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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

What's in a Title? by Trish Morey

I received my latest translation today, a Spanish version of one of my 2006 releases, and I have to say, I love it to death, especially the title, which I think fits the story so much better (and nicer!) than the title it was given on the English language versions.

Now it might surprise some of you to know that most authors don't get to name their own books. Well, they might name them, but what appears on the cover on publication may bear no similarity to the name assigned by said author to the work-in-progress. My own name for this story as I was writing it was The Pearl Master's Mistress. Nice and hooky, I imagined, a bit exotic while including one of the magic Presents title buzz words - mistress.

So much for imagination.

Here's the US version, published last November...

So my The Pearl Master's Mistress had morphed into A Virgin for the Taking. Now don't get me wrong. I love being published by Presents and each and every acceptance is an utter thrill, but I don't know, A Virgin for the Taking just didn't seem to encapsulate the story for me. I thought it made the heroine sound just a tad desperate. And there's that thing about giving away one of the major plot points in the title - I mean, what reader was going to believe she was anyone's mistress if the title proclaimed she was a virgin all along?

But publishing is a strange beast and titles, well, they can be a strange game too. You have to have some confidence in marketing - after all, they've been selling these books longer than I've been around (and that's saying something:-))

However, there are times they get the titles bang on, and today's translation made me want to sing with joy (which would have had anyone in hearshot screaming with pain, let me tell you). Here it is, the Spanish version...

Amor y perlas - Love and Pearls. Wow. To me that says it all. To me, it fits. Because that's what the book's all about. Romance, pearls and love, and some pretty neat sunsets:-) And if she's a virgin? Well, we'll let the hero discover that for himself:-)

I think the title gods got it right this time. What do you think?

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Temptation, Thy Name Is Coffee

If everyone has an addiction, coffee is mine. Latte, espresso, caramel macchiato, cup o’ Joe, I’ll take it. Hot or cold, I’ll take it. I consider iced coffee or frappachino refreshing afternoon pick-me-ups. Coffee Almond Fudge ice cream? An occasional decadent treat. Chocolate-covered beans? A little jolt of heaven. The only caveat to my consumption is that the coffee must be freshly brewed and strong.

This love affair with coffee started innocently, back in the days when I didn’t turn up my nose at instant. I could boil water in my “illegal” hot pot at college, add a little fake, uh, non-dairy creamer, sugar, and I was set to stay up late studying or to finish that ten page paper on bird imagery in Shakespeare’s tragedies that I should have started weeks earlier. While in graduate school, I partook of the community pot and purchased cups from the dreaded and sometimes disgusting machine in the basement vending area. You know, the kind of coffee that makes you shudder at the first sip. Once married, I graduated to a coffeemaker. I was happy in my ignorance. My younger sister, however, who was a huge coffee hound, discovered I was using a pre-ground, national brand. Horrified, she decided she should educate me in the ways of the bean. In a move that would make Juan Valdez proud, she bought me a grinder and several pounds of 100% Columbian for my birthday. Shortly thereafter, I was addicted to the good stuff. I became a coffee snob.

Impervious to the rolling of eyes and looks of consternation thrown my way, I take my grinder, beans, and filters on vacation. If I don’t have room in the suitcase for all the apparatus, I stash a four-pack of Starbuck’s DoubleShot® with cream in my suitcase. Believe me, everyone is happier when I get the flavor and caffeine rush I need. Sometimes, after one of those cans, I can even tolerate the weak brown water some hotels label as coffee.

To my joy, the local Kroger, which recently underwent a remodel, added a Starbuck’s Café, so now, if I so choose, I can even liven up the whole grocery-shopping experience with a hazelnut latte.

Now, I’m not saying I can’t enjoy a steaming mug of green tea, spicy apple cider, or hot chocolate with mini-marshmallows. I’m just saying coffee’s better.

So what’s your favorite hot beverage? Check out the rest of the Noodlers’ responses in January’s Top Ten in the Wet Noodle Posse e-zine. And if you’re a coffee hound like me, check out Starbuck’s ice cream flavors . Yum!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

The irony continues

by Ila Campbell

Blogger did not eat my post after all, which means I'm still in control.

Except I don't know how to delete the corrective post, which means I have to write this one, which means I still have no control...

I'm getting a headache.

Today I hate irony

by Ila Campbell

I just wrote out this whole (brilliant, of course) blog about how writer's are control freaks, but that we have to let go of some of that in order to stay sane in a world where we don't have control over everything.

Then blogger ate it, thus proving my point.

I'm going back to bed now.

Doing It Right

(Or, WHY this business drives us so completely nuts)
by Ila Campbell

Stephanie Rowe's article on taking care of your house in the Wet Noodle Posse e-zine (here) got me to thinking about houses and buying houses, since I'm trying to move back to the U.S. and thus will be forced to find a place to park my butt once I get there. It got me remembering when we bought the apartment we own now and how I drove the interior guys absolutely nuts because I expected everything to be done right, goshdarnit (hey, it's a p.c. blog) and if it's not done right, you're darn well going to do it over again. Why? Because I know how to do it myself, and if I'm going to pay someone else to do it, they had better do as good a job as I would myself.

My point is not that I'm a big pain in the tuckus or that I terrorize hapless wallpaperers. My point is that I fit personality profile #1 of writers -- we're control freaks.

Yeah, shocker, right?

No, but really -- think of it. We create and control our books with our words. We craft them meticulously and in our own little worlds, WE ARE ALWAYS RIGHT! Yes, if we put the words down that this is the way something happened, it is truth, it is fact, just because the author has put those words on paper.

It's a heady feeling, isn't it?

But that's where the trouble starts, you see. Because we are demi-gods and worldbuilders, we feel the need to expand our dominion, like Lex Luther or Dr. Evil. We will go out and conquer the publishing world and finally our true genius will be recognized. We will be revered! Lesser mortals will bow down before us! (insert appropriately evil laugh here).

Then WHAM! We run up against the wallpaperers of the publishing world: agents. We're "paying" them to do a job because they have the tools we don't, and the skills, like where to get the best discounts or materials, but we go after them, looking over their shoulders because we want it done RIGHT, goshdarnit. So we look over their shoulders, second-guess their jobs, because every step is not under our control or being followed according to our design.

Because, guess what -- it's not our world after all. (gasp. horror.)

Same with cover artists. Or the marketing department. Or payroll. (Editors are in a special category -- they're the housing inspectors who can shoot down your plans to buy or sell a home with a checkmark on a single sheet of paper.)

So maybe we need to let go a little. Not that I'm advocating total loss of control. No, no (and I couldn't even if I wanted to). The wallpaperers still need to be supervised, and we are still the quality control of our own lives -- because after all, we have to live in the house that's built! But it might help to keep us from driving ourselves stark raving mad as we hound the wallpaperers in our lives to have the realization that we DON'T have control over the whole universe.

Not yet anyway. (Bwwwaaaahahahaha)

Friday, January 26, 2007

Hakuna Matata, what a wonderful phrase!

It’s a Swahili phrase translated to mean “no worries.” I might have talked about this before, and if I did, it’s because it’s something I am aware of on a daily basis: Letting the little things go and being a positive force at the same time. Nobody likes negative people and I’m not talking about a few hours of complaining to a friend every now and then, because I personally think that’s healthy. Letting my frustrations out when I see my sister or friend feels good…just like writing in my journal.

What I want to know is why do some people almost always see the glass half full, while others see it half empty? My kids are a perfect example. My youngest daughter dances and plays basketball and I am talking hours every day. I know she’s sore and tired, but she NEVER complains, while my son tends to harp on every aching muscle after a workout. He also complains about other drivers, teachers, store clerks who aren’t quick enough…shall I go on? And then there are the people who swear they’re Pollyanna’s, but are, in fact, some of the most negative people I know.

Maybe Dr. Debra can give me a few tips on how to train myself to BE positive and STAY positive. For the past two years I have focused on doing just that. Mind you, I have my bad days. But, at least, I’m trying. I’ve completely purged myself of any hint of road rage (well, there was this ONE time, but I swear, it was only once in the past two years.) If I end up sitting in the car, waiting for one of my kids for thirty minutes, I no longer sweat it, even if I’m going to be late for an important event. Burnt toast? Locked the keys in the car again? Ran out of gas? Sick kid with no one to watch them? Newly mopped floor and spilt milk, or in my case, spilt balsamic vinegar complete with broken glass? Hey, it could always be worse, right?

Hakuna Matata!

Monday, January 22, 2007

STRESS AND EATING by Dr. Debra Holland

A dear friend who has recently gone through some painful and stressful life changes just posted that she’d lost 20 pounds over the last few months--at least 10 or 15 pounds more than she should lose, considering that she’s already slender. She wasn’t sure why she’d lost the weight because she thought she hadn’t changed her eating or exercise habits.

Most of the time, stress causes people to eat. (Bring on the comfort food. My personal favorites are chocolate and Mexican food.) However there are those painful occasions where difficulties, such as the ones suffered by my friend, may cause a loss in appetite. (I shudder when I remember a few of those times in my life.)

I feel this happened to my friend (and anyone else with this problem) because she had an emotional “knot” in her stomach, making her feel full. Thus she didn’t eat as much as normal.

I advised her to try eating healthy “soft” foods that can slide around the “knot” in her stomach. Soups, yogurts, and protein drinks are good choices.

My friend took my advice, then emailed to report that it helped, and her appetite had returned. That’s when I realized I should blog about this topic because there might be others out there who suffer from similar symptoms.

What about you? Are you a person who eats when you’re severely stressed, or do you lose your appetite? What foods tempt you when you’re stressed?

Debra Holland

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Indulging Your Senses

Maureen’s article on sachets in the WNP ezine made me think about how important sensory things are to me. Last week I finished a chenille afghan because I liked how the yarn felt. (Glad I did, too, because it’s WARM and it’s been COLD here!)

But more important than touch to me is the sense of smell. All the products I buy have to have a pleasing scent – shampoo, soaps, lotions, even cleansers. That’s me you see on the aisle, opening bottles of laundry detergent and sniffing. I just discovered Bath and Body Works last year and now I’m hooked on their soaps. (Not vanilla, though. Love the mango.)

On the way to Atlanta last year, I applied some of that tinted lotion. Ugh. What a smell! My legs were a beautiful color, but boy, did I stink!

The other day I carpooled with my mom, who apparently bathed in Febreze. My apologies to the people who make it, but that smell makes me nuts. It sticks in the back of my throat. But I got a round trip with it. My car still has the scent.

When my son was smaller, he would have trouble sleeping. A friend told me to put a drop of lavender oil on his pillow and that would relax him. One night he helped himself. GAH! House stunk for DAYS.

The worst smells? Something that’s been wet and left to dry over a period of time, giving it a sour smell, dishrags, mops, things like that. Yesterday we went to my niece’s birthday party at one of those pizza places and the dining room smelled like wet carpet. Ew. We got up and moved. (seriously, not my fault.)

The best? Hyacinth flowers blooming. Fresh laundry in the dryer. Rain (though I’d like to NOT smell it for awhile, please.)

What are your favorite scents, and how do you get them? Your least favorite? How do you get rid of them?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

A House is Like a Book by Diane Perkins-Diane Gaston

Steph Rowe's Living Well article in this month's Wet Noodle Posse Ezine really hit "home" with me, too, as it did with Merrillee.

Steph talks about putting her house up for sale and having a "stager" come in to advise them on what improvements were necessary to make the house more marketable. What she discovered was, the improvements were easy, inexpensive, and, most importantly of all, made the house all that much more comfortable and pleasant for them now.

I confess to be a frequent watcher of HGTV's Designed to Sell, where a stager comes in and tells homeowners what's wrong with their house. In this show, though, a designer comes with her ideas and workman to do the hard work and it is all done in two days!! I was glad to read Steph's real life experience.

My house, I fear is very much like a "before" house on the show. I look around, just like Steph did, and see so much to be done before we could ever sell. I suspect a stager would have heart palpitations when stepping into our house. I love our house, it is comfortable and lived in, but it isn't designed to sell.

Luckily we aren't selling any time soon, but Steph's advice really hit me. Why not do the improvements now when we can enjoy them?

There is an analogy with writing here.

A house is like a is a work-in-progress. I can fill it with the necessary word count, decorate it with character and conflict and suspense and (my favorite) the growing love between a man and a woman. At some point I can just settle in and feel like it is done, like when I turned in my manuscript to Mills & Boon last November for Tanner's story, The Vanishing Viscountess.

Enter the stager....... my editor, who sent me a set of revisions -- things to fix to make the book more marketable.

Some of them are easy to fix; some take more work, but I'm sure I'll be very happy with the end result, just as Steph has been with her house. My stager will come through again with a fine tooth comb and do copy edits, the nitpicky things like making sure I spell the characters names the same way all the way through or seeing that their eye color doesn't change.

Eventually, though, the house is ready for the market and the book is ready for bookstores and I'll find out if all my tweaking and fixing were worth it. Then it is your turn, the reader, to walk through my open house and (hopefully) decide to buy it!

Cheers to all!

PS The photo is NOT my house!

Diane's next Harlequin Historical Innocence and Impropriety by Diane Gaston will be available at eHarlequin in February and in bookstored in March

Friday, January 19, 2007

The Mysterious Smell -- by Kiki Clark

I have a mysterious smell in my kitchen. Well, not so mysterious. There's some deteriorating produce in my refrigerator that I need to take out to the compost. The problem is, the compost is buried under snow. The trash is not. In fact, I can open the garage door and there's the can. I don't even have to wear snow boots. So why don't I just throw the compostables in the trash? Because I'd feel guilty. There are good nutrients in those rotting leeks and celery. If they go in a landfill, along with dead batteries and cans of Raid, those nutrients will be lost to farming, probably forever. I'd be starving the earth!

The other possibility, in this month of below freezing temperatures, is to put these vegetable remnants in a bag and stash them on the deck, out of reach of the raccoons. There's already a bag of compostables out there, in fact. So far, I've drawn the line at two bags, which seems one step away from storing a defunct toilet on your porch until you can locate a place that will take it. I think we may have done that once, or maybe it was a dream. Either way, I'd like to avoid that slippery slope.

So the mysterious smell is still there, because making an exception -- throwing away compost this one time -- seems like it would make me a bad person, part of the problem and not the solution. Which is stupid. Doing something questionable once doesn't make me bad. Well, unless we're talking about murder, which is a pretty digital situation.

What I should do is review Stephanie Rowe's article on how the state of your home affects your mood. Then I'll go throw out the celery. I understand it's pretty nutritionally void, anyway. The earth may not miss it. I certainly won't.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Write a Book/Build a House

In a writer's world there are some years where it seems we are treading water, revising, marketing, and planning for what's to come. Then there are years where we charge ahead, write like crazy, push the marketing aside, or try to, concentrating our energy on creating something new, something exciting, which takes us to the next level. Last month I blogged about my women's fiction manuscript, BERRY'S LICK, which is coming along nicely, but I have a new project on my plate, which I'm excited about as well. Along with the writing projects I've outlined for the year, I'm building a house.

2006-2007 is my year of covering new ground--not just in writing. Building a house is a long process, and not one for the faint of heart. There's the planning stage, which is not unlike writing a synopsis for 100,000+ word novel. As when imagining a story, I have to visualize something that does not yet exist. I walk around in the rooms in my head, place furniture, stand and gaze out the windows and picture myself living in my creation. Like a house I won't see the completed product for 6 to 9 months.

This is only my second house. I'm the architect. I'm holding my breath, hoping the windows are correct for the size of the rooms I designed. I had to double the size of my kitchen window in our last house just hours before the inspector arrived. My husband still remembers tearing the header out at dawn and reframing the opening. Building a house is a true test of a marriage. Mine survived the first construction project twenty years ago. We'll see how this one goes with a contractor in the mix. He hasn't had twenty-six years to fall in love with my cooking or yet learned to appreciate my creative vision.

Once you've written your first draft, gotten your floor plan on paper, editorial revisions begin. The county building department makes endless comments about the structure and craft of the house. The environmental protection folks have their say. Then there's the water department and the fire department. Revisions, revisions, revisions. My husband was totally frustrated with this step. But my experience with rejection and revision in the publishing world has taught me patience. At least one of us wasn't hyperventilating through this stage.

The bank is the marketing side. If you run screaming for the hills before it's all over, they want to know they have a marketable product. This is where you have to play the "similar but different" game. Due to rising cost, we have a small three bedroom, two bath house arranged in a U-shaped design around a courtyard--a standard family home in Southern California, pretty much. The "different" is in the style. My husband and I are fans of Santa Fe-style homes--flat roofs, clay tile floors, no carpet.

Our house will be surrounded by a nine acre avocado grove located in a high valley about fifteen miles inland from the Pacific Ocean. No lawn mowers, no leaf blowers. I plan to write to the sound of the wind rustling the leaves of the trees. Nights will be inky black with lots of stars. I will have my morning coffee on my front porch in my bathrobe and watch the hawks sail by on the morning breeze.

There will be revisions and sequels to our house in the upcoming years. I have a writing tower planned--I can just see my contractor rolling his eyes and my husband smiling--hear them groaning as they haul my cast iron clawfoot tub up two flights of stairs . . .

Everyone needs a place to dream.


Sunday, January 14, 2007

Home Improvement--Be good to your home or else

Stephanie Rowe has written an article this month for the WetNoodlePosse e-zine about how improving your home can make your life better. She talks about getting her home ready to sell and learning a lot about how anyone can make improvements that will liven up your surroundings.

When I read her article, I could relate so well to what she was saying. Because of my husband's work, we made moves from a small town near Cincinnati where we started married life to Atlanta, then to Boston, and on to Dallas and from there to Chicago. Finally, we have settled in Florida. Each time we got ready to move, we cleaned out the closets, put away the clutter, painted the walls, sometimes replaced worn carpet and fixed the little things that were wrong with the house that we had been ignoring for months. When we were finished and the house sparkled almost like new, I wished we didn't to sell it. I had just made my home fresh and beautiful for someone else.

We have lived in our house in Florida for over five years. It was nearly new when we moved into it. Before we got there, our daughter had lived in it for about a year and a half while she went to college. After we moved in, with the help of an interior decorator, we painted and made some improvements, such as Stephanie mentioned. But now, five years later, the house is beginning to show some wear. The corners of the walls are nicked from people accidentally bumping them with something. The baseboards need a new coat of paint. The grout in our shower needs to be cleaned and in some cases replaced. I'm not as ambitious as Stephanie because I don't want to learn how to regrout my shower. I just don't have the time. I marvel that she learned how to lay tile and still had time to write books.

So we are in the process of finding someone to do the work for us. That is no easy task. Often people don't want to take on the small jobs. Hopefully, we will find someone to do our grout and fix the faucets in our bathroom.

In the meantime, I'm thinking about painting the baseboards (I do paint although very slowly) when I finish the book that is due on March 15. Until then I'll be right here at my computer painting word pictures.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Yawning in the New Year

by Bridget Stuart

I spent New Year's Eve this year with my sick little 6-year-old, feeling a sore throat coming on myself, having canceled my extra-fun plans to host some extra-fine single friends at my place. And while I yawned and juggled Robitussin bottles, I decided the whole New Year's thing is a scam anyway. For parents, that is.

I mean, how do you get babysitters on New Year's Eve? Does anyone? How far in advance do you book…the prior year, perhaps? Should I already have done this for 2007?

Teenagers, the most popular babysitting choice, are booked solid on New Year's. They usually have a minimum of two, and possibly four or more parties to attend in the course of the evening. And if you manage to rope a teenager and drag her back to the ranch to sit with the little 'uns while you mosey out to parties yourself, how do you know that YOUR house is not going to be one of the party locations on the high school circuit that evening? Huh? Check the trash cans when you get home. And the bathtubs.

Kind, gentle elderly babysitters won't do it, either. They're flat-out against driving on New Year's Eve. And who can blame them, with all those teen booze bashes going on (including the one at YOUR house).

So, high schoolers and sweet grandmas are out. And everyone else is off limits for desperate sitting requests, because no one wants to admit they're so far into loserdom that they're actually available on such a night.

Yet another thing: Any adult who *isn't* happily settled in a committed relationship seems to find the champagne-swilling, number-shouting gaiety of the evening to be somewhat less than a frisky funfest. Instead, they tend to wander hollow-eyed through the throng, imagining that everyone else is as jubilant as they look. "If only I had someone to love me," they whisper. "Another year gone. I thought I would be married by now…with kids…"

…so they could stay at home on New Year's Eve and miss the countdown altogether.

Yaaaawn. Rant over.
Welcome, welcome 2007.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Just for today

by Charity Tahmaseb

My son attends after school care at the YMCA (note: parents, if you have an active kid, this is a great program). This week, however, instead of zipping in and snagging one of the reserved parking spaces for childcare pickup, I’ve circled the lot.

And circle the lot. No one’s budged from a single reserved-just-for-childcare-pickup space. Clearly someone is playing fast and loose with those. Other cars join me. We’re like vultures, ready to descend on the next open spot, even if it means hiking a good quarter mile to the door.

Eventually, I find a spot. Not a reserved-just-for-childcare-pickup one either, mind you. I slog my way to the door only to find there’s a line at the ID checker.

I’m standing behind two guys in their thirties. Regulars. You can tell by the skintight exercise togs they wear. These are not men with body image issues. These are not men with body fat.

One turns to the other. “Yep,” he says. “You can tell it’s January.”

In that moment, I knew my parking dilemma was temporary. Come February, if not sooner, I’d be back in the reserved-just-for-childcare-pickup.

And you know what? That made me kind of sad. Real life can be so overwhelming that I’m sure for some, those New Year’s resolutions, goals, and dreams aren’t just on the back burner, they’ve been knocked off the stove.

This month in her column, Dr. Debra talks about using the “Just for Today” concept from Alcoholics Anonymous. She says, in part:

This is a lot to pack into one day, especially with everything else you have to do. But if you were to only do it for one day, then you’d manage. The idea is to get creative. Everyone can be creative for one day. You might have to work out or write during your lunch hour. You might need to write while watching your son’s baseball game. Or you might get in your exercise by walking laps around the baseball diamond while you watch his game. By planning and using the “just for today” concept, you can make it happen.
So, just for today, I challenge everyone to pick an item from their New Year’s resolutions, goals, and dreams list and do one thing to get closer. I have a lunch date with my WIP.

What are you going to do today?

Remember. It’s just for today.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Only in my dreams

In this month's fun interview with Bridget Stuart, January's featured Noodler, she shares an interesting take on a "dream" vacation: spending time in fictional locales with favorite characters.

Reading a wonderful book or watching a great movie is a bittersweet deal. I want to see how the story wraps up, but I don't want it to end. And after I close the cover or walk out of the theater, the characters live on for a while inside me, flitting around the shadowy corners of my imagination. What if I could spend some quality time with those folks and truly experience the world of my own imagination? Would it be a dream--or might it be a nightmare?

Have you ever fantasized about stepping into the pages of your favorite books or entering the scenes of movies you enjoy? Would you alter the plots? Make friends with your favorite characters? Make a play for the hero?

What fictional tale's ending would you most like to change?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Sleeping in Airports

by Lee McKenzie

Up front I have to confess that I’m not the world’s biggest fan of flying but when I discovered this website, The Budget Traveller’s Guide to Sleeping Airports, I was intrigued.

At this stage in my life I would take a cab to a hotel before sleeping in an airport, but my daughter has spent the night at Vancouver airport. I would have been less concerned if I’d seen this website first. For young people who want to travel on a tight budget, this is a pre-travel must-read, and even if you don’t intend to spend the night at an airport, a delayed flight could alter your plans.

The site ranks the top ten best and worst airports, with the Singapore Changi airport being the perennial top pick. With a swimming pool and chairs with vibrating alarm clocks, I can see why.

The site also provides tips for packing little extras that will make your overnight stay at an airport more comfortable and secure, and an opportunity to share your airport sleeping stories and photos with the rest of the world and to make recommendations for the benefit of other weary travellers.

And if you have itchy feet but you’re not sure where to go, check out the travel articles on the Wet Noodle Posse ezine!

Now I'm curious to know if any of you have spent the night at an airport, either by choice or by circumstance. How was it?

Happy travels!


PS: this site is hosted by a fellow Canadian, Donna McSherry, hence the spelling of traveller. In case anyone was wondering.

Monday, January 08, 2007

The Man Who's Keeping Me Up Nights

...and his 22-month-old sister, who currently has the flu. They're keeping me busy 'round the clock, but aren't they cute?

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Happy 2007 at the e-zine!

Another great month at the e-zine! Happy 2007!

Stephanie Rowe talks about "Taking Care of Yourself by Taking Care of Your Home."

Colleen Gleason goes over the birth of a book - month by month! Don't miss it!

Dr. Deb emphasizes how the phrase "Just for Today" can take you from overworked mother and writer to overworked mother and writer who reaches her goals. Excellent advice for all of us!

Trish Morey tackles the top ten tips for traveling with kids. #3 - travel journal!

Learn how to make Scentsational Sachets with Maureen Hardegree!

Find a great dip or salsa in this month's recipe section!

Explore Guilin, China with Theresa Ragan!

Celebrate Eva Calvo in this month's SuperHeroine article!

Read about Noodler of the month, Bridget Stuart!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Eating With Kids

by Colleen Gleason

Trish Morey (author of the keep-you-in-your-chair-until-you-finish-it, Waldenbooks Best Seller List The Greek's Virgin) wrote a Top Ten article this month about Traveling with Kids.

Thank you Trish (especially the part about not letting the hubby get the sleeping pills if pregnant-you can't have them...I like the way you think!) for the suggestions.

I have three children between 5 and 10, and we actually do a lot of those things you suggested (the personal chocolate stash is something I've never done, but you can be sure I'll be hitting the Godiva store in secret before our family trip to DC this summer).

Anyway, Trish's article got me to thinking about another challenge we have with younger children--one we face every day, not just when traveling--and that's how to eat with them.

Meaning, how to keep the dinner table (whether it be at home or out) from becoming a free-for-all of people talking over each other, getting up and jumping around, harassing each other, jiggling the table (I only have one boy, but there are times when it feels like three!).

So we've come up with a series of game we play, and when we do this, we are able to have a nice, calm dinner--and everyone actually eats!

I thought I'd share our family games and see if anyone else has other suggestions we can add to our repertoire.

1. The Movie Game~ speak a line from a movie (that we've all seen) and the others identify the character and movie

2. The Animal Game~ think of an animal, and give us its habitat (ie, savannah, jungle, desert, ocean, our backyard, forest, etc.), then we ask yes or no questions until someone guesses the animal.

3. Who Am I?~ Think of a fictional character from book, movie or TV and the others ask yes or no questions to identify the character.

4. Who Am I?~ Same as above, but not for a fictional character.

5. The Spelling Game~ Mom or Dad go around the table and give each kid a word to spell (based on their age/grade level). If the person can't spell it, anyone else can try.

6. The Mix-up Game~Mom or Dad thinks of two items, any two items, apple and a horseshoe...and the others try to figure out what it would be like if they were combined. A metal apple with a long, curving handle? An apple carved into the shape of a horseshoe?

7. The Movie Trivia Game~ Someone asks a very detailed question (that they know the answer to) about a movie. Like, "Is Jack Sparrow wearing his hat when he asks, 'But why is all the rum gone?'"

I'd love to know what you do to keep your kids interested at the dinner table. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Friday, January 05, 2007

The Greek's Virgin

The Greek's Virgin by Trish Morey

The Greek's Virgin

Seduced for revenge, taken for pleasure!

When Alexander Koutoufides seduced the young Saskia Prentice it was for revenge! Now she is back and Alex decides to finish what he started...for pleasure!
Saskia cannot forgive the sexy Greek who nearly stole her innocence, or forget the stormy passion they shared! She knows Alex wants her, his ruthless reputation confirms that he will have her.

The only uncertainty long can she resist him?

The Reviews

4 Stars from RT - "Alex and Saskia are well-written characters and Morey does an excellent job of revealing the intense passion they share in both their arguments and their love scenes, making this story a pleasure from beginning to end." ~ Stephanie Schneider - Romantic Times Magazine

"Another superbly plotted romance from Trish Morey, THE GREEK'S VIRGIN will scorch your senses — it's so passionate. This novel is full of sensuality and angst, a heady mixture that really combines well to deliver a story one can't help but become enthralled by. THE GREEK'S VIRGIN sizzles with sensual heat and is definitely a must read!" ~ Leena Hyat - Author Sound Relations

Join Trish's mailing list to enter her latest contest and win a basket of downunder goodies. Simply email Trish at and you'll be sent all the details!

Ringing in the New

Ringing in the New

How many of you made New Year’s resolutions this year? How many of you have broken them already? Uh, oh, I see hands. I took the easy route this year, bypassing the hard stuff (lose weight, save the world, etc.) and opted for something I think I can accomplish.

In 2007 I resolve to have more fun.

Now, living in Florida, this should be easy, what with the beach an hour away, the theme parks, etc., but you’d be surprised. The first roadblock to my plan is the day job. Some days I’m so busy I don’t break for lunch until 3:00, and a coffee break? What’s that?

Then there’s the writing. I steal what moments I can from other responsibilities (I wrote the majority of this blog in the parking lot at the bank), but the truth is, there just aren’t enough hours in the day for work, family (including the cat), laundry, shopping, cooking and all the rest. Until I get that 30 hour day I’ve been campaigning for nearly all my adult life, I’m stuck with the 24 I’ve been given. Personal research shows that one can go only so long on 5 or 6 hours of sleep a night when 8 or 9 are really needed.

So what’s a girl to do?

Remember the job jar, the one Dad used to pick the household chore he’d do each weekend?

I’m inventing the fun jar.

My plan is to list twelve fun things I’d like to do this year, one for each month (yes—just one per month. Wouldn’t want to go into fun overload, now would I?) and to make a point to take some time away from work and the computer just for myself.

I’ll bet you think this sounds easy, don’t you? Then you don’t know me very well. I’ve been a worker bee all my life. Change is hard—but maybe it can be fun, too, if you do it right. Can I do it right? Stay tuned.

What are your plans for having fun in the New Year?

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Meet Colleen Gleason, the author of The Rest Falls Away, the first book in the Gardella series, today at the Risky Regencies blog. She'll talk about the inspiration for her Regency-set vampire hunter series and you'll have the chance to win a copy of her book!

A promising, enthusiastic beginning to a new paranormal historical series ... Gleason quickly establishes an alluring world all her own. Publishers Weekly

With its vampire lore and Regency graces, this book grabs you and holds you tight to the very last page! R J Ward

Monday, January 01, 2007


Today's the day when people around the globe are on Day 1 of remaking themselves and their lives based on their New Year's Resolutions. There's a powerful allure to remaking things, including ourselves. I can't be the only one who remade myself when I went off to college, then again when I decided to be a novelist.

But New Year's resolutions aren't alone in the remaking department. Think of all the songs that are re-recorded by different artists. Some are good, like the remake of "Lady Marmalade" (original by Patti LaBelle) by Christina Aguilera, Mya, Pink and Lil Kim. Others are truly craptacular, like Britney Spears' "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" (original by Joan Jett -- I'm sorry but you don't mess with this song!) and "California Girls" by David Lee Roth (original by the Beach Boys).

Movies and TV programs are remade too. Sometimes one format is made into the other. For instance, Buffy the Vampire Slayer started out as a movie -- a really bad one. But it turned into a fantastic TV show. Some TV favorites, The X-Files and Firefly, translated well to the big screen (Firefly as Serenity). It being the beginning of a new year, it seems only appropriate that I watched a remake tonight -- the movie version of Miami Vice.

I, like any good kid of the '80s, was a big fan of the weekly TV escapades of Miami Vice detectives Sonny Crockett (Don Johnson) and Rico Tubbs (Philip Michael Thomas).

I'm sure if I watched it now, though, I'd find some '80s cheese factor. Based on what I can remember from lo those many years ago, the movie version, with Colin Farrell as Crockett and Jamie Foxx as Tubbs, is much edgier.

It still has that feel of the decadent, hot, steamy, and dangerous life in Miami's fast lane. There are still snazzy suits, fast cars, girls and nightclubs, but this new Crockett and Tubbs are bad dudes (in a good way). I'm not saying the movie's perfect. It's not. The story line confused me in parts and I thought the romantic relationship for Sonny developed too easily, but overall it was a fun couple of hours. And they even remade the classic Miami Vice song "In the Air Tonight" (original by Phil Collins; remake by a band called Nonpoint that I've never heard of).

So what's your take on remakes? Should they be avoided? Do you have favorites? Ones you think really stink out loud?

Oh, and Happy 2007 from the Wet Noodle Posse.