Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Welcome Guest Blogger: Margay Roberge

What a Character
by Margay Roberge

Have you ever had a character invade your mind? When you thought you were done with him, has he ever come back to haunt you, or to prove otherwise? It happened to me. When I began to write Nora’s Soul, the character of Dante was just a satellite character in my mind, a device to move the story forward. But he had other ideas and he just wouldn’t be silenced. He invaded my mind, took over my thoughts, and even tried to –

Dante: Stop, woman! You like to think you’re my creator, but we both know the truth of that, don’t we?

Margay: But I did create you.

Dante: Tell them how I came to you in a dream.

Margay: All right, so you came to me in a dream -

Dante: I love invading dreams. I don’t get to do it very often.

Margay: Can I tell the story?

Dante: Oh, yes. Please do.

Margay: Thank you. As I was about to say, it was one of the more vivid dreams I’d ever had, a fully realized scene of the two of us on the dance floor, dancing the night away.

Dante: I love dancing.

Margay: Dante, please.

Dante: Oh, sorry. Go on.

Margay: But you were something of a devil and that is how I first thought of you. But as the story came to develop, I realized that you were more of an angel, just a…misguided one. You’d lost your way somehow. You’ve been rather stingy on the details.

Dante: If I told you everything up front, what fun would that be?

Margay: Yes, I must admit it’s been more fun pulling the details out of you with a pair of tweezers. I just wish I didn’t have to go through Nora to get them.

Dante: Ah, yes, Nora. Sweet girl.

Margay: We’ve talked about this, Dante. You can’t have her. She’s not meant for you.

Dante: Can’t I have anyone? What kind of power do I have if I can’t take whomever I want?

Margay: Don’t forget free will. It’s all about free will. You see, they have to choose you. If they don’t choose you, you can’t have them.

Dante: I never did like free will. It’s always messing things up.

Margay: Dante, come on now. Maybe we should just talk about the book.

Dante: Yes, do that. Talk about the book.

Margay: At its core, Nora’s Soul is a story about one woman’s journey to rediscover her faith – in herself, in her beliefs, but along the way, she is challenged by two angels, one light and one dark. The light angel, Peter, wants to help her reconnect, but the dark angel, Dante, wants something entirely different. He wants her soul.

Dante: Nice summary.

Margay: Thanks.

Dante: I just hope you got the story right.

Margay: Well, I guess you’ll just have to wait until the release date to find out.

Dante: So you’re not even going to give me a little hint about how it turns out?

Margay: Nope. But if you go to my website http://margayleahjustice.com, you can read an excerpt.

Dante: And you thought I was the devil.

Margay: If you’re done, I’d like to regain some control over this article.

Dante: Oh. Sorry.

Margay: Right.

Well, there you have it. Character. You just never know when a character is going to invade your thoughts – or take them over completely and try to run your life. But what are we without the characters that populate our books, our movies, our lives?

If you would like a chance to get to know Dante better, read about the havoc he wreaks in Nora’s Soul, available now from Amazon.com. He is quite a character. Hope you enjoy him as much as I do.

Nora’s Soul, by Margay Leah Justice, http://margayleahjustice.com.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tightwad Tuesday: Cookies!

It's good to have money and the things that money can buy, but it's good, too, to check up once in a while and make sure that you haven't lost the things that money can't buy. ~George Horace Lorimer

Few things make me crazier than seeing things in the grocery store that are only there because folks are unbelievably lazy. The thing that REALLY makes me wonder about folks buying habits? PB&J Uncrustables. WTH? People can't just make their own PB&J anymore?

The other thing is the cookie dough that you lift off the little tray and put on your cookie sheet and call homemade.

I KNOW it's easy and quick and ready to bake when you only have ten minutes... but I have an alternative.

Make. Your. Own.

Yep. With a little planning ahead, you can have your very own little dough hunks waiting for you when you need them.

How?

Make a HUGE batch of cookie dough -- choose your flavor. We like peanut butter oatmeal or chocolate chip. Triple or quadruple your batch and then chill it. Once it's fairly firm, either roll it into little 2 tsp balls and place on a greased cookie sheet or roll into a log using waxed paper. Place in a freezer -- the balls don't need to be wrapped or covered because, once they are frozen you can put them in a ziplock baggie all loose -- and because they were frozen separately, they won't stick together and you can pull out however many you want for your batch of honest-to-goodness homemade cookies on a tightwad budget! The log you can thaw and slice.

And the best part? You know what they are made from -- add a little whole wheat flour or cut back a smidge on the sugar (I almost always cut the sugar in half in my recipes with no noticeable difference).

So... cheaper. Healthier. What's not to like?

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




You Are a Jam Cookie



On the outside, you project a straight-laced, innocent vibe.

But on the inside, you're complex, exotic, and full of flavor.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Monday Morning Meme and More

Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us. ~Hal Borland



1. When you are having a bad day, what do you do as a little ‘pick me up’?

Um... eat? Seriously, I tend to medicate with food. Otherwise? I have no idea. How weird is that?

2. How long have you been blogging? Who is your target audience? How often, if at all, do you think about quitting or taking an extended break?

Since July 10, 2005. I don't know that I HAVE a target audience, lol. I suppose I started to promote my writing, and I do ... but I just like "meeting" the people who read it. And, heck, I like to gab.

Have I thought of quitting or taking a break? Sometimes. But I don't think I could do so, to be honest. I'd miss you guys.

3. Think back over the past year. Tell us: five good things that happened in your life, three bad things that happened in your life. Now go through your blog archives and pick five posts that you personally liked/resonated with you, or, you would like to share with your new readers. Link to them, please.

Five good? Hmmm....

"One Love for Liv" was released in eBook AND print! (is that two?)

My daughter didn't lose her toes in the boating accident.

Dakota is *mostly* learning how to be good and doesn't eat my plants or tear apart the cushion in her crate anymore.

Um... the LASR website is really, really busy -- that's good, right?

GAH... I really can't think of anything else. How sad.

Three bad? Hmmm...

I didn't write nearly enough.

I still miss my mom and my mom because neither of them live here anymore.

My daughter is struggling with her school this year and we're both frustrated.

And... seriously -- no time to find blog posts. Sorry.

4. It’s a new year - a new beginning. Please finish this sentence: I will work very hard to make the following three things happen in 2009:

... write and submit more.

... lose these stupid extra 20 pounds.

... find the patience to deal with a frustrated daughter and stubborn, willful dog.

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

Anyone else find it odd that I had red-breasted robins in my yard yesterday? Did they not the get "time to migrate south" memo?

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

We've started the relaunch of the Long and the Short of It. Take a look at the new pages and see what you think.

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You Are A Nightgown



You are a bit old fashioned and elegant. You aren't very casual.

You are well mannered and modest. You don't make a fool of yourself.

You tend to be a bit reserved, and it's hard for strangers to get to know you.

You are likely to not let anyone outside your bedroom see you in your pajamas.



Yep... pretty close...

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Visitor to the Feeder

“I have never been in a natural place and felt that was a waste of time. I never have. And it's a relief. If I'm walking around a desert or whatever, every second is worthwhile.” - Viggo Mortensen

Look who visited our bird feeders a day or two ago (sorry I couldn't get closer, but I had to take the picture through the kitchen window):



He was so healthy looking, fat with a fluffy tail as big as his middle! Amazing. He just sat there and ate birdseed off the ground for a good ten minutes until something startled him (he did the same "vulture" look that Dakota does when she sees something she doesn't like... it was funny) and he trotted off into the woods.

Because we are so close to a massive amount of woods (conservation area behind us), we get lots of action out back. I've seen a fisher cat, a bear, a hawk (this one amused me to no end, because there were squirrels on my feeder when he flew over. They ran up the tree that he landed in. One was directly above him and one immediately behind him around the tree and I swear I could hear them thinking, "You don't see me... you don't see me..."), lots of deer and chippies and TONS of birds. It's amazing how many birds I get to my few feeders. I wish I could afford to put out more! I've had a domestic cat back there a few times, which makes me angry -- my birds aren't a cat buffet and I sure wish folks would keep them inside for the birds' sake AND for the cat's sake.

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

A couple gratuitous Christmas photos.

Santa 'Kota:



I think DD likes the afghan Gram made for her:



And Dakota likes the one Gram made for me her:



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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas is over

A half-baked idea is okay as long as it's in the oven. ~Author Unknown

The stockings are no longer hanging by the chimney with care. Visions of sugarplums are over. Although I am still liking the part about kerchiefs and settling down for a long winter's nap.

Yesterday the decorations came down. I was so ready... if I hadn't had to wait until Christmas, they would have been down earlier. Truthfully, there was a dearth of Christmas spirit this year. I'm not sure why.

Snow, ice and rain today (in that order). Not sure how I feel about any of those...

On a writing-type note, and to my writer-type readers: Why is it when you're trying to brainstorm a story you inevitably end up thinking of some truly amazing stuff on another one?

Whilst thinking about Geoff and/or Nick I had this incredible, long-term idea for my fantasy novel. I realized just WHY the throne (now a sentient being) was so important and WHY the queen had to be an empath, and how those things affect the world they live in. And it makes me itch to work on that story instead.

That's just wrong.

Now... what do I do about JaNoWriMo? Which, in case you don't remember, is only FOUR DAYS AWAY.

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

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Day After...

“Fatigue is the best pillow” - Benjamin Franklin

Anybody else exhausted?

We had a busy day. DD woke up fairly early and demanded that I wake up her dad. Normally, she's quite patient about waiting, but for whatever reason yesterday was an exception.

So, I woke him and tossed him in the shower, then let her go down to see what Santa brought.



Because of the inordinate amount of tabs and ties and such on the doll, it took DD about 20 minutes to get her out of the box, so DH had plenty of time.

We had a very modest Christmas this year, on purpose. Fact is: we have all the stuff we need. But, DD was tickled with what she got (and she ate too much candy, not to mention the cinnamon rolls I made for breakfast).

AND... for the first time EVAH my dinner was done on time. Of course, I assumed it wouldn't be, so I HAD planned to eat at noon. We were at the table at eleven.

After, we cleaned and waited. We were hosting the annual after dinner bash for the in-laws and it took forever for folks to show up. Just ask DD. "Are they here yet?" .... "Are they here yet?" .... "Are they..." You get the idea.

In any case, they did show up and a good time was had by all.

And after: I cleaned and collapsed. I was in bed at 8:30 pm.

How was YOUR day?

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

I feel so official. "One Love For Liv" is available on eBay.

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

I'm tickled! "Kitchen Matches" is one of thirteen contemporary stories up for the Romance Studio CAPA Award, and "Miles From You" is up for their Psyche Award.

I think voting starts first part of January. I'll keep you posted!

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




You Are Blue Lights



Your holidays are a time for spirituality and peace.

Whether you're religious or not, you try to bring more meaning to the holidays.

You prefer giving to receiving, and you enjoy the generous spirit of the holidays.

You take the time to reach out to those in need, and you open your home to all your friends and family.



Okay...

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

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!



Wishing you a very, very merry Christmas! I'll talk to you all tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Welcome Guest Blogger: Liana Laverentz

Create a Collage for 2009
By Liana Laverentz


I was flipping through some Oprah magazines last night, looking for pictures and quotes I want to use to make a collage of all the goodness I want to bring into my life in 2009. Oprah puts out a very positive magazine, so I like getting ideas from that one. I made a poster-size collage six years ago, as a creativity exercise with some writer friends, and didn’t think much of it, other than it was a fun thing to do. But I liked it enough that I framed it and put it up in my bedroom.

Then the oddest thing happened. Within a few years, everything that I had put into that collage, which was about the things that fed my soul, showed up in my life. I kid you not. Without even thinking of it, just having it on the wall, my subconscious mind went about creating the circumstances that would be needed to bring the things in that poster into my life.

You can call it weird, but I know it happened. One day I looked up at this poster I hadn’t paid much attention to over the past couple of years, had barely looked at—you know how we tend to not see what is in front of us every day--and realized everything in it was now in my life. I was stunned. I’d read about this kind of thing happening, the power of intention and all that, but…

So last night I started on a new collage, one for 2009, which I will do sometime over the holiday season.

You might want to try one, too. All you have to do is go through magazines and clip or rip out pages that have something on them that appeals to you for some reason. A picture, a quote, a splash of color, even. Some of the stuff I ripped out last night makes no sense. But I’m sure it will when the time comes to put the collage together.

It’s a wonderful way to relax and have some “me” time in the midst of a very busy season. A great way to get rid of all those old magazines you have lying around and don’t know what to do with, too. If you don’t have time to do a full poster-size one, do a smaller one. There are no rules to this sort of thing.

You’ll be amazed at how creative it makes you feel.

And, in a couple of years, you’ll be even more amazed by what happens.

Take care, God Bless, and let me know how it turns out for you.

Liana Laverentz
Thin Ice (NJRW Golden Leaf and EPPIE Award Winner)
Jake's Return (NJRW Golden Leaf Award Winner)
Ashton's Secret (available June 26)
www.lianalaverentz.com
www.polkadotbanner.com
http://lianalaverentz.blogspot.com/
www.myspace.com/authorlianalaverentz

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tightwad Tuesday: Laundry

Housework is something you do that nobody notices until you don't do it. ~Author Unknown

Today I'll be advocating hanging out your laundry to dry.

"What?" you say. "In the middle of winter?"

Yep. In the middle of winter.

Fact is: I almost never use my dryer. And, I only hung my laundry outside three times this past year because of all our funky wet weather. First, why hang your laundry to dry? Project Laundry List offers several reasons, and I'll include the ones I use as my own:

* Save money (more than $25/month off electric bill for many households). Any appliance that generates heat uses a TON of electricity -- try watching your meter when you run the dryer... it's frightening!

* Clothes and linens smell better without adding possibly toxic chemicals to your body and the environment. Actually... I just really like the smell -- I DO use fabric softener, so that eliminates the "toxic chemicals" reason for me. Still... it's not just the clothes that smell better, but my house!

* Clothes last longer. Where do you think lint comes from? Seriously folks... I have some clothes I've had for fifteen years and I can still wear them (sweatshirts that I adore, mostly). It really DOES make a difference.

And... if you hate how stiff some clothes are (especially things like towels and jeans) then take the laundry off the clothesline when they are still slightly damp and toss in the dryer. Everything will be soft and flexible just as if they were in the dryer the whole time. I have one line in the basement and then I use racks that I stick wherever I have room. For instance... this is what my craft area looks like right now:

And, if you're really interested in going the extra mile to save money ... you could make your own laundry detergent. There's a great recipe for that on Suzanne McMinn's "Chickens in the Road" blog right here.

The time isn't really a factor, either, once you get into a routine. I wash clothes every three days or so -- two to three loads at a time. I do dry my socks and undies in the dryer (in the winter) because they take up tons of room on the dryers and are ridiculously time consuming to hang. In the summer, though, up on the line they go!

Talk to you next week!

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

A video of my loopy dog -- I was trying not to laugh, so that's my heavy breathing you hear -- but how can you not smile when you see her absolute joy?

video

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Monday, December 22, 2008

Monday Morning Meme and More

A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water. ~Carl Reiner



1. It’s the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature is stirring … except you, you can’t sleep, and it’s 3:00 o’clock in the morning. What do you do?

The problem with my being awake at 3 a.m. is that it's too close to when I usually get up and I'm not very sleepy anymore anyway... I'd probably hop on the computer and load up the LASR pages. And then work...

Yeah, I'm boring that way.

2. What is the one attribute that you have that your significant other struggles with? Why do you think he/she struggles with it? Now tell us one attribute that your significant other has that you wish you possessed.

My DH wishes I was more of a neat freak. Most people fight over money -- we don't. We fight over the fact our house doesn't look like a model home. Thing is, as it stands (and if you eliminate his OCD family), our home is ALWAYS cleaner and neater than anyone else's I know. Always.

Hmmm.... something my DH has that I don't? Maybe the ability to relax. Shut off. Just... be. I get itchy if I'm not doing something at all times.

3. What advice do you have for your next door neighbor? (This would be a good time to air your grievances - or - praise something about your neighbor). Begin with: Dear Neighbor, There is something I’d like to tell you …

Okay, I'm talking to both of mine...

Dear Neighbor on my left,

I wish you wouldn't beat your dog and yell and demean your son. Your wife is just as angry and nasty and unkind as you are, but the two innocents in your home deserve better.

M~

Dear Neighbor on my right,

You don't own your home anymore. Get. Out. And take your dogs with you. I'm really tired of them roaming the neighborhood, pooping on everyone's lawns, digging up their gardens when they scent mark and generally making a nuisance of themselves. Seriously. You lost your home after three years of non-payment on your mortgage (and yet you have plenty of money for the two garbage buckets of beer bottles and pizza boxes and to chain smoke your cigarettes, and to spend every night at the local bar -- that must be the extra income you get from the drugs you sell on a regular basis) and the man who purchased it would like to get in an fix the place up. Let him. Go live with your brother in Florida like you said you had planned. Florida is nice this time of year.

M~

Okay, yeah... I feel better. Seriously, there is only one other family on this street who are bad neighbors... everyone else is cool. And, yet, DH and I are sandwiched between two of them. We have all the luck.

4. If you could live yesterday all over again, what would you do anything differently?

Call my mom. I kept meaning to all day, and then something else always seemed to happen. Otherwise? I don't have any complaints. DD played. DH deconstructed one side of the basement (remodeling always makes him happy). The dog romped. I made fudge. I probably should have worked more, but I was burned out.

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

It was snowing last night at 2 a.m. -- yeah, Dd and I were up. She vomited and peed and pooped and then felt so good she decided to chase snowflakes. I held up the door post and tried not to fall face first into the snow.

BUT.... now it has STOPPED SNOWING. There are 30 MPH winds outside, so keeping our driveway clear will be impossible. But IT STOPPED SNOWING.

Finally.

Hallelujah. Three days of snow was all I could take before going postal. Oy.

DH works today. And then, that's it for two weeks. So, bear with me as he and I face too much togetherness once again. Actually, he'll probably be snowmobiling at least a day or two (if they can get the trails open -- lots of trees came down in the ice storm, and they're really struggling with that).

Still... did I mention it STOPPED SNOWING???

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You Are Biscotti



You are a very direct, honest person.

You don't have time for dramatics or emotional pleas.

You feel most comfortable in the intellectual realm, especially with science and technology.

You are good at understanding difficult subjects. Understanding people? Not so much.



HAHAHAHAHA....!!!! Yep, that's pretty much right on...

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

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Surprise in My Inbox

I got a review for "Pregnancy Cravings" from The Romance Studio. It's an old story, so the review was quite a surprise. Still... I'll take it!

Reviewer Jacquelyn R. Ward said (in part):

Sweet, cute and funny. There are no better words to describe this story. The characters are phenomenal. Even the support characters have their own quirks and personalities and they are so unbelievably cute. The plot is catchy and oh so funny. One mistaken thought after another makes for a lot of misconstrued beliefs for both Joey and Patrice and makes for one hilarious story to read. I absolutely loved the bunny slippers. This book is perfect for a mid-day break. Or it is a great way to start or finish your day. Pregnancy Cravings is a great pick-me-up read that will leave you satisfied and with a big smile on your face. If you enjoy lighthearted, funny books, you will enjoy this one immensely.


An early Christmas present for me.

:-)

Still Snowing Sunday

Christmas is a time when you get homesick - even when you're home. ~Carol Nelson

It's snowed non-stop since Friday and we have so much snow that I may lose my dog in the drifts, lol. If I think of it, I'm going to try to get a video of her running through the snow -- it makes me laugh like nothing has in a long time.

No baking again yesterday. DH and DD took off to his parents house for most of the day, so we'll give it a go today. I think I'm going to start with the fudge. YUM.

I did get the last of the gifts wrapped while they were gone. I'd been stashing things all over the house and kept finding them and thinking, "Wow, I'd forgotten about that!" -- it was almost like an early Christmas. I hope I found them all, ha! We've invited the family over for Christmas Day, so I will have to spend a good deal of time cleaning next week, as well. The day-to-day stuff is done because, to be honest, I'm too Type A to let my house get too messy, but the deep cleaning needs doing ... dusting the heater vents, etc. Maybe I'll have DD do that. Why have kids if you can't make them into little slaves?

Other than that, I'll just be working on the LASR overhaul and moodling about my JaNoWriMo project (two folks posted yesterday, you should go say "howdy" -- and if you're participating, feel free to post your thoughts on preparing for JaNo as well. It would be good for everyone to get to know everyone -- since, at this point, I'm the only one who's had contact with all the folks playing this Jan).

Now, I just need it to stop snowing. Please? Just for a day or two?

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




You Can Say "Merry Christmas" in 8 Languages



You can say "Merry Christmas" in:

English
Spanish
Japanese
French
Swedish
Greek
Hawaiian
Dutch



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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Snowing...

Snow provokes responses that reach right back to childhood. - Andy Goldsworthy

I'm looking out my back window at a foot or more of snow and, for some odd reason, the first thing to pop into my head was the Donner Party. YIKES. It's not THAT deep. Though I certainly have enough flesh to keep the family alive until spring.

Ha.

So... we baked only one kind of cookies yesterday. DD was too busy sledding and I had work and didn't want to bake without her. We made the M&M cookies by using our modified Toll House cookie recipe (which is SO incredibly bad for you -- anything that starts out with 3/4 cup butter should be illegal). They must be baked on parchment paper because they are VERY thin and stick to the pans no matter what you do. Not a big deal, except last night as I pulled out the last pan I wasn't paying attention and pulled it out too fast.

It came out.

The cookies on the parchment paper? They stayed *mostly* behind... just slipped right off and dumped into the oven.

What a mess.

Hopefully our thumbprint cookies and snickerdoodles turn out better today. If I can get DD in from sledding (we have a pretty decent hill in our backyard, and DH took down the one tree DD used to have to navigate around (or hit), so she FLIES).

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

I wrote a short post on the JaNoWriMo blog -- all other participants are urged to do the same regarding their preparations and any hints they may have. And, anyone who just wants to watch us as we work is more than welcome to come on over read and comment.

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




You Are Milk



Your holiday personality is innocent.

The holidays make you feel like a kid all over again.



You love every part of the holidays, and you anticipate Christmas morning.

You enjoy getting presents as much as you did when you were young!



This quiz result? Not so much me...

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

Friday, December 19, 2008

Pick me! LOL...

Samhain is running a survey to find out reader's favorite Samhain releases from this year. If the spirit moves you, feel free to vote for either of mine:

or

Of course, if you have other favorite Samhain releases, you're welcome to vote for them as well (**sniff, sniff**).

Here's the link.

Baking Day

I like these cold, gray winter days. Days like these let you savor a bad mood. ~Bill Watterson

It's going to snow today (there's a shocker) -- expected 3 - 6" accumulation, and then again on Sunday (4 - 6" accumulation). I can't begin to tell you how excited that makes me.

So, in celebration of being housebound, and because Christmas is only a scant week away, we will be baking today. DD is getting quite competent at reading a recipe (though, she's trying to do what I do... make changes to them on the fly, and she's not really aware of how different ingredients impact a dish, so it's been interesting) so she'll be doing most of the work.

On the menu:

Holiday M&M's chip cookies
Snickerdoodles
Chocolate Fudge
Chocolate/Peanut Butter Fudge
Thumbprint cookies


I'd do sugar cookies, because she loves to decorate them -- but the fact is: no one really likes to EAT them and I hate waste.

It seems, from the answers to my question yesterday, that most folks are still trying to finish their Christmas preparation chores (except for Groovy who is just gliding along... I plan to take a page out of her book next year).

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

Dd isn't feeling very well again -- I'm really beginning to get concerned. I admit to being a little blasé about her vomiting problem (having lived with Bailey for eleven years, who also had a vomiting problem), but Dakota's seems to be getting worse, not better. I think (I hope!) yesterday may have been a combination of LOTS of playing and eating of snow. We feed her nothing extra - her kibble ONLY. No treats. No people food. Of course, she manages to find things to eat all by herself: tree needles, bark, fuzz, and anything else at eye level or lower.

Still, she's perky and all other bodily functions are normal.

Bet you were DYING to read about doggie bodily functions today, weren't you. Just be glad you weren't Judy yesterday ... we were chatting and then suddenly she got a message like this:

ICK!

DOG VOMIT!

ACK!

brb

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




You Know a Lot About Christmas



You got 5/10 correct



You know tons about the history and traditions surrounding Christmas.

When you celebrate the holidays, you never forget their true meaning - or all the little fun details.

Random Christmas fact: "Jingle Bells" was originally written as a Thanksgiving song.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

And the Winner Is...

Isn't it funny that at Christmas something in you gets so lonely for - I don't know what exactly, but it's something that you don't mind so much not having at other times. ~Kate L. Bosher

The winner of my "Win it Before You Can Buy it" contest to receive an autographed copy of "One Love For Liv" is....

((((drum roll here)))

Sylvia Dickey-Smith!!

Congrats to Syl and thanks to everyone who entered. By the way, I'm more than happy to offer autographed books to anyone who wants them for $11 plus shipping cost, or I'll send you an autographed book plate to affix to the inside of the book -- if you've already pre-ordered your copy, if you choose. Just email me (authormariannearkins AT gmail DOT com) and I'll take care of that for you.

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

Can you believe it's a week until Christmas? Oy. Where did the time go?? DD and I still need to do our baking (we'll do that on Friday while it snows like crazy again and we're housebound anyway) and I need to shop for dinner (I may do that today, just so I don't have to fight crowds at the store next week). I'm giving serious thought to boycotting Christmas next year! It's just so crazy... it doesn't seem like this much stress should be associated with such a lovely holiday.

Are you ready for Christmas? What plans do you have? How do you feel about the busy-ness of the season?

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

It snowed a few inches yesterday. Both DD and Dd had a blast playing! I wish I'd taken movies of the two of them sledding. DD would go down the hill, with Dd running alongside. Once, Dd jumped on the sled by herself and went down the hill -- I'm no sure she really enjoyed that! LOL...

Thankfully, we didn't lose power. But, more snow (and a bigger storm this time) is due on Friday and then again on Sunday! Seems winter is finally here.

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

Thirteen more days until JaNoWriMo begins -- anyone is welcome to join us. It should be fun... low stress, and crazy (judging from the folks involved)! If you're interested in trying to write 50,000 words in a month on anything you choose, email me (authormariannearkins AT gmail DOT com) and I'll get you all set up.

It'll be good.

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

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Welcome Guest Blogger: D. Renee Bagby

Reporter - RPR
Serenity - SER
Melchior - MCR
Adrienne - ADR
Malik - MLK
Sekhmet - SKH


RPR: Well, here we are again with another character interview. This time they are from D. Renee Bagby's novel Serenity, published with Samhain Publishing, Ltd. Out now in ebook and due out in print January 27, 2009. Welcome, Queen Serenity and King Melchior.

SER: Hello.

MCR: *nods*

RPR: Also here is Sekhmet, the overseer who will make sure we don't have any spoilers in the interview.

SKH: *waves to the audience* Just pretend I'm not here.

RPR: That didn't work last time, I don't think it'll work this time. And we have special guests Adrienne and Malik from the last interview.

ADR: Hello again, everybody.

RPR: They expressed an interest in meeting Queen Serenity and King Melchior so Sekhmet has graciously allowed them to be here today. And last but not least, we have a very special suprise guest. Chigaru, Serenity's head guard.

CHG: *whispers* Thank you for allowing me to be here as well.

RPR: Not to slight the royals but I have to start with you, Chigaru. According to the book, you don't talk much. Why would you want to be here at this interview?

CHG: I am merely observing. I wish to have experience when my time comes.

RPR: Oh yes, you have a book scheduled as well.

CHG: Yes.

RPR: Is there anything you care to tell us about it?

CHG: No.

RPR: *looks a little flustered* Um... okay. *clears her throat* Moving on then. Queen Serenity and King Melchior, you've both been given an opportunity to read Renee's novelization of your lives. How do you think it compared to the actual events?

SER: I chanced to read Adrienne and Malik's interview. My answer is much the same as theirs. It was eerily true to life and some parts were very hard to read.

MCR: I am sorry, Serenity.

SER: *smiles at Melchior and pats his hand*

RPR: *looks at her notes* About that. I actually have a reader question if you care to hear it.

MCR: Please.

RPR: One reader asks and I quote, "Where do you get off treating Serenity the way you did?"

MCR: I believe Renee presented the explanation for my actions within the chapters of her novel. There is more to the explanation. However... *glances at Sekhmet and then Chigaru* I am not at liberty to divulge it.

RPR: Oh ho, does that look mean it has something to do with Chigaru's story then?

CHG: Yes. It is the entire plot.

RPR: Wow, I didn't think King Melchior's behavior would need a whole other book to explain it.

SKH: Renee likes to make things convoluted. You should see her current WIP. The twist at the end is enough to make your short and curlies knot up.

RPR: Can't wait. *flips through her notes* Well, from the last interview, I already know there are certain things I can't ask about. But I do have two other questions before I turn the interview over and let you all converse amongst yourselves. First, can I visit your palace? Gezane sounds like a great place and I'd love to see it up close. *looks at Adrienne and Malik* I'd love to visit Bron as well.

SER: I am always happy to have guests.

MCR: It is Sekhmet who brought us here so it is ultimately up to her.

SKH: Short controlled visit.

MLK: We do not need to go through Sekhmet, so anytime you wish, you need only tell me.

RPR: Thanks so much. My second question - are you happy?

SER: *gives Melchior a loving look* Very.

MCR: My life has become much easier and more fulfilling since admitting my feelings to myself and my kingdom.

RPR: *sighs wistfully* It's hard to believe, looking at you now, that you two had such a rough start.

SKH: Wait until Chigaru's book comes out. The start wasn't the only thing that was rough.

RPR: Are you saying we'll see more of Queen Serenity and King Melchior's relationship in Chigaru's book?

SKH: Of course. He lives in the palace and is the head of her personal guards. Serenity and Melchior's continued relationship will be on full display.

RPR: Now that sounds intriguing. I take it there's trouble in paradise.

SKH: You'll just have to wait and see.

RPR: The suspense is already getting to me. Well, that's all the time I have. I'm leaving to let the royals get better acquainted. Thank you all for coming to this interview.

SER: I'm pleased you wished to speak with us.

MCR: I am sorry we couldn't impart more.

RPR: Hopefully next time we can get Renee or--

SKH: *fades from view*

RPR: Darn it! She did it again. I will get an actual interview out of her eventually. *huffs*

ADR: *chuckling* Maybe you should leave well enough alone.

CHG: *stands, bows to everyone, and leaves the room*

RPR: Don't forget, you owe me an interview after your book releases, Chigaru!

CHG: *stops and nods back at her and then continues on his way*

RPR: Was that a yes?

SER: Yes.

RPR: Well, you four enjoy the time together Sekhmet has allowed you. I guess when I do Chigaru's interview, I'll be seeing Queen Serenity and King Melchior again. I look forward to that. Goodnight and thank you.

D. Reneé Bagby
Building New Realms of Passion...
ADRIENNE -- Fantasy Romance (MC/IR)
SERENITY -- Fantasy Romance (MC/IR)
http://dreneebagby.com

Zenobia Renquist
Discover Different and Unique Romance
A VALENTINE'S GIFT FOR TORI -- Contemp IR Romance
ACKNOWLEDGING MEIRION -- Sci-Fi Romance (MC/IR)
http://zenobiarenquist.com

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Getting Back Into The Groove

Any proverbs about weather are doubly true during a storm. ~Ed Northstrum

I know that today should be Tightwad Tuesday, and it seems a shame to skip the second one in the series, but I have to be honest and say that getting a blog post together for today wasn't a top priority of late. So, TT will return next week provided God doesn't WHOMP!! New Hampshire again. Hey, here's a tightwad tip -- to save on your electric bill, don't use ANY for three days! LOL... I'll be interested to see what my usage looks like on the next cycle.

Truthfully, I'm feeling pretty lucky. This was the "ice storm" headline on the local newspaper this morning:

Hold on, it could be a long wait
And it goes on to say this:

....utility executives warned that residents who haven't had power restored as of yet should prepare to hunker down for up to a week.

There are still more than 100,000 people without power. I wish I could fit them all in my home...

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

Thankfully, Judy and I had set things up for the LASR on Thursday last week, in preparation for loss of power. Mostly it went smoothly, but trying to remember what I'm supposed to be doing is tough. We're overhauling the site, and moving the reviews back to Blogger (where they were initially) to make things easier for me (yay! I like easier). Judy has created some great new website headers and I think that it's going to look awesome when it's done.

It's just getting it there that is taking the time.

In any case, I'm busy as always. I did catch up on my sleep over the weekend -- no point in getting up when there's no light, is there? I slept on the couch, near the stove both to stay toasty warm and to make sure it didn't go out, and I laid around like a lazy slug until about seven every morning! Today, 4 a.m. came really, really early.

I'm already ready for a nap.

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

On the writing front, I did spend an awful lot of my down time thinking. I know that doesn't sound like a big deal, but I had some funny scenes pop into my head. I think I'll be working on Geoff's story (the sequel to "One Love for Liv") for JaNoWriMo which starts in... WOW... two weeks!!!

I know it's Geoff's story, but I had this idea for one scene that involves Liv ... and, oddly, I suspect Liv's father is going to have a bigger role in this book than in hers. I can't decide if I want the heroine and her family to own and run a holistic healing kind of store (with herbs and oils and crystals) or an educational one, lol. I know, I know ... it's a pretty big difference, but they're fairly closely linked in my brain for some reason.

I need to do a collage, too. Hmmm....

And, I am still vacillating on my "Stiller Creek" story. Do I amp up the suspense and submit to one line, or bring the mystery/suspense down a bit and submit to another? Either way means a lot of editing, which is my absolute least favorite part about writing.

AND... I gave more thought to Camilla's story, "The Possibility of Forever" (formerly "Camilla's Critters") and how I might could change Jed from being an out-of-towner to a local... but that changes the entire dynamic. And, I am trying to decide if I can just have him break a leg and a couple of ribs when he is hurt. Oy.

Still no news from Womans World. I'm getting a little nervous and sick to my tummy...

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




Your Snow Test Says You're Independent



You feel like something good will happen to you in the next few days.

You have an amazingly strong work ethic. You are likely to be very successful in life.

You are an independent, individualistic person. You thrive when you're doing your own thing.

Your biggest worry in life is your family. You stay up at night thinking about them.

When it comes time to relax, you have difficulty relaxing. You are a bit high strung.



That's mostly on track... don't know about the "something good will happen" -- I already have power back? How much better can it get? Otherwise, yeah...

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

Monday, December 15, 2008

I'm B-A-A-A-A-A-A-C-K!!!

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder. ~G.K. Chesterton

YAHOO!

Best sound in the world, bar none? My refrigerator kicking on a couple hours ago. Ahhh... the hum...

Totally made my day.

And, to celebrate (...are you ready?...) I FLUSHED THE POTTY!! Woot!

Seriously, folks, it's the little things. And, of everything that was affected by the power outage, that was by FAR the most inconvenient. Every muscle in my body aches from hauling water (in a 10 gallon bucket) 200 yards from the creek to the house about five or six times a day.

Lots more people still don't have power (Ceri, here's hoping you're not one of those -- thanks for leaving a comment, I was worried since your town was hit pretty hard) ... and I really feel for them. I can't believe all the trees and branches and debris everywhere. Just down the road, a HUGE oak fell -- roots and all -- and missed the house nearby by only a few feet. TONS of birch trees are history (including several in our yard) and pine trees were a big loser in the storm.

Kudos to the electric company folks for kicking butt. There must be just tons of wires and poles down. They are doing an amazing job. I very nearly kissed the guys from PSNH that drove past a little bit ago.

In any case, I have several hundred emails to sift through and just incredible amounts of work to do for LASR, so I'll sign off for now.

Just wanted to let you know that I HAVE POWER. It's truly a blessing.

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

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Here... sort of...

Hey there -- Marianne here. Sort of.

I traveled many, many miles out of town to my SIL's place to have a shower and steal some internet.

Our town (proper) has power, but we don't. In fact, they don't expect our residential area to have power until Monday, at least. The Wendy's a-ways up the road has WiFi, so I may visit them tomorrow for a bit if need be.

All the trees here are still ice covered.

I miss flushing my potty. I miss showers.

But really, we're all good -- we have our woodstove for heat, the camping stove for cooking, and the garage for a fridge. We packed our chest freezer with ice and closed it and have our fingers crossed.

I'll be back when I can.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Weather Alert from Judy

Hello, all. This is Marianne's "partner-in-crime" Judy... popping in to let you know Marianne may (or may not) be around today. The frozen north she calls home was expecting ice and/or snow....which has the tendency to take out her power. However, you can still get your Marianne fix by visiting Cindy Green's blog where Marianne is guest blogging and giving away a copy of her wonderful Christmas story "The Christmas Curse." So... go and visit her there, leave a comment, and maybe get a free read for this Christmas season.

Marianne will be online as soon as she can...all of you up in the "frozen north", please stay warm and safe.

EDITED TO ADD (9:53 AM): I just spoke with Marianne and they are still without power and no idea when it will be back on. She's going to try to find a town WITH power so she can at least get online and touch base.

EDITED TO ADD (5:00 PM): Got a voice mail from Marianne. Looks like the entire state may be out of power and the fire department is saying probably three days before all the power is restored. Will keep you updated as I learn more, but the LASR and WC pages may not be updated for a few days. Thanks!

EDITED TO ADD (6:10 PM): Talked to Marianne. Still no word on when the power will be restored, but the power is slowly getting turned on. But, they are safe and warm, so that's the important thing. Will keep you informed as I hear something.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thinking, Thunking....

Because the "Booking It" meme was boring... I decided to do something else:



1. Do you like waffles?

Yep. :-)

2. Name 3 things that is within your reach right now, excluding anything to do with your computer/laptop.

My coffee cup (without which I would ramble worse than I do in the mornings), my Dynamic Learning: Dreamweaver CS3 book, and the dog's leash.

3. Do you hang laundry out on a line outside?

For the 45 days a year I can, yes. The rest of the year, I hang it inside. Yes, I really do.

4. Loss of vision, ability to speak or hearing - which do you choose? (you have to choose one....)

Ability to speak. IMHO, that's easy-peasy... I can write, or sign or whatever. Loss of vision terrifies me, and loss of hearing would be terribly inconvenient. "Speaking" doesn't require an audible voice. For instance, I "talk" to my LASR biz partner, Judy, every day via IM.

5. On a scale from 1 - 10, how are your computer skills?

I'd say... a 7. They're pretty dang good. I'm not an uber-master, but I get by quite comfortably.

6. Do you volunteer or donate to anything around the holidays?

We give most of our gifts via Samaritan's Purse every year. I never pass a Salvation Army bell ringer without giving and a volunteer our home for the family gathering. Do those count?

7. If a person receives a DUI while in government office, should he lose his/her position?

Yes. I have very little tolerance for servants of the people getting away with crimes and staying in office. They are representing ME (and you)... and I don't drive drunk.

8. Do you take vitamins?

Yep.

9. Do you wear fingernail polish?

Yep... but I wear it on my toes! LOL... it chips off my fingernails in a matter of minutes. I stopped wearing it on my fingers when I bartended (my hands were forever underwater), and never started again.

10. If every flower in the world only grew into one color, which color would you want?

Blue. Of course, one of the reasons I love blue flowers is because they are so unusual... if they were all blue, that color would probably lose its charm.

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

(warning weather rant ahead)

Ugh. In one of the five (YES FIVE) times I was up with Dakota last night, I got tugged outside in my bare feet (always an adventure when it's December in New Hampshire) and stepped on ... ice pellets. ICK.

I am of the firm belief that sleet and freezing rain should be outlawed. Rain? Fine. Snow? If it must. But that ice? Just plain nasty. Hopefully it will warm up enough today that it turns to rain.

I don't drive in the bad weather unless it's an emergency, and I have errands to run. Worse, tonight is Dakota's first agility class. If it's icing at six o'clock tonight, we aren't going. I have enough trouble driving at night as it is. So, fingers crossed.

Tomorrow it's supposed to snow like crazy, but tomorrow, I don't have errands so I don't care.

/weather rant

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

I went to my library last week and gabbed with the librarians about my book. I showed them a copy. I bubbled and smiled. And I asked them to order a copy for their shelves.

They smiled and (basically) patted me on the head and told me to move along.

Um. No. I'm one of your very best patrons. I've know you guys for nine years and have probably checked out 9,000 books in that time. You earn your budget based on circulation... you can buy one lousy book (well, not "lousy", but you know what I mean).

I figure I just got them on an off day. I'll try again the next time I'm in, only this time I'll talk to the director.

Still, it was a less than stellar response, and a bit demoralizing.

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

Have you entered the contest to win your very own autographed copy of "One Love For Liv" yet? Hmmmm???? It ends on the 15th, so ya better hurry!

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

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Stuck with ME

No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking. ~Voltaire

No guest blogger today... y'all are stuck with me.

I spent the day, yesterday, doing brainless but necessary work for LASR and contemplating a short story I had begun quite some time ago. In it, I have a heroine who has a mysterious something that demands her attention after work everyday and ... when I started writing it, I had no idea what that was. Yesterday, I sat and wondered what had happened to Millie and Paul from "Miles From You" -- they've been on my brain because Womans World still has my "Perilous Love" story and the last time they had once this long, it had gotten all the way to Johnene Granger before being rejected (with handwritten comments, which I treasured, lol). That story eventually became "Miles From You".

The brain is a funny thing, isn't it?

In any case, and for whatever reason my very odd brain smooshed both thought together and now I know what my heroine from the short story does every afternoon -- it involves her parents, Millie and Paul! LOL...

Now, to find the time to finish writing it. I really like the hero in the story -- he's sweet, but geeky and unsure. I can't recall writing a sweet, geeky and unsure hero before.

So... one more to add to JaNoWriMo?

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

Hey, folks... yesterday Ceri asked a question in the LASR Yahoo group that didn't get an answer, and I thought I'd ask it here, because I'd like to know, too!

She asked:

On their guidelines page they list what to send (cover letter, synopsis, first three chapters) but further down the page it says that we can send an email query to the proper editor.

Which is the best way to submit? I didn't seen any addresses to physically mail anything, so I'm wondering if the email is the preferred method.


Does anyone know?

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

We did "quirky things" yesterday in the LASR group and it got me to watching stuff around me. Dakota is VERY quirky... lol. Her biggest quirk is this: She always takes the first mouthful of food away from the dish to eat it. She'll go over, fill her mouth up and run to the stairs, spit it out and eat it one piece at a time. Then, and only then, will she go back and eat the entire thing.

And my cat's feet are ticklish, so I love to go and stick a finger in the middle of her pads and wiggle... her entire foot flexes. She'll let me do that once or twice before smacking me in annoyance, lol. I'm the only one who can do it even that many times, though.

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

Isn't it amazing how warm 40 degrees feels in the winter? I have my screen door open!! LOL...

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




You Should Be a Puppeteer



You are an entertainer - pure and simple.

You know how to engage an audience. You are a natural storyteller.

You are naturally dramatic, even when life doesn't call for drama.

Luckily though, you save most of your drama for your stellar performances.



And, DD got her "drama queen"-ness from me! *G*

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

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Tightwad Tips Tuesday

Every day I get up and look through the Forbes list of the richest people in America. If I'm not there, I go to work. ~Robert Orben

Maria Zannini mentioned something in the comments of my post last week about how to shop wisely and get the best prices on food and sundries.

Use a notebook.

I have three grocery stores, two warehouse stores, a WalMart and a Target that I use for my shopping. I have a notebook and a calculator in my purse (for those times when the "cost per..." is different for every brand -- why do they do that? If it's a "cost per gallon" for one, why is it a "cost per each" for a second, and a "cost per quart" for the third? Drives me batty... anyway...) and I am constantly checking prices. This was especially important lately when all the stores boosted prices because of gasoline cost (but did they go back down? Uh.. no. And there is a news story on why here.) because all the "usual" prices went way up.

It's simple to make a notebook. Find a little notepad, make headers at the top with each store, and a sidebar with your products and columns to write prices -- it's important to write the "cost per whatever" because manufacturers are known to decrease the size of a package slightly (anyone look at Breyer's ice cream lately, or your tuna cans?) and keep the price the same. You might want to write the prices in pencil since they are fluid.

I don't advocate hitting six stores in a day to shop, though, unless they're very close to each other. I also keep a list in my storage with what I want on hand, and what I've used to show what I need to buy when I'm at the place where whatever I need is cheapest.

The biggest way to save money is to be an informed consumer. Never make assumptions that WalMart is the cheapest on everything, for instance. Maybe it is, most times. But what about when the usually very expensive grocery store has loss leaders on sale? Do your research. It adds up. I used Rinaldi pasta sauce as an example on my post last week (since I never have enough tomatoes in my garden to make my own sauce). Hunts sauce is nearly always $1 a can, but I don't like the taste... so I wait. I love Rinaldi, but it's usually almost $3 a jar! Every few months or so, though, the store near me puts it on sale 10/$1. They have a limit of ten per visit ... but they're close to me, so I'll go back a few times during the week. Or, I'll go to another store in the chain that's near where Dakota goes to obedience. It's worth it to me. I saved $20 on ten jars of sauce!

So... keep your notes, be organized, know what you have on hand and what you need and always watch the grocery store sales. You'll save hundreds (maybe thousands) of dollars a year!

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

And a picture of the cat helping us decorate the Christmas tree (just because):

Monday, December 08, 2008

Sleep Quiz

Morning! It's kind of fun -- my gmail theme is "beach" and it is timed with the hours in the day, and it has the sun just beginning to rise. :-)

It's WINDY outside... really, really windy. I'm a bit afraid that parts of the house have blown off. It makes it absolutely miserable to be outside -- I'd say that the winds are about 30 mph with gusts up to 50 - 60 mph!! Poor Dakota... times like these, it must be the pits to have your bathroom in the great outdoors.

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

I know I normally do the Monday Morning Meme, but I couldn't answer some of the questions... really... I COULDN'T. Not one answer came to mind, so I stole something else from Karen's blog instead.

Since sleep has been much on my mind of late, this seemed very timely:

1. How long do you sleep each night?

How long DO I sleep? Or how long would I sleep if something didn't wake me up?

I sleep about six hours a night, when I'm lucky. I really need eight hours, and eventually lack of sleep will catch up with me and I'll go to bed at about 5 p.m. to play catch-up.

If I was in a quiet hotel room somewhere, and completely by myself? I'd sleep a good eight hours, easy. Oh well, it's not to be.

2. Do you fall asleep easily?

Mostly. But that's in great part due to the fact that I don't get enough sleep, so I'm absolutely wiped out by about 8 p.m. every night. I suspect it's less "sleep" than "unconscious". Back in the day when I was ... yanno... single and childless, I did have many times I struggled with insomnia.

3. Do you fall asleep at times not in your bed?

Not if I don't intend to. If I cross off those times I curl up on the couch on purpose, then... nope. We don't have a TV in our room (don't even have a cable outlet) and I don't watch much TV anyway, so don't fall asleep in front of the tube.

4. Do you listen to music or use “white noise” to sleep?

I can't sleep to music with words. At all. Ever. My brain GRABS the words and won't stop thinking about them. Quiet, synthesized music sometimes works, and in the summer we have the fan in the window, but to be honest, I prefer nothing at all.

5. Do you sleep through the night or get up a couple of times?

Okay... here's some TMI for you: I have a bladder the size of a pea. So, yeah, I get up at least once. That's when someone or something else doesn't wake me. My night usually goes something like this: bed at nine. DH wakes me up at eleven when he comes to bed. Dakota has to potty at midnight. Dakota has to potty and/or vomit at 3:30 a.m. Cat yowls at 4:30 (yes, even when I put her in the basement -- she has quite a set of vocal chords), and I get up. So, yeah -- I'm in bed 7 1/2 hours, but don't sleep but half or so.

Lately, I've taken to sleeping on the couch after Dakota wakes me up the last time, because the cat will come over and curl up with me (and the dog... and no, it's not a big couch, lol) and NOT wake me up yowling at 4:30 a.m.

Sometimes, too, I'll crash in the spare bedroom so I don't get awakened by DH ... a Dakota sleeps better in there, too. Those are the nights that I play "catch up".

6. Do you have trouble sleeping away from your own bed?

Nope.

7. Do you need an alarm clock to get you up?

Nope. Not the electric kind anyway... I have plenty of other stuff to wake me up! LOL... I haven't set the alarm in forever.

8. Do you ever take medication to help you sleep?

Not anymore. Back in my single, insomniac days I occasionally took Dramamine to sleep. Yes, really. That stuff totally knocks me out, which is a shame because I get motion sickness, but can't use anything or I'm gone. No point in boating when I sleep through it all.

9. Do you/have you slept with pets?

LOL... you guys know the answer to that! I've slept with critters my entire life -- cats, dogs... even my rat (yes, really -- though not often, he preferred his cage and cats didn't like to share). Back in my single years, ALL of my cats slept with me (at once point I had four). When Bailey got too old to jump up on the bed, she slept on a dog bed beside us, but that was the only time I can remember not having a pet to snooze with.


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

I was going to get to Agway and finish my shopping, but I'm not going anywhere in this wind! So, DD and I will do massive amounts of baking instead -- and she can do school while stuff cooks. Cookies and fudge are on the menu -- several varieties of both.

Yum.

Do you bake for friends and family at Christmas?

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

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Isn't it Ironic?

“Humor brings insight and tolerance. Irony brings a deeper and less friendly understanding.” - Agnes Repplier

So... last night, Dakota actually slept through the entire night. Normally she wakes up at least once, sometimes twice, to go potty (and she always goes -- both, uh.. types), so I've been hoping she'd let me sleep for a change.

She did.

My DH did not.

DH seems to have caught a cold once again, only this one is all about coughing. And coughing. He tried to be thoughtful and sleep on the couch... but I'm a light sleeper and still heard him.

So... Me? Up all night. Dd? Slept like a baby.

*sigh*

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

Yesterday, my SIL took DD for a bit and DH and I went shopping very, very early. It was good... we got pretty much everything we needed. Yay. I have only a few things left, that I'm going to get at the Agway New Hampshire store... then off to the post office this week and DONE.

Well... except for my cards.

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

So... I'm going to try to share a "tightwad" tidbit once a week, since you guys seemed to enjoy it. Maybe on Tuesdays since it sounds so good together *G*.

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




You Get Enough Sleep



Although sometimes it make not feel like it on Monday morning...

You are getting enough sleep.

Want to sleep better? Try wearing socks to bed and turning your clock to where you can't see it.



Wait... wearing socks to bed? HUH?

Actually, I can't STAND having socks on when I sleep...drives me nutty. And I know I don't get enough sleep, sorry quiz.

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

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Shopping and Saving Money...

Oh, for the good old days when people would stop Christmas shopping when they ran out of money. ~Author Unknown

So.... yesterday, DH was working from home so I took the opportunity to go running around without the dog (or worrying about her cooped up in her crate for too long). DD wanted to go to the mall. I thought -- heck, it's NOT the weekend, and it's early in the morning, it shouldn't be too bad.

WAS I EVER WRONG!

You know what? They may SAY people are spending less, but I'm here to tell you that they are NOT shopping less. Every single place I wanted to go was packed. No parking at WalMart (seriously... NO PARKING) so we didn't go in. We had to park out in the boonies at the L.L. Bean Outlet. People were circling the parking lot at Barnes and Noble waiting for a space to open up. They had so many construction barriers up to "guide" traffic at the mall that I couldn't get to where I wanted to go. We finally just gave up.

Amazing. Now I remember why I like to finish my Christmas shopping early. I'm paying for it this year. I wonder what great gifts they have at the grocery store?

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On Thursday, Maria Zannini mentioned a bit on her blog about how to be frugal in this time of high prices and low (or no) income. I made a few comments there, but she suggested I make a couple more here.

You see, my DH and I try to balance living for today with planning for tomorrow -- and that's not always an easy thing to do. I don't believe that pinching pennies so hard you're miserable and never enjoy anything is a good way to live.. because, after all, this life could be over in a flash! So enjoy it ... but enjoy it wisely.

My DH's coworkers think he's loaded with money. After all, we own a home, have nice vehicles, a boat, a snowmobile and I am able to stay home with our daughter. We must be rolling in the dough. Right?

Wrong.

But we live by this bit of advice: Don't buy it if you can't afford it.

Sounds simple enough... but it isn't. Aside from our home, which has a mortgage, we own everything. No loans. No credit card debt. We lived on hand-me-down furniture and thrift store clothes (actually... we still do! LOL), but we waited to buy what we have until we could pay for it outright. We scrimped and saved and cut corners.

Now I sound like I'm preaching. That's not my intent! But folks look at my pretty, shiny, clean 4Runner and think it's brand new. It's NOT -- it's actually a 1992 with 250,000 miles on it. We bought it outright eight years ago and take really good care of it (I'm fortunate that my DH was a Toyota mechanic before going high-tech).

We seldom eat out -- that's a HUGE chunk of change, isn't it? And, the food we eat prepared at home is usually food I've gotten on sale. Except in cases of great need, I don't buy it if it's not cheap. I'm blessed with a basement (half of which is for food storage) and a big, box freezer. The freezer costs $15 a month to run, so I took time to decide if I was going to save that much money on meat, bread, veggies, etc. I do.

I buy the loss leaders, and little else. Rinaldi spaghetti sauce on sale for $1 a jar (I never pay more than that)? I buy 40 jars. Canned corn on sale 3/$1? Woot! Give me a case. Best time to buy meat (here at least) is on Tues and Thurs -- because on Tues, they're trying to get rid of what didn't sell over the weekend, and on Thurs, they're trying to clear out to stock up for the weekend. Chicken breasts on sale for $1.50/lb? I'll take six packages -- DH can eat off those for months. So, instead of paying $50 for a meal out, I can translate that $50 into a week's worth of meals or more.

Clothes for DD? I buy next years at the end of the season this year. A winter coat? No problem... got it for $10. Snow boots? $5/pair, so I buy three sizes. She's good to go for awhile now.

So, now when DH wants to go snowmobiling up north, I don't worry so much about the cost of gas. DD wants art lessons? Okay. Obedience class for the dog? No problem. I want to buy a couple of books? Toss 'em in the cart.

We have money for the extras, because we don't LIVE on "extras".

Comments? Thoughts? What do you do to make ends meet?

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Have you entered to win an autographed copy of "One Love for Liv" yet? Why not?

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You Are Chicken Noodle Soup



You are a traditional and conservative person. You value the past, and change frightens you.

You are very loyal, especially to your family. You prefer a low-key life, with lots of time spent at home.

You like soup because it's easy, quick, and cheap.

You tend to have a favorite soup you stick to. Why change a good thing?



That's mostly right -- except I make all kinds of soups! I love soup... mmmm....

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Friday, December 05, 2008

Friday Free-For-All

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

I'm seriously sleep-deprived this week, so bear with me as I ramble and frighten you with the inside of my brain.

This was at the top of my gmail inbox today:

Dictionary.com Word of the Day -
dissever: to separate into parts
I have to be honest and say it really puzzled me. I stared at it for a good thirty seconds. I mean, I'm sure Dictionary.com is correct, but I always thought that the prefix "dis-" meant to NOT do something. Like if you disrespect someone, you DON'T respect them, right?

So... following that, "dissever" should mean to NOT sever. Yet... it doesn't. It means to sever, so why have two words (one of which has a misused prefix) to mean the same thing?

Yes, folks, these are the sorts of things that keep me awake at night.

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

I've been trying to decide what to work on for JaNoWriMo (either the sequel to "One Love For Liv" or the sequel to "Kitchen Matches" are on the top of my list -- I've been brainstorming both, though I have also been trying to figure out how to fix Camilla's story) when it occurred to me that I CAN WORK ON BOTH. Really. You know, it's cool when you can make up your own rules. JaNoWriMo is about 50,000 new words. Period. They can be on a new story, and existing (but incomplete) story... whatever. It's very freeing.

I think I will skip NaNoWriMo and do JaNoWriMo every year from now on...

Of course, that may change come next month.

We have ten folks signed up so far, in all types of genres ... so feel free to join us. I imagine it's going to get a little crazy.

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I can't believe it's only 3 weeks until Christmas. I'm so behind. I don't have my cards done, I don't have my shopping started (unless you count the bunch of "in honor of" gifts I purchased at Samaritan's Purse yesterday -- my in-laws don't allow gift giving, but will tolerate charitable contributions in their name, so I went to town, lol ... I love giving stuff). I'm trying to figure out how to get what I need, especially for DD, when I am with her 24/7. I did discover that Target.com has free shipping on most of their toys, so that's something.

And, yes, I'm giving books... but I gotta get off my duff and order those, too. I wish Amazon or BN.com did gift wrapping.

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It's a strange thing when a family celebrates the absence of dog vomit and runny poop -- but, yes, that's what we did yesterday. Now, if only today will be vomit and runny poop free... :::fingers crossed:::

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Judy and I are (once again) revamping the entire LASR site -- in the hopes we'll be ready for relaunch on January 1st. So, I'm a little crazy-busy, but the new site is seriously gorgeous. I can't wait to share it with you guys. I need to clone myself, though, because it entails rebuilding all of our interviews, stories and reviews since the last relaunch as well as creating all new webpages (which are really, really pretty...)

I'm a little acorn brown, lying on the cold, cold ground... everybody steps on me, that is why I'm cracked you see...

Points for anyone who knows what song that is!

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Your Mafia Name Is Dina "The Butcher" Capelli



Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

BTT: Favorites and Fun Contests!

He that loves a book will never want a faithful friend,
a wholesome counselor, a cheerful companion, an effectual comforter. ~ Barrow




1. Do you have a favorite author?

It would probably be a toss up between Nora Roberts and Jennifer Crusie.

2. Have you read everything he or she has written?

Yes on Jenny Crusie and *mostly* on Nora Roberts -- I haven't read all of her early category romance releases.

3. Did you LIKE everything?

Nope.

Of Nora's category romances, I enjoyed the "MacGregor" series, mostly, but I didn't like much else, so I stopped trying. I've mostly enjoyed her later work (wasn't a huge fan of "Blue Smoke" or the first book in her Vampire series, but can't think of anything else she's written in the last 5 -8 years that I didn't like).

I've liked everything Jenny Crusie has done except "Manhunting" and I can't really put my finger on why I dislike that book so much. It's part of my Crusie collection, just so I have them all (she's nowhere near as prolific as Nora -- which is a blessing and a curse), but I will never reread that particular book, whereas every other one of hers I've read and reread until the pages fell out.

4. How about a least favorite author?

TIE: John Steinbeck and Ernest Hemingway. Is it possible to be ANY more depressing than they were?? I'm not one for depth and symbolism, so being force fed both during my English lit class was pure torture, and instilled a deep and abiding hatred for both authors that I have yet to overcome. Not that I'm really trying. Ha.

5. An author you wanted to like, but didn’t?

Diana Gabaldon. I have picked up and tried to read "Outlander" fifty times. I do NOT like the book, and I know I'm in the minority. I keep thinking that maybe I wasn't in the mood the last time, or I'm missing something important because this book is cited over and over as the epitome of the perfect romance, but I can never get past the first few chapters before I stop. Blech.

You?

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Now for the fun contest!

Win it before you can buy it!



Win an autographed copy of "One Love For Liv" - available in print December 29th

How can you enter?

It's EASY! Simply tell the world about "One Love For Liv".

Post about the book on your blog or website (all the necessary info may be found here): the picture, blurb, excerpt, buy link and your choice of a review snippet AND a link to this contest page so other folks can have the same chance as you to win!

Then... email me with the link. Poof... you're DONE!

Contest runs from December 4, 2008 - December 15, 2008

United States and Canada only, please - If you're from outside those areas, and still wish to play, I'll substitute an eBook copy of "One Love for Liv" in place of the print book

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I'm also taking part in some holiday book celebrations.

Look here to find a new holiday book every day in the 2008 Holiday Book Celebration (my own "The Christmas Curse" is featured ON Christmas!). You can also comment to win one of three different prize packages from some awesome authors.

And, starting Monday, December 8th, Cindy Green is hosting the White Christmas Book Jubilee!!

14 Authors ~ 14 Holiday Book Giveaways
December 8th to December 14th
Free Books, Holiday Recipes, and Excerpts to warm you to the tips of your toes!!

My book is up on Friday the 12th -- but there are some pretty amazing authors being featured, so stop by on Monday for your chance to win

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Welcome Guest Blogger: Patti Shenberger

Hey everyone, it’s a pleasure spending time with you all today. I hope everyone had a fabulous Thanksgiving. I know I did.

At this time of year, I look back and think of all the things I am thankful for. Most importantly, I am thankful for my health. Two years ago, I received a staggering diagnosis – colon cancer. From September of 2006 through November of 2007, I was in for the fight of my life. Looking back, I can say it definitely changed my life in many ways. So right now, I am very grateful to have had the chance to fight the cancer (with the help of chemo) and won the battle.

So, I’m thankful for my health, my family, my friends and yes last but certainly not least, I am thankful for my writing. During cancer and chemo I managed to write and sell 3 books and 3 short stories. Not quote sure how I did it as there are many days that are a total blur to me and many weeks that went by that I truthfully can’t tell you what happened. But I never took one moment of it for granted. My hubby and my dog were my constant companions. When hubby wasn’t here the dog never left my side. Ok, if truth be told, even when he was here, she is my ‘Velcro baby.” But writing is an integral part of my life and I can't imagine not writing.

Now that I’m back in the saddle full-time, it has been a great year. Finished a novella in April, sold in the next day and saw it come out on Mother’s Day. If you are a fan of the black and white movie The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, then The Captain’s Wench from Devine Destines, an imprint of eXtasy books is right up your alley. In October I saw the release of The Laird’s Lady, my Scottish ghost who can’t pass over to the other side without the help of a feisty American heroine who inherits the castle. The Laird’s Lady from The Wild Rose Press comes out in print today actually. Hmm, time to pop over to www.amazon.com and check it out.

If you love a man in a kilt, then Laird MacLay is right up your alley.

And I’m hard at work on my latest two books. One a single title that is like nothing I have ever written before. It’s part fiction with a little non-fiction thrown in. I had an upbringing that was definitely not of the norm and I have woven in bits and pieces of my past in the book. Also just finished a manuscript that I hope Harlequin Presents will love. (G)

And of course I always have one or two little projects going on as well. The holidays never seem to mean a slowdown at my house. Instead it’s quite the opposite. The tree is up and decorated, the wreath is on the door, and the welcome mat is out for friends and family who want to pop on by for food and fun. My son will be home for two weeks from the military, and my daughter and future son-in-law will be joining us as well. In between all the merriment, I’ll be writing away as always.

I hope you all have a fantastic holiday and that you get everything your heart desires. And in the meantime, please check out my newly designed website at www.pattishenberger.com. Would love to hear your thoughts on it, good or bad. While you’re there, do some shopping on my Bookshelf. What better gift than a book for the holidays.

Take care all and thanks again to Marianne for having me today!Happy Holidays!

Patti Shenberger

www.pattishenberger.com