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Monday, September 26, 2011

Bum Knee Redux

By the time this post airs, I'll be under the knife. I mean it. Literally.

They're going to work on my knee (again!) and see if they can trim off some of the tears in my meniscus.

I suspect I'll be home by afternoon. But I don't know if I'll be up to being on my computer for very long. Greg, (the evil warden) will insist I stay in bed.

We'll see. I think I was bouncing off the walls within three days the last time they worked on my knee.

I've spent the last two weeks cleaning, fixing, and prepping for this day. I didn't want any loose ends hanging over my head. And I didn't want Greg to have to do anything but be my personal chauffeur.

I think I will take a few days off. But even if I don't post, I'll probably read--so make sure you post.

What's new? Anyone want to share a memorable moment the last time they paid a visit to a hospital or ER?

Despite the fact that hospital visits should be taken seriously, something funny always happens when I go. The last time, as the nurse was jotting down some final notes, Greg asked to borrow the black marker they had used to label the knee they were going to cut.

"Why," I ask.

"I want to write DNR (do not resuscitate) on your forehead."

I give him the evil eye, but the nurse pats me on the shoulder and says, "Don't worry. We never listen to spouses when they request a DNR."

"Just in case," I tell her, "You better keep an eye on your pen. Greg is sneaky."

Greg rolls his eyes, the pillar of innocence. Thankfully, I've been with him long enough to know better.

I better check his pockets to make sure he doesn't bring his own pen for this surgery.

See you when I get back!

***
Guess the Title Contest

We have a winner! Someone has correctly guessed the title of my next novella. I'll announce the winner on October 2nd and do the big reveal.

Stay tuned!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Carpe Diem

My mother, who is spry and nearly eighty is very fond of (nagging) encouraging me to enjoy life. She often chastises me for working too hard and chasing the dollar.

It's then that I remind her that I do not have six children who will take care of me when I'm her age. Greg and I are on our own. Whatever we've saved up until now has to last us the rest of our lives--however long that might be.

Still, I get her drift. Life is too short to waste it on things that bring you no pleasure.

A friend of mine told me recently that she had lost her joy of writing. I get that way every once in a while too. I usually snap out of it, but one day I know I won't. One day, I'll decide there are other things I'd like to do that bring me more joy--or at least less headaches.

Despite my mother's nagging I actually learned this lesson earlier from my father-in-law. Greg and I once gave him a very expensive bottle of whiskey. It was from a maker he loved and we knew it was the perfect gift for him.

But when he died several years later, we found the bottle in his closet, still unopened. We were so terribly sad because we knew he was saving that whiskey for a special day, and now he would never have the chance to drink it.

Carpe Diem. Sieze the day. Enjoy life to its fullest, and do what you love best because you'll never know when that day will be your last.

What have you been putting off for another day? What gives you joy?

***
Guess the Title Contest
Here are the previous hints for guessing the title to my next book.

• There are two 'Os' in the title.
• Something in the cover art is integral to the title.
• There are two S's in the third word of the title.
• There is one 'H' in the title.
 
And here is today's hint:
• One of the words is a preposition.

To enter the contest, fill out the form here

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Blast From the Past, Rheas

I had to share this video that a friend of ours took of Greg, and the rheas we used to raise way back when.

Greg no longer has hair that long. ...come to think of it, neither do I.

Many thanks to Bill for sending this our way. It brought back a lot of fond memories.

Note: The video is labeled as emus, but these are actually rheas. The big bird that's dancing with Greg was called Grumpy--for obvious reasons.

We had just started our rhea ranch. I can tell by looking at the background that some walls hadn't yet been put up, or any of the back pens. And we were young! LOL. Fortunately, there is no footage of me in this video. (Thank you, Bill!)



I know it must sound silly to everyone out there, but I couldn't stop grinning when I watched this. We were in our prime, doing what we loved best.

***
Guess the Title Contest

Here are the previous hints for guessing the title to my next book.

• There are two 'Os' in the title.
• Something in cover art is integral to the title.
• There are two S's in the third word of the title.

And here is today's hint:
• There is one 'H' in the title.

To enter the contest, fill out the form here.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Troll Cooties

I'm in a  McRanty mood today. Not to fear. My rants are like 'I Love Lucy' reruns. You know what's going to happen but you watch anyway.

Trolls: There's such a big wide world of trolls. They come in all sizes, sexes, and degrees. I normally don't suffer from troll cooties. I think it's because when I catch their scent I put on my mean face.

Most of the time I end up with the needy troll. They're harmless for the most part, but holy moley, can they suck the joy out of a room. And if you don't stroke their ego or tell them what a speshul snowflake they are, they get as pouty as a blowfish. 

Needy trolls are like duct tape. You can't break free unless you cut them off. They're generally not mean-spirited, but they have no clue that while they're whining about how nobody understands them, you're daydreaming of having your teeth pulled without Novacaine.

At the other end of the spectrum is the creepy troll. These make my skin crawl. There was an old guy on a writing forum I used to visit that had pedophile written all over him.

My friends thought I was overreacting, but seriously, he gave me the creeps. Every time he appeared on the forum, his specious humor and double entendres raised all sorts of flags in my mind.

Last week, I had another guy email me and tell me how cute I was, and could we meet sometime. Yeah, buddy. See my husband first and then the rottweilers.

Some people have no clue whatsoever. Who falls for lines like that? 

Maybe I've become jaded over the years. Maybe they're harmless old goats with delusions of manliness. But why take the chance?

What do you think? Do you trust your gut even when your friends tell you otherwise?

How do you handle trolls? 

***
And because guessing the title to my upcoming book is harder than I thought, I will add a clue every time I post. Go here to enter the contest.

Today's clue: There are two 'Os' in the title.

Previous clues: 
• Something in cover art is integral to the title.
• There are two S's in the third word of the title.

Friday, September 16, 2011

No Man-Hams Contest

I've been debating whether to show off the cover for the next book. I'm rather proud of it even if there are no man-hams on it.

I'm still a few weeks from releasing the book, so maybe giving you a sneak peak at the cover is premature. I mean, what if I change my mind? What if I find a man-ham I like in between now and then?

I was actually saving the base art for the third book, but it works for this one too.

Which brings me to something we discussed earlier. The title. Wanna play a game?

In the vein of the children's game, Hangman, send me your best guess for the title of my next book and win that book, along with a few other goodies.

To give you a hint, here is the cover sans the title. Something in the cover will be a clue to the first word in the title. 

There are three words.
5 letters. 2 letters. 5 letters. There are two S's in the last word.

Only one winner. The title must be exact. And the first person to guess correctly will be the winner. Critique partners, editors, and assorted fiends are prohibited from entering. You must be a follower of this blog to enter.

You may enter more than once, but only once a day until October 2, 2011. The winner will be announced on the day the book releases.

If I notice people having a hard time guessing, I'll give another hint next Friday.

So whaddya think of the cover? Does it cast a supernatural creepiness? You are allowed to hate it if it fails to meet your man-ham criteria.

Note: Post your guesses on the form below only.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Nesting & Housekeeping

There is something about September that makes me feel like nesting. Maybe it's the cooler temps. Or that kids are back in school. Or that the summer rush of traveling or the incoming hordes of visitors has wound down.

September is when I get down on the floor and sort through cabinets. What stays? What goes? My pantry gets the same once-over and I make a list of things that need replenishing and other foods that need to get used up.

This past week, I've raked leaves for an hour every morning before it got hot. The chickens follow me dutifully because a raked-up area might yield a few juicy insects. We're still under a burn ban so it may be months before those leaves get burned. But I'll keep piling them.

Soon the garden will need to be turned over and prepared for next season. I was going to plant a fall garden, but with so many pesky chickens running loose, I think I'll stick to container gardening so I can lock away the fruits of my labor.

We have surpassed the all-time record of over 100 degree temps. Technically, it was 72 days of triple digits where I live, but the official record is 71 days for the Dallas area.

We've lost a lot of plants and trees, but not a single animal. In areas south of me, many lost their homes to fire. It's been a tremendously stressful year climate-wise. Certainly one for the record books.

But I think we turned a corner this week. I've had no less than five friends close deals on new homes. A couple welcomed babies into their fold, and some sent their babies to school for the first time. It's a time of rebirth and healing.

Greg and I have petitioned to adopt a starved rottweiler that was found wandering the roads. A lot of people are interested in adopting 'Mercy', but we have our fingers crossed they'll pick us. I know we can give her a home where she'll never know hardship again. I would've posted pictures, but they are too painful to even look at. 

Mercy has her own FB page. She's recovering slowly, but steadily, so we have high hopes she'll pull through. If you go to her photo gallery, be prepared for some shocking images. When you see her, you'll understand why we want to adopt her.

***
Blog Housekeeping

New followers: If I have not followed you, it's probably because your link on Google Friend Connect is not active. I wish I could tell you how to make it active, but I'm not that tech-savvy. All I know is I can't click to follow you back to your blog.

To check if your link is active, click on your avatar on GFC here. If it doesn't take you back to your blog, it's not a working link.

The best way to assure a follow-back is to leave a comment. I love comments and I answer every one. Sometimes I'm even amusing.

So what's on tap in September for you? How do you prepare for fall (or spring if you're down-under)?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Manly Men

I had a very exhausting weekend--most of it spent clicking on photo after photo of half-naked men. Yes, my weekend was brutal. But I did it all for you.

The sad part is, I never found the perfect guy for the cover of my next book. There was a deficit of manly men. 

There were plenty of boy-men, suitable for YA. There were also a lot of men that would've worked for gay fiction. But there was nothing (I liked) for heterosexual tastes, men with hair on their chest and a serious 'I can protect you' expression. Men who looked old enough to know how to make love to a woman.

Most of the guys had shaved chests, over-the-top abs, or else they were oiled up like man-hams in a greased pig contest. Some wore stupid grins. Others looked either bored or uncomfortable when paired up with women. 

I tried one model because he had some nice stubble on his chin and a melancholy expression that would've worked for this story line. He wasn't particularly buff, but neither was he boyish. I slapped him onto my background and IMMEDIATELY two manly men on my panel of judges declared: Too gay.

Oy.

I'm a little limited because I already paid for a month's subscription to this art database. I don't want to spend more money and time looking at men. (Strange as that may sound.)

I pulled some more model photos and one might make the cut. He looks familiar to me, or more to the point, his tattoo looks familiar. It's a set of wings tattooed on his back, which is rather apropos. 

I have to admit, I've always been hypercritical of male models on romance book covers. I like men to look like real men, masculine, filled-out, and athletic. Super muscles and abs just look dumb unless the main character is a bodybuilder.

And what is with all the shaved chests? I have never met a straight man with a shaved chest. Is that new? Do men shave their chests and grease their bodies nowadays?

I know I've been out of the market for a while, but surely it hasn't changed that much. 

How do you feel about men on cover art? Man-hams or guy-next-door?

For the record, I would've rather just used a prop as the focal point, but those sorts of covers aren't as easily remembered.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Where Were You On 9-11?

All this week, the media has been remembering 9-11 since this year marks the 10th anniversary of that fateful day.

Things have changed a lot in this country. Some good. Some bad. There was a lot of armchair quarterbacking after the fact, but I think for the most part the US acted correctly. We grounded all air traffic and scrambled the F-16s.

That was the big picture, but you hardly ever hear about what happened to the individuals, one human to another. 

On September 11, 2001, I was living in Dallas. Greg lived on the Texas Gulf coast (still does). I had just finished a staff meeting when I passed by a cubicle with the radio on. At first the reports were sketchy. We all thought it was a horrible accident--until the second airplane hit the other tower. 

Within minutes I started receiving frantic emails from my family in Chicago and a phone call from Greg. Everyone wanted to be assured the other was safe. A couple of hours later, when our worst suspicions had been verified, I got a call from the director of our company ordering me to send everyone home.

It was just as well. The only thing on our minds were our families.

Greg was at work. His chemical plant sits directly under the flight path of the city's main airport. Plane after plane came down in a thunderous cascade that didn't stop. As soon as he heard the abrupt landings, he realized immediately that the US was throwing out a security net. We had to separate the good guys from the bad guys.

Meanwhile in Dallas, I debated the wisdom of keeping two households. Dallas had had a few warnings and evacuations because of bomb scares. It was even less safe on the Texas coast where petrochemical plants became secondary targets.

Security protocols were tightened and every threat was considered serious. A terrorist bomb at a chemical plant with toxic chemicals could kill millions. Nobody was taking any chances.

Greg, who is an Incident Commander on the Industrial Rescue Brigade was put on standby. His group, as well as dozens of others were ready to mobilize at a moment's notice. At my company, we industrialized entire departments to build food banks, blood drives, and care packages. Some of my younger friends enlisted in the military that very week.

We were sucker-punched, but the bad guys didn't even come close to bringing us down.

For the first time in a long time, I was really proud at how people put aside their differences to help total strangers--not just in this country, but all over the world.

I remember that day like it was yesterday. I felt vulnerable not having Greg nearby, but I also felt empowered, knowing that other people depended on me.

When Greg finally came home to me a week later, I kissed him hard, not just for myself, but for all the people who weren't as lucky as I was that night.

Where were you on September 11?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

One Million Acres and Counting

Over one million acres have burned in Texas in just over a week. We finally broke our triple digit streak, but the winds have fanned wildfires which have jumped the Colorado River and are now burning a swathe on the other side.

My friend and frequent commenter, Jackie Burris has evacuated and things aren't looking good for her. Please keep Jackie and all the other people who have lost their homes in your thoughts.

I'm just sick with worry about all those homes and animals destroyed in those fires. It's the worst season of wildfires Texas has ever experienced. Click on this link for a short article on the fire. There's a video too, but the slideshow is more chilling.

***
In other news, my next novella has gone through my CPs' eagle eyes. They gave me so many great ideas that the book has grown another three thousand words. All that's left is to send it to an editor. 

***
Tell me some good news. What's the best thing that's happened to you this week? Heck, I'll even settle for one of LD Masterson's terrible groaners. 

On second thought...I'm not that desperate.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Angelina Rain, Going to the Dogs

Angelina Rain is a long-time follower and fellow dog-lover. I was thrilled when her book Intimate Healing released because not only is it about my favorite subject in the whole world (DOGS), but it's also a romance.

Dog rescue means so much to Angelina that she negotiated with her publisher to donate 25% of her royalties from Intimate Healing to the Humane Society of the United States.

Today, she tells us about a different love story about how she met the little stray who became the love of her life. Meet Joey.

Please welcome, Angelina Rain.

Love at First Sight, by Angelina Rain

I’ve never been one to believe in love at first sight. The idea that a bond so strong could be formed in only seconds sounded a bit unrealistic to me. It wasn’t until that fateful September afternoon that I learned a lesson about love that strong.

The instant I laid my eyes on him, I knew I had to have him. He was a golden retriever mix with that beautiful fur color that glistened in the sunlight. He was skin and bones, fur missing around his chest and snout. 

Fear lingered in his gaze. While other dogs available for adoption that day barked and wagged their tails, he sat in the corner of his crate as though secretly wishing to be invisible.

Then he saw me. His tail thumped against the crate, and there it was, love at first sight.

Maybe that was because he looked neglected. I’ve always been the kind to give love to those who haven’t received as much as anyone else. Or maybe it was because this dog looked shy. That is something I could relate to.

I asked the shelter employees about this dog and the more I learned about him the more I wanted him for myself. He was found as a stray and instantly there was suspicion of abuse. He showed fear towards men, yet none towards women. He was scared of the sounds of household appliances. He was malnourished, yet otherwise healthy.

Joey was five months old when he was found and brought to an animal shelter. The shelter that took him in only kept their animals for two weeks before euthanizing them, and his two weeks had been up.

He was scheduled for death when an employee from a different animal shelter saved him. They cleaned him up and put a few pounds on him.

When I got my hands on him, he was already nine months old. Going by my math, he was up for adoption for four months before I found him. Did no one want this adorable puppy? It surprises me that it took him so long to find a home. But then again, what if Joey was meant for me all along?

So this is my story of instant love. Do you believe in love at first sight?


INTIMATE HEALING

It’s been fourteen years since Jordan Powell ended her relationship with Nate Thrillson and she is still not over him. She never expected to see him again.

Nate is hiding a deadly secret and plans to live out the rest of his life alone. When he is assigned as head investigator to a missing dogs case he doesn’t expect to be working so closely with the town veterinarian, Jordan.

As they work together to discover who is kidnapping these dogs, old feelings are brought to the surface. Can they be together again or will other problems force them apart?

BUY A BOOK, SAVE A LIFE

Because I love animals so much, I will be donating 25% of my royalties from the sale of INTIMATE HEALING to the Humane Society of the United States.


Angelina’s Web Site: www.angelina-rain.com 
Angelina's Blog

Monday, September 5, 2011

Rabid Chickens & Other Random Things

Several of my fellow Campaigners have been posting ten random things about themselves and I thought it would be nice to do that today, Labor Day (USA).

My regulars probably already know some of these things about me. The chances are even better they started some of the rumors.

Here they are in no particular order.

1. One drink and you can probably have your way with me. I'm a real lightweight in the alcohol department.

2. I've been married longer than I've been single.

3. I was very cute in my youth. Evidently, God made up for that oversight in my middle age.

4. I never cuss in public. But in private, I've been known to make longshoremen blush.

5. Clowns creep me out.

6. I'm naturally left-handed, but I've learned to be right-handed.

7. Only one item in my dreams will be in color--everything else is in black and white.

8. Greg did not marry me for my cooking ability.

9. I never meant to make writing a career. A good friend forced encouraged me to enter a writing contest and I won. The rest is history.

10. The majority of people who read this blog do so out of morbid curiosity. They can't believe I willingly live in the middle of nowhere, raise rabid chickens, and fight off scorpions daily. It's an interesting life.


Feeding time for the flocks


If we had a drinking game, which one of us would be under the table first? I need to know before I visit you. :grin:

Update: Please stop by tomorrow and meet my guest, Angelina Rain. She's going to tell us about a very special love in her life. (And he's a cutie!)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Orgasmic Food

I'll bet dollars to donuts I'll get the weirdos Googling the keywords for that title. No matter. I had to use it. Today's post is all about favorite foods.

Of all the places I've traveled, the city with the best food has been Chicago. Even now, thirty-five years since I've lived there, it still rates as Number One.

I'm not a true foodie like Greg. That man lives for savory delights. I can take it or leave it, but I'm not stupid. I'll indulge given half the chance. 

We are surprisingly (or not) plebian in our tastes. We both adore 'street' food--gyros, Italian beef sandwiches, Polish sausages deep-fried until the skin crackles in orgasmic explosions of flavor.

Chicago is renown for this type of food. And we grew up on it. No matter where we are in the world, if we have a gyro, it's like going home again.

True story: The last time we visited Chicago was for a funeral. Instead of going straight home after the service, we stopped at a hole-in-the-wall, still in our mourning clothes, and pigged-out on gyros. For a while we thought we were the ones who had died and gone to heaven.

The Bests

The best Polish can be found at Mic Duck's on Belmont Ave.

The best pizza (back in the day) was Gino's for thick crust, and a little dive called Carmen's when we wanted a thinner crust and shrimp topping.

The best Italian beef (or Western beef as it's sometimes called) was in Kankakee, outside Chicago. Greg could probably name other locations, but that was my favorite.

Real Jewish delis are my next biggest gluttonous sin. Oh. My. God. Chicago has the best delis in the world. I can still smell the pastrami as it was piled up on a sandwich so big, I could barely take a bite.

My favorite hangout was a place called The Grand Deli. I don't know if it's still there, but if it is, it's on my list of stops when I go back.

There are so many other restaurants I could name, but I'm already drooling from reminiscing.

So tell me, if I were visiting, what restaurant would you recommend? What's your favorite food in the world?