December 29, 2008

First Annual Stir-crazy Writers' Contest winner!

© Charlie Brough, December, 2008

Announcing the winner in the First Annual Stir-crazy Writers' Contest!

Charlie has a new book out:

Mama, I'm Coming Home
Charlie E. Brough

The first book Thank God for Pigs 1926-1945, introduced the author's family. A host of other people, both real and fictitious. There is the great depression, World War II, and for Duncan McGrew, a new beginning. For Cathie, his wife, a new life, but not without troubles similar to Job in the bible, all while rearing four children on an unproductive dirt farm. Book two of three, Mama, I'm Coming Home Bremerton, WA, 1945 - 1953 takes the reader on a historical, humorous and sometimes sad journey for a country bumpkin family attempting to adjust to life in the city after 19 years on the near waterless dirt farm. Tom McGrew survives Rheumatic Fever, but can he live in the same house with his father? Arnie joins the National Guard at age 16. Leane and Nora suffer over mothering from being molested by her father as a child. Arnie meets Lisa, his true love at the high school sweetheart swirl, then loses her. Trouble brews for her and Arnie. Then already in trouble, Arnie tells his father that he's joined the army during the middle of the Korean War. Duncan says things he regrets. Will he ever get the chance to tell his son how he really feels? iUniverse, $33.95 USD

I don't have my copy yet. I could have used a new read during this snow.
I'm not including other entries, as I'm not sure of their original source, and I don't want a bunch of copyright lawyers on my doorstep. But they were very funny.
I'm hosting the local flu bug this week, so will close.
Before I got sick, I did post two new stories on my book website:

Old Joe and His Yellow Cadillac is very different from my normal work--it's very sad. Tango Moma is really just a filler about my mother.

December 24, 2008

STILL snowed in...

2008 winter storm- I was here, but I had to get up to take the picture...
I'm getting a lot of silly stuff from my very non-techie writer friends today who live in the area. I decided to join in. Oy! Will the snow never quit?!
Have you heard the rumor about the $30 billion buy-out plan for writers? As soon as I get my hands on the paperwork, I'll pass it on.
Quote du jour:
"One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter." Die Another Day

December 23, 2008

Mama Mia

Have you seen Mama Mia! yet?
What are you waiting for?
(I have no connection with this or any other film. Just in case you're wondering...
welll...I was in a Warren Beatty film an a parade...)

Call your loved ones!

2008 winter storm, December
My herbs are somewhere underneath the snow on those hanging pots. The birds are still ignoring my whole wheat bread crumbs--I suspect another neighbor is offering bagles...
We lost power for a bit last night. Our Puget Power was on the spot. I was still fussing about the tarnish on my silver candlesticks when the lights went back on. Thank you, Puget Power! You rock!
If this storm ever had any dazzle, it was lost when my furnace went off. We have a wood stove, but keeping a fire made in a woodstove when in a wheelchair is a fulltime job. Even so, the wood is stacked on the floor by the hearth--at the ready. If our power goes out again, I'll go to work fulltime gladly. Right now, it's 32 degrees, so it has warmed up a lot, but not enough.
On Friday, it is supposed to rain--and that always brings floods here. Oh, the fun never stops.
Seriously, my heart goes out to the young and the old who may be suffering from weather wherever in the world they may be.
Call your loved ones and check to make sure they're okay. If my granny were still with us, I'd call and caution her to be careful of burning candles, portable heaters, and loose sleeves around stoves. If you are new to our area, and are cold, KNOW THAT YOU CANNOT USE A GRILL INSIDE TO KEEP WARM. IT CAUSES CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING. Our housing is too air tight. I KNOW I HAVE A REPUTATION FOR HUMOR, BUT THIS IS NO JOKE. IF YOU HAVE NO HEAT, FIND SHELTER IN A CHURCH OR COMMUNITY HALL.

December 22, 2008

It's a good day to watch Mama Mia again

December, 2008--Not bad for a rain forest, eh?

Snow- We're due for more snow today, but it's warming up. It's only 30. Yesterday, we had 12-17, depending upon where you were. I was one of the lucky ones who was in the 17 degree zone. Get out the sunscreen, Mama! A lot of my fellow writers have lost their power. In our senior years, being cold is about as much fun picking cactus stickers out of your behind.

The shot is off our sundeck and looks toward our pasture. I used to be an organic gardener, and the back pasture was a wonderful garden. Now, organic food is everywhere, and we've eliminated all but the cherries, plums, apples, pears, and blackberries. The new varieites of raspberries have inspired us to replant some of the vines next year.

I'm off to watch Mama Mia! again. It's set in Greece, so it's warm there.

Hope your Holidays are merry and WARM.

December 21, 2008

Happy Winter Solstice!

Winter, 2008, wood sculptures by Linda Studebaker

Snow- We're almost snowed in here. There is at least 10 inches of snow on my sundeck and just as much ice and slush on our hilly roads. In between snowstorms yesterday, we did manage to get some friends over for lunch. We were in such a hurry to get them back to Seattle safely, we forgot to serve dessert. Now, I'm stuck (!) with a pound or two of homemade caramel with almonds. Weep for me.
Lists- I'm still making lists and checking them twice. Sadly, the list gets shorter every year, as I've lost most of my senior relatives. How I miss my mother and her sisters. It would be hard to pick a favorite aunt. All of them were funny and loved to laugh. As I am just part Hispanic, for most of my life, I felt like just a partial member of their very special club. In later years, the aunts opened up more. In my last visits, I felt like a full fledge member of the Meraz Women's Club (Oklahoma-California-Missouri). How I wish they could have lived long enough to read the books I based on them.
My Aunt Norah and I pulled one of the last pranks together when I was visiting Lawton. A fellow member gave us the keys to her house so we could feed her cats while she was out of town. While we were in there, we put a life-size cutout of Billy
Ray Cyrus in her kitchen. We put an ex-rated note on his chest. He looked so real, he startled her. She found someone else to feed her cats on the next trip. Ha!
On my dvd- Mamma Mia! Psst! Pierce Brosnan can't sing, but he doesn't know, so don't tell him. No matter. I loved him and Meryl Streep and the rest of the over-forty cast in the movie. If you haven't seen it, get it. It's a wonderful way to celebrate the Winter Solstice. Plenty of blue water and sun. I loved every bit of it.
I'm famous in our family for giving a movie 12 minutes. If it doesn't grab me by then, I'm punching out of it. Carl Sandburg did much the same thing with books. I've read that, when he was traveling around college campuses giving talks, he'd stop by the college bookstore and pick out a book to read. When he got to the checkout counter, he's rip off the first third of the book. He'd tell the clerk to save the rest under the counter. If it was any good, he'd send for the rest. According to the story, he never did.
On my bed table- I'm still reading Lawrence and Zig Zag, with a short pause to read my friend Nancy Covert's new romance, Kaniksu Magic. Books are piling up, and I'm not good at dusting, so I'm going to have to take an afternoon and finish some of the books I've started. Sometimes, I set my alarm for an hour earlier, and read until it's 8:00 AM. As an empty-nester, I can get away with this. With kids, it doesn't work. The minute the alarm goes off, they're hungry, no matter what time it is!
I hope you're having a very Merry Christmas. For my friends who do not celebrate Christmas, I wish you much joy and happiness. Thank you for being a part of my life.

December 18, 2008

My Christmas List

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of our friends!
My Christmas List
Janelle Meraz Hooper
from Free Pecan Pie and Other Chick Stories
Here they come again. On my television screen. Men with no shirts on, hawking men’s cologne that my husband wouldn’t wear to chop wood. It’s just $69.99, the tagline says. Who are they trying to kid? That’s almost $70.00!
And here come the beautiful women looking like they’ve never cleaned out a sink basket. They’re trying their best to convince my husband that he doesn’t really love me if he doesn’t buy me that ring that has diamonds big enough to choke a hippopotamus.
The tip-off for these pricey gifts is the tagline at the bottom: available in fine department stores everywhere. I’m waiting for the ad that says: Pick one up anywhere—we made a zillion of them! Better yet would be an ad that said: Free with a tank of gas!
Luckily for our bank account, after over thirty-four years, my husband has my number. If he wants to make me happy, all he has to do is bring on the singing fish. The rest of the family is catching on. My aunt sent me a singing chicken. My grandson gave me a singing lobster last Christmas. This year, I’m hoping for singing turtles—three of them.
Add to my list:
I want the new re-mastered CDs of classic rock and roll songs recorded by guys like Hall & Oates, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Mick Jagger. They rock!
And one of those big packages of computer paper in assorted colors. I want the loud kind. Not that wimpy, pastel stuff. I have no idea what I’ll do with it, I just want it. It must be the little kid in me.
Then, I want a tree, some tangerines, and some popcorn. It’s not Christmas without popcorn. Everyone knows that except that skinny guy on my television with the shaved chest selling cologne.
Oh, and honey, I was just kidding about not wanting the diamond ring. I’m crazy, but I’m not dumb! Pick one up!

Bernard Madoff

Good grief! After they caught Bernard Madoff in a $50 Billion skam, all they did was give him an ankle bracelet and send him back to his $7 million dollar apartment?! Why? They say because he's never been a flight risk. Of course not. Why would he run when there was so much money still left on the table? Now, they say their biggest fear is that he'll commit suicide. I think not. Just last week, he took all of some widow's retirement money and she may never get it back. This happened when he knew he was going to be caught. The man has no conscience. Whatever makes them afraid he'll kill himself? My bet is he'll be on a safe beach somewhere before my coffeepot is dry. What makes us so stupid? Is someone taking a payoff? What?

I wish someone would ask the guy, "How much is enough? Who the heck needs $50 billion dollars?"

I keep thinking of that line in National Treasure: "Somebody's got to go to jail."

Well, at least the guy took my mind off of Winter Solstice. Two more days to go. Winter is sure going out with a bang. We're due for four inches of snow. Here in the foothills of Mt. Rainier, we usually get more.

Back to my novel, Bears in Hibiscus. It's warm there.

I've posted a couple of Christmas stories on my website:

Note: For those of you who are as frustrated as I am, I have set up
a skam-free zone at the above site.
It contains sample chapters of my novels:
A Three-Turtle Summer
As Brown As I Want: The Indianhead Diaries
Custer and His Naked Ladies
Free Pecan Pie and Other Chick Stories (mixed genre)

December 15, 2008

5 days until Winter Solstice

Cabo, a million years ago
5 days until Winter Solstice

Augh! There's not enough eggnog in the world to get me through the next five days. Maybe I'll rewrite my Bears in Hibiscus romance again. Especially that chapter that takes place on a Hawaiian beach.
With the sun.
The blue water.
The white sand.
Quote du jour:
"There's no such thing as bad weather...only bad gear." Bob Bundy

December 12, 2008

I hope he's pretty.

Psttt! (see below)

Is there no end to the greed? Another Wall Street scandal. I didn't even bother to look and see who this new guy is. Throw the book at him. And let's not send him to some cushy white collar prison. Let's send him to a real prison. I hope he's pretty.

On my TV: I took the night off and watched Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.Like all of the Indiana Jones movies, it was predictable--lots of bugs. It was ants this time. Always entertaining, this Indiana Jones movie was a closer. I'm glad they let us know what happened to the characters in the first movies.

That was one of the reasons I wrote Custer and His Naked Ladies. My readers wanted to know what happened to Glory. That surprised me. I expected them to wonder what happened to Grace. Glory was patterned after me, and I guess I never thought the character was as interesting as the others.

Quotes du jour:
I did get a couple of good quotes from Indie:

"How much of life is lost in waiting?" and

"We seem to have reached a point where life stops giving us things and starts taking them away."

Don't ask me who said what. I was busy eating popcorn, and didn't notice the names of the characters. After all, it was my night off...

Psst!!! Have you sent that check to the food bank yet? It's up to us now to take care of each other. Momma don't want no more hungry kids, Ya'hear?

December 09, 2008

Citigroup Rant

And while I'm on a rant, what's this crap about Citigroup paying $400 million to have the replacement for Shea Stadium named after it?! That's OUR money. We want it back! Note to Wall Street: The party's over. Pull the plug on your ice chest and get the hell out!

How arrogant can they get???

Wall Street- I don't believe that John Thain actually had the nerve to ask for a $10 million dollar bonus. Other financial executives are carrying on with business as usual, taking expensive trips and arrogant can they get?!

We are saps if we let them get away with it. Even though Thain has withdrawn his request, look for him to get it under the table somehow. What a bunch of crooks.

Here's a message for the clueless: We are broke. Our children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and beyond will be paying this debt that may even cost us our freedom.

Wall Street needs to suck it in and do without, as the rest of us are. And, while they're at it, they can clean up this mess. They made it. They should clean it up!

Allowing these crooks to continue business as usual is criminal. CRIMINAL. A lot of these suckers need to go to jail. Let's start with the big, arrogant banks who are gouging us. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $10 million dollars. Go straight to jail.

How timely that the new decorating trend is "shabby chic".

December 08, 2008

Winter Solstice is next!

Merry Chrismas from the cranberry bogs in Washington State.

Dear friends- I have changed my Google settings which should make it easier for you to leave me messages. I love to hear from you!

I was clueless about how Google works but, thanks to J. A Konrath (, I've discovered a lot of message that have been left that I never saw because they were left days after I posted and I never looked back. I always try to answer messages, and apologize to readers who didn't get an answer to a message--I never saw it!

I guess it's time to get some work in. My husband threw away the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers--the cranberries. Wasn't it cranberries that Louie Anderson used to talk about in his hilarious comedic routine about the holidays? He said his mother would say, "There are some on the table, some in the oven...some in the neighbor's garage next door..." My daughter and I used to laugh until we cried. He is the funniest man in America.

Now, you might say, it's on to Christmas. WRONG. Winter Solstice is next on my list. I may start a countdown tomorrow. In case you're one of those people who doesn't notice when you have to hang a flashlight around your cat's neck so you can find it, solstice is December 21st. I have a special lamp for my office this time of year. It looks like an octopus, and has five 60-watt bulbs. It burns whenever I'm working early. My cd player blares Hall and Oates, and I wear all my rhinestone jewelry on my sweatshirt, wrists, and fingers. Augh! I hate the dark!

This was in my email, and I think it's interesting:
Bar Codes Identify Country of Origin - Be Sure to Check Them
The whole world is scared of China-made 'black hearted goods'. Can you differentiate which one is made in the USA ,
Philippines , Taiwan or China ?
For example, the first 3 digits of the bar code reflect the country code where the product was made.

All bar codes that start with 690, 691, 692, thru 695 are MADE IN CHINA.
Bar code items starting with 471 are Made in Taiwan like this one:
Chinese businessmen know that American consumers don't prefer products 'Made in China ', so they don't show from which country it originates any longer. However, you may now refer to the barcode. Remember if the first 3 digits are in the range 690-695, then it is Made in China . 00 ~ 13 USA & CANADA
30 ~ 37 FRANCE
40 ~ 44 GERMANY
49 ~ JAPAN
50 ~ UK
57 ~ Denmark
64 ~ Finland
76 ~ Switzerland & Liechtenstein
471 ~ Taiwan
480 ~ Philippines
628 ~ Saudi Arabia
629 ~ UAE (United Arab Emirates)
740-745 ~ Central America
Please inform your family and friends.

It is our human right to know, but its not the government's job to educate the public, just to rake in the taxes.

Therefore, we have to protect ourselves & make everyone aware.
On my bed table- Two books:
1. Agent Zig Zag by Ben Macintyre-about a spy who worked as a double agent for Nazi Germany and Great Britain, and
2. T. E. Lawrence by His Friends, edited by A. W. Lawrence. If you're very young, T. E. Lawrence was Lawrence of Arabia. What an amazing person! He is definitely the second person I'd most like to meet in heaven.
The first is my grandmother, so I could ask her whatever possessed her and my grandfather to get off the wagon train in Oklahoma. Oklahoma! There were no jobs there. No water. It was 60 miles from the Texas border where prejudice against Mexicans was off the hate-meter. Why, Gramma, why?
On my TV- not much. I don't know how many times I've watched You've Got Mail with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, but it is perfect for this time of year. Lots of sunlight and flowers. Loved it (again!)
My website- Over the weekend, I moved my older stories on Halloween and Thanksgiving to an archives page. If you missed one, you can find it there ( )
Custer and His Naked Ladies- a review that was reprinted from an Oklahoma City paper was in USA Today. I hope you saw it! I missed it until someone emailed me about it.
Kindle/Sony- By the end of the week, all of my books should be on Kindle and Sony. A Three-Turtle Summer and Custer and His Naked Ladies are on them now. Unfortunately, Custer is showing the wrong cover. That happens in this computer age. They'll fix it!

Quote du jour--Catalog humor:
On a plaque: Follow your dreams. Except that one where you fly. That never ends well.
On sweatshirts:
Paddle faster! I hear banjo music!
I was told there would be no math involved
Most of these were in the Wireless Catalog. I've misplaced the source for the math quote... --Don't we all have enough stuff? How about sending small livestock to a needy family somewhere in the world? It's easy. Heifer does all the work.