Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Messing Around

Well, now. Upon arriving at Smorgasbord, you probably noticed something. The layout and the background of my blog has drastically changed. I thought I'd let you all in on some of the thoughts behind the changes.

I began blogging to give me practice writing and to have a place to put this writing. Gradually, this idea has morphed into actually liking to blog. With the aid of my sixteen year old brother, we have begun critically analyzing my blog and trying to come up with ideas for improvements. Granted, I've only changed my blog by changing the template offered by Blogger. However, I plan on hopefully giving my blog a makeover in the coming months. It will probably come without much warning.

My brother presented some valid points about my blog background. It sparked some conversation and thinking for both of us.

"Barbara, your background does not reflect your writing at all."

Since that conversation, my brother has been overwhelming with information on how to improve one's blog. It's greatly encouraging and it's great to have someone behind me pushing for change. If it weren't for him, I doubt that I would be actively considering change.

Do you guys have any suggestions for improvement? What would you like to see here? How did you make improvements to your own blogs?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

My Foot Slumbers

A tingle in my toe crinkles. It fizzles and it giggles laughing at my funny little limp. Walking becomes hazardous when I slowly start to stand. My foot feels everything with simple intensity. Like a gimp, I shamble around the room. Twinges of fizzles streak through my leg. My foot has fallen asleep. Although it slumbers, I feel it immensely within the depths of my skin. Yet, I cannot find the floor or control my ankle. I may just fall flat on my face.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Ask An Author: Rhonda Brutt


This bit will run somewhat like a series for the next couple of weeks. Each week, a new set of questions shall be answered. Rhonda Brutt will be sharing about her book, Voyance, and answering the questions that you asked. Without further ado, the questions you asked that have been answered.

Asked by Kristen: What was the inspiration behind the story?

Answered by Rhonda:
I grew up in Florida, less than 3 miles from the ocean. As teenagers, we used to drive north of Palm Beach County along the Atlantic Ocean to this old abandoned but yet elegant beach club. I don’t remember that it even had a name. It was in a remote location and the beach was great. You could tell that at one time (maybe way back in the 1940’s or 50’s?) it had been quite a splendid place but the buildings were crumbling down, windows were broken out, the pool was coated with thick slime, plants and trees were overtaking the place, you get the picture. It was posted with no trespassing signs but that never stopped us! We used to explore the buildings and I used to think that they should fix it up and make it into a school. (with me attending there naturally!)

Never in my wildest dreams, did I ever think that this would become a setting for a book I’d write. I enjoy paranormal romance but I wanted to write a story where the characters were actually alive and not dead or half-dead. I also wanted to write something that on a small level was almost believable so that a reader could relate. So Voyance is a real place for me, it actually existed. Several years ago when I was visiting Florida, my husband and I went searching for it. Not only could I not find it, but I couldn’t even find the location where I thought it had been! I’m sure it was torn down long ago and a developer most likely built houses on the property. But I’m glad I remembered it. It’s amazing how the memories come back to you as an adult! So take note of the seemingly ordinary things in your life, a book just might be born from them someday!

Asked by Greg: Why do you write?

Answered by Rhonda:
On a simple level, I write because I like to. The real answer though is because for those of us who enjoy writing, it takes us inside ourselves,into our minds. When I put thoughts down on paper it reduces the clutter in my brain and therefore the clutter in my life. I have a feeling that others who like to write feel the same way. Writing calms me down actually and I try to write in a journal every night, something I'd highly recommend! When I write it ultimately forces me to slow down and think about things from more than one point of view, especially after I've gotten it all out. For example, I may write an article or a chapter on a topic that I feel strongly about but then after a few re-reads, I start to think about it from another perspective. Once I've expressed myself on paper, then it seems as if I am more capable of pondering the what-ifs. My advice to any writer is this, never write something, check it only for grammar and spelling, then hit the "send" button! Always give it a few days, or even weeks, at the very least. I realize this can be hard if you are writing under a deadline but an alternate thought may come to you or you might just think of a better way to say it so always try to buy yourself some time.

Asked by Alysha: What was the most frustrating part of the process?

Answered by Rhonda:
Re-writes! You get it all done, it sounds good, until the next time you read it. So you go back, make changes, write it a different way, and then you think "OK now it's done" until the next time, and the cycle repeats itself! My oldest daughter, who is a hair stylist, finally gave me some words of wisdom. She compared writing and editing to cutting hair. As a stylist, you finish with a cut, you think it looks good, but then just as the client is about to get up, you notice one small thing wrong, like maybe you think one side is slightly shorter than the other, so you pull the scissors out, even it up and then the new side looks too short, so you keep going back and forth until the poor person is either left with a hair cut that's not at all what they wanted or they are left with very little hair! It's the same with writing. At some point, you have to decide that your book is done. Period. Otherwise, it will never move forward. To this very day, as I sit here with my Kindle, I think, why did I write it that way? Or why didn't I say this instead. Since there is nothing I can do about it now, I guess the next best thing I can do is to write another book!

Thank you all for participating in this series by asking questions. If you so desire, you may still ask Rhonda questions. Please leave your questions in the comments section. Thank you!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Day of Blogging Silence

March 18th, 2011
Day of Blogging Silence

If you don't want to donate here or are unable to donate, take a moment today to think of the people in Japan and pray for them.

Donations made at the above link will directly go to support Shelterbox, an organization that provides the simple necessities to people who have just lost their homes in a disaster.

Ask An Author


What if you had a published author at your finger tips and you could ask him or her anything? What would you ask them? Would it be about their inspiration or their voice choice?

What would you ask?

I want to know because I'm planning on asking my recently published Aunt Rhonda Brutt about her journey to publication as a first time author.

So what would you ask?

I plan to feature an interview with Rhonda Brutt on her book Voyance within the week.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Rhonda Brutt

Permit me to introduce you to my Aunt Rhonda, a lady from Minnesota who looked at the mediocre writing in today's modern literature and wanted to write something better. Therefore, Rhonda began to write. After many months of work, Rhonda Brutt is in the midst of watching her young adult book entitled Voyance reach publication.


For the past few of years, I have been aware that my aunt worked on a book. Watching her journey from mom to writer inspired me. Already my Aunt Rhonda has kindly shared with me much of learning that she has encountered while working on this book.

Voyance, geared toward a young adult female audience, is a book centered on the life of a psychic named Emma Patterson. Although my aunt shared the first couple of chapters with me previously, I have yet to read the rest of the book. Therefore, I cannot promise an exquisite story line or immaculate writing style. However, I do know that the first couple of chapters hooked me and I can hardly wait to read the rest!

After all this excitement, I'm sure you want to buy yourself a copy. Thankfully, this can be done online! If you want a paper publication, you'll have to wait until the end of the summer (I know I'm going to buy one!).

If you have a Nook, find Voyance here. If you have a Kindle, Voyance awaits here. If you're like me and don't own either a Nook or a Kindle, Smash Words is the place for you!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Operation: Strawberry Chicken

dancing chickens found here
Strawberries are my favorite fruit. If I could, I would eat them for breakfast, in class, for lunch, for snack, during exercise, in place of water, while showering, for dinner, for dessert, and for a midnight snack. It just so happens that I have enough strawberries to pull this off at least for about 24 hours.

I also like (dancing) chicken.

In a college dorm, ingredients are limited.

However, I wanted chicken with strawberries. I endeavored to find myself a recipe. I came up with a recipe from

Unfortunately, I had neither ginger nor strawberry jam. I rooted about my ingredient cabinet for a while and found cloves. I smelled it and tried to imagine the taste of strawberries mixed with it. The taste in my head seemed promising. I gathered all the ingredients that I had or wanted to add.

2 frozen chicken tenders
6 fresh strawberries diced
1/2 tbs butter
a dollop of olive oil
a pinch of cloves
a pinch of cinnamon

Pulling out my handy dandy frying pan, I tossed the butter, oil, and chicken in the pan. After chicken cooked, I swapped the chicken out for the strawberries. As the sweet aroma of strawberries permeated the air, I gently sprinkled in cloves. The cinnamon came as an afterthought as I carefully combined the taste of cinnamon with the perfume that I was smelling from the pan. I decided to add a bit of cinnamon. As the strawberries softened and the ingredients mixed, I re-added the chicken to the mix. I allowed the chicken to soak in the mixture for a while as it regained its warm temperature. Finally, I removed the frying pan from the burner and dumped its contents into a waiting bowl.

I imagine that this combination could possibly taste good with some plain rice. Also, I feel like some more experimentation might be called for to created a more pristine and signature flavor. However, I am contented with this recipe for the time being because it satisfied my craving for a lunch of strawberries and chicken.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Shroud of Grace

Entering the dimly lit room, our ears immediately recognized the high sweet strains of a woman’s voice blending with the lower voice of her male guitar playing companion. While they sang, a large group of people sat with somber faces. Some joined the couple in their singing and others seemed focused elsewhere in their thoughts. As my friends and I sought seats amongst the crowd, the quietness of the place took hold in our minds. Usually a rambunctious lot, our lips barely opened throughout our time in this space. Little children noises punctuated the quiet as babies gurgled and toddlers whispered to their parents. Soft music dictated the mood of the people.

Around the room, candles flickered. Some reclined on pedestals upon the stage where the couple sang and other candles danced on the tables sitting in front of the crowd. To the sound of the crooning of a cello, a French horn yodeled in melody. Pictures hung on the walls. Each picture had a conglomeration of brown and black with resolute faces staring out. Often, one specific shirtless man continued to show up in these pictures. The people depicted in these pictures looked seriously out at the crowd gathered on this night. Projected on the screen behind those devoted to the musical aspect of this evening, a rugged picture filled with shadows portrayed a man with head bowed and arms limply sprawled out from his body.

The people gathered in the room had an odd expectancy. Even young children although fidgety waited in a hushed interest. When beckoned to sing, most everyone joined in regardless of age or sex. Unlike other concerts, it seemed as though every individual thought about the words that came out of their mouths. Occasionally, a mother stood to take her baby from the room. A couple of times, a person shared a long passage from a book. The people in the room hung upon every word shared. Finally, at the request of a man on the stage, people filtered to the front of the stage. One by one, each person stood in front of a man with a small container of black soot. When they walked away, a dark cross stood out on their forehead.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

school is cool

With the rest of my college campus, I have returned to school. Here's a list of my thoughts in no particular order spiced with sarcasm.

1. Waking to an alarm is no easier. However, I wake in the middle of dreams. That's just awkward especially when you're in mid-conversation or dealing with love, death, or aliens.

2. Squirrels still just stare at me. It's like I'm a walking tree. Next thing you know I'll be housing squirrels in my hair.

3. With Spring on the horizon, no student wants to study. Everyone is kind of ready to ditch school and grab a significant other. (Ring by Spring, anyone?)

4. The cafeteria food probably could burn a hole to China if we made a pile of the acidic stuff in the middle of campus. At least, we could visit our friends who are studying abroad.

5. I've got a hankering for flip-flops and skirts. I did decide not to wear my coat today. That's a step in the right direction.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Sweet Ignorance

People yearn for breaks from work, from life, from school, from family, from homework, from cooking, from writing, etc. For as much as they want it, once they have it they laze about the house with no desire to do anything but become a partial vegetable. Give them one or two days and their body becomes permanently molded to the couch. Their stomach bloats with uncooked foods and molded cheeses. While they sit immobilized in front of their 14th movie, their eyes glaze over like day old Krispy Kreme glazed donuts. Human being turned lard.

This is what Spring Break looks like for a boring college student. Of course, some college students pack up their junky little vehicles and head to the nearest ocean. While the rest of us college students’ lounge like new additions to our parent’s sofas, these ocean-bound sun seekers flock to the sand and sun like millions of sand fleas. Thoughts of homework skedaddle away like misshapen clouds and showering becomes semi-optional unless you happen to have a mother who demands daily hygiene.

By the end of Spring break, students yearn to return to school. Not because of homework or boredom but because they miss the crazy life of school and friends. College campuses breed a strange resort from the real world where everyone is the same age and spending hours doing homework that they’ll never look at ever again. Back at school, students overeat at the cafeteria, procrastinate at their homework, stay up to all hours of the night, and gallivant about campus with interesting members of the opposite sex.

Now, being of this set, I must say that we have many problems. However, I do not want to paint us as wholly lazy and insensitive to the real world around us. A few students take time to manage classes, homework, friends, work, and volunteer work. These students ambitiously pursue their dreams and encourage others to theirs. The college world although seemingly resort like carries many tastes of the real world with very real suicides, accidental deaths, self-injury, drinking, and drugs.

Reality oozes into college bubbles. Reality like a cruel monster breathes down the necks of many college students making them fear their graduation into the real world. After all, it’s nothing like what they have experienced before. Beware, Oh, College Students, of what is to come. Don’t run. It’ll come to you.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Fart Heard Around the Classroom

In middle school during my one year of “real” school, I attended a small Christian academy. Sixth grade is a ruthless year since everyone is bursting with hormones. Girls desperately desire to be women in the physical sense while boys are just beginning to really notice the girls around them. Sadly, these boys do not really catch up with the girls even in height until high school. I noticed this since I was the second tallest girl in my classroom. I mean it was great if I wanted to glare down a boy, but goo-goo eyes really had no effect since he’d have to look up at me. It kind of kills a guy’s macho manliness especially when they fight so hard for that reputation.

One day in my science class, I’m listening to the teacher intently from the first row. As much as I liked being near to the teacher, I hated the fact that I missed the shenanigans in the back of the classroom. Suddenly, in the deep realms of my intestines, I felt an ominous rumbling. Desperation pumped through my veins.

The unthinkable happened.

I farted in class.

The fart resounded like a gong as it exploded from my body. I froze as the horrid silence that follows such an embarrassment sizzled through the room. Humiliated, I waited tentatively for rejection by my classmates. The titters slowly took over the room as people recovered from their shock.

“Who farted?!” the class clown exclaimed.

I shrunk in my seat. Then, survival mode kicked in. My chin came up and I turned around in my seat surveying my classmate with a pretend confused shock in my eyes. The teacher had momentarily quieted in response to my mountainous fart.

My stomach squirmed as my nose made note of the toxic fumes that had escaped my body. Alarmed, I felt horrible for the boy sitting behind me. Secretly, I think he kind of liked me. Of course, I doubted he’d like me after being caught in my cloud of fart.

Surely, everyone knew the fart was mine. If the others didn’t, the boy behind me knew. Slowly, my body heat rose as my worry heightened. My classmates would find out the perpetrator soon and I would never live it down.

“It was Mark! Mark farted!!” The class clown declared.

My breath caught. The blame fell onto the boy sitting behind me. Simultaneously, relief and guilt spilled through my tense muscles.

The teacher called the class back to order and we turned back to the lesson. My brain apologized a million times to Mark, but my lips stayed sealed.

Mark never told.

When I think of that moment, I wish I could thank Mark for taking the blame for the fart heard around the classroom. He knew who farted, but he didn’t share it with my class. My humiliation never occurred. My guilt has subsided to be replaced by a huge gratitude.