Friday, January 27, 2006

Monsters from Memphis review

This is another old review; as a matter of fact, there was a sequel to this anthology, More Monsters from Memphis, which I also enjoyed, and, I believe, a third anthology, which I haven't read.

Monsters from Memphis
edited by Beecher Smith

reviewed by Joy V. Smith (no relation)

I was impressed by the consistent quality of the writing, which was excellent. I enjoy theme anthologies, and the authors conveyed the feeling of Memphis--hot and humid, the ducks at the Peabody, corruption (in more ways than one), the King (Elvis), etc. very well.

Even stories I didn't care for (Stop eating those humans and dogs right now!) often had interesting premises and very good writing. I didn't care for some endings (the werewolf story, for instance; by the end I was wishing for the old weretiger cliche or something better).

The best stories are (in my never humble opinion):

  1. The Shadow Knows, Ms. Adams (I liked the ending),
  2. Number One with a Bullet (except I didn't like the ending),
  3. By Any Name A Devil (good premise and well-written),
  4. Dance in Crimson (not a favorite but well-written with a good premise),
  5. Swift Peter ("I didn't mean to hurt nobody"),
  6. Hunt's End (good premise and good ending),
  7. Nurse Bann,
  8. Snare of the Fowler (well-done),
  9. Tokhtamysh (good story with at least one memorable line-- "the worst butt-head in Asian history"),
  10. The Big Chill,
  11. My House ( loved this one; good scenes with the baseball bat),
  12. Swan Song (this was done, I think, in a deliberate Southern style; definite Darrell Award nominee),
  13. Killing Softly (well-done),
  14. Nifty, Tough an' Bitchen (another well-written story),
  15. Rendezvous of Fear (I had no idea where this one was going; I liked the ending; obviously a Memphis restaurant? Nice change of pace.),
  16. The Frequency of Violets (another very well-written story), and
  17. Peace Plan (even though I hated the ending, and plot-wise, the aliens seemed blind to the consequences of what they were doing...)


Today's toilet technology (video link)

High tech, hot style: Toilets with so much style that it’s a shame you have to keep them in the bathroom.  Link: Home Technology, Entertainment and Theater : Home & Garden Television

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Buyer's market? (link)

New Year Rings in Housing Shift to a Buyer's Market.  Remodeling sector expected to grow in 2006.  Link: Economic Issues : New Year Rings in Housing Shift to a Buyer's Market :


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Location: Where to buy or build

Location is important. If you're going to build, you should start looking at house plans early on, but your location and lot size may dictate your house layout. Check to see if the property is in a flood plain.  Talk to neighbors; one man was considering buying a lot, but when talking to a neighbor, he learned that the lot had been sold several times, but no one ever got a building permit...

(From Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook)

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Preditors & Editors poll

The Preditors & Editors poll is over, and my SF story, Seedlings (from the shared world anthology, Magistria: Realm of the Sorcerer), is #8 (tied) in the SF/Fantasy short story category.  My interview with Lyn McConchie (from the July issue of Expressions) is also #8 (tied) in the non-fiction category. 

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Building a Cool House for Hot Times...

Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook was on the Barnes & Noble's new house book best seller list last year, and is now #5 on this Barnes & Noble list: Barnes & Books / Home & Garden / House & Home / Home - Do-It-Yourself / Architecture, Domestic->Amateurs' manuals  

The book covers the building process and what’s involved in building your home; it includes diary excerpts, photos, and advice from planning to punch list and beyond. 

It was on the Reviewer's Choice list in the February 2005 issue of "Small Press Bookwatch":  MBR: Small Press Bookwatch, February 2005

Friday, January 13, 2006

Tips from an organizing expert (link)

Pretty Your Home in No Time
Overhaul your bathroom and kitchen with organizing expert Julie Morgenstern's quick fixes:  Kick Start Your Life: Overhaul Your Home!  (From the Oprah e-newsletter)

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Top Energy Conservation Tips (link)

Heating bills got you down? With the cost of energy skyrocketing this year, it's not too late to learn a few tips to save energy at home...and money, too. We've put together a list of some great tips that can help. Click here to take a look

From the National Wildlife Federation e-newsletter (Backyard Wildlife Habitat edition)

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Taking out a wall (discussion link)

Important information from Enlarging opening -- header sizing? - Topic Powered by Groupee Community  Do not remove any walls before you read this!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Current happenings

Recently I nominated my neighbor for the Edy/Dreyer's ice cream Random Scoops of Kindness contest and won a free coupon for Edy's ice cream for each of us.  My entry is on their website (week 6).  Link: Random Scoops of Sweetness > Winning Entries

My short story, Seedlings, which is in the fantasy shared world anthology, Magistria: Realm of the Sorcerer, is a nominee in the SF & Fantasy short story category in the Preditors & Editors poll.  My interview with Lyn McConchie, which was in the July issue of Expressions, is in the nonfiction category.  Link: Preditors & Editors Poll

My Serenity/Firefly trivia questions, which I submitted to the official Serenity website and which helped me win enough points to get a Serenity decal, weren't posted before the website closed down.  Drat.  But they recommended another website, and I recently posted my questions there.  Look for the topic, Fun, and then look for Firefly/Serenity trivia poll, II, & III.   Here's the link: Browncoats :: Index  (You'll have to register to add replies.)

The table of contents for the sequel to Magistria: Realm of the Sorcerer is now up, though I don't know if it's finalized.  Link: Shards of the Goddess

Thursday, January 5, 2006

Finding a house leak (discussion link)

Leaky Exterior
I have a problem with water entering the foundation walls when there's a driving rain. The house is 4 years old, the exterior is stucco....

From Leaky Exterior - Topic Powered by Groupee Community

Lyn McConchie interview

Interview with Lyn McConchie

by Joy V. Smith

Lyn McConchie writes in a wide range of genres: science fiction, fantasy,
horror, humour, and mystery; and she also writes poetry and articles. She
was forced to take medical retirement in 1988, when she swapped her
suburban home for one in the backblocks, which is when she began writing;
and she now has a small farm in New Zealand, where she breeds coloured
sheep and tends her free range geese and hens, sharing her farmhouse with
her Occicats, Tiger and Dancer, and 7,000 books.

She became a professional writer in 1991 with sales that year to Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine and Strange Plasma. She has since had almost 200 short stories and 16 books published in six countries.

JVS: You began writing to earn a living when you had to retire. Had you
written before then?

Lyn: Not professionally, but I'd been writing as a fan since the early 1980s.

JVS: People are usually advised to not quit their day jobs until they
begin selling. You didn't have that choice. What made you choose writing?
Did you expect to be able to make a living at it?

Lyn: I didn't really choose writing, it chose me. I tell people that when I
had to stop doing a normal 9-5 job I felt that it would be bad for me not
to do anything at all but sit home on a pension. I wanted to do something,
and something furthermore which might have a faint chance of earning me
some money at least. So, since I had already been winning SF short story
competitions in New Zealand, I thought I'd try to sell something.

JVS: What markets did you start submitting to?

Lyn: The first ones were MZB's Fantasy Magazine and Steve Pasechnick's Strange Plasma, both American, plus a children's magazine in New
Zealand. I also sent a story to a third American magazine which didn't buy
it and two poems to a fourth US magazine. To my astonishment the first
three magazines purchased the work I'd offered.

JVS: Lyn, you write a wide range of stories--children's, ghost, horror, SF,
fantasy, mystery, and humorous fiction and non-fiction. Do you have a
favorite genre?

Lyn: Fantasy, then SF, but animal stories run them close.

JVS: I've read FARMING DAZE and DAZE ON THE LAND, wherein you recount your adventures of finding and buying your farm, getting your animals and caring for them, etc. They're a fun read, but I know it must have been scary starting out on your own. Did you have to do it all by yourself?

Lyn: No, and in that I was fortunate. My oldest friend and her husband were
living in the country at that time, and I went to stay with them to look for
a suitable small farm. She has been on farms more than half her life and
was able to mentor me for years, since once I'd bought my farm I
subsequently sold one of the titles from that purchase to her, and her
family moved in next door within months.

JVS: You wrote columns about life on the farm, which appeared in various
publications. When did you decide to publish them as a book?

Lyn.: Some of my first year's sales were humorous farming poems to a widely
read farming magazine here titled Straight Furrow. They bought my work for several years. I also sold short true-life humor stories to a smallholders magazine here called Country Living. That was how I sold my first book. The editor of C.L. was also an editor for a major NZ publisher. He approached me to ask if I had sufficient material to make up a book which would suit the gift market. I did and put it together, offered the ms and had it accepted. That came out in May of 1993, and while it has been picked up now by a different publisher, it has been almost continually in print since that time. The new publisher, Avalook Publications in Australia, also published the sequel, DAZE ON THE LAND in 2003. (Both books can be purchased on

JVS: FARMING DAZE was broadcast on NZ Public Radio (1994) and then again by popular request (1995). How did that come about? Did someone read it? Who?

Lyn: Truthfully, I have very little idea. All I knew was that I received a
contract from the publishers saying that it had sold to Radio NZ and would
I please sign this.

JVS: Some of your books were written in Andre Norton's Witch World
universe. And you also wrote in her Beastmaster series. (BEASTMASTER'S ARK--hardcover 2002 edition--won New Zealand's Sir Julius Vogel award for Best SF/F novel of 2002). How did you meet her? Was she a mentor?

Lyn: I'd known Andre for years before I ever wrote in her worlds. I wrote
her a fan letter and she replied. We continued to correspond, and when I
said I planned to write professionally she was very encouraging. She was a
mentor from that time on with helpful suggestions and information. Then in
1994 when she was unwell I wrote THE KEY OF THE KEPLIAN to cheer her up. I included a chapter or two with each letter, enjoying her comments and
demands that I continue. It was Andre who showed it to her agent of the
time and asked if it could be sold. He showed it to Warner who said they
would buy it and the first I knew of this was a phone call at 2am to ask if
I minded the book being sold to Warner Books.

JVS: I see you won a couple awards for your short story, Deathsong--and
awards for other cat stories. (I have Deathsong in my copy of Catfantastic
IV.) Have you written any sequels to it? I know you have other stories in
the Catfantastic anthology series, which was edited by Andre Norton and
Martin H. Greenberg. Which books do you have stories in? Is that series
still being published, btw?

Lyn: Yes, the Catfantastic stories were all set in my own Aradian Universe.
I also have five books completed in that world which I hope one day to
sell. The Catfantastic stories appear in volumes III, IV and V. Sadly the
series stopped with volume five, and I feel that other cat stories
anthologies have not been of Andre's standard.

JVS: Among your books is a children's picture book series that starts with
THE LONELY TROLL. They became quite popular locally. Can you tell me more about how that happened?

Lyn: A local small publisher came to me and asked if I would write the
first book to help publicize the township in which we lived. (There had
been several articles locally on my sales of FARMING DAZE and the first
two Witch World books so he knew of me.) I agreed, wrote the first book,
then had the idea for two more. (THE TROLL'S NEW JERSEY and THE TROLL AND THE TANIWHA.) The series has continued with THE TROLL AND THE HUIA out last year, and a fifth book sold.

JVS: THE PARKING METER WHO WAS BORED, a children's urban fantasy short story (under pseudonym Ruth Underwood), is an interesting premise. How did you come up with that idea?

Lyn: Writer's immagination. I was in the city with a friend when we had to
put coins in a parking meter. It occured to me that I was glad I wasn't
one, it must be a very boring life - at which point my imagination took
off; I came home and wrote the story in a couple of hours.

JVS: I see that some of your fiction ran in Scavenger. Is that Scavenger's

Lyn: Yes, I had a number of stories in Scavenger's over the years. I only
wish Janet had continued it. As a writer I found the magazine a wonderful

JVS: You used pseudonyms for your FARMING DAZE books and your children's books. Did you do that for other works? Why?

Lyn: No, I originally did that because I wanted to differentiate between my
children's work, animal non-fiction and my SF/F writing. The Parking Meter
story was the only one under the "Ruth Underwood" pseudonym, and the DAZE books are now coming out as "Lyn McConchie writing as Elizabeth Underwood." I have also written a few stories under "Jan Bishop" where I've had more than one story accepted in an anthology, and I am currently using one-off pseudonyms where I write true-life stories and don't want my own name recognized since the story is personal or could be painful to others. [One-off means basically pseudonyms that I have used one time only.]

JVS: Are you still raising sheep and geese and hens? Can we look forward
to another book about your animals coming soon? (I love those books!)

Lyn: Yes, I am and I continue to write about them too. I have a third book
being considered by the Australian publisher of the series and hope to hear
in the next few months if she likes the work.

JVS: Do you usually work on multiple projects or do you prefer to focus?

Lyn: I tend to do one thing at a time. I'm crippled and I don't always have
a lot of stamina. It's better that I race on and complete one project then
take a rest before tackling another.

JVS: What are you working on now?

Lyn: I'm just putting together a theme SF short story collection for
possible sale, and I recently finished writing a collection of 14 new
Sherlock Holmes short stories.


From Expressions (July 2005): Expressions



Tuesday, January 3, 2006

Kitchen design (link) is your ultimate online destination for all things related to kitchens: design and decor, renovation and remodeling, appliances and products.  This is a fun and interesting website.

Decorating with toleware, aluminum trays, and more!

Check out this decorating blog: Home Life: Decorating, Entertaining and Homemaking Photoblog  She has great decorating ideas and lovely photos.

Monday, January 2, 2006

Colorful kitchen sinks!

In the Woman's Day Specials magazine, Home Remodeling & Makeovers (Volume XV, #5), is an interesting new product--American Standard's Americast stainless steel kitchen sinks now come in Stone Grey and Granite Green.  I tried to find a photo on the American Standard website, but I couldn't.  If you come across the magazine, it's on page 12. 

Sunday, January 1, 2006

A gold medal kitchen...

I saw this GE advertisement in the February 2006 issue of Country Living.  The blurb says that the oven can cook a 22 pound turkey in two hours, and the dishwater only needs detergent every two months!  For more info and the picture: GE Profile: Grace marries power