Starry Nights at Pine Mountain Observatory #Astronomy


I went star guiding the last Saturday of July. Sadly, the gangstas are not on the mountain this year. This is as much gansta as I saw:


The road up the mountain was as crappy as always. The paragliders were doing their thing.


The ugly scars left behind by logging the last few years have started to grow over.


I ran into Cranky Al as soon as I got out of the car. One of the first things he said, besides the fact everyone has missed me this year, was the gangstas aren’t up on the mountain this year. It amuses me everyone else at the observatory calls them gangstas too. 

I’ve had many dreams about the observatory and have missed it. For many reasons, I’m not able to volunteer as much this summer. So it was nice to set foot on the mountain and see we have some new volunteers. And some of them are women! Yay. I’m no longer the only one.

Tom had made these cool plaques leading up to the summit, giving visitors a visual and physical idea of the layout of our solar system.


This one was all the way at the top.



Not a cloud was in sight.




The night clung to warmth. I never had to put on my winter coat or my mittens. The moon was nonexistent. It was the perfect night for star gazing. I taught new volunteers how to find more objects and had fun with the crowd. A lot of people came up to visit. 

Can’t wait to go back at the end of August. Sorry, my shots of Saturn came out as blobs. You wouldn’t know it was Saturn.



The Rifters is Coming!

Sept. 8th! If you’re inclined to help get the word out, see HERE




And hey! I’m at Crystal’s awesome place today. Can you guess my lie? Visit Crystal and see. She has a new book coming out, Soulless. Check it out while you’re there.





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#Sharknado2 and Sharktopus vs Pteracuda #scifi #movie Review

It was a shark extravaganza recently on the Syfy channel. I stayed up way past my bedtime to watch Sharknado2 on its debut night. Before it, Syfy aired the original Sharknado. Oh, I was better entertained than the first time. It remains one of my ‘Beer is Optional’ cheesy sci-fi flicks. I love them. Can’t get enough of them.

You’re probably thinking there’s something wrong with me to love these bad movies, and maybe there is. But maybe it’s OK to have some silly fun now and then without thinking so much. These movies come up with surprising plot twists that feed my creative juices and I remember them. A lot of the ‘slick’ movies go into a black hole for me. There’s nothing about them that sticks in my memory.

Before the main feature, it was great to be reminded how good Sharknado the first was. It delivered on camp and silly fun on a level few movies in its class do. It never tries to take itself seriously. Thunder Levin, the writer, seems to understand there are a lot more people like me – a lover of cheesy movies – and delivers what we love about cheesy movies. Watching it the second time moves the original Sharknado up to 2nd place in my all-time favorites. They can try to dethrone Star Crash in Sharknado 3, and I dare them to try. But don’t forget about taco Tuesdays. [a line from the movie I quote a lot]

Then it was time for the new one…


Sharknado 2: The Second One


A freak weather system turns its deadly fury on New York City, unleashing a Sharknado on the population and its most cherished, iconic sites – and only Fin and April can save the Big Apple.

Our hero Fin – Ian Ziering – is back with his wife April – Tara Reid. This movie would be missing some of its spark without Tara’s acting skill. Lots of people had cameos in this movie, and hey, Thunder Levin, I would love to be gobbled by a shark in Sharknado 3.


It had as much cheese and terribleness and fun as the first. There were some fairly long stretches without anyone getting eaten by a shark, which is my only complaint. The ending was as much of a showstopper as the ending of the first. There were sharks on planes, subways, on fire, everywhere. A special guest appearance by an alligator. It was shark awesomeness with blood sauce. Lots of sharks get hacked in half. There was snow. Snow and tornadoes and sharks. What’s not to love?

It was a decided hit for Syfy, and I award it the coveted “Beer is Optional” rating. This was Syfy’s highest rated original movie ever. The best part! There will be a #3! I can’t wait!

I liked it so much I watched it and the original again on Saturday before the next shark feature…






An American scientist is up to no good (as usual) by creating the half-pterodactyl, half-barracuda: Pteracuda. When the creature inevitably escapes, it’s up to Sharktopus to stop him.

This one starts out with blood and a body count. Promising. Really. A creature movie needs blood and a high body count. The original sharktopus is blown up and the egg sac is found by the heroine of Sharktopus vs Pteracuda. Aww, baby sharktopus. The aww doesn’t last long.

We cut to the mad scientist’s place and the pteracuda is hacked. Yes, it’s operated by software. So it goes crazy. Baby sharktopus is all grown up. It is recruited to take on pteracuda.

Highlights: Good body count, ridiculous creatures, great creature battles, fantastic ending. If it had infused more of what they did at the end, it would have amped up the fun factor in this movie.

It was fun enough, but no Sharknado. Best scene: Conan O’Brien meets sharktopus and his head gets used as a volleyball by the beach goers. lol I laughed for quite awhile over that.

The movie needed more surprises like using a head as a volleyball. It was OK. Needed beer. Because of the great creature battles, the Conan scene, and the great ending shot, I give it a 1.5 beer rating. 




Staking Claim by Paty Jager

Staking Claim


Book Two – Halsey Homecoming Trilogy – Colin’s story

Deceit, contradictions, and lies.

On a ship bound for America, Colin Healy encounters a contradictory woman, whose beauty and grace intrigue him.

Livie Leatherby boards the ship as an imposter to get the information she needs to save her family. Befriending Sir Colin Healy is easy with his chivalrous tendencies. But she soon realizes discovering his past marks him for death.

Forced together to stay one step ahead of the Lord set on killing Colin for his estate, can these two get past the lies and deceit that has brought them together before one or the other meets their demise?

Amazon / Nook / Kobo / Apple /  Windtree


The Rifters is coming!

Want to help spread the word? Details are HERE.





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The Rifters are Coming… #UrbanFantasy and What’s the Phase you Hate most in Revisions? #writing



My last moments of a breather before…. CRAZY August hits. What?

My manuscripts for The Rifters and The Initiate come back from my editor this Friday. So much work to do and as fast as I can possibly get it done. I have a game plan and wrote it on my dry erase board. And on my calendar.

Do you have phases of revisioning? I do. The one I dread most is usually an early stage, the ‘this really sucks’ and ‘I hate this’ phase. Luckily, I know better than to panic these days, although I still usually lodge at least one complaint to the Husband Unit… not as many as I used to. I know it’ll get fixed and I know I’ll come out on the other side, on the ‘this so rocks’, ‘I love this story’ phase. 

Yet I’m nervous about launching my new series.  It’s a bit urban fantasy. It’s a bit paranormal. It has contemporary sci-fi elements and steampunk elements. It brings people from the past into the present day and it brings otherwordly beasts to be contended with.

The official launch date remains September 8th. I’m recruiting help. If you’d like to help and/or help spread the word, I’d be mighty appreciative. You can help with just a straight shoutout of cover, blurb, buy links, or you can add a little something-something. What is it? A little story about your trip to Settler, Oregon.

“But Mary,” you say, “I’ve never been to Settler, OR.” I say, “No one has. I made it up.” There’s info HERE about Settler to help and there’s photos HERE to help inspire you, taken from all over Oregon. There’s a FB page HERE which tells of the daily goings on in the town.

I’ll be giving out prizes to those who help with a story on Settler. Two $25 gift cards to Amazon or B&N, signed paperbacks and handcrafted steampunk bookmarks by Dire Steampunk (aka Husband Unit), ebooks of the second book in the series The Initiate, and an ebook awarded to someone who comments on your post about Settler. All as a thank you for your awesome help. More about the giveaways and events surrounding The Rifters launch can be found HERE.

A story can be 100 words or less. It can be longer. Anyway, I’d be obliged. You can sign up HERE. Stories can be posted to FB or blogs. Either or both. Posts can be anytime in September through October 31st.



So yeah, The Rifters are coming… :-O

In other news… while on my break, I put in some work on Precipice, Backworlds Book 6. I’m not as far as I’d like but I’m unstuck from chapter 3. Huzzah! I’ll take it.

I also started a short story I hope to sell… Work on both will cease Friday and pick up again when all things Rifters are complete. Maybe September. 

More changes are afoot. I logo-tized myself. My cover artist, Erin Dameron-Hill did an outstanding job at turning my name into a logo. She also updated UR’s logo. Go take a peek… And I have a new header coming if it’s not already up.

None of this would be happening if a really tough year hadn’t finally released its grip on the Husband Unit and I. I’m so eternally grateful for the turn around in our luck. I really hate plot twists in real life. They’re rarely good. Like Craze would say, nothin’ good travels the starway. To all of you going through tough times, hang in there and I send you positive energy. 

InsecureWritersSupportGroupThis is not just an update, this is also my contribution to this month’s IWSG, a gathering of writers worldwide the first Wednesday of every month. Created by the farvelous Alex J. Cavanaugh, it’s not too late to join us.


Double Negative by C. Lee McKenzie


Sixteen-year-old Hutch McQueen is shackled by near illiteracy and trapped in a dysfunctional family. When he tries to escape, he chooses the wrong way and lands in juvenile hall. He might have a another chance if he listens to the priest and the teacher.

Now available from Evernight Teen!

You can enter to win a free copy or some Amazon money for a shopping spree.



Snapshots by Patricia Lynne


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Welcome to the SNAPSHOTS relaunch blitz!


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Add to your Goodreads shelf

It’s said the eyes are the windows to the soul, but that’s a lie. They are snapshots of a time yet to come–the future of the person to which they belong.

Cyclop Blaine stands out in a crowd with his pale skin and mismatched eyes, but it’s his ability to see the future that really sets him apart. The unusual gift makes him an invaluable asset to Tyler, his adoptive father and leader of the Victory Street Gang. It also means Cyclop must hide what he can do from others. Once, a man he knew only as Master controlled him, using him for experiments. Cyclop has no desire to return to that life.

But he may have no choice. A man claiming ownership over him haunts his dreams and waking moments, leaving him no choice but to go back to the past he thought he had escaped. Cyclop must face this man, along with his past, if he wants to reveal his own future.

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Patricia Lynne never set out to become a writer. In fact, she never considered it an option during high school and
college. But some stories are meant to be told and this one chose her. Patricia lives with her husband in Michigan, hopes one day to have what will resemble a small petting zoo and has a fondness for dying her hair the colors of the rainbow.


Follow Patricia on Twitter | Goodreads | Google+ | Author Blog




Over on Untethered Realms:

The Stupidest Superpower in Existence – Can You Beat it?

Pop by and see.



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Imagining Fantasy onto the Page – #Fantasy #Writing with Tara Tyler, Broken Branch Falls #Giveaway

Just a brief announcement before I give my blog over to Tara Tyler. Gina Stoneheart was the winner of Mary Waibel’s giveaway and won a copy of The Mystery Prince. Congrats, Gina! Oh, and I’m uber excited about Sharknado 2 tonight. Anyone else watching? Now to Tara…


Imagine a vast, lush, green field dotted with white blossoms, surrounded by thick trees on the right and a rambling river on the left. The sky is bright blue with whispers of white clouds, and in the distance are snow-capped mountains, beckoning climbers to venture up their treacherous slopes.

Okay, that took some major brain power! Can you see it? It’s what I picture if I was standing just north of Broken Branch Falls. Well, Mary has awesome inspirational photos for fantasy settings (and sci fi, too, but that’s another post!) Today, I’m talking about…

Writing Fantasy!

Fantasy - the activity of imagining things, especially things that are impossible or improbable.

Don’t you love that definition? You can make up anything and everything in fantasy – just like in cartoons, nothing is impossible! Traditional fantasy includes:

  • Creatures – dragons are my fave!

  • Setting – forests, mountains, meadows, lots of nature

  • Demographics – not a lot of technology or modern conveniences, castles and villages rule!

  • Magic – the explanation for the anything and everything! Yay for wizards and fairies!

But fantasy has branched out! It now includes:

  • Urban – magic in modern day cities or suburbs

  • Historical – magic altering recorded historical times and places

  • Space/Sci Fi – magic mixing with the future and technology

So many places magic can turn up! We can shrink down to bug size, expand up into giants, shapeshift into flying beasts, and cast spells for good, evil, or just some mischief!

Inspiration for fantasy isn’t far, for me. I imagine the world around me transformed into a magical setting and many times I will give characters an outer appearance to match their personality. (Remember Shallow Hal?)

The tough part of Fantasy is the world-building. We get to create all the magic, but we also have to make rules and limitations, weaknesses to balance strengths, antidotes and cures for spells and sickness. And we have to show the reader our complicated world without droning on with backstory! I think I’m getting the hang of that, now that I’ve had some practice.

What I still struggle with is setting. I tend to describe things mundanely – so I really enjoy coming across photos of magnificent scenes that inspire greatness and require a better description… like from Mary, here. She’s a pro at capturing beautiful settings from way out West (and out of this world!) And here are just a few of other bloggers whose photos inspire me.

Marcy Hatch - northeastern wonderlands

Hilary Melton-Butcher - English countrysides, coastlines, and castles

Rhonda Albom - fun from around the world

There are lots more, but I couldn’t remember them all. Help me out and name some in the comments!


Mary and I usually discuss sci fi, so today was a nice change!

Thanks, wayfaring woman!

NEW! Try this BEASTLY SURVEY and find out which beast you are!

(And don’t forget to enter the giveaway below!)


by Tara Tyler

Release Date: June 24, 2014 (NOW!)

Publisher: Curiosity Quills

Gabe is an average fifteen-year-old goblin. He’s in the marching band, breezes through calculus, and gets picked on daily by the other kids at school, especially the ogres. But Gabe wants to break out of his nerdy stereotype and try other things. He has his eye on the new ogress at school. Though it’s against all beastly rules, there’s just something about her.

Gabe starts a fad of mingling with other species, forcing the High Council to step in and ruin things by threatening to destroy the school and split up Broken Branch Falls. With help from other outcast friends, Gabe sets out on a quest to save his town. They’ll show ‘em what different friends can do together!

Available atB&N ~~~ AmazonAdd it to your GOODREADS list!


Tara Tyler has had a hand at everything from waitressing to rocket engineering. After living up and down the Eastern US, she now writes and teaches math in Ohio with her three active boys and Coach Husband. Currently, she has two series, The Cooper Chronicles (techno-thriller detective capers) and Beast World (MG fantasy) She’s an adventure writer who believes every good story should have action, a moral, and a few laughs!
Also by Tara Tyler, techno-thriller detective series,
The Cooper Chronicles, Book One: POP TRAVELon sale this month for 99 cents!!

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Robo Vampire, Colossus and The Amazon Queen, and Topline #scifi #movie Reviews

Dinner and a Bad Movie

Husband Unit and I watch these movies so you don’t have to…

Robo Vampire


1988. Hong Kong.  Godfrey Ho’s Robo Vampire With Alex Jowski, Charley McMullen, mister X and Josh Hadley

So much went on in this movie and it didn’t all seem to belong in the same movie. It begins in the basement of a drug gang and they’re putting drugs in coffins. Oh, wait no, there’s a scene before that, but it doesn’t matter. We’ll start in the basement. A bunch of beings stand around like this…


They start to wake up and attack the bumbling drug stockboys.  Because!! The drugs are not drugs, it’s rice powder, which pisses off the vampires. Fighting ensues involving bottle rockets shooting out of the vampires’ arms, bunny hopping – yes, the vampires bunny hop, which cracked me up every time – and some martial arts.

Never fear! The wizard saves the day by sticking bits of paper on the vampires’ heads. He controls the vampires with a sword, theatric arm gestures, and bits of paper. The vampires work with the drug gang.

Cue a subplot – the ghost and the vampire. This vampire looked like an ape…




His true love is a ghost. Husband Unit said her see-through top was the only plus in the whole movie. Later she goes completely topless. Ooo! Anyway, she makes a deal to work with the wizard to be with her vampire love again. The deal doesn’t last long and I have no idea why. If you want this movie to make sense, you’ll miss out on all the fun.

The ghost and vampire have sex in a ghost/vampire way. I guess that’s what it was. All the same, it made me laugh. 

Another drug gang is in the movie. I wasn’t sure how they fit in exactly. Don’t think too hard about it, though. You’ll just wind up with a headache.

Anyway, the bad guys capture some drug agents. One gets killed and is turned into Robocop. Another dude is hired to rescue the captured drug agents.

I know this sounds disconnected, but so was the movie. The Robocop really had nothing to do with the rest of the plot. I think the plot was about Tommy rescuing the captured drug agents, but I can’t be certain.


To sum up: I was uber entertained by the bunny hopping vampires shooting fireworks out of their arms. Boobs were the only redeeming highlight in HU’s opinion. He said this movie required four beers. I said three. So we settle out at 3.5



Colossus and The Amazon Queen


1960.  Director: Vittorio Sala Stars:  Rod Taylor, Ed Fury, Dorian Gray

After the Trojan War, Glauco is the strongest man amongst the Greeks. His friend Pirro meets two men who offer him a large sum of money to persuade Glauco to sail towards unexplored shores. Pirro accepts the proposal and convinces Glauco with a trick: he hits him on his head. The ship lands at a strange place where Pirro and the other men aboard are drugged and find themselves in the hands of the Amazons. Only Glauco escapes, saved from the Egyptian inventor Sofo and he falls in love with Antiope. Between loves and duels, conspiracies and ruses, the pirates will bring together Amazons and Greeks.

No human-devouring reptiles, but it was an entertaining enough watch. The plot made sense and tracked, which is a bonus. The stars were purty. Men and women scantily clad, another bonus. Lots of wrestling. Men trying to behave like women, which made us both laugh. You can’t lose if Colossus is on your side. Bonus: A nice musical dance interlude.




Husband gives it a one beer rating. I thought it needed two beers to be uber fun. That settles it at 1.5





1988. An Italian movie filmed in Columbia.

Author Ted Angelo discovers an UFO in the Columbian jungle. When he tries to spread the word, he earns more than the usual disbelief: suddenly he’s hunted by almost every organization, like CIA, KGB, the mob, Nazis… and even extraterrestrials – Those ETs obviously do not want to go home.

Warning: There was no manscaping in this movie.

Now that we have that out of the way, the author is a drunk, of course. We all are. You might as well all admit it in the comments. Go on and say how many drinks you’ve had today.

The plot actually makes sense. That’s two in a row that made sense. Wow. And it wasn’t so horrible. Except the film quality was terrible, so sometimes we didn’t know what we were looking at. The view of the alien ship wasn’t clear at all. I wanted a better look at it.

There may have been topless women, but it was hard to tell… the picture quality and all. 

Hilarity ensued with a drunk couple and a truck chase… trucks instead of cars. At times we were much reminded of Indiana Jones and Romancing the Stone. Everybody was out to get our hero. Absolutely everybody. One somebody turned into a robot.

My favorite scene: Robot versus a gansta cow! Guess who wins?






At the end a character changes into an alien, and it was actually really cool. Maybe a little slow, but the transformation was worth the price of admission.

Husband Unit gave this a 1/2 beer rating (I’m assuming for boobage, a robot, and aliens). I gave it a 1 1/2 beer rating (gangstas all the way!), which settles out at one beer.


Have you seen any of these? Are you tempted to watch? And you know what I’ll be watching July 30th! That’s right! SharkNado2, baby! Can’t wait.





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