Fractured Facade

"A fathers death...a daughter's life...a sociopath's vendetta...FRACTURED FACADE ...a novel written as memoir. Only $4.99 and available exclusively on Amazon. Kindle Unlimited members read for free! Click here for direct link.


THE VALENTINE'S DAY CURSE -- A Short Story, Free everywhere...except on Amazon (boo! hiss!) where it's $.99 to buy! Click here for direct link! Let them know it's free at these stores and they may price match it! Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books...more to come.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Good Riddance to 2013

I can't put my finger on just any one thing to make me feel this way, but 2013 was a lousy year that I'm glad to see end. And that's all I'm saying right now. Good riddance to 2013, I hope 2014 is better for all of us...

Sunday, December 22, 2013

It's Strouffler Time!

You know what time it's strouffler time! Strouffler Eve has come a day early this year, so I'm posting the recipe today instead of Christmas Eve Eve when I usually do.

6 eggs
4 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
3 tbs Crisco

Mix flour, baking powder and sugar. Add Crisco. Make a well in the middle and put eggs into it. Mix together until smooth. Make long snakes, cut into pieces, then roll by hand into balls. Make them small -- they expand!

Fry them in tall pot in Crisco. Place cooked balls on a brown paper bag.

In a large pot heat a jar of honey, I use 12 ounces, with a 1/4 cup sugar. Stir until thin. Throw balls into them, mix with wooden spoon to cover all of the balls. Then plate and sprinkle with nonpareils.

Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Night at the Auction

A couple of months ago, Ken Farmer Auctions moved from Radford to Salem. You might have heard of Ken if you watch Antiques Roadshow on PBS. I'm one of those people who will put it on if nothing else is on. I'm always amazed at what I think is a piece of crap is actually worth something. I'm sure I'm not alone in the hope that I have something worth megabucks. Unfortunately, I probably don't.

About once a month or so, Farmer Auctions has an open-house for two hours where you can bring up to three items to be appraised. After seeing two end tables fetch over $75,000 each on Antiques Roadshow I brought two of mine, "hey, they look like the ones we have in the basement!" to be appraised. I was told they were just from the 20's and probably not worth much. Anyway, while I was there I was walking up and down the aisles checking out all the crap that was going to be going up for auction the following day. The weather happened to be miserable so I never ended up going. Well, yesterday I saw there was going to be another auction at 5:00pm. A friend of mine brought some of her stuff to be appraised and said there really wasn't much that she thought I would like. Since my taste is, ummm, let's say, eclectic, instead of tacky, I went over to see what was what.

I stumbled upon what I felt was a real treasure...a copy of the 1850 Census! I looked through the moldy tome and decided it would be a "must-have"and help me for the book I've been researching. I had no idea what it was going to go for but saw that someone had already placed a bid of $25 on it. Hmmmm, who else dares to want this book??? It was lot 343 or something so that meant that if the auction started at 5:00pm it would probably be quite a while before they got to it. I registered and then went on my merry way and figured whenever I got there, I'd get there, and if it wasn't too late I would see if I could bid on it.

Now, I've never been to a live auction before. I've seen some auctions on television, but that's about it, so I had no idea what to expect. When I got there around 6:30pm the parking lot was almost full and the place was jam-packed. I guess this is what Salemites do on a Tuesday night! I found one seat and watched in awe as the auctioneer (Ken) spoke quicker than a New Yorker cursing out someone who stole their parking spot. He sounded just like they did on tv! There were two screens showing the lot as well as the actual object somewhere in the room. People were moseying up and down the aisles checking out boxes of whatever, while people on the internet did the same via an on-line catalogue.

I quickly realized there were a lot of professionals in there. I guess the truck in the parking lot with Virginia Antiques splattered across it was one sign, as well as the seat reserved for who I assume was the owner who bid on practically everything. He also won practically everything. After he won an item, a lady, maybe his wife or worker, would transport it directly into the truck where I'm sure it will be on their floor at triple or more the price he paid.

Now, me? I'm a newb. I'm only there for the book, nothing else. Unfortunately they were only up to lot one hundred and something so there was a ways to go. I figured I'd call my husband and tell him to come there from work since it was only a couple of blocks from the shop. After I hang up I'm struck by an image on the screen in front of me of a clock. It verged on hideous, while at the same time I saw a thing of beauty. I hadn't seen it on the floor so could just judge by the pic in front of me. No one was bidding so I meekly held up my number at $10. The next thing I knew someone else wanted it so they bid $15. Ken looked at me while pointing, "Do I hear $20?" I nod yes. Already I'm questioning what the hell am I doing? I'm only here for the book! Slim in the back says, $25!" Now he's poking me. I don't want to bid anymore, but his accent annoyed me, so I say to myself I won't go any higher than 30, so when Ken points at me and asks if he hears $30 I hesitate for a moment, and then nod again. He goes back to Slim who was quick on the uptake with his $35. I shake my head no when Ken asks me for 40. He says, "Your head is saying no, but your eyes are saying yes." He's right, of course, but I hesitate, take a deep breath, and right before he's about to award it to Slim, I pipe up, "$40!" Slim shakes his head no at $45 and Ken doesn't taunt him. He wants me to have the clock. And the next thing I know, I do! I didn't know if I was to be thrilled or horrified, but I set out to find the clock and get a closer look at it. I found it tucked away behind a hideous print. According to the face, I was now the owner of a Wm. Gilbert Co. mantel clock, and I still had no idea if it worked or not. (I'm happy to report, it does!)

I've since discovered (by looking underneath it) that it's the Waverly model which is from 1913. It's mostly wooden with a porcelain face protected by a copper-rimmed glass. The columns are painted black-plastic with copper tops and bottoms. It looks like leather on top of them. The feet are copper as well.

The lion "knockers" on the sides are copper

The inside works look original. There is a patent date of April 28, 1893 embossed. It dongs beautifully deep on the hour, and dings elegantly on the half-hour.

I love the filigree work in the wood. It's a strange combination of materials and styles that's for sure!

When my husband got there I told him I bought a clock and pointed to the table where it was. He checked it out and thought it was worth the $40. I told him we had a ways to go before the book, so if he wanted to look around and see if there was anything he liked to let me know. Big mistake. Clearly he must have a had a beer or two before getting there because he wanted me to bid on things that were ridiculous! It was like he couldn't pass up a good deal. $15 for a couch and two chairs?...Bid! Ummm, no. Look at that box of arrowheads!....Bid! Ummm, no. The monkey with the cymbals..Bid! Ewwww, no! I can replace that marble in that table....Bid! Ok, ok, I did, but I stopped at $70. Clearly the antique shop guy wanted it at any cost, and frankly, I didn't. My husband -- "Oh that was a mistake not bidding higher." No, it was a mistake having you meet me here!

So anyway while waiting for the book, there were a couple of other things I did bid on...I thought the box of antique postcards were cool, but I wouldn't go higher than $30 so I lost them. Three prints I also lost. But I did win this pair of plates. I got them for $10 and it turned out they were Lenox special editions. I had no idea, I just liked the birds on them.

When my husband saw this glass set he said, "My grandma used to have those." He said it with such longing in his voice that I couldn't help but bid on them.

I love this set too. It's got a little ice bucket and tongs and the glasses are just the most perfect size for a cocktail! My grandather had golden leaf glasses like this, only longer, and I think I have a couple here somewhere.
When I won I turned to him and said, "Merry Christmas!" For $10 I got that set along with this pitcher and bird glasses. Pretty cool.

This set is pretty too. I can envision making lemonade, I mean margaritas, in this pitcher. $10 both sets...a steal! 

And then this happened. An antique Singer sewing machine in a cabinet came up. I said, "My grandma used to have one." And my husband must have thought I said it with longing in my voice, I didn't, so he pushed my arm up and the next thing I knew...we owned it for $10!

It's an interesting machine in a wooden cabinet with five drawers. In one of the drawers are attachments and hand-written notes. The owner must have owned cats or something because there are tons of scratches on the wooden cabinet.

I haven't found out the year yet, but it's model # BZ-10-8...a very pretty lady.

When I was a kid I liked to sit under my Grandma's machine and move the treadle up and down. I always got yelled at! When my Grandma moved into my aunt's house they threw away the machine and I was disappointed to find that out.

The interesting thing about this particular model is it has a treadle as well as electricity hook-up. That is a light attached to the back of the machine. I think the bulb has to be changed because when I plugged her in, she purred and worked. No frayed wires or anything. Other than the scratches on the wood, she's in beautiful condition, but man, is she heavy!

Did I mention I don't know how to sew, and already have two other sewing machines in cabinets that I want to sell? No, they're not antique, just heavy Singers from the 60's. My husband says, "So if we sell it at a yard sale for $20 we doubled our money." Well, a quick search revealed this model is going for some nice three digit money on-line, so forget the yard sale!

Anyway, back to that calculations added up to $70 already which was before taxes and the 15% fees, so in theory, I blew my book budget. But I was not going to be deterred. I wanted that book, and I told my husband to stop telling me to bid on things. Finally, after what seemed to be an eternity the book came up. Oh, she was a beaut! Immediately I held up my card for $30. I don't know who was bidding against me, but someone was and the next thing I knew was the price was up to $70! I shook my head no at $80. Ken & my husband tried to convince me to go higher, but I just couldn't. It's not like I probably can't find the information on-line anyway. It would have be nice to get what I "came for" but it wasn't meant to be. Disappointed, I paid the bill and had my husband trek out the booty. Good thing he came...that sewing machine weighed a ton. Wait a second, if he hadn't come I wouldn't have even bought the darn thing to begin with!

Anyway, all in all, it was a fun night, and I think I have been bitten by the auction bug. I could see myself becoming a seller...if I liked people, but I don't, so I have no intention of opening a shop and selling stuff. Of course, I could sell the stuff on-line like I plan to sell all those books, magazines, and tapes....hahahahahaha! There's just not enough time in a day. and at this rate, I'm never going to get back to writing...but I did have to blog about the experience. "A Night at the Auction," not a Marx Brothers movie, but it could have been....

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Read Tuesday

I know I've been absent from blogging lately...sometimes life just gets in the way! I did want to give a shout-out to a promotion for a huge book sale that is happening today only called "Read Tuesday." It's a Black Friday type of sale for book lovers. Click on this link to find out all the offerings.

I'm offering Fractured Facade at 25% off from Smashwords using code JT557, Amazon has discounted the paperback to $13.49 and The Valentine's Day Curse is still free everywhere. Books make a wonderful gift and there's sure to be something for everyone!

I'll be back soon...until then, here's a dose of cuteness...

"Buy my Mom's book so she can buy me more treats!"

Friday, November 22, 2013

What's Going On...

It's been quite hectic around these parts lately so I've been neglecting this blog, along with many other things, like saaaay, cleaning. Writing is fun, picking up a dust rag or mop, not so much. Sooooo, what's going on?

I'm halfway through the UVA on-line class of "Plagues, Witches, and War: The Worlds of Historical Fiction." I've really enjoyed this class, but have to say it's been a lot of "work." The professor has done a wonderful job organizing it and I've been very impressed with the curriculum, including the guest authors and suggested reading list he's put together. I believe the book I'm preparing to write will be greatly enhanced by these last two months. I've also enjoyed interacting with fellow students on-line and even met one in the flesh. After this experience, I've become a huge fan of MOOC classes, but will not attend another one until at least the first draft of my book is completed. I haven't written one word since I began this class, and because of it have even more research to accomplish before I put the first sentence down. That reminds essay on primary sources is due next week.

I'm still cataloging the film/entertainment books at the shop. I'm up to the letter T and have completed 999. There are five tubs of books whose author names begin with T and end with Z, to finish. I found an old New York lotto card in a book so I took it to Kroger and played the numbers for the $182 MegaMillion prize that's being drawn tomorrow night. If I win, I will still finish this insane task, because I am insane, and I know it will make my dad happy. Next up will be the sports catalog, and finally, the non-fiction/history ones. I know what my father meant when he said he'd never live long enough to read all his books. I haven't even begun to fool with the magazines or videotapes. This whole process is so time-consuming, and is just the beginning. I still have to create a website, ack!, and figure out how best to sell this stuff, or not. On the brightside, my husband's been happy because I've been at the shop way more than I ever have in the last 17 years. I've even been going on the weekends when he's in the back working on his wood.

As you can see he's been quite busy making cutting boards, hot plates, and Christmas ornaments from locally sourced trees that he purchased after they had fallen, or were cut down. He brings the trunks miles away, through the woods, on an unpaved road, up some mountain where they are milled. He then brings them back to the shop where he planes and stacks them. He's got quite the collection of exotic local woods and I fear he's become a wood hoarder. He refuses to use any other wood from say Lowe's, as he says our wood is superior to "that crap." I believe him. You can see how beautiful each cutting board is, but I don't know if you could realize how much work is put into each one. Those strips are all individual pieces of wood that he planed, fit together, glued, sanded, and finally sealed with a special oil for cutting boards.

He's selling them at the shop for $15 to $25 which is a steal! I've priced them on-line and have seen them elsewhere for way, way more. After the holidays, in my spare time, haha, I hope to set him up on-line at Etsy, or perhaps his own website. If you're local you can come to the shop, Acceleration Station, 1105 Delaware Street, Salem and check them out.

And while you're there you may see an autographed copy of my book, Fractured Facade hanging out on the front counter, which would make a nice stocking stuffer...hint, hint. Mention this blog post to Frank for a special $10 deal.

It's also available as an eBook on Amazon, for the Nook at Barnes & Noble, and for your iPad! As a Holiday Special I've generated a 25% off discount coupon if you buy Fractured Facade at Smashwords. Use this coupon code JT55Z at check-out. Smashwords supports pretty much all eReaders including Kindles.

Also, my short story, The Valentine's Day Curse is still free, and you can pick up your copy gratis at Amazon, B&N, iTunes & Smashwords. It would be great, and I would be ever so grateful, if you would consider leaving a review afterwards...every one helps!

And this year when you're out shopping please throw the locals a bone once in a while and support your local artists and businesses. We wouldn't be around without folks like you...a huge thanks! It's supposed to be beautiful today in Roanoke, but then it's getting cold by Sunday. Enjoy the weekend and bundle up!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

I Blinked and the Color Was Gone

A week or two ago the valley was filled with color.


This morning I blinked and when I looked out the window, not only the colors were gone...

So were the leaves...

At least the sky is still filled with color, and in two weeks the top of the hill will also be...


Friday, November 8, 2013

Roanoke River in Salem

The weather has been beautiful and I've been taking advantage of it by biking along the Roanoke River in Salem. Here's a couple of shots, and once again, I'm struck by how different the same scene looks with a flick of the switch.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Blue Ridge Parkway Photos II

Four decades ago was the first time I drove through Virginia with my parents. We took the Blue Ridge Parkway and I was awestruck by the beauty. All these years later the view still causes me to pause and reflect on the beauty of these majestic monuments. I am blessed and humbled to live in these mountains.

Following are some shots I took a couple of weekends ago with my iPhone. It's amazing how different the same scene looks with just one flick of a setting.

“What are men to rocks and mountains?”  -    Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity...”  ― John Muir