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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Menu Planning 101

Menu Planning 101

Perhaps you thought I’ve been planning palate-tantalizing dinners for years. It’s what moms are supposed to do. Present a varied menu in thirty minutes or less, every night, while bringing home a breakfast meat of the pork variety, frying it up in a pan, and never letting our husbands forget they’re men.

Some moms have resorted to take out or spending more time in restaurants than in their kitchens not because they’re lazy as some people insinuate or incapable of putting a meal together, but, I suspect, out of sheer boredom with the same old meals. You know, the ones we make week in and week out—the only ones our families eat without complaining. The main dish rotation at my house: teriyaki chicken cutlets, broccoli chicken alfredo, chicken enchiladas, teriyaki pork loin, and an occasional pot roast, spaghetti or lasagna.

Long ago I gave up on innovation and settled for the benefits of an unvaried menu. And there are benefits: I shaved a total of 17.5 minutes from my grocery shopping excursions, leaving more time for those proverbial bon-bons (Aisle 9). I knew exactly where the store shelved everything we bought on a weekly basis.

But recently even those benefits could not overcome my boredom with what I was cooking. My tastebuds longed for excitement. So I cracked open the cookbook my mother gave me for Christmas in the hope that I would cook more for my poor husband who exaggerated about endless nights of soup, sandwiches, and canned chili because I was supposedly only cooking those favorite meals twice a week. Okay, so maybe I was cooking twice a week, but having grown up in a family of six people, when I made a meal, I made plenty. There’s nothing wrong with leftovers.

So I found a recipe in this Rachel Ray cookbook that I thought my family might like. Then I had to procure the ingredients, which I’m proud to say my local Kroger carried and which I found . . . eventually, adding at least a half an hour to the usual weekly excursion. I marinated the chicken breasts in fresh lemon juice, freshly chopped sage and thyme. Interestingly enough, the chopping noise brought my husband’s grandmother from her room; she was concerned someone was “a-poundin’ on the door.” I mashed potatoes, skins on like they do in restaurants. I sautéed pearl onions and green beans. I even made a sauce for the chicken with wine and chicken stock. The results? Daughter said the chicken had an odd flavor, and she picked the bits of skin from her mashed potatoes, but she ate it. She wouldn’t touch the beans because they were cooked with a little balsamic vinegar. Grandmother ate most of it, but tried to hide that she agreed with daughter about the potato skins in the mashed potatoes. The biggest shock? My husband poured the sauce on his chicken and on his potatoes. He ate seconds. He never likes sauces or gravies. He actually liked this new, dare I say, gourmet meal.

I had hoped they’d all give the dinner a thumb’s down so I could go back to the easy rotation that didn’t require planning and venturing into unknown territories like the fresh herb section of the produce department. Good thing there’s always great recipes in the Wet Noodle Posse e-zine, like Terry McLaughlin’s Valentine Dinner for Two. I’m not sure if I’m ready for a Bourguignonne sauce, but I have the feeling I’m going to need to add it to my expanding repertoire. Oh, and where do I find the Gorgonzola?

Monday, February 26, 2007

Positive Attracts Positive

After spending an exhausting year in 2006 stressing about getting kids in college, colleges they never ended up going to, I had an epiphany about all the time I had wasted over the years, stressing over things I didn’t have any control over. For instance, my daughter graduated from high school last year and she was accepted into San Marcos State College in California. My husband and I spent three weekends in San Diego searching for a place for her to stay and taking tours of the college, etc. And then our daughter got a D in a science class. San Marcos said they had too many students without D’s that wanted to attend. She was out. I spent months being depressed, especially since the year before our son had returned from U of A after three short months, deciding he didn’t want to live in Arizona. Both my kids are now living at home and attending a junior college. Bottom line: I spent months stressing over stuff I had no control over. I couldn’t sleep at night and I cried a lot. Guess what I’ve learned? It wasn’t the end of the world. Both kids have jobs and both kids are taking classes and doing well. My daughter is playing basketball again and her team is going to the playoffs this weekend. Everybody is healthy. What was my problem?

January 1st of this year, I decided that this was going to be a great year, a “different” year from all the other 47 years before. I decided I was going to exercise five days a week and write every day from 9 to 3, no matter what. I was also going to be positive. I wasn’t going to sweat the small stuff OR the big stuff. If I have to drop something from my schedule, it’s the laundry, the cleaning, the cooking. Not the writing or exercising.

A few days ago, a friend dropped off a dvd of The Secret and I watched it twice…mesmerized by every word because I felt like I had been doing a lot of what the people on the dvd were telling me to do. I had already been thinking positive, and so to have this movie about positive energy come to my doorstep, just made sense. The Secret is about the laws of attraction and how negative energy attracts more negative energy and positive energy attracts more positive energy. It works. I can feel it. I’ve printed and decorated the walls in my bedroom with a publishing contract between myself and Avon Books. I also put up a picture of the body I would like to have, a RITA, a picture of the house I want to live in some day, a check for one million dollars—what the heck! I have made lists of goals and more importantly lists of things I’m grateful for. It’s very important that you be grateful for what you already have so that there is room in your life to receive more wonderful things. I now keep a list of things I’m grateful for next to my bed and I think about these things often during the day. Strange things were happening even before I watched The Secret. In the middle of January I had a journalist ask to interview me—ME, a struggling unpublished writer. They put me on the cover. What are the odds? Here’s the link. http://www.granitebayview.com/article/2007/2/1036

I can feel things happening. People are friendlier. Red lights are shorter. Parking spaces open up. I’m not kidding. Be grateful. Be positive. Positive really does attract positive. Believe it. Try it. It’s awesome.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Newest Thrill in Romantic Fiction

I've been really excited about all the Wet Noodle Posse first sales recently. It's been especially great because I watched and sometimes helped a little as those stories developed. I reminisced with Lorelle Marinello about her worries when she first began WALTZING WITH ALLIGATORS. It was really chancy back then. There just didn't seem to be any room in the romance/women's fiction industry for a story about a woman wanting to NOT be rich and famous, but to do the socially responsible thing instead. It was the Chick Lit era. Shopping, stilettoes, finding one's way among multiple lovers to some sort of place in life. It seemed nobody wanted to think more deeply. But Lorelle wrote her story anyway, even if the trends of the time said she'd never sell it.

I'm sensing something happening here.

I've been talking with another friend of mine, Heather Hiestand, whose first book, CARDS NEVER LIE, is coming out with Cerridwen Press next month. Heather also reviews women's fiction and romance, which means she reads an enormous amount of what comes out, in all sub-genres. Our question was, what in the world is next?

For several years now, romance in particular has been looking for that bigger something. To sell, it has to be sexier, sexier, no, even sexier than that. Paranormal has heated up the genre in another direction, with vampires and other creatures taking the scary, scarier, scariest route.

Yet, strange to say, I'm bored with today's fiction.

Huh. Never thought I'd be the one to say sex is boring. But sorry, I skim almost all of the sex scenes these days. I don't think it's just me. I may be over the hill, but I haven't run out of hormones yet. The truth is, there's only so many ways to have sex, and I think I've read them all and tried most. Any further variations don't matter to me because they're really not different. For me, the most important ingredient, the relationship, is missing, because character development and plot have been sacrificed to get in all that sex. So all it is, is sex.

The same is true with Fear. Fear is so primal, so universal. Life-Death-Pain- Very entertaining stuff, and like sex, very distracting from the tough parts of reality. But sorry to say, I've been bitten vicariously by the guys with fangs way too often to even cringe. (Yet I'm writing a vampire tale I love right now, but that's a different issue.)

The trouble is, people only tolerate so much of even the biggest adrenaline-pushers before they start shrugging them off. This sends the fiction producers into a frenzy to find that new fix in adrenaline. But after Sex and Vampires Extremo, what could possibly be next?

For a long time, our women's fiction has been acting almost like drugs to shield us from real life. It seemed to be an era of searching for an even higher high, but like drugs, less and less able to give it to us because we were becoming inured to its effect. Something is starting to feel very empty. We're starting to ask, Is that all there is?

Maybe we're tired of escaping. True, we needed it, for a long time. September 11 affected us very deeply. We saw New York pick itself up and head back to business in a way that was just awe-inspiring, but because of New York courage, I think the rest of us didn't quite see the lasting depth of the scars. Some things were just too raw to deal with, I think. Issues of violence in particular no longer made it into women's fiction. The need was for fantasy, escapism, something exciting, but not troubling.

But maybe we're ready to move on now. This year we passed the fifth anniversary of that terrible event. It marked a milestone. We looked back and discovered we've survived, grown, despite our great loss. Now we're involved in a troubling war that really makes us re-think what we have been doing for the last half-decade. We're really seeing actual effects of global warming and wondering if our drive toward greater thrills has destroyed everything we love.

We see our celebrities making fools of themselves, spouting racial and other slurs. Our dislike of their behavior may be sending them into re-hab or prompting apologies, true, but we thought all that nasty stuff was in a distant past, and now we realize it hasn't gone away.

We see not just the horrors of war, but the things that didn't happen for our own people here because the money went into killing other people. We've reached out globally to people caught in tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanoes, tornadoes, and man-made horrors of war, genocide, slavery. Yes, slavery. The issue we were so sure was long dead and laid to rest. And now we learn there are over 4 million people who are enslaved in the world today, including thousands in our own country.

All of this has been there all along. There were people who told us, warned us. But we're starting to listen now. And I think it's partly because we want to do something more than escape.

Think I'm wrong? Look at the trend in movies in the last year. I'm seeing movies that would have never reached the screen just a few years past. WORLD TRADE CENTER and UNITED 93 were just more than we were ready for even a year before. BLOOD DIAMOND, CHILDREN OF MEN, THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND, AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH, all deal with social problems, injustices and things we wouldn't have considered entertaining a few years ago. Now here's AMAZING GRACE, delving into the past to resurrect the cruelty of slavery. PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS is the story of a homeless man and his son. FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS, LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA and several others explore another frightening war in truly insightful ways. These are just a few of 2006's socially provoking films.

Will this trend really reach women's fiction? I think Lorelle's book is one indication that it will. Neither hot sex nor paranormals will ever disappear from our genres, and I'm glad. But change is right on the cusp. I'm getting the sense that editors as well as readers are starting to look around, back, forward. Looking for something more. And there's only one direction to look to find it. Beyond ourselves.

The Newest Thrill is perhaps the greatest of all: The world. Helping it survive. Making it a place worth living in. Making ourselves worthy of living in it. And what could be better for a relationship-oriented genre? I think a new era of socially responsible thinking is slyly coming in the door.

We're ready.

Delle

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Birthday Meditations by Dr. Debra

Tuesday was my birthday, and I woke up feeling depressed. I did NOT like the idea of turning another year older. My age (which has now become a closely guarded secret) sounds so OLD. And I also felt discouraged about my writing career--something I’d been pursuing for years, gaining just enough success to keep me chasing the dream, but not achieving publication. In fact, I haven’t been writing much because of that discouragement.

I lay in bed and started my morning prayer and meditation time. I selected Richard Carlson’s, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, as my spiritual reading for the day and read a few pages. Then, I began to pray, including thoughts of my loved ones who have passed over--my two sets of grandparents and my father.

As I thought of my departed family, the most amazing thing happened. I received an “emotional vision” of my grandparents and my father, reflecting to me the love and joy they’d experienced on the day I was born. Their emotions flowed into my body, warm and welcoming. From each one, I received their individual excitement.

Part of their joy was that my mother had safely delivered, and I was healthy. However, a large amount of joy was because I was a girl.

My father had two brothers, and his eldest brother already had two boys. Everyone assumed that my dad would only be able to father sons. My parents even nicknamed me Olaf. My father was so proud and excited that I was a girl--the first (and only) girl in two generations--and his parents, my Bestafar and Bestamor (Norwegian for grandfather and grandmother) shared his feelings.

My mother’s parents, my Opa and Oma (German for grandfather and grandmother) were thrilled about the birth of their first grandchild. My grandmother, especially, was glad I was a girl, and she was ecstatic to be a grandmother.

As I lay there, feeling the love of my family and of God fill my heart, my feelings of depression vanished and my attitude towards my birthday turned around. I became grateful for the blessings of my close, loving family--a gift many people lack. From there it was an easy progression to thankfulness for my friends and for all the other blessings in my life. ☺

Debra Holland

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Finishing

First, I have to say big WAHOOOOOOOs to Lorelle and Kiki!!!!!! I've watched these ladies for the past four years (four years, next month, y'all! Happy anniversary!) pursue their dreams, get knocked down, bounce back up like one of those clown punching bags and go again. I cannot WAIT to see their books on the shelf. It's been a long tough road.

I realized this morning that, other than my Nano book, which needs a ton of revisions, I have not finished a book in 18 months. Before Nano, my last book was last year's GH finalist, Don't Look Back, which I finished before the deadline for the GH in 2005. And I know I finished it before I signed with my agent in early October.

I've been writing. I have 150 pages of one manuscript, which I set aside during Nano, and once Nano was over, I was writing a new book for a (now defunct) series that my critique group wanted to work on. I have about 100 pages of that one and an idea for a sequel. But even the allure of a new book isn't making me finish.

Maybe it's the disappointments of last year, the rounds of revisions, I don't know. But even setting deadlines for myself isn't enough. What does it take for you to finish a book?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

First-Sale Jitters -- Kiki Clark

Selling a book was a lot like losing my virginity. I didn’t understand exactly how the process worked and there was no written contract. “What’s happening? Is this normal? Wait! I’m not comfortable! Okay, I guess this feels pretty good.” Even with an agent (and we’re dropping the sex metaphor right there), I had to take a lot of things on faith. Faith that the contract details will be worked out, even though nothing might be signed for two or even five months. Faith that the edits, which I won’t see for six months, won’t be onerous. Faith that my second book idea will be approved, and faith that the paranormal market won’t be dead and gone by the time my first book appears.

As a perfectionist who loves control, I’m easing my way into pleasure at this first sale. The days of being agented and unsold were halcyon. I would have paid my agent up front to say the nice things she said about my writing. True, there were no covers on my books, but I had no cover worries. I was free to try any genre I wanted, take my time, and dream of the day when slavering publishers bid on my most-loved manuscript like wolves fighting over a choice piece of carcass.

Selling a book is like a dream come true, but remember -- we don’t have the control over dreams that we have over our writing. Dream characters change mid-plot, locations are oddly unfamiliar, and our hands don’t work the way we want them to. This doesn’t mean we’d be willing to give up dreaming. To use another metaphor, I want a writing career the way some women want children. This sale is one of many baby steps toward that goal and if I’m lucky, the overall experience will be wonderful, with miminal sleepless nights and vomit on my shoulder. I’m nervous about this sale, and afraid of failing at something so measurable, but of course I’m excited and happy. I’ve sold a book.



Monday, February 19, 2007

Diane's Tea Party at the Officer's Club

In this month's Wet Noodle Posse ezine I wrote about my mother and how her involvement in Fort McClellan's Officers' Wives Club made her a Superheroine during the Civil Rights era.

Within a week of my article appearing, I received an invitation to an Officers' Wives Club! Is that not synergy or what?

The Fort Meade, Maryland, Officers' Wives Club invited me and other historical romance authors to attend an old fashioned Tea this Wednesday, Feb 21. One of the officers' wives, Kim Lowe, came up with this idea and it has mushroomed! There are about 10 authors attending, including Mary Jo Putney and Cathy Maxwell. Even Kathryn Falk, the founder of RomanticTimes Book Reviews magazine is attending. Kathryn is a great supporter of the soldiers stationed overseas in Afganistan and Iraq and of their wives at home.

The tea should be great fun. For every piece of vintage clothing the attendees wear, they will receive chances to win a prize. I asked Melanie Murray, my Warner editor, if Warner could donate any books. She sent me 15. I'm putting them all in a pretty tote bag for a giveaway.

It would be terrific to give away copies of my new book, Innocence and Impropriety by Diane Gaston (due in bookstores March 1) to all the attendees but there's going to be about 100 of them! So I'm going to give away books only to those at my tea table.

I wanted to make my books look special and I hit upon the idea of wrapping them in a lady's handkerchief and tying them with a ribbon. I found these lovely handkerchiefs in an online store. They even had roses on them. The heroine in Innocence and Impropriety is named Rose.
I am driving up to Fort Meade, about an hour away, with my friend Sally MacKenzie. Sally writes those "Naked" Regency books - The Naked Duke, The Naked Marquis, and her latest The Naked Earl.

I'm expecting to have a wonderful time!

Have you ever been to an Officers' Wives Club? Or to a tea? My favorite tea time was in the Pump Room in Bath, where Jane Austen drank the waters. It was on my first England trip--Mary Balogh came and she treated our whole group!

Cheers!
Diane

Mary Cassatt's "Tea" courtesy of Athenaeum.com

Countdown to Innocence and Impropriety hitting the bookstores - 9 days
Countdown to Gerard Butler in 300 - 18 days

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Fairy Dust and Waltzing Alligators

I am standing on the other side looking back. I got The Call the day before yesterday. An editor wanted to buy my manuscript, WALTZING WITH ALLIGATORS. Up until the last minute, the rejections were rolling in, like winter waves on the ocean, relentless and crushing. Everything and nothing has changed. I'm still the same writer I was. The manuscript is still the same story I conceived during a particularly nasty bout of the flu a few years ago while I trapped in bed. But someone sprinkled fairy dust over New York. This time an editor read my story and connected to my vision.

It all started on a Thursday. An agent asked for an exclusive after reading a query I had sent out on Monday of that week. Two days later, on a rainy Sunday morning, I shuffled to my computer with my morning tea. The house was still asleep. A rejection from an agent was sitting on a pile of manuscripts boring holes in my back as I turned on my computer. I'd abandoned it there two days earlier, not having the heart to open the darn thing. Finally, I knew the moment had come. I would have to read the bad news. I told myself to stop being a wimp. Get it over with and move on.

Rejections are definitely rainy day material. Sure enough, it was from an agent who loved my voice, but just didn't see my work as right for the current romance market. How many times had I been down that road? I have boxes of returned manuscripts with such sentiments attached.

I've recently decided to trim the U.S. Postal Service's budget by no longer paying for return postage. Recycling, that's the ticket. Someplace far, far away. No more thuds echoing on the front porch for me. Lately, I've noticed our mail carrier drops the manuscripts, rings the bell, and runs. By the time I get the dog settled down and open the door, she's back in her truck and halfway down the block. Maybe she's a writer too and hates to be the bearer of bad news.

I dropped the latest disappointment in a pile with the rest and returned to my laptop to check my email. It was pouring outside, perfect weather for my gloomy mood as I log on to my Gmail account. Hold the phone! There's an email from the editor who had requested my manuscript at a conference two weeks ago. She'd run back to the office on a Sunday to get the rest of my story. She's reading it. And she likes it--—on a Sunday. Holy Smokes!

I once received an email rejection from an agent on a Sunday morning. I emailed back and told him he was working way too hard and he should take some time off and relax a bit. But this was different, this was good news, and from an editor, no less. She said she was going to finish it and email me the next day. Talk about sweating bullets. So much was riding on the end of the book, which has a tricky climax with a whopping cast of nine characters on stage in the same scene. If I worked in a circus, I would be a contortionist. My plots have subplots, lots of them. Even the subplots have their own subplots. I am the queen of story knots. I can't seem to help myself.

Monday morning brought another email, then a phone call, then more waiting while other editors read the manuscript. The agent's copy was yet to be delivered. More reading in New York. More bullets whizzing past. I was about to blow a gasket on the opposite side of continent come Thursday morning, I hope to tell you. I had finally coaxed my story angels into concentrating on my work-in-progress when the phone rang. It was The Call, not just a looksee. I'd passed muster. They wanted my book. Amazing. Do I believe in magic, serendipity, and fairy dust? You betcha! A big thank you to my story angels! You know who you are.

Lorelle

Friday, February 16, 2007

Jill is Hitting the Mark

"This book is impossible to put down."
Romantic Times - 4 1/2 Stars Top Pick



Hitting The Mark

With grifters hanging from every branch of her family
tree, Danni Ford was trying to do the impossible--
play it straight. Until an undercover G-man played
her with a few tricks of his own�

The tip-off should have been the way Eric's gaze met hers
only when they talked dirty.

So Eric was using her to trap her shady relatives. He was
still off-the-charts sexy�why shouldn't she get something
pleasurable from this con�?

Danni's revenge is going to be very, very sweet--and it
will start with tying up her FBI agent boyfriend con man
to get to the truth. Before he discovers her secrets first!

Terry's Rancher Needs a Wife


RNW-cover-blogtour

About the book:

How can two people so wrong for each other seem so right?

After his divorce, Wayne Hammond hesitated to make anyone
the second Mrs. Hammond. Topping the list of the women he
shouldn't pick is Maggie Harrison Sinclair.

Maggie has already left Tucker, Montana, once. She's back
only to lick her wounds and figure out her next step. Not
exactly the ranch-loving, stay-at-home wife and mother that
Wayne has always wanted.

But once Wayne and Maggie cross paths, the
impossible-to-resist rancher and the bright-lights-loving
woman succumb to their hotter-than-heck attraction,
resulting in aneven bigger complication.

Bright Lights, Big Sky
When Malibu meets Montana, it's magic.


What people are saying about The Rancher Needs a Wife:

"...full of smart dialogue and great characters."
4 stars, Romantic Times BOOKreviews

"...an enchanting novel that provides everything we
look for in a great romance...plenty of humor, burning
passion, a plot that entertains with every page..."
Nadine St. Dennis, Romance Junkies

"Heartwarming and poignant...have the tissues handy
just to be safe."
Lettetia, Contemporary Romance Writers

"Look for more from this author as each book of
hers gets betterthan the last."
Connie Payne, Once Upon a Romance

Thursday, February 15, 2007

A contest! A contest!

Want to be ahead of the pack?

Stop by my blog...where I'm giving away an Advance Review Copy of Rises the Night, the second installment in the Gardella Vampire Chronicles (due out in June).

You have until Saturday to enter!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day from Merrillee Whren

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

When the Wet Noodle Posse decided to do a blog, I chose the 14th of each month to be my blog day. I picked that day because February 14th is my wedding anniversary. My husband always says having a Valentine anniversary makes it easy not to forget it. When you read this I’ll be on a cruise. I’ll be enjoying the warm, sunny weather of several Caribbean islands, although not Puerto Rico. But you can check out that lovely island by reading Priscilla Kissinger’s article on the Wet Noodle Posse e-zine.

Of course cruises are known for the abundance of fabulous food. My biggest hope is that I can enjoy the great food without gaining any weight. Is that possible? Maybe it will work if I only eat half as much as I’d like to. If you’re looking for a great meal, check out Terry McLaughlin’s Valentines’ Day Dinner for Two on the e-zine.

My husband and I are going on this cruise, not only to celebrate our anniversary, but also to celebrate with our older daughter who recently got her master’s degree in library science. Our other daughter and her husband, as well as my mother-in-law and her sister and a couple we met right after we got married, are also joining us on this cruise. We are looking forward to the warm weather and the chance to be with people we love. I hope you all enjoy your Valentines’ Day with the people you love the most, too.

Merrillee

Monday, February 12, 2007

Vicious Valentines

by Bridget Stuart, with apologies to Roz Chast

"For the Special Someones who Aren't So Special After All"

I've recently become single again, so pardon me if Valentine's Day has put me in a snarky mood. Feel free to cut and paste the greetings below and send them to your not-so-loved-ones, as appropriate!

To a Boyfriend

"You forged my name on many checks;
yelled someone else's during sex;
and now, I fear your charming smile
coaxes out my stomach bile."

Get out by five and leave my wallet alone


To an Ex-Wife

"I think you married me for my cash.
First you nip/tucked your sweet ass.
Then it was your pretty neck.
And before I could say 'what the heck'
You had had a tummy tuck
You drained me dry of my last buck.
Well that's okay, you were fantastic
But I'd rather have real flesh than plastic"

Avoid exposure to chemical solvents and temperatures above 100 F


To an Ex-Husband

"Perhaps worse than your yawning boredom
was your tendency to whoredom;
and worse indeed than any whore,
was your tendency to snore."

Thanks for the chlamydia, pal.


To my Sweet Girl

"I love you darling, to distraction.
Though I seem to get no action.
You wear those beads and flowing dresses,
Birkenstocks and braided tresses,
a Northampton gal is your best friend,
perhaps I do detect a trend?"

But 'womyn' is spelled with an "a"

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Clothes make the woman

by Charity Tahmaseb

From today’s email:

Dear Charity,

What they say: We appreciate your recent interest in Clothes for Women of a Certain Age and would like to offer you another great reason to shop with us. Receive free shipping when you place an order of $150 or greater.

What the mean: Yes, we know you were hoping for the free shipping right after Christmas, what with that gift card burning a hole and all. We know this because that little cookie on your computer tells us when you click through to our site. Blame marketing.

Yes, we know you wanted that sweater, in charcoal, but were willing to settle for cranberry. Yes, we know it’s now out of stock, except size XS. And yes, we know you have freakishly long arms and buy your sweaters large. But think! Three-quarter length sleeves! So stylish.

What they say: Orders must be placed by midnight, February 12, 2007. Enter ha-UfEllforIt at checkout.

What they mean: Yes, we threaten you with this at least once a week now. That’s because we’ve released our new spring catalogue. Look at the buzz words: whisper-soft fabric, delicate embroidery. Shirts so see-through you need to layer them with two other garments just to leave the house. So stylish! Who cares if the temperature hasn’t climbed above zero all week?

And look at our What Women Wear Now collection. Okay, honestly, the marketing department refers to this line as “Clothes Paris Hilton would never wear.” We like to think of it as “forgiving.”

What they say: Take advantage of this free-shipping offer and start shopping now.

What they mean: Sure, we have that buy now, pay later deal going on. We’d really like it if you paid now. Besides, we know you have that gift card. Go on. Click that link. You know you want to.

What they say: With sincerest thanks, your friends at Clothes for Women of a Certain Age

What they mean: We’re nothing if not polite. Blame marketing.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Let me count the ways

While reading Stef Feagan's fun and fabulous Ten Tips for Rekindling Romance, I began to think about my "romantic" relationship with my husband. The conclusion I reached--again--was the one my husband and I always agree on: we don't have a romantic relationship. We're not romantics, either of us.

Now before you break out the violins, let me explain that we're very happy in our practical little world (and we'll be celebrating our thirtieth wedding anniversary in a few months). Sure, we eat at candlelit tables, but we're usually so caught up in our conversations that we don't notice the atmosphere. If I want flowers, I buy them myself. The last box of candy in our house was a joint purchase made during one of our Napa Valley jaunts, and we agreed it was a pleasant change in the dessert routine.

Stef's ideas were great, though, and I have to admit we practice number ten on her list several times every day. I'm tempted to give one or two of the other items a try. We may not end up feeling any more romantic, but we'll probably have a lot of fun!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Riding the Ferry and Romancing the Reader

by Lee McKenzie

On Wednesday I took part in my very first public event as a published writer — a five-author panel discussion titled “Beyond Feather Boas and Fainting Couches: Writing Romance in the 21st Century.” As the title implies, it was a lot of fun! In addition to an audience full of readers, a number of attendees were aspiring romance writers. I remember so well the time when I was one of those people — someone who loved romance novels and dared to wonder if she could write one. Thanks in part to all the encouragement I received from so many of the published authors I met in those days, I made it! It was so gratifying to have an opportunity to give some of that back.

My trip home on Thursday required a ferry ride, which I always enjoy because I take my laptop and have an hour or so of uninterrupted writing time. At one point the captain announced that a pod of killer whales could be seen from the port side of the ship, so I did a quick save and scurried to the window to watch. Being a west coaster I’ve seen killer whales dozens of times, yet I’m always awestruck by their beauty and majesty. It’s amazing to watch the synchronized rise and fall of those dorsal fins and the occasional appearance of a tail that seems to playfully slap the water. It was the perfect end to two wonderful days.

Once home, I settled in for an evening of Thursday night television and two of my favorite shows — Grey’s Anatomy and Men in Trees. Oh my gosh, who saw Grey’s? I’m so glad I watched that at the end of a ferry trip and not right before I had to embark on one! And of course I’ll be on pins and needles till next week when we find out what happened to Meredith. What do you think? McDreamy to the rescue?

What can I say? We west coasters are hopeless romantics!

Wishing all of you a Happy Valentine’s Day in advance,

Lee

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Lovuary

It's the month of love over at the Wet Noodle Posse e-zine! Get started early on your Valentine treats!

Ten tips for kindling romance by Stephanie Feagan. Followed by romantic advice from the Noodlers. :)

Valentine's Day crafts with Jill Monroe.

Valentine's Dinner for Two with Terry McLaughlin!

Plan a trip to the Island of Enchantment with Priscilla Kissinger!

The chemical side to feelings with Moni Thompson!

There are also plenty of non-Valentine's related articles! Check out Superheroine of the month Teresa Gaston, Kiki's article on beating writing blocks, top ten non-writing websites, or Dr. Deb's advice on dealing with a loved one in depression.

And don't forget to check out Sandy Blair, noodler of the month!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Coming out of the closet...

by Colleen Gleason

I have a confession to make. It really comes in a round-about way, because I didn't get a chance to submit my list of favorite non-writing Web sites (which the Noodlers all share this month on our Top Ten Page).

See, part of the reason I didn't submit my favorites is because...well, they're a little embarrassing. But, well, I've decided it's time to come out of the closet and admit that I, Colleen Gleason, am a gossip column junkie.

Yes ma'am. Love those gossips: love hearing the snark about Paris Hilton and the rumors about Lindsay Lohan (I'm not letting my impressionable pre-teen daughter ever see another Lindsay Lohan movie again!), and the good, the bad, and the ugly in relation to off-camera stories.

And then all the juicy stuff about Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes: the contracts, the gay rumors, the Scientology stuff....and then that infamous photo of John Travolta smacking lips with his pilot. Yikes.

I love it!

Who knows if it's true, but I admit to hitting the following Web sites on a regular basis:

Lainey Gossip
The Awful Truth
PerezHilton

So...signing off now so I can find out what the latest scoop is about Jennifer Aniston's new nose job and get more clues about the latest Blind Items!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Thoughts of warm places on a cold day

When I look out my office window now, I see a cloudy sky, barren trees, and grass devoid of vibrant green. My neighbors are bundled up in coats, scarves and gloves as they head for their cars. Their breath is visible in the cold air. The good thing about today is that January is now behind me. I love being able to turn the calendar over to February. There's just a mental hurdle I cross when Feb. 1 arrives. I can "sense" spring where it seemed eons away during the cold of January.

During this time of year, I fantasize a lot about walking down a warm, sandy beach beneath a bright, blue sky. Doesn't matter if it's in Florida, Hawaii, the Caribbean, wherever. But after reading Priscilla Kissinger's travel article on Puerto Rico in this month's Wet Noodle Posse e-zine, that locale is looking very attractive. Not only is it warm, it's also gorgeous and rich with history and culture -- the perfect combination for a vacation in my book. Be sure to read Priscilla's article (complete with enticing photos) as well as the rest of the e-zine's February issue. As usual, it's filled to the brim with interesting material.

And please share you favorite winter vacation destinations with us in the comments section of this blog. And if you say Aspen, I may have to go put on another layer of fleece. :)

The Spiced Tea Party

Noodlers Colleen Gleason and Janet Mullany put on their naughtiest hats as Colette Gale and Jane Lockwood, along with erotic historical romance authors Celia May Hart, Kate Pearce, Lacy Danes, Pam Rosenthal, and Sharon Page for impolite conversation and frightening the horses. For the next week, February 1-7, the hostesses of The Spiced Tea Party celebrate their grand opening, giving away prizes and lurid secrets. Come check us out!