Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

When black cats prowl and pumpkins gleam,
May luck be yours on Halloween.
~Author Unknown

I know I promised more blogs today -- but that would require coherent thought and I am remarkably sleep-deprived. So, bear with me, enjoy these videos and have a happy Halloween!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Bloghopping and Being Frugal

In the old days a man who saved money was a miser; nowadays he's a wonder. ~Author Unknown

So... a few days ago, I asked my blog readers for some suggestions, and I got several.

Anne-Katherine said: "Most of the blogs I follow are dog/pet related lol Not sure if that is something you would be interested in."

LOL, you should know by now that my interests are wide and varied. After all, I write about dog food, poop and training on this blog, don't I? Not to mention cat behavior, vomit and kidney problems. Clearly I have an interest in pets. Bring them on! *G*

I won't have the time to go through them all today, but let me touch on a few. Incidentally, I'm thinking I might start a blog spotlight day on this blog to share new blogs I've found and talk about why I like them. Stay tuned! It probably won't start until after the first of the year (which is closer than you think... holy smokes).

For now, due to time constraints, I'm going to choose one blog from each person... I'll do more this weekend, because bloghopping is so much fun!!

Mary suggested Jill Shalvis' blog, which I HAD to go look at because I enjoy her books so much. I almost didn't get any further than Jill's blog because it was so much fun to read! She's random, which I love, and talked about... well... anything that tickled her fancy. There was a YouTube video, some pictures from a walk she took (by the Truckee River -- so pretty), an excerpt from one of her books, talk about writing and more. So, yep, added to my Google Reader.

Melissa sent me Yes I read It. It's Stupid -- which is a chapter by chapter blog on the Twilight Series by a blogger who didn't see the charm in the series. Now, I read "Twilight" and enjoyed the first book a lot, but never could get in to the rest of the series... and so didn't read it. I figure I'll watch the movies on DVD when they are out. OTOH, I know there are thousands (millions?) of rabid fangirls who adored the series (one of my LASR reviewers can be numbered amongst them), so it's amazing the spectrum of readers for it. The blog author is a hoot, and I completely enjoyed reading the blog -- BUT -- the last post is September 14 so I have to wonder if she's going to keep it up. It's a "maybe" for now. I'll add it to my Google Reader, cuz it doesn't cost anything to do so, but I don't hold on to blogs that don't update regularly.

Dru sent me Mystery Lover's Kitchen which tickled me pink. Some of my fave cozy authors write food-based books, and I like to cook (and eat!) so I was all over this link. And, I spent WAY too much time reading posts and clicking through on the recipes. This one is a MUST READ for me. So, thanks, Dru!!

Maria sent me to Genreality -- what a fantastic writing blog!! It has a diverse group of writers so you get input from every angle. We have Candace Havens, Lynn Viehl, Sasha White, Jospeh Nassise and Carrie Vaughn talking to us about writing. Another blog I could have spent hours on and one I'll plan on reading regularly (I can't say "daily" because I don't have time to read daily). They've even got timely tips on NaNoWriMo, so I know this is a place I'll check out during November's insanity. Awesome!

So... those were my first forays into your suggestions. There are more, so keep an eye open for my comments on them. AND... if you have more suggestions, send them my way! Please! Don't assume I wouldn't be interested because I'm a reader and a writer which means pretty much anything is interesting to me. I've got enough curiosity for fifty cats.


In other news, Dakota has decided she doesn't like sleeping on the couch any more which is a bit of a problem. See, about halfway through the night, my bones start to get achy, so I get up. I stretch and walk around a little until they feel better, but I'm a light sleeper, so can't get BACK to sleep in my bed cuz DH is usually sawing Z's, so I wander downstairs to the couch (which is so amazingly comfy... ahhhh). The dog comes with me, and has always just curled up on the cushion at my feet. The last week or so, though, there is something about the couch that freaks her out. She'll only get up on it under duress and then only sits, tense and worried until I tell her she can get down. As a result, my sleep hasn't been all that great and I'm trying to figure out what the problem is.

Today, I'm shampooing the couch and washing the cushion covers ... maybe there's a smell I can't smell that she doesn't like. Cuz, yanno, I needed a few more chores to add to my list.

BTW, a few weeks ago, I'd talked about making refried beans. I did so, and they turned out great -- though they weren't actually "refried". All I did was cook the beans until they were really, really soft (softer than I cook them just for eating) and then mashed them with my potato masher. I used a bit of the broth I'd cooked them in to get the consistency right, and they are AWESOME. I froze them in 1 cup containers and I've since run out, so today, I'm cooking up another batch of beans to smash up and freeze again. I plan on doing a massive batch at some point, and canning them, but they'll need to be pressure canned and I'm too lazy to dig out my pressure cooker right now, lol.

So--two bags of dried beans cost me about $1 each. Count in the electricity from cooking (which wasn't that long, since I soak the beans in hot water for 2-3 hours first) and the fact that, even after DD and I raided the beans for a couple bowls apiece (so yummy with a little salsa... mmm....) I still had nine 1-cup containers in my freezer. If we hadn't raided them, I probably would have had closer to 14 cups ... for a total cost of about $4- $5 or the equivalent of $0.35 a can. Yay me.

Today, I'm dehydrating sweet potatoes to use as treats for the dog (yes, really -- they LOVE them). If I bought dried sweet potatoes, it costs about $15 a pound. I bought three HUGE sweet potatoes yesterday for $0.79/lb -- So, even adding in the cost of dehydrating (slicing and putting them in the oven at 200 degrees for a few hours) I'm still so far ahead of the game it's not funny.

I'm also making homemade crunchy dog treats. I'll make those first, and then the sweet potatoes, because after I bake the treats at 350 for 20 mins, they have to sit in the warm oven for a few hours to get crunchy, so I get two for one on the cost of the heat! *G*


Thursday, October 29, 2009

I'd Like To Thank...

The words "I am" are potent words; be careful what you hitch them to. The thing you're claiming has a way of reaching back and claiming you. ~A.L. Kitselman

I got an award!

jmberrygirl awarded me the Honest Scrap award.

The rules are as follows: Thank the blogger who awarded you, and then list 10 honest things about yourself. Choose 7 other blogs to receive the award, and inform the bloggers that you've chosen them.

So... wow... ten things... hmmm...

10. I'm honestly not squeamish about very many things. I don't mind spiders or snakes or rats (in fact, I really, really LIKE rats). Blood or other bodily fluids don't squick me out. BUT... I REALLY REALLY HATE TICKS. They freak me out in the worst way if they are on me. If they aren't on me? I'm fine and dandy. I can pluck them out of friends, family and pets without a shiver. But on ME? ACK!!! GET IT OFF, GET IT OFF!! And, after finding even one on me, I typically have the need to shower and wash all the clothes I was wearing in scalding hot water immediately.

9. I honestly hate when people mess with my stuff. I put things where I put things because that is where I want them. When I lived alone, I could have walked through my house and found every single thing I owned with my eyes shut. Now, I live in endless frustration because PEOPLE MOVE MY STUFF. I remember watching a movie where someone was like that, and every time they left the room, someone would move something ... usually only an inch or two, and every time the character returned, they'd move it back immediately. That's me.

8. I honestly can't sleep on my stomach. I prefer my side, but I do sleep on my back sometimes. But never, never ever on my stomach. Just thinking about it gives me a headache.

7. I'm honestly the person you'd want around in an emergency, because I don't panic. I remain level-headed and I'm a great problem solver. I don't mind dirt or blood or fire, flood and pestilence. I'll be a wreck afterward, but during the emergency, I do great.

6. I have an honest obsession with brushing my teeth. When I was in high school and had braces, my orthodontist showed me pictures of some kid who didn't brush his teeth thoroughly when he had braces, and they were just disgusting. He warned me that I had to be diligent, and I took it to heart. Apparently, I'm a little TOO diligent. My current dentist tells me I'm too aggressive about brushing and it's making my gums recede and exposing my dentin. They give me extra soft brushes and tell me not to brush so hard or so long. And here I thought I was doing a good thing!

5. I honestly think water is the best refreshment. I love water. Water is the only thing that makes me feel rehydrated when I'm truly thirsty. BUT... I don't like bottled water (except Dasani) and I'm not fond of city water. We have a well, and the water tastes pretty dang good. Best water I every drank, though, was when we lived up in the boonies and had a spring. YUM.

4. I honestly cry at anything the least bit sappy. I used to cry at those old phone commercials and always at Hallmark commercials. I cry at the end of "Charlotte's Web", I cried at "ET", I cried when Flower died in "Meerkat Manor" (with that one, DD and I were both inconsolable -- we cried, hard, for a good twenty minutes).

3. I honestly don't understand how anyone ever thinks a writer will run out of ideas. I get ideas for stories every day. My problem is never lack of ideas, but only lack of time. I completely believe the "thing" that separates a writer from a non-writer is the ability to see ideas in everyday life, or the lack of the "what if" gene.

2. I honestly can't believe I'm going to do NaNoWriMo this year.

1. No offense to the rest of you folks, but I honestly think I have the best daughter in the world. Just saying.

Now... tags? Hmmm... how about:

1. Ceri

2. Anne-Katherine

3. Dru

4. Groovy

5. Keri

6. Judy

7. Mary


Tomorrow I'll talk about some of the great new blogs y'all pointed me to on Tuesday. THANKS!


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What, When, Where, Why and How with Elle Parker

Welcome to Elle Parker -- another brave participant in my craziness!

What's your favorite color crayon?

I was always fascinated with the metallic ones. The gold, silver and...bronze? Or copper? I can't remember. I just know I loved them. I would color as dark and hard as I could to make the page really look like gold. Then someone taught me how to polish the drawing with a tissue, and I fell in love with that, because I could make it all smooth and shiny.

When does middle life start?

Right now, baby! Bring it on! I turned forty this year and life is better than it ever has been. I don't know what specific age it starts, but to me, it's a state of mind. It's that point in life when you start to realize that you don't really give a rat's ass what other people think, and you're free to do your own thing. Then you start to gain a new level of freedom in life – kids are growing up and don't require such hands on care; if you're lucky, you make more money than you used to, and you have more time, wisdom and creativity with which to spend it. That's when middle life starts.

Where do you do your best writing?

I've had some fabulous brainstorms in a variety of places, and I do pretty good work at my own desk at home. But some of my best work ever, I did sitting a pseudo-desk my dad built in the loft of our cabin. It's a fold down board, hanging from two chains, tucked under the eves, with a crappy folding chair to sit at. I have to crawl into position because I'm too tall to stand up straight in the loft, but I love that desk and have had some very powerful and exciting moments writing there. Especially during deer season/Thanksgiving week. I don't hunt, I just take the opportunity to hang out at deer camp and behave like a heathen. And write. You can see a picture of it in the Fun Stuff section of my website.

Why did the suicide king feel there was nothing left to live for?

He hadn't hit middle life yet. He was still in that dark period when the kids want to have sleepovers all the time, and the baby has just started walking, so he's into everything, and it seems like you'll never have another quite moment of sanity, ever. Well...or taxes.

How many animals are in your house?

There are three plus. We have a HUGE yellow lab named Lucky, who takes up about half the house. We have a wonderful orange cat named Hagar. He's completely unflappable and will put up with anything. We also have a teenage son who makes the most mess, destroys the most furniture, and costs the most to feed. And finally, we live in the country, so at any given time we have an indeterminate number of mice living somewhere in our home. They like to stash dog food all over the house so we never forget they are there even if we can't see them. Although...sometimes we do.

Elle Parker likes her heroes snarky and human, and she writes with a realism that incorporates humor and everyday detail into steamy and exciting stories. Although she writes a few forms of erotica, her first love and primary focus is M/M Erotic Romance. She works hard to create characters you can't help but fall in love with.

Most of the time, Elle can be found in her home in the north woods of Wisconsin, working on her latest novel, or spending time with her husband and teenaged kids. When not writing, she likes reading, brewing beer and swimming with the loons. Unless it's winter. In that case she grabs a book and drinks the beer.

Elle loves to hear from her readers, and you can email her at

You can also follow her work at these sites:

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Wanted: New Blogs to Follow

A friend is one of the nicest things you can have, and one of the best things you can be. ~Douglas Pagels

I'm stuck in a rut. I haven't found any new blogs to read and be entertained by in quite some time. Not that I don't love all of you -- you're like my "keeper shelf", my comfort reads that I return to time and time again. But sometimes, I really want something new, yanno?

Maria Zannini was talking about why we blog, whether it's worth blogging, what causes people to comment and lots more stuff over at her blog today. If you haven't read Maria's blog, you should, btw. Not only is she a dog lover (this gives her many points in my book), she's also got some great information on being frugal, homesteading and lots more. OH, and she wrote a really great book *G*.

But on this post of hers, she asked some questions, and as I was answering I realized that I haven't gone looking for any new blogs for a while, because I really used to rely on Romancing the Blog's blog listing that they don't have any more.

So, I'm asking all of you -- everyone of you (even you folks who stop by and don't leave a comment -- would you make an exception today?) to leave me at least ONE new blog in the comments and why you think I'd enjoy visiting it.



Thanks for the comments on DD's store yesterday. She's very proud, and quite industrious. I'm proud of her, too. Hopefully she'll make a few sales (especially since Christmas is coming up) and it will give her more encouragement. This is her version of a lemonade stand, lol.

BTW, beading is hard! And, beads are a little like drugs ... totally addictive and you Can't. Stop. Buying. More. It's AWFUL. I carefully clip our 40% coupons to AC Moore, JoAnn's and Michaels every week and we go and buy one strand of beads from each place. Every week. The hardest part? Keeping it to only one strand. Dear heavens, if money were no object, I could go hog wild. I made my first pair of earring two days ago, and it was fun (hard, but fun -- seriously, we have six pairs of pliers, four kinds of head pins, two kinds of earring backs and 8 gazillion beads. Who knew beading was this complicated?) and I wish I had time to just sit and work for hours.

Next item: bracelets. We're going to start making matched sets. Or, that's the plan for now.


You Are a Blue Pumpkin

You are unique, fascinating, and even a bit mysterious. There's not a lot of people like you around.

You believe life's too short to not seize the moment. You embrace every opportunity and live each day like it's your last.

You are playful and energetic. After a hard day of work, the last thing you want to do is lay around.

You love to get your heart racing, and it's hard for you to say no to an exciting or interesting invitation.

Hmmm... not so sure about that one... lol


Monday, October 26, 2009

Finally: Announcing Distinctively DD!

In the business world, everyone is paid in two coins: cash and experience. Take the experience first; the cash will come later. ~Harold Geneen

I know I'd talked about launching DD's store a couple weeks ago, but we hit some snags and couldn't get it all together. However, this weekend we DID get it together and uploaded about half of her items onto the store front.

So, I'm here to announce the grand opening of:

Currently there are book thongs and earrings available. Plans for the future include bracelets, necklaces and cell phone charms as well as notecards, needlework, possibly some sewing stuff and more.

DD is ambitious.

We made a financial deal however. Here's how it works:

I fronted her the initial investment, but I'm not buying her any more supplies. She's going to have to pay for stuff out of what she makes. She also has to save some of it as well. This is how her income is split:

50% goes to me to hold for future supplies.
10% goes into savings.
40% is for her to use however she sees fit.

So... if she sells an item for $10 --

I get $5 for future supplies.
Her savings account gets $1.
DD gets $4 to spend or giveaway or whatever.

So far she's sold 9 bookthongs and 4 pairs of earrings. She's very excited.

Also: Maria Zanini is the person who suggested the name for the shop. Maria, if you'll email me your mailing address (authormariannearkins AT gmail DOT com), DD would like to send you your own special book thong as thanks.


Aside from taking a zillion pictures of earrings and bookthongs, it was a quiet Sunday. I took a bit of a break from my computer, because I've really been fighting eyestrain and it was good to have some time away.

I made applesauce (the last of it, I hope) and baked some cookies (thank you, Sarita).

Now... the week starts anew. I feel remarkably refreshed. Wonder how long that will last?


Sunday, October 25, 2009


Can we actually "know" the universe? ... it's hard enough finding your way around in Chinatown. ~Woody Allen, Getting Even, 1971


World Not Ending in 2012, Says NASA

I feel better.

As an aside, in that article they talk about the upcoming movie, 2012, and how they're trying to make it realistic by setting up Facebook pages, etc. And then it says: "...the fictional fiction..."


If a double negative is a positive, then is "fictional fiction" true?


Not much to say .... it was a quiet day yesterday. DH puttered (of course, he was inside and my DH has no indoor hobbies except puttering). He painted our "new" door -- the one we replaced 18 mos ago), he painted trim, etc.

DD did her thing, school, reading, crafts.

Dd did her thing, eating, sleeping, pooping.

The cat did her thing, eating, sleeping, eating, sleeping, eating...

I did my thing, working on the website, cleaning, cooking.

A day in the life. So exciting!


Your Pet Should Be a Human For Halloween

Your pet tends to act just like a human. In fact, your pet probably thinks he or she is human!

Your pet is content to stay inside, be close to you, and if possible, do whatever you're doing.

It's likely your pet is an only pet and hasn't had much socialization with other animals.

Or maybe your pet is just simply super intelligent and knows that the human way of life is best.

That was for Dakota, who is NOT an only pet, and has had plenty of socialization. She loves to be outside, but the rest is pretty accurate.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Fun in the Sun

Anyone's life truly lived consists of work, sunshine, exercise, soap, plenty of fresh air, and a happy contented spirit. -
Lillie Langtry

Since we knew it was going to be an icky day today (rainy... blech), DD made the most of yesterday and will do her school today (one of the bennies of homeschooling!!).

Here's how she spent her day. Drawing chalk pictures of Dakota:

And riding her scooter up and down the road with the dog (usually shouting 'WAHOOOOOOO' at the top of her lungs):

I worked on the computer, cut down my dead hydrangeas and garden phlox and then, since DH was up helping his uncle do something at his uncle's property up north, and I knew it was going to rain today, I split wood.

Yes I did.

I have to admit that it's more than frustrating to have to take 10 - 15 whacks at a log with the maul before the stupid thing splits, when DH does it in 2 - 3, but even so, I did make a pile of chopped, split stuff.

I told DH what I'd done when he got home, and that I knew I'd only done ten logs or so -- but he said, "That's ten logs I don't have to do." Of course, then he went out and finished up the pile, whack, whack, whack.

Sunday, we'll be hitting the neighbor's wood pile. I'd like to say that today is a day of rest, but DD will be doing school and I will be building next week's LASR/WC website pages.

And, I might back some garlic herb bread, because it sounds good -- and baking is always a good choice on a rainy fall day.

What are your plans?


You Are North

Like a Viking, you are assertive, decisive, and dominant. You seek power and destroy those in your way.

People admire that you are so confident and independent. You seem to have the world figured out.

Sometimes you come across as pushy and aggressive... not that you mind! You like being seen as tough.

You make a fairly good leader, especially in times that require grit and ruthlessness. You are a warrior.

Next stop... world domination. MUHAHAHAHAHAHA....


Friday, October 23, 2009


There is little chance that meteorologists can solve the mysteries of weather until they gain an understanding of the mutual attraction of rain and weekends. ~Arnot Sheppard

I spent all day yesterday thinking it was Friday (though not having my DH home should have been my first clue). So, I'll need to remind myself that today is NOT Saturday.


Thanks for your comments and suggestions on DD's poor bloody nose problems. I'll be reminding her daily to moisten her nose with Vaseline and put a pot of water to boil on the wood stove (when we start using it). Even so, she gets them just as frequently in the summer as she does in the winter, so I'm not sure the humidity level contributes greatly. I was heartened by the fact that several of you suffered from them as kids, but outgrew it. Here's hoping she's the same!

Regardless, at least last night was quiet. Yay.

My SIL gave me a pile of apples from her neighbor's tree and I've been struggling to decide what to do with them. They're quite small (but tasty) and would take forever to make applesauce with (peeling and coring them ... OY VEY). Well, yesterday a.m. I grated up five of them, peel and all, and made apple bread. And it was delicious.

So... if you have a few apples too many, why don't you give it a try?


2 c Brown Sugar (I only used one and it tasted fine)
4 eggs
4 c flour (I used 1 1/2 c WW flour, 1 1/2 AP flour and 1 cup oatmeal)
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp buttermilk
2 tsp cinnamon
1 c butter (I used 1/2 c)
3 c grated apples

Cream together sugar & butter. Add eggs, vanilla and buttermilk and beat well. Add apples. Mix dry ingredients together in separate bowl and then add to wet mixture. Mix well and put in greased loaf pans. Bake at 350 for 45 mins.

Note: I used one loaf pan and two muffin tins, and baked the muffins for 30 mins. These would have tasted fantastic with raisins added, too. Or maybe some orange zest. Or blueberries. *G*


I suspect today may include working with the piles of wood at my neighbor's house. Or chopping and stacking what we have left here. It's supposed to rain tomorrow, to today is the day!

Hope you have a great Friday. Oh -- and if you write Steampunk, see the call out, below!


Submissions Call - Steampunk anthology

I thought I'd share this in case anyone out there is writing steampunk (**cough**::::Tori:::**cough**):

Call for Submissions: Samhain Publishing Steampunk romance anthology

Welcome to the world of clockwork pendants and steam locomotives, corsets and lace, dirigibles and difference engines. Yes, we're talking about steampunk, where fantasy, history, technology and romance mix to create a glorious genre that looks at Victorian and Edwardian Era England and the American wild west through brass goggles.

I'm very pleased to announce an open call for submissions for a new, yet-to-be titled fall 2010 steampunk romance anthology. Don't know what steampunk is? Think League of Extraordinary Gentleman and The Wild, Wild West. Even Joss Whedon's Firefly and Serenity have steampunk elements transported into space. For more information on steampunk, you can check out the entry on wikipedia.

I'm open to M/F, M/M, or multiples thereof, and any sexual heat level, and the romance must end happily ever after or happy for now.

The novellas must range between 25,000 to 30,000 words in length, no more, no less—please note, only manuscripts that fall in this word count will be considered for this anthology—and will be released individually as ebooks in November 2010.

Submissions are open to all authors, published with Samhain or aspiring to be published with Samhain. All submissions must be new material—previously published submissions will not be considered. Additionally, manuscripts previously submitted, whether individually or for past anthologies, will not be considered either. Please be aware that manuscripts submitted to this anthology cannot be resubmitted at a later date unless by invitation from an editor.

To submit a manuscript for consideration, please include:

The full manuscript (of 25,000 to 30,000 words) with a comprehensive 2-5 page synopsis. Please include a letter of introduction/query letter. Full manuscripts are required for this as it is a special project.

As well, when you send your manuscript, please be sure to use the naming convention Steampunk_Title_MS and Steampunk_Title_Synopsis. This will ensure that your submission doesn't get missed in the many submissions we receive, and makes it easy for me to find in my ebook reader.

Submissions are open until April 30, 2010. No submissions will be accepted after this date—no exceptions. A final decision will be made by May 31, 2010. Please send your submission to and include Steampunk Anthology in the subject line. Questions and queries can be addressed to Sasha Knight (

*permission to forward or repost granted*

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Happy Note and a Long Night

What is a home without children? Quiet. ~Henny Youngman

The other day, I told Judy I wished my day had started out with a happy note. So, she sent me this:

It still makes me smile, and after the night I had last night I needed it.

I think I've mentioned before that my DD gets bloody noses regularly. Well... last night she did again, with a vengeance.

Midnight, 2 a.m. and again at 3:45 a.m. -- BAD bloody noses that would not stop gushing for the longest time. I tried everything we've tried before: pinching the bridge, using ice, etc., and they eventually stopped but I'm surprised she wasn't faint from blood loss (and I'm not joking or exaggerating... it was that bad).

When I talked to her doctor last April, he wasn't concerned, but this is a very real problem for us. It can happen any time, anywhere and without warning. And the past couple of years it's been getting worse ... not so much in frequency but in how much blood and how hard they are to stop.

In any case, she crashed again around 4:30, but I have things I have to do in the morning (load up the LASR/WC daily pages), so I couldn't go back to bed. I stayed up, gave the cat her medicine canned food, took out the dog for her potty break and fed her and brewed up some coffee. I've been decaffeinating myself over the past few weeks, but this morning I broke down and made half-caf.

I have a feeling this might be a really long day...


You Are Yellow

You are the brightest person the crowd, and you stand out every place you go. You are incredibly charismatic.

You are truly joyful, and people like to be close to your happiness. You have a strong, positive effect on others.

You are very memorable. A lot of people know you, even those who you haven't seen you in years remember you well.

You are often as happy as you seem, but sometimes you fake it a little bit. You know people are counting on you to lift them up... and you don't want to let them down.

Hmmm... okay....?


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What, When, Where, Why and How with Regan Taylor

Regan Taylor joins us on this lovely autumn day. Welcome Regan!

What comes first – the plot or the characters?

Definitely the characters, generally the male ones who tell me where they want to go and the kind of woman they want to go with. For instance, I had the idea for Indentured Bride ( and was writing it, enjoying the story that was unfolding, getting to know Brett when I became aware he not only had two brothers, but his friend Rick had a story too. Rick's story is Traveling Bride and older brother Kendrick turned out to be Mistaken Bride. The same thing happened with Jason in Jason's Accord. My editor, Bea, ( really liked his best friend, Michael and she wanted Michael to have a story -- Michael's story is about ready for submission and it's tentatively called Amazonia.

When is the worst time for someone to call you?

When I'm sleeping It's usually a telemarketer who missed the "do not call list" notification. I don't wake up easily and when it's a garbage call--watch out--my language gets a bit colorful.

Where would you spend your vacation?

In my home with the phone off the hook, blinds drawn and I don't answer the door. I also like cold, dark and rainy--I love reading for hours on end and my muse seems to kick in big time when I'm home at a stretch like that. I'm not much for crowds and sun and I like my home.

Why do birds suddenly appear, every time you are near?

Because I have cats and they are ..... gifts? Seriously, my cats are indoor cats and while they do enjoy looking at the window, they don't seem to even notice them.

How important is beauty in your daily life?

It depends on how you define beauty. For me it's seeing the ones I love every day.

From earliest childhood Regan was an avid reader and upon discovering Alexander Dumas and Charles Dickens she was hooked on books that carried the reader away to a different time and place. Preferring the quiet of her room and a good book to spending time with people she traveled far beyond those four walls. When her mother relentlessly looked for friends for the introverted Regan (yes she still is shy and introverted despite the outward appearance of being outgoing) Regan would take off with a book or two and hide to avoid being forced into a social situation.

Her first foray into writing, aside from tedious English assignments in high school and college, were two non-fictions intended to be of assistance to people with disabilities. Both were a struggle to write despite their ultimate purpose and convinced Regan she was most certainly not a writer. Both books were completed, they made their way to the population that would benefit the most from them and she moved on or back to her reading roots. Due to her passion for reading she was beyond thrilled when in 2003 she “discovered” reviewing with Love Romances reviews. From her first reviews she became involved in interviewing various authors as part of the site's interview feature.

After a three year stint in law school followed by completing her masters in Counseling she set her sites on being a police dispatcher. Unfortunately her department only allowed women under 30 (generally blond women who did “favors” for the male officers) to be dispatchers. When her “day” job with a local police department in Northern California became far too burdensome due to internal management, rather than escape into her reading, she began to write. Much to Regan's surprise, the words flowed and eventually led to Spell Across Time, followed by The True Story of the Wicked Witch, Miranda's Heart, Jason's Accord, Indentured Bride, Mistaken Bride, Her Eyes, The Photograph and America's Hero.

Regan is a member of the San Francisco Chapter of Romance Writers of America and a contributor to their upcoming “how to” book. Her goal is to be a “stay at home writer” - writing as a full time profession rather than often very part time.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Out of Focus

"If you chase two rabbits, both will escape" — Unknown

Why is it, when you want to focus on one project, another starts to jab at you? I'm trying to make sure I'm as ready for NaNoWriMo as I can be (working on scene cards and jotting down basic ideas for stuff I want to see happen) when WHAM!!! I figured out how to fix "Return to Stiller Creek". It's a MAJOR change, and will require a complete rewrite of the entire story, and it won't get out of my head.

I have less than two weeks until NaNo. I even officially signed up for this year. I want to work on "Drive Me Crazy", dang it. So, Stiller Creek -- get thee behind me!!!


We won't talk about how much I've also been thinking about my fantasy. I love my fantasy. It's so freaking hard to write, but I think it's one of my best stories (she said modestly).

FOCUS, where are you?


DD is going through some funky phaze. She's totally unable to focus (maybe there's something in my house? A non-focus virus?) and won't sit still. She started school yesterday, sat for about 45 mins then popped up. "I'm antsy, I'm going to take the dog out to play."

Uh, no. It doesn't work that way. Sit down and do math.

And, oddly enough, she's too busy with school to do her chores, but has plenty of time to read or jump rope.

Uh, no.

So, yesterday, she lost .... everything. No TV, no books, no dog, no outside until ALL her school and chores are done. Amazingly, school was finished in record time, and the dishwasher was emptied without me having to ask more than once. Incredible.

We'll see how today goes.


You Are Dumplings

You are cute, polite, and considerate. You are well known for your generosity, and you truly love to share.

You have a real style and presence about you. You know how to take the simplest thing and make it look chic.

You tend to order carefully and conservatively off the menu of life. Simplicity is your motto, and you don't like to take on too much at once.

You are the type of person who does one thing at a time, really immersing yourself in the moment. You detest multitasking.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA..... This couldn't be MORE wrong! *snort*


Monday, October 19, 2009

It's a Miracle!

True friendship comes when silence between two people is comfortable. ~Dave Tyson Gentry

Last evening, a miracle happened. Take a look:

I couldn't believe my eyes!

Even MORE miraculous was that the CAT was the one who initiated contact. The dog had been crashed out for more than an hour before Breeann waddled over and decided to join the pile. There was more than enough room for her to have laid anywhere else -- she didn't HAVE to lay right next to the dog.

I'm still amazed. Do you think, could it be... it is possible they might become FRIENDS?


So, I didn't chop, haul or stack wood yesterday. I couldn't because IT WAS SNOWING. It mixed with sleet now and then, and late last night turned to rain, but for most of the day, it snowed.

If anyone was watching the NE Patriots football game, you'll have an idea of our weather. The Pats play about 2 hrs south of us.

Snow. In October. What the heck?

Speaking of the Patriots, though (and understand that, while I'm not a fan, I can appreciate when people are amazing) -- did you see Tom Brady??? HOLY SMOKES. He threw FIVE touchdown passes in the second quarter. FIVE.

Granted, it wasn't like he was playing a superstar team, but even so -- you gotta give him a big WOW.


I managed to write a little bit yesterday. DH and DD went out for a few hours. DH wanted to buy a new tree stand and then put it up (because tromping around in the woods in the middle of a sleet/snow storm is MY idea of fun -- "Honey, you want to come?" ... "Uh, no.") so I actually had a little uninterrupted quiet time.

NaNoWriMo is in two weeks (dear heavens), and I thought I'd try to get a short story finished before then. Don't know if I will, but I'm going to give it a go. And, Ceri, I'm not *really* trying to skip November... (nope, not me).


Sunday, October 18, 2009


Of all the wonders of nature, a tree in summer is perhaps the most remarkable; with the possible exception of a moose singing "Embraceable You" in spats. ~Woody Allen

Okay... yesterday really did me in. I spent the late morning outside whacking down all my dead plants (bye bye clematis, see ya later hosta, au revoir ageratum...) and then planting my bulbs (I bought too many, and had to get creative with planting!). Then, immediately following lunch, DH announced we were going to start work on cutting up the trees our neighbor took down over the summer.

There are eight of them.

I decided I much prefer working with newly felled trees, because everytime I tried to pull on a branch, it broke. DD and I worked on clearing all of the branches so DH could see the logs. She and I are covered in bumps and scrapes from the stupid things. Then it was time to go around and pick up all the smallish logs DH cut and move them into a pile closer to where we could haul them out. The area where the trees were felled was uneven and damp so made for some interesting times. We only worked for about three hours, but I was pooped.

This morning I'm pretty certain there isn't a muscle on me that doesn't hurt. And we're nowhere near done. There's more to be cut and more to be moved and then we still have to haul it over to our house and stack it out back to season.

Anyone want to come help? We pay in pizza...


I was going to start writing this blog earlier, but I got sidetracked by one of those links at the top of my gmail account. It was from Discovery and was about "Great Science Hoaxes". Then, once I finished reading that, I saw "Barking Dogs Explained" which wasn't anything new and then "Why Does Soda Taste Good?" and had to read it. Next, this caught my eye, "Hurricane History Recorded in Earth's Noise" ... And... why does Discovery have to be so dang interesting??


You Are Archive

You are competent, organized, and careful. You know how to stay on task and focus on the most important thing.

You like to have everything in its place. Messes and chaos completely stress you out.

You have a system for almost everything in your life, and you don't like to deviate from it.

Calendars, routines, and having things in a certain order keeps you calm. You don't like to shake things up too much.

LOL... yep that's about right! *G*


Saturday, October 17, 2009

A Busy Day

If God didn't want us to eat carbs, He wouldn't make fresh baked bread smell so good. -- Marianne Arkins

Yesterday was busy, busy... it was SO stinking cold outside I thought I would turn into an icicle. But, regardless, things had to be done, dogs walked, wood stacked (I'm beginning to think this will never end ... actually, when we're done stacking THIS wood, we have to go to our neighbor's property where he had several trees taken down over the summer and cut them into chunks and stack them out back to season so that NEXT year we can split and stack wood all over again! Woo. Hoo.) and errands run.

I also decided it was a good day for baking (and laundry, but that wasn't the fun part) and DD wanted to do it, so we made "Perfect Dinner Rolls" (made with yeast, so we had rise time) and then, when it was clear the recipe would make 30 or so, we took half the dough, rolled it out nice and thin and spread butter, cinnamon and sugar and raisins, rolled it up and cut some cinnamon rolls (which are on the top of my stove, rising, as we speak). Unfortunately, I don't have any powdered sugar to make the frosting, so will have to create my own (yes, you can do this... did you know? Just put regular, granulated sugar into your blender and turn it on -- Instant Powdered Sugar).

Today is another cold one, but hopefully the wind will die down so I can get out and plant all my new deer resistant (and therefore, hopefully VOLE resistant) bulbs. I bought some beauties including giant allium and pink ruffled daffodils. And, I have to chop down all the plants that were killed from the hard frosts we've had the past several days.

Is it April yet?


Your Best Trait is Creativity

You may seem like you're a bit flaky or flighty, but you're really just deep in thought.

You are the artistic type, no doubt. However, you are also highly analytical and logical.

You are able to solve problems in unique and interesting ways. Your ideas are unpredictable, but they always end up making sense.

You are picky and sometimes downright critical. You expect the best of yourself, but others are not prepared for your exacting standards.

Yep... pretty close again. I don't feel flaky, though. :::shrugs:::


Friday, October 16, 2009

I Looked Out the Window And What Did I See?

When the bold branches
Bid farewell to rainbow leaves -
Welcome wool sweaters.
~B. Cybrill

It wasn't Popcorn Popping From the Apricot Tree (tell me I'm not the only one who remembers that song from camp?).


Took the dog out this morning around 5 a.m. and ... wait... what's that, falling from the sky?



::::whacks head on table::::


In October.

Someone up there has a really warped sense of humor.


Still working on scene cards for the story I was to write during NaNoWriMo. I still think I'm going to give myself permission to write only 500 words a day without guilt, while still striving for more. I'd rather have 15,000 words done by the end of November, than to feel so rotten about not reaching the 1500 words a day goal that I completely give up.... yanno?

OTOH, if I can get a good enough feel for where the story is (or could be) going, I might be able to make the 1500. We'll see. I have one great idea for a twist at the end that really makes me want to GET there, so I have incentive to write as much as I can.


I watched this week's Criminal Minds last night. Kept feeling really weird that Allison from "Eureka" was there (okay, I realize she's just an actress, but it seems really odd for her to be what appears might become a recurring character on another series when she's in a successful series already). I know that "Henry" and "Jo & Zane" showed up on Warehouse 13, but I also knew that was a marketing ploy and they died at the end (mostly).

What about you? Would it seem odd for you to see the same actor/actress in two completely different series at the same time? Especially when they are a MAJOR character in one of them?


You Are Peppermint Flavored Gum

You have a sharp mind that is always churning.

You are mentally hyper. You're always thinking of something.

And while your mind is always on, you're not the most physically active person around.

Some people make mistake you for being lazy, but the truth is: you never relax.

You tend to get so deeply into your projects that you ignore everything around you.

You are creative and cutting edge. You love telling people about your newest ideas and discoveries.

Yeah... that's about right, lol. Judy's least favorite words from me? "I was thinking...."



Thursday, October 15, 2009

RIP Georgia

Today, there was no gentle nudge
With an intense "I love you gaze",
Only a heart that's filled with tears
Remembering our joy filled days.

But an Angel just appeared to me,
And he said, "You should cry no more,
GOD also loves our canine friends,
HE's installed a 'doggy-door"!

- jan cooper '95

Most of you know that Dakota goes to an agility class, and has been since last January. Most of the folks in our class have been there a while, and we've really grown close to many of them -- and very close to their dogs, as well.

One in particular was a very special friend. Her name was Georgia. She was the happiest dog I'd ever seen. Her entire body wagged and she smiled constantly. She loved getting loved on, and she especially loved my DD who always kept her lap open. She did well enough in agility, when she stopped pretending it was the social hour. And her owner loved her deeply.

She wasn't a breed most people would feel a deep fondness for -- she was a Pit Bull cross, and except for her size (she was fairly small) she looked every inch a Pit. But she was one of the few dogs in class I trusted implicitly.

The only picture I have of Georgia is from last springs Agility Fun Match. She has a bandage on her tail -- the tail she injured from wagging it too much. It took MONTHS for it to heal because she never stopped wagging and was constantly either reinjuring it or knocking the bandage off.

Last weekend, she had a horrible accident. While in her crate, she tried to force her way out and got her head caught. And she strangled to death.

I can't even begin to imagine how horrible it must have been for her owner to find her that way. I can't imagine how much she must blame herself...even though it wasn't her fault. Georgia has been crated without incident for several years.

Her owner came into class last night to tell us the news. I cried, DD cried. The place was silent despite being filled with two classes full of people and dogs. It was as though even the dogs knew what was going on.

She sat with me for some time, loving on Dakota and talking. I don't know if I'll see her again, but a bit of my heart went with her when she left. And so, since I can't think of anything much else, I just had to say:

RIP Georgia

You'll be missed.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What, When, Where, Why and How with Rebecca Savage

Give a big HOWDY to Rebecca Savage!

What would you do if you came upon a plate-sized toadstool in the woods that moved when you approached it?

First, I'd look around to see if anything else moved or looked dangerous, then I'd approach the toadstool, but not too close. I'm not chicken, but if this were really possible, it could be dangerous , too. Anyway, I'd want to know if it spoke, too, because I'm a woman, and I want details. How in the world is it possible that a toadstool can move? Information junkie me would drive the poor thing insane.

When do you consider yourself grown-up?

I think I grew up the minute I stopped being impatient. I got used to waiting in lines and waiting rooms when I was in the military, but I just recently stopped rushing, rushing, rushing,. i leave for work early, and relax before school starts. i pace myself during class, and I hardly ever speed. Note: Hardly is the operative word. I've always had a lead foot. anyway, it's all about time management for me now, but I still like to have fun, grown up or not, I let my wild side loose all too often.

Where would you live if you could live anywhere?

Okay, call me un-American,but I loved living in Italy. It's slow paced like I am now. I'd love to live in a villa at least part of the year, maybe throughout the inter, then come hom to the good ole USA for the summer time and hang out in a condo on the beach and write my little heart out. wow! Talk about inspiring locales.

Why do spaceships need mufflers?

Well, it's not because they'd wake the aliens. I don't believe in all that gooblygook, but it'd sure be nice for all the poor souls trying to sleep anywhere within several miles of the launch pad.

How do you feel when you've been dishonest with someone?

Depends on the someone, If they deserved it, or if it was for their own good or someone else's, then I don't feel bad at all. Oops, don't tell anyone I said that. No one will believe my fibs ever again.

Rebecca Savage
Author of Contemporary Romantic Suspense
For more info go to the below link/website:

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Best Friends on a Fall Day

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

What better way to spend a day than with your friend? So what if you have to haul leaves to make a pile on the lawn to play in?

And then, later, use your friend as a pillow and read to her:

I think it's love....


Here's a picture of my woodpecker that I mentioned yesterday, right before she flew away:


So, life as usual at our house! Mondays are the best days.

Monday, October 12, 2009


If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire, then you got a problem. Everything else is inconvenience. ~Robert Fulghum

Monday, how I love you! Back to routine, back to normal... all is right with the world.


My cat, Breeann, is being interviewed over at Mean Kitty's blog, Writer & Cat, today. As of my typing this, the interview isn't up yet, but it should be soon.


It was a long, busy weekend -- especially yesterday. DH decreed we should have a barbecue for lunch (at 10 a.m.), so it was off to the store for DD and me. We took Dakota, who LOVES going for rides and made a stop at the pets supply store near the grocery store to get her a pressed rawhide bone.

On the way out, a woodpecker slammed into the store window and then lay on the ground, wings out, fluttering around weakly. Dakota went NUTS, so I had DD move her away and I checked out the bird. After I picked it up and folded her wings down, it stopped fluttering, but her little heart was pounding and she was gasping for air, beak wide open (and that was one impressive beak!).

I handed her to DD (because I knew she was dying to hold it) and told her to cover the bird's head to keep it calm. We'd put it into the box in the back of the Pea and, if it was recovered by the time we got home, we'd release it out back.

After a race through the store for BBQ supplies, we hurried home. The woodpecker was more than recovered, it was trying to peck a hole through the box! LOL... We carrying the box out back and released it, so glad it hadn't suffered long term problems from whacking the window.

All the rest of the day, if there was a female downy woodpecker on our suet, DD would say, "Look, our woodpecker is back!".

In between making potato salad, cooking lunch, cleaning that up and doing four loads of laundry, I helped DD stack wood.

We had the second pile done when we realized the first pile was REALLY leaning. So, we decided to pull down the top third of that pile and restack, which would have gone fine except the end collapsed when we took off the wood in the middle, causing the entire pile to fall. And then DH decided pile number two was crooked, too, and used the maul to whack at the wood and straighten it out which would have been dandy except the end fell.... and you get the idea.

DD burst into tears and proclaimed it all "her fault" because she'd helped build the ends (in reality, I had done most of the end building) and that she'd done the stacks crooked. When I couldn't calm her down, I sent her inside and then told DH he could do the ends (he was trying to give me a lesson on doing them correctly -- so I told him that, since he was so good at it, it was his job), then I cleared out some gardens to settle down ... we had a frost the night before, so most of my annuals were dead and then I went inside to deal with DD.

We had a long talk about her continual self-degradation (I'm stupid, I'm ugly, I'm fat, I'm useless, I can't remember anything, I'm no help, it's ALL MY FAULT -- is this a girl thing, or does my DD have self-confidence issues?) and I said that I wasn't going to allow that kind of talk anymore. That she was smart and worked hard and was a GOOD GIRL, but that she was also only ten y.o. and couldn't be expected to know how to do everything.

And so the three of us rebuilt the piles. We have three and a half now, and DH has to split the rest, but we're about 2/3 of the way through what we have for the winter.

We won't talk about the huge purple bruise I have on my right foot from dropping a log on it, no we won't...

How was your weekend? Tell me it was great and why, and let me live vicariously.


You Are a Blackberry

You are one of those super hard working, cellphone to your hip types.

You like gadgets that do what they're supposed to do, especially when they keep you super connected to the world.

You prefer function over flash, so things like a long battery life and easy features appeal to you.

You may not look as cool as all of the iPhone kids, but you're probably being more productive than all of them!

Yep, that's about right...


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Tuesday Teaser on Sunday

I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library. - Jorge Luis Borges

I was finally working my way through my Google Reader backlog yesterday, and came across a post from Anno about a book meme. I thought, "I can do that!" until I realized that I had no "current read" to use.


Without a book.

Not reading.

Seriously... something was wrong with the world. And, I decided that I'd clearly been working too hard because not having time to read is like not having time to breathe.

Thus, I made the decision to shut off the computer shortly before eight o'clock last night, grab a book from my keeper shelf and take a long, hot bath.

Therefore, I now have a "current read"!! I've also requested some books from the library and have determined I will never not have time to read again.

Now, moving on to the book meme (and I'm not really participating in the meme, but wanted to give the links so you folks could if you wanted):

It's Teaser Tuesdays, a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Everyone's invited to play along! Here are the rules:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

  • Here is mine:

    "Well, they haven't exactly been advertising. And who thinks about their parents' sex lives, anyway?" -- Page 133 of "Crazy for You" by Jennifer Crusie


    Today we'll be stacking wood. Told you it was the chore that wouldn't go away. Yesterday, DH put up a new storm door on the house... and what should have been a two hour job ended up taking all day. He wasn't the happiest DH in the world by dinner time last night. *sigh*

    But, I look at the bright side: tomorrow is Monday!


    Saturday, October 10, 2009

    Just Rambling...

    Thrift is not an affair of the pocket, but an affair of character. ~S.W. Straus

    I hate wasting time. Drives me nuts. Yesterday I wasted three hours looking for shoes/boots for my DH. He has weird feet, VERY high arches which make him bust through most shoes unless they are very well made.

    So, I went looking for decently made boots at a reasonable price. And, I came home empty.

    We've tried brands like L.L. Bean -- but the clasps that hold the laces broke in only a few days (thankfully, they'll take stuff back when that happens). We've gone cheap (KMart special) which have oddly enough lasted longer than the more expensive brands. Even so, they don't last very long.

    Yesterday I tried Tractor Supply Company (a very cool store that I can putz around in for an hour, but they didn't have the kind of boot I was looking for) and finally ended up at Bob's Stores. I had a coupon (as it turns out, though, it was expired), and after much looking and poking and bending, I found a pair of boots that were a little pricey, but appeared well made. However, when I discovered my coupon was expired, it put them out of my price range and I had to leave them behind. Thankfully, Bob's typically has a coupon in the Sunday paper, so I'll grab that and go back and hope they still have a boot in his size.

    We won't talk about looking for sneakers for DD. When did prices get so high? Sheesh...


    I didn't do a lot of actual writing yesterday, but I did do scene cards for the scene ideas I'd had pop into my head, and then brainstormed some more. I'll most likely continue to do that until I have a very sketchy plot outline before I start to write. And, heck, if it takes me into November, I'll use it for my version of NaNo (I'm challenging myself to write 500 words a day ... not the 1500 that NaNo requires, but I have to be realistic).


    Today? I'm building next week's pages for LASR/WC for the website and stacking wood -- the chore that won't go away. I may also finally pull up the last of my veggie garden. I can't believe we haven't had a frost yet!!

    The leaves are getting gorgeous up here, and further north, they're probably at their peak for leaf-peeping. I imagine ours will be peak in another week or so. The colors are incredible.

    Have a great weekend!


    Friday, October 09, 2009

    Relief, Recipe and wRiting

    Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart. ~Erma Bombeck

    Thanks for being patient with me yesterday... I'd gotten buried in LASR/WC/Aurora work. What's that? Aurora? Yep... we're adding another site to "The Long and the Short of It" brand -- a YA/Middle Grade site! WOOT! It launches 1/1/10 (and, how did it get to be almost 2010??), and we have all kinds of promo stuff going on: free ads, interviews, etc. So, if you or anyone you know writes YA/Middle Grade stuff email me for deets at lasreviews AT gmail DOT com -- k?

    In any case, things got a little crazy the last couple of days and I just couldn't do even one more thing.

    Hopefully today will be better.


    DD and I both were craving something sweet yesterday. We haven't had any dessert-type food in the house for over a week. No cookies, cakes, fudge... so I decided to make No-Bake Oatmeal Fudge until I realized we also had next to no sugar.

    What to do?

    I had DD make Peanut Butter Candy instead! It's easy and it's actually quite healthy, as sweets go. It's 100% natural with no refined ingredients. And it's yummy. So, I thought I'd share.

    Peanut Butter Candy

    1 cup Peanut Butter
    1 cup Honey
    1 1/2 c instant (dry) milk powder

    Mix together and roll into balls. Put into fridge to harden. Eat!


    I had the best experience with our curriculum provider yesterday. We opted to do the DVD curriculum with Abeka Books this year. It's pricey, and I agonized over the choice... but then DD had a question about how to solve a math story problem. And here's what I've been coming up against in her math this year: I can get the right answer to the problems, but I can't always solve it the way THEY want it solved. This one was no different and I was completely stymied.

    THEN I remembered that they offered live teacher support with the purchase, only I couldn't remember how to contact them. So I dug around on the Abeka site, and found an email link that looked right.

    I emailed them with the exact question and problem and left my phone number... then told DD to go work on something else while we waited for a response.

    Only, she didn't get more than about four steps from the table before the phone rang and it was THEM. A teacher was on the line and talked to DD, walking her through what she needed to do and answering all her questions.

    Unbelievably fantastic. I've been so down about customer service lately, it was just incredible to have my faith in people and businesses restored. And the fact is, that one thing is worth all the extra cost of the program.


    I've made two writing decisions this week.

    One: I'm shelving "Return to Stiller Creek". I still like the story, love the characters and am not completely giving up on them, but I just don't feel comfortable enough with the crime-solving details to rework and submit this. I'm letting it sit in my subconscious and letting my brain work through some other options for the story.

    Two: I've started working on "Drive Me Crazy" (the sequel to "Kitchen Matches") again. I've had a dozen potential scenes pop into my head this week and they are funny (at least I think they are, lol) and some of them surprised me. And, on that note, I'm going to sign off and write before anyone wakes up.

    Have a great Friday!


    Wednesday, October 07, 2009

    What, When, Where, Why and How with Shelley Munro

    Welcome today to Shelley Munro, the next brave victim participant in my What, When, Where, Why and How interview:

    What would you do if your appliances came to life?

    That's easy! I'm not a fan of housework and would love the appliances to take care of the chore for me. Of course knowing my luck, the appliances would probably turn out to be the bossy type and wouldn't listen to a single one of my commands. I'd get in trouble for making a mess and be at the mercy of the machines or worse, I'd live in the first home where the appliances went berserk and turned militant.

    What is the happiest time of the day?

    I'm a real morning person. There's something about the promise of a new day that nurtures enthusiasm and makes me feel happy. Hubby has started dragging me out for a walk at six-thirty every morning. I protest, but secretly I enjoy the crisp air. I start in sleep-walk mode but by the time I arrive back at home, I'm ready to attack the day.

    The area where I live tends to be very windy, with the wind blowing strongest during the afternoon. That's another reason why I enjoy a morning walk or cycle ride--because I don't have to fight the wind. I've tried it a few times and arrived home exhausted.

    Where were you when you got your first kiss?

    LOL it's been a while. From memory it was at a school social and took me by surprise. The boy I was with grabbed me and kissed me on the lips just after the last dance of the evening. It wasn't that exciting really, and I wondered what all the fuss was about. On the plus side, the kiss wasn't wet and sloppy, so I didn't need to wipe my mouth, and there was no tongue involved. LOL - that came later. Thank goodness the kissing thing improved over time, and I discovered that it can be quite a lot of fun if you're with the right person.

    Why is the sky blue?

    Experts say it's something to do with the way the sunlight hits the particles above Earth, but I think the sky is blue because it's my favorite color. There's nothing better than a bright blue sky on a sunny day to make me feel happy and bring a smile.

    How many writers does it take to change a lightbulb?

    It takes an entire village to produce a book when you take into account the writer, editor, copy-editor, publisher, marketing, printing and all the other people who do their magic behind the scenes. It would follow then that the entire village would need to help the writer change the lightbulb. In reality, I think writers are very intelligent people and would be quite capable of changing their own lightbulbs without help.

    In our house, it doesn't take any writers to change a lightbulb because my husband is in charge of this chore. While I'm quite capable, I don't mind if he changes the lightbulbs. See? What did I say? Writers are intelligent people and get others to change their lightbulbs for them!

    Shelley lives in Auckland, New Zealand with her husband and a small, bossy dog called Scotty.

    Typical New Zealanders, Shelley and her husband left home for their big OE soon after they married (translation of New Zealand speak - big overseas experience). A year long adventure lengthened to six years of roaming the world. Enduring memories include being almost sat on by a mountain gorilla in Rwanda, lazing on white sandy beaches in India, whale watching in Alaska, searching for leprechauns in Ireland, and dealing with ghosts in an English pub.

    While travel is still a big attraction, these days Shelley is most likely found in front of her computer following another love - that of writing stories of romance and adventure. Other interests include watching rugby and rugby league (strictly for research purposes), being walked by the dog, and curling up with a good book.


    Tuesday, October 06, 2009

    Pioneer Woman, the History

    The trouble with simple living is that, though it can be joyful, rich, and creative, it isn't simple. ~Doris Janzen Longacre

    I had lots of comments yesterday on the post -- most agreeing it's a good thing to continue to do the hard work and pass on knowledge. I absolutely agree.

    It's amazing to me how many folks don't know you can bake or cook certain things from scratch (how exactly do they think the food companies MAKE things?). My SIL baked bread once, a kind of raisin bread that's a tradition in her family, and brought a few loaves to work. She had one worker comment, "I didn't know you could bake this at home!"

    I admit to being lazy and not always WANTING to make things from scratch, but the fact is: I know how if I want to. I have recipes for bread, pizza dough, tortillas, etc. Mostly I buy them. Sometimes I make them at home.

    The thing is this: I was raised by a mother who made everything from scratch.

    Many, many years ago, my step-father decided we should "get back to the land" and we purchased 40 acres in a little podunk town called Mt. Aukum. I was nine years-old and we celebrated this country's bicentennial up there.

    The land was undeveloped. There was an old, falling-down cabin that had been built back in the dark ages (and that we eventually tore down), and a clear spring that had been tapped and captured in a wooden barrel. That's it.

    No electricity. No phone. No running water. No house. No... nothing.

    My family (this includes one of my brothers and one of my sisters) lived in tents while we dug an outhouse and brought in a tiny trailer...little more than one of those pop-up campers folks use for their weeklong outdoors experiences nowadays. Eventually, a small shed was built attached to the trailer where we kids lived, while my mom and step-father lived in the trailer.

    We put the trailer downhill from the spring, and a L-O-N-G hose was hooked up between the trailer and the spring -- our version of running water. We had a propane stove to cook with (I can still remember once, sitting at the table getting ready to eat when the stove did this 'WHOOSH' thing and flames shot out and singed one side of my head and hair).

    It was here, with little money (my mom didn't work outside the home and my step-father ran an antiques refinishing shop) that Mom cooked.

    We had a garden... a BIG one (an acre or so). We had dogs and cats and horses and chickens and eventually we got goats for milk, though that wasn't until three years later and on a different piece of property in Mt. Aukum that didn't even have a spring, and we had to haul water. I owned two pairs of pants, one long dress ala Little House on the Prairie, one pair of hiking books and a couple of shirts for each season. I wore one pair of pants for two or three days in a row to school, because my other pants had been washed by hand using a washboard and were hanging to dry.

    I walked to the bus stop, just over a mile away (and it was only uphill in the snow one way *G*) every day, with my homemade lunch in hand. I usually had peanut butter and homemade jam on homemade whole wheat bread. Sometimes, my mom lucked into a big can of pie filling from our church and made homemade pies that were shaped to look like Hostess ones. I usually had a fruit of some kind, and I got free milk at school because we were poor. Mom spent her days weeding the garden, cooking, harvesting, caring for the animals, washing clothes and more. She was our Ma Ingalls.

    I never felt poor. It was during a time where kids didn't really care what you wore (we didn't even have designer clothes then), or whether you listened to the right music or watched what they did on TV (after all, there were only four channels then, and my family didn't have a TV regardless).

    My folks read Mother Earth magazine and lived that lifestyle. We took spit-baths in the winter, showered in the summer using outdoor shower with an Army portable shower hookup that only held five gallons of water (so... turn it on, get wet, turn it off and soap up, turn it on and rinse off).

    And you know what? I never minded one bit of it. I didn't go hungry, even if I did eat a lot of beans and pea soup. I learned the names of plants and how to grow and harvest them. I learned about chickens and how to gather eggs. I learned how to raise a goat and how to milk one. I had a pony to ride and a million acres of land to tromp around on. I had friends to visit (I'd have to walk a couple of miles to get there... but it never seemed all that long then), and it never seemed as though I was deprived of anything.

    And I know without a doubt if we suddenly lost everything, I could survive. It wouldn't be fun or glamorous, but I could do it. And THAT is the best heritage my mother could have given me. I hope I can pass that on to my daughter.


    You Think Best While You're Driving

    In order to be able to think, you need to be able to have time to think. Problem is, there isn't a lot of time for that in your life.

    When you are driving, you are finally able to let your mind wander. And it wanders to some pretty interesting places.

    Depending on the conditions, driving can make you feel elated, relaxed, or even frustrated. All of these varying emotions spark a lot of revelations.

    While the thoughts you have while driving may have a lot of noise in them, there's definitely some insight to be found.

    Hmmm... maybe when I'm driving alone, which is almost never anymore.


    Monday, October 05, 2009

    Pioneer Woman

    Yes, I am positive that one of the great curatives of our evils, our maladies, social, moral, and intellectual, would be a return to the soil, a rehabilitation of the work of the fields. ~Charles Wagner

    Lately I've felt a bit like a pioneer woman -- with my gardening, canning and, most recently (yesterday) splitting wood, hauling it and stacking it. I told DD that we were so spoiled as a culture. So few of us actually do manual labor any more. We pay people to cut our grass, to grow our food, to split our firewood, to groom our animals.

    As we where stacking the wood I said, "Isn't it incredible to think that the pioneers worked like this from sun up to sundown?"

    And, IMHO, it IS amazing. No wonder their life expectancy was so low (well, on top of the fact that their medical care was pretty much non-existent).

    I used to love to watch Frontier House on PBS. I wish it was still on. It was so interesting to see how folks had to struggle to survive. One man thought he was dying of something because he lost so much weight. He finally requested a medical check, and the doctor said that his weight was actually HEALTHY and that his body was simply adjusting to being physically active for the first time in a long time.

    I don't glamorize how things were 100 or 200 years ago. Times were hard. People died of things we can't imagine happening today, like broken bones. Women regularly died in childbirth (I would have been one of them). Even so, I think they had their priorities right and typically had a work ethic that folks today just don't have.

    And then I look at the stack of un-split, un-hauled, un-stacked wood and just sigh.


    You Are Eggs Over Easy

    You have good taste and high standards. You are very detail oriented, and you know what you want in life.

    When everything is in its place and things are as they should be, you can finally relax.

    You may seem like the kind of person who has things come easy for you, but it's all an illusion.

    You work hard to make your life perfect, and part of this perfection is making things look effortless.

    LOL... this is almost spot on. Cracked me up (cracked...eggs... ha... get it?).


    Sunday, October 04, 2009

    Sunday Stroll

    Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. ~Theodore Roosevelt

    I hate that on the one day I can sleep in all week, I never can. Why is that?

    DH went to a huge Toyota 4-Wheeling thing yesterday. Yes, in the rain. He had a great time, but one of his friends (who lives in New Jersey) broke the drive shaft in his truck, and then upon returning to the campsite, discovered his tent had collapsed and his site was a big puddle.

    DH called and asked if I minded if his friend stayed in our spare bedroom overnight, and then they'd go back up tomorrow and see about fixing the drive shaft. I didn't mind, but he'd called fairly late (it was after 8 o'clock), so I had to tidy the room and make it ready.

    Then, when I went to bed, the neighbor's dog was barking. And barking. And barking. It sounded like our neighbors who have TWO dogs, and typically they never bark alone and they are LOUD. This was only one. So I laid there and wondered if maybe they'd gone away for the weekend and someone let ONE of the dogs out and it wanted back in. And, should I go check... or not. By this time it was after ten o'clock and I was somewhere between irritated and really worried.

    Then it stopped.

    And now I wonder what happened.

    Dakota is pacing the house this morning. She KNOWS there is someone here she doesn't know. She sniffed his shoes for about ten minutes and she's been tracking him, nose down, all through the house. She keeps going upstairs and standing in front of the spare bedroom door. Sure as shooting, as soon as he appears, she's going to bark at him. Dork.

    I spent MY day yesterday determined to clean out my "to do" boxes at LASR/WC and Goddess Fish. I worked and worked and worked. And I had everything nearly done (except two more book videos I need to make) and then WHAMM-O, a publisher sent in 17 new review requests and another sent in 7.

    It was like they KNEW my inbox was empty.


    Today? Well, we had planned on working on the wood pile. DH would split and DD and I would move and stack. But now with DH's friend's problems I don't know what we'll be doing.

    Thank heavens tomorrow is Monday. Hurray for Monday!!

    OH... DD's store is online, but I haven't put any stock into it yet. As soon as I do, I'll post the link. I took all the pictures yesterday, but didn't have a chance to get them online.

    And, the person who suggested this store name has earned themselves a free book thong made by DD -- I'll announce that person when I unveil the store. *G*

    I told her last night that I was going to take half of whatever came in and put it away for her to buy supplies... that I wasn't going to be buying her supplies anymore. I was just an initial investor. From here on out, it's all up to her. She wasn't thrilled, but needs to realize that she doesn't get something from nothing.

    I really think this store is going to be a great life lesson, on top of being fun for her. Someone asked me once what my homeschooling schedule was. I replied that I never stopped. Everywhere I go, and everything we do offers chances to teach.


    You Are Warm Apple Cider

    You love to feel warm and full. You love all the small comforts that come with fall.

    Unlike most people, you are as active in fall as you are in the summer. You just make sure and keep warm.

    For you, fall is the perfect time of year to visit cafes or go for long walks. The season makes you feel energized.

    You love the bustle of everyone being back from the summer vacation and back to work.

    Not entirely -- though I would love fall if winter didn't follow it!