Friday, November 30, 2007

Getting into the Christmas Spirit with a Cute Survey

You can take this survey yourself. Just copy it from here, delete my answers and add your own, then post it in your blog. Pass the spirit of Christmas along.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? I love wrapping presents. I've used
paper and bags both.

2. Real tree or artificial? artificial.. it lasts forever and is better
for the environment and won't harm my dog or parrot.

3. When do you put up the tree? Usually right after Thanksgiving

4. When do you take the tree down? Right after New Year's Day

5. Do you like eggnog? No, but my husband does. Yuck.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? Spirograph, I played with it for
hours making the coolest designs

7. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes. I had two, but gave one to my
daughter and her husband because they didn't have one.

8. Hardest person to buy for? My husband. Anything he needs or wants, he
gets on his own. And he's so darn picky.

9. Easiest person to buy for? Right now, it's my grandson. I just get a
gift card to KB Toys. He lives in Arizona (I'm in Florida) so makes for
easy gift giving.

10. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Doilies

11. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail. I love the whole process of
writing each card, putting the stamp on the envelope, mailing the card
and then imagining the recipient opening it up and reading my note.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? Charlie Brown Christmas or How the Grinch
Stole Christmas

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? November. I shop online
and send direct shipments to recipients to get there by Christmas.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Probably.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Tie between my pumpkin pie and
homemade decorated sugar cookies.

16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? Both, but never at the same
time. Pick one or the other.

17. Favorite Christmas song? The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole

18. Travel for Christmas or stay at home? Definitely stay home.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeers? Dasher, Dancer,
Prancer, Vixen, Comet and Cupid, Donner and Blitzen, then RUDOLF

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? I've done both. I just don't put
Santa Claus on top of the tree.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas morning

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? People forgetting the
Christmas spirit and stores not playing Christmas music or saying "Merry
Christmas"

23. What I love most about Christmas? How for a few days every year,
people are extra nice to each other.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Monday, November 19, 2007

Writing a Book: Free Teleseminar

Is there a book inside of you just waiting to come out? Have you
always wanted to write but just didn't know how to begin? If you've
answered YES to either of these questions you need to sign up for the
Writing a Book: How to get Started Teleseminar.

On Thursday, November 29, 2008 five fabulous writers will share with
you their insights on how they got started. Believe it or not, there
is no one perfect formula for writing a book and these experts will
explain how they did it:

Monica Diggs
Kim Sims
Vicki M. Taylor
Kathie Thomas
Debra Shiveley Welch

The free teleseminar will begin at 8pm EST on Thursday, November 29. Seating
is limited so register early to guarantee you will be able to get your spot.

To register, go to: http://www.talk2bev.com Call-in instructions will be sent after your registration.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Gratitude: What am I grateful for?

When a person doesn't have gratitude, something is missing in his or her humanity. A person can almost be defined by his or her attitude toward gratitude.

-Elie Wiesel

It's that time of year when we say "thanks" for all that we've received throughout the year. What am I thankful for?

In no particular order:

My grandson
My children
My husband
My dog
My parrot
My health
My doctor
My country
Our American Troops
My God
My soon to be born granddaughter
My friends
My neighbors
My family (my mom, my sisters, my brother, aunts, uncles, inlaws, etc)
My home
My Baby Boomer Women friends
My Baby Boomer Diva friends
My Myspace friends
My writing friends
My Blog friends
My new computer
My husband's technical computer abilities
My neighborhood
The beautiful planet Earth
The inventor of the Alphasmart Dana
My publisher
My pets' vets
Digital Cameras
My gift for writing
The time I have to write
The time I have to spend with my family
My marriage
My new screened in back patio
Each beautiful new day
My ability to see, even though I have to wear glasses, I can still see the colors in the world
My ability to hear the birds in the trees and a child's laugh
My ability to touch, so I can still hold my husband's hand
My ability to walk, even though I was in a wheelchair four years ago.

Today is my birthday. And I am grateful for one more candle on my birthday cake.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Hell Has Frozen Over

Has Hell frozen over?

Really? It hasn't?

I could have sworn that I'd own a Mac computer only when Hell froze over. Or other words to that affect.

My computer died earlier this week. It was a Dell laptop. I'd probably killed it considering how much I made it do and the fact that I used it probably a good 8 to 12 hours a day or longer. It was old anyway. Probably four years old. I think that's long in computer years, isn't it? Isn't the life expectancy of a computer decrease significantly the moment you remove it from the store and then the day the warranty expires it goes on life support?

So, four years of good service. Not bad for the little laptop that I used as my desktop. Oh, let me tell you how it died. It wasn't anything dramatic or spectacular like sparks or flying pixels. I hadn't rebooted it in a while and I wanted to use my scanner so I thought I'd reboot and clear the memory cache before I started scanning my bills. I closed all the files and applications I had open. Then I clicked on the Shut Down button.

It shut down.

I waited. Giving it some time to rest. The poor thing needed it. Then pressed the Power button.

The computer whirred, the DVD drive spun, then stopped.

Nothing.

I waited. I waited some more. Then I pushed the Power button again. The computer whirred, the DVD drive spun, then stopped.

Nothing.

You'd think by now I'd be freaking out. Amazingly, I was calm. I don't know why. My freakin' computer wouldn't start and I didn't have a recent back up. (I know, I know. 40 lashes with a wet noodle. My most recent back up was July 2007) Although, to be fair, all of my important documents were stored on an external drive.

I didn't even call my husband and cry over the telephone.

I got up from my desk chair. Turned off my office light. Took my parrot and dog with me and we watched Grey's Anatomy episodes I'd recorded until my husband came home from work. When he came home, I let him get relaxed and situated before I said, "oh, by the way, I think my computer died today."

Me. Calm. I have a panic attack at the drop of a hat and here I am calmly telling my husband my computer died. His solution? It's time for a Mac.

Now, my husband and I have come from a long life of using PC's. DOS was the language of choice and we only reluctantly accepted Windows when it was introduced by Microsoft. Although, as a programmer, he was pretty hooked on UNIX too. But, for desktops and laptops, we went with PC's. For years. Decades. When Mac arrived on the world's doorstep, we scoffed and scorned its simpleton ways. Only people who didn't know how to use a computer would use a Mac, we taunted. With a Mac, now anyone could use a computer, we said disdainfully.

I admit it. We were PC snobs.

Then, suddenly, this year, my husband starts making noises about wanting a Mac. I look at him as if he just grew a horn from the center of his forehead. I have to admit, most of what he told me about them went in one ear and out the other. A temporary phase, I told myself. He'll come to his senses.

But, he didn't.

One day, he came home with a Mac laptop. I mean, he brought it right in our house! And, it stayed. He actually installed programs and copied over files from his old laptop. He was serious. The more he used it the more he loved it and sang its praises. For my husband to love a Mac meant one thing. Apple had improved their operating system and the way they ran programs. No longer just a box with a silhouette of an apple on it, but it had power and performance too. My husband, the die-hard PC programmer, was convinced. Then, he uttered those dreadful words, "We should get you a Mac, too."

I resisted. I balked. I argued. For every reason I gave for not wanting one, he would answer with two or three reasons why a Mac was better. There were Mac versions of the software I needed. If there weren't, Mac could run Windows in parallel. The darn guy started to convince me. Was I betraying my PC brethren?

So, here I am. Using a Mac. After my laptop died.

Hey, do you think my husband had anything to do with...? Nah.

I'm not hating my new Mac. The transition was painless, actually. So, I click a red button on the left instead of an X on the right to close a window. It still closes. My e-mail works. My Internet works. I can open my Word documents. I can even update my website like I did before, using the same software. So, I've mellowed in my old age. Aren't we supposed to try new things? Well, here I am, a baby boomer, trying new things.

Oh, right. The scanning. That's what started all this in the first place, wasn't it? Well, I must admit, I haven't tried it yet. Maybe next week.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Do Boomer Women Have it All Together?

I think the majority of us Baby Boomer Women maintain a positive outlook to help support a strong sense of self. To others, that may seem like we have it all together. Maybe we do. I think we've become stronger women as we've moved into our boomer years.

For me, keeping a positive attitude works as well. Being negative isn't an option for me. What I've found I've learned through the years is that I have to make time for myself. No one else is going to do it for me.

If I don't go for a walk, no one else is going to tap me on the shoulder and say, "Dear, you really must go take a walk." Well, my dog will remind me that we have to go for a walk, but he's not consciously looking out for me.

Women, in general, have a really hard time putting their needs first. We've had it ingrained in us for so long that we are caretakers and must take care of everyone else before we take care of ourselves.

I think the notion of "having it together" goes along with taking care of ourselves. If we do that, most other issues in our lives have a tendency to fall into place. We're better equipped mentally, physically, and emotionally to handle any bumps that come along our way.

I know that when I feel good about myself and my life, then I tend to think more positive, and when thinking positive, I don't let temporary setbacks get me down. I can overcome self doubt.

When I take care of myself, then I'm better able to take care of others. And that shows in how others perceive us. As boomers, I think we're more secure in how we project ourselves. We're not pretending to be someone we're not.

While growing up, we're our parent's child. A girlfriend, sister, or aunt. Then we're a wife and we try to be the woman our husband wants. We are an employee in a working environment. We become what our bosses ask for, to fulfill our job requirements. When we become mothers, we give ourselves over to being the perfect mom for our children. We try to be all these different personalities, all the while eventually learning who we really are.

We face the reality of who we are to ourselves, seeing our inner self, maybe for the first time. Learning how to take care of ourselves first, gives us the confidence to be the great women we are.

Baby Boomer Women.

Friday, October 19, 2007

I Love Dogs, and this Story Melts Your Heart


My friend's daughter has a chocolate lab that has a unique mission in life. Here is her dog's story.

Barker
The Dog With Two Last Names

Written by Star Johnson

The hot dog, clutched in the hand of a small boy, hovered mere inches from the nose of an 80-pound Chocolate English Lab. In the ordinary world, the hot dog would be history. But when the boy in question is a 2007 Wags-for-Wishes Make-A-Wish child and the Lab is Barker the Therapy Dog, the hot dog is completely safe.

Barker's mom, Sherry Buchbinder, is justifiably proud of her six-year-old Lab's amazing self-discipline. After all, that self-discipline earned Barker the therapy dog equivalent of a Doggie Doctorate in just one year. "Barker is my first Therapy Dog," says Sherry about their success, "I had no idea what to do. It's just him."

But how does such a young Lab (a breed infamous for lengthy puppyhoods) become so responsible so quickly?

Barker's life didn't start out smoothly. "Products" of an unsavory puppymill, Barker and his sister had little defense against the filthy surroundings and complete lack of care. By the time they were rescued by Animal Control Officers, the 10-week-old puppies were deathly ill. Rushed to a veterinary clinic where Sherry's sister-in-law Kim worked, the pups were grimly diagnosed with advanced Parvo. It was hoped the little female would pull through (she did). Barker, however, was not expected to survive.

Resisting the recommendation to "put him down," Kim crusaded to keep the little male alive. Her determination paid off. With a healthy four-month-old puppy in her arms, Kim called Sherry and said, "I've got your dog!" Sherry wasn't looking for a puppy -- she had two dogs of her own, plus two others from a sister staying with her. But Kim insisted the puppy was meant to be hers. And, indeed, it was love at first sight.

Which brings us to how Barker got his name. "I know something about barking!" says one of Barker's fans, a woman owned by a Sheltie (a breed infamous for their barking), "But I've never heard Barker bark." Come to find out Barker isn't named after a behavior, he's named after a person -- Sherry's hero, dear friend and adopted dad, Lynn Barker. "I had fallen in love with the puppy, but was hesitant about bringing him into a home with four other dogs" explains Sherry. "Lynn, who lives right next door, used to raise chocolate labs. He had recently lost his beloved friend Sammi a14-year-old cockapoo. I knew he'd love the puppy, so I asked if he wanted to keep him. It was okay because I knew I'd get to play with him every day." But Lynn did something unexpected, muses Sherry. "He said 'No, he's your dog'." Named in Lynn's honor, Barker Buchbinder is the dog with two last names!

For the first two years of life with Sherry, her husband Rhein, and the other four dogs, Barker was a typical Lab puppy – bouncing around and into everything. That began to change when Sherry underwent knee surgery. "Coming home from the hospital, I worried that Barker was going to bounce around like his usual self and come down on my knee," recalls Sherry. Instead, Barker sat quietly by Sherry's side. "I couldn't believe it," she says. "He just did it on his own."

When Barker turned three, two events occurred that showcased Barker's true potential. First, Sherry underwent two more knee surgeries. And second, Dozer, the family's alpha dog, died. "Barker just stepped up to the plate." Sherry explains. "I was in a wheelchair at first and, eventually, I needed a cane. It was difficult for me to get around. So Barker would get the newspaper and bring in the mail for me." Barker also brought Sherry her various medications. "I painted the bottle caps different colors, so Barker could get the one I needed." Barker became Sherry's indispensable Service Dog.

Barker was five years old when Sherry signed him up for his AKC Canine Good Citizen Certification test. He passed with flying colors. "When the testers, who were from the Hidden Valley Obedience Club, saw how well Barker and I worked together, they kept saying 'We can't believe he's not a therapy dog'," says Sherry. "I didn't know anything about Therapy Dogs, so I asked them a ton of questions. They were so enthusiastic that they inspired me to do what we do."For work, Barker is showered, his teeth are brushed ("That's when he knows we're going to work!"), and his paws are disinfected with gel both at home and again just prior to going into the job site. Barker doesn't mind the several-weekly baths – he thoroughly despises being dirty. "We call him our white collar dog" says dad, Rhein. Returning home from an outing in the great out-of-doors, Barker ran to the shower and jumped in. "It was like he was saying 'Get it off! Get the dirt off!'" Sherry laughs.

Therapy work can be exhausting, for both dog and handler. Sherry and Barker were asked to visit a young ICU patient who had bonded with Barker during earlier visits. "We didn't know it," says Sherry quietly, "but they were going to pull her plug while Barker and I were there. I was totally unprepared. It was really hard for both of us." Barker is a volunteer at Kaiser Permanente hospital in Riverside, California and visit's patients at other area hospital's. He also visits convalescent facilities, senior apartment complexes and works with the Make A Wish Foundation. "If Barker works two days in a row, he just crashes the third day. But if a few days go by and he hasn't gone to work, he'll nudge his vest, make little vocalizations, and stare at me with those big brown eyes."

Training to be a Therapy Dog encompasses lots of touching (paws, ears, tails, etc.), and obedience behaviors (long sit stays, comes, etc.). Dogs are observed in the car, in a variety of public venues (stores, malls, hospitals, etc.), and are subjected to many loud distractions (falling metal chairs, crash carts, confrontations, etc.). Trainers are looking for anything that might cause a dog to react inappropriately.

Like a waved-in-your-face hot dog, for example. Or the time a little girl used Barker's wagging tail as a jump rope. Or the time a small child gripped onto Barker's, ahem, nether-regions. "Training can't possibly prepare you for everything," Sherry admits. "But Barker just takes everything in stride."

Monday, October 01, 2007

Lucky Streak

I think I'm on a lucky streak. I've won a couple of contests and I'm hoping my luck holds out and I win some more. No, I'm not greedy. Just hopeful.

And excited. It's fun to win contests. The randomness of the selection intrigues me.

For instance, the Bird Talk Parrot Romance Novel Giveaway. We entered via e-mail. I don't know how they made their selection randomly, but in whatever way they processed the e-mails, my name came up.

Cool.

I was one of eight winners of the Bird Talk Parrot Romance Novel Giveaway on BirdChannel.com. I'll receive a romance novel with a parrot as one of the characters. I can't wait to see which novel I get. I'll let you know when I receive it.

The second contest wasn't so random. I had to submit a caption for a picture. But, the winning caption is selective. It's based on the site owner's sense of humor. What might be funny to me, might not have been funny to her.

But, it was.

I won first place in the YOU NAME IT! contest hosted by Queen Jaw Jaw. There was a choice of three pictures. The entry was a caption for one of the pictures. You can see the pictures and my caption at Queen Jaw Jaw's site.

Now, if only my luck holds out a little longer I'm entered in a few more contests. I'd love an all expense paid trip to Hawaii. That diamond ring looked pretty nice too.

And, that ten million dollars that Publishers Clearinghouse is giving away ain't too shabby either.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Forgiveness

Forgiveness means giving up all hope of a better past.

-Landrum Bolling

There's no use holding a grudge or vowing never to forgive someone. It's not going to change the past. And, it just puts too much stress on you. I've held a grudge for a long time. My past is still the same. The same hurts. The same sad emotions. All the same. It's time to let go. I forgive.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Natural Highs

Read them, think about them, then go enjoy them.

1. Falling in love.
2. Laughing so hard your face hurts.
3. A hot shower.
4. No lines at the supermarket.
5. A special glance.
6. Getting mail.
7. Taking a drive on a pretty road.
8. Hearing your favorite song on the radio.
9. Lying in bed listening to the rain outside.
10. Hot towels fresh out of the dryer.
11. Chocolate milkshake (vanilla or strawberry).
12. A bubble bath.
13. Giggling.
14. A good conversation.
15 The beach
16. Finding a 20 dollar bill in your coat from last winter.
17. Laughing at yourself.
18. Looking into their eyes and knowing they Love you
19 Midnight phone calls that last for hours.
20. Running through sprinklers.
21. Laughing for absolutely no reason at all.
22. Having someone tell you that you're beautiful.
23. Laughing at an inside joke with FRIENDS
25. Accidentally overhearing someone say something nice about you.
26. Waking up and realizing you still have a few hours left to sleep.
27. Your first kiss (either the very first or with a new partner).
28. Making new friends or spending time with old ones.
29. Playing with a new puppy.
30. Having someone play with your hair.
31. Sweet dreams.
32. Hot chocolate.
33. Road trips with friends.
34. Swinging on swings.
35. Making eye contact with a cute stranger.
36. Making chocolate chip cookies.
37. Having your friends send you homemade cookies.
38 Holding hands with someone you care about.
39 Running into an old friend and realizing that some things (good or bad) never change.
40. Watching the _expression on someone's face as they open a much desired present from you.
41. Watching the sunrise.
42. Getting out of bed every morning and being grateful for another beautiful day.
43. Knowing that somebody misses you.
44. Getting a hug from someone you care about deeply.
45. Knowing you've done the right thing, no matter what other people think.

Thanks to an anonymous author.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Writers Take Heart

A bad book is as much of a labor to write as a good one, it comes as sincerely from the author's soul.
Aldous Huxley


Writers take heart, your hard work does not go unrecognized. I hope that all of my books are considered "good" and worthy of the hard work that I put into them.

Isn't that what you want as well?

Would we still be applauded for our efforts if we worked hard and, God forbid, produced a "bad" book? Or, would someone look at a "bad" book and say, "if you only worked harder you could have made it a good book."

Does working harder make your book better?

Who's to measure how hard a writer works on a book? The editor? The reviewer? Maybe. I think it would be the reader. I know, some of you are saying, "no wait, the writer should be the one to measure his/her own work."

Maybe you're right. But, don't we all, deep down inside, want our work to be read by others. Don't we wait, impatiently to hear from those readers how the story made them feel? What were their reactions? Did they like it? Hate it? Don't we then leave it up to the reader to tell us if we've written a good book or not?

Who holds your measuring stick?




Sunday, August 05, 2007

Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA by Ellen Meister


I'm very happy to announce the release of Ellen Meister's book, Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA.

When a Hollywood location scout comes to Applewood, Long Island and announces that the local elementary school might make the perfect backdrop for an upcoming George Clooney movie, the PTA’s decorum crumbles like a cookie from last week's bake sale.

Enter Maddie, Ruth and Lisa, three women who become the glue that holds the project together...and wind up forming a bond of friendship stronger than anyone had imagined.

A good thing, too, because each of them is about to come apart. Maddie Schein, an ex-lawyer trying as hard to fit in as she is to save her marriage, gets knocked off balance by Jack Rose, an old college friend hell bent on seducing her. Ruth Moss—rich, sexy and outspoken—has more to give and less to enjoy than most people think. Indeed, since her husband's stroke left him embarrassingly uninhibited yet completely impotent, she's more of a caretaker than a wife. And modest Lisa Slotnick, a loving parent who wants nothing more than to fade into the scenery as she tends to her children, must deal with the humiliation of being thrust before the spotlight by her scandalous, alcoholic mother.

When these three get together, a powerful alliance is forged. But is it strong enough to overcome the obstacles to getting the movie made in their town? And will their friendship be enough to mend their hearts and homes? Join them as they reach for the stars...and try to pull off a Hollywood ending of their own.

About the author: A Long Island PTA mom herself, Ellen Meister is no stranger to the scandal and drama of the carpool set. Add a background in writing ad copy and short stories—as well a stint as editor of a literary magazine—and the result is a novelist as dedicated to nuances of language as she is to a storyline that delights on every page.

Meister lives on Long Island with her husband and three children. She writes, she swears, she sings, she dances … all from the front seat of her minivan. This is her first novel.

Learn more about Ellen at her website

Want to read an excerpt, click here

Buy it now at Amazon.com

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Did You Ever?

The great pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.

-Walter Bagehot

Doing what people say you can't. Hmmm. Did you ever do something just because someone told you you can't?

I have. For sure. As soon as I turned 18 and I knew I had a say about myself and I didn't just have to do what my father said, I definitely did the opposite.

For example. My dad said I couldn't join the Marines. I think his exact words were something along the line of "I won't let you." or "You're not allowed." So, what did I do?

I joined the Marines.

I think it was a good decision. I learned a lot about life and myself. I didn't stay in long. Only a few years. But those years as a Marine gave me confidence I didn't know I had and taught me that I could do things on my own.

What was the next thing my dad told me I couldn't do? Oh yeah. Get married. So, what did I do?

You guessed it!

I got married. To another Marine. Yep. Did I do it just because my dad said I couldn't?

Oh, that's a good question. Looking back, I think I did. My dad said the marriage wouldn't last six months. Well, I showed him.

The marriage didn't last, but it lasted a lot longer than six months. And I had three great kids from it so it couldn't have been all that bad in the beginning.

Did I learn my lesson about arbitrarily doing the thing someone told me I couldn't? Not really. I guess it's in my nature. I hear those words "you can't" and they grate on me. Why can't I? I'll show you!

I'm like that with my health too. In 2002 and 2003 I was using a cane and in a wheelchair. People telling me I can't do this or can't do that. That life as it exists at that point was as good as it was going to get. It wasn't good enough. I wanted more. I wanted to be out of that wheelchair, walking and not with the cane. So, I did it. I refused to give up, so my doctor refused to give up as well.

Where's my wheelchair? Gathering dust in the garage for the last three of four years.

Do I recommend this kind of attitude for others? Not for someone to do blindly. No, I've definitely learned my lesson on that regard. I think about my decisions now. Weigh the consequences. Then make up my mind. I do use some common sense. If my husband says I can't lift that 200 pound table top, I agree with him. I'm not an idiot. I know my back will never be the same again, and I'm going to be careful about how I take care of it. Lifting 200 pound stone tabletops is not on the "can do" list.

So, my advice to you is this: Be your own person. Be smart. Give yourself some credit for knowing what's good for you. Take other people's suggestions on advisement, weigh your options. Then make up your own mind. Live your life. Don't let others live it for you.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Blog Guest - Christine Norris, Children's Author


Christine's latest book, Return to Zandria, sequel to Talisman of Zandria, will be released July 28, 2007 so we have an exclusive here, folks.

Here's the blurb: Ivy Peterson was not ordinary. Ivy was More-Than-Ordinary because once she found herself in a very special place and had a very special adventure.

But Ivy was far too old for fairy tales...wasn’t she?

It has been three years since Ivy recovered the Talisman of Zandria, and her life is very different. She is no longer the shy young girl who chased a fairy through a magic gate, but a teenager, concerned with clothes, friends and school. She has nearly forgotten about the special world that exists on the other side of a thin magical veil.

But they have not forgotten her.

Now a crisis is brewing in Zandria, and only Ivy can help. They implore her to come to their aid, and Ivy’s memories of adventure pull her once again into the enchanted world of mermaids, dragons and wizards. Reunited with old friends, and bringing a new one along for the ride, Ivy must now lead them into the wilds of her own world, and not only keep them safe but stop an empire from falling into the clutches of evil.

Would you like to read an excerpt? Click here

I had an opportunity to ask Christine a couple of questions.

How has writing affected your life?
It really hasn't affected my life...it's sort of taken over! I spend most of my free time now writing, and other things have been pushed aside - home projects, my son's scrapbook, cleaning...LOL. I would much rather write than clean my house.
I've also developed a good freelance career as a re-writer. I take books that have been translated from other languages and clean them up so they read properly for an American audience. I get to work from home, so that's been a blessing.
What are your writing goals?
Oh, to be able to write books for a living and not have to do anything else. I love substitute teaching, and I love the freelancing work - I've been incredibly fortunate to have both in my life, and they allow me time to write my own books, but being able to concentrate solely on my books would be wonderful. I want to have a large readership, too, which is what I think most writers want. I would, well, I wouldn't kill, but you know what I mean, to have the amount of readers that J.K. Rowling has, or Jane Yolen, or Tamora Pierce. That's really the goal.


What's one thing you'd wish people would ask you and don't?
Oh, my, let me think about that one a minute. I guess I would have to say that no one asks me about my school visits. Everyone asks about what I like to read and where I get my ideas and all that, but no one really asks me about the author visits. I do have a program that is geared toward about grades 4-7, and I talk about being a writer - what kinds of things writers write, and where I do get inspiration from, and all the stuff everyone asks me about all the time. But it's really one of my favorite things to do, because I find that children are really interested in talking about writing, even if they don't like to actually do it.

That, and my favorite food. No one ever asks about that. Cheesecake. I love cheesecake.

Thank you, Vicki, for allowing me space on your blog and hosting me for this part of the tour. The rest of the stops on my month long Virtual Book Tour for RETURN TO ZANDRIA can be found on my website and at my blog.


And, thank you, Christine for visiting us today and sharing your new release with us. The paperback version is available from her publisher, LBF Books and from Amazon.com. Look for the electronic version from LBF Books and Fictionwise.

If you'd like to read more about Christine and her books here are some links

Christine's Website
Christine's Myspace Page
Christine's Live Journal
Christine's Blog
LBF Books


Friday, July 06, 2007

Pamela K. Kinney's Haunted Virginia


I have a guest on my blog today. Pamela K. Kinney will tell us about her book Haunted Richmond, Virginia.

The back of the book reads as follows: Richmond, Virginia is chock-full of ghosts and haunted places. This city names Edgar Allan Poe as its native son, and it is rich in ghostly lore, legends, and tales. Join this tour to:
• Learn why Virginia's governor shares his mansion with ghosts;
• Dine with ghosts at Ruth's Chris Steak House and Crab Louie's Seafood Tavern;
• Discover that the Byrd Theatre has more than movies to offer customers;
• Visit the prison in Powhatan (it might not be safe, even for those working there);
• Call on the Lady in Red who roams the corridors at Wrexham Hall.
These and other interesting and scary stories will transport you beyond, to a Richmond that most mortals never see!


Pamela is on a Virtual Book Tour and we were lucky to be one of her stops this month. So, sit back, relax and prepare for a peek into the supernatural.

Take it away, Pamela!

Hi, I’m Pamela K. Kinney. I’m here to talk about the supernatural, especially as I have a nonfiction book out on the subject, Haunted Richmond, Virginia.

The supernatural and paranormal pertains to entities, forces or powers regarded as beyond nature, in that they cannot be explained from the laws of the natural world. Religious miracles are typical of such “supernatural” manifestations, as are spells, curses, divination, the notion that there is an afterlife for the dead, vampires, werewolves, spirits, and innumerable others. Supernatural themes are often associated with magical and occult ideas.

Let’s talk about one of those themes: ghosts or spirits. A ghost is usually defined as the apparition of a deceased person, frequently similar in appearance to that person, and encountered in places he or she frequented, or in association with the person's former belongings. The word "ghost" may also refer to the spirit or soul of a deceased person, or to any spirit or demon. Ghosts are often associated with haunting, "the more or less regular occurrence of paranormal phenomena associated with a particular locality (especially a building) and usually attributed to the activities of a discarnate entity; the phenomena may include apparitions, poltergeist disturbances, cold drafts, sounds of steps and voices, and various odors."

Ghosts are controversial phenomena. According to a poll conducted in 2005 by the Gallup Organization, about 32% of Americans believe in the existence of ghosts. The term ghost has been replaced by apparition in parapsychology, because the word ghost is deemed insufficiently precise. Another word used a lot these days with apparitions is paranormal, which means: beyond the range of normal experience or scientific explanation.

In historical accounts, ghosts were thought to be deceased persons looking for vengeance, or imprisoned on earth for bad things they did during life. Most cultures have ghost stories in their mythologies. Many stories from the Middle Ages and the Romantic Era rely on the macabre and the fantastic—ghosts are a major theme in literature from those periods. But even though real ghost phenomena were still discussed by mid-twentieth century doubters would try to bring up reasons why this happened, by natural means.

Today, interest in the paranormal and supernatural is back in “vogue”. People want to know that there is more to death than just a big, black nothingness. Television shows like X-Files and Ghost Hunters have spiked this interest, along with many, many paranormal films on the movie screen. And so do books like my Haunted Richmond, Virginia. Especially those that are regional—like cities or states. Even if there are some stories that can be explained away, like the Richmond Vampire, still there are many more that can not. Like the Lady in Red at Wrexham Hall. Or the last chapter of my book, that happened to my husband and me—with proof being a cell phone number of mine on the caller ID the next morning.

Do I believe in ghosts? I’m not ashamed to say, yes, I do. My question is: do you believe in spirits? Have you any stories of your own to tell, of phenomena that happened to you? If you do, I hope you leave comments here about it—share those stories. And please do check out my book. You can get it directly from Schiffer Books at http://www.schifferbooks.com/newschiffer/book_template.php?isbn=9780764327124 or up at Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Haunted-Richmond-Virginia-Pamela-Kinney/dp/0764327127/ref=sr_1_1/103-0687312-5804636?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1181040113&sr=1-1 . Soon it’ll be available through Barnes and Noble, Borders, and independent bookstores too. In it are stories of ghostly phenomena that happened at the Governor of Virginia’s Mansion, the Capitol, historical homes and museums in Richmond and surrounding counties, restaurants, prisons, Civil War batteries, and even Richmond’s beautiful and unusual cemetery, Hollywood Cemetery. Edgar Allan Poe is Richmond’s native son literally, and with a town rich in its own lore, one can see where Poe’s beginnings could have given fruit to his storytelling.

Pamela K. Kinney has always loved making up stories since she was a child. At age 17, she submitted three poems to Hyacinths and Biscuits Magazine. She was surprised as all three were accepted and published, but she got paid for them too. Since then, over the years, she had poetry, an article in True Story Magazine and stories published in both print and electronic form. Besides writing as Pamela K. Kinney (horror, fantasy and sci-fi), she has published erotic and non-erotic paranormal/fantasy/sci-fi romances as Sapphire Phelan.

Works include Beyond the Four Walls, Crimson Promise, Wedded Magic, Iridescent Invasion, "Azathoth is Here" in Cthulhu Express Anthology, "Werewolf for Hire" online at ScienceFictionFantasyHorror.com, "Cold Blood, Warm Flesh" in Dark Gothic: Resurrected, "Dangerous City" in Werewolf Magazine, and "Soul Seduction" in Forbidden Love: Bad Boys, “Being a Predator is a Bitch” in Forbidden Love: Wicked Women, both published by Under the Moon, His Girl and The Curse published by Twilight Fantasies Publications, an super hero romance Amazon Short called To Save the Day, and her first nonfiction book on the paranormal occurrences of Richmond, Virginia, Haunted Richmond, Virginia, from Schiffer Books.

She is happily married and is owned by a cat.

She admits she can always be found at her desk and on her computer, writing. And yes, the house and the husband sometimes suffers for it!

Find out more about her at her website: http://FantasticDreams.50megs.com . Also check out her MySpaces at http://www.myspace.com/PamelaKKinney

http://www.myspace.com/SapphirePhelan and her blogs: http://pamelaKKinney.blogspot.com and http://SapphirePhelansPassionCorner.blogspot.com

Thank you, Pamela. You've definitely got me spooked. If anyone has any questions or comments, leave them here and Pamela will get back to you as soon as she can.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Month is Winding Down

The month is nearly over and that means my Virtual Book Tour is winding down. Only a few more days left to follow me around the Internet checking out great interviews.

Today I'm at The Writer's Mind.

Did you miss me the last couple of days? Hubby and I took a long weekend and drove down to the Florida Keys. We took the dog and bird with us. It was a great weekend for hubby. He got to dive every day and took some amazing pictures. As for me, it was rewarding in another way. I wrote a speculative fiction short story. All from a prompt from one of my writing groups.

We had to come up with a way to make the start of a story with waking up be interesting. I think I've accomplished that. I need to polish it and put it through a few edits, but I'll let you know when and where it appears.

The Internet is a great thing. It's given us so many more opportunities than we could ever imagine. One of them is the friendships we make. Hubby has made friends with a lot of people on the saltwater aquarium forum he manages and owns. One of the friends loves the Keys too. So, he planned a trip down from Indiana and we planned our trip to coincide.

Sometimes, meeting people in person that you know from the Internet can be a good thing. But, always be cautious. Especially those who have developed a romantic interest in an online friend. Always meet in a public place and maintain a sense of reality.

There, my wisdom for the day.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Two Blogs for the Price of One

Today I'm at Pump Up Your Online Book Promotion chatting with Dorothy Thompson. She's the one who started all this Virtual Book Tour stuff and she's the lady to go to if you're interested in a book tour for yourself.

Tomorrow I'm at the fabulous Romantic Fanatic. Guess what she made me reveal about my husband!??! I can't tell you here, you have to go to her site and see for yourself.

Shh, I haven't even told my hubby yet what's on the blog. I wonder if he'll be embarrassed?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

June 19th, Do you know where your author is?

Hi, and welcome to the continuation of my Virtual Blog Tour.

Today I'm at The Adventures of a Wife, Mother, and Writer. Cheryl asked some really insightful questions. Check them out and see what my answers were.

Tomorrow I'll be at Marilyn Meredith's blog.

If you've been following my schedule, there'll be an added interview for the 22nd. I won't tell you what it is yet. You'll have to wait until we get closer to the date. But, it's a good one!

See you around the blogs!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Guess Where I am Today?

Hi, it's another day on the Virtual Book Tour. I'm at Boomer Chick

We're about mid way through the tour and all is going well. The schedule looks pretty full and I'm still raring to go.

Come follow me around the Internet as I guest from one blog to another.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Tag, I'm It!

Peggy Tibbetts tagged me. So now I’m coming for you.

Here’s the scoop: I write 8 random facts/habits about myself, and then tag 8 people. If I tag you, you have to play or I will pester you for the rest of your life.

1 – I'm addicted to Chocolate. Any kind. Any percent cocoa. The more the better.

2 – I have a swim suit I bought two years ago and still haven't worn it. Why? Because I'm a sissy about getting in the water. I can swim. I just don't want to. But, I'll have to when we go to Hawaii next year.

3 – I joined the U.S. Marine Corps right after high school. Like two weeks after I graduated.

4 – I'm a compulsive obsessive -ist. I can obsess on anything, just give me a topic. If you don't, I'll just make something up and obsess about that.

5 – I was and still am a Friends fanatic. I have all the episodes on DVD. I even watch them.

6 – When I was a kid I dreamed of meeting Donny Osmond. I even painted my bedroom purple in honor of his favorite color.

7 – I'm scared to death of snakes. Heart attack inducing, out of my wits, run like the wind, scared of snakes.

8 – I collect teddy bears. I have hundreds of them. So many that some are packed away because I just don't have the space for them. I plan on donating them to a Teddy Bear Museum (yes, there is such a thing) when I die.

Ok, now it’s my turn. I tag Jamieson, Sandy, Nikki, Linda, Cheryl, Kim, Kathy, and Michael.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Another Day, Another Tour Stop, Another Day Without Chocolate

If you're keeping up, today I'm at The Book Pedler. There you'll find my answers to an interesting set of questions, some you may have never heard before today.

If anyone is counting, this is Day 9 of no sweets.

No chocolate.

At all.

I had to. I was getting out of control. It reminded me of the time I had to quit coffee cold turkey. I found myself at 4:30 in the afternoon making a pot of coffee for myself and realized I needed to get off the stuff fast. My hands were even shaking while I poured the water for goodness sake! Way too much caffeine.

So, I'm taking a break from chocolate and decided to lump in all sweets while I was at it. The sweetest I've gone is Splenda sprinkled on my strawberries for breakfast.

I'm past the cravings. They were horrible to get through. I used Ice Breakers Sours to get me through the tough times. They're sugar-free and if you read the nutritional facts on the back, they have less than 5 calories per piece.

Uh, 5 calories?

Oh great. Now I read the back of the dispenser. At 5 calories a piece, I could be hitting some serious calorie consuming in a day.

I'll also tell you right now, don't eat too many of them in a row, they're made with Sorbitol.

Yikes.

So, I have to remember, sugar-free doesn't mean calorie-free.

Got it.

Okay, time to get back to work.

See you all tomorrow when I visit Women on Writing.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Where am I today?

Pauline Jones at All The World's a Page is hosting me today.

This Virtual Book Tour stuff is kinda fun.

Hectic, but fun. There's the various interviews and information to give. Different blogs and websites to keep track of and the right dates of each tour stop. But, it's all about expanding my Internet network.

Being more visible. That's what it's all about.

And, look at all the new friends I'm making!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Guest - Kim Robinson



Today, I have a guest on my blog. Kim Robinson, the author of The Roux in the Gumbo. She's on a Virtual Book Tour and we were lucky enough to get her to stop here. Here is the rest of Kim's Virtual Book Tour schedule.

Kim Robinson was born in raised in Compton, California. She has survived everything that life threw at her and now lives in Allen,Texas, with her husband and three kids. When she's not sewing, writing, cooking and watching movies, Kim is a motivational speaker, sometimes bringing the crowd to tears with her moving personal accounts of the background of her life.

The Roux in the Gumbo is an emotional and inspirational look into the lives of a family that opens their door and hearts on every page. Spanning the years between 1800 to 1997, The Roux in the Gumbo’s story is told through one of the main characters before her passing; the remainder is accompanied by the memories of family members and friends. Based in Louisiana, with all its flair and Southern culture, it describes the experiences throughout history, contributing to the shaping of generations. In spite of the obstacles and struggles that life brought their way, these characters persevered with unity, love and laughter, due to a strong familial support system that carries universal appeal.

For more information on Kim, please visit www.kim-robinson.com. You can pick up your copy of The Roux in the Gumbo at Amazon. I had an opportunity to ask Kim some questions.

VICKI: How has writing affected your life? 

KIM: Ha Ha good question. Compared to my old life I think writing has been very therapeutic for me. In writing The Roux in the Gumbo I found out so many things that happened in my life had happened to my ancestors. It all stops with me, now that I have the information that I need to inform my children of what not to do, the abuse stops with me. I guess that leaves the question of what abuse? I was raped by a preacher at the age of five and for thirty years I would not go to church or say the word God. He stayed out of my house and I stayed out of his. With no religion I went the other way, I was a madam, callgirl, drug dealer and drug addict for over a decade, until I met a man that made me feel like I was better than that. My grandmother had a vision and told me I should write, she said, "One day this is going to feed your family." I didn't pay enough attention to my grandmother's vision. But now I remember all of them in the book about her life, and I have my own visions now.


VICKI: What are your writing goals?



KIM: To write things to educate people on history, abuse, drugs, religion, and spirituality through my own negative experiences. In my books I tell it like it T.I. is and don't hold any punches no matter how painful the experiences are.


VICKI: What's the one question (and answer) you wish people would ask and don't?

KIM: One question that a lot of people ask me is, "How can you tell people that you were a prostitute." God doesn't have any secrets and he wants me to do things to help and inspire others. I feel obligated to share my past because that is just what it is, "My past." The questions that people don't ask is "How can I help people who are still living in pain, and abusing themselves."

I think that if most people had to go to the street to survive they wouldn't, they would starve to death, or get killed. If you see a homeless person, a prostitute, a drug addict ask them what you can do to help them. The twenty dollars you give to that hooker may be the same twenty dollars that stops her from getting her throat cut or going home to an abusive pimp, or put the food in her babies mouth that she is trying to get.

VICKI: Thank you, Kim, for being so forward and honest in your answers to my questions. I wish you much success with your Virtual Book Tour and good luck with your writing.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Virtual Book Tour - Day 1

Well, we're off and running with my first ever Virtual Book Tour. We're featuring Trust in the Wind, as it's my latest book.

Over at Plug Your Book, you can find an excerpt of Trust in the Wind and ordering information.

You can even see the book trailer.

I guess the way it's supposed to work is each blog host has either an interview of me, a feature article, or they'll post an excerpt from the book. Then, I visit each blog on the day of it's tour stop and answer any questions that may come through on the comments that day.

Easy enough, right?

Good. Should be a piece of cake then.

Oh, wait. I've sworn off sweets. Hmm. Piece of pie? Nope, that won't work either. Well, you're just going to have to trust me. It'll be easy. LOL

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Finally, It's Done!!


Hurrah! Our patio is finished.

Well, it's screened. The screeners arrived today and had the screens up in a few hours. See?

Oh, and you can see how hubby painted the stucco. We used the same color paint that's on the house. Looks like it was all meant to be there.

Now, we're still in the "remodeling" mood, so we're going to put in some French doors where the sliding glass door is that goes out into the patio. And, we're going to replace our double front doors with new doors. Too cool! Oh, and how could I forget? We're getting new patio furniture. Real comfy ones so I can go out there with my computer and work.

Of course, the whole thing had to be approved by our dog, Jack. He went out on the patio, put his paws on the wall, looked out through the screen and gave it two paws up.

Don't know what we're going to do after that. Maybe I can talk hubby into new kitchen cabinets and countertops?

Virtual Book Tour Starts June 1st

Exciting news. I'm taking a Virtual Book Tour in June, 2007. This is brand new stuff and I'm going to be blogging about my experience. Come visit me on any or all of my tour stops.

My current schedule is as follows:

June 1 - Plug Your Book!
June 4 - The Wolf Never Sleeps
June 5 - Pauline Jones' All the World's a Page
June 6 - The Dana Files
June 7 - The Book Pedler
June 8 - Women on Writing
June 11 - Boomer Chick
June 12 - The Writer's Life
June 14 - Kim Robinson's The Roux in the Gumbo
June 16 - Author Alley
June 19 - Cheryl Malandrinos' The Adventures of a Wife, Mother, and Aspiring Author
June 20 - Marilyn Meredith
June 21 - Pump Up Your Online Book Promotion
June 25 - Peggy Tibbetts’ From the Styx
June 26 - Christine Norris' The Writer’s Mind
June 27 - Mary Emma
June 29 - Be My Guest!
If you are interested in having your own Virtual Book Tour, you can go to Virtual Book Tours.

Friday, May 25, 2007

It's all coming together


I gotta hand it to my husband. He's surpassed every milestone he set for himself. Well, okay... no really, he did. I'm quite proud of him. He finished the stucco. You can see the design of the stucco in the picture. We even stamped some sea shells into the stucco to give it more of a beach feel.

At this moment, he's outside priming the wall preparing it for painting. He even got one of those spray paint thingies that you connect to the can o'paint and it sprays evenly in a horizontal direction.

Ah, the reason I know it sprays horizontally, is because hubby tried to spray the top of the wall by holding the spray thingie vertically. Wouldn't work.

So, it was my job to find a paint brush (any brush will do, just find one) so that hubby could paint the top of the wall.

Of course, I wanted the wall to match the color on the house. Funny, no argument from hubby. We agreed on something. Yay! Now, the only container left with paint from when the house was painted more than ten years ago was in a large bucket with its label nearly worn off. Good thing Home Depot can read their own labels. They had the right color and mixed up what we needed. Couldn't get easier than that.

We're so close to finishing I can't wait. I've already called the screening company and they're putting us on their schedule for next week. Hopefully. If not, the week after that. Then when the screening is done, we get new patio furniture and new French doors to replace the sliding glass doors. It's going to be so awesome.

I can't wait to take my laptop out there and work. Bug free. Leaf free. In cool comfort with my bird and my dog playing while I work.

Ah, I'm almost there...

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Claiming my Blog

I've signed up with a new program called Technorati. I think what they do is help optimize your blog posts on the Internet for easier searching. Anyway something like that.

Technorati Profile

That's a link to my profile.

Friday, May 11, 2007

We finally have Pictures!


For those of you who have been following along with our home remodeling project. Here's a picture of its current status.

The wall is capped and dear hubby will start the stucco this weekend.

I asked him, "Do you know how to stucco?"

"No. But, I'm reading a book about it."

Do you see where we're going from here? But, I have to admit, he didn't do badly with the wall at all. It's straight (mostly), level (sort of), and meets his specifications. There's even the required 40 inch gaps for the screen doors.

Speaking of screens, we finally agreed on who will do the work. Now we have to determine the "when". You see, the screeners can't start until the wall is finished. That means stucco. And paint. Now, who is going to paint?

Don't look at me!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Change

For more than five years I’ve had the greatest hair stylist in the world. She got me. She got my hair. She’d been through the long spiral perms and suffered with me during my Grave’s Disease and the temporary loss of my hair. Once I was in remission, we worked together to make my hair healthy again.

I was there during her pregnancy and helped celebrate the birth of her first baby. She was there when I got my puppy. Our “babies” grew up together. We shared pictures. We shared stories. We shared life. Every five weeks.

She moved last week.

I’m devastated. I have four weeks to find a new hair stylist. I really don’t like looking for new people to provide me a service. I get attached. I like consistency. I don’t do well with change. Not in service providers anyway. Okay, I don’t do well with change in general.

I’ve been with the same doctor for over ten years. I followed him when he moved his office twice. He has my entire medical history. When I thought I was having a heart attack, I went straight to my doctor instead of the emergency room. That’s how much I don’t like having to deal with someone new. I couldn’t possibly go through my entire medical history again with a new doctor. I have too many diseases, disorders, and dysfunctions to count.

Did I tell you I don’t like change?

We bought our new Town & Country minivan from a Chrysler dealership on Kennedy Boulevard. I had a routine set up for maintenance. I planned the route in my mind and managed to work through my anxiety by getting familiar with the service department. They knew me. They knew my car. It worked.

They closed.

Panic attack. We received a letter from the old dealership telling us that we’d now be serviced by the new dealership on Florida Avenue. A whole new route to learn. A new service provider. They didn’t know me. They didn’t know my car. I’ve been there twice now. I’m learning the route. It’s almost familiar. The anxiety is still there. I’m working through it.

I’ve had the same vet all my dog’s life. Almost four years. They know Jack. They know how he’s wary of strangers and how he needs to be muzzled if they’re going to give him a shot. They know how protective he is of me and how they have to take him to the back area if they want to examine him. They even know all about my quirky boarding instructions and have them on file.

Then we got a parrot. Well, actually the parrot got us. But, that’s a different story. So I had to find an avian vet. Jack’s vet didn’t take care of birds (at the time), so I took Bailey to an avian vet close to home. I really liked Bailey’s vet and we’ve boarded him there a few times and he’s enjoyed it. So, my husband says, if you like Bailey’s vet, why don’t you take Jack there too. (They also care for dogs and cats.) But, I couldn’t. It would be like starting over for Jack and I wouldn’t want to put him through the stress of having to get used to new people.

Plus, my anxiety level skyrocketed when I considered my husband’s proposal. Now, Jack’s vet has expanded to birds. My husband suggests we move Bailey to Jack’s vet.

Right.

Did I mention I don’t like change?

Monday, April 16, 2007

Home Remodel Part Two

I helped my husband build a two foot concrete wall around our patio this weekend, leaving two 40 inch spaces for new screen doors. We're getting our patio screened in. But, dear hubby wants to do the concrete work himself. Like I mentioned in my previous post, he doesn't know what he's doing.

But he said he'll learn as he goes.

Uh huh. Well, he did. Sort of.

I can honestly say, it's the best wall I've ever seen built. Then again, I've never seen a wall built before.

To be truthful, it turned out a whole heck of a lot better than my wild imagination had doomed. The wall is straight. Pretty much. It's level. I'm taking hubby's word for that. And, it's the same height all the way around. That was the last thing I asked him to check before he called it done.

I did help too. Although, he wouldn't let me carry concrete blocks. He wouldn't let me slop mortar. But, I was in charge of the cement mixer we rented from Home Depot.

Did you know Home Depot rents portable cement mixers? I didn't.

I do now.

I never mixed a bag of mortar in my life, but I sure learned out this weekend. Just add the water a little at a time. Best tip I can give you.

Hubby's woes started early. He almost called it quits after laying the first few blocks. Nothing cooperated. The straight line. The block. The mortar. The lifting. Those darn blocks weigh something like 40 pounds each. I guess that's why hubby didn't want me lifting them. And the fact that if I dropped one it would crack our pool deck.

Oh, did I mention that this wall borders our pool's cool deck? And, guess who was in charge of making sure all the mortar didn't stick to the cool deck? Me, of course. Hubby didn't make it easy either. He slopped a lot of mortar around, not caring much where it went. Cool deck. Patio tile. Wherever.

I put myself in charge of cleaning tools after we were through for the day. Trowel. Shovel. Levels. Little pointy thing. The little pointy thing helped make sure the distance between the blocks remained constant. Don't know what it's called. Just called it the little pointy thing. And, it didn't work very well.

Or, I should say, hubby didn't use it very often. He said he could "eyeball" it and knew how far to put the blocks.

Uh huh.

That's why at the end we had to put in nearly an inch or so of mortar between blocks because we ended up with more space than blocks. But, who's pointing fingers? Not me. But, hey, we're done. The wall is up. No more concrete.

Ri-ight.

Our patio roof used to be held up by four by four cedar posts. Well, hubby cut those down and put up these post shorer things that hold the roof up. Yep. I learned what they were because I had to order them. Didn't have a clue what I was talking about, but I managed to order 4 of them.

Silly me, I thought we were going to replace those cedar posts with new four by four posts. Boy was I wrong. Hubby enlightened me today. "We're going to have to rent the cement mixer again," he tells me.

Guess why?

The posts are going to be replaced with concrete blocks. All the way up to the roof. Hmmm. The roof is higher than my hubby is tall. I can see ladders in the future, or would he stand on the new wall he created? Hmmm. Only time will tell.

But, I must admit. If this new screened in patio turns out like I'm imagining now, it could really be something. I'm getting excited about it.

Uh, maybe I should go back to thinking doom and gloom so I'm not disappointed?

The remodeling continues.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

A Lesson in Home Improvement

My husband and I are making changes to our house. We bought it in an "At is" state, and have slowly made changes over the years. This year, we're screening in the back patio. Our goal is to have it done before Hurrican Season.

I wanted to hire a contractor and pay to have them do all the work. My husband said, "No, don't do that. I can do it for a lot less."

Now, has my husband ever screened in a patio before?

No.

But, he said he'll learn as he goes.

Uh, huh.

His plan is to build a block wall about 2 - 3 feet high all around the patio with concrete.

Has he ever done masonry work before?

Nope.

But, he said he'll learn as he goes.

Uh, huh.

Do you think we'll be done by Hurricane Season?

Well, we have two months. That should give hubby plenty of time to get the block wall finished so I can bring in professional screeners to finish it up.

You didn't think I was going to let him do everything by himself, did you? We compromised. And, he agreed, when it comes to screens, let the pros handle it.

After the screening is finished it get to replace my sliding glass doors with French double doors. One double pane of glass, with the blinds in between the glass. I can't wait.

Who's going to put in the double doors? We haven't agreed on that yet.

But, we will. I'll keep you informed.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Movie, 300

I saw 300 last night. What an absolutely awesome movie. Overall, it was incredible. The movie is based on Frank Miller's graphic novel about the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C.

Historical accuracies are scattered throughout the movie. From the moment we see them examining the child king and determining if he meets their standards or he would be thrown over a cliff onto a mound of lost souls to the training and fighting style of the Spartan soldier.

Zack Snyder directed the movie and he must have been divinely inspired. The movie is that magnificent. The use of narration to tell the story, along with the actual scenes made the realism more clear. You truly believe this was how the battle developed and how King Leonidas ruled.

Speaking of King Leonidas, the casting for this character was perfect. Gerald Butler was King Leonidas. Right down to the most minute detail. From the braid that hung from the back of his head, to his stoic glare, to his commanding presence among his men. I do not believe any other man could have done a better job.

All of the casting seemed to fit the characters very well. Each actor melded with their character and made us believe they were Spartans, Persians, and man made gods.

While the movie does portray a brutal battle, I don't believe there was any gratuitous violence. The images of men fighting with all their heart, body, and soul to protect what they truly believe in - Sparta - transcends the actual acts of intense violence. The images may linger, but so will the depth of passion they invoked.

The Spartans weren't without their sense of humor. The occasional remark made by King Leonidas only made him more human. I found his method of negotiation amusing and just.

I love a good movie soundtrack, and 300 didn't disappoint. The scenes and music together pulled you into the moment, suspending your belief, engulfing your senses, making you forget for a while that you're sitting in a movie theater with dozens of other people.

Give yourself a treat. Go see 300. Hurry before it finishes its run in the theater. It's a must for the big screen. Lose yourself in Greek history.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

March Madness


It's the college basketball finals and someone's killing the girls in the Bellair Landing apartment complex and leaving unusual calling cards -- a mascot doll from the losing team.

Laurel goes undercover to break the case but she finds more suspects than she can count and not enough clues. With an overprotective captain breathing down her neck and looking for any excuse to pull her from the case, Laurel doesn't have time for a relationship. Just her luck, she ends up with not one, not two, but several suitors. Which one is the killer?

Read an excerpt of my novella, March Madness.

Buy March Madness now. Click Here.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Life's Embarrassing Moment

I was chatting with some women on another forum, and the subject of "most embarrassing incident in High School" was suggested. I didn't have to search my mind or try to remember a long forgotten memory. I knew immediately what my most embarrassing moment was. It haunts me still today.

My most embarassing incident in High School happened when I was sixteen years old. I "blossomed" late in my teens. I didn't start my period until I was sixteen. Way later than most girls and after two of my younger sisters did. I was always embarrassed that I started late and never let on to anyone that I knew less about periods than anyone else. I pretended to others that I knew what they were talking about. I had a terrible fear that people would think less of me if they found out I didn't know something.

One afternoon, right before our Debate Team had to leave for the weekend to compete, I felt a sudden urge to go to the bathroom. It was winter and I was wearing a wool skirt. Imagine my surprise and horror to discover I had started my period. At school! Totally unprepared. I had no sanitary supplies with me at all. I sat on the toilet frozen, afraid to get up. Not knowing how to stop the bleeding and what to use. I contemplated my options. There weren't many. I could go out and find someone who could help me with my "problem" or I could stay in the bathroom and hope everyone forgets I exist. I opted for the latter.

After what seemed like an eternity, one of the girls on my Debate Team came into the bathroom looking for me. She asked me if anything was wrong and I mumbled something about starting my period. She assumed that I meant it was one of those monthly occurences, not a monumental moment in my life. And, I wasn't going to correct her. She asked me if I had any tampons, and I said "no", only half knowing what a tampon was. She offered me one under the bathroom door with the question, "you do know how to use this, don't you?" with the emphasis on "you do". Well, what do I say to that? Of course, I knew how to use it. If my life depended on it, I'd say I knew how to use it.

I didn't. But, I wasn't going to ask, so I tried the best I could to use it in the way I thought it would work, then left the bathroom and joined my team as we boarded a large van. I took a seat by the window and kept to myself marveling at the fact that I had just started my period and I was finally a "woman". A woman with no one to share the news. The experience was all mine and mine alone to endure. No one would find out, ever.

During the long ride to the school we were competing, I felt a pain and a pressure in my vaginal area, and could never get comfortable on the cloth covered seat. All through the trip I scooted one way and then another on my portion of the seat. Lifting one butt cheek and then the other trying lessen the discomfort. I discovered why I was having so many problems when we stopped and debarked. I looked down at the seat and was horrified to discover a large blood stain. The tampon didn't work. I'd bled through my underwear, my skirt, and onto the seat. I hurried off the van, hoping no one else would see what I had done. I distanced myself as far from my group as I could, always keeping my front facing the group.

As discreetly as I could, I attempted to pull the back of my skirt toward the front so I could see how big the stain was on my skirt. It was huge. My skirt was plaid, blues and grays, so the dark red showed through well. As it dried, it turned a rusty brown. The cloth stiffened. I searched my mind for a solution. Could I get my suitcase and hurry to the bathroom and change? Would my coach hold a debate for me? I didn't dare ask. I wasn't in any hurry to explain why I needed the time to anyone.

Besides, there was no time to go to the bathroom. Our coach rushed us through signing in and sent our teams to various rooms for competitions that were to start in a few minutes. I was rushed here and there, until I finally entered a room where my teammate and I were to compete. The room was quiet. The judge sat in the first row. The other team already seated. A few people sat in the audience. I froze at the door.

How was I to concentrate? What was the resolution again? Was I for it or against it? Could everybody see the horrible stain on the back of my skirt? How was I supposed to stand up in front of everyone and argue my points? A hundred questions rushed through my mind as I followed my teammate to our seats. The judge set the timer, the debate begun.

I competed as second negative. Somehow, I managed to walk sideways to the podium, make my points, and walk quickly back to my seat all without incident. Did anyone see the stain? God, I hope not. I drifted in a blur between statements and rebuttals. On automatic pilot I answered. The only coherent thought in my brain was the blood on my skirt and how much more was I bleeding?

Somehow, at the end of the competition, our team had won. Do I remember any of it, not a second. Only the moments when I thought all eyes were on my stain. No one mentioned it.

After the competition, we loaded back into the van and our coach dropped the girls off to one house and the boys to another. They were people's homes that volunteered to house the out of town debate teams. Finally, I was able to go to the bathroom. To my inexperienced mind, I discovered that the tampon had only entered at the tip and didn't stop the flow of menstrual fluid at all. No wonder it hurt and I was in pain. I panicked again. I was in a strange house with strange people and once again needed help.

This time, I calmed myself and searched the bathroom. Hoping to find something other than tampons, as I didn't want to experience those twice, I opened doors and drawers. I found sanitary pads and gratefully and without asking, used one and took several for later. I hid my skirt from the other girls, not knowing if anyone had discovered what had happened to me. I didn't see any whispering or pointing, so I thought I'd gone unnoticed. I knew that if someone had discovered what happened, teenage girls wouldn't be able to keep it quiet.

However, the next morning, the adults were inquisitive. We were all asked if everyone was "okay" and whether we needed "anything" or wanted to "talk" to someone. Was I going to raise my hand? Are you kidding? The adults had found the stain on the bus seat, but no one owned up to it, least of all me.

We had one more round of competition that day, then we went home. Our team made it to the state finals. We'd done well. Proud of our accomplishments, I let that feeling flow over me as we traveled the roads back home. Thanks to the sanitary pads, the ride back was much more comfortable.

When I got home, I hurried to the bathroom as quickly as I could. Tearing open the cupboard door under the bathroom sink, I fumbled through Ajax, rubber gloves, toilet paper, and soap until I found what I was looking for. The tampon box. I read the instructions carefully and discovered I'd definitely improperly inserted the tampon.

My announcement that I had started my period to my stepmother was met with a resounding, "it's about time." A box of sanitary napkins were tossed at me with an off-hand comment along the lines of "use these." My initiation into womanhood.

My most embarrassing moment. I've never told anyone
about what happened on that debate trip.

Until now.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day!



It's always nice to receive flowers and chocolates, especially on Valentine's Day. But, I hope that you don't forget the true meaning of showing the one you love how much you care about them. Don't wait for that one day of the year, use every day as a way to demonstrate how much your love grows for that special someone.

Don't get me wrong, I love roses and chocolate. And, knowing that my husband took the time to order flowers for me makes me feel very special. But, I didn't have to wait until Valentine's Day to know how much he loves me. He shows me every day. It's in his touch, his voice, and his eyes. It's in all the things he says and the things he does. Even in the things he doesn't say. When he hands over the remote control to the TV and lets me run the nightly programming, I know that he loves me.

And, I don't forget to show him, either. I pour my love into every meal I make. Even the ones I order for delivery. We take care of each other. We're there for each other. The night isn't over until we've kissed goodnight. The day starts when I feel my husband's kiss when he leaves for work in the morning.

Roses and chocolate make a great gift for Valentine's Day, but I'll take the man who proposed to me for every day use.

What about you? What would you rather have?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Not Without Anna Book Trailer

I'm crashing into the 21st century by trying new technology this year. One of the things I've decided to try is the new book trailers that have been developed. They're like movie trailers, just for books.

My first book, Not Without Anna, now has a book trailer. You can view it here.




If you like it, let me know what you think by leaving a comment. Thanks!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year, 2007 - Resolutions, Really?

Here we are, standing at the threshold of a brand new year. Exciting goals and resolutions stirring within us, eager to get started. Before you buy that case of Slimfast or fork over a thousand dollars for the new piece of gym equipment, stop for a moment and consider your intentions.

Establishing a resolution means you resolve to do something. You establish a goal. You intend to accomplish this goal, don't you? Then let's set our expectations to a more realistic level. We'll add a little logic.

For example, your resolution is to lose weight. Do you know how much weight? Do you even know how much you weigh now? Do you know how much someone your age and size should weigh? All of these are important questions to help you establish a realistic goal. My suggestion is that you make an appointment to see your doctor and discuss your weight issue. Decide together what a realistic weight loss goal is for you and develop a strategy, a plan if you will, that will hold you accountable to your doctor for the weight you want to lose. Learn new eating habits and set up a reasonable exercise regime. Then set small attainable goals for yourself throughout the year.

What other resolutions do you want to accomplish this year? Do you want to contribute more to your community? This can be a double edged sword. The more you contribute to outside activities, the less time you have for personal activities. Before you scan the papers for all the community clubs and start signing up for each one, sit back, take a deep breath, and look at your situation logically.

Evaluate your life as it is now. Write down what you do and the percentage of time you spend on each activity. Then review each one and determine if you can cut some time from any activity and still be happy with your participation. Remember to include work, commuting, house chores, TV time, computer time, and time you spend with your family. If you find some extra time, see where you can best place it during the day. This means, where in your day can you use that extra time? Is it after the kids are in bed? Extra time before you get ready for work in the morning? A longer lunch if you're able? Or did you determine that you could get a couple hours free on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon? Whatever the answer, you've now established that you have free time to give to your community. Now, go back to that list of community clubs and volunteer activities and appraise them carefully. Where do you think you could best add value? One you've found a fit, then feel free to volunteer your help. Now you are doing more for your community.

Do you get it now? Arbitrary and vague statements to say you've created your resolutions set you up for failure if you don't have a logical, realistic plan to carry you through to success.

My resolutions? Well, I have a few. They're quite attainable.

1. Love my family
2. Spoil my dog and my parrot
3. Dote on my new grandson
4. Finish my current work in progress manuscript
5. Lose ten pounds by continuing my healthy eating habits and regular exercise
6. Add more friends to my network
7. Vow to never give up chocolate

What? Did you really expect me to give up chocolate? Let's be realistic, okay?