Becka's Babble

Ramblings of a Romance Writer

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Can it!

What did you do this weekend? I spent this Sunday canning with my good friend Megan. We've made jam before, and it was YUMMY! Here's the "scoop". :P

A few weeks back, Megan mentioned going to a U-Pick farm and getting loads of berries. We'd talked about a mutual interest in learning how to can after I'd read an article in a newspaper she'd brought over one day. We both decided to go into the venture together.

The very next weekend, we went to the U-Pick farm and picked raspberries and Marionberries. If you don't know what a Marionberry is, then you ain't from the Pacific Northwest. LOL It's a hybrid berry that was first "invented" in Marion County here in Oregon. I believe it's half raspberry half blackberry, but I could be wrong. I'm not exactly sure what berries they mated together.

Anyhow, so we got home and spent the rest of the day making a mess in my kitchen. Word to the wise, BIGGER is better. If you're unsure which pot to boil your berries and sugar in, USE THE BIG ONE!!! :P We had a few spillage problems that first canning attempt because we were unaware just how much things expand and bubble up when you're boiling berries, sugar, & Pectin.

Anyhow, we dipped the cans into the water bath for 10 minutes and let them cool, and voila! They were sealed and ready to go on the shelf. SCORE!! My kids eat PB&J almost every day for lunch, so getting some home-made jam Mommy made herself was quite the treat. And oh my Gawd, was it goooooood.... **drool** The raspberry jam was sweet, while the Marionberry jam was a little more tart.

We still had a few cans left over, but on Friday, while I was at Costco, I passed 4 lbs of strawberries for $5.50. Well, strawberries are out of season here in Oregon, but not in California! Obviously, they'd been imported. So I whipped out my cell phone right there in Costco and made a "date" to can these beauties for some strawberry jam. After that, DH got on the bandwagon, putting in his request for apricot jam, as that's his fave.

So I bought the strawberries, and we still had some cans left over from last time, so we sterilized them and canned those this morning, before going out to a farm that sells produce 7 days a week. This is one of the only farms around that sells apricots. And let me tell you, buying from a farm is WAY cheaper than getting them at a grocery store, so for all of you who are wondering why I didn't visit the local Safeway's produce section, just be aware that we were of a mind to make our canning endeavor not only cheap, but excellent tasting. Because as we all know, produce bought straight from the farm just tastes better for some reason.

Anyhow, after putting up with the wacky farmer who had a penchant for riddles (don't ask), we had our apricots and came on back home. A few seconds in the food processor and we're ready to boil it! After 5 minutes of boiling, we're ready to can! I never knew I would have so much freakin' fun canning. Yes, it's messy, and it takes a lot of time, but it's so much fun, and seeing your shelf FULL of jams that are so scrumptious warms my heart. :P It's a bajillion times cheaper than going to the store and buying the jam there.

Now that I've had a "taste" of canning jam (nyuk nyuk), I want to get into pressure canning, so I can do chili, spaghetti sauce, cream sauces, etc. I'd love to have that kind of thing on hand for the days you don't want to cook or the times when you might be lean on a grocery budget. It's so much fun and so rewarding. Not to mention canning jam gives you excellent gifts for the holidays. :)

And truth be told, it's really not that hard. If you can boil water, you can do some canning. Yay! Now, along with the left-over raspberry and marionberry, I have strawberry and apricot jam. Awesome.


(Yes, my family really *does* eat that much jam. LOL)

Friday, July 27, 2007

Becka's Hottie of the Week

Ah, ah... You thought I would "forget" again, didn't ya? tsk tsk. No faith in Becka? :) Last week, I wasn't "feelin" anyone. It was a horrible thing. Hey! No snickering back there!

THIS week, however, I *have* found someone who is worthy to be my Hottie. DH and I have been watching older episodes of season 3 of Battlestar Galactica recently (because we haven't watched them all yet, so NO SPOILERS!!) and I couldn't help but smack myself for my obvious Hottie choice. Who did I pick? Mr. Jamie Bamber.

This man... I swear to Gawd, whenever he takes off his shirt, I just want to rub against him like a cat. LOL You might recognize Jamie from the role that started his career, Archie Kennedy from Horatio Hornblower.

Yeah, even back in the day, he was a hottie. Perhaps a bit outshone by Ioan Gruffudd, himself one of Becka's HotW's, but hot nonetheless. However, I must say, I far prefer Jamie in his role as Lee "Apollo" Adama in Battlestar much more than his roll in Hornblower. Perhaps because he's older and wiser now, and it shows. Mmm, dang does it ever.

Do you think you could wrap both hands around that arm of his? I dunno either. But Lordy, I wanna try. You might not be able to tell much in this picture, but the man is *ripped*. I think I'd melt into a puddle of goo if I ever met the man face to face.

But I can admire him from afar on TV and showcase him here on my blog for all and sundry to drool along with me. :P Congratulations, Jamie Bamber. You are Becka's Hottie of the Week!


Has a Song Ever Opened Your Eyes?

Warning, I'm waxing religious today, so if you don't want to hear it, just click on by.


Has a song ever opened your eyes? I mean, really given you something to think about? I have a song that's done that for me. As you all know, I'm a Christian, and for most of my life, I always wondered why God told Moses at the Burning Bush to tell Pharoah that "I Am" sent him to free his people. What kind of name is that? I am... what, exactly?

God's actual words were: "I am that I am." Yes, the Good Lord said it millenia before Popeye ever did. LOL

So awhile back, while listening to Christian radio, this song comes on. It's by Mark Schultz, and the title is called, you guessed it, "I Am." And as I'm listening to this song, I'm getting chills. For the first time in my life, I realize the *why* behind what God told Moses. The simplicity of "I Am" is also what makes "I Am" complex, and I know that's a conflicting statement, but it's the truth. What God meant was: "I Am... Everything."

I've uploaded the song in question to my website, and if you have a way to listen to MP4's on your computer, you can download it and listen to it yourself. I still get chills when I listen to it. Perhaps it will enlighten you as well to this little mystery.

Is there any song you've heard, religious or no, that made you look at something in a different light, or made something click inside your head that you might not have understood otherwise? I love finding songs like that, personally, and they quickly become my favorite tunes. :)

I hope you enjoy "I Am" by Mark Schultz.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Harry Potter!

Well, not really, but I thought with all the hype, heck, putting that name on this blog might drive Google traffic. LOL

So how've y'all been? I've been good. I know I didn't do my Hottie last week, but you know, I just wasn't feeling anyone. Feel free to suggest a hottie at any time. If I haven't featured him before, I'll give him "airtime" on my blog. :P My email lines are always open:

Also, I'm selling some autographed copies of my books. I have two copies of THE B*E*A*S*T* WITHIN and one copy of ON EAGLE'S WINGS available. Again, email me if you want to take advantage or just to have more information. The print books are $9.95, no more expensive than they are online at my publisher, but there's a $2.00 fee for shipping. I haven't even signed the books yet, so I can personalize one if you like. :)

Nothing else really going on. I'm still working on the third book of my B*E*A*S*T* series, and had a great brainstorm for that one, so I'm plodding away. My August release, PROMISE ME FOREVER, is almost here! Yay! I'm excited. LOL

Sorry this post wasn't more interesting. :P


Friday, July 20, 2007

Banner Ads by Becka

Hey y'all,

I thought I would share with you a little endeavor I'm starting. A lot of my author friends have come to me for banner ads, and I thought I would share the wealth! But I should get something out of the deal too... :P So here's some more info on my open offer to any and all authors who want a cheap, professional-looking static banner (one that does NOT rotate) for promo. You can have one for yourself, your website, or your books. I have examples of the banners I've made for myself as well as others up on my website.

Check it out!

If you're interested, shoot me an email. The more banners you want, the more I can work a deal with you. :)

Feel free to post this to YOUR loops to spread the word! :)


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #16 ~ Thirteen Recent Movies I Have Enjoyed and/or Want to See

I know this is late, but I thought, what the heck? Thirteen recent movies I've seen and enjoyed and/or want to see.

1.) Shooter - This is the one with Mark Wahlberg as the sniper. It was a good movie. Only gripe was that Danny Glover sounded like he was talking with a mouthful of gauze. Anyone else notice this?

2.) Transformers - Honestly, I knew this movie was going to rawk when I saw the "teaser" that was leaked on the internet of a VW Bug transforming. That's all you saw. It was fricken' sweet. I never watched the cartoon growing up, but I have been assimilated.

3.) Ratatouille - Despite having no clue how to spell it, this movie was excellent. I loved it. However, do NOT go to see this movie before you've eaten. It will only make you hungry.

4.) Ocean's 13 - Okay, I really liked this one. A friend of mine took me out to the movies to see this (after she made me watch Ocean's 12 at her house) and I really enjoyed it. Even though it had some actors in it that might push your annoying button (please, not another word about "Brangelina!"), it was very amusing.

5.) 1408 - Even though DH told me most of the stuff in this movie before I saw it, I still wanted to see it for the John Cusack factor. LOL It was very good, and I love it when a movie does some different things to get you thinking outside the box in regards to telling a story.

6.) Evan Almighty - A cheesy flick about God descending from On High to recruit another "Noah". Being a Christian, this movie intrigued me because of that little clause in Genesis that mentions God never flooding the earth again. "I will set my bow in the sky..." However, this movie does a great job of portraying "God" without offending religious doctrine at all. It's even got some great, thought-provoking moments in it that makes me wonder if Morgan Freeman and Steve Carell are truly God-fearing Christians themselves...

7.) Letters from Iwo Jima - This movie was excellent. I love Chow Yun-Fat anyhow, but this movie was great. Even though I was reading sub-titles throughout, it was very interesting to see the other side of things, and realize, they are soldiers, just like you are, fighting a war they might not believe in... Great stuff. Kudos, Clint Eastwood.

8.) Flags of our Fathers - Again, another Eastwood Iwo Jima story, but about the American side. Rather than tell the same story from the side of the Allies, Eastwood instead focuses on the famous flag that was raised, and the photo that was taken of it. The men who raised it were instant heroes, but they didn't feel like heroes, they just raised the flag because they'd been ordered to. There's no honor in that. This film dove into the superficial-ness of fame when they got back home, and I really enjoyed it as far as war movies go.

9.) The Astronaut Farmer - This movie was kinda far-fetched and didn't have much in the way of backstory (which I wish they did a bit more), however, it focuses on the power of your dreams, and how never to give up on them. While I agree with the basic premise, I don't necessarily agree with the methods of acheiving the dream, such as sacrificing your family, for instance. It's a good movie, don't get me wrong, but it does smack a bit of being selfish when trying to accomplish your dream regardless of who you hurt along the way.


10.) The Golden Compass - DH read this book at the urgings of our friends after watching the movie trailer. I love Sam Elliot, so the movie had me at Sam. LOL But I love steam-punk-esque-fantasy type stories, and this looks right up my alley.

11.) Stardust - This is another steam-punk-esque-fantasy story with witches and flying machines and women falling from the sky... LOL It looks EXCELLENT, and I cannot wait.

12.) The Spiderwick Chronicles - My dd has the first book of this series, and I really want to see how they bring it to the screen. I haven't read the book, but it looks interesting to say the least.

13.) The Wolverine and the Rose - Okay, no, my book hasn't been slated for a movie (I wish), but with the recent cropping of fantasy movies, I can only hope, right?? LOL

Luckychickenluckychickenluckychicken :P

And there you have it! :)

~~Becka, the Ever-Optimistic

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Do You Know the Way to Use eBay?

**above title of blog post to be sung in tune of "Do You Know the Way to San Jose?"**


Okay, folks, I'm trying it again. EBay. Which, according to Weird Al, is a world-wide garage sale.

My garage sale didn't do as well as I might have liked. Things I'm listing on Craig's List aren't getting any interest. So I've decided to hit up eBay for a few items around the house.

I used to be an avid eBay-er. I had my own eBay store, even. But I decided to fold my teddy bear business after low sales and my first book contract. I just didn't have time for the bears any more. So now I'm jumping in again, tentative at best, because I don't want to rack up the fees, as it were. Many of my friends tout Craig's List, however, I've found it doesn't work so well with books or yarn you want to get rid of. Appliances or furniture, heck yeah! Go for Craig's List. But it seems certain items sell better on eBay.

If you ever get a chance, my eBay ID is "Beckabecks". Come on over and check out my auctions! I won't have a slew of them, but hopefully I'll have a few of them as time goes on, if only to get rid of the clutter as a last ditch effort. Why give to Goodwill when you can make $$ on eBay? LOL

If my items fail on eBay, then Goodwill, here they come. :P

And for good measure, a treat:



Saturday, July 14, 2007

Becka's Hottie of the Week

Nope, I didn't forget about my Hottie this week, but Friday was a busy day, not to mention I had a great idea, and I wanted to find the perfect clips. Yup, this week, along with some pics, I'm going to feature a few videos from You Tube for my Hottie. Who did I pick? None other than one of the funniest men on earth, Mr. Simon Pegg.

A lot of you out there might not agree with me on this one, but I think Simon Pegg is worthy to be featured on my blog. Why? He's been in the British comedy "Spaced" (which is mostly up on You Tube if you haven't seen it, you should go check it out. :P). Simon has also been in Shaun of the Dead, a comedy about zombies, and Hot Fuzz, a comedy about a bad-ass British cop. :P

But why do I love him so? Because he's a geek. And I'm sorry, geeky men turn me on. Mr. Pegg's humor is laced with pop culture references, and most of the time, if you don't "get it", he isn't going to stop to explain it to you. But if you *do* get it, there are times when all you can do is run to the bathroom and pray you don't pee your pants.

And a woman's got to admire a man who can make her laugh, right? :P Here are three clips from You Tube for you to enjoy. One is from Shaun of the Dead and two are from Spaced. While Mr. Pegg isn't your everyday Adonis, he is adorable, and he's got one heck of a winning smile (when he shows it...)

Enjoy the clips! And congratulations, Simon Pegg. You're Becka's Hottie of the Week!




Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Series Books

Let's face it, series books are hot nowadays. It seems every author under the sun has a series. Heck, I have three of them. B*E*A*S*T*, Legends and Hearts. But why? What is this need for more and more books within a certain world you've created?

Is it the selfish author who cannot really say goodbye to their characters? Or the readers who want to know what happens to the characters after the happy ending? Are series books something that is expected now? If a certain secondary character catches your eye, you REALLY REALLY want a book for him (or her) and beg, plead, and otherwise cajole your favorite author to write one for them.

There are two types of series books. The first is a series that covers one plot over many books. You might have the same protagonists and the same antagonists throughout. The second is a spin-off series, stand alone books about umpteen secondaries who just happen to be in your same world.

It would seem the spin-off books are the most popular, because readers don't necessarily want to read your series in order. They want books that can stand alone, more bang for their buck, I suppose.

So what is it, exactly, that readers and/or authors find compelling with a series? I think most authors I know write them, whether they be full series or spin-off series. But do readers really want to invest in a trilogy, quadrilogy, pentilogy (is that even a word?!? lol)? Or do readers want the single title stand-alone books?

Authors, what is your take on this? Readers, what is yours? I know series can sometimes be a big investment, and I even know at least one of my readers who is collecting my fantasy series books before she reads so she can read them straight through. However, it seems as if everyone under the sun is writing series these days. Do you find it daunting? Do you just want a single title? Or are you rooting for Joe-Bob Dalton to get his own book one of these days?

(Who thinks Aslan (above) is one of the coolest, sweetest, and awesomest (lol) characters in series fiction *aside from Mynos, of course* :P)

Sunday, July 08, 2007


Is this guy really holding the sun? Or is it merely trick photography? Obviously, we'd all say "trick photography", but that doesn't make it any less cool. At one point or another in our lives, we would love for a chance to "hold the sun" as it were. Be at the top of your game, the best you can be, the one everyone goes to for answers.

But most of the time, we're merely "pretending" to hold the sun.

The picture above is just a visual representation of my ponderings this evening, with regards to being an author and how it pertains to fame and success. "Fame" is subjective. How many people, exactly, must know who you are before you're famous? Do you have to be slandered on the cover of the rag-mags? Talked about on the evening news? Go to fancy parties thrown by tycoons who are worth several million?

And what if you're like me, a writer for a couple of small presses, who's maybe reached a few hundred people? I suppose in the small circles we e-published authors run in, we are famous to a degree. Well-known to those we talk to all the time. But I honestly have to say I don't write to be famous. I don't write to be successful. Sure, most authors would love to have their careers take off with Hollywood pounding on their door for the movie rights of their One Big Novel. I'm not saying I'd turn my nose at that. :P

But I write to entertain, to bring others into my imagination for a time. That's what makes me happy--watching and hearing people react to the plot twists I've thrown in, or talking about my characters as if they were real people. That's the true pay off.

So yes, while there will always be the Bigger and Better author out there that everyone strives to be like, I have to say I'm happy where I am. I'm not jealous of anyone's successes, because in all honesty, if I wanted their success for myself, I'd strive to make it happen. And for the most part, I believe that's what I'm doing. I've been professionally published since January of 2005. Not that long. However, it has taken me 2 1/2 years to get where I am right now, and I don't even know where that is! Am I famous? I don't know. Not in the grand scheme of things. But in my little circles? Sure.

Perhaps the bigger question here is, am I satisfied with where I am as an author? I'd have to say yes. I'll never turn down the opportunity to make myself "Bigger and Better", but only to reach more people, not to gain notoriety. I could care less about fame. I just want to share my stories. And in that, I am happy.

In that, I am "holding the sun."

Friday, July 06, 2007

Becka's Hottie of the Week

If you're a 30-something child of the 80's, then you will appreciate this week's hottie. DH and I recently saw 1408, a creepy movie about an evil hotel room. It was based off a short story by Steven King of the same title, and it stars this man. Mr. John Cusack.

I think I've loved Mr. Cusack for over half my life. He's not your average "hunk", but rather, an adorable "every man". He comes across as someone you'd love to get to know (or fall in love with). How can you forget Lloyd Dobler, for instance?

Or the classic "Better Off Dead"... I *love* that movie. Heck, I love pretty much anything Mr. Cusack is in. He's a great actor and I think I love watching him onscreen for that "nostalgia" factor.

But that's not the only reason why I watch his movies. I just like the guy, as if he were an old friend. He's an "auto-watcher" for me, someone I don't even care what the movie is about, I'll watch it because it stars John Cusack. I'm sure I'm not alone.

I'd love to meet him, if only to thank him for all the wonderful movies he's made over the years. He's definately wormed his way into pop culture, in more than one movie, and that makes him immortal in a way.

Congratulations, John Cusack. You're Becka's Hottie of the Week!


Thursday, July 05, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #15 ~ Things I Wish They'd Invent

13 Things I Wish They'd Invent

1.) Car/house key finder. This would be a device on your keychain, when activated by another device on your counter (perhaps next to your phone) that when you pushed the button, the device on your keychain would make a loud noise, thus making your keys easily found. (Like your cordless phone finder)

2.) TV Remote finder. Akin to the car/house key finder. You'd push a button on your electronics and your remote would beep and it would be easily found.

3.) Toilet seat warmer. Do they have this already? I don't know. A friend of mine and I thought of this while we were back in school. If you live in cold climates, going to the bathroom at night from your warm, comfy bed can be an eye-opening experience when you sit on the ice-cold toilet.

4.) Dream recorder. Wouldn't it be awesome to be able to watch your dreams while you were lucid? Of course, what made perfect sense while dreaming (eating donuts while making out with George Clooney and driving your car to the moon) might be kinda embarrassing in the light of day.

5.) Robot housekeepers. Seriously. SOMEONE do Isaac Asimov proud already, people. And this has NOTHING to do with my sinkful of dirty dishes...

6.) A car that runs on garbage. C'mon, they had "Mr. Fusion" in the Back to the Future movies, and that was actually a good idea. Forget oil and electricity and Ethanol... Let's give our landfills a break and see if we could get rid of our household trash in a clean, efficient way. Of course, you'd have to work on clean emissions as well...

7.) Air scrubbers. Like for the entire planet. If they can create them for the space shuttles and the space station, make a GIANT one or a few BIG ones and scrub our planet's air.

8.) Salt-water scrubbers. I know they have these already to an extent, but why aren't we making more use of them? Our planet is TWO THIRDS water, people. If we had an easy way to take out the salt content and make it fresh water, imagine the possibilities. There would be no excuse for a drought and everyone could have fresh drinking water.

9.) Cars that run on water. Heck, if they can run on garbage, why not water too? I'd much rather pay my water bill than give $$ to some overseas oil baron. Imagine putting your garden hose in your gas tank every day. Awesome. Couple that with the salt-water scrubbers, and you'd never run out of fresh water.

10.) Mopping robot. Hey, they have that "Roomba" thing that vacuums your carpet. I want one that mops. Dammit.

11.) Money trees. But just like fruit trees, they wouldn't bloom all year long. So once a year, you might get a good harvest. lol

12.) Replicator ala Star Trek. No one on the planet would ever need to go hungry again. And Star Trek's replicators made so much more than merely food. Clothing, books, etc.

13.) Star Trek's Holodeck. Just like the show, it would be a room that was a big life-like hologram. You could "meet" famous people, participate in moments in history, vacation in the Alps, or explore the stars... That would totally rule.

14.) The cure for cancer. Yes, I know there's 14 on my list this week, but we can't forget the obvious, now can we? :) I'm not TOTALLY selfish. Only mostly so. LOL


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Hiking at Lost Lake

This weekend, the Goings clan and a few friends decided to take a day trip out to Lost Lake, a small lake near the base of Mt. Hood. This scenic lake has a trail that goes all the way around, about 3 1/2 miles, which we hiked and had great fun.

My DH was taking pictures all day long. We had a YUMMY lunch of hoagies (with avocado MMM...) before heading out. The lake has these cool little secluded nooks with picnic tables near the edge of the lake. It was so peaceful.

And the view! Here are a couple of shots DH got of the mysterious Mt. Hood. Note the peak "peeking" through the clouds. Awesome.

Seeing that in person was much more dramatic, as the mountain is RIGHT THERE! And we think the pictures are better *because* of the clouds. Gives it more ooomff.

Even our dog Abe had a good time! He was whining so badly to go for a swim (he's a chocolate lab who LOVES the water), so we took a short break from hiking to throw a few sticks into the lake for him to chase. He was in doggie heaven.

Near the docks, where you could launch your canoe, kayak, or fishing boat (no motorboats allowed), there was a cool wooden bench fashioned into a lincoln-log-esque car. We decided to all get on and have a group family photo.

Simone, Levi, Miriam, Hannah, Becka, & Jim. One big happy family!

Lost Lake is a little over 100 miles from our home, but it was so worth the drive. There are camping grounds, and you can even rent a cabin! We definately want to go back and stay for a few days. Too much fun to be had!