Saturday, July 31, 2010


Liked today's quote so much that I decided to repost it as a reminder.

I believe that the very purpose of our life is to seek happiness. That is clear. Whether one believes in religion or not, whether one believes in this religion or that religion, we all are seeking something better in life. So, I think, the very motion of our life is towards happiness… - Dalai Lama

Grass Fed Beef

It's a hard sell on grass fed beef, but a co-worker recommended the website and the facts seem to jive with everything else I've seen on cows and grass.

And I'd like to add that if you live in Michigan, I've got a beef ready to go so it's not as hard to come by as the article indicates. :-p

Friday, July 30, 2010

Book Reviews!

Check out these and more at and

Robin Hood by David B. Coe

The Mammoth Book of the Best New Erotica 9, edited by Maxim Jakubowski

Shakespeare, Sex & Love by By Stanley Wells

Where Have I Been All Your LIfe?

Thursday, July 29, 2010


4/1/2010 11:45:00 AM
Meredith Volk

BATTLE CREEK — Services for Meredith Volk, 63, of Battle Creek will be at 2 p.m. Saturday at St. John Lutheran Church, Battle Creek, with the Rev. Richard Snow officiating. Burial will be at a later date. Visitation will be 3-7 p.m. Friday at Steffen Mortuary.
He died Tuesday, March 30, 2010, at his home.
Meredith was born on Oct. 28, 1946, in Norfolk, the son of John W. and Doris E. (Darr) Volk. He was baptized on Nov. 17, 1946, and confirmed on March 26, 1961. He graduated from Battle Creek High School and then received a bachelor’s degree in animal science from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. He was raised on a farm northwest of Battle Creek and at an early age began working with cattle with his father and was currently raising cattle on the home place.
He had served on the school board for Battle Creek, served on the Nebraska Pork Producers board and had been a national trustee for the American Simmental Association.
Meredith is survived by his children, Dean Volk of Battle Creek, Amy Descombaz of Plano, Texas, and David Volk of Frisco, Texas; his father, John Volk of Battle Creek; three brothers, John Volk of Fort Collins, Colo., Van Volk of Norfolk, Tim Volk of Tonganoxie, Kan.; one sister, Diane Harris of Parker, Colo., and five grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his mother.

It took me this long to google my old friend. Meredith was a lot of things, a character above all, which anyone who knew him will testify. I’m blessed and cursed to have known him and I didn’t hear about his passing until recently which is why this blog is so untimely. He taught me how to post riding western and promised to take me calving Nebraska range cows in a trailer with holes large enough for the wind to blow through. We won’t ever get to do that now.
The last time I saw Meredith was around this time of year, end of July, early August, 2006. We went to the Evart fair together. I miss him more than I can say. I wish I’d known that I’d never see him after that. It’s strange: I still have his number on my phone and when I google his name, facebook keeps trying to make us friends. But I’m not sure there’s social media where Meredith is, riding Hancock horses somewhere where the Nebraska sandhills are always in bloom.
I’ll miss drinking Crown with him the most and riding half-broke horses. I’m having one for you tonight, my friend. I miss you.

Why I Farm

Feelin' this farmer this morning, especially after getting the skidsteer stuck last night and a live calf born in less than fifteen minutes on Tuesday. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Book Review: Blood Cross by Faither Hunter

Blood Cross. Faith Hunter. Roc. 2010. 321 pages. $7.99 US. ISBN 9780451463074.

Today’s book review is brought to you by vampires, ghouls, and werewolves, although only vampires and skinwalkers are in this latest edition of Faith Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock series. Blood Cross picks up a couple days and a hurricane after Skinwalker ends, tying up the loose ends from Jane’s hunt of the rogue vampire and the young rogues it was making. Blood Cross will take Jane deep into herself and deeper into the mire of vampire politics than she ever wanted to go… if she stays alive. Caught between handsome men and bitter rivalries thousands of years her senior, all of Jane’s instinct and skills will be tested as she confronts vampires, witches, and the charisma of a biker cop with panther tats.

It’s a great read, honestly sat down and read it over the weekend. Started on the elliptical and just couldn’t put it down. The only thing that turned me off of this series, along with L.A. Banks’ Minion, was the Christian themes, but then I’m always a little put off by heavy reliance on that. I like the Cherokee tradition existing right alongside it without a major issue between religions so that redeems this portion of the novel in some respects. After all, religion is supposed to include, not exclude. Maybe I’m just too much of a neo-hippy-pagan-farmer. :)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Top 6 Books for Writers

This was an idea I had awhile ago and never got around to really writing about. Here goes.

Top 6 book recommendations for writers with thumbnail sketch and in no particular order.

The Portable MFA in Creative Writing. The New York Writers Workshop. Writer’s Digest Books. 2006. 282 pages. ISBN 9781582974408.
Everything you need to get started on independent study, for $14.95 instead of 40 grand. I’ve used the fiction and poetry sections extensively, but there’s also great chapters on screenwriting, memoir, and magazine writing. Complete with exercises and a reading list, this is a great option for those inclined toward an MFA, but not ready to take the plunge. It doesn’t offer the group critique or the classroom experience, but if you’re interested in taking your writing to the next level through the challenge of an MFA-like experience and have a mediocrum of self-discipline, this is a great option.

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life.
Anne Lamott. Anchor Books. 1994. 238 pages. ISBN 9780385480017.
Witty, informational, funny, and useful, Anne Lamott is a good time and stellar teacher in this must-read for writers. She offers not only great anecdotes about writing, but the actual sitting-at-the-desk nuts and bolts. It’s easy to see why this is a national bestseller and can’t believe I didn’t read it years ago.

On Writing. Stephen King. Pocket Books. 2000. 297 pages. $7.99 US. ISBN 0743455967.
Stephen. King. Do I need to say anything else? Yes? Okay then. It’s written in two parts, both equally useful. The first is a partial biography of King’s writing life. It wasn’t always bestsellers for this guy. He really worked, and I mean some shit jobs, to get where he is. It’s inspiring when this word-wielder gets ground down by the writing game. The second half is a crash course in grammar and writing tools. This is great too since it covers King’s take on the writer’s toolbox and how to use what’s in it. Must read.

The Well-Fed Writer: Financial Self-Sufficiency As a Freelance Writer In Six Months or Less
. Peter Bowerman. Fanove Publishing. 2000. 282 pages. $19.95 US. ISBN 978967059846.
The title pretty much says it all: self-sufficiency through freelance writing. Bowerman breaks it down and helps you get a handle on the reality of selling writing, especially useful for commercial writers and a think-piece for the more… erm… artfully inclined. Both he and Bob Bly are great resources for breaking into commercial writing so be sure to check out their websites, and

AP Stylebook/Thesaurus/ Dictionary.
Read them. Read them all. For fun. Seriously.

Writing the Breakout Novel
. Donald Maass. Writer’s Digest Books. 2001. $16.99 US. ISBN 9781582971827.
Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook. Donald Maass. Writer’s Digest Books. 2004. $19.99 US. ISBN 158297263X.
Donald Maass is an agent for a reason. It might not be the recipe for writing literary fiction, but following his steps and some hard work will get you on your way to writing an action-packed, breakout novel. I should read it again, lol.

Other writing books I like are The Art of Fiction by John Gardner, Writing the Popular Novel by Loren D. Estleman, The Writing Life by Annie Dillard was all right, but really didn’t thrill me, as it was more well-written than containing useful nuts and bolts stuff about writing. Writing in General and the Short Story in Particular by Rust Mills was good for the basics, especially in a college setting, and How to Write a Dirty Story by Susie Bright was less useful for writing than getting in touch with your sensuality and sexuality, which, let’s face it, some of us still need from time to time.

So there’s my picks for writing books. Hope they help you as much or more than they helped me. Time to go make pages, workout, and head to the parlor. Get to see my honey tonight and hopefully meet a new contact for a contract I’m working on in the Caribbean. More details to follow when there are, erm, more details.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Book Review: The English Major by Jim Harrison

Let’s start off the week with a little literary fiction, in the form of Jim Harrison, former Michigan resident, and his 2009 Michigan Notable Book and National Bestseller, The English Major.

The English Major. Jim Harrison. Grove Press. 2008. 255 pages. $14 US. ISBN 9780802144140.

Had me from the first line.

“It used to be Cliff and Vivian and now it isn’t.”


The rest of the book is equally enthralling as Cliff’s road trip takes him through all fifty states… well, he doesn’t make it through them all, but the sixty-something year old man does get to California and back to Michigan by way of Montana, the Dakotas, and through a whirlwind affair with a rather annoying former student of his. During the trip he also pursues the mission of renaming all the states from the banal ones given to them by equally banal white men.

The English Major has Harrison’s unique brand of wit and a main character who the author unflinchingly portrays as realistic, frumpy, and thoroughly entertaining. It’s interesting to see an over-middle-aged character starting life over with a positive outlook, or at least a less than dismal one. Los Angeles Times writer Susan Salter Reynolds hits it right on when she says “The English Major is to midlife crisis what The Catcher in the Rye is to adolescence.”

Weekend was good. J and I rode horses around the state land and up Clintonia. Followed by a good meal of homegrown lamb and beef, with sides of potatoes, caramelized onions and mushrooms, and salad, all homegrown except the lettuce (don’t even ask), little tomatoes, and mushrooms. And don’t forget the cake. Gram is famous for her cake. So now it’s back to the desk and the humdrum of real life. Getting grad school app off today.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Addicted to Video

Looks like the whole movie is available here with French subtitles in something like 10 or more installments.


The award

This post recently came to my attention (was a deficient blogger this July). I want to send a huge thanks out to Rowenna, fellow writer and wonderful cuz that she is, :) so be sure to check her out at Hyaline Prosaic.

So here's the rules:

1) Thank and link the person who gave you the award.

2) Share 7 things about yourself (brace yourself)

3) Pass along the award to 15 bloggers you’ve recently discovered and who you think are fantastic (in no particular order).

4) Contact the bloggers and let them know about the award.

Blogs: It took some doing and some stealing and was a project I was dreading, but looking up blogs was a very positive experience and reminded me why it’s important not to neglect the work of others and focus solely on my own. I may be an only child, but it’s not all about me.

1.  Zane's blog at Let's face it, this chick is always a good time.

2.  New blog I discovered on my search. Cute pics and look forward to hanging around here more.

3.  Had to do it. I love her background format. And the posts. Wish I had that tongue-in-cheek humor. Gotta make due with dirty old man humor instead. Sigh.

4.  Fav horror author forever. I'm a geek.

5. Found it when I was researching Gardasil. They tell it like it is.

6. What’s going on with books with a tie to Michigan.

7. He makes a lot of good points. Like REALLY good points.

8. it’s a web comic, not a blog, but with comics on the rise, who knows? This could be considered an alternative method of blogging. Warning: rated R. Very R.

9. Blog of writer Diana Gabaldon. Love her.

10. Blog of writer Tamora Pierce, author of Tortall Books, among others.

11. Blog of author and sheep farmer Catherine Friend.

12. We all need a little Zen.

13. Fellow farmer on the web.

14. Farm Bureau blog.

15. and go to podcasts. Not a traditional blog certainly, but definitely worth a look all the same.

About me:

1) Probably pretty obvious, but I have a book fetish. It scares J considerably, since libraries give him hives.

2) I do more funerals than weddings. Depressing? A little. But I can get the bereaved to laugh a little. There’s a special talent.

3) I hate green beans. They should not be a vegetable, but strictly grown for composting. Period.

4) Kicking back beside a bonfire with friends and beers is a favorite thing, but my drink is R&R and diet Mt Dew. (Sorry Rick. Still in with the diet.)

5) I hide it well, after all, I got a reputation to maintain (ha!) but I’m a horrible romantic. There, I said it. I can quote almost the entire script of “Shakespeare in Love” (not to mention The Princess Bride, but half the English department at CMU can do that too, so I’m not unique) and it still makes me cry at the end, as does “Miss Austen Regrets,” a extra film on the latest BBC version of Sense and Sensibility.

6) I’m a pea abuser. I put frozen peas and frozen chopped spinach in everything. J makes fun of me, but his pepper habit isn’t any better. Together, it’s a culinary explosion.

7) I believe my grandmother’s dog is a minion of Satan.

Whoo! So there's that. Pass on the love people. 

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Movie Clip: Lie With Me

A Canadian film with Lauren Lee Smith and Eric Balfour. Directed by Clement Virgo, based on the book by Tamara Faith Berger, who also wrote the screenplay. Watched it through Netflix and had to own it. Book is out of print so still trying to run it down. :( will be sure to post a review when/if I can get my hands on it. Enjoy!

Supposedly this is a link to watch the full movie online... (mood: skeptical)

Book Reviews: Zane

Woke up this morning to unbelievable heat, like laying in a pool of sweat summer storm shit. In honor of the heat wave apparently only hitting the upper stories of the Barclay household, I’ve got two hot books to review today by the proclaimed queen of erotica, Zane. A review of Afterburn, another Zane book, is up on Suite 101, so check that out too for more slow burning hotness.

First up is:

Addicted. Zane. Pocket Books. 1998. 326 pages. ISBN 0739421042.

Zoey and Jason hated each other the first time they met at age 5 when Zoey “kicked Jason’s ass.” Years later, as a successful business woman Zoey visits a psychiatrist, desperate to save her marriage from her awful addiction: sex. She deeply loves her husband, Jason, and their kids, but Jason’s failing to meet her needs in the bedroom or even talk to her about it has driven her to seek others to fill the void. In short, her need for sex has driven her to the edge. Her torrid story emerges in therapy, shocking, compelling, and dayam sexy. Her three lovers are unique, dangerous, and ruining her life. And as Zoey’s story unravels, along with the sanity of one of her lovers, so does her hold on her business, her mind, her sanity, and even her life.

And next up:

The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth. Zane. Atria Books. 2000. 304 pages. $15 US. ISBN 074346270X.

Wild, Wilder, and Off Da Damn Hook are the subheadings that categorize the stories in this collection of short erotic stories. In true Zane style, she addresses the myth that women are more sexually inhibited than men… and blasts it the hell out of the water. “Women make more money, own more businesses, and are more independent than we used to be. Shouldn’t we be entitled to sexual freedom as well?” the author poses the question at the end of The Sex Chronicles. And this is definitely a book on sexual freedom.

In the “The Barbershop,” a women in feenin’ for a fine brotha who works in her local barbershop. She decides to take matters into her own hands one night when she goes in to the shop late, sits down on the chair, opens her coat, and demands he shave her… well it’s not her head, is it?

The heroine of “The Bachelorette Party” shows a flip side, that women can knock boots with a stranger the night before the wedding and be no less in love or committed to their partner than a man is. Sometimes sex is really just sex. And in this case, really, really hot sex.

“Alpha Phi Fuckem” and “Alpha Fi Fuckem – The Convention” are two stories that started the book of the same name. This is a highly secret sorority and the only rule? Those who join must love sex.

My personal fav was “Nymph.” This woman really just lays it all out there.

So there’s some weekend book reviews and stay tuned for the Sunday addition. We got some awards coming out!

Check out more Zane-iness (pardon the bad pun) at And don’t forget the erotica with an a part. I did and was lost in porn land for hours.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Book Reviews: Jodi Picoult

This is kind of a mass book review today. Been in a Jodi Picoult stint lately, first with Picture Perfect and then with Change of Heart. Other Picoult novels I’ve greatly enjoyed are the Tenth Circle, Nineteen Minutes, and, surprisingly, Songs of the Humpback Whale. The conflicting narratives and jumps in time are confusing in the latter, but it’s a great read all the same. Change of Heart had more religion than I generally like in my books, but, as Great Uncle Will used to say when the traveling soapbox preachers came to town in the summer, I need to get my religion warmed up.

Picture Perfect combines Hollywood, anthropology, Native American issues and religion, and spousal abuse to dazzling efficiency. A woman is found in a graveyard by Will Flying Horse, a Native American cop, and from then on, their futures are linked. The woman is renowned anthropologist Cassie Barrett, wife of Hollywood star Alex Rivers. Their life was a fairy tale until it wasn’t, when Alex’s dark past rose up to haunt them both. Cassie finds her freedom through the help of Will and in the face of an old friend and guardian angel, answering the questions: how can she leave? but how can she stay?

Change of Heart concerns June Nealon, a woman who loses two husbands, one daughter, and stands on the verge of losing another if her second daughter doesn’t receive a heart before her own gives way. A perfect match for a heart still beats in the chest of Shay Bourne, a death row inmate, and the man who convicted of murdering June’s second husband and daughter. But as miracles begin to erupt on death row, the shy carpenter will set law and religion reeling before everything is said and done.

Like I said, loving Jodi Picoult, along with a ton of other people. The Tenth Circle is my fav, probably because of Dante’s Inferno. If nothing else, the comic pictures throughout the book are well worth it. And the father-daughter relationship is superb. In this story, a girl crying rapes sets a small town on its head and redemption only comes through a wild trip into the Alaskan wilderness, deep into Inuit culture. Gotta love how Picoult makes such unusual elements jive to such great effect. Still waiting to get to The Pact. Maybe this weekend... :-)

Rain, 'Riting, and GMAT 'Rithmatic. Arg!

Raining here today. A nice break from the oppressive summer heat. Momma J even got Dad to put in an air conditioner in the bedroom. Well, actually J and I put it in, Dad just dealt with it. The humidity is still awful, but that’s summer in Michigan. One of these days we’re all going to have gills again, I swear.

Working on book reviews, my WIP, and other writing-related projects this morning, so not even out of jammies yet. One of my fav parts about the writer thing. Looking to get my grad school ap off today or tomorrow and start that rolling. One of the best parts about the CDM program at SVSU is students can work for clients while in school, so it’s encouraged to make money and study at the same time. What’s not great about that?

Took a walk through the cows yesterday and everybody (save the big red bitch, but that’s typical) is looking heavy in calf. Essential, my oldest cow, and a heifer that’s about a half-pint short of a full-load (I blame her horns since they probably put undue pressure on her brain) are looking the closest, but a few others look a few weeks out as well. It’s gonna get crazy around here, I tell you what. Next year I hope to have the girls synchronized to squeeze calving into a predetermined weekend instead of having calving spread from “sometime” in “early August” to “maybe sometime around late October.” But that was how it worked out this year so deal with it and move on. It’s the farmer way. :-)

This isn't one of mine, by the way. Though the horns are getting close, or at least J and his arm think so...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

More Book Reviews

Oh and my latest book reviews are out. They opted not to print the July issue, so content is only available online. Check it out:

Memoirs of a Wanna Be Sex Addict

Beyond the Shadows


The Evil Within

Haunting Warrior

Legends: Battles and Quests

Masters what?

I got off track a little when J and I went on vacation over fourth of July, after spending a mad week before trying to get the hay in then working doubles and looking at grad schools when we got back. Yes, I’m looking at grad schools again, this time less in the arts and more in the practical. A duel masters in Communication and Digital Media and an MBA at Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU) in Saginaw looks the most promising right now, but I would have worked the boulevard if I’d known I was going to go back to school. I’ll be a busy girl with cows calving any day now, classes several nights a week, and the gods know how many part-time jobs to pay for it all. One step at a time. It feels like the right decision though, and I’ve been waiting long enough for that feeling to come around.

Book Reviews: The Spanish Pearl and The Crown of Valencia by Catherine Friend

The Spanish Pearl. Catherine Friend. Bold Strokes Books, Inc. May 2007. First edition. 328 pages. ISBN 9781933110769.

The Crown of Valencia. Catherine Friend. Bold Strokes Books, Inc. November 2007. First edition. 283 pages. ISBN 1933110961.

Catherine Friend’s romantic duology is a fun, two-book romp through eleventh century Spain. The first book, The Spanish Pearl, heroine Kate Vincent falls through time, waking up almost a thousand years prior. She is rescued by a knight in shining armor. Any girl’s dream, right? Except Kate, in the present time, is a card-carrying lesbian. So she dislikes even more than most getting stuck in a Moorish harem.

Kate is desperate to get back to the present and the lover and child they were to adopt who she left behind. But the handsome Luis Navarra affects her deeply every time he looks at her, making Kate briefly doubt her orientation and her sanity. When circumstances force them to marry, the situation grows ever more complex with politics, war, and finding out that Luis is actually Elena.

Love sparks between these two characters, even across time. And the tables turn so it’s Kate in the end who must rescue Luis/Elena from the clutches of her enemy who threatens to expose her and violate her very being.

The Spanish Pearl is a great read and a fun way to explore history and the depths of the human heart.

The Crown of Valencia picks up where The Spanish Pearl left off, with Kate struggling to make it in 1085 A.D. with her lover, Elena, still disguised as a man and Kate’s husband. But things aren’t going well for Kate, with an average grade of D- for living in the early Middle Ages. Things go from bread baking disasters to worse when Anna, Kate’s ex-lover from the future arrives unexpectedly, the mistress of a major player in the battle of history. A history professor, Anna swears she’s merely there to observe. But worse, Anna has left Arturo, the child they were to have adopted, waiting for them in the orphanage. Riddled with guilt, Kate has no choice but to return and be a mother to this child who has won her over, even over her deep love for Elena.

Eight years later, Arturo is 14 and the future is coming apart. Books are changing, from 1096 onward, and Kate is the only one who knows what’s going on. She goes back in time, followed by her son Arturo, to set things right. But she finds the past just as complicated as the future. Her lover is against her and her ex-lover plans to use Arturo for her own machinations. Through a band of female archers, adolescent hormones, and deep jealousy, Kate must navigate the bloodied waters of history in order to make sure they all continue to exist.

Both books are easy summer reads, quick with wit, romance, adventure, and real treat whatever your orientation. Find Catherine Friend at

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Book Review: Skinwalker by Faith Hunter

Skinwalker. Faith Hunter. Roc. 2009. 320. $7.99 US. 978-0-451-46280-0.

The first book in the Jane Yellowrock series, Skinwalker brings a kick-ass heroine to the forefront with a truly warring duel inner nature and a realistic take on the supernatural.

The last of her kind, Jane Yellowrock is a skinwalker of Cherokee origins. She can shape-shift into any creature she desires, so long as there’s plenty of rocks nearby, and hunts vampires for a living. She’s been called to New Orleans to hunt a rogue vampire terrorizing the area… by none other than one of the oldest vampires in the city, Katherine Fonteneau, madam of the bordello Katie’s Ladies. But as Jane sinks into the supernatural world of New Orleans and makes new friends, and enemies, the hunt turns into a fight to come out alive.

Not just another vampire novel Skinwalker has repercussions for magic and vampires are far darker and more feral than just people with fangs. The reader witnesses the animalistic nature of both shape-shifters and vampires. It has refreshingly adult characters and a mature plot.

Jane Yellowrock is a heroine divided in more than just her morals. She and a mountain lion share the same body and Jane learns that other skinwalkers were evil and largely went crazy, killing those around them. Thus not only her nature is divided, she’s beginning to fear herself, far from completely understanding her powers, and simultaneously her loyalties are also divided as many good looking men join the melee. Full of hot action and set in a hotter atmosphere, New Orleans breathes through the plot almost like a character itself with its oppressive sultry heat. A solid mystery lies at the heart of the novel, both in terms of the rogue vampire and related to Jane herself.

Faith Hunter is between 5’3” to 5’6” depending on the heel height of her much-loved boots. She’s a Louisiana native, fell in love with sci-fi and fantasy early and has been writing ever since. Her hair color changes often to reflect her mood.