Okay, Listen Here

Okay, Listen Here

Thursday, June 30, 2011

RWA Conference Pictures

Hi,
The Okay, Listen Here Girls have sent me some pictures from the RWA conference in New York.


The first picture is of Kathy, Debby Giusti and Jean at the Literacy Signing. Since this is the first picture they sent, I think they were trying to prove that they were actually attending the conference. For those of you who may not be familiar with her, Debby Giusti writes for Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. Her latest book "The Officer's Secret" came out in May.


The next picture is of Stephanie and their stash of food. Either our Girls thought that New York might run out of food or they wanted to cut the cost of their trip by selling snacks to the other conference attendees.


This picture is from Juniors where they had lunch on Tuesday. Our Girls claim Junior's serves the Biggest Cup of Coffee. It may be true; the cups look big enough to wear as a hat. The New York Black & White Cookies look delicious (and also big).


Here is a picture of the Naked Cowboy ....

and the outside of the Phantom of the Opera Playhouse. I mentioned to our Girls that these were sightseeing pictures and they were supposed to be on a business trip. The Girls muttered something about conducting research on Alpha Males from non-Southern regions and quickly changed the subject.


This is a picture which was titled "Kathy Posing With the Statue of Liberty!". I thought the Statue was much taller. And surrounded by water.


They wanted to share this picture of a gentleman standing underneath a "No Standing" sign.


And we conclude with a picture of the sunset on Monday night taken from their hotel room window.

The Guy

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Usurped!




Hi,

This is The Guy. The Okay, Listen Here Girls are all out of town. They have spent all of their money on soft drinks and they don't have any left to pay for the internet. So I have taken this opportunity and usurped their blog. (Insert Evil Laugh here.) If you have any questions about them feel free to ask. I will answer your questions in as timely and truthful a manner as I choose. There will be a prize to the commenter that I choose. There will also be a surprise for Pantster as she will have to provide the prize and send it.

The Guy

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Life is a Beach

I love the beach – everything about it. The sun, the water and, yes, even the sand. After living in Mobile and being close to the Gulf for years, my husband and I had to have a place on the beach. We bought a condo in Gulf Shores last year and I go every chance I get. I would live there if I could.

A couple of weeks ago, I dragged (forcibly – yeah right), my sister with me to the beach on the pretense of having to get started re-doing the interior of the condo. I needed to get things painted, updated etc. I thought we would get a lot done in choosing new furniture and colors but the lure of the ocean was simply too much for us. The siren call of sun and surf won over standing in Lowes looking at paint chips. I think renovating will have to wait until it gets too cold to sit outside.

The first day we got up and sat on the balcony, watching the early morning people walking and looking for shells. I noticed a few idiots in the water as the bait fish were flying and jumping. Has no one ever read or listened to people about sharks? I learned early on that sharks prefer to feed when the bait fish are running – which is usually early in the morning or about sunset. Also, sharks are more prone to attack LONE swimmers (cue Jaws music and the lone girl swimming at night). It is best to swim in groups. I won’t go in the water until about mid-morning after the fish have quit jumping and the seabirds aren’t diving any more for fish. That is definitely a clue that the bait fish have left the area. Although one article I read said if you don’t want to run the risk of being attacked then stay out of the water, I still swim but try to avoid things which make you a target – shiny jewelry, brightly colored swimsuits (mine is basic black or dark blue – the colors also helps hide defects), inflatables (sharks love them for some reason) and going out where the sand bar drops off (a favorite feeding area). Every person I saw that morning was in neon green or yellow suits, splashing and swimming with floats and going way too far out in the water. Yep, feeding time.

At around ten, I pulled on the one-piece, packed a small cooler with drinks and a bottle of ammonia/alcohol solution (more on that later), grabbed my towel, chair and umbrella and then trudged through the sand to a spot close to the water. My sister did the same. She knows I travel light and won’t be burdened with bags of stuff. I simply cannot get over the people who empty their condos, bringing everything with them to the shore including the kitchen sink. Less is more. I always feel sorry for those stupid young parents who pack their children’s toys, drinks, food, tents, strollers, beds, etc., and finally get to the beach, exhausted and ill, only to find the kids would much prefer the pool. They will learn. The ocean is scary and the sand gets itchy – the kids are usually crying in ten minutes and the parents are packing. A word of advice: travel light, it makes the return trip a lot easier.

After positioning my chair and umbrella, I usually sit and people-watch until I get too hot to stand it. Ah, people at the beach…they seem to throw convention out the window and dress in ways that would make designers shudder and vow never to create another swimsuit. I am older – face it, and I understand that this body has NO BUSINESS in a bikini. I wish someone would tell that to other women my age. One woman, who was about my height, age and overweight had on a string bikini. Jean’s words came floating into my head: “The real horror is, she actually got up that morning and put that on.” My sister kept telling me to shut up when I pondered men in Speedos. I mean, really? Does no one own a mirror? Then there are the people who are completely covered, head to toe, in an effort to avoid the sun’s damaging rays. Long sleeve shirts, hats, and pants. Okay, so why come to the beach to die of heatstroke? There should be a happy medium in dressing appropriately for the beach – somewhere between too little and too much. I kept muttering that most of these women should know that they aren’t twenty any more and the men definitely cannot be in Chippendales. Good thing I had Ray Bans.

When it got too hot to sit any more, I got up and went down for a dip. I made sure to get near a large group of people and floated with the waves. Too much splashing and kicking aren’t good either. What I don’t understand is why people feel the need to force their kids out into the water. One lady was holding a toddler who was screaming, kicking and clawing to get out of that water. Far be it from me to tell the woman that the kid obviously didn’t like the salt in his eyes or the wild rolling of the ocean. I think she learned that when her eardrums shattered. Best to get out of the water, blood attracts sharks. The woman tenaciously held on until she couldn’t take it any more. Thank God!!

Cooled off, with my ears ringing, I went back to my chair. I had noticed a few jelly fish in the water and, well, I got stung on the leg. Yes, it hurts, but that is the risk you take. I brought out the bottle of ammonia/alcohol solution, poured some on the sting then picked up a shell to scrape the stingers out. A young girl just up the beach came running out of the water, screaming she had been stung by a jellyfish – such histrionics! I watched her being rescued by her boyfriend who graciously offered to urinate on her leg. I shook my head, that doesn’t work. I grabbed the ammonia/alcohol solution and went to her aid. I think her boyfriend was disappointed because he kept arguing with me. I think he was wondering how many times do you get the chance to pee on your girlfriend, at least it seemed like that. The younger generation, I swear.

After about four hours of sitting there, thinking up stories for all the people who strolled by or who were sitting near me, I was done. To quote Jean again, “stick a fork in me.” I got up and, according to proper beach etiquette, shook out my towel down-wind of other sunbathers, packed up my meager belongings and headed back to the condos. Passing the pool, I noticed the young parents, sitting in the shade, exhausted, with their entire condo piled around them. I smiled, it gets better as you get older – the only real benefit I could attribute to aging and being at the beach is I don't have to deal with a cranky child.

After a shower and lunch, we went to Lowes only I couldn’t decide on colors. Time enough for that later when the water wasn’t calling. Back as the beach, holding a beer in my hand, leaned back in a chair and watching the sunset, I decided life couldn’t get any better than this, even with all the people around. Oh, wait, was that a fin in the water? Has any one told those late-in-the-day swimmers? Not me, I was too comfortable…

Do you go to the beach? Tell me your favorite places to go whether it's the beach, the mountains or the big cities.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Nine Lives of Accidental Kitty.


You might remember that a few weeks ago I mentioned that, while I was at the beach with my amazing girls, The Guy found a dying cat and set up a Cat Hospice on my back porch. Or you may not remember since my blog is not the most important thing in your life. At least I hope it's not because that would be sad for you and too much pressure for me.

Anyway. After analyzing the cat's symptoms with the help of the Internet, The Guy decided the cat had been poisoned and there was no hope. Turns out, the Internet does not make The Guy a vet. The cat kept living. He was still blind and still staggering, but alive. Back to the Internet went The Guy. This time, he determined that the cat was in the last stages of feline leukemia. Guess what? Still not a vet. The cat lives on.

Finally, says The Guy, "I think I need to take him to the vet. I feel guilty for waiting this long but I was sure he'd be dead soon. I just wanted to make his last days comfortable."

Off to the vet they go. I did not go. Beyond feeding him during the day, I was determined not to get emotionally involved with a cat that had "death" stamped on his head.

Well, you know where you get vet-worthy advice? From a vet. Turns out, the cat had an ear infection—one that was so bad it made him blind. So now, my back porch has changed from Cat Hospice to Cat Hospital. (Someday I'm going to explore the root words of "hospice" and 'hospital". I regret not having studied Latin—not that it was taught at my county high school.)

Anyway. At this point, cat is not out of the woods, but he can't come in the house with the other cats. Not because I say so. Because the vet says so. And we are going to go with what she says since she's the only one who has shown any sense at all about this situation.

I could go on about reactions to antibiotics and the chicken I had to boil and mix with rice but I won't. The cat continues to live. In fact, he's gained over a pound, has had his shots, and been neutered. Also, though he will probably never have the eyes of an eagle, he can see now.

Guess where he's living. Yep. I've tried to find him a home, where he wouldn't be the fourth cat, but since it's SO easy to find a home for a healthy cat with full vision, guess how that worked out. People do not want a special needs cat, even if he's white and sweet, with blue eyes.

Godson's Mom said it best. "Four is so many more than three." She ought to know. She's had four in the past because Godson's Dad keeps bringing them home. She only has three now, but she wouldn't even discuss it with me. I pointed out that she has more square feet in her house than I do. She says the bonus room doesn't count because they never go there. Neither does the little sitting room off Precious Angel's room.

I digress. What a surprise.

So now he has a name. Boo.

Have you had any accidental additions to your household?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Hot Chicken Casserole - Recipe Friday

I am not the world’s best cook. No one has ever died from my cooking but then I don’t usually do it for a lot of people. I think my husband and son have developed sort of an immunity to my cooking so I haven’t killed them yet either. I love cook books; thumbing through the pages and imagining myself as actually being able to cook the delicacies mentioned inside. Alas, if it is complicated, you can forget it.

One day, I was in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee in the Mennonite Community with my husband and the barn boys. We were buying some of the fantastic leather goods the Mennonite men create in their shops for horses. While waiting on my guys to negotiate with the shopkeeper (they usually won’t talk to women), I happened to run across a cook book called “The Best of Mennonite Fellowship Meals.” I scanned some of the pages and, wow, it all looked simple, even for me. I bought the book and am so glad that I did.

Just as background, according to Professor John D. Roth:
Mennonites are a branch of the Christian church, with roots in the radical wing of the 16th century Protestant Reformation. Part of the group known as Anabaptists (because they rebaptized adult believers), the Mennonites took their name from Menno Simons, a Dutch priest who converted to the Anabaptist faith and helped lead it to prominence in Holland by the mid-16th century. simplicity, community, service and mutual aide. The Amish, who separated from the Mennonites in the late 1600's, are widely known for their plain dress and rejection of modern technology and conveniences. Unlike the Mennonites, they form an exclusive and tight-knit community, with the church dictating much of what may or may not be done: for example, each local church district would dictate rules regarding the use of telephones, if indeed they are permitted at all. While certain conservative branches of the Mennonite church still dress simply and require women to wear head coverings, Mennonites generally are not culturally separatist, choosing to embrace the larger communities outside of their church rather than forming a separate community around the church. Where the Amish believe in keeping themselves spiritually focused by limiting their interaction with modern society, Mennonites believe in practicing Jesus' teaching of service to others in a broader context.

From what I have gleaned from my reading, the Mennonites allow electricity and the use of automobiles (while some Mennonite groups may not). They use tractors and other farm implements. I think it depends on the group and how they govern themselves. The Amish strictly do no use electricity and will not have automobiles.

Anyway, I got side-tracked by their fascinating history. The recipe I found in the book was a sort of quick dressing. It appealed to me because it was a no-muss, no-fuss dinner all in one. I have substituted canned white meat chicken on occasion when I didn’t feel like cooking the chicken breasts (lazy, I know).

Hot Chicken Casserole

4 chicken breasts or 2 lbs. of chicken pieces (I have used two of the large cans of white chicken)
Water to cover
8 tsps. Margarine or butter
16 oz. pkg. Pepperidge Farm cornbread crumbs
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1 can of celery soup
2 cans of chicken broth

1. Cook chicken in water until skin comes off easily. Cool then skin and bone chicken. Reserve broth.
2. Melt margarine and stir in crumbs. Set aside.
3. Mix soups with broth. Set aside.
4. In greased baking dish put layer of crumbs. Alternate layers of soup with layers of chicken. Top with rest of crumbs.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Serve with cranberry sauce.

I love this recipe because it reminds me of dressing. I usually add a green vegetable and salad. Dinner is done!

Amish. Pictures, Images and Photos

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Book Report: Real Men Wear Plaid

When we started this blog .we intended to review books. I have not done a very good job of making this happen, probably because I didn't have a plan. Now, I  have one.  I am going to do a monthly book review and give the book to a lucky commenter  Normally, my review will appear the last week of the month, but I'm a week early this time because I am going to be at the Romance Writers of America National Conference next week. 


The book I would like to talk about this month is Real Men Wear Plaid,  by my Heart of Dixie Chapter-mate, Rhonda Nelson.  This Harlequin  Blaze  was just the red hot read this single girl needed!  I love men in kilts and this book delivered them in triplicate. It is comprised of three stories about Scottish brothers who all fall in love with sweet girls from the American South. As a Southern girl myself,  I adored the premise that no one can resist our charms.

In the first story, Ewan MacKinnon (The Wanderer) meets Gemma as they are both hiking along The West Highland Way.  It turns out they are both making the trek as a journey of self-discovery, but what they actually find is sizzling passion along with the answers they were seeking within themselves.

In The Warrior, Cam MacKinnon, has bought the castle of his dreams and runs it as a bed and breakfast that specializes in fishing and murder mystery parties--which he secretly writes.  His hard fast rule against fraternizing with guests goes by the wayside when finds he can't resist Summer's sexy southern charms.  What they expect to be one weekend of holiday fun, turns into a lifetime of  true love.

The final story is about Alec MacKinnon (The Wayfarer) and his best friend and mentor's daughter, Isla.  Before meeting her, Alec expected Isla to be a spoiled selfish American, but she turns out to be nothing like he expected and nothing short of  irresistible!

I loved that these stores showed three very different paths to finding a lifetime passion and that  love doesn't respect borders or boundaries.  It can happen any time and any place, especially when you least expect it!

I recommend this book to anyone who likes a steamy romance with rich satisfying characters, full of the joy of finding love. 

I will announce the winner of this month's book tonight at 10:00 p.m.

What is your favorite book where the men wear plaid?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My Handy Dandy Conference Scheduler

I just got back from a wonderful trip to the beach. Gulf Shores in southern Alabama was fantastic! The beaches were beautiful this year, the weather was glorious and oh! how I basked in the sun, taking in all the sunshine I could get! There is something about the rhythmic soothing sound of waves, a cooling breeze fluttering a beach umbrella above your head, and a good book, like Lynn Raye Harris' BEHIND THE PALACE WALLS. (If you haven't read it yet, run, don't walk to your nearest bookstore!)

But as with every vacation, the relaxation and laziness must end. So it is that I've returned home, switching my attention to the main event that fills every romance writer with expectant bliss (expecially this one), RWA Conference.

Conference is coming almost a month early this year. I'm sure the date change has everyone running hither and yon. There is so much to do to get ready, packing lists to make, clothing to sort or buy, shoes (the ever incredible staple of life) to match those outfits day and night, shopping for practical things and most of all, referring to my Handy Dandy Conference Spreadsheet to keep me on task.

Yes, I know RWA has a really good agenda page up this year and I'm using it too, but I couldn't help plugging my spreadsheet. For me, there is something very linear about gazing upon the color-coordinated phases and blocked days that helps me figure out where I need to be when. At a glance, I'm able to tell what time an event begins, what that event is, and if there will be a conflict with any of the workshops I've chosen to attend. And, because I know spur of the moment ideas creep into my head, I've also got space for 3 choices of workshops. This always keeps me on task because if I find I really don't need one particular workshop, I can simply look at my spreadsheet and see where else I need to be at that time.

If I want to attend a booksigning or a spotlight on a particular publishing house, that information is on my spreadsheet too. If you'd like to use my spreadsheet at conference this year, I'm more than happy to share it with you. Everything is in Excel. Adjusting the spreadsheet can be easily done by copying the cells in one row and then pasting those copied cells into the right place. After that, you can adjust the typing, add your event, and so forth.

Send me a request at: kathybone@aol.com and I'll make sure you get a copy.

What tips do you have for going to conference or taking a trip to NYC?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Very Superstitious


Superstitious? Oh, yeah, I am the QUEEN of superstitions. I have been known to drive my family crazy about them. Recently, at the beach, my sister put a hat on the bed and I nearly had a stroke. I honestly think I almost scared her to death when I snatched it off the bed and began lecturing her about it being bad luck, a portent of DEATH!! Muttering at me, she said it might mean death - hers from a heart attack.

When she asked me where such a stupid superstition came from, I was flummoxed. I didn’t know; all I knew was that it was bad. That sent me to the Internet because I now had a burning question (I cannot have an unanswered question). Well, I found the reason for the superstition. It seems that Catholic priests used to wear a small cap (like yarmulkas worn by Jewish men or the skullcaps worn by Bishops and the Pope) that they never took off, even when they were indoors. EXCEPT when they were putting on their vestments to give Last Rites. So they would lay their hat on the bed of the sick person while they were changing. Hence, the superstition – A hat on the bed means death. See, there was a reason for it. The article went on to say that American cowboys strictly adhere to this superstition.

Being a spatial thinker, whose mind runs in fifty directions at one time, I started looking at the different sites about superstitions. I found a few that intrigued me. One in particular discussed the beliefs about the body. I thought about how we describe our characters as writers and it struck me that some of these were funny. So, I thought I’d share a few with you:

HAIR - A sudden loss of hair is unlucky, forecasting a decline in health, loss of property or failure in business, or the death of a child. Red hair is associated with fiery-tempered people; black and dark brown hair indicate strength; fair hair implies timidity. On a man, if the hair grows low on the forehead and back above the temples he will have a long life; if a woman's hair grows in a low point on her forehead ('widow's peak') she will outlive her husband. If a woman suddenly develops curls on her forehead her man has not long to live. Lank hair = a cunning nature; Curly hair = good-natured, full of fun; Long hair = strength (e.g. Samson) and luck.

So that means that I: am cunning; timid; and going to outlive my husband. Well two out of three might be right.

EARS - Small ears denote a delicate character and thick ears denotes a person of a sensual/coarse nature. Thin, angular ears = a bad temper; Long or prominent ears = a person with musical inclinations. The larger the ear lobes, the greater the intellect.

I ran to the mirror to determine the size of my ears and, most especially the lobes. Alas, both are normal sizes. Maybe my lobes are a bit large…hopefully.

MOUTH - If you bite your tongue while you are eating then you have recently told a lie.
A large gap between the teeth = lucky in life; Large teeth = physical strength; Small, regular teeth = careful and methodical in your habits. I have to add one that my grandfather always said – a woman with thin lips is mean-spirited.

I have small regular teeth so I am careful and methodical (yeah right). I also go through quite a bit of Peroxyl – I always seem to bite my tongue so does that mean I have told a lot of lies lately? Oh, wait, that might be a result of holding my tongue to keep from telling stupid people…

HANDS – If your right palm itches, you are going to receive money. If the left hand itches, you are going to lose money. Two people should never wash their hands in the same water, it will cause a quarrel. Large, thick hands = strength of character; Small, slender hands = weak and timid character; Long hands = ingenious nature; Short ones = careless and foolish nature; Hard hands = rudeness; Soft hands = wit; Hairy hands = a person who likes luxury (or he’s a werewolf). A damp hand = an amorous disposition; while “a cold hand means a warm heart”. 
Long fingers = artistic; Short, thick fingers = intemperate and silly; a crooked little finger = omen of wealth; the first finger (the 'poison finger') should never be used to administer medicines; the third finger (the 'wedding' finger) is said to be linked directly to the heart. Specks on the nails: 
yellow = death; black = ill-luck; white = good fortune to come.

Once again I have a weak and timid character while being artistic and witty. Maybe…

So this cunning, timid, lie-telling, not-so-bright, witty person wants to hear some of your superstitions. My family gets tired of walking through salt while I am cooking (throwing it over my shoulder to prevent bad luck when I usually spill it). What do you do to ward off the Evil Eye? Share some of your family superstitions with us. I never tire of them – ask my sister…


black cat Pictures, Images and Photos

Monday, June 20, 2011

Wedding Rules According to Jean

A number of people have asked me when I was going to blog about the wedding rules. I have been reluctant because weddings are so personal and I am so opinionated. So I'm going to give this disclaimer: It is (was) your wedding. Regardless of what Emily Post or I think, you should do what makes you happy. I will not judge you. Okay, I might. But I'll keep it in prospective and respect that you are true to yourself. I even understand it. I drink white wine with red meat because I don't like red wine. I don't care what any snotty waiter thinks—though he is welcome to blog about correct wines.

First off, any couple willing to put themselves or their families in debt for a wedding hasn't got enough sense to get married, let along stay that way, so just forget the whole thing. Get married within your means. Be proud of what you do. Just don't try to pretend that piped in music is a string trio.

The invitation. It should be white or ivory engraved in black. The wording should be basic, starting off with something like "Mr. and Mrs. Bride's Nervous Parents request the Honor of Your Presence--or Pleasure of Your Company if the wedding is not being held at a house of worship. There must be no talk of celebrating love, pictures of the couple, or pop out bells and doves. Address them by hand with real black ink. These days, that doesn't have to be a fountain pen. Gel pens are real ink but get a nice one. Spell out Mister, Avenue, Doctor, etc. If you want to hire a calligrapher, that's fine but not necessary. If you want to print out mailing labels on your computer, that is not fine in any universe. No, not even in a cursive script.

Wedding Party Attire. Those who sell wedding dresses and rent formal attire will lie to you. I will not.

The Bride-- If you want to drag a twelve foot train down the aisle, that's great but don't do it at two o'clock in the afternoon. The most formal dress must be worn in the morning or at night—before noon or after six. No bare shoulders or low cut neckline in the house of the Lord.

Female Wedding Party members. No black, no white. No bare shoulders or low cut neckline in the house of the Lord.

The Groom. And really, all males in the wedding, apart from the ring bearer. (I'll get to him.) Morning formal weddings means morning suits—cutaways and striped pants. Afternoon means dark business suits. After six, means black or white tie, depending on the formality of the bride's dress. This means no tuxedos before 6 p.m. Now, about that ring bearer. Regardless of the time of day, preschool boys do not belong in morning suits, business suits, black tie, or white tie. They belong in Eton suits and knee socks. This brings me to the next subject.

Children in the Wedding. There are differing views on this. I didn't want any. They steal the show and I didn't want any competition. Truly, I'm not usually that full of myself but this was my day and I figured there might never be another when everything was all about me. And there hasn't been. Still, I have since come to regret this, mostly because Baby Girl simply will not let it go. She was five at the time and was not one bit happy about giving out rice bags. She felt she had been robbed of her rightful place at the altar with a basket of rose petals. She has reminded me of this at least twice a month for twenty-two years and four months. So if you're going to have a ring bearer and flower girl, bear in mind that they might refuse to do it at the last minute and if they don't, they are probably going to raise hell. Of course, as I can attest, the children in your life might grow up and raise hell because they didn't get to do it. So decide what you can live with and go with it.

Though I've not witnessed it myself, I hear that in the last few years there has been an unfortunate trend toward having something called a miniature bride and groom. Avoid this. There is supposed to one, and only one, person wearing white and that is not some eight-year-old intent on stealing your thunder.

Wedding Director. In the name of all that is Holy, hire yourself a wedding director. This is not to be confused with a wedding planner, who helps plan the whole thing and charges a lot of money. A wedding director meets with you a couple of times and is on hand for the rehearsal and the big day to, well, direct. She will make sure everyone has the right flowers and is wearing/carrying them correctly. She will get everyone lined up and down the aisle at the right time. She will boss the photographer around. In other words, she will save your fanny. If you think your aunt, ex stepmother, or 5th BFF, who didn't make the bridesmaid cut, can do it, you are wrong. The wedding director is not emotionally involved and doesn't care if she sees you go down the aisle or say I do. Hence, she can be somewhere else—like making sure the cake has arrived and that your drunk ex boyfriend is escorted off the premises without much ado.

Photographs. Remember that the wedding is not for the benefit of producing pictures. The photographer is meant to record your day as it unfolds. Do not let him dictate to you. He will try. If you don't want the groom to see you before the ceremony, do not be bullied into having group shots done before. Please do not leave your guests to cool their heels for an hour between the ceremony and the reception. Go stand in the receiving line so that the people who cared enough about you to come to your wedding can offer their good wishes. Get the party started and then go back for those pictures. The photographer will not like this. He wants to go home. If need be, have the wedding director whip his butt. She can; she's seen worse.

The Guest List. Where do you draw the line? That's hard. I didn't draw a line; neither did I spend a lot of money. It was more important to me to celebrate with my friends and family than to have a sit down meal and an open bar, which we don't really do here in the south much anyway. There is no shame in a punch, cake, and finger food reception at the church. But if you draw a line—say family only—stay within that line. Or don't—if you don't care what it's going to cost you and I'm not talking about money.

Random Thoughts

  • Don't sing to each other. Just don't. Please.
  • No programs.
  • No unity candle.
  • If you want a power point presentation of your childhoods and courtship, do it at the rehearsal dinner. Also, don't include any naked pictures of yourselves.
  • No silk flowers. If you can't afford a lot of flowers, don't have a lot of flowers. But what you have, needs to have , at some point, been alive.

I could go on but I've already gone on too long.

And this bears repeating: It is (was) your wedding. Regardless of what Emily Post or I think, you should do what makes you happy.

What's the worst thing you've ever seen at a wedding?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Doppelganger Ice Cream Cake--Recipe Friday

I looked up this past week and saw a man peeping at me out of a boy's eyes. Nope. I'm not trying to say Precious Angel is a man but he just returned from participating in back-to-back summer programs at West Point and the Air Force Academy After that, there's bound be some (a minuscule bit) man about the boy. He started drinking black coffee while he was gone. The coffee drinking isn't new. He drank coffee as a toddler when he could get someone to give it to him but he liked it loaded down with cream and sugar. If he could get chocolate syrup and whipped cream, even better. This habit lasted until two weeks ago. No more. Frankly, I'm relieved.

He loved it—not just the black coffee, but the whole experience. The only bad thing he had to say was that he couldn't get any decent sweet tea in New York or Colorado. Go figure. It's not going to be any better next week while he's at Annapolis.

We're glad he loved it. Truly. But his mother and I did not love his absence. Not one little bit. But we might as well get used to it. Anyway, there was much rejoicing and producing of his favorite foods upon his return.

She made grilled venison burgers. Oh, my word. What that woman can do to venison. I can't even tell you. Even if I could, you probably don't have any venison. I know I don't. Which is fine for me, since I have her and she's got a freezer full. Too bad for you.

Anyway. I was in charge of macaroni and cheese with bacon and ice cream cake. I wandered into the kitchen and found him looking at the last of the ice cream cake.

"I think I'm going finish it off," he said. (This was not his first piece. I don't even think it was his second.)

"You go right ahead, baby," I said. "Don't even get a bowl. Eat it right off of the serving dish. It's better that way,"

His head snapped up. "Whoa," he said, putting his hand out. "Get behind me, doppelganger! The real Jean would never say that. She would say, 'Get a bowl!'"

Yeah, well.

Doppelganger Ice Cream Cake

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 pints of vanilla ice cream
  • 3/4 cup peanuts
  • 1 cup plus 1/4 peanut butter chips
  • 2 ounces of toffee chips
  • 1 1/2 cups Oreo cookie crumbs
  • Butterscotch sauce
  • Chocolate sauce

Directions

Let the ice cream soften in the refrigerator for a while.

Line an 8-inch spring form pan with plastic wrap. It should hang over a little.

Empty the slightly softened ice cream into a bowl and mix in the peanuts, 1 cup of chips, toffee chips, and 1 cup of the cookie crumbs.

Scrape the ice cream mixture into the spring form tin flattening the top like a cake and cover the top with plastic wrap and place in the freezer to firm up. Overnight is best but four or five hours ought to do it.

Serve the cake straight from the freezer. Unmold from pan and put on a plate or cake stand.

Sprinkle the top of the cake with the remaining chips and crumbs.

Cut into slices and serve with the butterscotch and chocolate sauces.


It should go without saying, but you can mix this up any way you like, using different cookies, ice cream flavors, nuts, etc.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Do the Clothes Make the Woman?

I am in the middle of getting ready for the national conference of the Romance Writers of America (RWA) and I am thinking a lot about what type of clothes to wear to different activities and events.  Our local chapter of RWA is know as the "Shoe Chapter", so there is also some pressure in that department.  I have actually had people in the elevator see on my name tag that I am a member of the Heart of Dixie chapter and look down to see what shoes I am wearing.  Luckily for me, I love shoes so this isn't a problem but I digress.

As I was working on my packing list yesterday, I really gave some serious thought to what I need to wear.  Of course, business casual is what everyone always says but how much business and how much casual?.  This year I have more business than casual because I have some "official" stuff to do two days, and on another day Pantster and I will be pitching our book to editors.  I guess I still think that there is some sort of magical outfit and if I wear it, everyone will love me and I will sell a book.

Of course, we know there are no magic clothes but often the clothing we choose does inspire confidence, is almost magical.

Do you have a favorite outfit or article of clothing that makes you feel confident and special?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Happy Birthday Kathy!

What Draws You?

Life is full of amazing challenges. We see them come and go in small grievances and then compare them with the mowhills that often turn to mountains. When one hurdle is jumped, sometimes it feels like another one has been plunked in its place. It can be a vicious cycle.

My life has been challenging lately. So busy, in fact, that I've had little time to devote to my family. A wonderful way to chill with family is enjoying a good show on television or watching a great movie at the theatre or on DVD. So today, I'm lamenting the season finales of the shows I love, Supernatural, Vampire Diaries, Nikkita, American Idol and a few others. The challenge now is: what do I watch on television when the mood strikes? Is there anything that can keep my attention?

TV Land is trying to pump up my volume with new shoes like the addictive Teen Wolf on MTV, The Nine Lives of Chloe King, and The Secret Circle. Woot! Teen Wolf is all that and a bag of chips, if I do say so myself. Tyler Posey is fantastic as the teen bitten by a werewolf, soon facing 'the change' of his life. Oh! But he's just met the new girl in town and his desire to date her poses many more problems for his shifting form. If you haven't caught it, tune in on Monday nights. The Nine Lives of Chloe King came on Tuesday night for the first time and was, to quote Miley Cyrus, "pretty cool!" I'm still waiting on The Secret Circle. All the commercials point to the EXTREMELY GOOD button.

What I'm really missing is: The Gates! Where has it gone? Is it coming back? Be still my heart! A community filled with Vamps, Werewolves, Witches, Succubus' and more. Times like this make me wonder why the rum is always gone. Arrrrr!

On the movie front, I absolutely loved Pirates of the Caribbean, On Stranger Tides! (Of course! Was there any doubt?) Make sure you stay until the final credits roll.

The Latest X-Men installment is uber fantastic! Not only do they introduce characters we haven't seen much of yet, they stay true to the comic books and give us our very first cinematic look at Professor X and Magneto before they became frenemies.

But what I'm really waiting for is The Green Lantern! This movie boasting a buff Ryan Reynolds starts this coming weekend. Ooh-la-la! For someone who grew up reading comics and dreamed of becoming an illustrator like Stan Lee, 2011 is a comagsmic summer fest!

We're all busy today. What draws you to the television or the big screen? What is worth giving up your precious time for?

Oh and while you debate the best of the best, I'll be cringing in the shadows.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Letting Go


I have a new “boy” at the barn, a nice kid in college who was raised on a farm with COWS. He is eager to learn but he just doesn’t get that HORSES are not COWS. I have patiently explained to him that horses and a mule (Daisey) wait for you to make a mistake and then they exploit it. He left the gate open the other day, taking his lunch break, and never looked back. I spent two hours chasing horses around the house, yard and barns in ninety-five degree heat. Needless to say, by the time his “lunch hour” was over, I had a few things to say to him. Suitably chastened, he apologized, walking away muttering something about having never heard “those words” before. Dripping wet with sweat and a little dizzy, I walked away muttering something about “the younger generation…” (Lord how I have become my mother!)

I thought he had learned his lesson, especially about the part of leaving gates open. Okay, so maybe he had – about gates. Stall doors are another thing entirely. I feed in the morning because young men do not watch the sunrise. They prefer to sleep in, take long lunch hours and then do their work in the hottest part of the day. Fine, they don’t have to worry about heat stroke or heart attacks. Nor do they have an aversion to sweating (I hate sweating). Any way, I digress.

The other day, I made it to the walking horse barn about 5:30 a.m. to feed. Because these are show horses and cannot be out on the pasture, I make sure they are fed, watered and hayed (I think that is a verb – the act of throwing hay – anyway I use it) twice a day. I walked into the barn through the office, flipped on the lights and stumbled out into the main hall. My usual routine is to walk down the row of stalls, checking on the horses and talking to them as I make my way to the stack of hay at the front.





I had made it about fifty feet when I looked up. Sundancer was loose!

A flash of yellow and a welcoming whinny were the only warnings I had before fourteen hundred pounds of horse was running to MOMMA. (I raised this horse from the time he was three months old and he really thinks I am his mother or at the least the woman who carries apples in her pockets). I ran, what else could I do. I made it to the feed room, opened the door and slammed it shut behind me.





I heard a disappointed snort by the door and I knew Sun was standing there, waiting. Now, the doors have outside latches on them which snap shut and LOCK. An escape mechanism, running a string through a hole in the wall which attaches to the latch, is very necessary in case you close the door behind you. Weeellll… the boys had removed the string (for what reason God only knows). I was trapped! I could have stayed there until someone realized I was missing (three or hour hours later) but I remembered the office door was open to the outside world. It would only be a matter of time before Sun lost interest in me and wandered up there, seeing his chance to escape to the world of roads, cars and rednecks who don’t break for animals. FREEDOM!!!!

I had to get out before the mischievous palomino found his way out of the barn. The feed room has twelve-foot walls but no ceiling, open to the rafters of the barn which are at least sixteen feet above the floor.





My only alternative was to climb. I don’t like heights and my upper body strength is nearly non-existent but I had to do something.






I turned a feed barrel (garbage can) over and started up the side of the wall, gaining toeholds where I could. Success! I made it to the top of the wall and looked down. Sun looked up at me, grinning or at least to me it looked like he was grinning. My first thought was to drop down on his broad back and then to the ground but visions of a wild ride around the barn with no reins and no way to stop him squelched that nonsense. My only option was to lift myself over, hang seven feet and then hopefully drop to the ground without shattering both ankles. Then I had to survive Sun. As I was hanging there, skinned and bleeding, I thought that surely no jury would convict me for murder. After all, there are plenty of young boys and I can always replace them. I had to let go – I had no choice. Stretching as far as I could, I managed to drop and roll, avoiding the dancing feet of Sundancer. I jumped up and chased him back into his stall.





Then I proceeded with my morning feeding, a little weak from blood loss, but otherwise okay. The new boy, well, he got another lesson in verbage.

Have you ever been in a situation where you were left hanging, either literally or figuratively? It’s a hard choice to let go, knowing that what waits at the bottom could be shattered ankles or, in our case as writers, shattered dreams. But sometimes, you just have to let go and see where that fall takes you. Tell me about your experience at “letting go.”

Monday, June 13, 2011

What I've Learned about Marriage

I've been married to The Guy for twenty-two years. Happily. I'm not saying I haven't thrown some hissy fits for valid reasons. I can even remember how I felt and some of what we said to each other. Oddly enough, I don't much remember what brought on those fits so he must have reformed or it wasn't that bad to begin with.

I have to say that, as husband training goes, I've done well and he's been accepting—to a point. I have accepted what I cannot change.

This is what I've learned about my marriage:

  • If I don't tell him what I want, someone is going to be disappointed (me) and someone is going to be mad (him). He is not a good guesser. In truth, do I want him to sit around and think, "Now what can I pull out of my oh, so very romantic soul to please the love of my life, Jean?" I do not, I tell you. I wouldn't have that kind of man. If you want that kind of man, train him up and enjoy it.
  • If I want to see a Woody Allen movie, I'd best make other arrangements because he's not going. Ever.
  • It takes less energy for me to remove the sticky notes that he puts on the floor lamp by his chair than it does to yell at him to stop it. Besides, he isn't going to stop it. Nor is he going to throw away the blister pack that held whatever treasure he has procured for himself. Furthermore, he doesn't care if there are blister packs and sticky notes all over the place. I do. So I remove them.
  • He once had an altercation with J.C. Penny's and will not shop there. He would like for me to support him in this. I must do this since, to my knowledge, this is the only altercation he has ever had with the world at large. I'm glad it was J.C. Penny's and not somewhere I like to shop.
  • He has his list of household chores. 1. Clean the liter box. 2. Take the garbage to the street. 3. Keep the refrigerator stocked with soft drinks (which he does not drink.) 4. Pay the bills and keep the household accounts. 5. Keep our vehicles clean and gassed. 6. Pay the yardman. He does these things like clockwork. He will do almost anything else except cook, but I have to ask. He will walk past a basket of folded clean laundry that is sitting by the stairs 43 times and never see it.
  • " Do we have any butter?" means "Will you get me some butter?" It is not productive to say, "Of course, we don't have any butter! When have we ever had butter? And if we did have some, it would be upstairs in your sock drawer!"
  • If I want to see Barry Manilow in concert (and I have), I'd best make other arrangements because he's not going. Ever.
  • I do not pack for him. I have friends who pack for their husbands. Not me. I am not going to be held responsible when he hasn't got the exact pair of socks he wants. Luckily, he likes to be in control and has no wish for me to pack for him.
  • When we go to the movies, we are going to leave long before we need to. I've accepted it.
  • When we get in the car to go somewhere, he is going to have to go back in for something. Probably.
  • If I want to eat at Cracker Barrel, I'd best make other arrangements because he's not going. Ever.
  • No matter how long he's been waiting for me to get ready to go somewhere, I end up waiting on him because he's thought of one more thing he has to do.
  • He is always, always, without fail, going to say to me. "Go to conference. Go to Moonlight and Magnolias. I don't care if you didn't cook dinner. You have a job too. What do I need to do to make this work for you?"

What have you learned about relationships?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Recipe Friday--Sushi in a Bowl


If you were expecting What are You Reading? we hope that it's a pleasant surprise that you've found Recipe Friday. We are bored with What Are You Reading? That is to say, we are bored with posting what we're reading. If you want to tell us what you're reading, we are delighted to hear it.

Let me say that I announced early on in my sushi eating career that I was not learning to make sushi. I learned my lesson over the fajitas and the chicken tikki masala. Okay, I didn't learn my lesson over one, or the other wouldn't have happened, but what's important is I can produce a better product than what can be had in the local restaurants. The result: cooking—yes; going out for fajitas and chicken tikki masala—no. And I can't blame it on The Guy. Even I don't want to eat theirs.

Anyway. I digress. That's my hobby.

I wasn't going to let it happen to me over sushi. After all, I didn't have the little mat or access to sushi grade raw fish. And there was no way, I was going to stand there and chop, roll, and hope stuff didn't fall apart. I've held to that. However, a few hot summers ago, I ran across a recipe for Sushi in a Bowl. (That recipe has only a nodding acquaintance with what I am about to give you.) It's not sushi, so much as a salad with some of the elements of sushi. It's easy and won't cost you trips to the Japanese restaurant.

Apparently Precious Angel thinks it's good for breakfast. Two summers ago, before he could drive, I picked him up one morning at 8 a.m. after football weight training, which had started at 6 a.m. "Do you want to go to the grocery store with me?" I asked. "Or do you want to go home to rest until you have to be back for practice at 10?"

"Home, please" he said. "I just really need a shower, some food, and a nap."

This made me a little sad. This is the first time I can ever remember him turning down a trip to the grocery store. That child loved the grocery store. The man-child, not so much. Which, come to think of it, I'm glad about. I don't want him, as an adult man, to love the grocery store. That's just weird.

Anyway, I threw him out at my house and went about my business. I hadn't given much thought to what he would eat. There was cereal, fruit, English muffins, and he can scramble an egg. However, when I returned, there was a trail of rice, wasabi, and smoked salmon from the sink to the refrigerator. And the orange juice was gone.

I prefer it for lunch or a light dinner.

Enjoy!

Sushi in a Bowl

For the Sushi Mayonnaise
  • ½ cup of light mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons chopped pickled ginger
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
For the Rice
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups (one cup dry) cooked and cooled rice (I use brown rice, but you can use sushi rice.)
  • salt to taste
For the Rest
  • Half an English cucumber, chopped
  • 2 sheets of nori, torn into small pieces
  • 6 ounces chopped smoked salmon
  • 8 ounces boiled salad shrimp
  • one chopped avocado that has been sprinkled with lemon juice
  • wasabi and soy sauce

Combine ingredients for sushi mayonnaise and refrigerate.

Mix vinegar and sugar and toss with rice. Add salt.

Salt chopped cucumber and let drain on paper towels while you tear the nori and chop the salmon. Mix rice, cucumber, nori, salmon, and shrimp. Toss with mayonnaise and chill. Just before serving, add avocado. Serve with soy sauce and wasabi.

You can put anything in it you like. Red bell pepper and roasted asparagus is good. Little chopped up cubes of cream cheese is an idea. Not a good idea, as far as I am concerned because I don't like plain cream cheese, but I'll let you have it.

Serves four, provided a teenage boy is not involved.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

State of Done

The goal was achieved!!
As many of you know from reading Pantster's blog on Monday, we are done with some things.  Most notably, we have just finished our latest work in progress.  Oh, there are just a few minor corrections to be made and one very, very, very  short scene to be added but other than that we can say it is a wrap!   We have reached the goal line!!! We  wanted to finish this project by the first of June and by golly we have made it!



I am  also done with the fabulous Heart of  Dixie Luncheon. It was especially fabulous this year to meet the wonderful and entertaining Barbara Vey and Kerreyn Sparks.  And  I  always love to work together with our chapter to make this event happen.  This year our very own Okay, Listen Here blog sisters, Katherine Bone and Cheryl Crisona, were Chair and Assistant Chair on this event, plus Pantster was on the committee, so I am very  proud and excited about how hard they worked to help create another great Reader's Luncheon--especially with all of the craziness that went on down here in Alabama with the tornadoes and subsequent damages.  Way to go Ladies!!!

 
Ok, I will go ahead and admit that I am very excited to move on to our next project.   I have held out for as long as I can and now I must ask, "Are you ready for some FOOTBALL??"  That's right, I know it is still baseball season. I know  it isn't football season in other parts of the country but in Alabama it is always football season.  Maybe one day Maven Linda can explain the actual four seasons of football to you but for now it is enough to know that I am done with going without football.  Our new story features a football coach hero and I can't wait one minute  longer to get into some football so here are some football pictures and images to get us through the long hot summer to the cool crisp days spent with the Boys of Fall!!

Marcell Dareus, the Rookie
This is the mascot of my new favorite professional football team!  The Buffalo Bills.  They drafted one of my favorite football players from the University of Alabama. They were very, very smart to take him with their first round draft pick. Smart move, Buffalo!




So I am done with the luncheon, practically done with filling the new ballot of officers to run for the open positions in RWA, done with new book, done with baseball, and done making myself live in a football free world!  Done, done, done!  I am very excited to be moving into the Free State of Done!

To celebrate all of this doneness I am going to order myself a new hat--just like the one Marcell Dareus got when he was drafted by the Buffalo Bills and I am going to wear it to watch them go back to the Super Bowl!

It always feels great to achieve a goal or to accomplish a difficult task.
How do you reward yourself when you achieve a goal or for a job well done?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

What Challenges You?


We just finished the final touches on HOD's Annual Romance Readers' Luncheon. A lot of planning goes into this event every year and there are so many people involved. As luncheon coordinator, I'm always thrilled when another successful luncheon has seen its day. To pull this off, after such horrific weather and the loss of one of our dearest authors, took lots of determination this year. But we did it! HOD presented the best luncheon yet.

After such a whirlwind, what does one do with their time? Aha! The fact that there is time to spare is absolutely unheard of around here. ;)

I've actually been working on entering the Maggie's this year, a contest given by the Georgia Romance Writers. But instead of just entering one, I decided to enter four manuscripts. Ack! What grandiose goals took over my mind? I've been knee deep in luncheon business, the deadline is Friday and I've still got two entries to submit.

So, even though the luncheon is over, my life is still just as hectic these days. Apparently, I'm a glutton for punishment. I've entered contests before. Some brought me enlightenment, others disappointment and criticism. But who are we if we cannot learn and grow along the way to meeting our goals?

I've given a short craft corner on contests. Contests are tricky monsters. But when you final, as I finaled in the Romance Through the Ages contest in the Legend Award category this year, the rewards are bountiful.

So it is, with hope swelling my breast, that I submit these books to the Maggie's this week. Maybe my entries will cancel each other out. Maybe none of them will final. But if I don't try, I will never know.

Is there something you're willing to go out on a limb for these days? If so, let us know. We'd love to hear what challenges you!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Meaning of Love


Romance writers – that’s what we are, what we call ourselves. I looked around the room during the luncheon last Saturday, at the readers and the writers, and a thought struck me. All these people are here because they like reading and writing romance novels. And what is at the root of all those novels? LOVE. But how do we define love? What is it? What does it mean to all of us? What causes humans to lose all sanity and all reason to find that emotion? WHAT IS LOVE?

According to Webster’s Dictionary, love, when used as a noun, is (1) strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties – a mother’s love (2) attraction based on sexual desire – affection and tenderness felt by lovers. When love is used as a verb it is defined as (1) to hold dear as in cherish (2) to feel a lover’s passion, devotion or tenderness for. But what does all that mean? How do we, as writers, convey what love is between the heroine and the hero? How do we tell the reader those thoughts so that she/he can understand the romance, the feelings, the overall need to be with that one human being which will make the characters complete? We struggle to write down those feelings and let the reader know that these two people are meant for each other, through all adversity and conflict. But what does it truly mean when they say “I love you” ?

The thought intrigued me. I think that the feelings and yearnings behind the emotion are intangible passions which are felt differently by different people. That is what makes love. Aristotle captured the true definition, for me, in one sentence: Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies. The Ying and the Yang of each other. Without one the other is incomplete. The irresistible need exists in both people to be with the other, to fulfill each other and become one soul. So there you have it, my definition of love. But how do we write that? How do we convey that compulsion and explain it to our readers? It is a hard process.

In my search for the definition of love, I looked at many quotes, trying to find meaning in other people’s words. How did they define it? Here are a few which spoke to me:

When you love a man, he becomes more than a body. His physical limbs expand, and his outline recedes, vanishes. He is rich and sweet and right. He is part of the world, the atmosphere, the blue sky and the blue water. - Gwendolyn Brooks

For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart. It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul. – Judy Garland

Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired. – Robert Frost

I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you. I love you not only for what you have made of yourself, but for what you are making of me. I love you for the part of me that you bring out. – Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

And the one that I think captures the essence of love –

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
– 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

So how do you define love? What do you think makes you love one person and not another? Do you think it’s as Aristotle says, the unification of one soul split between two people? Tell me your thoughts on what defines LOVE.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Stick Me With a Fork

What do you do when you're done?

That is, done as in finished with a book or another big project. Those who know me well know that when I say out loud, "I'm done," in a certain tone, it means walking away from a person or a situation that has frustrated me beyond my bounds and I will not be turning around. But that's not the kind of done I'm talking about. That's another blog.

I am a hit-and-miss disciplined person—that is, I don't seem to muster up much discipline about some things but am like a laser beam on others. Lucky for me—and Stephanie—I'm disciplined about my work. That doesn't make me better. It makes me the person with no children and no day job. Still, it takes some effort and it takes saying no. It used to be impossible for me to ignore a ringing phone because who knew what treasure could lie on the other side? Well, now, thanks to caller ID, I do know and I will return calls—at least if it's a treasure. And there are some people I answer the phone for no matter what, Baby Girl and Precious Angel among a few others.

Okay, I'm rambling and there's a reason for it.

I’m done.

And that's what I do when I'm done. I ramble, sit around in my pajamas, and listen to music by Lobo and the Jeff Healey Band on YouTube. I call people who don't have time to talk to me and should be screening their calls like I have learned to do. I search ESPN's website for clips about my beloved Crimson Tide and yell at them when they don't say glowing things. I work crossword puzzles in super easy books that a six-year-old could do.

After some solid gold advice from a successful published author friend, we have been rewriting a book that is close to our hearts. We gave ourselves a reasonable finish deadline so we could give it a really good read through by conference at the end of June. We beat our deadline by three days and Stephanie said, "Send me the full so I can read for typos and inconsistencies." These are things I can't help with right after I'm done. I can't find them until it gets cold.

So I sent it to her. Now, it's almost noon and I'm still wearing what I slept in. My house is clean, but my bed isn't made. (This is unlike me.) I am contemplating sending Precious Angel a message on Facebook to boss him around about something. I don't know what yet. I ordered new panties online instead of going to the store to buy them. Who does that?

Me, when I'm done. Because these things keep me from doing what I want to do, which is getting on with what we were working on before we went back to what we just finished rewriting. I can't do that, because Stephanie has a big old rule about not moving on until we are completely done. Which means reading for typos and inconsistencies, and getting the pitch written, and all those other pesky little unfun things. "KEEP YOUR HEAD IN THIS PROJECT," she says. "I NEED YOUR HEAD RIGHT HERE."

Okay, Stephanie. I'm right here. See? Not thinking about Nathan and Tolly from our other project, who we left in temporal stasis, miserable and confused. Not one little bit.

Hey, maybe I'll go back though my blogs and find all the ones where I've said, "That's another blog," and make a list of future blog topics. Yeah. Or I'll order some socks online.

What do you do when you're done?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Luncheon Week

This is it! The big week!  It is finally here...the always fabulous Heart of Dixie Readers Luncheon is this Saturday at the Von Braun Civic Center in Huntsville.  This year it has been very tough to bring the luncheon to fruition, even Mother Nature seemed to be out to get us. 


As most of you know our chapter recently suffered the loss of a charter member and a true pillar of our chapter with the sudden, heart wrenching passing of Beverly Barton.  She was such a supporter and encourager that she is greatly missed and many of us feel going into the luncheon that the absence of her sparkling personality will leave a huge hole that no one will ever be able to fill in our hearts.  That said, she loved the Heart of Dixie Chapter and I believe that she would be proud of the fact that we were able to carry on our traditions gracefully no matter what the adversity, especially if we could devise a way to do so wearing tiaras.


The Luncheon Committee has been headed up by our own Katherine Bone and her co-chair has been our Cheryl Crisona.   They have done a fantastic job getting the luncheon rescheduled and getting everything put back together. It has been a lot like trying to get Humpty Dumpty back together again but they have done it and done it well!  LeaAnn Schafer and Danniele Worsham have done a wonderful job on getting the publicity taken care of and as always Danniele has been the Raffle Basket Goddess!  We are going to have tons of fun, tons of door prizes, and even more than tons of raffle baskets!  It is really going to be a great event! 


All of us here under the Tulip tree will be away from our computers off and on for the rest of the weekend.
I know that many of you are planning on attending the Luncheon and we look forward to seeing you there.


Have you ever attended the Heart of Dixie Reader's Luncheon?
If so what is your favorite part?  If not, what keeps you away?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Writing As Only A Billboard Knows How

Life has uncertain ways of meeting you head on. Then again, life is a head-on process of cyclic turns and somersaults. Oftentimes, in life, what you think works is usually bound to take a 180 degree turn just when you’ve finally gotten a foothold on your dreams. What you think would never work, could turn out to be a Pulitzer idea. The best idea could wind up wadded up in the trash.

As I was driving about town today, I found myself attracted to billboards dotting the landscape. Most are food advertisements, which make drivers crave a Coke or a Big Mac. Some are designed to make drivers desire sparkly finger-ware. And then there are the hospital signs, insurance signs, hotels, restaurants, and so forth. All basically attempting to persuade the average American to change the way they go about their lives, or believe that one way is better than another.

Are you led astray by advertisements? Or can you see beyond the image, zeroing in on what matters most?

Let’s take a fast food billboard, for instance. Image is a gigantic hamburger. Not just any burger but a multi-layered hamburger with the works, lettuce, tomato, pickles, onion and cheese. Large font declares this is the best burger known to man. The image is crisp, lifelike. The purpose is to make the tummy growl and the mind to steer into the next quick lane for a dose of chow. (Sometimes I find myself looking for Australian herders.)

I admit I’m a sucker for a large, sparkling glass of Coke. There’s nothing like the large Coke logo, giant polar bears or a large bottle with condensation glistening off of the glass. On a good billboard, I can almost feel the effervescent bubbles tickle my face as I put the glass up to my mouth, eager to sip the dark, sweetened brew. Coke with ice… a good thing.

So it was today, as I drove around, I began to ponder — yes, my friends, that ‘daring-do-thang’ I frequently do — ponder. Oddly enough, the billboards I passed did not make me hunger for food. Like Pirate’s of the Caribbean’s Barbossa craving apples, unable to gratify himself with anything else, I found myself yearning for mental foodstuffs that satisfy.

Here’s what I saw on the billboard:

Bun = The segmented part of writing most people are willing to strive for… interaction with other writers, people who think alike and, thankfully, understand the voices occupying our heads.

Lettuce = Crisp black words upon the page, which bond a reader to a story and forge a writer’s deepest secrets to the fore.

Onion = Zing that flavors each story and the brainstorming forces of storyboards, plotting parties, and advice given to anyone who seeks to reveal the oasis inside.

Tomato = Acid that burns when rejections fill the mailbox/inbox. Here also lingers the sweet essence of acceptance, the flavorful appeal of success, contributions that assure us the days of bland writing are over.

Cheese = The maturing voice/style which provides a writer with confidence, for all that has come before has hardened the writer’s skin and forged within a fermented flavor/armor of steel that can only herd the writer toward an even greater goal— the beef— success.

Meat = The pinnacle! Here is the center of our cuisine, the purpose of every ingredient… to give the writer protein and balance. This is the goal, the heart of every writer’s aura, selling the product when all the other things have been put into place. Savvy?

Hamburger = Successful writer. The final product enhanced by every nuance above and below it.

Remember the commercial, “Where’s the beef?” Like ‘No wine before its time,’ writers must prepare, share, beware, and not compare. Every writer’s journey is different. Just as every burger can be created to anyone’s taste, there will always be room for another burger in the world.

Bunless burgers are a completely different story. ;)

Can you think of another billboard that reminds you of writing?