Saturday, June 30, 2007

Five Reasons

Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try! ~ Ted Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!

Five Reasons The Best Writers Come From Willie Wonka's Chocolate Factory:

1. They can settle their nerves by chewing on the everlasting gobstobber constantly.

2. Chocolate rivers.

3. No need to worry about stopping mid-chapter for house cleaning or other menial jobs -- they have the Oompa-Loopahs.

4. Don't need to stop for dinner, just chew that gum with a five-course meal (though they probably should spit it out before dessert).

5. Whenever they need inspiration, they can take the boat or the glass elevator for some amazing ideas.




Tied to the Tracks
by Rosina Lippi. July 3, 2007. ISBN: 0425215326

"[This] is a hilarious, smart, sexy novel with a heart of gold." -- Susan Wiggs

"[Lippi] turns her buoyant creative talents to the romantic comedy genre with an effervescent tale of a trio of offbeat Yankee filmmakers plunked down deep in the heart of Dixie." -- Booklist

Read an excerpt. (Adobe Reader required)| Watch the book trailer

You can find Tied to the Tracks at Amazon , Barnes & Nobel, Borders, Powells, or at your local independent bookseller.

This meme has been entered in the Tied to the Tracks contest, originating on Rosina Lippi's Storytelling2 weblog. If you'd like to enter the BUCKS & BOOKS meme contest, get the rules here.



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Have you checked out the recent reviews on LASR? There are some good 'uns!

Happy Weekend!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Friday Fifteen - Things For Which I Am Truly Grateful

God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say "thank you?" ~ William A. Ward



FIFTEEN THINGS FOR WHICH I AM TRULY GRATEFUL
(In no particular order, except the order in which they came to mind)

1. My friends, far and near, virtual and brick and mortar. Especially, my BFF Cathy (whom I've known for twenty-seven years! Wow!! Since before I was born...) and also Judy, Charity, Darcy, Alison and my other writing friends who I appreciate more than I can say. And my blogging buddies like Shauna, Alice, Tori, Melissa, Groovy, and others of you who I stalk on a daily basis. All of you help keep me sane!

2. My good fortune in living in America -- truly the land of opportunity. I am proud to be an American.

3. The fact that I am blessed with a roof over my head, clothes to wear, food to eat and people who love me. Paul Overstreet says it best in his song "The Richest Man On Earth":

We've got a roof over our head
And the kids have all been fed
And the women I love most
Lies close beside me in our bed
Lord, give me the eyes to see
Exactly what it's worth
And I will be the richest man on earth


4. A decent library system so I can read nearly anything I want, without going into bankruptcy, and for Lee Ann, the librarian who handles inter-library loans, for putting up with my deluge of emails asking for books our local library doesn't carry.

5. My veterinarian, Dr. Comeaux -- the sweetest most patient vet in the entire galaxy. He puts up with my endless questioning, my worry and paranoia over my dog and her lumps. To the vet techs at his office who greet my dog with cries of "Bailey!" when we walk in, and give her lots of love so she doesn't hate going to the doggy doctor (the cheese helps, too).

6. Flowers. I love flowers of nearly any kind. I like the ones I grow on purpose, and even the ones I don't. Several of the prettiest flowers in my garden are "weeds" that found their way in there. They're beautiful, and I couldn't have found a lovelier picture if I'd have planted it myself.

7. My husband, for working at a job he hates so I can stay home with our daughter.

8. The editors at The Wild Rose Press for being so thorough and demanding, and for helping me to become a stronger more competent writer. Thanks, too, to RJ and Rhonda for their brilliant idea of starting TWRP. You guys are wonderful.

9. My daughter, who puts up with my moods and loves me the best anyway.

10. My dog, Bailey, who never fails to make me smile. She is the best, sweetest, kindest, lovingest (is that a word? lol...) pup in the whole world. Pinky swear.

11. Fresh fruit in season. I've eaten so many fresh strawberries over the past month, you'd think I'd be sick of them. I'm not. And cherries are finally nice and dark and, best of all, affordable -- so I can go hog wild and buy ten pounds and eat until I'm sick. The cherry season only lasts about five minutes out here in NH, so I make the most of it. The only thing better is when the tomatoes in my garden are ripe...

12. My new laptop. I can now leave the mushroom pit and live in the sunlight once again. I will be especially grateful for this when it's winter and my hands don't go numb when I type from the cold in the basement.

13. For my mother who is the best mom in the world (despite the fact that she insists upon abandoning me this fall for the nicer weather in California).

14. Butterflies. I saw my first black swallowtail today -- and I hope it's female and that she saw all the lovely parsley and rue I planted for her babies. No monarchs yet, but my milkweed is in bloom and must surely be sending out signals for those buggers to lay some eggs. Come here, pretty little monarch...

15. Birds. I can hear my cardinal chirping at the feeder as I'm typing this. He usually comes at dusk and dawn and usually brings his wife, but not always (I suspect her occasional absence must be due to nesting). Last year, in the fall, they brought their son to visit for a while as well. I could sit and watch my birds all day long. Someday, I hope to have a setup complete with mealworms for blue birds and sweet fruit for orioles, as well as houses for various types.

Hey! I'm at my fifteen... and I could still go on. Gratitude is a lovely feeling. What are you grateful for?

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Booking It Desperately

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go. - Dr. Seuss



What’s the most desperate thing you’ve read because it was the only available reading material?

I was never allowed to read books at the table -- unlike my DD who can barely eat without reading (I know, I know, it's a bad habit, can cause mindless eating and overweight... blah, blah, blah).

We were also quite un-rich (I don't like to say "poor" because we had what we needed, just barely, and I didn't go hungry or naked), so when we had cold cereal it was either big bags of puffed wheat or, when Mom splurged, generic boxes of Tastee-O's! The only really bad thing about the generics was the fact that there was a picture of the product on both the front and the back of the box. So I all had to read was the ingredients and nutritional information.

But you can bet I read it... every last word.

I think people who are truly reader, read everything. Can you drive down the road without reading the billboards or the road signs or that yellow "yard sale" sign on the telephone poll?

I didn't think so.

If it was longer than a cereal box or an advertisement, did it turn out to be worth your while?

Seldom is any reading wasted, IMHO.
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We're still looking for reviews for LASR -- I have many folks who have requested us to review their pieces, and am thrilled! But I would also love some of you who may have read a good romance or women's fiction or even a YA with romantic elements to send me reviews. Let's get people reading the good stuff! C'mon, you know you want to.

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Thunderstorms rolled through last night, and more are due today which means the heat and humidity should break. It's already cooler this morning, about 70 degrees. Yay! My garden is nuts -- I may not like heat and humidity, but the green growing things do (especially the weeds... why is that?).

Have a great day!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

So Close To Right, It's Scary...

This is a little too close for comfort...

You Are A Gold Girl

You're dependable and hard working. You never miss a deadline - and you're never late.
You have a clear sense of right and wrong. You're very detail oriented.
You get frustrated when your friends are sloppy - or when they don't follow through.
You're on top of things, and you wish that everyone else was!


Thanks to Alice for this quiz! And for this:

Online Dating

This rating was determined based on the presence of the following words:

gay (5x) dick (3x) hurt (2x) ass (1x)

Hey, GAY! You're half the reason my blog is rated R! LOL...

Driving Me Buggy

Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it. ~ Russel Baker

It's hot here. Really, really hot. I'm seriously trying not to complain, because all winter I crave the heat. But, it's also humid. Really, really humid. Humid enough that, as Groovy said yesterday, even the toilets sweat (a leave puddles on the floor... ugh). I miss dry heat. Colorado was amazing. Pretty much zero humidity. You could blow the snow off your car with a puff of breath. I think I shoveled snow twice in five years -- and once was the huge blizzard of 1997.

No humidity also means NO BUGS. I don't think I saw so much as one mosquito the entire time I lived there. Here? Swarms. Mosquitoes, black flies, deer flies and so much more. I had to learn an entire new list of bugs when I moved out here. And last night, I saw a frightening site: my first Japanese Beetle. It was one of those pale brown ones that I consider the advance search party. He was hanging out on my front door screen when I went to bed. The good news is, that means black fly season is pretty much done. The bad news is -- these guys are VORACIOUS.

So, the routine will begin again: DD and I walking around the yard with a bucket of soapy water (soapy, because they can get out of regular water and keep flying) and gloves (because they have really pokey feet and cling to your skin -- ouch!) picking beetles from the trees and plants on a daily basis. Japanese beetles are an import and have no natural enemy here, though there is a project underway to develop cold hearty wasps that predate on them. I'm not certain the cure isn't worse than the problem...

I suppose I could just spray, but I have an issue with random poisoning. It's like taking antibiotics (something I also have an issue with): it kills the good AND the bad bugs. Yesterday, I was looking for ant traps. For some reason we have zillions of ants this year. We've never had this big a problem. I ended up with some for the sweet loving ants, but not the carpenter ants -- because the stuff for carpenter ants also kills spiders. Spiders are good bugs in my book -- they eat other bugs and don't damage my plants or my house. Why kill them? Because they're ugly? That hardly seems fair, and besides, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Check out this beauty we had on our peony a couple years ago -- isn't she gorgeous?



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In case you can't tell from my rambling post, above, I'm a bit sleep deprived today. I stayed up last night trying to get into the Wild Rose Press chat, but couldn't get Java to work on my laptop -- it would say Java wasn't installed, and yet when I went to the Java webpage, it checked and said it was. I finally reinstalled it and it still wouldn't work. ARGH!! Very frustrating, especially after staying up late (for me) to chat.

Then DH had to go in to work early. He needed to be up by 3:30 a.m., but as always because he had to be up early, he couldn't sleep, ergo I couldn't sleep. He finally got up, showered and left around 3 a.m. I closed my eyes until about 4:30 until the cat jumped on me, wondering why I was sleeping in and not feeding her.

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Do you suppose it's wrong to post reviews of my own stories on LASR? Not ones I do, of course, but someone else? I was just thinking about that this morning... and wondered what the general population thought...

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What Your Sleeping Position Says

You are calm and rational.
You are also giving and kind - a great friend.
You are easy going and trusting.
However, you are too sensible to fall for mind games.


I sleep on my side usually, though sometimes on my back. Never, ever on my stomach (doesn't that make your neck hurt? It does mine). What about you?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Let's Talk About Me

The total history of almost anyone would shock almost everyone. ~ Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook

Sorry for the late post... something was wrong with my internet connection this morning, and I'm only just now able to get online. Urgh. That was really frustrating!

BTW, I'm writing this blog entry on .... MY LAPTOP!! Yay. In the SUNLIGHT!! Yay, again.

Judy did the work and found this for me :-)

First

  • First job: aside from babysitting, when I turned sixteen I was a hostess at The Old San Francisco Express in Rancho Cordova, CA. They had THE BEST minestrone soup, and the cook, Tony, wouldn't give anyone the recipe. When the owners sold the restaurant, Tony left and took the secret with him. The soup was never the same again.


  • First screen name: Well... I don't mean to be rude, but that isn't common knowledge folks because it's the one I still use. Sorry.


  • First funeral: Despite the fact that my father died many years ago, I've never been to a funeral. He had cancer, and so set everything up ahead of time with a place called The Neptune Society -- they collected his body, cremated him and sprinkled the ashes at sea. From this experience, I now know I will NOT do this. As strange as it sounds, I really wish I had somewhere to "visit" my dad. It makes it even harder for me to not have somewhere to sit and talk to him. And, no, the ocean doesn't count.


  • First pet: The first pet who was all mine was my cat, Misty. Right up until my stepfather shot her. Yes, on purpose. No, not going to talk about it anymore.


  • First piercing: My ears. At fourteen (well, actually, it was about a week before my 14th birthday -- as a surprise, my mom let me do it as a Christmas present instead of waiting until January for my birthday).


  • First tattoo: No. Way. You see, this involves needles. And no, it's not the same as having your ears pierced.


  • First credit card: A Shell Oil gas card when I was seventeen. Then a Macy's card. I charged a little and paid it off every month to build my credit. My mom told me that good credit is the most important part of your finances, and I never forgot it.


  • First kiss: Darren (someone whose last name I have forgotten) -- when I was five, I think? I was "Little Miss Roddy" and he gave me my crown and kissed me. I was in love with a capital L. A few weeks later, when I was sick, he gave me a gift -- a little Avon solid perfume in the shape of a skunk. I wonder where he is now?


  • First enemy: Diane McClellan in fourth grade. We got into a big old bruhaha and she threatened to beat me up. I was scared to death for about a week. Then I realized I was a foot taller and twenty pounds heavier than she was.

Last

  • Last car ride: Yesterday, coming home from errands: Library, Target, WalMart (I'm trying to find a swim shirt for my DD... I have an issue with dressing children in bikinis, you know?).


  • Last kiss: Last night, from the DH. Or maybe it was this morning from the dog...


  • Last movie watched: Oceans Eleven


  • Last beverage drank: Still drinking it -- coffee with chocolate soy milk. Yum.


  • Last food consumed: Dry roasted peanuts -- one of my biggest vices.


  • Last phone call: My mom, calling me to tell me that she had some food for me. She lives upstairs over my garage. And, yes, we do phone each other. Don't laugh.


  • Last time showered: Last night.


  • Last CD played: Women of Faith


  • Last website visited: Blogger, of course. Before that? Gmail.

Now

  • Single or taken: Taken


  • Gender: Female (and why is this under "now"? Are they supposing I was a male last week? Though, I suppose it is possible...)


  • Birthday: January 11th


  • Sign: Capricorn, with Gemini rising


  • Siblings: Three brothers and two sisters.


  • Hair color: Brownish auburn, with a bit more gray than I'd like.


  • Eye color: Brown


  • Shoe size: 9 1/2 -- yes, I know they're big, but I'm tall. If they were smaller, I'd fall over.


  • Height: 5' 9 1/2"


  • Wearing: Clothes. Okay, my jammies. Which are actually clothes -- leggings and a t-shirt.


  • Drinking: Didn't we just cover this? Coffee, with chocolate soy milk.


  • Thinking about: Why this meme asked me the same question twice.


  • Listening to: Nothing except the computer hum. I can't listen to music and think at the same time. It's the only multi-task I can't seem to manage.
Care to share your own answers?

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Wild Rose Press Website

Hey all... FYI... the Wild Rose Press site has been down for the past day or so. Just wanted to let you know that all is well with them.

You can get in here for news and to access author pages and the forums.

Hopefully the change will be done successfully and soon.

Late Posts and Multi-tasking

I'm not asleep... but that doesn't mean I'm awake. ~ Author Unknown

Sleep: a poor substitute for caffeine. ~ Author Unknown


Yesterday, I was gabbing with another lady from TWRP and we exchanged stories about what we were working on. My response went something like this:

I have two titles in edits right now (a Sweetheart Mini-Rose for Labor Day and a Champagne Rosette), I have a Champagne Mini-Rose for Christmas waiting for (hopefully!) approval & contract, a Yellow Rosebud waiting for the editor to read and fall in love with (and, of course contract it ::g::), and a Champagne Rose I just sent a query out on. Oh, and I'm working on another Vintage of unknown length... probably Rosette or Mini-Rose, but we'll see. And I have another full length novel in need of some work (it's only a first draft) that would probably fit in the Sweetheart line. I'm also about two-thirds through the first draft of my mystery... I can't decide if it should be Crimson or Yellow.
Actually, in truth, I'm working on even more than that -- several more short stories that are in the basic idea/beginning phase and a novel that's about 3/4 completed.

She indicated that she can't work on more than one thing at a time. She becomes totally immersed in the book she's working on. I've known many folks like that. But that's not me. My writing, like my life, is crazy and all about multi-tasking.

I love short stories. There are days when writing them saves my sanity, when I'm struggling with a longer piece and feel like I'll never reach "the end". Short stories can be a challenge to write, and they're terrifically different than novels, but their very virtue for me is that they ARE short. And I can finish them more quickly than a novel... at least the first draft.

There's great joy in writing the end.

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This blog post is later than usual today because last night, I did something I haven't done in I don't know how long -- I stayed up until 10:30! Yes... P. M.

After all the hullabaloo about "Oceans 13", I decided to see what was what and picked up "Oceans 11". DH and I watched it last night. What a hoot! There were some really great places. DH doesn't like Julia Roberts, doesn't understand why everyone thinks she's so pretty (and I partly agree with him -- I think she can look amazing some of the time, and really, really awful the rest), so that bugged him. Otherwise, though, it was a hit.

Those of you who have seen 12 & 13 -- were they any good? IMHO, sequels tend to not be as good as the original. Just curious.

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Today, I have big plans to update the sidebar at LASR with both genre links and "heat" links (i.e. how sexy a story is -- sweet, sensual or spicy) so you'll be able to search by those choices as well. I'm considering offering authors by the first letter of their last name, too.

Is there anything else you'd like to see us offer as a search option?

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You Are 60% Intuitive

Your intuition is often right, and you use it more than you may realize.
Your gut feelings are usually a good guide, but you need more to go on when making a decision.
You'll often check to see if the facts back up your feelings.
And when your intuition is wrong, you work to improve it for the future.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Confessions of a Plant Lover

Let no one think that real gardening is a bucolic and meditative occupation. It is an insatiable passion, like everything else to which a man gives his heart. ~ Karel ńĆapek, The Gardener's Year, translated by M. and R. Weatherall, 1931

I have a confession to make: I treat my plants like they have little plant-souls. I apologize profusely when I prune them, and if they are the kind of plant that will root from prunings, I usually start another plant (anyone need a houseplant? I have plenty to share).

Most of the plants in my outdoor garden create seed pods that have to be trimmed once the flowers have gone by. I used to leave them, but ended up with about half a million baby (insert plant name here: coneflower, jacob's ladder, coral bells, columbine). Seriously -- I could start a nursery. In fact, every spring an email goes out to all of my neighbors with plant offerings -- most currently I have a dramatic overabundance of creeping flox in four different colors. Anyone want some?

The past year or so, I've been throwing my seed pods down the hill of a neighbor who wants it to be filled with flowers. It's getting there. This year, I just cut back all my columbine and I have the pods sitting in a bucket. When they dry, I will have enough columbine seeds to seed an acre of land.

And my jacobs ladders are almost finished blooming.

We won't talk about the black-eyed susans, liatris or coneflower that's just beginning.

But, how can I throw away their babies? I'll probably end up putting them in little packages and adding them to my seeds container. Maybe someday I'll find a good home for them.

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I loved all the answers to the hobby question yesterday -- Dru, I used to love quilting, but can't find the time anymore. Tori, genealogy is my brother's forte... something he's passionate about, so I'll let him handle that! Gay, we have plenty of snakes out here -- mostly garters -- that we love and adore. I think Paperback Writer's little visitors were fascinating!

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As discussed previously, I'm writing a story set in 1953. I asked my mom for some slang from back then, and she couldn't really think of any, so we turned to Google. Of course.

I love some of them, LOL.

Duck Butt or D.A. (Clearly, the movies didn't use the crude slang, because I always heard "duck tail"... D.A. stands for "ducks a**): Hairstyle of greasers where hair in back is combed to the middle, then with end of comb, make a middle part.
Or some that mean something entirely different now.

Jacked Up: Car with raised rear end. (hot-rodders)

Cherry: Originally, an unaltered car. Later, anything attractive (hot-rodders, originally)
It's interesting to look back and see how much things have changed.

When I was in high school, valley speak was all the rage. I used "totally" or "gag me" (though I usually left off the spoon option), "gnarly" escaped my lips now and then. I do admit to knowing, and singing, all the words to "Valley Girl" by the Moon Unit herself. Nowadays, I don't use too much unless you count "wicked" (i.e. "really" ... That guy was driving wicked fast!).

What slang do you remember? What slang do you use now?

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LASR has gotten hammered with reviews requests over the past couple of days. It's great! We're busy! I've picked up a couple new reviewers and we'll probably be posting nearly every day (that's my hope). So, if you're looking for something to read, check it out.

I'm actually on my way over to post right now!

Have a great day.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Books and Birds and Names, Oh My!

Nicknames stick to people, and the most ridiculous are the most adhesive. ~ Thomas C. Haliburton

My daughter received her own copy of "The Magic Faraway Tree" a couple of days back and immediately began reading. Yesterday, she approached me and said, "I don't think that's the same book." Concerned, I asked why. She replied, "Because the character has a different name. They call him 'Rick', but he used to be 'Dick'."

Oh.

You see, this is a newer released edition of the story. The one she read was released in the forties, prior to our oh-so politically correct society. I explained that "dick" is a slang term for a man's penis, and that both "Dick" and "Rick" are short for Richard, so the publisher probably changed it to keep the poor child from being teased.

Good grief.

I had a good friend who used to go by the name of "Gay" (because, oddly, that was her name -- and Gay, I'm not talking about you... you STILL go by your name -- good for you!), but ended up adding in her middle name as well, making it "Gaylynn" because she was tired of people tittering when they spoke to her.

I read Pink Ladies Blog yesterday and saw this post regarding names. Not that it has anything to do with my post, but it was really quite cute. :-)

My SIL was concerned when naming her child -- she didn't want the names to rhyme, so she'd think of every possible nickname to the names she chose, and finally found a name she liked AND that wouldn't rhyme with her surname.

I worried that the initials would spell something obscene or joke-worthy. I didn't want my DD to have vowels beginning any of her names, so even after she was married and had a new initial, she wouldn't spell things like GAS or ASS or FAT or PIG or whatever.

Kids are cruel. Adults are worse.

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I worked a little more on my 1953 story. I finally have a germ of an idea for a decent conflict (not just sending my hero to the front -- which would have been tough, since I've deliberately set the story to happen as the war comes to an end). I actually HAVE a hero, with a name and everything (and it's not something that will make you titter). I still only ended up with about 300 new words, but it's a start.

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Apparently the baby Hairy Woodpeckers in our neck of the woods have fledged. Other birds babies may have left the nest as well, but the Hairy WP's are unique (to me) in that they bring their babies to the suet hangers and teach them how to use them.

It's adorable. The fluffier-than-the-adult birds sit in the tree and peep and the grown-up pecks at the suet and then feeds them until they catch on. I watched one baby try and miss hitting the suet basket a half dozen times. Twice he tried to land on the shepherds hooks I hang them from and slid to the ground, once he tried to cling to the adult bird already on the basket.

I'm easily amused -- I think I must have watched the goings-on for half an hour. I wish the other birds would bring their babies, though last year my cardinal pair brought their son. I saw him again once this spring and then he must of taken off in search of a wife.

I'm certainly no pro like Birdchick, but I really enjoy my birds. If we do relocate, I will worry about them. A lot. I know, I know, they survived without me before... but still...

What about you? Have any hobbies? What do you spend you "spare" time doing?

Have a happy Saturday!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Friday Fifteen: Chores...

My second favorite household chore is ironing. My first being hitting my head on the top bunk bed until I faint. ~ Erma Bombeck

Time for the Friday Fifteen

Fifteen Chores I Haven't Done In A LONG Time

1. Cleaning under/behind the refrigerator. I have a cat, a dog and a young daughter -- it's amazing what gets underneath the fridge. Besides the obvious: pet hair and dust, we also find toys, food, rocks and so much more. I'm pretty sure a cucumber slice was dropped and slid underneath it a few months back. I'm not prepared to check quite yet.

2. Vacuuming under the furniture. I hate moving the sofa and beds to vacuum, but it needs to be done. We get the strangest pale gray lint everywhere. I've never had it before -- didn't get it in California or Colorado. I don't know what is unique about New Hampshire, but it's really disgusting. The last time I vacuumed under the bed the canister was plum full of the stuff. Very weird.

3. Cleaning the tops of the cabinets. It's probably been a year since I climbed up on the counters and contorted my body to wipe down the ten inch space between the tops of my cabinets and the kitchen ceiling. But hey, no one can see it, right?

4. The outsides of my windows. I started doing this yesterday. We have the kind of windows that will tilt inward so you can clean both sides, but pretty much every single time I tip them funny and DH has to run for the tools to fix it and get them back in. I don't know why... I'm careful, I swear. I'm just jinxed. Or maybe, sub-consciously I don't want do do this particular chore and sabotage myself?

5. The green gunk on the bottom inside of the windows. I've mentioned before that stuff grows out here better than any place else in the country, right? Unfortunately, this also includes mold. The siding on the back of our house (which gets little light) is green. So are the bottoms of the windowsills between the screen and the window. I scrubbed two of them yesterday -- the kitchen and the basement. Only eighteen more to go. Yeah, that's going to happen.

6. The walls. We run a wood stove in the winter and it causes this fine, gray dust to settle everywhere, walls included. I manage to forget about the walls until I do something stupid like wipe a fingerprint smudge... then it's all over. That clean part shows how dirty all the rest of the walls are. I try to remember not to wipe smudges... but sometimes instinct just kicks in.

7. Clean inside the toilet tanks. I know, I know... most people don't do this. But most people don't have my well water. The tanks grow this most amazing fungus (stuff grows here, remember?) and need to be scrubbed now and then. The water is also very high in iron (without our water softener and sediment filter, it tastes like you're drinking blood) and it turns everything yellow. I think this will go on my to-do list today.

8. The pantry. This chore amuses me when I do get around to it. I always end up with dozens of the same item, opened and half-used. I typically do this chore when the pantry gets so full I can't fit anything else it there. I have a ways to go yet.

9. The refrigerator. See above. In addition to the pantry issues, there are also the odd spills and leaks, but I *mostly* stay on top of those as they happen. Because I grind my own flour (though haven't in a while), I have to store it in the fridge, so space is limited for other stuff, and I run out quickly. This is on my mental to-do list, but hasn't been done yet. When it really, really bugs me I'll tackle this task. Soon, I think.

10. My desk. The pile to my right is growing larger and larger. Mostly it's notepads, used to make notes on story ideas or to write miscellaneous scenes for existing stories/novels. I like to use a different notepad for every story/novel, so there are (hang on, let me count) six spiral notepads there right now, topped with two books and the charger for my digital camera. That's just in one little spot. I don't want to talk about the rest.

11. Stripped/polished the floor. I hate this task more than any other in the world. I'm leaving it until the DH is frustrated with it and does it himself.

12. Waxed my vehicle. I own a red automobile. If it isn't waxed regularly, it fades to pink. DH used to take care of this for me, but he doesn't seem to have the time any more. It really needs to be done. A word to the wise: never, ever buy a red car. Ever.

13. Vacuumed my vehicle. And it needs it. In fact, I think I may do it this weekend.

14. Weeded my backs "woods" garden. Did I mention things grow here? Like crazy? Especially the weeds? UGH.

15. Bathed the dog. It's been more than a month... she's beginning to smell. Saturday will be bright and sunny and warm. Guess who's getting wet (besides me, of course...)?
All of that makes it sound like I'm a lousy housekeeper. I'm not, really. In fact, people comment that my house is ridiculously neat. They're right. But that all stems from being married to my DH, a neat-freak extraordinaire. He's tidy but doesn't care so much about the dirt, and I'm clean, but a clutter-bug. It works.

============================

It seems that Alice nominated me for the Bloggers Choice awards. If you get a minute, and feel like voting for me, please do.



=============================

You Are Scissors

Sharp and brilliant, you can solve almost any problem with that big brain of yours.
People fear your cutting comments - and your wit is famous for being both funny and cruel.
Deep down, you tend to be in the middle of an emotional storm. Your own complexity disturbs you.
You are too smart for your own good. Slow down a little - or you're likely to hurt yourself.

You can cut a paper person down to pieces.

The only person who can ruin you is a rock person.

When you fight: You find your enemy's weak point and exploit it.

If someone makes you mad: You'll do everything you can to destroy their life


Ooohhh... I sound kind of scary...Maybe this will make you less afraid of hanging out with me:

Your Emoticon Is Smiling

Right now, you're feeling cheerful and content - without a care in the world.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Booking Pack Rats?

Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school. ~ Albert Einstein

If it's Thursday (and...is it my imagination, or are the days just flying by?), it must be time to Book It.



School days, Golden Rule days…

Since school is out for the summer (in most places, at least), here’s a school-themed question for the week:

Do you have any old school books? Did you keep yours from college? Old textbooks from garage sales? Old workbooks from classes gone by?

Uh... no. Before I moved from California to Colorado, I had some of my college textbooks -- three psych books and my political science text. Oddly, I thought my text on "Abnormal Psychology" might come in handy. In retrospect, it probably would have, but I only had so much room on the uHaul. Mostly, though, I sold them back at the end of the semester.

How about your old notes, exams, papers? Do you save them? Or have they long since gone to the great Locker-in-the-sky?

Heck no! It's not like I had to write a thesis for my master's degree. Geez. When it was over, it was OVER, bay-bee. Do people really keep this stuff? Do you? I guess I'll find out today!
=======================

Don't forget-- you can WIN A BOOK!

We received a good response on the request for reviewers for our reviews site:LASR. Thanks! But, just to encourage even MORE outside reviews and reviewers, I offer you this chance: Review a recently read romance book or story. Email it to me (I plan on posting these on the site, so your email is your release for me to do so -- along with a reciprocal link to your blog or website). All reviewers will be put into a drawing to win a copy of "Crowned: An Ordinary Girl" by Natasha Oakley -- A book I read and reviewed on the site -or- you can choose one of my Wild Rose Press stories, if you don't already own them.

This contest runs through next Tuesday (6/26/07) at midnight (eastern time).

Thanks and good luck!

=======================

How did they know? That's me -- the most "un-trendy" person alive. Seriously.

Your Ideal Jeans Are Levi's

All American and classic - perfect for a girl who doesn't need to follow trends.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Writing, Writer's Groups and Win A Book!

Hold a true friend with both your hands. ~ Nigerian Proverb

Let me start by saying that I love, Love, LOVE my writing group. I adore my writing friends. Without them, I would be a poor facsimile of the writer I am -- though I am still growing and learning every day.

But.

You knew there had to be a "but" didn't you?

But, I'm finding I no longer have the time to participate the way I'd like. I've taken on more responsibility in certain areas of my writing life that promise to be time consuming. Additionally, I want to write more and submit more and market more. At some point I will have a full length novel out in print. This is a good thing, but will keep me even busier. I will be marketing more, having books signings, etc. I have a couple of writing friends that I work with outside of the message board we all use.

I wonder if I've come to the point where I need to let it go.

It's an agonizing decision for me because, as I noted, I love the ladies in my group. But, at what point do you have to become a little selfish? When do you have to realize that there are only so many hours in a day?

*sigh*

For now, I'll most likely try to keep the status quo. If I start getting stretched any thinner, though, something will have to give.

=======================

I wrote a little more on a story I'm working through. It's set in 1953, just as the Korean War is coming to an end. It's a struggle to write because I'm utterly anal about details and worry that I'm getting something wrong. Thankfully, I have a wonderful resource in my mother, who lived through that time period. So I write a little and email it to her and wait for corrections.

It's the little things that'll trip you up. In "Miles From You", my heroine has car trouble. I envisioned her getting in the car, turning the key, maybe pumping the gas and having nothing happen. Then I recalled an old car we had w-a-y back when that had a choke. So I asked Mom, "Did cars in the 40's have chokes?" She replied, "Yes. And start buttons."

Start WHAT?

It's a ton of fun learning about the era. I'm really excited about the idea of writing from the stock market crash in '29 through the end of the Korean War. What an amazing time. So, expect more from me set in the past. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

=======================
WIN A BOOK!

We received a good response on the request for reviewers for LASR. Thanks! But, just to encourage even MORE outside reviews and reviewers, I offer you this chance: Review a recently read romance book or story. Email it to me (I plan on posting these on the site, so your email is your release for me to do so -- along with a reciprocal link to your blog or website). All reviewers will be put into a drawing to win a copy of "Crowned: An Ordinary Girl" by Natasha Oakley -- A book I read and reviewed on the site.

This contest starts now, and runs through next Tuesday at midnight (eastern time).

Thanks and good luck!

=======================
Uh-oh...

Your English Skills:

Grammar: 80%
Punctuation: 80%
Spelling: 80%
Vocabulary: 80%


I was hoping for a little bit higher. And, no, I didn't cheat and look anything up.

What about you?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Tangled Tuesday

The less routine the more life. - Amos Bronson Alcott

Today's post has nothing to do with the quote -- it was just the featured quote on ThinkExist and I'm just sort of drifting this morning, so that's what you get :-)

Nothing deep to share today, so I thought I'd look to the stars...

Today's numeroscope:

Your personal power is strong today. You may find yourself starting a new endeavor, or engaging n a new pursuit that is based in self-expression or spirituality. You're connected with the world today, and it may be a good idea to jot it all down on paper.
I jot everything down on paper. If I don't, I forget it in a matter of minutes.

And horoscope:

If you can avoid being a little too picky or fussy then the day has great potential. Getting lost in too much detail is the only thing that will hold you back. Relax a little and you should enjoy a certain amount of satisfaction regardless of someone’s obstructive or unsupportive attitude!
Who's being obstructive or unsupportive?? Who? 'fess up? Seriously, I've taken on yet another endeavor recently, and my DH is very excited for me. He told me last night that not everyone gets the chance to pursue their dream, or to do something they love. Lately, he's been really vocally supportive of my writing and other endeavors. I suppose he's always been fairly quiet in his support, mostly because he's a quiet guy, but it's been nice to have him say something for a change.

And finally, the most important one! My Humorscope:

You'll find a penny when you are out for a walk. Surprisingly, it will be the key to a wonderful change in your life. The trick is just to figure out what you can do with a penny, these days.
That's one more penny toward my daughter's college education. Only ten more years to save -- even if it's one penny at a time.

=======================

I worked on writing yesterday. Only a teeny tiny bit, but it was something. DD didn't have school, so she didn't have quiet time for her seatwork, so my ability to work in the afternoon was cut way down. I also got a call from my neighbor who was stranded on the side of the road asking if I'd pick up her daughter from the bus stop. So, honestly, it's amazing that I got anything done at all.

Oh! And I also got what were hopefully the final edits on my story "Pregnancy Cravings" and cleaned that up. I don't even have a cover for it yet -- nor is it showing up on the "coming soon" page, but I have high hopes that it'll be released soon. I really enjoyed writing that one.

I learned something from those edits as well (I love my editor, I do, I do -- waves at Roseann) -- the difference between "like" and "as".

I wrote a phrase that said: ...like he'd run sandpaper across his vocal chords...".

Here is what I learned and am committing to memory, with any luck:

Like is not a conjunction.

From Capital Community College:

Strictly speaking, the word like is a preposition, not a conjunction. It can, therefore, be used to introduce a prepositional phrase ("My brother is tall like my father"), but it should not be used to introduce a clause ("My brother can't play the piano like as he did before the accident" or "It looks like as if basketball is quickly overtaking baseball as America's national sport."). To introduce a clause, it's a good idea to use as, as though, or as if, instead.

However, when you are listing things that have similarities, such as is probably more suitable:

The college has several highly regarded neighbors, like such as the Mark Twain House, St. Francis Hospital, the Connecticut Historical Society, and the UConn Law School.
And from Grammar Book:

The word like, when used to show comparison, is a preposition, meaning that it should be followed by an object of the preposition but not by a subject and verb. Use the connectors (also called conjunctions) as or as if when following a comparison with a subject and verb.

Examples

You look so much like your mother.
Mother is the object of the preposition like.

You look as if you are angry.
As if is connecting two pairs of subjects and verbs.
And there you have it, one and all, your grammar lesson for the day.

======================

Your Career Personality: Brainy, Logical, and Efficient

Your Ideal Careers:

Archaeologist
Astronomer
Book editor
Business manager
Civil engineer
Designer
Economist
Inventor
Judge
Scientist


Huh... I don't see "writer" in there...

Star Wars Horoscope for Capricorn

You have a ton of ambition and inexhaustible desire to reach your goals.
You are very loyal, going to great lengths to help someone out.
You are a very social unit, winning the hearts of many with your cute personality.

Star wars character you are most like: R2D2


I LOVED R2D2... he was always the one you could count on. Sheesh... Leia trusted the entire galaxy to the little guy.

What about you?

Monday, June 18, 2007

Happy Monday!

The man who graduates today and stops learning tomorrow is uneducated the day after. ~ Newton D. Baker

It is indeed ironic that we spend our school days yearning to graduate and our remaining days waxing nostalgic about our school days. ~ Isabel Waxman


The weekend is over. Finally.

I know, I know... most folks love the weekends. I do not. Weekends mean there are people everywhere, stores are busier, the streets are busier, my neighbors are home being obnoxious.

Speaking of which: think back to when you graduated from high school -- how did you celebrate? Consider that my question today, because I'm really curious if I'm that different (yes, I know, we've already decided that I AM different then the rest of the known earth, due to my peeking issues... still, bear with me).

On Friday, a local high school had their graduation. On Saturday apparently 80% of the former seniors (now responsible adults) attended a graduation party two houses down. Keep in mine that all of the homes on my cul-de-sac are on decent chunks of property, so two houses down is about an eighth of a mile away.

Anyway...

This party involved a live band cranking out music for three hours (loud enough that I could hear it from every point in my house, including the basement, even with the windows closed), games of all sorts (including a basketball game in the middle of the street -- nevermind they're practically on the corner of a VERY busy road), screaming (why, WHY do teenaged girls shriek at everything??? I never did that, and I don't understand. It's NOT cute. Ugh).

The party started at four and ended long after dark, though the band stopped at seven, thank goodness.

Mind boggling. For my high school graduation, my family and I went to Denny's for dinner -- a big deal for us because we NEVER ate out. I remember my big splurge was getting a virgin strawberry daiquiri. My graduation gift was a set of luggage (I asked my mom yesterday if that was a hint....LOL). The thing is, none of my friends had huge celebration bashes. Some folks probably went to a place a little ritzier than Denny's but there were no live bands or parties with two hundred people.

Am I weird thinking that's a little excessive?

=========================

In writing news.... I have nothing new to share. I queried agents (gulp), but that takes time to hear back. I haven't had the energy to write anything new, and the thought of editing another novel makes me want to cry. I still have two stories in edits at TWRP -- I'm hoping one of them will be ready to release soon. I have three queries sitting there as well: one short, one novella length and my novel. So it's not like I've been slacking. Well, until lately! LOL...

=========================

Lastly, we are desperately looking for a few good readers. I know I've asked this before but...

We've been inundated with review requests at LASR and are in need of folks who love to read as much as we do! Have you read a good romance or women's fiction book or story lately? Do you want to? We have many great short stories in e-format just waiting for a pair of eyes.

We're looking for both guest reviewers and team members at LASR. If you're interested in either position, please email me and let me know. Remember... it means free reading material!

I look forward to hearing from you soon!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Father's Day

The greatest gift I ever had
Came from God; I call him Dad!
~Author Unknown


Fathers need not fathers be.
All one needs to do is choose
To love for life, and that embrace,
Held long and hard, bestows the grace
Each craves. For all in time must lose,
Restored alone by memory.
So now it is with you and me.

- By Nicholas Gordon

======================

My father died fifteen years ago. He wasn't a model father. We were both strong-willed and stubborn and fought constantly. But he loved me. I loved him. He was my dad. The same tough guy who would sing "You Are So Beautiful" by Joe Cocker to me. It embarrassed me terribly, but now I can't hear the song and not think of him.

I still miss him. Days go by when I don't think of him, but some days I'm still all but crippled by the loss.

I didn't take the opportunity to spend more time with him before he died, and when I realized I needed to, that time was short, it was too late. He was in the hospital and on so much pain medicine he hardly recognized me. This is my biggest regret in life, and one I'll never get a "do over" on.

Give your dad a hug, or a phone call, if he's still around. Don't wait to tell him that you love him. You never know what tomorrow will bring.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

*yawn*

The feeling of sleepiness when you are not in bed, and can't get there, is the meanest feeling in the world. ~ Edgar Watson Howe

This will not be an awe-inspiring post (because they are so frequently, aren't they? LOL). I am flat out exhausted from not getting enough sleep. Doubly frustrating is, despite my exhaustion, I'm unable to stay in bed and get some zzzzzzz's. I'm awake, tired and can't snooze. Very frustrating.

The largest part of this problem are the Neighbors From Hell. We actually have three sets of them, but one in particular is truly awful. They ride their ATVs up and down the road late at night (well, and during the day, too, but night is the worst). They shoot off fireworks and shotguns at all hours of the night (we know shotguns are occasionally involved because we mowed their lawn for them in the spring a found piles of shotgun shells in their fire pit). They let their dog (who is obviously beaten because he slithers on the ground if you put a hand out and winces if you raise your voice) run loose -- which is bad enough in and of itself BUT the dog is a pit bull. I don't have a prejudice against pits, some of them are sweethearts, but this one is an unknown because of his upbringing.

Last night, I tried desperately to fall asleep despite the ATVs and the fireworks. I even went as far as pulling out my earplugs... but DH wasn't home and I always figure the moment I put in ear plugs something awful will happen and I won't hear it: fire, burglars, DD falls down the stairs, insert disaster here.

I only hope I can make it through the day with my eyes open. I don't think there will be a chance for a nap.

Napping during the day makes me groggy anyway. It's as though my body expects a full eight hours when I lie down. I try not to nap unless I'm sick, but today may be an exception.

What about you? How do you feel about mid-day naps?

=========================

I've seen this before, and you may have, too -- but who can resist something this cute?

Friday, June 15, 2007

Reading and Writing Out Of Order

Confession of errors is like a broom which sweeps away the dirt and leaves the surface brighter and clearer. I feel stronger for confession. - Mohandas Gandhi

I discovered via yesterday's Booking It that, almost without exception (thanks, Marty, for keeping me from feeling like a total freak!), I am one of the only confessed "peekers" in the entire blogosphere. Many non-peekers pointed out they wanted to read in the same order the author wrote.

I have another confession to make. I don't write in order. I usually write the ending first, or very close to the beginning. I wonder if the two things are related?

When I first start working on a longer piece I'll use writing prompts to get to know my characters. Nothing like tossing them into unusual and predetermined (but not determined by ME) circumstances to see how they behave. Frequently, I'll use those prompt responses as a scene at some point in the story. Also frequently those responses will give me ideas on other scenes and I'll write those, too, having no clear idea of where or whether they will fit in the story.

Bet you've figured out that I'm not a plotter, haven't you? I usually know the beginning and the end of a long story, just not exactly how to get from point A to point B. That's where the fun comes in.

To be honest, IMHO this makes the writing easier. By the time I really hunker down and get to it, I have half the novel already written -- just not in any recognizable order. It's a little like a jigsaw puzzle (something else I love to do!) and keeps the excitement and freshness in the writing. I seldom get bored. I often get frustrated or annoyed, but not bored.

And so this peeker and pantser is done confessing for now. I have a miscellaneous scene to write, based on an idea Groovy gave me a couple days ago. I don't know if it'll be part of a book, the middle of short story or something that will never see the light of day, but I'm in desperate need of writing something new after all the editing I've done lately.

===================

I mentioned, above, that I love to assemble jigsaw puzzles. I also like crosswords and cryptoquotes, but I HATE Sudoku. That's something that feels really strange to me because, really, the idea behind all of them is similar. So I keep messing around with the daily Sudoku puzzles in my daily paper ... but I really, really hate them.

What about you? Do you like puzzles that challenge your brain? Some of them? All of them? And, if you do like Sudoku, can you please tell me what I'm missing? LOL...

Have a great day!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Booking it Backward

When I look back, I am so impressed again with the life-giving power of literature. If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense of myself in the world, I would do that again by reading, just as I did when I was young. ~ Maya Angelou

I slept in today -- until 4:50 a.m.!! Woo! I feel refreshed and ready to Book It:


Booking Through Thursday

Dessert first


Do you cheat and peek ahead at the end of your books? Or do you resolutely read in sequence, as the author intended?

Oh yeah I peek at the ending almost all the time. I absolutely insist on a happy ending, and with books outside the romance genre, this is not guaranteed. So I check. Charity once recommended a book called "I Am the Messenger" (a fabulous book, BTW -- I highly recommend it). You bet your boots I flipped to the back -- I was confused by the end there, but assured that even the dog survives. It was an ambiguous ending, but not unhappy. I'm okay with that.

I used to read a particular series and had the latest one in my pile of library books when I read online that the author killed off a main, and well-loved, character in that book. I looked at the end (something I hadn't done earlier, because this author had never disappointed me before, and I felt I could rely on her). Sure enough, the scuttlebutt was correct. The book went back to the library without me reading a page.

Jenny Cruise said, "Some readers go to the end of the book and read that immediately because they need to know it’s going to end okay. If they’re reassured, they start at the beginning. But if they already know what’s going to happen, why do they bother?

Because while the climax is the pay-off, it’s not the reason people read story. They read story for the journey, to experience what the protagonist experiences, and by doing so, share in her or his triumph or fall at the end
I absolutely agree. And in a mystery, usually "whodunnit" isn't revealed in the final few paragraphs, so I still have that to sustain me throughout.

Knowing the end doesn't ruin it for me. An unhappy ending ruins it for me. What about you?

EDITED TO ADD:

In perusing other BTT participants, there seems to be the feeling that knowing the ending of book ruins the excitment or enjoyment of the story -- I disagree. How many books (or movies or whatever) do you read (or watch) several times? Do you enjoy it less the second (or third, or fourth) time around? Sometimes I think the experience is richer after the first time. Because you know the plot, you can look for nuances or little things you might have missed before.

But, again, that's just me -- and I've been told more than once that I march to a different drum.

And, if you don’t peek, do you ever feel tempted? See above.
Diane suggested I do something to celebrate finishing and submitting my novel yesterday. I think I will.

DH found a laptop perfect for me and asked if I wanted him to buy it. I've agonized all night, but it's a great deal (he works for a computer company) and I'm dying for one. I think I'm a-gonna do it. So, I won't be able to eat for a month... I'm pretty sure I can live of my fat stores.

Yay! I'll be able to write in the sunshine and out of the mushroom pit!

Hey... we have new reviews posted at LASR. Have you looked lately?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I Did It!

Not only did I pick up the 503 words I needed, I actually ended up with 55,125 words total! Woo!

Thanks to a dishwasher, a ferett and some salmon. Oh, and Judy helped a lot, too.

Time to send off the query and then go vomit. Will I ever get over feeling nauseous when I submit??

Thanks for all your cheerleading and general confidence boosting. It was greatly appreciated.

The Day I Can't Think Up A Clever Title

Labradors [are] lousy watchdogs. They usually bark when there is a stranger about, but it is an expression of unmitigated joy at the chance to meet somebody new, not a warning. ~ Norman Strung

The more one gets to know of men, the more one values dogs. ~ Alphonse Toussenel


Thanks for all your encouragement yesterday. No, I don't have my 500 words yet. I stepped away from the story for the night.

Groovy, though, gave me some great ideas in case you didn't read the comments:

Can somebody open a gift? An appropriate but unexpected gift...without a tag because it, um, fell off in the taxi and accidentally stuck to the next passenger's shoe so that (oops, I said "that". Sorry!) his left shoe now reads, "To my sweetest love. Hugs and and kisses forever, Vanessa.

OR maybe it could be a grossly inappropriate gift like a pink chainsaw or chocolate covered cheese-sticks.

Can a sudden, well described storm billow across the prairie and pelt the heroine with hail just as she exits the store with the romantic dinner ingredients?

Maybe it's time to add a pet - Morton the mule or Iris the setter.
Though, Groovy, there are always pets in my story. This one has two: Spike the bull mastiff and Rett the ferret. I love, Love, LOVE your first suggestion. I can picture all kinds of trouble for the guy with tag on his shoe... Hmmm...

In any case, my wonderful friend, Judy, offered to take a look at the complete manuscript of my novel. Apparently she did so last night. I haven't opened the document yet. As always, I have this dreaded feeling that she'll say it horrible, awful, no good and very bad (anyone remember the book I ripped that off from --or, more properly-- from which I ripped that off?) and why would anyone want to publish this, let alone spend money buying it?

I'll get to it at some point today. Still, I'm skeered.

===================

Yesterday, we took the dogs (mine and my mom's Yorkie) to the pet supply store -- one of their favorite trips. We wandered through the store, the dogs happily sniffing all the smells, picked up so suet and dog treats and turned to leave. My mom and her dog, Bonny, were pretty far ahead and so turned the corner first. My DD and I and my mild-mannered marshmallow, Bailey, came around the corner in time to see a mid-sized dog try to take a bite out of Bonny.

Bailey came unglued. She threw herself to the end of her leash barking ferociously and even after the guy took his dog away and out of sight, she was still growling and barking. I've never seen her behave that way -- but apparently NO ONE picks on her pack. Period. She's known Bonny for eight years, since Bonny was a half pound little dynamo that bossed her around. And Bailey was more than willing to take on that other dog for snapping at her friend.

Amazing.

I'd often wondered if Bailey would ever defend the family because she's such a sweet, gently dog. Now? I think she would.

==================

In other news, I got my first mosquito bite of the season. The DD has about twenty. She must smell far sweeter than I.

I hate the bugs in the northeast. I long for the dry, thin (and bug free) air of Colorado during the summers here.

===================

Eileen Cook (who has a book coming out I can't WAIT to read -- darn her publisher for pushing back the date until 2008!) wants to start a reading revolution. She talks about it here, here and here (read them in order).

What are some ideas you have for a reading revolution? How can we as readers and/or writers inspire the current and next generation to embrace a love of reading?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Just Ignore the Screaming...

That sound you hear... you know, that shrill scream emanating from the northeast? That's me.

I've finished editing my novel. I added a scene at the end to make sure I had enough mush and a good, sappy ending because I love them.

Then I went through and deleted all my unnecessary "thats" and double checked my distancing words: felt, heard, saw. Take a wild guess how many "thats" I deleted.

Nope. Not even close. Try again.

Still wrong.

I deleted... are you ready for this? I deleted TWO HUNDRED "thats" from my novel.

Two. Hundred.

Un-freakin'-believable.

And now I am 503 words short. Sounds easy, right? Just add in 500 words... that's nothing.

I'm absolutely stumped, not to mention sick and tired of looking at this story. Five hundred lousy words are all that's keeping me from submitting my first novel.

*sigh*

Okay, back to the drawing board. I should be able to figure this out.

Two Memes For Tuesday

The amount of sleep required by the average person is five minutes more. ~ Wilson Mizener

My DH got called into work at midnight last night (he works an hour away), and then returned in less than an hour -- told me they called him en route and said he could do it in the morning after all. Grr... in the meantime, our sleep last night was nearly nonexistent.

So, I'm stealing a couple of memes since my brain isn't quite functioning yet.

From Groovy:

161 & 5 Book Meme

Rules:

1. Grab the book closest to you
2. Open it to page 161
3. Find the fifth full sentence
4. Post the text of the sentence to your blog
5. Don't search around for the coolest book you have, use the one that is really next to you.
6. Tag five people to do this meme.
Ok... I have a choice of two sitting on top of each other: "Body Trauma: A writer's guide to wounds and injuries -OR- Crowned: An Ordinary Girl by Natasha Oakley. Hmmm... What the heck, I'll do both.

Body Trauma -

Uh-oh... It's a diagram in the burns chapters entitled "Figure 19 - Rule of Nines for Determining Percentage of Body Surface Area.

Guess that won't work. Good thing I have another choice!

Crowned: An Ordinary Girl -

I haven't read this yet, it is going to ruin the story? LOL... Here goes:

The fifth FULL sentence reads: "Dancing with you."

Guess it wasn't a spoiler, huh?

=============================

Meme Two is from Alice:

The Silly Policies We Impose On Ourselves

1. I can't walk past a picture hanging crookedly on the wall. I can't. It's a sickness. God bless the lady at the place I bought my last paintings who told me to use TWO nails (using a level to make sure they are perfectly placed, of course). Now, my pictures don't list one way or the other.

2. I eat my food at room temperature whenever possible. I microwave fruit from the fridge for 15 seconds so that it's not cold. I put ice in my coffee (but not too much -- I HATE iced coffee). If there was a way to have ice cream stay solid at room temperature, I'd eat it that way, too.

3. I am unable to do nothing. DH loves nothing more than to go out on the boat, anchor it and sit. I would LOSE MY MIND. I need to be busy. All the time. It's a good thing I feel that way, considering the abundance of things I've recently added to my schedule.
I'm not sure if those fall into "Silly Policies", but it's all I could think of on less than five hours sleep and half a cup of coffee.

What strange quirks do you have?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Monday Meanderings

Gardening requires lots of water - most of it in the form of perspiration. ~ Lou Erickson

Yesterday was a gorgeous day. I spent a goodly portion of it outside battling the encroachment of the woods on my perimeter gardens, all the while singing to myself, "I fought the woods, and the woods won." I'm telling you, I have never seen a place where things grow like this. I grew up in California. Things grow well in California, but NOTHING like here. I can only guess that it has to do with the level of humidity.

In the early 1900's nearly all of New Hampshire was farmland -- clear cut and treeless. Now? Now you can't see fifteen feet in front of you for the jungle that exists everywhere.

Still, the good news is that stuff grows here. My peony's bloomed yesterday!


You knew I had to post pictures of my flowers, right?

We also feed the teeming wildlife out back. It makes for quite a rodent soap opera every evening when I put out the squirrel food. Our chipmunks all have names, of a sort. I managed to get pictures of two of them. Here's Rocky (aka "rock wall chipmunk"):



And this is GT (aka "gas tank chipmunk" - yes it lives in an old gas tank):



I was unable to get a picture of Rodeo (aka "Rhododendron chipmunk") and SS (aka "swing set chipmunk"). They're a lot of fun to watch. GT is a toughie and chased everyone away, including the red squirrels. Rocky gets preferential treatment and is fed a handful of food at his hole, so he doesn't have to fight as hard at the feeder. DD loves them all.

In writing news, I managed to add more words to my novel. I have a satisfactory query and synopsis (four pages -- how can one possibly write a one page synopsis?) and once the story has been edited for stupidity -- taking out the "that"'s and changing the "it"s to actual nouns and checking for over use of passive voice and gerunds, it'll be ready to go! Woo!

I also received what I hope are final edits on my Sweetheart Rose, "Magic". Fingers crossed, that one should be available soon. I (heart) my Sweetheart Rose editor, Leanne. She's awesome.

Once I get this novel submitted, I need to work on more short stuff. I haven't written anything new in quite some time and I miss it. Then, it's time to either finish my mystery (which is at 35,000 words) or edit another completed novel (I'm leaning toward "Playing House", for those of you in the know).

BTW, in regards to yesterday's post -- we got lots of review requests, but no volunteers for guest reviewers. C'mon... remember if you become a team member, you'll get free eBooks to review. What more could you want???

OH! I just remembered one last thing. Thursday of last week, during "Booking It", someone recommended the Enid Blyton series about the Faraway Tree. I found a copy of the second book in the series, "The Magic Faraway Tree" at the library and got it for my daughter. She devoured it, licked her lips and asked for more. I can't remember when she loved a book as much. I decided to buy her the series, but they were written in the thirties and forties and are long out of print (I think the last print run was in the seventies). I found three of them at AbeBooks, but can't locate "Up the Faraway Tree". That's very sad. If I lived in the UK I could still get them all...

Anyway -- I just want to thank whoever it was that recommended these books. They are incredible!! And, hey, if anyone has a copy of "Up the Faraway Tree" laying around that they don't want, I'll happily take it off your hands.

What book from your childhood is one you most want/wanted to share with your children? Mine was the series "The Prydain Chronicles" by Lloyd Alexander.

Have a great day!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

An Announcement: The Long and the Short of It

“Critics are sentinels in the grand army of letters, stationed at the corners of newspapers and reviews, to challenge every new author.” - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“A good review from the critics is just another stay of execution.” - Dustin Hoffman


It's not as though there aren't enough reviews sites out there... I'm aware of that. But every now and then, I've wanted to review something I've read and I don't always want to use this blog to do it. Not just books, but some of the short stories I've purchased at TWRP and elsewhere.

So, I started another blog to work on in all my spare time.

The Long and the Short of It: Reviewing Long and Short Romance One Story At A Time

My good friend, Judy, will be helping and we hope to add more team members as time goes by. In the meantime, we'll happily welcome guest reviewers and include a link to your blog. If you've read a romance or women's fiction short story or book (and yes, for now we're limiting reviews to those particular genres) and have something to say about it, write it up and email me the information. Also, if you're interested in becoming a team member, let me know and I will send you the criteria.

There is only one short story review posted at this time. Judy has plans to review two print books she recently read, and I've also shared with her four Wild Rose Press stories, so we should be moving along at a fair clip.

However, be advised ... my mom raised me to keep my mouth shut if I don't have something nice to say. So, if I really don't like something, I'll share it with another reviewer. If they don't like it, it won't get reviewed. I won't lie about a bad book/story and call it good, but I'm not going to be nasty either.

If you have a book or story you'd like to throw in the pot, let me know! Judy will also be gabbing about this on her blog as well when she's up and about this morning, so hop over and see what she has to say.

Have a happy Sunday!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

The Joy of Writing Sex

Sex between a man and a woman can be absolutely wonderful - provided you get between the right man and the right woman. ~ Woody Allen

I had a friend email last night about writing sex scenes. She's not a romance writer, but thinks she needs to include one in her current WIP and asked my opinion on writing them. She mentioned something that all of us have certainly thought about: What would my mother think?

The romance I write is fairly sweet, BUT (in my longer works) I do let my characters have some heavy foreplay now and then. I get a kick writing those scenes. Thus far, I haven't written a sex/love scene to fruition, mostly because the stories haven't lent themselves to this. I really prefer, prude that I am, that my characters don't have sex outside of marriage. And, since my stories pretty much end up with my characters either agreeing to marry or with the wedding itself, I haven't had to tread there.

But... in the back of my mind, I always think about who will read the story. My mom I don't worry about -- we have a good, open relationship. She's not that person hovering over me. But I do have them, a whole bunch of them, and it's frustrating to try to get past that feeling of judgement.

I've read that one of the questions most romance writers get is some version of, "Is your sex life that hot?". Why do they focus on the sex? They don't ask, "Have you ever been lost in the Brazilian jungle with drug runners hot on your heels?" or "Have you ever been stalked by a psychic serial killer with a fetish for red high heels?" or whatever other strange plot point you may have.

I don't have any real point to this, it was just on my mind. I'm functioning on very little sleep, so it's amazing that there's anything on my mind at all.

=======================
Places I've Been:



create your own personalized map of the USA
or check out our California travel guide

Technically, I've been through more -- but it was only a drive by en route to NH from Colorado. I've listed the states where I actually got out of the car and did something.

What about you? How many states have you visited?

Friday, June 08, 2007

HEA... Oh Yeah...

“I am confident that, in the end, common sense and justice will prevail. I'm an optimist, brought up on the belief that if you wait to the end of the story, you get to see the good people live happily ever after.” - Yusuf Islam

“At the end of the day faith is a funny thing. It turns up when you don't really expect it. It's like one day you realize that the fairy tale may be slightly different than you dreamed. The castle, well, it may not be a castle. And it's not so important happy ever after, just that its happy right now. See once in a while, once in a blue moon, people will surprise you , and once in a while people may even take your breath away.” - Meredith Grey, Fictional character, played by actress Ellen Pompeo on the TV series Grey's Anatomy


Someone at the AAR message board posed the question -- why does romance have to have a HEA? Why can't they end in tragedy now and then?

Teach Me Tonight addresses the issue here.

Many folks at the AAR board have also tried to explain that a happy ending is one of the things that makes a story a romance. And, a HEA doesn't need to be marriage -- just the sure knowledge that the H/H are going to make a go of it.

IMHO, if it doesn't end happily, it isn't romance. It's general fiction, or women's fiction or whatever. When I read something outside of the romance genre, I always, ALWAYS read the last page first. I have no desire to get invested in a character, care about a character, and then have them die or something equally tragic. That's not the kind of story that appeals to me. Clearly, it appeals to many people, judging by the popularity of Nicholas Sparks, but not me.

Also, IMHO, genre fiction is labeled as such for a reason. For instance, a mystery includes a mystery AND the solution. Period. How would you feel reading through a genre mystery, getting to the end and the investigator scratches his or her head, shrugs and says, "I give up. I can't figure this thing out." and then goes on his/her merry way? Yes, this often happens in real life. There are a gazillion unsolved mysteries... just as there are a gazillion unhappy relationships. But when I read a particular genre, I expect the fulfillment of a promise made by the label.

I'm not adverse to people writing, publishing or reading sad stories. I just want to know ahead of time if they're sad. I love the movie "Beaches" and cry every blasted time I see it... but I know it's sad. It's also not a romance, and somehow that makes it okay to my strange story needs.

So... I know I've harped on this before, but I felt the need to do so again. I imagine, at some point in the future, you'll hear about it another time or twelve. I'm all about the HEA.

======================

So... yesterday. Hmmm... What an interesting day for me. The stars were aligned to throw everything in my path to keep me from writing.

I got up at 4:30 a.m. which should have given me two blessedly quiet hours alone to write. DH got up at 5 a.m., followed closely by the dog (who demanded breakfast immediately) and the DD (who did not).

DH was up and down the stairs to the basement (where I work), in his boots, thump, thump, thump. DD was upstairs painting and kicking the breakfast bar, thump, thump, thump.

Finally DH left at 6:30, DD and I had breakfast and did school. We were done by 8:30 a.m., but no writing for me until she heads into quiet time to do her seatwork.

Fast forward ahead to the afternoon: DD goes into quiet time. I settle in to work. Fifteen minutes later, the oven timer goes off. I bring the brownies up to my mom (she lives in an apartment over my garage, and doesn't have a proper oven). Threw the chicken I was making DD and DH for dinner into the oven since it was warm. Settled in to write. Ten minutes later, dog barks like a maniac -- there's a squirrel on my bird feeder (apparently the squirrel feeder isn't nearly as much fun for them). I go outside and terrorize the squirrel -- shake him out of the tree and chase him into the woods like a crazy woman, hoping this will keep him off the feeder for at least a couple hours. Settle in to write. Twenty minutes later, the oven timer goes off. Nope, chicken's not quite done, set it for ten more minutes. Beep, beep. Took it out. Settled down to write. Someone pulls up in the driveway, dog barks like a maniac. Mormon missionaries. I gab with them for awhile (they're always so sweet and polite), then go inside and settle down to write. Bzzzz, bzzzz, a huge fly is dive bombing me. I hope it will go away. Bzzz... no luck. I grab a notebook, but the blasted thing won't settle anywhere. I swat at it a few times in the air. Now it's panicked and buzzes and flies even more maniacally. Finally, it lands on the screen of the open window. I close the window.

Ahhh.... quiet. I settle down to write, certain I'm good this time. Five minutes later, the cat sits at my feet, crying. I look at the clock. It's just after 4 p.m. -- the time the dog gets her pill with canned food, and the cat gets a teaspoon of soft food so she'll keep reminding me to medicate the dog. I go upstairs, feed the pets, then settle down to write.

DD is now finished with her seatwork and hungry. I sigh, go upstairs and fix her dinner. After we're done eating, I decide to make DH's dinner (yes, we don't eat as a family -- DH's work hours stink). I put on a pot of water and a bit of milk to boil for fake potatoes (DH prefers them over the real thing, go figure). We hear Gram outside, and peek out to say hi. I realize I haven't fed the rodents out back, so fill the squirrel feeder and put a bit of food out for our "pet" chipmunk. DD runs around the house with Gram's dog, slips on a spot where the sprinkler is dribbling and takes a beautiful tumble. I comfort her, return Gram's dog and notice that there are red beetles on my Asiatic lilies. DD and I pick beetles and scrape the larvae off the leaves.

Then the smoke alarm goes off. Oh. No. I forgot about my pan of water and a bit of milk. I rush inside, the dog is berserk from the sound of the alarm and tries to run away. DD tackles her, but the dog out weighs her, so I pull the pan off the stove, turn on the fan (the house is FULL of smoke... I can't see anything) and grab the leash. I toss it at the DD and tell her to go across the street where the dog can't hear the alarm. Gram goes with her.

I go back inside (cough, cough) and open all the windows, turn on all the bathroom fans, grab box fans and flip them backwards so they're blowing outside, get a drink because my throat is burning and head back out.

DH shows up about this time. I advise him that dinner will be delayed.

And that was my day. How was yours? I don't even have the energy to think of a Question of the Day... maybe you could share something amusing with me that has happened to you?

Happy Friday.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Booking It Again

“What makes a book great, a so-called classic, it its quality of always being modern, of its author, though he be long dead, continuing to speak to each new generation.” - Lawrence Clark

It's that time again!


Booking Through Thursday

Almost everyone can name at least one author that you would love just ONE more book from. Either because they’re dead, not being published any more, not writing more, not producing new work for whatever reason . . . or they’ve aged and aren’t writing to their old standards any more . . . For whatever reason, there just hasn’t been anything new (or worth reading) of theirs and isn’t likely to be.

If you could have just ONE more book from an author you love . . . a book that would be as good any of their best (while we’re dreaming) . . . something that would round out a series, or finish their last work, or just be something NEW . . . Who would the author be, and why? Jane Austen? Shakespeare? Laurie Colwin? Kurt Vonnegut?


This question made me think... who would I like to see write again? I'm not a big one for the classics, so new Jane Austen isn't something I dream about and I still wish John Steinbeck had never written a word (don't get me started about Hemmingway -- UGH). My first thought was Shakespeare -- I'd love to see his wit, wisdom and bite in this century. Others have tried to mimic his style of writing, but failed. He was one sharp dude.

The other thought I had was Lloyd Alexander. He died recently, and his books helped shape my youth. I loved (and still love) The Prydain Chronicles. Via my daughter, I've discovered his other books like "Time Cat" that are equally fascinating and well written. To think that there will no new books from him makes me very sad.

Ooh... as I was looking for a quote for this morning's blog, I found another author I admired - Mark Twain! Another insightful and funny guy. Yeah. More Twain please.
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BTW, congrats to Dru for remembering that Laverne drank milk and pepsi. There's a Pizza Hut in town that we go to now and then for their lunch buffet with two waitresses: Linda and Tina. Before we knew their names, we called them Laverne and Shirley, because I'm telling you -- they look and act JUST LIKE THEM. It's eerie.

I loved that show and Happy Days. Oh yeah. But Joanie Loves Chachi was where my heart belonged. Later, as a highschooler, I liked The Cosby Show and Family Ties. Growing Pains was up there, too. There were some great TV shows in the 70s and 80s. Not so much anymore... too bad.

What was your favorite sitcom when you were growing up (radio shows count for you old fogies...LOL)?