Thursday, March 29, 2012

Ten (new!) Questions for M.H. Mead

Today on the blog we have a writing duo, Margaret Yang and Harry R. Campion, who write near-future thrillers under the shared pen name M.H. Mead. You may remember that last year, they visited my blog to tell us about their first novel, Fate’s Mirror. Today, they’re back with a brand new book. The Caline Conspiracy takes place in the same world, and shares some of the same characters, although it’s a stand-alone novel.  

And bonus! They're giving away an ebook copy to one lucky commenter! So leave a comment with a valid email address and you'll be entered to win. A winner will be drawn on April 4th at or around 7pm.

1. Will you each tell us a little bit about your new novel?

Harry: It’s about a monster. A horrible monster.
Margaret: What?!
Harry: There’s a teenage boy in it.
Margaret: Oh. Right. Plus genetic engineering, murder, ideal pets, a smart private eye...
Harry: We put a plot in there somewhere too.
Margaret: Well, I  put in two.
Harry: I handcrafted two metaphors and a simile.

Okay, but seriously. Here is the blurb.

PI Aidra Scott is exasperated by her teenage son, worried about her pregnant sister, and flummoxed by her assistant—a computer genius she’s never actually met. She lives in a tiny Detroit condo she can barely afford, and there is no room in her life, or her heart, for a pet. Since the painful loss of her beloved Doberman, she wants nothing to do with any dog, certainly not a genetically engineered dog.

Especially one that might be a killer.

The world is shocked when geneticist Ivan Frithke is murdered and his own caline is the prime suspect. Madeline, like all calines, was genetically engineered to be the ideal pet—smart, gentle, and loyal. How could she kill her master? The widow doesn’t believe it, and hires Aidra to prove Madeline’s innocence.

The case is both public and hopeless, and Aidra knows she shouldn’t take it. Besides, saving this dog won’t bring her dog back. But the more Aidra investigates, the more she becomes convinced an innocent animal is being framed, and murder is just the beginning of the conspiracy.

2. If Calines were available, would you own one – why or why not?

Harry: Heck, no.
Margaret: Heck, yes. Calines are awesome!

3. What was your favorite childhood storybook?

Harry: To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street by Dr Seuss. A book dedicated to exaggeration and lying to one’s parents. What’s not to love?
Margaret: I read and re-read Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh. She spied on her neighbors and wrote down everything they did. Perfect training for a writer.

4. Buffy, Angel or Firefly?

All of the above, but a double-helping of Firefly with Serenity for dessert.

5. What’s the best book you’ve read lately?

Harry: I’m re-reading Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man; still totally captivated.
Margaret: Ship Breaker by Paulo Bacigalupi. It’s a book for teenage boys, so I’m way outside its target audience, but it sucked me in.

6. Pirate or ninja?

PIRATE! Did you even have to ask? (See Fate’s Mirror if you need a reason.)

7. Complete this sentence, “Let’s get down to business before...

two o’clock rolls around.”
We live an hour apart from one another, so when we write together, it’s an all-day marathon. We waste a lot of the morning chatting. (It’s part of our process. Don’t judge.) We also drink a stupid amount of coffee. By two in the afternoon, we are giddy with caffeine and everything starts to get ridiculous.

Come to think of it, it’s amazing we finish as many books as we do.

8. What’s your favorite vacation spot?

Harry: My favorite place in the world is Isle Royale National Park. I’ve camped and canoed there numerous times and I love it more each time.
Margaret: I’m crazy about Disney World. It’s supposed to be for kids, but it’s the moms who love it. The service there is almost unreal. I mean, where else do people kiss your ass all day and seem to like it?

9. The zombie apocalypse is practically upon us – which of you is most likely to live and why?

Harry: I am.
Margaret: He is.
Harry: I know how to survive in the wilderness and I collect swords.
Margaret: My brains are delicious.

10. If you could serve under any Star Fleet captain – who would you choose and why?

Captain Picard. Although we do not care for Earl Grey tea, we like our authority figures to have Picard’s cool aplomb. He will never freak out, even when the universe is at an end.

Kind of like this interview is at an end. (Nobody freak out, now!)

Thanks for letting us visit your blog today, Bronwyn! It was great fun.

To find out more about Margaret Yang and Harry R. Campion, visit their website.
You can also find them on facebook

Or follow Margaret on Twitter.
And if you don't want to wait for your own awesome copy of The Caline Conspiracy and can't wait another minute, you can skip over to Amazon or Barnes and Noble!

Monday, March 26, 2012

How Pinterest helped me become a better cook.

Now, it's no secret that I hate to cook. I do. A lot. But lately, I've been having a lot of fun with it. I blame Pinterest. People are always pinning enticing looking recipes, and it's inspired me to try new things. Granted, sometimes I look at the recipes and think way too much work and move on to something else. But I've found several recipes that are not only tasty, but super easy.

Here are a few that I've tried recently. And they all passed the family appreciation test! Lemme know if you end up trying any of these and what you think. Also, I'm happy to take suggestions for new dishes!

 Cucumber and Feta Cheese Boats (I'll be honest - I just slice up the cucumbers rather than making boats. Who's got that kinda time?!

                                                                  Cauliflower Casserole

                                                         Garlic Lemon Roasted Asparagus

                                                                       Chicken Roll Ups

                                                           Baked Chicken Parmesan

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

When Satan's Snowflakes Attack

Like a lot of places in the States, we're having one hell of an early spring in Michigan. Seriously. It's been in the 80s this week. The grass is growing, the flowers are blooming, the trees are budding and apparently Satan's Snowflakes are out and about.

If you're unfamiliar with the concept of Satan's Snowflakes, let me clarify. Spiders are not hatched. They're unique - individually handcrafted by Satan to scare the ever living fuck out of me.

So today, at oh-dark-hundred, I'm making my way through our backyard to the garage so I can take the kids to school and I walk through some freshly strung cobwebs. I flail around try to slap them off my face and mange to spill my hot tea down the front of my top. (Nothing says good morning like scalded breasts.)

Then I feel it. A bite. On. My. Lip. THERE WAS A SPIDER ON MY FACE. ON MY MOUTH. Like any good arachnophobe, I screamed. And flailed around some more.

Killian: Dude.

Corwin: Problem?

Me: A goddamn spider bit my lip! It's tingling!

Killian: At least it wasn't a black widow.

Me: Seriously?! There was a spider on my face and that's your idea of comfort?

Killian: I coulda said brown recluse...

Me: It's swelling. And turning numb.

Corwin: Can I see?

I turned on the the light in the car.

Killian:. Huh. So it is.

So we drove to pick up Justin with me alternating poking at my numb and swollen lip and raking my fingers through my hair in fear that the little bastard was still crawling on me somewhere. So we get to Justin's house and my skin is crawling and I'm twitching like I'm in detox and Justin gets in the car.

Justin: I don't want to go to school.

Me: At least a fucking spider didn't bite your lip.

Justin: That's what you get for making out with a spider.

Me: EWWWWWW, Justin!

Justin: You were into it.

So yeah...this has been my morning and it's not even 9 am yet. I'm gonna go take some more Benedryl and put more hydrocortisone on my lip.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Of Wildly Inappropriate Lullabies and Birthdays

I don't even want to know how many days it's been since I've blogged. I've been insane with planning and sorting and lying to my mother. But more on that in a little bit.

Since I last blogged, I've been trying to sort out tax stuff, host Corwin's birthday party this past weekend (think: Nerf, Airsoft, a gaming LAN, a crap-ton of pizza and pop and six teenage boys) do preliminary planning for Killian's graduation party, write a book, keep up with my editing and get ready for the RT convention. But the thing that's been drawing most of my time and energy has been a surprise birthday party for my mom's 65th birthday.

Her actual birthday is on Saint Patrick's Day. Cait and I went out to eat and listen to music with her on Saturday and it was SO hard not to let something slip. Cait and I had to refrain from making eye contact with each other the whole time or we knew it was going to be all over.

My mom is the kind of person who does everything for everyone else and rarely takes time for herself, so we thought it would be a great idea to throw her a surprise party. I'm just going to say right now, I had no idea how stressful surprise parties are - particularly when you talk to someone as often as I talk to my mom. So it's been constant lying, evasion and speech monitoring. However - it was totally worth it!

We gathered about 70 or 80 of her friends, family and colleagues and surprised the hell out of her. She was stunned. There were the usual things - an amazing cake made by my super awesome SIL, food (that Cait and I refer to as Catholic Funeral Luncheon Style) hugs and gifts. There was also something else really special.

Some of the long time readers of this blog might remember me telling you about the concept of Wildly Inappropriate Lullabies. It's the nickname we gave the bedtime songs mom used to sing to us. For instance, it wasn't uncommon to hear songs like Let it Be, Brandy, Sundown, Bobby McGee, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, Blowin' in the Wind, Turn, Turn, Turn along with Puff the Magic Dragon and Molly Malone.

Well, as we grew up and had kids of our own, we sang/sing our own Wildly Inappropriate Lullabies to our kids. After the amazing Tommy of Songs for Strangers wrote Existentialism in the Backseat - that awesome Riding in Cars with Boys song, we realized that mom needed her own song. So I contacted the guys at Songs for Strangers and this is what the freaking spectacular Jason cam up with. It's called Wildly Inappropriate Lullabies and when we played it at the party there were tears, laughter and more tears. Everyone loved it and no one could believe that Jason had written the perfect song for someone he'd never met. She said it's one of the best gifts she's ever been given. 

I have to share it with you guys because it's beyond awesome. And if you're looking for the perfect gift for someone, I highly recommend these guys. They're fantastic. 

And here are the lyrics :)

*Wildly Inappropriate Lullabies*

some of my fondest memories of youth
revolve around the times you put us to bed,
filling our little heads with fairy tales
but you were kind of a hippie and so
along with the nursery rhymes
you sang us songs of rebellion
and we set our sails to the sounds of...

wildly inappropriate lullabies

you’re a psychology professor
but you’re the absent-minded kind
like when you filled the washer up
and used maple syrup,
instead of soap
you love nature and gardening, knitting and pottery
you're "the best mother" defined
so what type of gift
could repay you for all my strength and hope?
one of your very own...

wildly inappropriate lullabies

you've endured so much
yet remained such a symbol of unconditional love and support
so we’ll carry the torch
 and pass on to our children
the family tradition of playing...

wildly inappropriate lullabies

Friday, March 2, 2012

Another Day. Another Misread.

I was running some errands this afternoon and talking to Cait while I was driving (no worries - hands free ear piece and mic) and I passed a sign I'd never seen before.

Me: HA!

Cait: What?

Me: I just passed a sign that said "International Drinks".

Cait: And?

Me: And I thought it said "Institutional Drinks".

Cait:  I bet that tastes like orange Tang.

Me: And Xanax.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Saying Goodbye. Again.

Right before Christmas, I was petting Rowan, and I felt a lump in his side. We took him to the vet and had our worst fears confirmed. It was cancer. The doctor said that the lump was a tumor that was taking over his right kidney and he also had metastatic spots in his lungs. 

The good part, he'd said, was that the cancer was painless. But there would come a time when his systems would start shutting down. But until then, we should take him home and enjoy our time with him. We did. A lot. He remained as loving and sweet as ever, but as the tumor grew to softball size, it became more difficult for him to move around. We had to help him up onto the couch so he could sit by us. 

Yesterday, he stopped being able to process food and we knew it was time. We brought him to the vet and said goodbye to him last night. I'm going to miss my elbow nibbler and hair stylist.

We took him in when he was about 4 weeks old. He'd been found wandering on a super busy four lane road. Thankfully, some kind soul rescued him before he was hit. We got him a week after Killian's first birthday. Rowan turned 16 in August.

I miss you, Fangula.