Tuesday, June 30, 2009

This and That Tuesday

Panic is a sudden desertion of us, and a going over to the enemy of our imagination. ~Christian Nevell Bovee

I woke in a panic this morning... my alarm went off and I shut it off and lazed for a moment until I realized: THE CAT WASN'T IN MY FACE.

She's always in my face. She usually wakes me before my alarm does. Night before last, she curled up on my pillow at about 2:30 a.m. and purred (who needs a sound machine? -- purring makes perfect white noise) until I finally got up.

My kitty is 15 y.o. -- That's a senior citizen. So when she wasn't there this a.m., I popped right up and started looking. I found her in the spare bedroom, just sitting there all fine and dandy. I made her stand up, though, because once (years ago) something similar happened, and I found her lying down under the dog's feeding station and not moving, and it turned out she'd blown the ligaments in BOTH back legs.

She was fine. She was all, "Sheesh, what's the big deal." But my heart was pounding.

If she was smart, she'd do that regularly because it definitely got me up quicker than my alarm!

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Good news in Pillar Place: Swallowtail. Ethel (the 'pillar on the slippery tape) made her pupa safely and did NOT fall. I swear I checked on her about every hour! LOL...

We have another one, Carole, on walkabout -- leaving us with only three left. I'm a little worried that Greg and/or Fiona might be overwinterers. I sincerely hope not, but they are still pretty small.

Pillar Place: Monarch should be starting soon.

Speaking of monarchs, my milkweed is blooming! We had sun for about two hours yesterday, so I took a turn around the yard and WOW does it ever smell amazing. It's so strong, it's almost intoxicating. Truly one of the best flower smells ever. No wonder all the flying bugs love it. When it's not pouring rain (which isn't often anymore) the milkweed flowers are covered in bees and butterflies.

And the flowers are lovely, too. It's just a shame that most folks consider it a noxious weed and destroy it. They're missing out (and, sadly, so are the monarch butterflies - click here for information on Monarch Conservation, why they are threatened and how you can help).

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Did a little writing and a little editing yesterday. Also worked on a book video for Goddess Fish Promotions(can't call it a trailer, btw, as Circle of Seven Productions has copyrighted that phrase) and lots of other stuff for The Long and the Short of It. We have a kicking new romance author "gossip column" for our newsletter, starting in July -- it's a hoot (you should subscribe - the link is in the middle of the LASR home page).

It was a busy day! I really do love Mondays. I know, I'm a sick woman. *G*

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You Are Skilled



You are balanced and competent. You value harmony.



Other people see you as outgoing, hyper, and even a bit overwhelming.



Your ideal romantic relationship is peaceful, romantic, and private.



You do best in tasks that require you to be flexible, creative, and playful.



Actually, that's not far off... huh.

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

Monday, June 29, 2009

I've Been Shot!

Nostalgia is like a grammar lesson: you find the present tense, but the past perfect! ~ Owens Lee Pomeroy

Anne-Katherine sent me this award:



The meaning of this award is that this blog is worthy of being photographed.

The rules for this award are:

Post the badge on your blog and link to who gave it to you. Choose five life situations that could be repeated in slow motion and explain why. Tag a dozen blogs and let them know it.

The five life situations I would choose to repeat are...

1. My DD's toddlerhood. Yes, it's easier now that she's older, but I miss the days when she was small. I'd like to hear her babytalk, and her joy at discovery, her baby laugh... No wonder people have big families! LOL... they want to repeat that part.

2. Any time before two years ago when my mom still lived here. I miss her and would really like to see her again.

3. My darling angel-dog Bailey's puppyhood. She was the CUTEST puppy (sorry Dakota) and so easy to raise. I still miss her terribly.

4. My early twenties. I had so much fun then -- lots of friends, lots of activities. I miss the carefree times from then... I didn't worry about the future, didn't worry about money, didn't worry about much of anything.

5. High School. No, really. I enjoyed high school. Sure, it had its rough moments, but for the most part it was good.

The hardest part for me in choosing those times was to NOT choose times I would like to go back to and CHANGE, but to choose the best times instead. What about you? Consider yourself tagged -- and then tell me what 5 times you'd like to repeat -- not to change them, but just to reexperience them and why.

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

So, one of our pillars unexpectedly went on walkabout yesterday IN THE WRONG BOX. Bugsy decided it was time, and made his "J" faster than I've seen one do it before, little bugger. And once they are in place, I can't move them. So, now I have a pupae on the wrong box, and am going to worry every time I lift the lid to feed the other bugs. :::grumble, grumble:::

Ethel made her "J" on the slippery packing tape I have lining the top of the second box. I'm an absolute wreck about it -- so worried that when she wiggles out of her skin, she'll come off the tape and fall. The only other pillar I've raised who fell while shedding its skin ended up with a birth defect (he was missing the bottom wings). I must have checked her a dozen times yesterday, and suspect she's made her pupae overnight (but DH is asleep and I can't go check). I was awake for quite a while last night... worrying. Sheesh...

We have one more that I moved into the pupae box yesterday -- just in case she decided to pull a Bugsy, and one more that will probably go in today. I sure hope this rain lets up, though, because we can't release in the rain and it's been nearly non-stop for weeks. Yes, I'm worried about that, too. Do you sense a theme? *G*

What was your weekend like?

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Summer

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time. ~John Lubbock

Yesterday was a gorgeous summer day. FINALLY. We did get some thunder-rumbles in the late afternoon, but they passed without rain. It was great!

I have blossoms on my squash, one blossom on my cucumbers (which aren't doing very well -- as opposed to last year when I actually ended up throwing cucumbers away because I had so many and had already canned a zillion jars of pickles, and my neighbors were beginning to run for cover), little bitty green baby maters on my tomato plants. It's exciting.

Pillar Place was busy, too. We had THREE "J" bugs:



And we got a picture of 'pillar Diana kicking off the last shred of her former life as a pillar. It's a 2 minute video, and a bit out of focus because I couldn't pull the camera back far enough (the box was too narrow), but you can see how hard she had to work to get her 'pillar skin off. What amazes me is that they are suspended on each end by one slim thread -- a thread so strong it can take that kind of thrashing around.



Here is how she looked when she was done (though after about an hour, she turned brown to "hide" on the stick):



Ichabod and Abigail went through the same process last night. Ethel went on walkabout late, and is now a "J". We have two more that are about big enough to go walkabout soon... I suspect things will be very quiet for a bit in Pillar Place as they all become pupae, but then butterflies will be busting out all over!

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

No writing yesterday -- I was far too busy putzing around outside. Today, though, it looks like rain. So I'm going to attempt to put fingers to keyboard and words to paper.

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Pillar Place Pictures!

We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty. ~Maya Angelou

We had a busy day at Pillar Place yesterday. Those of you on Twitter and Facebook got to watch me exclaim my surprise that three of our 'pillars went on walkabout to make their pupae.

I checked them this a.m. and Diana, Ichabod and Abigail are all little "J" bugs -- two on sticks and one on the wall of the box. It takes about 10 days for them to become butterflies, so the clock starts ticking now.

Here's a picture of one pillar eating -- I love how they bend almost all the way over, grab the food with their little hands and chow down, clinging to the stem with their suction cup feet:



And this is Diana on walkabout...



she walked the circumference of the box at least four times before realizing that her options for her pupa-home were limited. She then cruised up and down all the sticks a number of times before settling for one.

The other pictures I took yesterday were horrible and blurry... sorry. But, to make up for it, here is a picture of one of my pots:


And the ever patient Dakota (who lets us do pretty much anything we want to her):



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

It's sunny here today! YAY! It was sunny most of yesterday, with a break in the middle of about two hours when it thundered and poured rain. I'm so excited to get outside today, though my DH asked me to mow the lawn. He's helping a friend from work build his deck, and if we don't mow the lawn soon, we'll need a hay-baler instead. All that rain really made things grown like crazy. And, after I mow, I'll need to weed. The joys of home-ownership.

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Your Handwriting Says You Are Somewhat Traditional



You are a fairly energetic person. You know how do pace yourself, and you deal well with stress.



You are somewhat outgoing, but you're not a natural extrovert. You think first before you act. You tend to be independent, rational, and logical.



You are balanced and grounded. You know how to get along well with others.



You need a bit of space in your life, but you're not a recluse. You expect people to give you a small amount of privacy, and you respect their privacy as well.



You are somewhat traditional, but you are also open to change. You listen to your head and your heart.



You are a decent communicator. You eventually get your point across, but sometimes you leave things a bit ambiguous.



Um... that's pretty much all correct. Weird.

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

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Fat Lady is Oddly Quiet...

... in this war on voles.

War is the only game in which it doesn't pay to have the home-court advantage. ~Dick Motta

So... yesterday it actually cleared up. I went outside and worked in the yard a little (only a little, because in the way of the world it was miserably hot and humid). Obviously the endless rain had awakened all the toads and frogs and every time I moved, I'd scare one up.

I had a few plants to put in the ground (some lamb's ear and a bit of portulaca), and at one point I had to move a small batch of grape hyacinth bulbs. Later, as I was tossing some weeds into the woods, something moved at my feet again. I thought it was a toad and looked closer (DD likes to grab all the toads and pat them, lol). It wasn't a toad... it was a VOLE.

Now, as I'd been puttering, I noticed little "dig holes" all over the place -- in DD's garden in the lawn, in my front garden -- but they didn't go anywhere. Just little shallow bowls in the ground. Dakota has also been staring out the windows and growling and barking again -- she did this before when we had voles "mulch surfing" out front. But the clincher on whether we had voles came only an hour or two later, when I glanced out at my front garden where I'd planted lambs ear and moved the bulbs.

The place where I'd put the bulbs? Empty but for a big hole. They'd come and swiped them already!! I could NOT believe it. I stood and stared for the longest time, half-thinking I was seeing things.

*sigh*

So today? The poison goes out again. I HATE it, but these little devils will decimate a garden. They leave NOTHING behind when they get going and I'm not prepared to have a pile of earth left. I'll deal with the chipmunks and the squirrels and the deer and the moles. They don't lay waste to everything they touch. Voles are absolutely, and without a doubt the most destructive thing I have EVER come across.

I don't know if I can ever win this war, but I'm going to go down swinging.

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

In Pillar Place:

We moved four pillars into a new box full of sticks. They are the big bubbas... the ones large enough to start on walkabout, and for the first 24 hours their little dangly bodies (pre-pupa) shouldn't be moved -- so if they'd been in the little box with the littler butterbabies, I wouldn't be able to lift the lid to feed the ones who weren't on walkabout.

I know I promised pictures, but forgot to take them yesterday and DH is sleeping so I can't get to the pillars. Tomorrow (and tomorrow, and tomorrow) I will get some. Swear.

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




Your Hands Say That You Are Logical



You are logical, analytical, and rational. You have good verbal skills.



Idealistic and dreamy, you tend toward the impractical. You have a knack for getting yourself in sticky situations.



Consistent and reliable, you like to count on structure and routine in your life.



Your emotions tend to be nervous and potent. Your energy - both positive and negative - deeply impacts your life.



That's about 80% right, lol...

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Pillar Place Update

“How does one become a butterfly?" she asked. "You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.” - unknown

The pillars in Pillar Place have grown by leaps and bounds. Yesterday, the last black "bird poop" pillar shed its skin and is now parsley worm green. It was an amazing thing to watch as she slipped out of the old skin--what a lot of work! She's still tiny, but is well on her way.

We have one, Diana, who looks big enough to go on walkabout soon. She'll wander the box and find the perfect spot to make her pupa. I need to put in some sticks for her to use if she wants, instead of just the lid (which is incredibly inconvenient). One or two others are getting close, too, though they'll probably take a few days longer than she will.

Today, though overcast so far, is not raining -- so we'll go on the hunt for more pillars. Soon we should be getting monarchs. According to my last two years of Monarch Ranching records, we typically get our first Monarch butterbabies about two weeks into July. I'll start checking the underneath of our milkweed leaves for eggs next week.

I'll take some pictures today of the Swallowtail butterbabies and post tomorrow. I tried to video one eating, but I had to put the camera quite close, and they stop moving when they feel threatened -- or they "horn" us.

Stock Photo of scent horns eastern black swallowtail butterfly caterpillar copyright bill beatty

See the yellow horns on its head? When the pillars are frightened, those come out. They actually release a bad smelling odor that deters other critters from eating it. We try not to make them "horn" much because if they do it too often, they die. We've lost a couple that way and it's very sad :-(

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Your Address Says You're Brainy



Right now, you have so many interests and hobbies that you hardly have time for anything else.

You live a rich life, and you find the world to be very fascinating.



At your best, you're discovering new literature, art, music, and food that you love.

At your worst, you are a bit picky. Sometimes you find it hard to be open to new things.



LOL... oddly, this is remarkably close!

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

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What, When, Where, Why, How with Lisa Logan

I'm pleased to welcome Lisa Logan to my grill...

What danger would you choose: the three sadistic mob hit men about to drag you back to the evil twisted drug lord or the gargoyle with blood dripping from his talons?

Without a doubt I would choose the gargoyle, for the simple fact that if blood is dripping from his talons, chances are he's already eaten. Besides, if mob guys are dragging me off, then surely someone thinks I owe them money--a FAR more dangerous proposition considering my current salary.

When is the happiest time of the day?

Noon, because it rhymes with SPOON, which makes me think of chocolate ice cream and mousse and souffle...

Where does the PIffletube live?

...and soft serve and hot fudge and devil's food...oh wait, this one's making me think of chocolate, too. ::ahem::

From Sickipedia: Plffletubes live in your computer, and are noticeable when you are trying to run your book trailer on YouTube for someone important to your career. The characteristic "Plffle" noise can either be caused by your computer memory freezing indefinitely, or from the prospective agent/publisher tearing up the sample contract when the promo pitch won't play.

Why is the "w" in "two" silent?

It's not. The actual correct pronunciation is "twoe," which I've been trying to convince people of for years. Why should W be shamed into silence?

On an interesting side note, explaining this common error to publishers in a cover letter results in the same "Plffle" sound mentioned in the above Plffletube situation.

How good are you at Monopoly?

I'm a monopoly virtuoso! First I monopolize the double dip oreos, then the truffles--ooh, I love truffles, then for a spicy little twist, maybe some mint chip...

huh? What do you mean Monopoly isn't about chocolate? EVERYTHING, my dear, is about chocolate. Even a Plffletube knows THAT!

When Lisa isn't defending her chocolate monopoly from gargoyles and plffletubes, she is the Senior Acquisitions Editor for Eternal Press publishing and the author of two novels, several anthology contributions, and an award-winning short story writer. She lives in Southern California with her husband and five year old daughter, both with plans to take the entertainment industry by storm.

Website: http://lisalogan.net
Blog: http://authorlisalogan.blogspot.com
MySpace: http://myspace.com/authorlisalogan
Twitter: http://twitter.com/authorlisalogan

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tagged! And Misc. Gabbing

Summer is the time when one sheds one's tensions with one's clothes, and the right kind of day is jeweled balm for the battered spirit. A few of those days and you can become drunk with the belief that all's right with the world. ~Ada Louise Huxtable

Diane Craver tagged me over the weekend on a fun meme, so here you go:

I have to answer the questions below. Then, I “tag” four more people, asking them to post their answers to the same questions.

Four Movies that I can see over and over.
1. Undercover Blues (I <3 this movie)
2. The Princess Bride (I've seen it a hundred times and STILL catch new stuff)
3. While You Were Sleeping (never fails to make me smile)
4. Ever After (Except for Drew Barrymore's abysmal accent, this was a stellar movie)

Four Places I have lived.
1. Rancho Cordova, CA
2. Mount Aukum, CA
3. Colorado Springs, CO
4. Sacramento, CA

Four TV shows that I love to watch.
1. House (I'm a late comer to this, but how can you NOT enjoy the show?)
2. Eureka (Funniest "thinking man's" show EVER -- Carter is the best)
3. The Closer (She's such a mess personally, and so sharp on the job -- I'm endlessly amused by her)
4. NCIS (IMHO one of the best casts ever)

Four places where I have gone on vacation.
1. Lincoln, NH (when I lived in CO)
2. Walt Disney World (my anniversary)
3. Honolulu, HI
4. Monterey, CA (when I lived in CO)

Four favorite foods.
1. Thin crust, vegetarian pizza... yum.
2. Tacos (or almost any other Mexican food)
3. Vegetarian Lasagna
4. Almost anything chocolate

Four websites I visit daily
1. The Long and the Short of It
2. Facebook
3. Twitter
4. A zillion author blogs... :-)

Four places I would rather be.
1. Nearly anyplace west of here.
2. Visiting my mom
3. Hawaii
4. Arizona

Four things that I would like to do before I die.
1. Have a NYT Bestseller.
2. Travel.
3. See my mom again.
4. See my daughter grown, settled and happy.

Four novels I wish that I was reading for the first time.
1. The Last Herald Mage from the Valedemar series by Mercedes Lackey
2. The Dragonrider of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey
3. Most of Nora Robert's trilogies
4. Getting Rid of Bradley by Jennifer Crusie

Wanna play? consider yourself tagged!!

Edited to add:

Judy played. She's "tag" number one! Anyone else?

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

So, I'm trying to figure out TwitterFeed, but can't figure out how to find the RSS feed associated with my blog. Can anyone help? I feel like an idiot...

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We have a mole in our vegetable garden. Even though he's not eating the plants, he's still managed to do a bit of damage. *sigh* Just saying

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Do you think it might clear up today? Could it? Would it?

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

Wrote yesterday. Plotted out an entire short story from beginning to end and started writing. Decided I didn't get to start anything new from now on unless I knew the entire story. I have WAY too many "ideas" that I've begun that just sit and do nothing on my computer. I've never been a plotter. We'll see if it works for me. If it does, I'm going to try to start it on my longer works.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Time

Sometimes I feel that life is passing me by, not slowly either, but with ropes of steam and spark-spattered wheels and a hoarse roar of power or terror. It's passing, yet I'm the one who's doing all the moving. ~Martin Amis, Money

I'm here... got up late, DH got up early, no time to post.

But, if you want a song to make you think, check out "Don't Blink".

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

100 Things

Old as she was, she still missed her daddy sometimes. ~Gloria Naylor

HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!!

I'm shouting so my dad can hear me where he is...

And now, moving on:

My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot. ~Ashleigh Brilliant

I tried to resist the temptation when I saw this on Anno's blog several days ago. But it kept poking me and poking me... so I've given in.

The instructions: Just copy the list of 100 accomplishments, highlight the ones you've achieved in bold, and elaborate as desired. Be forewarned, this is a long meme: a marathon to read; just about as long to write.

A couple of the numbers were missing, so I stole the ones that Groovy made up *G*.

001. Started my own blog. This seems like a really silly question since this is A BLOG MEME. So, yeah... started my own blog many, many moons ago. This one.

002. Slept under the stars. When we lived up in the sticks, I used to sleep over at a friends house and we frequently slept out on her deck to watch the sunrise in the morning -- in fourth grade. Whoda thunk I'd have been interested in watching the sun rise at ten y.o? With any luck, however, I won't ever do it again. I do NOT enjoy camping in any form.

003. Played in a band. If playing flute in school counts! *G*

004. Visited Hawaii. Two times. In California, going to Hawaii is like people in the east going to Florida... it's quick, easy and cheap.

005. Watched a meteor shower.

006. Given more than I can afford to charity.

007. Been to DisneyWorld/Land. Again, living in California means trips to Disneyland... went several times. And I went to Disney World on my honeymoon.

008. Climbed a mountain.

009. Held a praying mantis. A seriously cool bug. I wish we had more of them here.

010. Sung a solo. If you count trying out for parts in my high school musical.

011. Bungee jumped.

012. Visited Paris.

013. Watched lightning at sea.

014. Taught myself an art from scratch. Does building a website count?

015. Adopted a child. If you count my furry, four-footed ones, and I DO.

016. Had food poisoning.

017. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty.

018. Grown my own vegetables. Every year!

019. Seen the Mona Lisa in France.

020. Slept on an overnight train.

021. Had a pillow fight. Many, many times.

022. Hitchhiked.

023. Taken a sick day when you're not ill. I did once -- lied about a dentist appointment so I could interview for another job. Bad me.

024. Built a snow fort.

025. Held a lamb.

026. Gone skinny dipping.

027. Run a marathon.

028. Ridden in a gondola in Venice.

029. Seen a total eclipse.

030. Watched a sunrise or a sunset. Many, many, many times.

031. Hit a home run.

032. Been on a cruise.

033. Seen Niagara Falls in person.

034. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors. I wish -- that would be Portugal and Scotland and I hear both places are just gorgeous. Alas, DH doesn't do international travel (he "did" the navy for several years so has no desire to go anywhere but the US again)... so will have to outlive him and then be one of those old grannies on a tour.

035. Seen an Amish community.

036. Taught myself a new language. If computer languages count.

037. Had enough money to be satisfied. I have everything I need, if not everything I want, and pretty much always have.

038. Had a tatoo removed.

039. Spit off a bridge.

040. Seen Michelangelo's David.

041. Sung karaoke.

042. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt.

043. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant.

044. Visited Africa.

045. Walked on a beach by moonlight.

046. Been transported in an ambulance.

047. Had my portrait painted.

048. Gone deep sea fishing. Spent most of it below decks, nauseous. BUT... did come up long enough to try and then had to hold my dad's pole while he tried to untangle mine and proceeded to hook what was the record-breaking catch of the day which nearly pulled me overboard.

049. Been to the Sistine Chapel in person.

050. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

051. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling. I snorkled in Hanauma Bay in Hawaii... truly spectacular!

052. Kissed in the rain.

053. Played in the mud. Went "mudding" with my DH (when he was only a DF -- Dear Fiance) and he got his truck stuck... so, maybe it wasn't so much playing when I had to walk out and hitch a ride home.

054. Gone to a drive-in theater. We went a lot when I was little (I remember seeing "Mary Poppins") and then, as a twenty-something, it was where all the kids in my singles group would go on Friday nights. My old roommate actually fell asleep during "Jurassic Park", lol. I loved the drive-in.

055. Been in a movie.

056. Visited the Great Wall of China.

057. Started a business. Many, many actually, but most recently I write for publication AND co-own Tenth Muse Author Solutions, LLC which owns three different internet sites.

058. Taken a martial arts class.

059. Visited Russia.

060. Served at a soup kitchen.

061. Sold Girl Scout cookies.

062. Gone whale watching.

063. Got flowers for no reason.

064. Donated blood, platelets, or plasma. I'm O+, so the blood bank loves me.

065. Gone sky diving.

066. Visited a Nazi concentration camp site.

067. Bounced a check.

068. Flown in a helicopter.

069. Saved a favorite childhood toy up until adulthood. I have two stuffed animals: Fleagle the Beagle (a gift from my best friend when we were still both in high school), and Knickerbocker (a bear I got from my brother when I had surgery in seventh grade). They sleep with my DD now.

070. Visited the Lincoln Memorial.

071. Eaten caviar. Blech. Ate escargot, too. Blech, again.

072. Pieced a quilt.

073. Stood in Times Square.

074. Toured the Everglades.

075. Been fired from a job. I've tried to get Judy to fire me from LASR/WC, but she's not biting.

076. Seen the Changing of the Guard in London.

077. Broken a bone. Fell off my pony in fifth grade and broke my wrist.

078. Been on a speeding motorcycle. Don't know if it was speeding, but I've only ridden on one once, and hope to never do so again... it TERRIFIED me.

079. Seen the Grand Canyon in person. DH drove through it with me. Would he stop so I could get out to look? Um. No. DH has this thing about driving trips -- it's all about getting from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible.

080. Published a book. Yep!! YAY!

081. Visited the Vatican.

082. Bought a brand new car. I bought a 1986 Mazda B2000 pickup that had 7 miles on it. Drove it for eight months until a stupid teenaged girl who was gawking at a cute guy nearby failed to realize that everyone ahead of her had stopped. She hit me and created a domino effect of a five car accident -- and totalled my truck. I bought a 1977 Toyota Celica to replace it, and have never owned a new car since. And, yes, I'm still annoyed.

083. Walked in Jerusalem.

084. Had my picture in the newspaper. If you count modeling for an advertising spread for a local mall when I was eighteen.

085. Read the entire Bible. I have to admit to mostly sticking to the New Testament now...

086. Visited the White House. Sort of. We walked past it, does that count? It was closed to tours the day we were in DC.

087. Killed and prepared an animal for eating. DH does the killing, but I have helped butcher the deer and fish he's brought home.

088. Had chickenpox. I don't know if I did or not... MOM? Do you remember?

089. Saved someone's life. Maybe? I did get a friend out of an abusive relationship once...

090. Overcome a physical disability.

091. Met someone famous. My drama teacher was also a professional actor, and was in a film called "Impulse" my senior year in high school. He invited the star, Tim Matheson, to come visit our class. It was very cool. I also went to a pool party for the Monkees when they reunited for their "Pool It" album. I met them briefly (sans Michael Nesmith who didn't reunite with them) and they were nice enough, but the highlight was meeting their opening act: Weird Al Yankovich!! He is the coolest guy EVER. Seriously. There may be more, but I can't think of them right now...

092. Joined a book club. Only the kind where you buy books -- I used to belong to the Science Fiction/Fantasy one... you can tell because all my "keeper" books in the genre are small hardbacks, lol...

093. Lost a loved one. My father, seventeen years ago ... and I still miss him almost every day.

094. Had a baby. Yep!

095. Seen the Alamo in person.

096. Swam in the Great Salt Lake.

097. Been involved in a law suit. See above, where I mention the stupid girl who rear-ended me and totalled my car. The person in front of ME filed a lawsuit against me (since I was the one who hit her) and forced me to sue the girl who hit me. THEN... ::shakes head in disbelief:: ... the stupid girl claimed that I hit the car in front of me, bounced back and hit her. *sigh* Yep, still annoyed.

098. Owned a cell phone.

099. Been stung by a bee. Many times, unfortunately, and usually because I didn't see them. Had one on a purse, set my hand on it. Once, a bumblebee was trapped in my laundry and stung me when I was folding it. Stepped on one once. Disturbed a wasps nest in a birdhouse once. However, the yellow jacket attack? Totally unprovoked. I have since declared open season on all yellow jackets, despite my usual "live and let live" feeling about bugs.

100. Ridden an elephant.

What about you?

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

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Sunshine...

In June, as many as a dozen species may burst their buds on a single day. No man can heed all of these anniversaries; no man can ignore all of them. ~Aldo Leopold

Dear heavens... it's SUNNY. It wasn't supposed to be, and even the weather websites say it's cloudy here, but they LIE. I don't know how long it will last, but I'm in heaven.

Sadly, I had to take back the Yankee Flipper yesterday. After I opened it and read the instructions, I found it doesn't work with red squirrels or chipmunks. That's pretty much all I have on my feeders, so it wasn't appropriate. Apparently the one they recommend for those particular rodents is the Yankee Dipper -- not as amusing, but hopefully will save my seed. Agway ordered it for me. Have I mentioned how much I love them?

Speaking of Agway, they have all their baby chicks in and we visited with them a little bit yesterday. Dakota kept sticking her nose into the cracks, and the chicks would peck her and she'd jerk away and then do it all over again. Dork dog.

So, today, I may play hookey at least a little bit. The weeds in my gardens are going to need baling soon if I don't get them pulled. Tomorrow is supposed to be rainy again -- which will put a bit of a damper on our Father's Day barbecue, but I'll make the most of the moment.

Have a great day!

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




You Are a Natural Beauty!



You're the kind of beauty that every guy dreams about...

One that looks good in the morning - without a stitch of makeup

That's doesn't mean you're a total hippie chic though

You have style, but for you, style is effortless



If that means I seldom wear make-up, then YES, they are right. *G*

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

Friday, June 19, 2009

For Hours of Entertainment...

Those little nimble musicians of the air, that warble forth their curious ditties, with which nature hath furnished them to the shame of art. ~Izaak Walton

I've been having squirrel problems at the bird feeders... more squirrels than I've ever had before. I have chipmunks, too, but they don't eat as much AND they typically eat what falls on the ground, which is fine with me. But the SQUIRRELS. DH is always saying he could "take care of them" for me... yes, a loosely disguised offer to kill them.

I'm a big believer in letting things live if they aren't a threat to my safety, or my plants safety (I say this, because I am pretty mean to the red lily leaf beetles, Japanese beetles, wireworms, tomato worms and the great number of other insect pests that strip my plants -- those assassinate without pity and without mercy), so I'm not going to entice the little rodents to my feeders and then kill them. That's just wrong.

Instead... I splurged and bought a new bird feeder: The Yankee Flipper.

Aside from (hopefully) keeping the squirrels off my feeder, I have great hope that it will provide hours of entertainment. Here's a YouTube video I found (keep the volume down unless you like the song "You Spin Me Round" by Dead or Alive:



And, my lovely local Agway (I really, really love them) assured me I can bring it back if it doesn't work. They're the best people ever -- I can even bring back OPENED pet food, or used bug spray or whatever if it doesn't work or I'm dissatisfied in any way. They're such great folks...

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

I wrote -- not yesterday, unfortunately, but I did write the day before! Just over 1000 words on a short romantic comedy based on the short I did for Womans World that was rejected some months ago. It's so much fun to write -- because they are getting into one predicament after another. Do you think they're cursed? LOL.... Anyway, I don't know how long it will be (I'm aiming for at least 12k words), or where I'll send it (I'm torn between Samhain or a particular publisher that is looking for short stories for a print anthology... I'd sure like to see it in print), but I love it and I know how it ends, so should actually be able to GET THERE.

I also worked some more on Stiller Creek... this one is harder since I have to go back and add in a character and make it look seamless, as though he'd been there from the beginning. But, it's giving me a chance to work on some things I didn't love, and I might go ahead and resubmit it to Samhain once it's done (since she did offer to look at it again). We'll see...

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

Rain is expected for most of the weekend, so fun will be had by all here... NOT. DH and DD can't go boating, Dd will be cooped up... ugh. Please, please let the sun come out tomorrow... and, wow, that was an inadvertant earworm, for which I apologize profusely.

Any plans for the weekend?

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

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I Fought the Woods...

Despite the gardener's best intentions, Nature will improvise. ~Michael P. Garafalo, gardendigest.com

Many things grow in the garden that were never sown there. ~Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia, 1732


Yesterday was our first and last nice day for a while -- they're predicting overcast and rain for the next week (Um... hello...isn't it summer?), so I decided to get out and WORK. I played hookey from the computer for most of the day and DD and I tackled some of the big tasks.

The hardest, by far, was cutting back the woods where it is infringing on our cultivated spaces. The way things grow here should be legend. Truthfully, if we abandoned our house today and no one did anything, we could come back two years later and it would look as though no one had every laid a blade to the earth (this actually happened to a house down the road -- the people left it and in a little over a year, you almost couldn't SEE the house for all the vegetation).

So, I went to my back woods garden with shovel, clippers and strong resolve.


The poor garden is so overgrown and full of weeds that my plants are barely surviving. They are full of weeds (especially blueberry and raspberry bushes, not to mention TONS of grass) and I felt like a bad mother. I decided to clear cut everything for about two feet back from the garden. This is not as easy as it may sound.



DD's job was to snip down the trees that had grown too close, mine was to dig up the earth and get the stumps out. Then we would line the back of the garden with rocks (which, we discovered, I had done once before -- but you couldn't see them because they were covered with rotting leaves and growth).

We worked and worked and WORKED. We were eaten by bugs (despite a nice coating of bug spray), we were filthy and tired and sore. But WE DID IT.







Now you can SEE the plants (though we didn't accomplish much actual weeding of the gardens -- we pulled the worst, but there is still MUCH work to be done). Still, I discovered my columbine:



And dianthus:



And foxglove:



And many other perennials that aren't blooming yet.

Speaking of blooming -- my milkweed is about ready to burst! I can't wait -- it smells SO amazing I wish I could bottle it up and wear it.



And, as promised, a picture of the growing pillars -- almost HALF are green now (instead of "bird poop" black and white):



We still have two that are so tiny you can barely see them -- they are the ones that were actually brownish when we found them. We must have found them the moment they hatched.

No more butterbabies on the rue yet -- but we look when we can. I'm waiting for DD to remember that my SIL has TONS of dill and that is where we found the bulk of our pillars from last year. And, no, I'm not reminding her, lol, but we're going over there for a Father's Day bash on Sunday, so I bet she realizes it then!

Have a great day.

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




You Are Chips and Salsa



You are energetic and a real go getter. You can even be aggressive at times.

You love taking risks and taking the rewards. You are a true daredevil.



You can be a bit greedy in life, and you go after what you want.

You are courageous and edgy. You will do what others are afraid of.



Huh... okay.

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

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What, When, Where, Why, How with Beth Caudill

Welcome today to Beth Caudill!

What flavor of pie is the yummiest?

I usually only eat pecan or pumpkin pie. My favorite would be pecan. It has a crunchy top and sweet, gooey bottom. Mmmmmm.

When does spring begin in your neck of the woods?

About mid-March but it could be earlier or later. The one thing about NC is that as the seasons switch you never know which season takes precedence. One day 70 degrees and the next 40 degrees. However, once spring takes hold…better enjoy it because summer is right on her heels.

Where is your favorite place to shop for books?

Given all we have are big name bookstores, I have to say Barnes and Noble right now. There are two or three used books but I rarely use them. Only when I’m on an OOP shopping trip. I would love to see a specialized Fantasy/SciFi store here. But for comics I love Foundations Edge – good people and customer service.

Why did you decide to start writing for publication?

For something to do while my children slept during the day. I never wanted to be a stay-at-home-mom but it happened. However, I hate cleaning. My grandmother would vacuum and sweep her hard wood floors everyday. That is not my cup of tea. So I had to do something with my time to ignore the household chores. I’ve always made up stories, I just never wrote them down. After an online group had a short story challenge and I saw a romance panel at a local library, I thought I could do that.

How do you dress when you sit down to write?

Nothing special. Normal everyday clothes. Jeans and a sweater in winter. Shorts and t-shirt during summer. And most days I take a shower too. *G*

Beth grew up in West Virginia but now resides in North Carolina with her husband and two children. She has a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and previously worked as a quality assurance computer software tester. Reading has been her favorite activity for as long as she can remember and her home has more books than shelves to store them. While being a fulltime parent, she is pursuing a writing career.

http://www.bethcaudill.net/
http://bethcaudill.blogspot.com/
http://paranormalromancewriters.blogspot.com/
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/bcnewsletter/

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Problems, Pillars and Puttering

I plan on living forever. So far, so good. ~Author Unknown

Am all but having a nervous breakdown because I can't load up today's new pages at The Long and the Short of It today. Seems our webhost is having issues. GAH. Gives me the shakes, because I don't even have a way to tell people that I'M TRYING. No ETA on when their issue will be fixed either. :::grumble, grumble:::

The butterbabies (aka Pillars) have more than doubled in size. Seems the one I found had JUST hatched! Yesterday, as I was watering the floral foam, I looked at the tip of the leaf he'd been on and there was an itty bitty "bubble" -- his eggshell.

I find the differences between the two species of butterflies we raise very interesting. For instance, the first thing a monarch does upon hatching is to turn around an EAT it's egg. Makes me wonder if it's kind of like colostrum? And... monarchs go on "walkabout" to shed their skins (which is why they get kept one each in small, COVERED containers. The Black Swallowtail just sits on its food and sheds its skin and only goes "walkabout" when it's ready to become a pupa. They both eat their shed skin, however.

Is talking about eating skins appropriate this early in the morning?

Will try to get some comparison pictures today so you can see how big the babies are getting to be. AND... it's finally supposed to be at least a little sunny today, so we may go on a pillar search later to see if we can find more.

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

Did more edits on Stiller Creek. I like my new character (which I shouldn't because this character is the bad guy) and I feel sorry for him. Should the bad guy invoke pity? Hope so, since mine does -- at least to me!

Also found some anthology call-outs that I may consider. 15 - 20 thousand words and it'll go to print. That would be cool. There are bunches of subjects they want, so finding something to write about (even something I'm currently working on) should be simple enough.

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

Okay... gotta go check my hosting site and see if I can get the LASR/WC pages up yet. I'm getting the shakes...

How is YOUR day going?

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

Monday, June 15, 2009

Fun at Panera Bread

Since there is nothing so well worth having as friends, never lose a chance to make them. ~Francesco Guicciardini

So... I met up with Denise Robbins at Panera Bread in Bedford, NH yesterday (and WOW! Who knew Panera Bread was so HUGE -- when I walked in, I couldn't see her and actually called her on the phone to find her!).

It was good. We sat and talked and talked and talked... and then I looked at my watch and almost three hours had passed! How did that happen?

I had to get going, but just as I did, another author walked in: Nora LeDuc. We introduced ourselves and I wish I could have stayed longer, but .... *sigh*... maybe next time.

I forget how energizing it is to talk IN PERSON to other authors. It's excited and interesting to talk about the process and how you work and what gets you through blocks or how frustrating it is when 'real life' gets in the way. Research and software and editing and publishers.... I could have stayed all day and not been bored.

Denise showed me the trailer of her upcoming book and WOW! does it look great! And I can't wait to dive into her current book, "It Happens in Threes".

So, I'm feeling good and ready to dive into some writing. In fact, I started working on editing "Stiller Creek" again, and adding in the new character and pulling out some of the backstory that exists near the beginning and...

Yeah. It was good.

Here is a pic of Denise and me at Panera:



And check out Denise's blog -- she has a cool book-a-week READING challenge (so if you like romantic suspense, you should check it out -- she invites the authors to come comment, too, and there are some biggies: Carla Neggers, Lisa Jackson and others). And recently (for writers) she had a great discussion about passive voice (and those rotten "wuzzes").

How was your weekend?

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

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Because I Had Nothing Better To Do Today...

I have enabled comment moderation.

This morning I was spammed in Chinese (using Babelfish it seems it may be a private investigation firm... yeah, like I'd hire someone who is spamming a blog) on no less than THIRTY of my posts and it is continuing even as we speak. As quickly as I can go in a delete them, a new one shows up.

So... all comments will be moderated for now until this stops. It's far easier to decline a comment than it is to go in and delete it after it is posted.

I'm sorry. I HATE moderation. I HATE word verification. But more than those, I HATE SPAMMERS.

May all you blasted spammers be relegated to the deepest part of hell.

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

Attacked!

Boldness is a mask for fear, however great. ~ John Dryden

First off: I'm getting ready to head out to Panera Bread in Bedford, NH to meet with at least one other author and anyone else who wants to stop by. So, if you're in that neck of the woods, come on over and say howdy!

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

Yesterday was gorgeous -- warm and sunny. DD, Dakota and I went for a nice long walk through the neighborhood in the late morning. It was pleasant, people were out, there was a light breeze...

We turned one corner where there is a bit of grassy, undeveloped area and I saw a turkey. I pointed it out to DD and we smiled, and kept walking. And then, Dakota saw a small bird on the ground. She loves to stalk the birds and I let her -- it's fun to watch, she's on a leash so she won't get far and they are much faster than she is. So, as she started the stalk, I looked to ID the bird - it was small, white and gray and...FLUFFY??? WAIT!

I turned to DD and say, "It's a baby turkey!"

My DD, lover of all things great and small, decided to get a closer look and stepped forward. And then....

MAMA CHARGED!

We didn't even know she was there. She must have been hunkered down in the tall grass, but OHBOY did we know where she was now! Her wings were loose and dropped, tail feathers displayed, she gobbled and attacked and danced away. Charged and danced. Dakota was beside herself... she wanted that turkey and kept throwing herself to the end of the leash, which just made things worse.

I told DD that Mama Turkey was acting both aggressive and injured in order to draw us away. She kept one wing dropped and would let us get quite close. She'd fly a little if Dakota lunged, but always dropped back down and charged.

It was awesome. Amazing. We tried to ignore her and go away, but she wouldn't let us -- just kept crossing back and forth in front of us for a good 300 yards. Finally at that point she stopped and headed back to her babies.

What a good mama.

Afterward, DD told me she'd been scared to death! LOL...

Truthfully, it's a pretty incredible thing to have a wild turkey charge. You don't realize how big they are until they are that close.

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

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Pillar Place 2009

And what's a butterfly? At best,
He's but a caterpillar, at rest. ~ John Grey


So... after our massive rainstorm, it finally cleared up after lunch (and actually got hot and ridiculously humid -- apparently there is no in between). I decided to take a turn around the yard to check things out.

Between swatting at VERY hungry mosquitoes, and admiring how much my veggie garden has grown (we won't talk about how much the WEEDS have grown... *sigh*), I decided to check out the rue -- the only plant we have that black swallowtail will eat since my parsley and dill didn't come back this year.

And after a close inspection I found ONE pillar. It was teeny and I'm still amazed I even saw it. I fetched DD and showed her and she all but came out of her skin. We went back inside and pulled out all the pillar supplies from the basement, grabbed a pair of scissors and went to get our fella.

But... as always, DD has far sharped eyes than I do, and we came in with more than one "fella".

So, welcome to Pillar Place 2009:



We have NINE pillars currently, though I'm sure that number will grow as it always does. I'm thrilled to have them on rue, however, as it's the sturdiest of all the plants the pillars will eat, and easiest to handle.

I suggested naming them alphabetically this year, so we have: Abigail, Bugsy, Carole, Diana, Ethel, Fiona, Greg, Hannah, Ichabod and Jane (for my mom). We put masking tape behind each container in the box:



I'm telling you what, though... these critters are itty bitty. If they didn't hatch yesterday, then they are only a day or two old and I'm amazed they made it through that violent storm. Nature constantly amazes me.

Check it out:



What? You can't see him? Here's DD pointing to him -- see how big her fingertip looks next to him? Click on the pictures to make them MUCH bigger, and you'll see them.



And here is another:



Is it any wonder I didn't see all nine? LOL...

Funny thing was, DH saw us cutting the branches with the pillars and asked what we were doing.

We said, "There are swallowtail babies."

He said, "Why don't you leave them outside?"

We said, "We raise them every year -- it's fun, and they have a better chance of survival."

He said, "You do?"

Um... yeah... it's not like we've kept it hidden!! Observant much? Cracked me up.

DD is determined to look for more today. I need another Avon box... too bad I don't sell Avon anymore!

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




You Are Medium Maintenance



Like everyone else, you have some things you are particular about.

You're not too annoying about it, and you're able to go with the flow most of the time.



You've learned to stand your ground on what matters but also make compromises from time to time.

You have good taste. Too bad not everyone shares it.



Okay.... I'm good with that.

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

Friday, June 12, 2009

I'm BAAAACK!

A real friend is someone who would feel loss if you jumped on a train, or in front of one. ~Author Unknown

Did you miss me? I hope you enjoyed my guest bloggers -- though I didn't plan the schedule well, and apologize for having them all at once. Still, they were all so much fun and I can't wait to read their books (well, except for The Geek Girl's Guide -- read that already).

It POURED rain last night. POURED. I'm a little afraid to go outside and look at my gardens... I'm sure things must have been crushed. Twice the sound of the rain woke me up. Amazing. I mean, we needed some wet stuff, but it didn't all have to fall in a matter of a couple hours. Actually, it's still raining now, but has eased up a bit. Holy cow.

Was looking at my blog stats the past few days and had to laugh at my keyword referrals. It would be nice if people were actually looking for me -- but they aren't. The most common? Voles. Or voles vs. moles. I did get one on milorganite and milkweed (not sure what they have in common -- though if anyone googles it again: milorganite doesn't kill milkweed, it fertilizes it and I use milorganite to keep the deer away from my plants... note to self: reapply milorganite since the rain most assuredly washed away what was there).

Still, it appears that I'm not the only one with vole problems -- nor am I the only one who is looking for an answer. I've actually gotten a few emails from readers asking what I've done, what worked and what didn't. It's amazing to me that there is so little information out there regarding voles. In fact, it made me turn to one of my favorite books: Jerry Baker's "Old-Time Gardening Wisdom" to see what he had to say. And.... he said nothing. Nothing. (Though Sarita will be relieved to know that his recipe for dandelion wine included a fermentation lock). Still, for people looking to garden pretty much naturally (like Maria Zannini), it's a great book to have.

One exciting thing: this weekend (Sunday, to be precise) barring nose-bleeds, schedule changes and acts of God, I will be meeting with at least one other author (and anyone else in the neighborhood who wants to come... readers, authors, lovers of bread and coffee), Denise Robbins, at the Panera Bread in Bedford, NH. We'll be there early (Denise says she'll be there by eight a.m. -- I can't promise I will be) and will stay for a few hours. I'd love to see you there!

What plans do YOU have for the weekend?

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




Your Gift Is Energy



You are easily excitable, and you love to be on the go. You crave intensity.

You need to live a dynamic, interesting, and challenging life. Otherwise, you get bored.



It's hard for you to relax. You're constantly being inspired to do something.

You're the type of person who finds success, innovation, and creativity easy.



Hmmm... mostly right...

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

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Special WWWWH with Sandy Lender! Woot!

I know I'm having another special guest blogger, but today I'm especially excited!

Many of you know that fantasy novels were my first love (long before I discovered romance). I did a book report in elementary school on "The Hobbit" and used to pretend I was Ozma from the L. Frank Baum books. I still love my Dragonriders of Pern series and am currently working my way through the Valedmar books (again!) by Mercedes Lackey. So... when I read about the book, "Choices Meant for Gods" I was excited, and when I read the excerpt I was hooked. I did something I seldom do with new authors: I ordered it. And now I get to have the author on my blog! How cool is that?

The blurb and excerpt are at the end -- make sure you give them a read and you'll be hooked, too. Bet!

So, today, please give a hearty welcome to Sandy Lender (and even better -- EVERY comment earns an entry into her weekly drawing for an autographed, first edition hardback copy of the book... so comment and tell all your friends to come over and do the same). Even better, Sandy will be stopping by now and then to answer any questions you might have, so feel free to ask anything you can think of. :-)

What was the last thing you laughed at?

That would be my bird, Petri. He’s a sun conure, which is a type of small parrot. He rules the house, and when I forget this by, say, neglecting to give him his morning treat in a timely manner, he gives me this look that seems to say, “You’ve lost your mind, Woman.” He also gives me this look when I tease him by touching his tail feathers, whether he’s stuck them out the side of his cage for teasing or not. I can also get this look if I sing to him. He doesn’t appreciate the singing. Anyway, it’s really funny looking because you can just tell that little bird mind in there is trying to figure out how to tell me to do what he wants—give him a treat, share my dinner, stop touching the tail, stop singing, carry him to some perch or another.

When is truth stranger than fiction?

Criminy. When it’s my life. You have no idea how tempted I am to start forwarding those chain e-mails that show up with the “send this to five people and get 1 year of good luck; ten people and get 2 years of good luck” messages. I’m sure I’ve got 3,000 people in my database by now that I could send one to…

Seriously, though, my life has been a funky roller coaster for three years. I won’t go into detail here because there’s no point in bringing this lovely conversation down. But I’ll say this: I got the results of my most recent CT and PET scans at the middle of May and I am cancer-free! I’m cured! I wrote all about how happy I was and how I was channeling Queen’s WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS that day on my blog at http://www.todaythedragonwins.blogspot.com.

Where were you when you got your first kiss?

Awwww. This is so cute. I was sitting/laying across my desk at the end of the day in Miss Connelly’s second grade classroom and Gary Haguar (I think that’s how he spelled his name) leaned over and kissed my arm. Isn’t that sweet? I remember telling my grandpa about it on the phone and he said I should punch any boys that tried to kiss me. Ball up my hand into a fist and punch them as hard as I could. Isn’t that great? I do believe there’s a lot of my grandpa in the character Hrazon in my novel…

Why would you try to lasso and ride the Loch Ness monster on a dark and stormy night?

I’m torn. First of all, I would feel terrible about exploiting the poor dear. Who knows how uncomfortable a lasso would be to a creature with skin that old and wet? I’d have to take my shoes off so as not to irritate her.

But if she’s all right with it, I think we’d attempt this to get away from Nasgul chasing me on the shore. Everyone knows how afraid Nasgul are of bodies of water.

How long does it take you to write a book?

Oh, this totally depends on the book. I have a 90,000-word paranormal romance that took me two weeks to write because I was inspired by meeting the hot and handsome John Taylor (of Duran Duran). That was during a spell of unemployment, which goes in that “funky roller coaster” I mentioned above.

CHOICES MEANT FOR GODS took me three years once I sat down to type. Its sequel, CHOICES MEANT FOR KINGS took a couple months. The third book in the series took several months, if I remember correctly, but I’m taking forever to rewrite it. I don’t like the darkness of it so I’m fixing it. Completely. Starting over. I told a friend that I wanted to just delete it and start fresh and he had a hissy fit, so I’ve not gone to that extreme…yet.

This has been a delight, Marianne. Thank you for hosting me today and thank you for the fabulous interview! The link to my publisher’s site is http://www.archebooks.com/BookIDX/Indexes/Fantasy/CMG/CMGDesc.htm

People can follow one of my characters (Nigel Taiman) making fun of me at http://sandylender.blogspot.com – always a delight. I’ve got to set up a twitter account for him. My twitter account is http://twitter.com/sandylender


Sandy Lender began writing stories as soon as she learned to string words together on the page. As a child she entertained the folks in her great grandmother’s apartment building in Southern Illinois with tales of squeaky spiders and mice picking berries, and then won awards with writing projects as she moved through the elementary and high school systems in the St. Louis area. It was apparent that a career in journalism was her calling, and she found herself proofreading, editing, and (finally) writing for trade publications after she graduated from Truman State University in Missouri. Those publications may have honed her skills in editing and writing about cattle husbandry, road construction, community management, and zealous forms of religious oppression, but her desire to write fiction stayed with her throughout the career-building day jobs.

From her early memories of junior high, Sandy harbored the story of Amanda Chariss and the struggles of the continent of Onweald. It wasn’t until the year 2000 that Sandy sat down at the computer and started typing out the words that would form her first fantasy novel, CHOICES MEANT FOR GODS. By June of 2003 she had the creation that no literary agent had any interest in. But Sandy is pro-active and doesn’t give up easily. She got Publisher Bob Gelinas to show interest in the story in January 2006, and the dream has since become reality.

Sandy now writes in Southwest Florida where her love of sea turtles and all things related to the Gulf waters keeps her imagination growing. Her epic fantasy novel Choices Meant for Gods is now available as is her recent release What Choices We Made. She shares a home with a demanding but lovable sun conure, a 21-year-old water turtle who dances to the songs in her extensive Duran Duran collection, and a muse who often misplaces the key to the shackles at the computer desk.


===============
BLURB:

Not even the gods noticed when Chariss was born with the mark of The Protector. Now she and her wizard guardian seek shelter from a mad sorcerer in a household not just full of secrets and false hope, but watched by the god who will unwittingly reveal her role in an impending war.

When an orphan sets aside a lifetime of running and fear to accept the responsibilities of guarding an arrogant deity, can she face the trials in the prophecies she uncovers? Will Nigel Taiman of her latest refuge dare to use his dragon heritage to bind her to his estate or to help her in her duty?

EXCERPT:

This is a romantic scene as Nigel Taiman and Amanda Chariss ride from the estate at Arcana to Arcana City. Her wizard guardian has already clued her in to the fact that Nigel wants to court her, and she's upset over it. The scene mentions the bear-like ryfel creature that nearly killed Nigel in the training arena...

Nigel frowned at her. Spurring his horse slightly, he reached out to take hold of Shadow’s bridle. Bringing them both to a stop, he turned in the saddle to face her.

“Hey!” she objected.

“Indeed. Have I done something to anger you?”

Her cheeks reddened with embarrassment.

“’Manda?”

“You’re staring at me.”

“By the gods, Woman. All right, I’ll look at your horse. ’Manda,” he said to Shadow, “what have I done that’s made you angry?”

“I’m not angry.”

“You’re not a liar,” he spoke to Chariss again.

“All right, so I’m a little angry. It will pass.”

“And you don’t want to tell me what it is?”

She couldn’t blame her reticence today on worry over Drake. She also couldn’t blame her health because she’d completely recovered from her telabyrinth poisoning. With Hrazon and The Master attending the summer festival, she couldn’t blame some sort of timidity at being ‘alone’ in the city. No, she had to take a deep breath and be honest with him. Considering the number of suitors she’d sent packing in the past few years, this should have been an easy thing to do again. It wasn’t. She sighed, closing her eyes as if she could make the scene disappear.

“Do you agree that you’re my friend?” she finally asked.

He watched her open her eyes then, realizing where the conversation must be going.

“Yes.” It was said with exasperation.

“And that I’m your friend?”

“Yes.”

“And does that please you?”

He sighed, but didn’t get a chance to answer.

“You see, Nigel, it pleases me. I appreciate your kindness, and I would be disappointed if we hadn’t built such a…such a…”

“Friendship?” he retorted.

“Such a rapport.”

He rolled his eyes. “A fancier word with even less affection.”

“My stay at Arcana is much more pleasant because I have this relationship with you. But someone has tried to convince me that your…your…”

“Feelings?”

“Well…your…”

“Intentions?”

“Well…your opinion of our relationship might be somewhat different from mine.”

“’Manda, just say what you’re thinking. You won’t hurt my feelings.”

She looked miserable then. “I don’t want to say what I’m thinking.”

“Good!”

“No, that’s not good. Hrazon thinks you’re…Hrazon believes you spend time with me because…” She paused, searching for the words.

“Because I’m in love with you?”

She nearly fell backward. “Just blurt it out!”

He chuckled slightly. “This is uncomfortable, isn’t it? I’m sorry to embarrass you. This conversation would be better in a darkened corner of Arcana’s parlor. ’Manda, I’m not going to lie to you. Hrazon has every reason to believe I’m after his ward because I am. It’s no secret to anyone I enjoy your company. What, where are you…You’re the only woman I know who can scoot that far away on a saddle without falling off.”

“I don’t think you should say those things.”

“Aye,” he sighed, watching her fidget with Shadow’s reins. But he made a decision to press the matter. “I’m going to say them and get them out in the open. Then we can decide if you’re to die of embarrassment, or slap me across the face.”

She couldn’t help smiling, even though her heart beat as if it would burst through her bodice from the tension she felt.

“I enjoy being with you because you’re my perfect match,” he said. “Have you noticed that we agree on almost everything? And the few things we don’t agree on are intriguing to argue because you make them intriguing. There’s no one at that entire estate, The Master and every intelligent student combined, who can hold my attention as you do. None of them compare.

“I’m attracted to everything about you, including your compassion. Even now, when you’re on the verge of falling off a horse with embarrassment, your concern is for my feelings, not your own. Godric, who doesn’t deserve to wash your feet, who finds every excuse to correct you, gets your respect because you remind yourself that he’s your benefactor. Do you know what strength of character that shows? Do you know how it endears you to me to know you bite your tongue after his arrogant remarks to save my mother’s feelings?”

She merely nodded, her eyes cast down.

“And do you know how it endears you to me to know you would fight to the death for little Kaylin?”

She nodded again.

“And do you know how it endears you to me to know you instinctively threw yourself into healing spells to save my life?”

“You shouldn’t assume that means—”

“I remember sliding toward death that night, life spilling out of me, and poison seeping into me from that thing’s claws. But do you know what I remember most distinctly? I remember you commanding me not to bleed to death…and I remember your hands afterward. Once I was healed, once Master Rothahn became preoccupied with the dead ryfel, you crawled over to me and put your hands on me again, as if you had to be sure He’d done a good enough job of healing me. But you would’ve done it for any member of my family. I daresay you would’ve done it for any student in the school. And it’s because you care about others, and you want the best for everyone around you. And you’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.”

The last comment caught her off guard. It didn’t seem to fit with the logical argument he tried to make.

“I fail to see how these things tell you you’re in love. Kaylin enjoys my company. Mia enjoys arguing with me. I saved Sorne’s life once. Does this mean they’re in love with me?”

“If love could be explained that easily, it wouldn’t be real.”

“But what makes you think it’s real now? If you can’t explain your feelings, how do you know you’re not misled?”

“How does the rose know to bloom in spring?”

“Oh, now that talk I’ve heard before. I didn’t believe it then, and I don’t think you should let yourself believe it now.”

“’Manda, I’m telling you the truth and I’m telling you what I know. If I’ve made you angry by falling in love with you, you’re just going to have to deal with it. Because you’re not currently interested in me, you have to give me time to change your mind.”

They were silent then; he waited for some sign that she wasn’t going to cast him aside, she waited for her heart to stop beating so loudly in her ears. As far as she was concerned, she was often a foolish girl, but her intentions at the beginning of this conversation were foolish beyond compare. She realized—with alarm—that the blood rushing through her veins, the lightheadedness, the excitement at getting to spend an afternoon with him, were all signs she had chosen to ignore.

She swallowed hard against the fear in her throat, and, with as much calm as she could muster, said: “What gives you the idea that I’m not interested in you?”

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

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Here! And....New Contest

Salutations is my fancy way of saying hello. -- Charlotte, "Charlotte's Web"

Please do read the WWWWH below with Melissa Blue! But, I wanted to assure you I'm still around (those of you on Facebook or Twitter know this since I try to drop in and comment at least a couple times a day).

I've also started a new blog comments contest, so leave comments all over the place, and you're entered to win!

Hope you all have a great day -- it's raining here... dreary, yes, but we needed it.

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What, When, Where, Why, How with Melissa Blue

Welcome today, author Melissa Blue!

What is your least favorite food?

My least favorite food... Now, this is a tough question because I love food, will try anything once, and my favorite part of Disney World is Epcot's World Showcase because I can eat food from any of about 20 different countries. But, if I have to chose one least favorite food it would be Sloppy Joes. My mom and I used to go to war about Sloppy Joes, it was the only thing I would refuse to eat, and spent hours in my room trying to make my cat (Oscar) eat it. Eventually we reched a compromise, mom made me a hamburger as long as I reminded her ahead of time.

When did you start writing?

I started writing when I was seven years old. I read "Meet Felicity" an American Girl book and didn't like the ending. I rewrote my own version of the end. I probably still have it somewhere, I'm never throw anything away.

Where did you go on your first date?

For my first REAL date my boyfriend and I met at the high school girls volleyball game. We watched for about fifteen minutes before going to a McDonald's. Romantic, eh? Coincidently this was the night of my first kiss **wink**wink** I was fourteen. My first date with my husband occured when I was sixteen (yup, people, married my high school sweetheart) and we went to see "Behind Enemy Lines." If it hadn't been a double date we'd have had the entire theater to ourselves.

Why doesn't MacDonald's sell hot dogs?

I always figured MacDonald's didn't sell hot dogs because Hardeez does :) As a side note, I am partial to the hotdog, the best pet I ever had was a miniature dachsund. His name was Willy, but we just called him Weiner.

How long do you want to live?

Oh, wow, this is a loaded question for a registered nurse. I work in a hospital and have met people of every different age, illness, and walk of life. I once took care of a 4 day old infant and a 100 year old woman in the same day. Yes, that is a true story, I'm not sure who was cuter the baby or the little old lady. The only way I know to answer this question is to say I want to live as long as my mind is good.

Living in beautiful Big Sky Country, Montana I combine two careers as a registered nurse and romantic fiction author. I am a hopeless romantic, enjoy reading, movies, food, reading, my family, the outdoors, reading & of course food. Other hobbies include the study of American History, an area of primary interest is the Civil War, and the interest reflects in many of my stories. Remember to look for my debut novel "Without Regret My Love" coming in June 2009 from Champagne Books.

http://www.myspace.com/melissablueromanceauthor

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

A Special What, When, Where, Why and How with Charity and Darcy!



Charity Tahmaseb and Darcy Vance are here on their Virtual Tour for the release of the astounding "Geek Girl's Guide to Cheerleading" (which I discussed earlier, here). Click on the banner for other stops cuz... you could win a cool Geek Gift (there will be a drawing from all blog comments).

Welcome ladies -- and now, onward and upward!

What would you name your car?

C: I’ve always felt like I should name my cars, but I don’t. This doesn’t mean I don’t love them.

It’s like my daughter and her baby dolls. We have Purple Baby, Red Baby, Green Baby … you get the idea. For the longest time, that’s what we called them. When my sister-in-law heard this, she was aghast. “Aren’t you a writer? I was thinking you’d come up with something more creative like Little Snuggly Cuddlebums.”

Sadly, no. Sometimes a car is simply White Car and a baby doll Purple Baby.

D: All my cars have had names. The one I drive now is kind of old; it’s a 2000 Impala. I hate to get rid of it because it’s been a really, really good car and it’s taken me to so many fun places. We’ve been to 22 states, the District of Columbia and two countries together. I call her Bess most of the time, but sometimes I call her Bestie.

When you're gone, where are you?

C: Like Darcy (answer below), I kept hearing music/lyrics. Only I was hearing the wrong lyrics: not “When You’re Gone,” but “Since You’re Gone,” by The Cars. Since I’ve been searching for mash-ups of 80s music all weekend on YouTube, I think this is appropriate.

So, clearly, I’m in the 80s, possibly with Ric Ocasek.



D: I had a hard time answering this question. Every time I started to, my mind would wander. I knew it reminded me of song lyrics but I couldn’t remember which ones. Finally, I googled ‘when you’re gone’ and came up with a list. There was that weird/sad one where Eminem is missing his daughter, and the even sadder one by the Cranberries – the one that sounds like someone has died – but those weren’t it. There was one by Avril Lavigne that I don’t remember hearing. Then I found it. It’s an old song by MXPX, Everything Sucks When You’re Gone. It goes like this:

All I ever needed was to eat popcorn with you,
Come on over,
Watch the late show,
Stay up talking until two

Today's the day you're leaving,
And tomorrow you'll be gone
You're in my heart and on my mind,
I will bring you along

Everything sucks when you're gone,


And that’s kind of really where I am when I’m gone. I love to travel but there is always a piece of me that misses whoever I’ve left behind. One day I would like to take a trip and bring everyone I love along with me – even my dog and cat!

Where were you when you got your first kiss?

C: I was in the Paris Metro, which--oddly enough--is in Paris, France. I was actually on the way to Gare du Nord to take a train up to Sweden.

I was leaving the tour I was on (Girl Scouts--geek alert) early to visit relatives. I so didn’t want to go. Or rather, not at that moment, because I was missing the big last night party, and OMG, our tour guide was sooooo cute. Think Paul McCartney circa 1964, only way cuter.

Yeah, my entire troop was IN LOVE.

So, there we were, my friends, me, and Mr. Cute Tour Guide, who was riding with us part way. He had to get off the train to do some tour guide stuff. He turned to me to say goodbye, then he kissed me.

Kiss. Me.

On the lips.

Then he hopped off the train, the doors closed, and we gaped at each other all the way to Gare du Nord.

And--ha!--he didn’t kiss anyone else goodbye at the party or the airport the following morning. To this day, I treasure that first kiss in my geeky, geeky heart.

D: My first kiss was epic-ly awful so, instead, I’ll tell you about my best kiss, okay? I was 17 and I had known the guy for a few months. He was hotttttttt but he was also a couple of years older than me (which can be a big deal when you’re in high school and the guy is not). We’d become really good friends and I had even fixed him up with some older girls I knew.

He was on a date with one of those girls and I had tagged along. We’d driven to Chicago to see the King Tut exhibit at a museum. I know this sounds weird but the Tut thing was a big deal – people were camped in line to see it, just like a rock concert. We’d been there hours already, and it had rained – so we were soaked.

The older girl went off to find a bathroom so the hot guy and I were standing around, just talking. Suddenly he grabbed me around the waist, pulled me close to him and planted this humongous, life changing kiss on me.

Oh. My. God. It was good. So good, in fact, that a few years later I ended up marrying Mr. Steal A Kiss Hottie and we’ve lived happily ever after.

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

C: Because my mom is an avid bird watcher. Or “birder” as I think the lingo goes. This involves special lists and counts, and sudden stops on back roads.

This is also a gene that skips a generation. I’m all: that’s a robin, and that’s a crow. And that’s about it. My daughter has a special love for birds (and all animals, really). I can see birding in her future.

D: I am either in a scary black and white horror movie, or it’s 1970 -- I’m strapped into the passenger seat of my mom’s car and the radio is on. Seriously, when I was young, Close To You by the Carpenters was my mom’s favorite song. My little brother would be locked into his booster seat in the back and we’d be driving down the road belting out that tune at the top of our lungs. Good times, I tell ya, good times!

How good are you at Scrabble?

C: For me, board games--even Scrabble--are “bored” games. My mind wanders. I start plotting stories in my head. I don’t pay attention. Therefore, I’m not very good at any games, not even ones that involve words.

D: I pwn, of course! (BTW, that’ll be 16 points – triple letter for the W.)

About Charity

Give me a:

C! Coffee. Three cups, every morning. Nonnegotiable.

H! Hopeful. I’m generally an optimist, except when I’m not.

A! Army. Six years. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times …

R! Reading. All kinds of books. Except the scary ones. I’ve sworn off the horror genre and serial killers. I like my sleep too much. But I’ll stay up late for young adult fiction.

I! IT. By day, I work for a software company, where we do many geeky things, and where everything I write has XML tags.

T! Tenacious. This word used to show up a lot on my officer evaluation reports. It’s a nice way of saying I’m stubborn.

Y! Yet. As in “Are we there yet?” It’s the journey, not the destination, that’s important.

And Darcy


Give me a:

D!- Dork, nerd or geek? Dork, definitely. Although I have qualities from all three camps it is the off-kilter, socially inept side of me that tends to shine the brightest — like the time in middle school when I thought it would be cool to demonstrate a ballet jump for my friends in the orchestra room … and jete’d into five music stands and a cello.

A!- Artist. I love to draw, although lately I mostly specialize in doodles during boring work meetings. In high school I took every art class that I could fit into my schedule. I missed winning my school’s art award by one point but it was okay anyway — I got to present the award to one of my bffs.

R! - Rad. I love pop punk rock and I married a former skater/surfer dude.

C! - Coffee. Can’t. Exist. Without. It.

Y! - Young adult literature. I don’t just write it, it’s my favorite genre to read too.

Visit them at their
website.