Thursday, January 22, 2015

Excellent Grammar and the New American Dream


I don’t know if you know this, but the American Dream is changing. Instead of climbing the corporate ladder and waiting years for the authority and freedom that comes with a head honcho position at the firm, millions (seriously, millions) of Americans are choosing to skip the headache and just work for themselves. God bless technology!

Freelancing is so hot right now.
What many entrepreneurial-minded individuals often don’t realize, however, is that every company relies on its reputation to do business. And that when you work for yourself, your individual reputation is the reputation of the company. And when that is the case, particularly in a world where most communication is done through email, text, and social media, one’s ability to present a professional, grammatically correct face is vital to making a living.


Which is why I’m frequently shocked (and appalled!) by the number of professionals out there who are so savvy in their trade and so incompetent in their phrasing. I don’t care if it is “just a confirmation email”! If it’s going to someone who might be (or already is) giving you money, you better make sure everything is spelled correctly! So that’s the PSA for today: Use good grammar!


Now, you may be thinking, My job has nothing to do with words, or even communication! I’m not some book nerd grammar nazi! Who cares if I’m always right as long as the job gets done!

Yes you do! Shut up!


Well, shame on you! First of all, you should know that everyone, whether they are self-proclaimed grammar nazis or not, loves to point out other people’s grammar mistakes, and you shouldn’t give them the satisfaction! Second, no matter what your field (or personal interests) correct communication can have a huge impact on your career. And the good people at Grammarly are here to prove it.


Grammarly is devoted to promoting healthy grammar, and as part of their endeavor, they have conducted a study of how good (or bad) grammar can affect one’s earnings, particularly for freelancers. Then, because they understand the American penchant for TL;DR, they compiled all their data into this amazing infographic:  
 



The bottom line? People with good grammar skills earn more than those without them. So if you want the big bucks, buckle down and diagram your sentences.


Just kidding! You don’t even have to do that, because  once again Grammarly, benefactor to the masses, is here to save you. They have this incredible device called the Grammarly Grammar Checker (because they are basically super heroes). All you have to do is insert your paragraph, and they will tell you whether it is correct! It will also check to see if you plagiarized. You can use this to feel superior to others as well! It is very efficient and super fun. Here is an example of what the Grammar Check looks like:



Step 1: Insert Text

Step 2: Learn about all the things you did wrong.


Use it! It will literally earn you money. 


If you have a large, intricate, or highly important project, it might still sometimes be a good idea to engage the services of a professional (ahem--like me--ahem). Grammarly also offers a ton of other services and tools for people who want to learn more about grammar and writing, and work on developing those skills. Or at the very least, you should ask another smart person to be a second set of eyes. But if you want to quickly ensure that your emails won’t humiliate you (at least for grammatical reasons), these easy to use Grammarly tools can be invaluable.


The proof is in the pudding. That you won’t have to eat anymore, because people will hire you, because your grammar doesn’t suck. Enjoy your new, pricier desserts!




*I should note that I was asked to do a post about this stuff by the people at Grammarly. But I would talk it up even if they hadn’t asked me, because I do believe in the cause of widespread good grammar, and that people who can’t be bothered are unprofessional. And also because I have been following Grammarly for years on Twitter and I like them.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

My Day at the Theater

This past weekend, I went to go see a play with my parents. The play we went to see was a new musical called Once. In case you haven't heard of it, this is a story about a boy and a girl who make beautiful music in Dublin. This is a show that has won Tony Awards and kind of turned Broadway on its ear, so I was excited to see it. I am also always a little scared to see new shows, because I definitely love Old Broadway, and sometimes new stuff just...isn't that great. (Case in point: Jekyll and Hyde, the rock opera.

I was doubly  excited when we got there and they were letting people up on stage to look at the set close up! Cool! My dad and I immediately joined the queue. The stage was set up as what looked to me like an Irish pub, with a gleaming wood bar (that was actually selling drinks!), mirror-covered walls, and a big piano sitting center stage. It was beautiful. I took a good look around and chatted with my dad while we tried to spot my mom in the audience and wave to her. I couldn't find her.

 Then someone started playing a piano. Then a few people picked up guitars, a few others picking up violins, and one vibrantly redheaded woman started playing an accordion. They formed a circle in the middle of the stage and started singing. And I realized that this was not just pre-show fun. This was, in fact, the start of the performance. And my father and I, and a group of other audience members, were still standing on stage, holding coats and bags and cocktails. Now, to some this might be charming. But I hate audience participation. I am not a performer, and I don't enjoy the spotlight. If I were to work on a movie, I would want to be a director, or producer, or someone behind the scenes critiquing performances and telling people what to do. It's the reason that by and large I prefer to edit books rather than write them. I like to be prepared when making a presentation or performance, and I hate being put on the spot. So needless to say, I was horrified. As the audience (the lucky ones who were still in their seats) started clapping along with the music, I immediately began looking for an opportunity to run off the stage.

Eventually we made a (very awkward in my opinion) exit, and the play really started in earnest. Once is an incredibly music-driven show. In fact, the story itself is barely concrete. The plot points are vague, and the motivation behind the characters' actions seems sometimes random and sometimes simply emotional, but despite these decidedly floppy characteristics, the show is arresting and even enthralling thanks to a fantastic, almost endless soundtrack and excellent dialogue.

Boy and Girl from the Tulsa performance.
The two main characters, Boy and Girl, are perfect foils for each other, he a stereotypical tortured Irishman, and she a worldly but incredibly optimistic Polish woman. The interactions between them are sincere and often funny, and the incredible singing and instrumentation create an atmosphere that is truly alive. It is very much a love story, but more about a woman helping a man regain his love of music than about the two of them falling in love themselves. The tone is melancholy but genuine, as the Boy and the Girl learn about each other, and the Boy begins to play music again after having his heart broken, finding the strength to pursue both a career and a love life thanks to his new friends. In the Tulsa performance, all the actors did an amazing job. Their emotion was raw, their musical capabilities stellar (there is no orchestra--all the music is played on stage by the people in the cast), and their accents totally believable. It was clear that the affection between them was real, and that the music really meant something to them. And that made the show come alive.

The music (ah-such music!) is not that of a typical "musical". In fact, the show has been described as "a play with songs," which is a more accurate phrase. The songs are more akin to something you might hear at an Indie Rock show, or at a coffeehouse. The kind of music that becomes popular through word of mouth rather than intense radio play. The kind of music that college students listen to while creating pretentious world views. Which is not to say that it isn't good, because it is. Just that you will not find any jaunty singalong music and dance numbers in this show.

You won't come or stay for the story itself, but you will become immersed in a beautiful, emotional musical performance. It is a beautiful if somewhat shallow show, and while I doubt it will become a timeless Broadway classic (it strays too far from the typical Broadway formula for that--at least, that is my prediction, despite all theTonys it won), it will definitely stick in the mind of anyone who sees it.

And I will definitely be purchasing the soundtrack.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Outsider (Flawed #2) is LIVE! #NA #paranormal #thriller @beccajcampbell

Outsider_CVR_SML

Outsider Book Release and Goodies

This week marks the release of Outsider, the second book in Becca J. Campbell's New Adult Paranormal series Flawed. To celebrate, Becca is hosting a giveaway and a book sale!

The Prize Pack

The giveaway at the end of this post is for a prize pack that includes: one autographed paperback of Outsider, one 12" x 18" poster of the cover art, and two square collector's buttons (one of Empath and one of Outsider). Please note, this giveaway is open to those with an address in US or Canada.

Empath buttonOutsider Button

The Book Discount

The regular price of the Outsider eBook is $3.99, but for the first week, you can purchase a copy for only $2.99 (ends January 12th). On Jan. 13th, the price increases to $3.99, so make sure to get your copy now! Here are the purchase links:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes


About Outsider (Flawed #2)

After a psychopath tried to kill his friends, Josh Schuyler figured 'normal' was far off. The real problem: Josh's friends have all acquired supernatural abilities, while he's still the same average guy.

Josh has always believed he was destined for greatness, but he's been out of college for two years without a clue of his purpose. After watching his friends and siblings develop superhuman traits, he wonders if he might be meant for something grand, too. Can Josh even hope for an extraordinary event in his own future? And how long must he wait for this transformation - if there is one?

When Alex met the Schuylers, she was grateful for new friends to whisk her away from her lonely life in California and give her an escape from her divorced, bickering parents and aimless future. But Josh won't drop his defenses, and Alex isn't sure she wants to trade her old life for this new, uncertain one.

Nicodemus has an amazing ability he's been milking for years to get whatever or whomever he wants. Things are going great until a young woman - Alex - inadvertently busts his latest swindle. Nic is furious when he discovers his power has been disabled, and he vows to find her in order to wreak his vengeance. She will be punished. All he needs is a little help from his friend, Ethan Black.

Josh has been waiting for his big break, or for the chance to be a hero, or just the opportunity to stand out in his own, extraordinary way.

Will Josh discover his purpose in time to stop Nic?

More Flawed Books

Empath eBook cover SMEmpath (Flawed #1)

Supernatural empathy isn’t a gift, it’s a curse. Anywhere she goes, Jade’s emotions are replaced by those of the people around her.

Jade grew up in a suburb of Colorado Springs, protected from other people by her parents. Now she faces college—and the world—with nothing to shield her from unwanted feelings.

When Cam, a classmate with a major crush on her, unintentionally hijacks her emotions, Jade struggles to keep from being carried away in feelings of attraction. When Ethan, a psychopath with a thirst for fear, fixates on her, the emotional impact could be lethal.

Caught in a deadly trap, Jade must untangle the emotions and find a way to use her empathic curse to overcome this killer or be overcome by him.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes

Kobo | Inktera | Scribd

Pulled (A Flawed Short Story)

Pulled_CVR_XSMLEight-year-old Juniper has been labeled many things—troubled kid, orphan, runaway—but none of her foster families have known what she really is: a girl with a unique and brutally inconvenient ability to teleport.

Her spontaneous jumps are not only beyond her control, they get her into trouble. When Juniper disappears, no one believes her wild stories, so she's stopped trying to convince them.

One day when Juniper gets pulled away, finding her way back is harder than ever. Stranded on the side of a deserted highway, she must rely on her own instincts to determine who is a creepy stranger and who she can trust.

Resourcefulness may get her home, but is getting home enough when you don't have parents that love you?

Juniper knows something most people don’t: there are others like her with unexplained abilities. Until now, she’s exercised stranger-danger caution, but maybe these people can offer what she needs.

Will Juniper find a family she can share her secrets with?

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes

Kobo | Inktera | Scribd


About the Author

IMG_9817 a lowresBecca J. Campbell is the author of the Flawed series as well as Science Fiction novels Foreign Identity and Gateway to Reality, and Sub-Normal, a series of short stories.

An avid lover of stories that tiptoe the line between fantasy and reality, Becca looks for new angles on bridging the gap between the two. She holds a special place in her heart for any story that involves superpowers or time travel. Her passion is defying the limits of her own creativity. You can find her on her Author Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and Amazon.

Giveaway

Enter the Outsider prize pack giveaway below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Book Review: Wolves and Men by


Is anyone else looking for something not-quite-horror to read this fall? Because I have a little something for you. Natasha Wittman's Wolves and Men delivers sufficient creepiness, action, and nature scenery (which for some reason I always associate with fall) to keep you feeling frisky and leave you with a satisfying read.

One of my very favorite things about reading books is seeing characters that like books as much as I do. For me, it just adds a whole new level of intimacy with the main character and I have also discovered a lot of new reading material by seeking out books that my favorite protagonists had read. This might be why I ultimately enjoyed Natasha Wittman's work. In Wolves and Men, the protagonist is a brainy, highly troubled poetry major who not only uses the wilderness to sort out her problems, but frames her experiences amid the myriad books she has read and loved over the years. This is a novel that is rich in literary allusion, and no slouch when it comes to a well-built character and a sense of suspense. 

Right off the bat Wittman begins building mystery, surrounding her main character, Charlotte, in vague memories of a painful past, as well as a strange and secluded physical landscape that takes the form of the Ouachita mountains. Charlotte has been sent to a remote woodland cabin to contemplate the issues—among them the death of a friend and a subsequent eating disorder—that led to her taking an imposed break from college. Yes, there are references to Thoreau, and yes, the descriptions of the landscape are beautiful and poetic. It is in these descriptions that Wittman really hits her stride, establishing Charlotte as a woman at a loss. A young woman who has been pushing herself to the limit in an effort not to deal with what is really troubling her, and a woman who will be forced to confront much more than the demons she brought with her.
Because there is more than just gorgeous scenery in Willow's Bend. A strange disease caused by the imposed interbreeding of wild dogs is infecting the residents and leading them to acts of staggering, inhuman violence. Charlotte is forced to flee for her life with the few people not infected, and in the process, she must run straight into the arms of her inner problems. By learning to trust Roden, the only man not infected, and a man with a painful past of his own, Charlotte is able to finally articulate what exactly brought her to Willows Bend in the first place. 

All that being said, this is a novel that does a lot of things well, though a reader needs to be on his toes to keep on top of reality. Wittman incorporates elements of a mix of genres, and while the story itself ends up meshing, the novel treads a fine line between action and chaos. Taken at face value, Wolves and Men may seem like a simple horror/survival novel about an outbreak of a mysterious and threatening illness, the truth is much more gratifying. Instead we are treated to a fairly realistic portrayal of how rabies affects human beings, and a highly relatable personal journey to healing and redemption. The more touchy-feely moments are juxtaposed nicely with the brutality and callousness of disease outbreak and quarantine.

There is no denying that it is a pleasure to read about Charlotte. She is a character with incredible insight into others and eventually, into herself. She is practical and easygoing, and it is certainly easy to see how readers, particularly young, female ones, would relate to and even admire her. As she struggles just to stay alive amid the chaos that is thrown unceremoniously into her lap, we see her grow, and we see her learn just what humans are capable of when pushed to the breaking point. That is, she is able to see the thinnest line that separates humans from animals and fights to stay on the human side of the line. And all this is accomplished through the eyes of a voracious reader, one who is able to put her incredibly harrowing experiences into the context of fiction, and move forward into the reality of her future. Through Charlotte, Natasha Wittman has created a poetic landscape, full of lush, vivid detail, and a thoroughly romantic character through which to enjoy it. This is a novel for fans of many genres, but particularly those readers who are most concerned with character growth.
Bottom Line: This adroit little novel will provide pleasing page turning and leave the reader feeling satisfied.

***Natasha will be having a book signing on October 24 at the Hastings in Norman. There will also be a chance to win a Hastings gift certificate! Definitely go check it out. You won't be sorry.***

On the Horns of a (Grain-fed Dairy Cow) Dilemma

Where I found the photo.
Caveat: In this post I am discussing veganism, a topic that a lot of people have passionate opinions about. I am genuinely looking for informed advice and commentary, so please try to remain civilized and refrain from judgmental, self-righteous, or over-generalized statements. Instead of arguing, let's strive for genuine understanding. I'm looking for perspective here. Thank you in advance. 

I find myself on the horns of a true dilemma. Earlier today I was reading a health-oriented blog I follow and a post popped up about how Anne Hathaway mentioned in an interview that she gave up being a vegan. The comments on that post threw me into complete turmoil. They were all very vehement, and very poorly spelled, and  I am positive that I would not want to be in conversation with any of these people in real life. But the most vitriolic of the comments did get me thinking.

See, I have been on the fence for a while now, debating about whether I really should be vegan. I am very passionately against the inhumane treatment of animals, and am very aware of the severe shortcomings in our country's meat production industry. Seriously, it's horrible. For everyone involved.  But I have never felt that eating meat (or animal products) was inherently inhumane. So, as a particularly angry vegan advocate compared eating animals to practicing murder and slavery (there is even a word for this among certain vegans---speciesism), I began to have an absolutely epic back and forth in my head, which raised some questions on the philosophy of being vegan. I am hoping that you all can bear with me and shed some light on these issues, because I am feeling pretty wretched.

So, firstly, one of the vegans said that humans are animals and we need to stop murdering other animals and being speciesist toward other animals. So, okay, I agree that humans are animals. But I wonder, How do vegans feel about other carnivorous predators? I am sure vegans hear from people all the time, talking about how humans have evolved to the top of the food chain, and we are predators and have a right to eat what we want (something that I feel is a pretty valid argument, really) and I have no idea what the typical response to that is. But I presume that most humans do not take issue with, say, a polar bear eating a seal. Or a shark eating a seal. Or a bear eating a shark. It seems contradictory to me to say that humans are just animals so we shouldn't be eating other animals, and yet also believe that wild predators should be allowed to eat whatever they want? Yes, humans have access to a great variety of non-meat food, (though, to bring up bears again, some other predators also have access to non-meat food and continue to be omnivorous) due in large part to agricultural processes we have developed over millenia, often with the use of animals and animal products as help. But again, humans might be considered the top predator, so, as such, are we not entitled to kill and eat lesser species?

And if you say no, we are not, then How do vegans differentiate between species? What is the biological hierarchy and how does it work? How does one animal set itself higher than another on the food chain? And where, if we are not predators of other animals, do humans fit in? Some vegans would say that any infringement on animals is wrong, including destroying natural habitat, zoos, and even owning pets. They equate animal ownership with slavery. So, I have to wonder how far this goes. Do these people allow rodents, snakes, insects, spiders, and all other manner of what would normally be termed pests to live in their home? Do they allow racoons to root through their trash? Do they let moles and squirrels into the foundation and the roof? If the answer to this is no (and I know to some it is, because I have read accounts of humane relocation for said vermin), then how can you claim any higher morality against the so-called speciesist? Should these animals not be allowed to live where they please? After all, we are in their habitat, not the other way around, right? I'm just wondering how far this extends. And, #sorrynotsorry, but I just can't believe that having pets is the same as slavery. I just can't. I don't know about you, but strictly speaking, my animals do exactly zero work for me. They spend about 22 hours a day lying around napping and the other two hours eating and begging for more food. I just do not think this life experience is at all comparable to what plantation slaves endured 150 years ago. And I also have a hard time imagining that a domesticated animal is better off in the wild or on the streets rather than in a loving home. But this does bring me back around to the idea of whether killing animals at all is inhumane, or whether there can be a distinction between humane and inhumane killing. For vegans who also house pets, when they reach the end of their life and are, say, riddled with painful cancer, or their liver shuts down, or they can't eat anymore, do you euthanize the pet? To me, right now, it seems to me that the more respectful and humane way to treat an animal is to say goodbye and put it out of its misery, especially since it is a quick and painless death. But if you truly believe that an animal dying at the hands of a human is wrong by any means, then what do you do with your pets in the end? And with that level of compassion, how can you bear to just watch them be in pain?

If you are willing to euthanize pets, then how can you say that killing an animal to eat is inherently wrong? If, in theory, a farm animal could be slaughtered completely quickly and painlessly, is that really so much different? I suspect that the response, (another thing that was mentioned in the comments of the article I read) is that slaughtering animals is murder (on par with murdering a fellow human) because those animals are happy  and they want to live. Okay, I can go along with that ideology I suppose, but How do you measure an animals happiness or desire to be alive? Is there a scientific process that is able to determine whether an animal prefers life or death, or for that matter, that animals like cows can even conceive of the difference between the two states? Right now, I personally find it doubtful that livestock are existentially aware of their being. And if that is the case, then how can it matter to them whether they continue to live or whether they die? Pain thresholds in different animals have been studied, and it has been found that different animals, even different humans, feel pain differently.  So, with that in mind, how do we know that, say, a cow is actually suffering, when it may not even be capable of suffering the same way we are?

Again, I want to be nice to animals. I want to be respectful of whatever their existence is, but I have a hard time believing that they experience things the same way humans do, so I also have a hard time believing it is wrong to not treat animals like humans. And this is the dilemma about becoming a vegan at all. As I said earlier, industrial meat production is often inhumane. Grossly so. But does this mean that meat production in itself is wrong, or that it simply needs to be regulated? If we halted all meat production, would we have beautiful roaming herds of wild cattle? Or would those domesticated species simply die out? And if you believe animals and humans are equal, can you be okay species extinction? If enough people stop eating meat, would the meat industry change its practices? Or again, would the animals just die off? This is plaguing me. I want to do the right thing, but I am not sure in this case what I actually believe the right thing is.

Please, please leave your (*respectful*) comments and help me sort through this muddle!

*Also, if you are only vaguely aware of how the meatpacking industry works, please click the links and/or watch the many documentaries about it on Netflix. It's some serious business.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

How to Be a Good Running Buddy

Sunday was a very important day. It was the day of the Runtoberfest 5k and Beer Bash, and was also the graduation race from the Red Coyote Newbie Running Program, a couch to 5k program that I signed up for a few months ago. I had started this same program a few years ago, but ended up stopping about halfway through when I got pregnant. So this time I was happy to sign up and see it through to the end. And not just because I did not get pregnant this time.

Hard earned beers after the race!
This time, I had running buddies. Two of my best friends agreed to do this with me, (or rather, Blair and I agreed to do it with Sheridan) and this could have gone disastrously wrong. Trying to do sporting activities with your friends is like undertaking any big challenge with people you love. It can completely ruin the relationship and reveal horrible things about people you once thought you held in high esteem. It takes patience, fortitude, and several other key components to ensure that your friendship survives the ordeal. Especially when one of you, (ahem, Blair) doesn't think she maybe wants to do it in the first place, but has graciously succumbed to peer pressure because she knows it will make you happy (but she loves it now!)
.

This Sunday, we ran the Runtoberfest together, and we had a blast (after we got done moaning and gnashing our teeth through the incredibly hilly for a 5k course). So here are the three things that made these girls so great to train with, and what you should do it you want to be a great running buddy:

1.Don't Compete
Being competitive is a good thing. It's good to have something driving you to succeed. But when it comes to training for a run in a group, you just have to put aside that need to pass everybody and concentrate on what is going on with you. Being a good running buddy means not trying to constantly beat your partner, but instead do your best and encourage them to do the same. You guys are on a team: Team Survive This Run. And you can't do that if you are always trying to one up each other.

2. Don't Hold Yourself Back
It is inevitable that one of you will be faster than the other one. One of you will have an awesome run while the other has a horrible one. But you can't ever have an awesome run if you have swung too far away from competitiveness and are worried about leaving your friend behind. It needs to be about improving your own pace, and that means sometimes one of you will be in front or behind the other. Everyone needs to agree from the outset that they will run how they run and not force themselves to stick with the group. I am so thankful that my friends did this, because if I'm faster it's a pain to have to slow up, and if I'm slower, I feel like a tool for making my faster friends hang back. So just let it be.

3. Understand That Socializing Might Have to Wait
This is what I typically look like during a run.
Sometimes runners, especially new runners, get completely out of breath all the time when they run. They say, of course, that if you are in shape, you should be able to hold a conversation while running steadily. But in reality, some of us need to just huff and puff our way through the run and can barely heave out a "Left!" when passing someone. So just run. It's enough to know that you have somebody else running alongside (though not necessarily literally alongside) you, wishing you the best. Chatting is for after the run, when you are at the coffee shop eating a muffin and congratulating each other on your athleticism. For the actual running, just put in your ear buds and let your friends do the same if they want.  It's the right thing to do.

Fortunately for me, my besties were the best running buddies a girl could ask for. They did everything right. And that is how our friendship has lived on, and is going on to the 10k training program! I'm just so happy to have these ladies jogging by my side!

Food for thought: How do you other runners feel about being greeted by someone running the opposite direction? Do you wave? Smile? High Five? Duck your head and hope they just leave you alone? What's the etiquette there?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Bacon Beer Bread

Time for another delicious, perfect for fall recipe! Although I will admit that I did not conceive of this during the fall. I made it for the first time in July and have since been making and eating it so fast that I haven't had time to post about it. 

I have dear friend who attends Catholic Seminary, and when he was home this summer he mentioned that they have delicious bacon bread there. He had me at bacon bread. I immediately decided I had to figure out how to make bacon bread of my own, and my first stroke of genius was what if there were actual pieces of bacon in the bread!  I decided that a good basis for starting this recipe would be a basic beer bread. First of all, if you have not ever made beer bread, you must. It is special and delicious all on its own; great with soup or for breakfast or just snacking. And it's incredibly easy, even for a quick bread! 

So. I began with this recipe for beer bread. It calls for 3 cups sifted flour, 3 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp salt, 1/4 cup sugar, 12oz beer, and 1/2 cup butter. However, I used self-rising flour (King Arthur brand), so I did not need to add baking powder or salt. Just so you know. 
But first, it's vitally important that you cook some bacon. I dice 8-9 slices of thick-cut bacon and cook it in a skillet until it's fairly crispy. 
Use a slotted spoon to drain all the pieces and set them aside to cool. I mean, I don't know if they really have to be cool, but they do need to be set aside until the end. 
Do not get rid of the bacon grease! Leave all that deliciousness in the pan! Keep it on the stove (with the stove turned off) until it's needed. It needs to stay liquid. This is very important. 
Mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. As mentioned before, all I am using is the self-rising flour and sugar. But if you are using all purpose flour then you need to add the salt and baking powder. 
It was here that I had another stroke of genius. What goes great with bacon? MAPLE SYRUP! So throw in 1/4 cup. It doesn't make the bread overly sweet, just adds a tiny bit of mapley flavor and a more moist texture. I like my bread moist. If you don't, or if you don't like maple syrup, just leave it out! (This is another case where, if you are going to use it, it must be the real deal! No pancake syrup, please!) 
Time to add the beer! This is what makes it beer bread. In this case, I used Boulevard Wheat. You can use whatever. I have used darker beers, i.e. Sam Adam's Winter Ale, and I prefer to go as dark as possible. But then again, I prefer to drink darker beers too. So just use whatever beer makes you feel good. Pour the whole bottle in there and panic a little at the way it foams up. Then calm back down. This is totally normal. 
Stir everything together! The dough will be very, very thick, and quite wet. And it will. Smell. Incredible. 
Then stir in the bacon pieces! Make sure they are well incorporated. You want them all inside the dough so they don't scorch in the oven. It will be hard to stir, but you must persevere! It's worth it. (And frankly, a little arm workout might be in order given the main ingredients we are using here.)
Spread it all out in a bread pan. You will have to use your spoonula to make sure it reaches the corners. This is normal. Just make it look like you want it to look. You are the master of the dough!
Now, remember that bacon grease you were saving? Well, now is the time to use it. This is not for the faint of heart. You are going to use a full 1/2 cup of bacon grease. If this is already giving you palpitations, I'd advise you to cover your eyes for the rest of the post. 
Now pour that 1/2 cup of bacon grease over the top of the dough and just let it sit there! No stirring! Now, I always get pretty much exactly 1/2 cup grease from the amount of bacon I used. But if you don't have enough, or if you want to skip the grease altogether, you can supplement with melted butter (salted butter. come on.). 

Put this in a 375 degree oven and bake for 1 hour. The bacon grease will keep the bread nice and moist and will create a kind of nice, salty crust on the top of the relatively sweeter bread. It's a phenomenal thing. You'll see. 
Remove it from the oven and let it cool for 15 minutes before taking it out of the pan. Then take it out and let it cool all the way, or immediately slice it up and begin eating it! 

I am not sure if it is required or not, but I store it in the fridge. Please, please give it a try! It's so good. But share it. One person should not be eating that much bacon grease. No matter how much she may want to. 

Happy Fall, again!