"No matter how terrified you may be, own your fear and take that leap anyway because whether you land on your feet or on your butt, the journey is well worth it."
-- Laurie Laliberte
"If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough."
-- Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage."
-- Anais Nin

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Because I'm a Basket Case (Contest Closed)

The Basket Case Value Set is available on Ravelry for $5.49
My pal Megan over at Crochet Every Day and I rarely get much time to talk (email at length) these days. Our lives seem to get in the way. So we put our heads together and decided to give away some goodies. Pay attention; you could walk away with free crochet patterns.

In honor of the fact that I've been a total Basket Case lately, Megan and I are each giving away one Basket Case Three-Piece Set. This is not the actual finished project, it's the .pdf file which includes patterns for the scrubby, pot holder, and towel.

The rules are pretty straightforward. You'll have three chances to win. For each of the following, you will receive one entry:

1.  Stop by Megan's blog, Crochet Every Day, follow it, and leave a comment on any post except the one that describes this contest. If you're already a follower, just leave your comment.


2.  Stop by Laurie's blog, Big Girl Blog, follow it, and leave a comment on any post except the one that describes this contest. If you're already a follower, just leave your comment.


3.  Tweet the link to the contest with a cc to Megan @themegababe or Laurie @LaliberteLaurie. It doesn't matter which blog you link to in your tweet. If you're not on twitter, then post on facebook or Google+.

Here's the important part:  After you've done one or more of the above, return here and leave one comment telling us what you did. At the end of the contest, each of us will pull one name.

Here's the bonus:  If you tell both of us what you did, you double your chances of winning.

Don't forget we'll need your email so we can notify you that you've won and deliver your prize. Each of the two winners will receive an email from downloads[at]ravelry[dot]com with Laurie Laliberte Designs in the subject line.

The contest begins at 8:00 a.m. GMT on Sunday, January 29, 2012. (That's 3:00 a.m. on the east coast and midnight on the west coast.) It ends at 8:00 a.m. on Sunday, February 5. (That's Superbowl Sunday in case you're keeping track.)

You'll also find the Basket Case Value Bundle for $5.49 on Etsy
For my non-crocheting, bookish friends, I haven't forgotten you. Stay tuned. Once details are ironed out, with another of my Kindle All-Stars pals, I'll let you know. Until then, I tease.
Happy Crocheting!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Knock Knock

Sometimes opportunities come along we'd be insane to pass up. So we take them. We hold on with all our might. We allow them to lead us wherever they go because blind faith is the wisest choice. Sometimes it's the only choice. But until we are fully involved in the events brought about by grasping those opportunities we don't understand the impact they have, and will continue to have, on our lives.

Resistance Front is currently available
on Amazon for 99 cents
Five months ago this week I submitted a short story to an author who had decided to edit an anthology for charity. Within a few weeks I became a driving force in promoting all aspects of the organization being formed around the project. Now I'm co-editing our second anthology dubbed KAS 1.5.

Why 1.5 and not 2? Because this wasn't supposed to happen. Bernard, my editor, co-editor, client (I'll get to that part later), friend, somehow ended up in a twitter conversation with a representative from the Worldreader organization. Worldreader's main objective is to distribute Kindle devices to students in developing countries. Talks happened because opportunity knocked.

Bernard and I were in the earliest of planning stages for the super-secret KAS 2 and pretty much convinced each other that connecting with Worldreader was a good idea. After having learned many lessons from building and producing our first anthology, Resistance Front, we were confident enough in ourselves and our organization that we could put together a second anthology on a much smaller scale. With proper planning, we could get KAS 1.5 into the hands of readers before Memorial Day, just in time for summer reading.

Like its predecessor KAS 1.5 will be sold online. But even more exciting, it will be distributed for free to those same students who receive Kindle devices from Worldreader. Hundreds, even thousands of copies. The possibilities, for our organization and our authors and editors, are endless.

Superbia is currently live
on Amazon for $2.99
But this hydra continues to sprout arms. You see, somewhere in the midst of all this, Bernard found himself in need of a new editor for his own work. I had already done some editing work for him. I had become familiar with his writing and his writing style. I had proofread and given somewhat detailed feedback on the novel (Guns of Seneca 6) he released while we were assembling Resistance Front. Another opportunity answered.

This week Bernard released, on Amazon, his second book of the year, Superbia. To say I'm proud of his work, and mine, is a profound understatement. But every step of the way, the support from fellow Kindle All-Stars* cannot be ignored. Every book is a team effort. And this team will continue to produce quality books for you, our readers, so long as you continue to support our efforts by buying them.

Show us an opportunity and stand back to watch what we can do with it.
*Many thanks specifically to my friends and colleagues, Keri Knutson, David Hulegaard, and William Vitka.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

KAS 1.5 The as yet unnamed YA anthology

Yes! We're at it again. The Kindle All-Stars are now accepting submissions for our second anthology, working title KAS1.5. If you are interested in submitting a piece for consideration, all the information you need is below. If you have any questions, you may leave them in the comments section or email me at the address below.

proceeds will benefit Worldreader.org

All submissions should be sent to Laurie Laliberte at KindleAllStars@gmail.com.

Theme Guidelines:

This is a YA oriented collection that WILL be distributed to school children in Africa as part of a larger project called Worldreader.
Proceeds will benefit Worldreader.
Keep it clean. Absolutely no profanity will be allowed.
We're looking for about 10-15 never before published short stories fewer than 20 pages in length.

Submission Guidelines:

1.  ONE space after each word, comma, or semicolon
2.  TWO spaces after a period, question mark, exclamation point or colon
3.  ZERO spaces between words and dashes or hyphens
     ' should only be used for apostrophe and a quote within a quote
5.  PARAGRAPH INDENTS should be a single tab (or auto-indent) with no extra spaces and should not be made using spaces at all--check every indent in your story
6.  PARENTHESES are to be used as per this example:  (keep calm and carry on) notice there are no spaces between the parentheses and the letters
7.  PROOFREAD your own submission after its final edit is approved
8.  LANGUAGE--if you would normally write in the Queen's English, submit your story in the Queen's English, otherwise submit it in American English
9.  FONT should be Calibri set at 12 pts, double spaced
* If your version of WORD does not have Calibri, use Times New Roman
10.  BREAKS should have no extra empty lines and should be separated with ***
11.  ALIGNMENT should be to the left, not justified--please do not center your title or your byline
**  ALL DOCUMENTS should be in .doc or .docx format and double-spaced

Initial submissions that do not meet the guidelines may be declined.
Final submissions that do not meet the guidelines will be declined.

Please also provide the following:

--a clear photograph
--a 2 to 3 sentence bio that follows the formatting guidelines already discussed and written in third person
--any relevant links including your twitter, website and/or blog, goodreads profile, etc


March 2--submissions deadline
April 6--final edits due
April 20--manuscript to formatting
Target to go live is mid May, some time between Mother's Day and Memorial Day.

Important Note:

Make sure your submission is as publication-ready as possible. We will not be doing line edits. It would behoove you to have an editor/proofreader look at your submission before you send it even if that's just another writer friend.


You will also be expected to assist in promotion of sales for the anthology both pre- and post-publication via social networking channels including twitter, facebook, goodreads, google+ and any other forums you normally use to promote your own work.

Your assistance will be requested to recruit beta readers to read and post reviews.

If you choose to become further involved in the Kindle All-Stars community, and would like to share contact information with other members, please let us know. This information will only be shared with other KAS members.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Happy Healthy New Year (recipe)

Happy New Year everyone!

I must apologize for my tardiness. The blog schedule got a bit wonky and this was supposed to be the New Year's Day post (the whole healthy eating thing... blah blah blah). Anyhow, it's here now and that's all that really matters, so grab a saucepan and cozy up to the stove.

There are few things I like better on a snowy New England morning than a bowl of oatmeal and a mug of hot cocoa. That's what I call comfort food. But I'm not crazy about plain oatmeal and I'm not a fan of the instant stuff.

Regardless of how it's prepared, I try to have oatmeal at least one morning each week because I figure it offsets my love of eggs for breakfast, which I try to limit to one morning each week. Makes sense, right? So I experiment.

A couple of months ago, I threw this together and my first reaction was, "I need to write this one down!"

Auntie's Oatmeal for Two

1 cup milk
3/4 cup water
1 Tbsp dark brown sugar
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
dash of salt
1 cup rolled oats (quick cooking, not instant)
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1/4 cup raisins (optional)

Bring milk and water to a boil in a 1 quart saucepan
Lower heat and add brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt
Stir until sugar is dissolved
Add oats and cook over low heat for about 1 minute
Add maple syrup and raisins, stir
Remove from heat and let stand for a minute or two to thicken

Yield 2 servings

The Usual Notes:

To double or triple the recipe, no additional instructions are necessary.
If you only have light brown sugar, then use it. I just prefer the dark.
When it comes to cinnamon, less is more. I once accidentally added a bit too much and POW! That'll wake you up for sure.
Don't skip the salt. Trust me on this one. It's just a tiny amount, but it makes a huge difference in the flavor.
If you buy your raisins in the single-serve boxes for the kids, one box is the perfect size for this.
Don't go crazy looking for top quality maple syrup. That cheap imitation pancake syrup works just fine. In fact, given the choice between the two, I'd save to good stuff for waffles and pancakes.
Yes! You can reheat this if you find you have leftovers. Simply reheat in the microwave but stir in about a tablespoon of milk per serving first.

it will thicken if you let it rest for a minute before serving


When I don't have raisins on hand, I like to slice banana over the top instead.
For apple cinnamon oatmeal, omit the maple syrup and cut down or omit the raisins. Replace them with about 1/2 cup of applesauce. (I love to do this in the fall when we have tons of homemade applesauce, but the stuff in the jar works just as well.)

By the way, I won't tolerate whining that you don't have time to make this in the morning. It takes less time than brewing a pot of coffee. Set your ingredients (except for your milk) on the counter the night before so you're ready to go.

Rise and shine!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2011 The Year of the Paranormal

I'll admit it; I'm a paranormal junkie. I have been since the first ghost story I read when I was probably about six years old. So it only made sense that the year I decided I needed to get back into reading I did so by tearing through series after paranormal series. I talked about it in several posts over the past twelve months, but since this is supposed to be my reading recap for 2011, I'll touch on the highlights one more time.

I decided I needed to read at least 30 books in 2011 and set out to do just that. It quickly became apparent that I would easily surpass that goal, so I increased it. When I hit 30, I raised the goal to 50. When I hit 50, I raised it to 75. Then I threw my hands in the air and began increasing by five books every time I hit the number. When I hit 100, I gave up and coasted for the rest of the year. My final, official total is 117. I have to admit, though, there's a whole lot of trash (and pure smut) I chose not to include, so the real total is over 150.
A few qualifiers in the interest of full disclosure: 
1.  If something I read is on Goodreads and became part of my 2011 reading challenge on their site, it is numbered here (even if it's just a short story). A few books that have numbers haven't been released yet, but they will be "real books" by Goodreads standards eventually. If an item is not listed on Goodreads, it doesn't have a number. By the end of the year I stopped caring so much what Goodreads thought and won't use their challenge as a gauge in 2012.
2.  Somewhere along the line I faltered a bit, so not everything is listed in the order in which I read it. Some things simply slipped through the cracks and I added them at the end because they needed to be included. 
3.  I actually began reading on 12/25/10 and finished on 12/26/11. The reason I included that last book is that I only read a few chapters, about 30 pages, on 12/26.
My Top Picks

I wanted to be able to do a top five or even top ten list, but I found it virtually impossible to choose between some titles and actually place them. Instead, let me give you the favorites as a group. If you click on the book title you'll find my Goodreads review (if I've written one):

The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
--You simply can't read one without reading all three. I didn't place the other titles on this list, but this trilogy is my top choice. (BTW, all three reviews are the same.)

Wild Children by Richard Roberts
--This was a huge surprise by an independent author. I met Richard when his story was first accepted into the Kindle All-Stars project and he sent me Wild Children to beta read. My reviews on Goodreads and Amazon say it all.

The Kensei and Parallax by Jon F. Merz
--My two favorites by my favorite living author. Jon's probably tired of hearing that one, but it's the truth. (I hate to admit he's in danger of being dethroned by a young'un; keep reading.)

Guns of Seneca 6 by Bernard J. Schaffer
--I was one of the proofreaders on this book but took on the task because I really wanted to read it. I ended up reading it twice and loved it both times. (The second time around was after the final edits were done.) I mean, how could a browncoat not absolutely love a story about space cowboys?

Infected and Emergence by William Vitka
--The story behind my reading of these two will end up getting a blog post of its own, right before Infected is released. That story is a long one. You won't find my reviews because neither book is available yet. Infected will be out in June of 2012 and Emergence is still going through the editing process. Still, I'm the editor on this project and I can tell you it deserves all five of its stars even before those edits are done. Vitka could be the guy who knocks JFM off the top of the mountain.

  • The Official List (complete with MPAA-style and 1-5 star ratings)
  • 117. The Monster in My Closet (PG)--Wil Wheaton--*****
  • 116. Hunter (PG)--Wil Wheaton--*****
  • 115. Hob Lesatz for Hire (PG)--Joshua Unruh--*****
  • ----Brushstrokes (R)--Richelle Mead--*****
  • ----City of Demons (R)--Richelle Mead--*****
  • 114. Running Red (PG-13)--Keri Knutson--****
  • 113. Frosty the Hitman (PG)--Jon F. Merz--*****
  • 112. Emergence (R)--William Vitka--***** (no release date yet)
  • 111. Way of the Warrior (PG)--Bernard J. Schaffer--*****
  • 110. The Ripper (PG-13)--Jon F. Merz--***** (pre-release--due Jan 2012)
  • 109. Infected (R)--William Vitka--***** (pre-release--due June 2012)
  • 108. Resistance Front (R)--Kindle All-Stars--*****
  • 107. Wicked Games (NC-17)--Jill Myles--****
  • 106. The Doll House: Emerald (PG)--Richard Roberts--****
  • 105. The Doll House: Lapis Lazuli (PG-13)--Richard Roberts--****
  • 104. Safe with Me, Part 6 (NC-17)--Shaina Richmond--****
  • 103. Beast (PG-13)--Tony Healey--****
  • 102. The Doll House: Inventory (PG)--Richard Roberts--****
  • 101. Succubus Revealed (R)--Richelle Mead--****
  • 100. Guns of Seneca 6 (PG-13)--Bernard J. Schaffer--*****
  • 99. Wild Children (PG)--Richard Roberts--*****
  • 98. Women and other Monsters (R)--Bernard J. Schaffer--*****
  • 97. Changes (R)--Jim Butcher--*****
  • 96. Turn Coat (R)--JimButcher--*****
  • 95. Noble (PG)--David Hulegaard--****
  • 94. Slow Hands (NC-17)--Leslie Kelly--****
  • 93. Safe with Me, Part 5 (NC-17)--Shaina Richmond--*****
  • 92. Safe with Me, Part 4 (NC-17)--Shaina Richmond--****1/2
  • 91. Safe with Me, Part3 (NC-17)--Shaina Richmond--****1/2
  • 90. Safe with Me, Part2 (NC-17)--Shaina Richmond--****1/2
  • 89. Safe with Me, Part 1 (NC-17)--Shaina Richmond--****1/2
  • 88. Small Favor (PG-13)--Jim Butcher--*****
  • 87. White Night (PG-13)--Jim Butcher--****
  • 86. Proven Guilty (PG-13)--Jim Butcher--****
  • 85. Dead Beat (PG-13)--Jim Butcher--****
  • 84. Blood Rites (R)--Jim Butcher--*****
  • 83. Death Masks (R)--Jim Butcher--****
  • 82. Summer Knight (PG-13)--Jim Butcher--****
  • 81. Grave Peril (PG-13)--Jim Butcher--****
  • 80. The Shepherd (PG-13)--Jon F. Merz--****
  • 79. Fool Moon (PG)--Jim Butcher--****
  • 78. Beyond the Veil (PG)--Brian Rathbone--***
  • 77. Foreplay (R)--Jill Myles--***
  • 76. Parallax (R)--Jon F.Merz--*****
  • 75. Storm Front (PG)--Jim Butcher--****
  • 74. The Magicians (R)--Lev Grossman--*
  • 73. Samson's Lovely Mortal (NC-17)--Tina Folsom--****
  • 72. Succubus Shadows (NC-17)--Richelle Mead--*****
  • 71. Succubus Heat (NC-17)--Richelle Mead--*****
  • 70. Succubus Dreams (NC-17)--Richelle Mead--*****
  • 69. Succubus on Top (NC-17)--Richelle Mead--*****
  • 68. Succubus Blues (NC-17)--Richelle Mead--*****
  • 67. Real Vampires Have More to Love (NC-17)--Gerry Bartlett--*****
  • 66. Real Vampires Hate Their Thighs (NC-17)--Gerry Bartlett--*****
  • 65. Real Vampires Don't Diet (R)--Gerry Bartlett--****
  • 64. Real Vampires Get Lucky (R)--Gerry Bartlett--****
  • 63. Real Vampires Live Large (R)--Gerry Bartlett--****
  • 62. Real Vampires Have Curves (R)--Gerry Bartlett--****
  • 61. Mockingjay (R)--Suzanne Collins--*****
  • 60. Catching Fire (R)--Suzanne Collins--*****
  • 59. The Hunger Games (R)--Suzanne Collins--*****
  • 58. The Surgeon (R)--Tess Gerritsen--****
  • 57. Raising the Dead (PG)--Mara Purnhagen-****
  • 56. Grave Illusions (PG)--Lina Gardiner--****
  • 55. Reaper (PG)--Rachel Vincent--****
  • 54. Crave (NC-17)--J. R. Ward--****
  • 53. Covet (NC-17)--J. R. Ward--****
  • 52. All in Time (NC-17)--Ciana Stone--***
  • 51. An Unwanted Hunger (NC-17)--Ciana Stone--****
  • 50. The Enchanter (PG)--Jon F. Merz--*****
  • 49. Enemy Mine (PG)--Jon F. Merz--*****
  • 48. The Kensei (R)--Jon F. Merz--*****
  • 47. Naked Heat (PG-13)--"Richard Castle"--****
  • 46. Interlude (PG)--Jon F. Merz--****
  • 45. Red Tide (PG)--Jon F. Merz--*****
  • 44. Rudolf the Red Nosed Rogue (PG)--Jon F. Merz--*****
  • 43. Kiss Me Deadly (PG-13)--Michele Hauf--***
  • 42. Slave to Love or The Infiltrator (R)--Jon F. Merz--*****
  • 41. The Courier (R)--Jon F. Merz--*****
  • 40. The Price of a Good Drink (PG)--Jon F. Merz--*****
  • 39. The Syndicate (PG-13)--Jon F. Merz--****
  • 38. The Destructor (R)--Jon F. Merz--*****
  • 37. Lover Unleashed (NC-17)--J. R. Ward--*****
  • 36. The Invoker (PG-13)--Jon F. Merz--*****
  • 35. The Fixer (R)--Jon F. Merz--****1/2
  • 34. Beasts and BFF's (PG)--Shannon Delaney--**
  • 33. Remedial Magic (PG)--Jenna Black--***
  • 32. Anthem (PG)--Ayn Rand--***** (reread--read it for the first time in 1984)
  • ----Fondly Farenheit (PG-13)--Alfred Bester--***
  • 31. Dead Drop (PG)--Jon F. Merz--*****
  • 30. Cat Calls (PG)--Cynthia Leitich Smith--****
  • 29. Father Mine (R)--J. R. Ward--*****
  • 28. Catching Caroline (R)--Sylvia Day--****
  • 27. Lover Mine (NC-17)--J. R. Ward--*****
  • 26. Lover Avenged (NC-17)--J. R. Ward--*****
  • 25. Lover Enshrined (NC-17)--J. R. Ward--*****
  • 24. Lover Unbound (NC-17)--J. R. Ward--*****
  • 23. Lover Revealed (NC-17)--J. R. Ward--****
  • 22. Lover Awakened (NC-17)--J. R. Ward--****
  • 21. Lover Eternal (NC-17)--J. R. Ward--*****
  • 20. Dark Lover (NC-17)--J. R. Ward--****
  • 19. Beyond the Highland Mist (NC-17)--Karen Marie Moning--**
  • ----Petticoat Influence (PG)--P. G. Wodehouse--****
  • 18. Shadowfever (NC-17)--Karen Marie Moning--*****
  • 17. Dreamfever (NC-17)--Karen Marie Moning--*****
  • 16. The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner (PG)--Stephenie Meyer--***
  • 15. Faefever (NC-17)--Karen Marie Moning--*****
  • 14. Bloodfever (R)--Karen Marie Moning--*****
  • 13. Darkfever (R)--Karen Marie Moning--****
  • 12. The Host (PG)--Stephenie Meyer--****
  • 11. Kitchen Confidential (R)--Anthony Bourdain--****
  • 10. No Cure for Cancer (R)--Denis Leary--****
  • 9. House of Dark Shadows (PG)--Robert Liparulo--*****
  • 8. The Blood That Bonds (R)--Christopher Buecheler--****
  • 7. Midnight Sun [partial manuscript] (PG)--Stephenie Meyer--*****(read it twice)
  • 6. The Bite of Silence (NC-17)--Mary Hughes--*
  • 5. Heat Wave (PG-13)--"Richard Castle"--****
  • 4. Breaking Dawn (PG)--Stephenie Meyer--****
  • 3. Eclipse (PG)--Stephenie Meyer--****
  • 2. New Moon (PG)--Stephenie Meyer--****
  • 1. Twilight (PG)--Stephenie Meyer--****
  • Here's the rating system:
  • *****--Almost Perfect (probably made me cry)
  • ****--Definitely Worth the Read
  • ***--Meh
  • **--Pretty Bad
  • *--Don't Even Bother

Honorable Mentions

J.R. Ward--The Black Dagger Brotherhood series
--This is a hot and steamy series about a group of badass vampires. Right up my alley. Technically it's paranormal romance, but it's definitely not chick lit.

Richelle Mead--The Succubus series (Georgina Kinkaid)
--This one's a heartbreaker the whole way through. It's true paranormal romance. Bring Kleenex.

Stephenie Meyer--The Host
--This is the book that made me wonder whether Stephenie Meyer is a writer to watch out for. The Twilight series is definitely not her best work; this is.

Jim Butcher--The Dresden Files series
--I was a Dresden fan before I spent the summer of 2011 reading this entire series. (Okay, I still haven't finished Ghost Story.) I'm hooked.

A Look Ahead

Since I've become so involved with other writers, I find myself with less time for recreational reading. Therefore, I decided that rather than give myself a number goal for 2012, I would create a reading list with specific authors and titles on it. I love the Russians, so many of the titles are by Russian authors, but others are by authors who've influenced those with whom I've been working.

In no particular order, here's the unofficial list for 2012 (from 12/26/11 to 12/25/12):

Jim Butcher -- finish Ghost Story and Side Jobs
Elmore Leonard -- Pronto and Riding the Rap
Neil Gaiman -- Coraline
Richard Matheson -- I Am Legend
H. P. Lovecraft -- Collected Works (it's only 2400 pages-I can do that, right?)
Edgar Allen Poe -- finish Complete Works
Fyodor Dostoyevsky -- Crime and Punishment
Leo Tolstoy -- War and Peace (I'm determined to finally do it this year, maybe audio version)
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe -- re-read Faust
Anton Chekhov -- still undecided
Vladimir Nabokov -- finish Lolita
Mikhail Bulgakov -- The Master and Margarita
David K. Hulegaard -- The Jumper, Noble (revised), and Bloodlines
Jeff Bennington -- Twisted Vengeance
Richard Roberts -- Sweet Dreams Are Made of Teeth
Franz Kafka -- re-read The Castle (maybe)
George R. R. Martin -- A Game of Thrones

Talk to me:  What's on your 2012 reading list?