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Saturday, June 30, 2007

Zen and the Art of Home Maintenance by Trish Morey

I’m a writer. I sit for hours on end in my office (when I’m not checking out the contents of my pantry, that is) tinkering with email, surfing the net, mucking around with various committee stuff. Every now and then I might even manage to type a few words on the old wip. But I’m in my study.

So why is it, that when I do emerge from my cave, my lounge room looks like a bombsite?

Okay, so I admit it. I have four piglets – ahem – four girls who like to spread themselves and their stuff out. And who prefer not to pick it up afterwards. And maybe, just looking around this office (eek) they do take after me.

But how do other writers do it? Or don’t they? And given that, if an effort to clean up is made, pristine conditions last around, ooh, ten minutes. Should I just wait to clean up until the kids leave home? That’s probably only another ten years away. I can hang out in my office till then. Maybe I might even get something else written on my ms.

Now there’s a thought...

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Piglet photo thanks to South Dakota State University

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Reunion Anxiety

“I’m not Josie Grossie anymore!!!”

That one line says it all for those of us who look back at high school with trepidation rather than fondness. For those of you who don’t recognize the line, it belongs to former misfit Josie Gellar who is sent back to high school as an undercover reporter in the romantic comedy Never Been Kissed.

As my twenty-fifth high school reunion looms ever closer, I wonder how many Wet Noodle Posse readers need to shout something similar. Josie and I can’t be the only ones out there experiencing post-traumatic stress from adolescence. I can’t be the only one bombarded with flashbacks of those less-than-stellar moments as the clock ticks toward that fateful day when I don my most flattering outfit and a name tag that includes a last name I shed years ago when I married my husband.

I should be excited rather than anxious, right? Think of the potential writing fodder! And I did, after all, send in my money and fulfill a promise I made to the friends from high school with whom I have kept in touch. You see, I missed the twentieth reunion and was harangued by those friends for months afterwards. I should look forward to attending. I’ll reconnect with people I liked that I haven’t seen in years, and, sure, I’m curious about how everyone’s aged. It’s a guilty pleasure we all indulge in. Is it wrong of me to hope there’s at least one person in attendance, other than me, who vowed to find her inner thin person before July but sadly never did? If there isn’t, will I win the award for attendee most in need of liposuction?

It’s not that I was tormented. I cleared that lovely hurdle in middle school with enough self-esteem issues that all I hoped for in high school was to be liked. We’re talking nicknames that I’m not willing to share with you and cartoon caricatures of my hairy knees. My mother, you see, was old school when it came to shaving, nothing removed knee or above, and I had to wear a uniform skirt. After the caricature incident, I disobeyed her shaving edicts, and haven’t been the butt of a cartoon joke since. . . as far as I know.

In high school, life got better for the most part. I earned good grades, rooted for the football team, worked on the homecoming floats, and ate lunch in the courtyard befitting my status in the high school hierarchy—upwardly mobile geek. But I still felt like a misfit, always worrying about what people thought of me, including some I called friends. I feared these friends talked about me behind my back, which they did on occasion. Of course, I pretended that I didn’t hear it or see it—because I wanted to be liked.

Senior year, I was no longer complacent. Hoping I’d achieve my goal of being universally liked, I did everything I could to fit in. I wore Army fatigues as was the Friday fad at our school. I joined the yearbook staff and made some new friends, one in particular became a life-long buddy. Love you, Heidi. I drove to the football games by myself and had a good time with the people sitting around me. I even summoned courage I didn’t know I had to ask a college boy of my acquaintance to the Homecoming Dance because I wasn’t graduating without ever attending a high school shindig. He said yes, but I was so shy I could barely talk to him all night. My self-esteem improved by leaps and bounds once I was accepted to the college of my choice. I looked forward to dorm-life and challenging coursework. I somehow knew I’d fit in there, even with my insecurities. I wasn’t sad graduation day, I was ecstatic.

So explain to me, why I am so freaked out about this reunion? I’ve surpassed the goals I set for myself at seventeen, and I’ve made many, many friends along the way, including the Noodlers. I should attend the reunion without any qualms. After all, I’m not Moron Byrnes anymore—not that there was anything wrong with her that a little life experience couldn’t cure.


Monday, June 25, 2007

You've got to read this book!

The members of the WNP seldom use the blog as a platform to review books, especially each other’s books, but there is one story you absolutely can’t miss. It’s Learning Curve by Terry McLaughlin. It’s her debut effort, the one that came out in May of last year. Yes, I’m behind in my reading, but gosh, am I ever glad this one floated to the top of the TBR pile.

I love to read. I especially love to read romances. I especially, particularly love to read clever romances about characters who are polar opposites whose happy ending is in doubt. I love books that make me laugh out loud in public places.

Here’s the set-up, also known as the back cover blurb (copyright Harlequin, 2006, yada, yada, yada). Page down a little bit on the right of your screen to see the intriguing cover.

High school history teacher Joe Wisniewski may be in a rut, but he dug it himself and he’s not planning on getting out anytime soon. The last thing he wants is to mentor a starry-eyed newcomer, so when he gets an unexpected assignment-—Emily Sullivan, a student teacher with a steamroller smile and dynamite legs-—he digs in deeper and ducks for cover.

Emily has looked up to the legendary “Wiz” for a long time. In her opinion, the man is coasting these days, and she’s sure a little change in his routine is exactly what he needs. Besides, this assignment is her chance to prove to her family-—and herself-—that she can stick to one project.

The question is: Will Emily get Joe fired up or just plain fired?

You’ve got to read this book, for no other reason than to watch Joe fall under Emily’s spell.

He stared at her innocent smile and wondered what kind of scheming sorceress lurked behind it. How many other victims had Emily Sullivan lured to their dooms with her wide-eyed glances, or that little sighing shrug thing she did just before she flounced into a chair? She was dangerous; she was lethal. She was Attila the Honey.

Did I mention clever? Did I mention brilliant? How can you not want to read a book like this?

And did I mention the principal of Caldwell High, Kyle Walford? He’s so slimy you have to wash your hands after reading the scenes he’s in.

If you’ve been in a job long enough to experience burn-out you’ll recognize Joe as readily as you recognize your own face in the mirror. If you can still remember the thrill you felt when you first began your career, Emily will lighten your heart.

Look away from your TBR pile! I don’t care if it's up to your armpits! Read Learning Curve-—then you can read Terry’s second book, Make-Believe Cowboy (starring the more-delicious-than-chocolate Fitz Kelleran).

You can do it. Who needs sleep?

Friday, June 22, 2007

WNP Puzzle

The Wet Noodle Posse is all about being good to yourself. One of the ways you can do that is by keeping your mind sharp. A lot of research has gone into the benefits of puzzle solving, so I won't get itno that here, except to say they are a lot of fun.

Hope you enjoy this WNP Puzzle - and share your time if you want.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007


Today is my dh's 42nd birthday. I've known him since he was 17 and 42 seemed eons away, but he's hitting his stride.

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Last night I was thinking about the ages of the heroes we write.

7 summers ago, when I started Hot Shot, I made Gabe 40. That seemed at the very edge of the box for a romance hero, maybe because I was only 34. I needed Gabe to be on the verge of retirement, thinking these kids on his hotshot crew could outhike him, but be determined not to let them.

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My next book had another 40 year old hero, because I needed someone who'd been through a rough personal life, was already a detective with some years when he met and fell in love with my shiny new detective heroine, only to endure a tragedy and leave.

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For awhile I stuck with 30 something heroes, men who had lived but were in the prime of their lives.

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I was in my 30s, too, and didn't feel so far removed.

But my latest heroes are babies. They're in their twenties. I feel I have to balance confidence with a certain level of insecurity to write these guys, or maybe I'm just projecting how I was in my 20s to write them.

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I'm wondering, as I get older, will it be harder to write believable characters, characters who act their ages? We've all ready wiser-than-thou heroines who don't speak/dress like any 30 year old you've ever met. How do you keep your characters current?


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Cat Update

I thought I would do just a quick little blog today, just enough to update you on the Cat-astrophy at my house. We're not quite Cat-atonic, but we are much calmer.

Girl cat has not quite graduated to total freedom. She still spends the night locked safely in the bathroom, with litter box, and she still spends most of her time between the couch and the kitchen table. But she has been seen going to the litter box on her own. Unfortunately, this appears to be an event of great interest to the other three, who follow her in there to watch (MALE cats, you know).

Devil cat still will attack her if she spooks him--meaning if she looks at him. But we don't have to banish her to our son's apartment where they-shudder-leave windows open, no screens.

She and the cat-who-gets-along-with-everyone even sleep on the same couch!

I know you were all just chewing your nails in worry about girl cat. Rest easy. Crisis over....


Adjust to Taste -- Esri Rose (aka Kiki Clark)

My mother is an excellent cook, as was my grandmother, who lived with us the whole time I was growing up. So I knew what good food tasted like and how it worked, but living with two experts who did all the work, I didn't develop the habit of cooking.

I married a man who cooked, and in the early years of our marriage, he was the one who fried chicken and grilled steaks. Then he went to work for a series of computer start-ups with irregular hours but good paychecks, and we ate out more than in. When he worked until eight, I found I could make a perfectly adequate dinner out of frozen spinach and edamame, finished off with a rice cake, some yoghurt and a piece of fruit. My habit of not cooking became more ingrained.

Several years ago, we met Dennis, through Neighbor Brad. We childless, spur-of-the-moment types have trouble making plans, but we never turn down a free meal in the comfort of our own home. Dennis came over and cooked meals at our houses. It’s how he gets people together, and it never fails. We usually do the dishes and provide the wine.

Not long ago, Neighbor Brad got a girlfriend who is a stellar cook, and our group's shindigs took on a more gourmet flavor. What had been a quick curry became halibut with grapefruit-infused burre blanc, or cinnamon duck. Our party of five sat around the table in a haze of well-being, chatting about Alton Brown’s latest show and the difficulty of getting kidneys to make steak-and-kidney pie.

Summer came. Joe replaced our rusting gas grill with a stainless-steel beauty. I bought a grilling cookbook with recipes for coconut-stuffed salmon, and summer squash on a bed of sautéed spinach, topped with cheese. I showed it to Dennis, and he made the lamb kabobs.

At this point, I should clarify something. It’s not that I never, ever cook. I have a small assortment of specialty cookbooks covering ethnic cuisines and the mysteries of pressure cooking, and I occasionally make dishes from these books, usually when we have guests. On these evenings, Joe and I harry each other through the kitchen, glaring when the other blocks the sink. I couldn’t understand when people said they found cooking relaxing.

I’ve also created a few of my own recipes – heavy on the canned and frozen items, but quick and cheap to make, and tasty in their own repetitive way. But I never considered cooking a pleasure. Part of this is because I struggle with perfectionism. Cooking one nice meal, or even a few, didn't seem adequate. Ideally, I would shop for the week, finding everything at one store so as to save on gas, and planning meals so efficiently that one night’s leftovers cascaded into the next one’s raw ingredients, with nary a stub of ginger left to mold in the refrigerator. Each meal should take no more than half an hour to make (my mother somehow achieves this), and nothing should be repeated more than once every two weeks. And this should be the rule, regardless of PMS, sick cats, hot writing streaks, or national disasters. Amen.

One very recent afternoon, when I was definitely not on a hot writing streak, I browsed through the grilling book. I enjoy looking at recipes; imagining the flavors and mentally savoring what they might taste like. A chicken-satay recipe caught my eye, and I realized I had all the spices – even a can of coconut milk, thanks to the tired curry recipe I trot out when rice cakes or a restaurant is too much to face. This particular recipe called for something called pandanus leaves to twist around the skewered chicken, but that was obviously a fanciful notion on the part of the British writer, and could be ignored.

It was a beautiful summer day, the roads unclogged with college students, so I got on my bike and rode to my local boutique grocery. They didn’t have boneless, skinless chicken breasts, but bony ones with skin were on sale, and I had plenty of time. It was unclear to me what the British writer had in mind when she described “four small, fresh, hot green chillies (not birdseye),” so I got a jalapeño. Cashew nuts, check, and why not add some chunks of green peppers to take up the room left by the missing pandanus leaves? I would serve the whole thing over rice.

I went home and sawed my way through the chicken, washing everything in sight in the prescribed Alton way. I could hear the cheeping of baby finches through the screen door, and the cat brushed against my bare legs as I stood at the sink. By the time Joe got home, I had bowls of prepped food, and sauce in the blender. He took everything outside and grilled it while I tidied the kitchen and set the table. We weren’t in each other’s way, and no guests interrupted to ask where we kept the corkscrew. We sat at our slightly messy table, my bike helmet next to a bouquet of silk flowers, and ate in restful silence.

The next night, we made the salmon with mango mojo.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Big Gray Cat

My husband and I are empty nesters, except for a big gray cat. In the summer of 2000, our younger daughter decided to adopt a little gray kitten as a companion for our older cat, Allie, who now resides in kitty heaven. Our daughter named the kitten after her favorite Boston Red Sox player, Nomar Garciaparra. (Never mind that he now plays for the LA Dodgers.) The little kitten proceeeded to grow into a huge cat. He weighed in at nearly twenty pounds until the vet said the cat needed to go on a diet. He now weighs in at a trim sixteen pounds. When our daughter graduated from college and took a job in Boston, she left Nomar behind. Now he is our cat and views our daughter with suspicion when she visits. He often lies beside my chair in his favorite positon on his back. Or he jumps into my lap to make his presence known. Sometimes he lies at the top of the stairs leading to the office that my husband and I share. We call him our guard cat, but in reality he's a big scaredy-cat. When company arrives, he runs to hide under the nearest bed or couch. He might come out if he decides the visitors are not threatening.

His favorite pastime, other than napping, is eating. Every time I go anywhere near the laundry room where we keep his food, he is prancing alongside me meowing at the top of his lungs in hopes of getting me to give him more food. He is so enamored of food that he has learned how to catch his treats in the air with his paws. Maybe he can do that because he's named after a baseball player.

He is an indoor cat, but he gets a little slice of outdoors when he ventures out to our screened-in pool area. He loves to catch bugs, frogs or lizards who somehow foolishly find their way inside that screen. I have rescued many lizards and warned them about the big gray cat, who will make them into a toy then a treat, as I put them back into the yard.

From time to time when our daughter visits us, she talks about taking Nomar home with her. However, this action never takes place. I think she likes to visit and play with him and then leave him behind for us. Whenever this discussion takes place, I always have mixed feelings. If we didn't have a cat, we wouldn't have to make arrangements for him when we go away. But, on the other hand, I'd really miss him. He is really my cat now.

How many of you have had children leave pets behind?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Animals Running Wild!

by Bridget Stuart

I've felt a little out of it while everyone posts about their awesome pets this month, since I don't have one. I have a seven year old boy instead. But I think you'll be happy with my substitute--a real animal circus, from the 'Police Log' of the local paper in my tiny New England seaside town (And NO I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP--someone actually CALLED THE POLICE for each and every one of the following heinous crimes):

Saturday, May 5
Turkey not letting a man in his home reported on
Victoria Lane at 11:22 a.m.

Monday, May 7
Caller reported spotting racoon droppings in his or
her yard on Atlantic Avenue at 9 a.m.

Caller reported seeing ducks in the bushes on Humphrey
Street at 8:35 a.m.

Tuesday, May 8
Stray kitten reported in a yard on Indianhead Circle
at 1 p.m.

Pet snake found on Community Road at 1:31 p.m.

Thursday, May 10
Dirty water reported on South Street at 8:41 a.m.

Caller reported a duck nest in his or her yard on
Humphrey street at 10:46 a.m.

Friday, May 11
Caller reported a fox in his or her yard on Wallace
Road at 7:37 a.m.

Caller reported a fox crossing the road on Atlantic
Avenue at 7:41 a.m.

Fox reported crossing the road on Smith Street at 8:24

(The fox is on the town, o')

Saturday, May 12
Caller reported sprinklers on at game on Village Sreet
at 9:54 a.m.

Dog attacked on Drumlin Road at 5:21 p.m. (was it a

Sunday, May 13
Kids hanging out making noise reported on School
Street at 12:04 a.m.

...and you wonder, why don't we just divert our taxes
from the police dept and get a 24 hour 5 man team down
at Animal Control?

Monday, June 11, 2007

The dog that didn’t want to leave

by Charity Tahmaseb

His official, registered name was Toby von Rockyfellow.

We called him Toby, or Dopey, Tober, or Toblerone.

We didn't know when we first got him--the last of the litter--that Dalmatians could be high-strung and temperamental. Every time we moved and had to find a new vet, they'd balk a little at the idea of an un-neutered (nope, we never did), male Dalmatian coming in for a visit. They'd ready the muzzles, the restraints, and their nerve.

Then they met Toby.

And fell in love.

Granted, when he was young, he had boundless energy. In these last days, I'd forgotten just how much energy until we pulled out some old pictures.

He'd run, he'd jump, he'd tear through the house or the yard.

He was a people dog. He slept on the bed (yes, we let him) until, at last, arthritis stopped him. He sat on the couch, right next to you, as though he were part of the conversation. Then, slowly, he'd lean into you, pushing and pushing, until you either gave up your spot, or gave into the idea that the two of you could occupy the same physical space.

Moments after we brought Andrew and Kyra home from the hospital, he knew. These were the people puppies and it was his job to watch over them. On one of her visits, my mother-in-law mentioned how Toby followed the kids from room to room, often inserting himself between her and them. Just in case.

Near the end, it was hard for him to do this, but on good days, he'd make the effort to lumber to where the kids were playing and find a spot nearby to nap, or wear a feather boa.

I suspect we held on longer than most people would. If he was the dog that didn't want to leave, then we were the family that couldn't say goodbye.

A month and a half ago, we had to. His spirit was strong; his body was not. It was time.

I'm amazed at how empty the house feels without him. It's more than a lack of physical presence. A quiet that doesn't feel right. I keep expecting to hear the slow click of his claws on the hardwood floor. I glance, surprised not to see his dog bed in the corner of the bedroom.

There are good dogs and great dogs. Brilliant ones, show dogs, and smart dogs. Toby wasn't overly bright. He'd let the kids drape him with blankets, then look at the world with a hangdog expression because he couldn't figure a way out from underneath. He could sit on command and raise a paw for you to shake (I taught him that). In fact, he'd offer to shake without prompting, then looked confused when no one shook back. He wasn't the smartest dog.

But I never knew a sweeter one.

And we miss him.

Toby von Rockyfellow
April 1993 ~ April 2007

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Par Two

Meet Hogan and Palmer McLaughlin. That's Ben Hogan and Arnold Palmer, in case you missed the connection. (Guess which sport is the official McLaughlin family favorite.)

Palmer's the pretty black lab on the left. Technically, he isn't ours; he belongs to our son and daughter-in-law. But he stayed with us for his first two weeks of puppyhood while our son finished college, and he used to spend his days here at puppy day care, racing down the ranch road to our house after breakfast and heading back to his own house when our son got home from work at night. Since our grandbaby was born a year ago, he's been here full time. So we think he's just as much our dog as theirs.

Palmer is one very naughty boy. He thinks rules are rules only until we turn our backs or he gets distracted. The only things he likes better than chasing skunks and collecting smelly scraps of animal carcasses are cookies (dog biscuits). Cookies are A Big Deal around here, since they're our only way of controlling him. A cookie in the hand trumps any distraction, even the evil gas delivery man, the dangerous meter reader, or the biggest threat to life on the planet: deer in the yard. Guess how we got him to sit still for his picture? I'll give you a hint--it begins with a C.

Hogan, on the right, thinks he's pretty, too. We tell people he's got a nice personality (the kind of thing you might say when someone asks about a blind date). We found Hogan ten years ago at the animal shelter, and he's been our mystery dog ever since. We wonder what kind of mix he is, since parts of him seem to come from several different breeds (and species). We wonder what happened to him in his former life, since he's afraid of the laundry room, the dishwasher, and the stairs.

Every once in a while Hogan forgets he's afraid of the stairs, and he'll wander up to the second floor. Then, because he's afraid of the stairs, he won't come down. He'll sit on the landing, howling all day. We can't carry him down, because if we try he gets nervous and sprays everything around--walls, rugs, us. I finally found a solution to the problem: opening and closing the ironing board over his head. He's more afraid of the ironing board than the stairs.

Hogan used to be an exceptionally well-behaved dog, but Palmer has been showing him how much fun it is to roam around the ranch--and beyond--looking for trouble. At least Hogan has the decency to be ashamed when he's caught doing something naughty. In fact, the one thing Hogan does best is acting ashamed. No one can cower or crawl or beg for forgiveness as well as he can. It's enough to make us want to give him a cookie--even though we know he may have to check it out first, sniffing suspiciously before he eats it. He's afraid we're going to poison him, too.

How about your favorite critter? Is your pet well-adjusted? Misbehaved? Neurotic?

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Have a Spa Day at Home

by Lee McKenzie

Anyone who has ever treated herself to a day at the spa knows exactly what a wonderful experience that can be. Many of us can’t afford hundreds of dollars for the spa experience, though, so a spa day at home is the next best thing.

To celebrate the June 12 release of The Man for Maggie, my very first Harlequin American Romance, I’ll be posting some of Maggie’s spa tips on my website. For now I thought I’d give you a sneak peek and share this recipe for a Chocolate Facial Mask.

That’s right! Chocolate for your face!

This decadent mask is actually an excellent moisturizer—it leaves your skin baby soft. Recommended for normal skin.

1/3 cup cocoa powder
3 tbsp. heavy cream
2 tsp. cottage cheese
¼ cup honey
3 tsp. oatmeal

Mix all ingredients together (a bullet blender is ideal) and smooth onto face. Relax for ten 10 minutes, then wash off with warm water.

Give a try. It really is as wonderful as it sounds!

Have you treated yourself to a spa day at home? Any tips for us? Ever spent a day at real spa? Let’s hear about it!


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Friday, June 08, 2007

Confessions of a Last-Minute Dieter

by Jennie Lucas

Okay girls, it's confession time.

This isn't easy to admit, but you all have a right to know.

I'm cheating.

On my diet.

With another diet.

The reason this is so embarrassing is that many of you might remember my post "Stupid Diet Tricks" on January 8, 2006. I'd lost fifty pounds from having my first baby, without any diet per se, just by making better choices and gently nudging myself towards better habits. In the blog, I exhorted you all to do the same. I insist that diets don't work, and that it's better to have patience and actually keep the weight off for good. Then I backed it up with research proving that punishing, restrictive diets are basically just stupid, and like 95% of people gain all the weight back that they lose that way.

I still agree with all that. But here's the thing...

I had my second child this last Christmas Eve, with another impressive 50-pound gain. And quite simply, I just couldn't wait ten months to lose the weight. Why? Well, a very important reason. Super-important. Like, life-and-death important: I'm presenting at the RITAs in Dallas, I need to buy a new dress, and I don't want it to be a muu muu.

But I know I'm an idiot. I know it. My stress level as I try to finish my third Presents novel--due next week-- is why God created chocolate. I'm still not sleeping through the night. And yet, like an idiot, I'm counting points on Weight Watchers, measuring my cereal by the half cup, trading in my chicken-fried-steak and hash browns for a breakfast of egg-beaters and veggies al dente.

Or maybe I'm not such an idiot. I've lost six pounds in the last three weeks -- tripling my previous rate. That's worth a little crazy stress, isn't it? 51 pounds down, three more to go, then maybe six to make it a nice even 60. Then---dress nirvana! (And a chocolate chip cookie or ten once I'm off this @%*$# diet!)

So is anyone else out there doing something desperate and crazy to lose weight in time for conference? If so, how's it going? And do you have any tips?

Thursday, June 07, 2007

June at the Wet Noodle Posse!

by Anne Mallory

It's June! Happy Summer! Before you go to the beach, the latest graduation ceremony or next wedding, check out what the Wet Noodle Posse has on the e-zine this month!

Colleen Gleason takes you on a tour of Canyon Falls in beautiful Michigan.

The top ten tips for Family Research , by Lorelle Marinello.

Find out what screening tests to take and when , with nurse Janice Lynn.

Featured noodler Anne Mallory - find out all the dirt on, um, me!

Dr. Deb addresses parental favoritism and how to deal with it.

Use brainstorming to maximize creativity with Lee McKenzie.

Kiki Clark unearths our Foremothers - the original super heroines!

Spinning a Hobby into a Business: Sheri Tyler's Fiber Art and Knitted Dolls by Terry McLaughlin.

Fresh Fruit Recipes and Favorite Movie Soundtracks by all the Noodlers.

Plus news and more!

Happy Summer!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Second Time Around

by Colleen Gleason

Today is the release day of my second book.

When my first book was released (January 2), I was very excited, as you can imagine, anticipating that first day of walking into my Borders and seeing the book on the shelf.

It turned out to be a little anti-climactic, however, because I started getting emails from people the day after Christmas, telling me they'd bought my book already! (Not that I minded--of course I was ecstatic!) It was just a little surprising to me that the book was already out there.

This time, I sort of expected Rises the Night (the second volume in my Gardella Vampire Chronicles) to find its way into bookstores before its Official Release Date of June 5. In fact, I was surprised when, more than ten days before the book's release, I saw that a blogger had bought it in Hong Kong! (Granted, they're ahead of us by how many time zones...but not that far ahead.)

Anyway, so I've found it interesting this time around that while I have this excited feeling for today, I've also been less focused on the day because I know the sales have already begun in some places.

I've gone into several bookstores, and most of them still had the books in the back. They brought them out and I signed them, then back in the back they went until today--which is actually what I as an author prefer.

Those first-week sales are really important to authors, and by waiting for the book's "lay-down" date to put it on the shelf, the bookstore does us a big favor...because it's all in the velocity of sales that first week. And if there are sales before the official release date, it can affect the book's numbers.

In my case, as only a second-book author, it probably won't affect the numbers that much, so I'm just delighted to hear that people in Hong Kong, Vancouver, and Texas have already bought the book.

Believe me...that's the thing I'm most thankful for on this day.

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Kitty Man of My Heart

It’s been such a pleasure reading about everyone’s pets lately I thought I’d report on my own special feline, Max. He’s been a huge part of my life since he joined the family in 1988. As he approaches his 19th birthday (the human equivalent of 92 years!) he’s slowing down a bit but growing daily in affection. He’s the Kitty Man, the Fuzzy Boy, my own personal Snuggle Bunny.

In the past few months Max has lost the sight in his right eye and become just a tad hard of hearing—although I would swear he can hear me open my eyes in the morning because he comes into my bedroom screeching loudly enough to wake the dead. I suspect he can’t hear himself meow unless it’s really loud. And it is.

We still go through our morning ritual of standing at the top of the stairs to decide who’s going to walk down first, but now he takes a step, looks back to see if I’m following, then takes another step, looks back, and on and on. Usually after checking on me four or five times he’s convinced I’m in my proper place and we go on to the kitchen.

Max takes aspirin for his heart every other day, and he seems to know which day is a pill day. Instead of going straight to his bowl he waits for the by the counter. He doesn’t like to take his pill, but he accepts it much as Thunder (who we lost in 2003) accepted having to take her insulin shot every morning.

A few months ago my neighbor rescued two stray cats, Boots and Abby, from a local golf course. Those two cats have given Max a whole new lease on life. He’s incredibly interested in where they are and what they’re doing. I’ve gotten into the habit of feeding them in the afternoon and Max taste-tests all their food. He’d almost completely stopped going out on our screened porch but now he’s out there every day, swaggering around like the lord of the manner, protecting his territory.

It’s so nice to have a Kitty Man around the house! Tell me about yours.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

The emotions of music

It's a brand new month, and that means there's a new issue of the Wet Noodle Posse e-zine up on our site. Be sure to check out all the fabulous articles. Our Faves listing this month is our favorite movie soundtracks, a particular favorite topic of mine since I love soundtracks, especially orchestral ones. Since we submitted our copy for this issue, however, I've bought and fallen in love with yet another soundtrack -- Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End.

I love every single song, from the fun and whimsical "Up is Down" to the sweeping emotion of "One Day" to the proud voices in "Hoist the Colours", the only song with singing accompanying the music. Hans Zimmer, who has done other soundtracks such as Batman Begins, King Arthur, Gladiator and Black Hawn Down, captures the essence and emotion of each scene and puts it to music. That's a talent I very much admire since I don't have a musical bone in my body.

It's the mark of a good soundtrack when you can listen to it and immediately see the accompanying scenes, reexperience the emotions you felt while watching those scenes. It's one of the things that make watching movies such a different entertainment experience than reading books. In addition to the visual, you have the audial. And for whatever reason, music taps into our emotions. I've probably relistened to the Pirates soundtrack 15 or 20 times by now, and it's because I love how the music takes me back to the story. I can relive Captain Jack's humorous antics, the battles between the pirate lords and the East India Trading Company, and the love story between Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann.

Plus, I can actually write to orchestral soundtracks (unlike ones with words, which I find distracting) and feed the emotion from the music into my writing. I think my work comes out richer for that extra emotion.

Now, we've told you our favorite soundtracks. What are yours? Really, we want to know. Hey, I might get some good suggestions to add to my collection.

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