be with my tribe. Only at M&MM can one talk about the brilliant turn of phrase, argue over an ARC, and decide that a murder method really isn’t very effective and did you consider another angle? It’s the combination of a writers group AND friends that I wish I had in my day-to-day life. In fact, one of the panels referenced that most writers are a lonely bunch, have various degrees of introversion, and the real world doesn’t understand why we do what we do. It’s the same for readers. Thanks to the awesome team behind M&MM, for a weekend we get to dominate the landscape and be exactly who we are without.

I cannot wait to do this again next year.



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