Monday, September 29, 2014

Wild Critters and Harvest Time: Grin and Bear It

Now that fall is underway, the harvest is in full swing. You name it, it needs picking: zucchini, kale, potatoes, and carrots—the sweetest treat you can eat without sugar!  

With the harvest, however, I start asking two questions: 1) When is too much of a good thing not good? And 2) How full we can cram our two refrigerators and still close the doors? Since we don’t have a root cellar yet, and there are so many mice around our place we don’t dare put anything in the crawl space, it’s refrigeration or nada. One fridge is already full of Akane apples, and yesterday, we discovered the Elstars are ready. Actually, we should have seen it coming: when the tree fruits are ripe, the yard fills with robins. It’s like they fly in carrying a banner that says, Hey, the apples are ready!  And while we’re not looking, they peck mercilessly at our fruit. With the robin predation comes these super-annoying tiny flies that swarm everywhere. At luck would have it, they’re small enough to sneak through your window screens and soon your house is full of ‘em.

The fall bounty has brought out another of our wild “friends”…namely the bears. A tract located a few hundred yards from us was clearcut this past spring, and has apparently brought the neighborhood bears out into the open. I’ve never seen so much bear scat on our road—we’ve been seeing a fresh pile of their “stuff” nearly every day. Needless to say, when I take a walk these days, I’m not daydreaming about the story I’m writing, or working out plots. I’m watching my surroundings.  Vigilantly.

With bears so close by, folks around here advise that you pick up any fruit falls and dispose of them. Meaning, don’t leave fruit out in the open, tempting Mama Bear and her cubs to climb your deer fence to sample it. That’s when your garden bounty can a problem, because conventional wisdom says don’t put fruit in your compost. My guess is, fruit makes the pile too acidic, and it doesn’t decompose as it should. Disclosure: I’m guilty: I do put fruit peelings in the pile, and it works okay.  I’m even guiltier: we also dispose of whole, spoiled fruits improperly… But we make sure we toss it way, waaaayyy back in the woods. Okay, we know it will attract bears, but we know they’re back there anyway.

Needless to say, what with the bears, when Halloween comes, there’s no trick-or-treating on our streetlight-free road. But I am celebrating All Hallow’s Eve with a Goodreads Giveaway of my kids’ Halloween story, Morgan Carey and The Curse of the Corpse Bride, starting October 1! I hope you'll check it out!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

"An entertaining light romance that is full of Irish humor and family fun..."

A lovely review of "Mother Love" just came in, from Chanticleer Book Reviews...

Mother Love, written by Susan Colleen Browne, is a romantic Irish story set in the colorful Village of Ballydara. She vividly portrays a written slice of contemporary life in Ireland with its pubs, puddings, pals and mams. Hers is a story of love, growth, and healing. It has just the right amount of chaos and family conflict, along with a good dose of  Irish humor,  to make it a fun and entertaining read.
Grainne knows exactly what her perfect man is like, down to each little detail—the problem is her perfect man is getting married just as this book,  and Grainne’s story, have begun. Grainne sadly acknowledges and grimly accepts the fact that her perfect man is about to become permanently unavailable. However, her biological clock is ticking and, on the eve of her 30th birthday, she is anything but reasonable.

A complex and realistic protagonist, Grainne is plagued by her own family conflicts. Grainne’s relationship with her mam is strained to say the least. Having grown up feeling that she was less important than her sisters, Grainne does her best to avoid visiting her family home more than she deems necessary. She can’t even be in the same room as her mam without making the entire situation uncomfortable for everyone around. Yet for a young woman who avoids her mother, Grainne spends more time wishing for her mam’s acceptance and attention than not.
Despite her tumultuous family life, Grainne is a devoted and doting nanny to three rambunctious kids whose own mother is too busy running a newspaper to pay them much attention. She finds happiness in her work as she dotes on the kids, but her wanting her own family cannot be ignored.
Grainne’s mam is keen to turn her home into a B and B and Grainne’s sister has guilted our protagonist into helping out with the venture. Grainne grudgingly helps out, thinking this may be a good way for her to get to spend some time with Rafe—the one that got away. Grainne and Rafe’s story seems destined to end before it ever begins, but sometimes you never know what life has in store.
Rafe isn’t the only man in Grainne’s life. She’s also got good-guy Joe, a nice man with a decent job and only minor flaws and he has his eyes set on Grainne. And with all the family drama and emotional stress it’s a good thing Grainne has Justine—her best friend and flatmate—who spends her free time cooking and baking delicious food along with obsessing with the blog “Girl Talk.”
Grainne must navigate her way through this crazy and tumultuous life if she is to find happiness.  Mother Love is a novel that lives up to the lore of Irish tales. If you like an entertaining light romance that is full of Irish humor and family fun, Browne’s story telling will not disappoint.