Monday, March 31, 2008

It's Snowing

No, I'm not joking... it's been snowing here ALL DAY.

I am NOT happy.

Edited to add PICTURES:

I had to take the dog out, so thought I'd take a shot of my vegetable garden:

If you look closely, you'll see my tomato cages lying on the ground, and my lovely, black composter. What you WON'T see are... plants, or even dirt.

How did the Pilgrims survive out here? Seriously....Just saying.

Oh, and here's one of Dakota, who likes the snow (there's one in every family):

And DD's playset:

Just another lovely Spring day here in the frozen north.

VERY cool contest....and some Rambling

An apocryphal story - the word "apocryphal" here means "obviously untrue" - tells of two people, long ago, who were very bored, and that instead of complaining about it they sat up all night and invented the game of chess so that everyone else in the world, on evenings when there is nothing to do, can also be bored by the perplexing and tedious game they invented. ~Lemony Snicket

Win Free Books!

See that banner? Do you see what it says? Yep... The Long and the Short of It is giving away a book a day, EVERY DAY in April, in conjunction with a review on the reviews blog. Most of them will be print romances in various genres, from random publishers. There may be the occasional eBook, but by and large, you'll be getting some great books to add to your keeper shelf. So stop by every day, leave a comment and see if you're lucky... are you feeling lucky? Well, are you? *G*

Please, feel free to spread the word to the world. The more, the merrier!


Spring has sprung, and you can't tell my DH any different.

Yes... yes that IS him in shorts on our riding mower on the "lawn". Next week, I'll post pictures of him washing the car in the driveway on Christmas.

Bet you think I'm kidding...


I worked on my HTML book again yesterday, and got myself utterly confused (or confuzzled, as I usually say) on the "going further with hypertext". So, I've decided I'm not going to organize my website into folders. So. There. That'll solve that problem. LOL... Actually, it could partly be the fact that I'm so incredibly tired my eyes were blurring. I'll try to understand it again when I'm feeling a little perkier.

I still love the book, though.


Tomorrow I'm interviewing an online friend about her latest release. She's a wicked talented author, folks, so you'll want to swing by!


Your Aura is Green

You're very driven, competitive, and even a bit jealous.

However, you seek out balance in your life - and you usually achieve it!

The purpose of your life: inspiring others to be better

Famous greens include: Tony Robbins, Donald Trump, Martha Stewart

Careers for you to try: Guru, CEO, Talk Show Host

That "inspiring people to be better" thing? My friends would probably call it "nagging"...LOL...

I wouldn't mind Tony Robbins' smarts, Donald Trump's money and Martha Stewart's house. But I don't want any of their jobs.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sharing Sunday

A good snapshot stops a moment from running away. ~Eudora Welty

Because I am tired and have nothing in my brain, I give you: PICTURES!!

Dakota and her friend, Bugsy had a playdate (note how little snow is on my front lawn at that time):

DD went exploring in the woods behind our house and took these photos (among MANY others):

The dog really DID eat her homework:

But, that's okay, she's still cute -- and look how she's grown!

And, yesterday we began the process of changing this:

Into this:

What have you been up to this week?


From Melissa's blog yesterday:

Your Lucky Underwear is Purple

Dreamy and idealistic, you envision great things for your life. Your lucky purple underwear can make those dreams come true!

You're a busy little butterfly. You have the most projects, interests, and friends of anyone you know.

You also have a flair for the dramatic. Sometimes too much drama comes in to your life and brings things to a stop.

If you want to focus more, and flutter less, put on your purple underpants. They'll help you get the important things done.

Mostly, that's pretty close... guess I'd better go out and get me some purple undies -- but not those boy short kind in the picture. I prefer panties that stay OUT of my crack, thank you very much. TMI?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Addressing Jealousy

The envious die not once, but as oft as the envied win applause. ~ Baltasar Gracian

It was mentioned, this past week, in passing during a conversation in the LASR yahoo group about how some folks are not supportive of other authors' good news. In fact, at times they can get downright nasty when other authors share their contest wins, new contracts or positive reviews. How sad.

EDITED TO ADD: I think some folks have misunderstood what I wrote, above. Please note, the LASR group wasn't the one who was negative--a member of the group was recounting something that had happened elsewhere.

I'll be honest... when I hear of friends or other writing acquaintances having great success in their writing, I often times wish it were me. But, understand this: I don't wish it were me at the expense of their success, and I don't want them to ever think they shouldn't share their good news, because I want to rejoice with them.

I think it's only natural, as human beings (and I'm pretty certain everyone reading this is one) to have a moment of -- Why not me, too?

Am I wrong? And, do you think that kind of feeling makes me a smaller person?

On the other hand, to think, "Why them?" is a lot different than, "Why not me, too?" -- yes?

I don't think people who share their successes, big or small, are trying to make me (or anyone else) feel bad. At least, I hope they aren't. I love to hear about new sales, or contest wins, or fantastic reviews. It's awesome! Why shouldn't they be proud. Odds are, they've worked as hard or harder than I have.

I have to admit to being very proud of the responses in the LASR group--we have a wonderful bunch of fun, supportive people in there, authors and readers alike, and have never had any nasty or unkind posts. I imagine that may change down the line, but how wonderful it is that people can feel comfortable sharing their triumphs in there, or their bad news, too, and know that the other members are ready with a "atta girl" or a hug.

Those are the kind of people I want to be associated with, and the kind of person I want to be. I hope I am, or at least that I'm on my way.


So, I got another rejection on "Kitchen Matches". I guess I didn't tidy it up enough after all. Once I'd licked my wounds a bit, I shared the rejection letter with Judy and we gabbed a bit... and you know what? I might just expand this out into a category length book. The major complaints I've rec'd from both editors are that the hero isn't fleshed out enough, the story just happens too quickly, and the H/H need more time together to make it all believable.

At first, the thought of expanding "Kitchen Matches" overwhelmed me, but after giving it some thought and brainstorming some ideas, I think it can be done. How cool would it be if I had not one but TWO submissions for HQA by the end of summer?

I think I'm going to give it a go.


You Are 64% Good

You are a good person. You do the best you can to be ethical, fair, and moral.

And as you know, being a good person means making hard decisions... and following them through.

If you're confronted with an ethical dilemma, you will usually do the right thing.

Of course you do slip up. No one's perfect. But you do your best to correct your missteps.

You are also probably: incredibly honest, especially with yourself

Right now you are on track to being: A respected leader

To be a better person: Be kind to someone who is not very kind to you

Friday, March 28, 2008

I Am A Romance Author

There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. ~Anaïs Nin

It's snowing here. Again. Just saying.


I worked not at all on my story yesterday--at least nothing I put in writing. I know I moodled and thought and considered quite a bit. Should I give the hero siblings? The heroine has to be an only child, but it seems odd that both would be. I have a tendency (and Judy and I were talking about this yesterday) to make my H/H only children because it's just easier than keeping track of family. I also like to kill off at least one parent, for the same reason. But that's just not natural, LOL... So am giving it some thought.

I went to the UBS yesterday to find an older book that one of the LASR reviewers reviewed. While I was there, I got to call myself an author. Yes I did! AND...I was at Target a couple of days ago, in the books section and there were two women gabbing about how there was an article in some big newspaper talking about how romance wasn't "real" writing (yeah, we've never heard THAT before), and I jumped right in (cuz, yanno, I'm shy) and said, "Bite your tongue! I am a romance author and I'd sure like to see one of them write a romance."


I think I'm finally starting to own that idea. It feels good.


From Chris:

You Are Not Prissy

You're the furthest thing from a princess - and you probably stay far away from any princess types you know.

You have an easygoing approach to living. It doesn't take a lot to make you happy.

And when life requires it, you're ready to get your hand a little dirty.

There's no problem you're too prissy to tackle!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Review for "Don't Fence Me In"

Diana Castilleja said nice things about "Don't Fence Me In". Click here to see what she thought of my story.

Booking It Under the Covers

The time to read is any time: no apparatus, no appointment of time and place, is necessary. It is the only art which can be practised at any hour of the day or night, whenever the time and inclination comes, that is your time for reading; in joy or sorrow, health or illness. ~Holbrook Jackson

Just a reminder: Comments on my blog posts put you in a drawing to win one of these books. Good luck!

While acknowledging that we can’t judge books by their covers, how much does the design of a book affect your reading enjoyment? Hardcover vs. softcover? Trade paperback vs. mass market paperback? Font? Illustrations? Etc.?

I do prefer reading paperbacks, just because they're easier to hold, and that's what I have most of in my library, because they're cheaper to buy. But covers? Let's talk about covers.

Funny thing is, I just commented to Dru about this because she mentioned she'd heard about a book that sounded really good, but when she went to buy it, she just couldn't because she disliked the cover strongly.

I think covers influence my buying quite a bit. I went on a rampage this month and bought about 20 category romances...very randomly. I seldom even looked at the blurbs. It was all about the cover, the line they were part of, and the title.

And, yes, the title can influence me as much as the blurb. I intensely dislike the silly category titles like "The Billionaire Sheik's Virgin Mistress's Secret Baby". I just can't take the book seriously at all. The sad thing is: I may be missing out on a decent story. But, GAH.

And the covers? I despise clinch covers. I don't mind the softer version of a clinch cover, with the hero and heroine holding each other. But the overly-dramatic, 80's Fabio covers, with long dresses and flying hair and half-naked bodies? Ack. Can't bring myself to pick them up.

Recently, I started reading Lynsay Sands Argeneau series. The first book was "The Accidental Vampire". Here is that cover:

Next I read "Vampires Are Forever". Here is that cover:

I really liked both these covers... I liked the soft, blurry edges. I especially liked the cover to "Vampires Are Forever". And, I enjoyed the books so much, I decided to buy her backlist. I took my trusty B&N gift card I'd gotten for my birthday and trotted to the store. And almost came back empty-handed. These are just a couple of the covers for her backlist (I HATED them):

Had I come across those books first, I probably never would have read the series.

So... do covers influence my buying habits? Absolutely. You?


Worked more on plotting the HQA. Gave my hero a job, a hobby and an apartment. Gave my heroine a job and a pet. And, no, I'm not saying what her job and pet are ... but they are both unusual. I'm working on the collage, and will post it here when it's done.


You Are Dr. Pepper

You're very unique and funky, yet you still have a bit of traditionalism to you.

People who like you think they have great taste... and they usually do.

Your best soda match: Root Beer

Stay away from: 7 Up

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Welcome Guest Blogger: Groovy!

Walking the Tightrope: Life as a Balancing Act

See that that post title? You can thank Marianne for that. I told her she could assign a topic for my guest post.

I've been panicking ever since!

Balance? In what areas of life? Did I want to write about the balance between dieting and eating "real" food? Should I broach the topic of finances by discussing the importance of living within your means and keeping a balanced checkbook? How about the balance between work and pleasure? That one might be interesting to consider, especially since I am the author of a website devoted totally to helping people procrastinate! Perhaps I should write about how to find the balance between being fun and groovy and being being serious. (Stop laughing. I can too be serious!) I could even consider the fine line between homeschooling and keeping up with
everything else that life has to offer.

I mulled, I pondered, I made several false starts. Then today it came to me. You see, today we took Grampy to the hospital. Again. And suddenly, in the midst of praying for my in-laws and canceling my plans with GrammaJ (my mom), I knew what I needed to write about.

Mulletman and I are smack dab in the middle of life right now; We are solidly a part of The Sandwich Generation. We have two little girls ages 6 and 8 whom we are homeschooling. My in-laws lived in an apartment that's attached to our house and my mom just moved up to Maine to be near us this past October. Her little duplex is about 5 miles away from us.

We are thrilled to have all the folks near us. It's wonderful for the girlies to be able to see their grandparents on a consistent basis. It's fabulous to have built in babysitters we can trust (and who don't charge a fee!). It's great to be able to have breakfast or lunch with one of them and get caught up on life. It's fantastic to be able to spend all our holidays with family.

But folks, it's also exhausting.

My father-in-law has more ailments than I have time or energy to list. He's been in and out of the hospital multiple times since they've lived up here - once for a 52 day stay- and sadly, his mind wanders on occasion. Fortunately his wife is healthy, but she's also worn out and depressed from caring for him and from being isolated
from any sort of a social life.

My mom also has numerous physical difficulties, including some severe problems with her hands. Consequently, we're the ones who open and shut and twist and arrange and fix. She's also lonely and emotional and, at times, VERY needy. My mom doesn't have a car, so sometimes she needs rides. We've moved her twice in six months' time and she hasn't had the energy to make any friends yet, so I am, for all intents and purposes, her only human contact in this ole world. She calls me. Often. And everything is an emergency! A nightmare! A catastrophe!

So, in addition to finding equilibrium between homeschool and housework, add in balancing caring for our folks and caring for ourselves, our marriage and our children. It was tiring before with 4-H and AWANA and homeschool co-op meetings and shopping and cleaning and cooking, but now we also have to embrace being sounding boards for three other adults who are sick or aching or depressed or upset, making doctor runs, making hospital visits, hanging pictures, fixing things, cleaning up blood (a whole unit on the bathroom floor last week when Grampy fell), feeding the cat, making meals, shoveling 2 extra walks, and more.

Seriously, we could easily spend all day, every day helping the folks out. And we could throw in some nights too since that's when Grampy seems to fall the most often. There are days when we barely speak to our own children because we're too busy assisting our parents. We had an opportunity to move to London as missionaries, but tabled the idea because we're needed here. Clearly we need some balance in this situation!

I can't tell you that we've got it all down pat, because we don't. However, we have managed to install some sanity saving methods into our lives. First of all, Mulletman and I try to encourage and help each other. It's unnerving for him to watch his dad go down hill and it's draining for me to constantly be "there" for my mom. Sometimes we switch off and he goes to help my mom and I go sit with his dad or take his mom to lunch. We pray together and remind each other of God's wisdom from the Bible. Then we make private jokes about both situations to relieve the tension. I can testify to you that a merry heart does indeed do good as a medicine. :-)

For the sake of our marriage (26 years next week - Whoo-Hoo!) Mulletman and I try to do some things together that have absolutely nothing to do with our kids or our folks. He plays guitar and I sing with him or we go for walks or bike rides and just reconnect sans family problems. I can't begin to stress how important this time is for our love life. We desperately need to time to be just the two of us!

Unless there is a true emergency, we try to make time with the girlies a priority over time with the folks. I spend time schooling them every day that it is possible to do so. We read to them, play board games, make crafts, eat together, and we try to make sure they can get out and visit with their own friends as well. We also encourage them, when appropriate, to help us be a blessing to the folks. The girls make cards and goodies for their grandparents and visit them and do small errands and chores for them. Most importantly, we all pray together for the folks.

Mulletman and I also try to set boundaries. We have an answering machine and we use it! That way when my mom calls (and calls and calls), I have the opportunity to triage her requests. I do call her back, but usually I find that I am able to wait until after we have finished school or our meal or whatever to do so.

Finally, we've tried to lay aside any resentment or bitterness (trust me, they're feelings we are familiar with) and embrace this time with our whole family being together. Chances are that Grampy will gone soon to be with the Lord. How can we begrudge him a little hand holding or football watching or raspberry pie? Grammy is so sweet and faithful and so tired, she really needs our hugs and reassurances and a wee bit of pampering. My mom is genuinely lonely and handicapped. She has been deprived of "family" for almost her entire life. We can't make up for all her pain, but we can love her and do our best to make her feel needed and appreciated.

So here we are, stuck in the middle and walking the tightrope of life. By God's grace and with His help we'll keep the balance and we'll grow through this time of ministering to our own family. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go pick up Grampy's prescriptions from the drug store.

For more groovy fun, vist Groovy's blog!

Want to be a guest blogger? Click here to find out how!

Just a Quickie

Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art.... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival. ~C.S. Lewis

Because, again, I have a guest blogger...

I was heartily entertained by everyone's quizzes yesterday :-)

It snowed last night. Bet my robin was a bit surprised.

I'm still working on my HQA and my article.


What Your Peanut Butter And Jelly Sandwich Means

Your eating style is gluttonous. If you like something, you're going back for seconds... no matter how full you are!

You don't really have a sweet tooth. If you go for dessert, you tend to go for something light.

Your taste in food tends to be pretty flexible. You may crave sushi one night, and your favorite childhood recipe the next.

You are probably a fairly normal, upper middle class person. You don't rock the boat too often.

You are a tough person who isn't afraid to live life fully. There isn't a lot that scares you.

You are laid back and extremely easygoing. You never make a fuss, and you try to enjoy every moment.

Can I just say that 90% of this is totally wrong? What about you?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I Forgot...

Today, I'm the featured author at Diane Craver's blog in celebration of Small Press Week. Go check it out and say "howdy"! I'd love to see you there.


I Tot I Taw a Robin!!

There can be no other occupation like gardening in which, if you were to creep up behind someone at their work, you would find them smiling. ~Mirabel Osler

I was going to do some fun, quirky meme today, but NO ONE HAS ONE POSTED YET.

Okay, I'm over it... but really--I'm posting late today (it's after 6 a.m.), and no one has today's meme posted? **sigh**

Hey! I saw my first red-breasted robin yesterday! Woot! Spring really IS here. I'm thrilled. Well, except that the snow is melting, and I'm able to see all the damage the mole did throughout the winter. It's really bad, folks. Really, really bad.

I was reading an old Readers Digest last night and came across a little article about weird town names. I love this! I have to write something set in one of these towns. Check it out:

Typo (oh yeah!! Love that!)
Why (Think of the possibilities)
Tick Bite

or the sweet, positive ones:

Sweet Lips (HAHA)

There were several I didn't list, one in particular because the funny thing is...I'm setting my HQA in one! I had no idea when I set the HQA there I would be reading this article. I love coincidence (or the fact there's no such thing).


My friend, Allie, has challenged me several times to write and submit an article somewhere. I've really struggled with this. After all, what do I have to say to edify and educate? But, yesterday an idea reached up and grabbed me, smacked me around a few times and then duct taped me to the keyboard. After I've polished a bit, that baby is going off somewhere. I'm actually kind of excited...


Random quiz:

You Were Born Under:

Your most comfortable inside your head - and often daydream the day away.

You have an artistic temperament that makes you seem creative to some, eccentric to others.

You avoid conflict at all costs, and you have a difficult time with relationships.

Attractive and with good manners, you tend to shine in social situations.

You are most compatible with a Pig or Rabbit.


Note: to folks who comment... I am going to do my best to respond to you in my comments each day. It will probably be the following morning, and one big, bubba comment to answer questions or comments all at the same time. Just wanted to let you know :-)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Monday...and the Sun Is Shining!

The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month. ~Henry Van Dyke

Had a quiet weekend. I couldn't leave Dakota for too long on Easter (due to her ongoing tummy troubles) so DH took DD to the in-laws without me, and I had lots of time alone. It was wonderful. The weather was decent, too, about 38 degrees and sunny, with just a little bit of a breeze, so I took the dog for a long, long walk. I love being able to do that. So does she :-)

I did work on my possible HQ American (HQA--pronounced hawk-wah, lol--from now until I think of a fun title) a bit. I almost finished my heroine's character interview (I'd forgotten how long it is), and got partway through my hero's (I really like him... he's awfully sweet) and brainstormed seven possible scenes. I'm itching to write the first kiss scene, but I'm holding off until the beginning of April...but it's TOUGH because I really like the scenario. I still need to finish the hero's interview and write a few nonsensical scenes to get to know them better (I like to write everyday scenes: washing dishes, taking a shower, doing laundry...stuff I probably wouldn't use in the actual book). I also need to decide if it's going to be mostly serious, or leaning toward funny. I think this one needs a more serious bent (though I can't be completely straight-faced) because my heroine has a lot of wounds she needs healed.

I may still work on a shorter piece, just to have something I can submit sooner, but I'll decide on that once I start working on the HQA.


I know spring must finally be here, because the chipmunk who lives in our rockwall out back paid me a visit yesterday. We fed him last year, and usually around the same time, and if we missed a day he'd come to the sliding glass door and put his little paw up as if asking, "Please, ma'am, may I have some more?"

Anyway, he didn't stop to say hello today, but did wander across the back deck en route to the bird feeders. It was the first chippie I'd seen since fall. The squirrels are out and about during the winter, but the 'munks seem to sleep straight through.

Now, I have to figure out when I need to put the Black Swallowtail pupas (from last fall, remember?) outside to hatch. Probably not until mid-May or so. Hope they survived the winter. Are you excited? Pillar Place will be back in full swing by the beginning of June, LOL.


Your Spelling is Perfect

You got 10/10 correct.

Your spelling is excellent. You also have a great memory and eye for detail.

That really doesn't surprise me... lol...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

For I remember it is Easter morn, And life and love and peace are all new born. ~ Alice Freeman Palmer

Wishing you all the best on this wonderful day! We're going to spend it with family, and the DD is thrilled to see her cousins.

I hope you all have a blessed and glorious day -- wishing you sunshine, warmth, love and family.


I can't let a day go by without a quiz, can I?

Your Chocolate Easter Bunny Personality

You know what you want in life and how to get it.
You're not going to waste time or let yourself be meek

Whether it's chocolate, money, or power...
You take what you can get, and you act quickly.

You have a lot of energy, and people sometimes scared by your determination. Not that you care what other people think. You're not going to apologize for who you are.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Random Decisions

Choices are the hinges of destiny. ~Attributed to both Edwin Markham and Pythagoras

Who is Edwin Markam again? I'm going to have to go look... I attended Edwin Markam Junior High, so you'd think I'd know.


Okay... so, I took Judy's suggestion of letting fate choose what I work on. I went to and put in the four in progress WIPs and for fun, I added the Harlequin American I want to work on this year. It's only in the planning phases, though I have my hero and heroine fairly fleshed out as well as the conflict and how the story begins (in fact, I've written the beginning).

So, I typed them in and hit "randomize" and this is what popped up:

1. HQ American
2. Queen and Assassin
3. Camilla
4. Stiller Creek
5. Playing House

So. Hmmm...

Truth is, I find that terribly interesting. With the exception of wanting to bump Stiller Creek up above Camilla, I rather like the order. I'm going to take the rest of this month to finish my character interviews and do at least 20 scene cards for the HQ American (working title will be The Hammer... don't ask). Then, come April 1st, I intend to give it a NaNo-like intensity. I'll need at least 55,000 words for HQ American. I may allow two months instead of one--so, 1000 words a day--but that's the plan, Stan (and the rest of you).


Speaking of Judy, today is her BIRTHDAY!! Woo Hoo!!!! She's only 87 years-old. Doesn't she look great?

I don't know if she plans on posting at her blog today, but y'all might take a second to wish her a happy birthday.


Shhh.... don't tell anyone, but I think it might be a halfway decent day here in the NE. Sunny! Warm(ish) -- in the low 40s! NO WIND (I thought we were going to get blown away yesterday). They're calling for snow again on Monday (please, please let it be rain), but I'm going to enjoy today.


You Are a Cadbury Creme Egg

You're the type that stole little brother's easter basket so that you could have MORE CANDY!

Actually... I was the baby of the family, so I was the one who had her stuff stolen! Okay, not really... my older sibs were pretty okay. :-)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Friday Feast and Writing Woes


Given the choice, would you prefer to live in the country or in the city?

In the country, near the city... Kind of like I do now. I love the open space of the country, the relative peace, the opportunity to have big gardens and elbow room. But, I also enjoy the convenience of the city. Of being able to run to the store for milk, and not use half a tank of gas. Truth be told, though. If I couldn't live in the country near a city, I'd probably choose the city. My DH would be horrified.


Who is the cutest kid you know?

Well, duh. MINE of course. She's adorable, sweet and cute as a bug's ear. And, no, sorry....I don't post pix of her on my blog, so you'll just have to take my word for it.


Fill in the blank: I couldn’t believe it when I heard music from my childhood on the oldies station.

Main Course

If you could star in a commercial for one of your favorite products, which one would you want to advertise?

I'm not really a brand specific kinda gal, but there are two things I buy that I am particular about (aside from, *ahem* sanitary supplies, but I won't go there, because I wouldn't star in a commercial for them...Remember Cathy Rigby and her Kotex commercials? Did I just date myself?). Anyway...

Silk brand soy milk. Yum. Yum. Yum. But it has to be Silk because I have yet to try another brand (especially the store brands--ICK) that don't have a bitter aftertaste. Silk doesn't.

And, Cottonelle toilet paper. Seriously the best TP ever. Thick. Soft. Yeah, baby.


What type(s) of vitamins and/or supplements do you take on a regular basis?

Lots, lol.

Morning: Multi-vitamin, B-complex, St. John's Wort and Calcium.
Evening: Flax Oil, St. John's Wort, Calcium and, every third day I take Iron (because I don't eat red meat or nearly enough spinach).


No writing yesterday :-(

Fact is: I can't seem to settle on one WIP and I'm frustrated by that. Return to Stiller Creek, my mystery ... I'm tempted to just NOT write this scene right now and move forward. I've done that before in other works, just made notes of what happens and then moved on and addressed the scene when I go through for edits.

Playing House is in such desperate need of work, it isn't going to be easy. One of the problems is that I've changed how Tish gets her job so many times that there are references throughout the story that are flat out WRONG so many times...and it messes with the plot line and ... GAH.

Camilla's story... still can't figure out how I can get to happen what I need to happen without a POV break, and I HATE those. Jed's injury still has me a bit stumped AND since I wrote the whole rest of the book based on a much more severe injury originally, there is massive editing needed.

Queen and Assassin, my fantasy--it needs a huge amount of world-building. And, I want to do it. I do! But, I'm starting to get the shakes because I only have one story in submission right now.

What to do, what to do...

I did get finished reading through a friend's fantastic novel, so that's good. I'm buried in books to read for review... and that's *sort of* good. I mean, I like to read, but... I'm just so busy! I never thought I'd have too many books. Ha.


Sunny here today. That's good. Except it comes with cold temps and 50 mph winds. Why can't we just have A Nice Day?

Dakota is still not feeling well. She gets me up at least four times during the night, poor pup. I'm wiped out, though. I don't know what to do. We've changed her food to something completely different than before (over a month ago) and that seemed to be fine until this week. She's been wormed--twice--and put on a month long course of antibiotics. The vet is at a bit of a loss, and so am I. But, man, I hope something gets better soon, because I'm flat out exhausted.


You Are Scooter

Brainy and knowledgable, you are the perfect sidekick.

You're always willing to lend a helping hand.

In any big event or party, you're the one who keeps things going.

"15 seconds to showtime!"

Thursday, March 20, 2008

It's Raining, It's Pouring...And the First Sign Of Spring

The Act of God designation on all insurance policies... means roughly that you cannot be insured for the accidents that are most likely to happen to you. If your ox kicks a hole in your neighbor's Maserati, however, indemnity is instantaneous. ~Alan Coren, The Lady from Stalingrad Mansions, 1977

That quote has nothing to do with anything. I just thought it was funny. Ha.

Yesterday, I woke up to snow... lots of snow... then about mid-day it changed to rain and hasn't stopped. Dear heavens. The dog is bouncing off the walls, the DD is disappointed because I was going to take her to see "Horton Hears A Who", but it was blizzarding at showtime and I have no interest in risking life and limb for a movie.

Yesterday, none of us was in our happy place. Today, DH is working from home. Hmmm...

Two days ago, prior to the snow, I looked in the gardens in front of my house to see if anything was stirring. These tend to grow first because the front of our house bakes--it gets full sun pretty much all day, and it's light gray, so it reflects the heat. This is nice in the spring, not so nice in the summer when I struggle to keep anything alive in there.


I saw my first real sign of spring: about a half inch of one daffodil green. Yep, my daffodils are finally starting to sprout. And, no, I don't want to hear from ANY OF YOU IN WARMER CLIMES about your tomato plants or the fact that your daffodils bloomed last month. Let me enjoy myself for a minute or two.


I worked on editing "Playing House" yesterday. Dear heavens. It needs a LOT of work. It's the first full length novel I wrote as an adult, and it shows. I think the story itself has potential, but OH MAMA the execution! The grammar! The "that" and "it" - itis! The adverbs! The stilted narrative.

I just want to apologize right now to everyone in that first romance class I took (and used this novel) for exposing them to this story in its present form: Charity, Darcy, Alison... will you forgive me? *G*


Hey, I know there are homeschoolers who read this blog--anyone know a good, fairly simple, elementary level Latin program that doesn't cost an arm and a leg? I'd like to keep all my limbs, if possible.


I got a release date for my next story! "A Change Of Heart" will be released by the Wild Rose Press on May 14th.

Returning to Wyoming after a six-year absence, Jake Langley finds more than just changes in the now run down family ranch. His warm feelings for a former girlfriend have cooled, and he finds himself drawn to her sister and his former best friend, Emily. His discovery of the sisters' well-kept secret, however, upsets his long-term plans and sets duty against his heart's desire. Now, four hearts and four lives will be changed, forever.

I'm working on a book trailer for it. It's nearly done, but I'm having a terrible time adding the transitions. I think I've learned something about Movie Maker: Do the photos, add the transitions, and THEN add the narrative. In fact, I may delete all my narrative and start over, cuz getting it timed right after you've messed with the slides is a bear.


Don't forget: a comment here = an entry into this contest. Good luck!

And, I posted a funny from "Perfect Strangers" here on my website.


What Book Character Are You?
Jo (from Little Women)
Jo (from Little Women)
You care deeply for your family, who are pretty much your best friends. You are a bit of wild child, who doesn't always play by the rules. You don't care an atom about what other people think. You have a brilliant imagination and your life never has a dull moment.
How do you compare?
Take this test! | Tests from Testriffic

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Welcome Guest Blogger: Jean Adams!


Have you ever considered spending a day at your local airport. I mean really spend the day.

I work at an airport help desk. It's a small airport by some standards, granted, but an airport nevertheless. Basically they are all the same.

Full of wonderful stories.

You'd need to pick your best spots, but what a wealth of human interest stories you'll find there, ready to fill your thick writing pad, fed by your fertile imagination and taken down by a bundle of well sharpened pencils.

Take Departures for instance.

I get to watch the lovers holding each other tearfully in each others' arms as they say goodbye. They kiss. They hug. They cling. One flies out, leaving the other behind, desolate. My tears, surreptitious, of course, join theirs.

But wait. Is the one left behind crying nothing but crocodile tears? What if they had someone else waiting in the wings? How would that story pan out.

Scribble. Scribble.

I get to watch families bidding a fond farewell to a family member as they travel overseas. Maybe the traveller is a student, leaving home for the first time. What would they be studying; where would they be studying; is it likely to be dangerous?

Some passengers will stand and talk to me. I can tell they're nervous flyers. Some are simply lonely with no one to see them off. Why? What happened in their life?

After a traumatic morning in Departures, you can have a little light lunch. But hey, you don't stop working. Travellers have to eat as well. Pick a busy spot to sit and keep scribbling.

The Arrivals hall will give you another wealth of ideas. This is where you'll see the faces full of joy and happiness, the husbands/lovers with bunches of flowers, usually red roses, greeting incoming wives or loves, hopefully not the same woman. Now there's an idea! LOL

Maybe fans are greeting someone famous. I've seen my share.

The hugs and kisses are different here. They are lighter. More exuberant. More welcoming. What do they have planned tonight?

At an airport you can people-watch; body language, facial expressions. As one TV programme used to say, I think it was The Naked City, "all human life is there".

If you want to see life, spend the day at your local airport.

It's perfect for writers.

But you don't need me to tell you that.

Visit Jean at her website -- it's truly a lovely site.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

'til Tuesday

The artist brings something into the world that didn't exist before and he does it without destroying something else. - John Updike

I was gabbing with a friend yesterday and the group 'til Tuesday came up in conversation (she'd actually seen them in concert, opening for Hall and Oates, which strikes me as an odd pairing). Anyway, remember them? I have their album on vinyl, lol.

So, I feel like I've been rambling lately on this blog...muttering about this and that and not making a whole lot of sense. If you like that--you're in luck! I'm most likely going to do it again today *G*.

My DH worked from 8 a.m. until 1:30 a.m. (Yes... really...) yesterday (today?), and will be sleeping until he wakes up today. What this means is, our school schedule will be non-existent (you have to walk through the master bedroom to get to the schoolroom), and I'm not even certain about the rest of the day. Will he still go in to work (he commutes quite a long distance) or will he work from home? Will I pull my hair out from a lack of routine?

Poor DH. He worked all weekend, as well, and I don't think things are getting any better.

I'm late posting this morning because I let myself sleep until 5 a.m. -- the dear doggy had me up and down all night because she once again has loose bowels. TMI? I wonder if she's lactose intolerant. Judy asked me this yesterday because the only thing out of the ordinary that she ate was a piece of cheese at the veterinarian's office (used to entice her onto that scary scale). The last time she had this problem, I'd given her a little plain yogurt (she'd been on a course of anti-biotics, and I was trying to reintroduce some probiotics back into her system). I'm going to check the ingredients on the puppy food that was giving her the runs and see if there is any dairy in there. It would be good to know.


DD, in listening to my woes about not having enough reviewers at the Long and the Short of It, secretly made me a poster. What do you think (wrong URL aside):

She's very, very right... we do need help! Want to review some books? *G*


Did you see my new contest? If you DON'T want to be included in the drawing, but still want to say howdy in the comments, just let me know (once is fine, I'll make a note of it) and I'll exclude you. But, hey--I'm giving away some great books, so why WOULDN'T you want to be included?


And, *sigh*, no writing was done yesterday. You don't want to know what my day was like. Aside from having to take the dog out every fifteen minutes, DD is learning how to subtract mixed fractions by using borrowing AND dividing really big numbers, so she was up and down every five minutes while doing her seatwork. We did not have a moment of peace.

Color me frustrated.

BUT... DH is sleeping in. Perhaps DD will sleep in (she was up late last night--said she was wide awake and couldn't sleep) and the moment I finish up this post, I will open up my document and WRITE SOMETHING.


Your Nail Polish Color is Red

How you're unique: You have an incredible eye for style and art

Why your style rocks: You are classic and classy - and that's hot!

What this color says about you: "I'm smart, sassy, and sexy. And I know it."

RED? I've never worn red nail polish in my life, except that one time when the SF 49ers were in the Superbowl, and I was working as a cocktail waitress in the bar. I had on my RED jersey, RED lipstick, and RED nail polish. They won. That will tell you how long ago this happened! LOL...

Monday, March 17, 2008

My New Contest

See my website for details on how to win either "Sweet Forever" by Ceri Hebert or "No Greater Loss" by Diane Craver -- in trade paperback format.

These are really great books and I highly recommend them both.

Good luck!

Monday Mumblings

Happy St. Patrick's Day -- May the luck of the Irish help you find your pot of gold.

He felt that his whole life was some kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it. - Douglas Adams, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy"

I got another good review for "One Love For Liv"...Phew! Still, I'm not letting down my guard, because I'm certain someone is going to hate it, someday. LOL...

In any case, Cheyenne at Coffee Time Romance gave Liv four cups and said, in part:

I absolutely loved this story. I was so drawn into Liv’s life as she sought to find out more about Geoff while discovering what Mike had to offer. Liv is a refreshing character and I adored the way she learns how to break through barriers and discover life’s blessings that can be found if one just does a little investigating of their own....Marianne Arkins pens a fascinating page-turner. I found this read most satisfying and highly recommend it.


Look what Judy gave me:

Isn't it sweet?

I'll happily give it to Michele, Allie, Diane and Sarita... some of my most favorite blogging (and in Michele and Allie's case IRL) buddies.


So... my dog dreams. A lot. Many times, day and night. And they're apparently pretty vivid because she whines and barks and growls and twitches and even wags her tail. She dreams every single time she sleeps, and they're loud and active. It's amazing.

Bailey had the occasional dream, but she didn't "talk" in her sleep so much, mostly just running/twitching, etc. Dakota's dreams are amazing. I wish I had a video camera... I'd tape them to show you.

I wonder if it's a sign of high IQ? I loved Bailey to death, but she wasn't the most intelligent of creatures. Dakota IS, and I think it's why we're having such trouble with her. In fact, I ran into a guy yesterday at PetsMart--who did the usual inquiry about her breed (this is, truly, the question I get 95% of the time), "Golden??" (with a really long question mark at the end... as is, "She looks like a golden retriever, but ... not.")

I said, "No. Golden/Irish setter."

The guy said, "Oh! I should have known. I had the same mix before." (pat, pat on Dakota's head). "Best dog I ever had, but was she STUBBORN."



I know I promised you a new contest today, and it is coming... it's just that, I had an idea, and then I changed my mind and need to write up a new description. It'll show up today, later, or tomorrow. Sorry!


Worked on my HTML lessons for a while yesterday. Got through Chapter Two. Learned a smidge about CSS as well, which is good. I'm still loving the presentation of this book--it's light and funny and they have you do exercises that are interesting (like a crossword puzzle with questions about the previous chapter as review).

Dru asked what I'm using as my editor for this endeavor--right now, nothing! I'm creating the pages in Notepad, because my intention is to literally be able to build webpages from the ground up. It's fun. Challenging, but fun. In my first exercise, I forgot a semi-colon in my CSS code and, of course, nothing worked! Yep, there will be some serious attention to detail required, but I like a challenge.


DH was home and underfoot most of the day yesterday, so I didn't get any writing done. I will today. DD has school, so will also have seatwork. This should give me at least a little time to concentrate on my WIPs.

::fingers crossed::

Your Taste in Music:
Country: High Influence
80's Pop: Medium Influence
80's Alternative: Low Influence
80's Rock: Low Influence
Classic Rock: Low Influence

Yep, that's about right... I didn't even recognize half the bands they had listed!

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Get over the idea that only children should spend their time in study. Be a student so long as you still have something to learn, and this will mean all your life. ~Henry L. Doherty

I am truly, madly, deeply in love with my HTML book (the one I talked about yesterday). I even read the introduction because it was so amusing... and, on the first page I learned something: HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language. I never knew that. I'm going to take it a chapter or so a day to make sure it really soaks in... and then, watch out world! I'm going to recreate my personal webpage in straight HTML. And THEN, when I get that down, I'm going to attack the LASR site. I admit that's a little scary, but that's the whole reason I got the book -- to be able to build websites in HTML/XHTML/CSS instead of FrontPage which Microsoft no longer sells or supports.

And, I've probably bored you to tears. I'll try not to gush too much as the days progress. But, seriously, I'm excited.

Does that make me a geek?


I tried... I really tried to write on my mystery, but only got about fifteen words before I wanted to scream. So, I stopped.

Then, I pulled out a completed manuscript I have that needs a bit of rewriting... a novel entitled "Playing House", the novel that started this writing journey for me. I find myself returning to it again and again. And, I think I've finally figured out a believeable way for Tish to work for Derek that won't require a complete overhaul of the manuscript. This is also one that would work (I hope!) for Samhain, as it's in the same not-quite-serious vein, like "One Love For Liv" is.

Honestly, I really want to get something submitted, so editing this story may be the right choice for me right now while I mull over what's bothering me about my mystery (because I don't really know WHAT is bothering me, just that I can't seem to move forward with it the way it is, even though I have the entire rest of the book plotted out. For whatever reason, this scene isn't working for me, but I can't just cut it because then the rest of the plot crumbles. Oh the joy).

Dru asked me, in comments yesterday, if I find it difficult to write when I haven't written the day before. In a word? YES.

It's terribly easy to get out of the habit of writing, and when I do, it's terrifically HARD to get back in. I like to write everyday, even when I don't feel like it. I can usually find something to work on, even if one particular WIP doesn't call to me. I always have half a dozen irons in the fire, and this little quirk of mine is one of the reasons I do work on so many things at a time.

I recently read an interview with an author who said that when she didn't feel like writing, she didn't. The boggled my mind. I'd have to say that more than 50% of the time, I don't feel like writing. But I do it anyway, and usually once I start I get into the groove and feel like writing! If I only wrote when I felt like it, I'd never get anything done.

OTOH, I read an interview with Nora Roberts where she said that she didn't believe in writers block...that when she had trouble writing (or didn't "feel" like it) she just pushed on through. It was she who said something that stuck with me--you can't edit a blank page.

Some authors will say, if you write when you don't "feel" like it, your writing will reflect that by being stilted or awkward. I can edit stilted and awkward. I can't edit nothing. My goal is to write regularly... and I prefer to write every day. It may not work for everyone, but it seems to work for me. The more I write, the MORE I write. Yanno?


From Judy:

You Are a Total Brainiac

You're amazingly brilliant. Some would even say genius.

You're curious, thoughtful, analytical, and confident.

You take on difficult subjects because you want to... not because you have to.

No field of knowledge is too complicated or intimidating for you.

You've got the brains to do anything you want.

It's possible you end up doing everything you want.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Some Cool Promos and HTML

A synonym is a word you use when you can't spell the word you first thought of. ~ Burt Bacharach

This quote made me laugh, because it's very often true (at least for me, LOL).

Want another chance to win a free download of "One Love For Liv" -- and fifty other great prizes? Then come on by the Samhain Spring Showers Promotion!

It lasts for nearly a month and it's going to be a lot of fun!


So, I'm a little late to the party, but I thought I'd mention--since I WRITE for great two small presses--that March is National Small Press Month. Diane Craver, a friend and very talented author, is hosting a few of us small press author types at her blog and I'll be over there on March 25th.


Look what came in the mail yesterday!

Should I be this excited?


So... it's snowing. It seems we're going to break the all-time record for snow in one season.



I'm going to start a new contest on Monday. It will involve books and blog comments... two of my favorite things.


No writing yesterday. Dang it. I think I don't want to write what comes next. It's an action scene between the heroine and the villain (involving guns and duct tape) and those kinds of scenes are hard to write. Avoiding it, however, will not make it go away.

DH is gone all day today for work, so I may be able to find some time to write. DD wants to paint on her paint-by-number unicorn, so she'll be busy a bit.


You Are An Ash Tree

You are vivacious and impulsive, which makes you extremely attractive to many.

Intelligent and demanding, you don't care much for criticism.

You have a ton of ambition and talent, and sometimes money rules your heart.

You like to play with fate, and you can be very egotistical and restless.

Demanding of attention, you need love and a lot of emotional support.

Well... hmm... with a few exceptions, I think that's mostly right.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Friday Finger Waggles

It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade. ~Charles Dickens

Today is my last official virtual tour stop: and interview at Virtual Wordsmith. I'm a little sad it's over, but MAN(!) was it ever hard to do that many interviews. I don't know if I'd do it again...

BTW, remember I am still having folks over here to guest blog. I'm scheduling into June right now, so if you want to post on my blog, email me (marianne (AT) mariannearkins (DOT) com). The complete schedule is here.


So, people are going to think I beat my dog. When she's bad, I point at her a lot -- waggling my finger about -- now, when I pull that finger out, she flinches away. I can see people think, "Dang, that dog is hand shy...she must be beaten on a regular basis! What a mean owner."

How do you tell people she gets pointed at on a regular basis? Do you think Dakota is thinking, "Dude, I could totally go to a different family who don't give me rules, and feed me treats if I make Doggy Social Services think my mom beats me." ?



No writing yesterday. I couldn't settle...for whatever reason, I was very down yesterday and my brain wasn't into anything. Everything made me cry. I missed my dog, missed my mom, missed my dad, hated the weather, was distraught over all the chipmunk holes in my slowly appearing flowerbeds, couldn't believe how far behind we are in school...everything set me off.

You ever have days like that?

Hopefully, today will be better. I'm going to try to keep my brain in positive mode.


What Your Shamrock Says About You

You are balanced, nurturing, and sympathetic. You understand people and love to help them.

At times, you get too involved with what's going on in other people's lives. It's hard to remove yourself.

You consider yourself a lucky person. Luck always seems to be on your side.

You are stylish, in a classic sort of way. You are particular about how you like things.

Incidentally, the shamrock they picture isn't the one I chose. And, LOLOL, this result couldn't be farther from the truth (except the part about being particular...that's spot on).

The Ultimate Blog Party -- **sticky note thru 3/14**


Ultimate Blog Party 2008

So... WOOT! It's time to Par-Tay, mingle and make new friends. Go put on your best duds and your party shoes and check out Five Minutes For Mom for a ton of fun, people and prizes.

Want to read more? Click here for the rest of the party!


Thursday, March 13, 2008

So Proud

Kids: they dance before they learn there is anything that isn't music. ~William Stafford

Today there will be a review of "One Love For Liv" on Virtual Wordsmith. I'm nervous. GULP. Feel free to go over and check it out...I'll be visiting with one hand over my eyes.


I have a good kid. I know, I know... we all think our kids are awesome. But mine is really a good kid. I could list all the wonderful things about her, but I won't bore you (it's a long list *G*). Most recently, though, she let her hair grow again to give it away for Locks Of Love.

This wouldn't be such a big deal except: she HATED having long hair. Hated it. But every time I suggested she get it cut, she refused. "I want to give away my hair for the children who don't have any," she'd say, and shove her hair back into a pony tail.

Finally, two days ago, we had it cut. It still wasn't quite long enough, so her hair is really short. But she didn't care. She wanted to make sure there was enough to send it, so she told the hair stylist to take off as much as was required.

So, before:

And, after:

I love when she does something that is a real sacrifice. Anyone can give money, but to give of oneself...there's a lesson in there. Yep, I'm kinda proud.


I only wrote about 100 words yesterday on my mystery. I got derailed by an idea for a short story, and jotted that down instead -- 1000 words worth. Sadly, the ending was lame, and it didn't work, at least not how it is currently. But, it may someday and so goes into my "not ready for submission" file. There's a lot of short stuff in there.


You are a PC

You're practical, thrifty, and able to do almost anything.

Appearances and trends aren't important to you. You just like to get the job done.