Archive for November, 2010

Largest Ancestry by County

Posted in Zing  by John Brown on November 30th, 2010

How cool is this! Click to here to get the full-sized picture.



Me and Santa, Woodyatt Cherry Jam, Despicable Me, Shameless Commerce

Posted in John's Reviews - books, movies, whatever  by John Brown on November 29th, 2010

Why I got me a beef with Santa

Okay, men. I’m going to share a secret. Maybe help you avoid my situation. Women love flowers. They love diamonds and other expensive bits of gravel you can’t find out at the road pit. Some relish a backrub. Those are all good. But if your girlfriend, wife, mother, sister, or daughter likes to cook, well, you’d better watch out.

About two years ago, Santa brought my wife a Cuisinart six-quart electric pressure cooker (item CPC-600). Every time she takes that thing out, she talks about what a great gift that was, and how wonderful it is to be able to cook foods in 30% of the time it normally would take, and how pressure cooking is more nutritious because vitamins and minerals can’t boil away. Foods stay moist and flavors stay true. Blah, blah, blah. Oh, how she loves Santa.

I have to admit, Santa was a genius for getting her that gift. But you don’t mess with my girl. This year, if he comes around (you listening, Santa!), I’m going to be waiting with my gun.

For the rest of you, I suggest you go out and find yourself one of these before Santa tries to muscle in. Him and his ho-ho-ho. If you google it, you’ll see it’s only $80 bucks online. A small price to pay, let me tell you. And it lasts a heck of a lot longer than flowers.

Adventure Jam

I’m one of those people who can’t go to a restaurant and order the dish that I know is good. Nope, just before the waitress comes to take my order, a compulsion to try something new takes hold of me. Alas, three out of four times, the dish I order will taste like somebody cooked it in a shoe. I’m thinking my plan from now on should be to lock myself in the car and wait until my wife calls me and tells me that she’s placed my order and the coast is clear.

Of course, that doesn’t prevent me from buying things like kippers and kumquats at the grocery store. Nor does it prevent me from accepting strange gifts. For instance, this last week I was asked if I would like a six-sided bottle of Montmorency Tart Cherry Jam from Woodyatt Cherry Farms. I love cherries, but cherry jam, with big old cherries in it? And what’s with the weird name and bottle?

But it was a gift from a fine friend, so how could I say no?

The next day I made toast and buttered it, and as I reached for the sure-fire delicious creamed honey, I was overcome by that maddening spirit of wild culinary adventure. So I pulled the six-sided bottle from the pantry instead, twisted off the white lid, and looked at the cherries crowded within. I drew back for a moment. What was I thinking?! The answer came: “Tart cherry jam, you wimp.”

So I manned up and spread the jammed cherries on my toast. I took a bite, waited to be disappointed, but it was good. I took another bite.

Dang. It was real good.

That jar of zingy jam is now almost empty. But I can tell you I plan on getting some more.

If you’re a bit adventurous and every now and again want something different but excellent, let me recommend this cherry jam to you. I couldn’t find a website for Woodyatt Cherry Frams, but you can drop by at 7630 S. Highway 89, Willard, UT 84340 or call them at (435) 720-7366  and place an order.

Funny Family Movie

My wife and I took the kids out to the Cinefour theaters this last week. That’s the three-dollar theater that’s nice and clean in Logan, UT. We watched the animated Despicable Me. I know, it came out back in July, but who said I had to review things the minute they hit the market?

Gru, super villain, has his secret hideout in a happy suburban neighborhood. He’s got everything a villain could want: a wicked jet-powered vehicle, freeze rays, and minions. But another villain has just upstaged him with a major heist in Egypt. So Gru decides make a bigger heist, the biggest in the history of the world—he’s going to steal the moon. Sounds impossible, doesn’t it? Ah, but he’s going to use a shrink ray first. Then he can put the moon in his pocket. The problem is the upstaging villain takes the shrink ray. And the only way Gru can steal it back is with the help of three little orphan girls.

The movie is full of humor (I laughed so hard at one point that I missed a full minute of the movie) and fun action. The orphans and minions are wonderful. Toward the end there was one moment where a sob caught in my throat. (The things cartoons will do to you these days!) The movie is not going to win an Academy Award. But I can guarantee you it will give you and your kids two hours of excellent entertainment and a few funny lines that will enter your family vocabulary.

Brown’s Shameless Commerce Section

I know some of you are at a loss for what to get your teen or adult friend who likes fantasy stuff—dragons, magic, etc. It’s not like you can just go buy them a pet monster or suit of armor. And there are soooo many books in the science fiction and fantasy section of the bookstore. So let me help you.

Servant of a Dark God was recently released in paperback (think inexpensive) and is the perfect stocking stuffer for readers who liked Lord of the Rings. Don’t let the title scare you; the book won the Whitney Awards Best Novel of the Year in speculative fiction and has been getting excellent national reviews. And it just so happens that your humble reviewer is the author.

If you want to read the first chapters or find out more about the book, click on the Fiction part of the site. There are copies in Smith’s, Macey’s, Fresh Market, Raley’s, and other grocery stores. Or you can order it from Barnes& and and have it delivered to your door. Whoever receives it will thank you for the epic fantasy thrills.

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Your local zombie author appears on Writing Excuses, Plus the Writing Debrief explained

Posted in News - updates on books, events, appearances, etc., On Writing  by John Brown on November 23rd, 2010

After a cancerous death, I appeared on Writing Excuses this week to groan and hold forth with the guys on writing second novels and second books in a series.

During the podcast I talked about my practice of debriefing after every writing project. A reader just asked what that was, and so I thought I’d explain it here.

The debrief is a simple thing. I learned it back when I worked as a business consultant. It always provides great insights. Sometimes  it provides massive insights. The principle is to pull back and look at the big picture every once in a while. So here’s what I do. When I finish a project, I sit down and simply list out what I struggled with, what went well, and anything I learned. I list out things I’d do again that worked particularly well and things I’d do differently. This might be about craft or process. Sometimes I might take some time to reflect on the nature of story and read a favorite book about the craft or perform a story analysis on another movie or book. Then I write up my insights in a form that I can read later and know what the heck I’m talking about. This can take a few hours or a few days. This last debrief after draft 3 of CURSE coincided with my preparation for a day-long workshop I had agreed to give on story, and so the insights came thick and fast. I recommend the practice highly.


SERVANT in Raley’s grocery in California

Posted in News - updates on books, events, appearances, etc.  by John Brown on November 22nd, 2010

It’s official. SERVANT is in grocery stores outside of Utah. Saber2gecko saw and purchased a copy in a Raley’s grocery in the San Francisco Bay area then very thoughtfully posted that fact here. That chain has 144 stores. So not only is that great news for the book, but it also just plain rocks. I lived in that area for a few years.  I love it down there. To know my book is circulating in the stores I used to shop is cool. Welcome to the Grove, California.

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SERVANT & Smith’s grocery, CURSE, Suspense series, My blog readers

Posted in News - updates on books, events, appearances, etc.  by John Brown on November 21st, 2010

Smith’s Grocery Goodness

Just saw the paperback of SERVANT OF A DARK GOD in a Smith’s grocery in Kaysville, Utah. What this tells me is that SERVANT sold well enough when it was in the Smith’s stores in hardback for them to bring it back a second time. I’m guessing it’s in all the stores in the state. I want to thank all of you who bought it in hardback at the time from Smith’s.

Now, some of you may be wondering–why is Brown getting so excited about his book being in a grocery store? Here’s why.

Barnes & Noble is one of my favorite places in the world. But there are only 10 stores in all of Utah. There are 50 Smith’s stores in Utah. There are probably 30-40 Fresh Markets in the same area.  There are 10 Maceys. When a book gets picked up by a grocery store, that ususally means it’s going to sell a LOT more copies. Why? Because more people can see that the thing exists. Furthermore, those displays put the cover face out. A huge draw for buyers that like to browse. So this is great news. And SERVANT might even be in some stores outside of Utah since Smiths’ and Fresh Market are national chains. If you see a copy in your local grocery store, please let me know.  

And here’s to the day when these books show up in Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, and Costco as well. 

Curse of a Dark God Status

A lot of people have been asking about the release date for CURSE. The short answer is that we don’t have a date yet. I will be writing a long entry about it next Monday or Tuesday. Just know that I’m working my keister off to deliver more great entertainment to you.

Suspense Series Status

I’m working on the post on structure. It’s about half way done. I hope to publish it over the Thanksgiving weekend.

You JB blog readers

I get a few thousand folks coming to this site each month. Most leave very little trace. But there’s nothing like meeting someone new who mentions they found a blog useful or entertaining. I had a great time at the Dragons & Fairy Tales book signing and at the dinner afterwards with the other authors. One gal who came by mentioned she enjoyed the recent post on cauliflower, even though she hasn’t read SERVANT yet. That made the whole evening. Of all the posts . . . Anyway, I’m so glad to hear from my readers. Even if it’s the veggie lovers :)

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Brown & Correia Now in Fresh Market and Maceys Grocery Stores

Posted in News - updates on books, events, appearances, etc.  by John Brown on November 19th, 2010

SERVANT OF A DARK GOD, written by the Lizard King of the Hollow Earth, and MONSTER HUNTER VENDETTA, by Gun Happy Larry Correia, have been picked up by the vendors that stock the book shelves in the Fresh Market and Maceys grocery stores in Utah. The dynamic duo rocks! So all of you wanting to give books for Christmas, pick some up when you go get your peanut butter and bread. This is excellent news for both books.


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