Mom, do you have my Bright Eyes CD again???
By Norah Wilson
One of the pros (and cons) of having a teenager is being exposed to new music. Emo, screamo, metal, indie rock, ska punk, hardcore punk, reggae, you name it. I've heard it all through the walls of my office as I try t
o write. I can’t say I like it all, but I will admit to raiding my kids’ CD collections occasionally, particularly my daughter’s. Through her, I discovered the fabulously talented and tragic Elliott Smith
, the quirky Modest Mouse
and Bright Eyes
(the band fronted by the brilliant Conor Oburst), which are now firmly ensconced in my favorites. And while I may not steal her Death Cab for Cutie, Sublime, Interpol, The Used or My Chemical Romance, I know who they are when I hear them, and I don’t hate it when I discover them in the CD player in my car.
But this music exchange is a two-way street. I’ve turned my kids onto Warren Zevon
(RIP, Warren), Wilco
, Soul Asylum
, John Hiatt
, and more. If I want to hear my Lemonheads
CD, I head for my daughter’s bedroom to dig it out of her collection. Zevon tends to be camped out in the basement with my son. Heck, I was the one who made them listen to (and eventually love) Everlast
, since, oddly, neither of them would give a rap artist a chance.
But what I can’t figure out is why this taste transference hasn’t happened between the kids and their father. Okay, maybe I can
figure it out. His tastes run more to country (and not the fabulously popular kind; we’re talking Iris Dement, not Faith Hill), big band, Texas swing, classic rock (I think the last rock song he liked was penned by The Who, recognized by my kids as the theme music to CSI). So for the most part, they don’t like his music and he flat out hates theirs.
One of the reasons, I think, is that I’ve always done more of the chauffeuring duty to get the kids here or there, so we had more time to imprint our music on each other.
But I think perhaps the bigger reason is that some people never learn to like music that comes along after their heyday. We’re indelibly marked by the music that made up the soundtrack of our own teenage years, and some of us never get beyond that.
Okay, so which camp do you fall into? Are you receptive to new music, or did they quit making good music when you turned 20? And if you are in the receptive camp, did you ever get turned on to a great new artist by your kids? Inquiring minds want to know.
Labels: Bright Eyes, Elliott Smith, Modest Mouse, music
Educational Tracking in Middle Schools?
Tracking in middle schools, does it help or hinder our children? I ask this question as my child starts her second year of middle school as a highly motivated, high achiever who doesn’t qualify for the gifted program, so I admit I may have a bias. But as I delved into research on the matter, I’m even more confounded by the choices made by our local administrators. And I worry. As a bright child who works hard to make straight A’s and very few B’s, will my daughter continue to excel now that the administration has taken a portion of 7th graders, the best and the brightest, who were in her heterogeneous classes last year, and have now separated them from the general population?
Much of the educational research I have read over the last twenty years indicates that educational tracking does a disservice to students at all levels, has actually been shown to lower overall achievement in schools, and has been challenged in the U.S. courts as a form of discrimination under Title VI. Other research conducted on behalf of gifted children claims ability grouping is necessary in order to challenge children with high IQ’s.
I’d like to hear what our readers and contributors think about tracking.
Labels: education, tracking
Hero Cat Saves Family Lawn
A Slightly Fictionalized Tale of Male Versus Mole
In summer I do most of my writing outdoors on the deck under a curtained canopy that provides shelter from rain and shade so I can see my laptop screen. This summer while I worked, an additional opportunity arose. I became a War Correspondent. And I didn't even have to leave the deck.Shadow,theHeroCat
Here's how it happened: You see, there's something about a string of mole hills laced around a yard that can set even the least intrepid of yard guys into a frenzy. I'm not talking about those strange males with green thumbs who spend entire summers weeding, seeding and trimming every blade of grass to the perfect height. I can't imagine how those poor guys survive a mole attack. It's dangerous enough for my guys, and our lawn isn't exactly one a normal suburbanite would discuss in polite company.
Moles are not the innocuous tiny rodents digging around in the dirt they try to make you believe they are. They are vicious, loathsome, alien beings bent on the destruction of the American Way of Lawn. They are an affront to the masculinity of the American male. Therefore it is inherent in any said American male that he must rise to the defense of home, hearth and backyard.
Nor is the struggle confined to male humans. The American house cat of either gender also feels honor-bound to join in the struggle to save the dandelion-dotted expanse of green. Or maybe it's that moles taste good. I'm not really sure. At any rate, the two males and two black cats of our household immediately united in the struggle against the common enemy.
I'm not really sure whether it was the human males or the black-furred Special Forces that took up the battle first, but the first sign of battle I glimpsed involved shovels leveling the mounds. By morning, the mounds were back.
Meanwhile, Jinx and Shadow took turns at the latest mound. Jinx dug and dug, turned around and came at the hole from a different angle. Seventeen-year-old Shadow, whose favorite daily routines consist of eating, sleeping, using the litter box and issuing various commands to be petted, let out or fed kitty treats, stood- or rather laid- guard whenever Jinx was not around. But the mounds multiplied, making a nearly complete circle in the yard.
Mole traps, suggested my son. I looked out and saw six-year-old Jinx digging into the freshest hole like a dog after a bone, while old Shadow supervised from the shade of the redwood tree, and seeing Jinx going deep enough that half of her body was hidden from sight, I vetoes traps. They'd catch more cats than moles. Jinx is nothing if not exuberant in her pursuit of any critter that moves, and I could picture her poor little paw hideously mangled in the trap's ominous jaws.
Rocks, then, they decided. Soon they were hauling in gravel from the driveway and packing it into the holes, which they then flattened with their favorite weapons, shovels. It worked. The moles didn't re-appear in those holes. However, they did move on. More mounds. Closer to the house. My mind was starting to replay the horrors of gophers in Caddy Shack, and I could see those nasty creatures tunneling beneath the house and under-mining the foundation.
And Jinx kept digging, and Shadow kept supervising.
Since the rocks didn't stop the enemy, the guys turned to stronger measures. They'd flood them out. So the garden hose came into action, and the water ran until the neighbor's lawn downhill from us once again turned green, even though it was mid-July, and my mind's eye envisioned the house inching downhill in a mudslide. Likely the moles were living it up beneath our very feet, basking beside their underground swimming pools. Only moles would do a thing like that.
Closer, closer, the tell-tale mounds came to the house, and the yard was beginning to look like a minefield. Nothing could stop their forward advance.
Someone said poison, and the guys took it to heart. No, said I, if the cats could dig up a trap, they could dig up poison. We must protect our allies. But what could we do? The moles were winning battle after battle. And the guys were talking backhoe. That would get rid of the moles, all right, but yard as we know it would cease to exist.
Then early one morning I was under my canopy typing away when I looked out to the battlefield through my computer glasses, which meant I didn't see all that well, and I saw Jinx going after a new hole with a new vengeance.
But squinting a bit harder (when I really could have just reached for the other glasses), I realized the cat at war was quite a bit fatter than Jinx. That was old Shadow digging, with all the energy and fury Jinx put into the endeavor. What was this? The feline couch potato in hot pursuit of the enemy? Never in all the years we've had her has she been a hunter, but the way she was shoveling the dirt, I would have sworn she was just about to bring home a mole for dinner.
My heart swelled with pride for the old girl. "Go, Shadow, go," I whispered, and sat up straighter to watch her work. "Go, girl. Save the yard from the backhoe. "
She dug, dug, dug. She came back up. She ran around the mound to the opposite side, and dove in again, sending dirt flying. Knowing her particular eating habits, I figured she'd expect me to roast it in the oven for her supper so it would be nice and tender for her old teeth.
Then she did the altogether too thinkable. She turned, backed onto the dirt and squatted.
Well, we all know Shadow was really simply indulging in one of her favorite daily activities. Don't we?
All I can say is, that was over a month ago and I haven't seen any new piles of dirt in the yard.
Words that Stick
I finalled in a contest yesterday with my 2006 finalist, Don’t Look Back. My scores were good, 90, 91, 100!!
I entered another, newer manuscript in the same contest, different category. My scores were a bit more spread out – 99, 98, 76, 56.
Guess which scores kept me up last night?
When I was at The School from Hell, She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named made a comment about an outfit (that I’m wearing today, coincidentally). She said one of the board members leaned over to her at the PTA program and asked what I was thinking, wearing such a thing. Now, I was about 25 pounds lighter, no skinny-mini, but wearing black capris and a bright Hawaiian print t-shirt didn’t seem like such a no-no. Still, I remember that comment 4 years after it was made.
A good friend of mine revealed that ONE negative comment from a friend hurt her so much she stopped writing. All the wonderful things I could say about her story and her writing couldn’t conquer that ONE negative comment!
So why do the negative comments stick? I KNOW I’m not perfect, I shouldn’t expect to be. So why do reminders that I’m not stay with me for YEARS?
I know some of it is because I want to improve. That’s certainly what kept me up with the scores last night. HOW can I make the story better? (Fortunately, the judges gave me clear comments as to what they didn’t like. Most of them were even, um, not snotty.)
I know I’m not alone. What I don’t know is how to let go.
Research in Williamsburg by Diane Gaston
Next month in The Wet Noodle Posse ezine, I write about using the internet for research. I’ve also written about using travel for research
In that article, I talk about how advantageous it is to travel to the place where your story is set, but wherever you travel, you can learn something that helps in your writing.
This past week I went to Jamestown and Williamsburg, Virginia, with my writing friend, Amanda McCabe (A Notorious Woman
, in bookstores this month). I write Regency Historical Romance, stories which take place in the early 1800s, in the time of Jane Austen, of Byron, of the Napoleonic War, so visiting a 1607 settlement or a Colonial city was not entirely relevant to my writing.
But I learned useful things anyway. Here are some of them:
1. (from Jamestown) Ships didn’t sail directly across the Atlantic Ocean from England to America. They had to sail south to the Canary Islands, to follow the wind to carry them across the ocean. It took them five months. The return trip to England had more favorable winds and a shorter northern route. This is something I’d never thought about. Now if I have a character sailing across the ocean, I’ll know to research the route!
2. (from Jamestown) John Smith could be a model for a romance hero. He had an exciting history even before Jamestown. He fought duels, was captured, enslaved, escaped. He was considered such a troublemaker Christopher Newport wanted to execute him. He was instrumental in befriending the Algonquian tribe, even though Pocahantas may not really have thrown herself across his body to save him. John Smith wrote extensively about his exploits, but he did have a tendency to embellish.
3. (from Williamsburg) I heard the sound of the horses and carriage, a rhythmic sound on the packed earth of the streets. I’ll know I’ll use that sound.
4. (from Williamsburg) We visited the Printing Press
and the pressman was willing to answer lots of questions. One thing about printing newspapers in that time period and even as late as mine, the ink on the papers needed to dry. I had never thought of this and I needed to know it for my latest book which has a printing press in it.
5. (from everywhere) Just watching people can give you ideas. For example, in Williamsburg I noticed a somewhat bratty little girl of about five years who said no to everything. I thought of how unhappy the child seemed. There is a germ of an idea for a character in that little girl, I think.
That’s what we do as writers. Keep our eyes, ears, and noses open wherever we are. You never know when an idea will strike.
Where do your best ideas--about anything--strike you?
Labels: Amanda McCabe, Diane Gaston, Jamestown, Research, Williamsburg
Chatting Up Elves -- Esri Rose
Now that I’ve sold a book, I need a new website to promote it. So my husband Joe, who looks down on all website software and instead programs in pure HTML that comes from mountain streams and is filtered through gold-bearing quartz crystals, is making it for me. This kind of endeavor is a test of any marriage. My areas of expertise (color choices, pretty designs) are bumping up against his (quick page loads, elegant coding), and compromises will have to be made. Five minutes ago, I offered to buy a program and do it all myself.
Joe: “Well, that’s fine, as long as you never want me to change anything for you, because the code will be so full of crap, I won’t touch it.”
Esri: “Never? You’re saying I could never ask you for help? Are you going to cut me out of your will, too?"
We’ve worked through that now, though I’m sure it will come up again.
My publisher (Kensington) gave me a list of required website elements:
- the book’s release date
- cover picture
- author photo
- welcoming letter
- bio that’s more in-depth than the few lines on the back of the book
- event info
- excerpt (no more than 250 words)
- book-club lounge for reading groups to chat (!)
- and last but not least, some way to buy it.
The thought of a club forming to chat about my books is thrilling, even if I seriously can’t imagine what they’d chat about…
Gallerific: “She lives in Colorado. I hear they have good beer there.”
TooGoodFerU: “I hear CO guys all ski, and are super-HAWT.”
Anyway, out of all the things Kensington recommends having, I currently have…um, one, since my revision letter hasn’t come and I don’t want to post any preemie excerpts. The book isn’t out until May, so I’m working on design stuff right now. Although I suppose I could start the chat room.
TooGoodFerU: “So if an elf gets a piercing or a tattoo and then merges with the earth, do you think the piercing or whatever is gone when they take human form again?”
Gallerific: “I know! And what if a boy elf is circumcised while in human form? Do you think it would grow back?”
TooGoodFerU: “Why would anyone circumcise a boy elf??”
Gallerific: “Maybe it’s an experiment?”
TooGoodFerU: “Dude, they’d have to catch him first, and elves travel fast, right?”
Gallerific: “Probably super-fast, in that case.”
Paint Me Adventurous
I was a painting major in college—not exactly the sort of painting I’ve been doing lately. For the past two weeks, I’ve been covered in house paint. I’m beginning to wonder if it will ever come off. Elbows, knuckles, hair. Even my poor dog has not escaped. Everyday I drive 45 minutes to our soon-to-be house and caulk and paint and sand.
For the past thirteen years, our walls have been white, but I’m rapidly becoming a seat-of-the-pants painter who is hungry for color. I began with a pale peach called Silk Gown, somewhat reminiscent of a nightdress my grandmother used to wear—a fresh, but reassuring color for the walls that will echo the warmth of the future clay tile floors.
I thought I’d play it safe with the doors. I chose white. But as I coated the walls with the creamy peach I sudden had a yen for a color to contrast the warmth. I went rushing back to Home Depot and picked out a color called Celery Ice—a pale shade of green. My husband even supported my color choice. Amazing. It takes a secure man to live in a pastel house.
My daughter wanted blue walls. I’d been putting her choice off for years. I’m not a blue person. My husband said it would be a nice surprise for her when she came back from camp. Guilt worked, so now her walls are a very intense medium blue called Lively Tune. I need sunglasses to look at the color. My contractor calls it neon. I have the urge to paint puffy white clouds to tone it down, but I’m resisting admirably.
You ask how this all relates to writing? Take a look at a paint chart and read the evocative names of the colors. They really are inspiring. Butter Cookie, Lime Lollipop, Snowy Egret, Clear Moon, Lilting Laughter, Morning Breeze, Sea Sprite. Imagine yourself wheeling up to the counter and saying, “I’d like five gallons of Juicy Mango or Bullfighter Red. These might be great colors to help define your characters or even to use as inspiration for a title. What sort of color would your character choose?
Today, I may try some Clay Mug or Lime Lollipop as transition colors to the bathroom tile, which is considerably rustier than I expected. I’m editing and polishing my color palette as I would edit my manuscript, refining my colors to evoke just the right mood. Lilting Laughter anyone? Or perhaps some Butter Cookie, which is as rich and warm as it sounds.
Yes, that's right.
I'm on a honeymoon.
(And if you're wondering about the shoes, they are English wedding shoes from the 1770s, courtesy of the Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto, a place I am now longing to visit.)
My companion on the honeymoon, or possibly the bride herself, I'm not sure I want to get into this too closely, is my book, The Rules of Gentility,
which came out this month, and we are visiting and blogging together and ooh-ing and ah-ing over reviews.
Mostly, I'm happy to say, the reviews have been good, the Amazon comments the usual mixed bag, and the book and I have been blogging all over the place. It reminds me somewhat of a Regency-era bride being taken to visit friends and family all decked out in her wedding finery, and sometimes accompanied by a younger sister. It was thought to be an educational experience for a tender young girl.
When I mentioned this interesting fact to my editor while we were talking about rewrites (I intended to have the heroine's younger sister join her on the honeymoon) I got that far before she gave a great whoop of laughter. Naturally, she thought I was making it up and expecting the worst from me.
And I've been talking about the book. I mentioned it to Anglophile Joe the bus driver who likes Churchill. Our conversations usually revolve around we shall fight on the landing beaches ... we shall never surrender...
"That must have cost you a bunch of money," he said. I told him no, they paid me. I don't think he really believed me.
It's funny the sort of misconceptions people have about writing and publishing. One of my favorites is that to produce something good, you have to suffer. I never
felt this with The Rules.
I usually went to write more of it chortling with glee that I was having such a good time and positively cackling at the keyboard. Was I just this lucky this one time? I haven't enjoyed writing other books so much although when you really get into it and let rip and your subconscious kicks in, that's the best feeling in the world.
Of course my other favorite myth is You can't do that in a romance...
which has taught me to trust my instincts and my voice.
So, back to the honeymoon, which has been a lot of fun, but has given me a yearning to return to real life and get on with the writing.
What are your favorite myths about writing and publishing?Contests at both my sites: www.janetmullany.com and www.janelockwood.com. Win valuable prizes, astonish your friends.
A crazy day
Today I was reminded of the absolute wonder of modern medicine, and I had a renewed appreciation for health care professionals. Early this morning I drove my mother-in-law to Jacksonville to have a procedure done that would determine the treatment for the poor circulation in her legs. I dropped her off at the hospital at 9 AM and then went to run errands, because her procedure wasn't scheduled until noon. After completing my errands and grabbing some fast food, I headed back to the hospital. I expected to find her finished with the procedure and resting comfortably as she waited to be released. When I arrived at the hospital around 1 PM, she still hadn't been taken in for her procedure. They were behind schedule because they had three patients who had been life-flighted to the cardiac center. You can't miss the helipad as you drive up to the hospital entrance. I realized how often we take the wonders of modern medicine for granted.
While I waited, I observed the nurses and the marvelous way they reassured my mother-in-law about the procedure. They were very patient and so caring, even of the folks like me who were waiting on loved ones. The outside temperatures today were in the mid to upper 90s, so I was dressed appropriately in shorts, light weight top and sandals. But the hospital temperature was much cooler, and I was freezing. The nurses brought me two blankets. One I wrapped around my waist to make a skirt, and the other I draped over my shoulders to keep me warm. I may have looked a little funny, but I was warm.
Finally, tonight about 9 PM, we were headed home. As I drove my mother-in-law's car down the interstate, the low coolant light flashed on, a reminder to have it checked tomorrow. But it became a worry when just a little ways down the road, we ran into a traffic jam. At first we thought there was an accident, but we discovered that they were doing road work at night, supposedly to avoid traffic jams. We were in stop-and-go traffic while I watched the temperature gauge slowly go up. I could just see us in the middle of all of this traffic with the engine overheating. Fortunately the traffic moved just enough to keep the engine cool, and we made it home.
But we have more hospital days ahead. The procedure today showed a blockage that will need to be repaired with a bypass, but I know after today's observation that the doctors and nurses will take good care of my mother-in-law and make her life better because of their knowledge and good work.
Labels: cardiac care, doctors, hospitals, medicine, nurses
OMG Falling Stars! Redux
by Bridget Stuart
Meteor shower update:
WOW. Just back from the cliffs by the ocean--well past midnight, and so all you civilized people are in bed, no one I can call to gasp over it --I never saw so many falling stars as I did tonight. Astonishing green and yellow streaks across the sky, like fireworks with a mission.
The wonder and dark romance of my evening was somewhat marred at first, when high schoolers picked a spot near me to hang out, and my Across the Universe-type contemplation was disturbed by a lot of gabbing in which 'fuck' and 'tattoo' were the key words. I moved away from them and got too close to the nice couple who chanted something in an exotic language (I can tell you it wasn't French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Nahuatl or Maya) each time they saw a star fall.
But these folk soon tired of their vigil and left me to it.
Don't let anything stop you, everyone--tomorrow night is supposed to be almost as good as tonight was. GO!
Labels: falling stars, meteors, perseid
by Bridget Stuart
Today's post will be shorter than usual, due to a broken wrist and a truly massive cast that goes right up over my elbow. Don't ask me how I broke it, because I'm too embarrassed to tell you.
But I do have a question of my own: am I alone in thinking they should line the inside of people's casts with the same absorbent, wicking material they use in baby diapers? Instead they wrapped my poor arm in polyester gauze. Polyester. And told me with steely eyes that I'm not allowed to pour powder in there, or insert kebab skewers in case of itching, as my friends suggested. Well what am I supposed to do, then?
"Mind over Matter", my doctor replied.
Tonight around eleven I'll be dragging my cast and a blanket up to the old Revolutionary War fort in my town and positioning it at the edge of the cliff that hangs out over the ocean. Then my cast and I will lie on our backs and watch the black sky until the stars fall. It's time for the meteor showers.
This was a tradition in my dad's family, and very special when we were kids because my sister was born during the Perseid showers. I'll be doing it alone tonight, because my kids are with their dad. I know in some ways it will feel strange.
But when I watch the stars, I feel a small and quiet connection to something that makes custody arrangements, my stupid cast and my uncertain future loom less large. And when the stars fall, as they do every year in August, the big universe may not notice, but I do. I mark their passing. Even as they flame out and disappear, they are things of infinite beauty.
Sneaky summer milestones
Yesterday, I took my daughter to her final meeting for early entrance into kindergarten. In one sense, this was a formality. She was born five days after the cut off date. Everyone from the pediatrician to the director of her pre-school says she’s ready.
But it was still a test, one she had to navigate all by herself, with me sitting in a hardback chair outside the room. I caught snatches of conversation, a question from the principal, my daughter’s answers. Does she know her last name, the principal wanted to know.
Yes, yes, she does, I answered silently.
My daughter? Not giving up that information. She’s a few weeks shy of five, but she knows an adult with an agenda when she meets one.
That was my biggest fear. The principal wouldn’t see all of who my daughter was. But I suppose the woman isn’t an educational professional for nothing. My daughter did just fine. And in a few short weeks, she’ll head to kindergarten.
We celebrated. First, we bought school supplies at Target. And because she’s an almost five-year-old fashionista, some school clothes as well. We headed next door to Barnes and Noble. We split a vanilla bean blended crème and a cupcake with pink frosting.
We found books. One about kindergarten for her, A Wrinkle in Time for her brother, and The Rules of Gentility for myself.
When I strapped her into her booster for the ride to pick up her brother, she said to me: “This was the best day.”
And she was right. We make much out of the big milestones, but I wonder if it’s the smaller ones, the sneaky ones, that might matter more.
So, did you experience a sneaky milestone this summer?
The creative quotient
Have you checked out Debra Holland's wine cork place holders
in this month's issue of the Wet Noodle Posse e-zine? She shares a fun craft that'll add a touch of class to any table. I'll be saving all the corks at our house--and I'm sure my husband will enjoy opening lots of bottles (and drinking the wine inside) so I'll have plenty of supplies for the project.
What makes crafting so popular? Is it the relaxation to be found in the process? The pause for a creative outlet in a hectic schedule? The clever use of scraps and leftovers? A desire to personalize surroundings? The satisfaction of a job well done when done by hand?
What do you enjoy crafting? What interesting items have you made lately?
Animal Rescue, Part II
by Lee McKenzie
Last month on the Harlequin American Romance Authors’ blog
, I blogged about animal rescue. Since then, as things often go, animal rescue has become a recurring theme in my life.
A week ago I was out with a friend for an early morning walk around a local golf course, and we spotted a baby crow on the ground under a tree, huddled next to its dead and very badly mangled sibling. There was an empty nest way up at the top of the tree, and two very concerned parents squawking at their baby, and at us.
A dear elderly lady in the yard of a nearby house let me use her phone to call Wild ARC
—an animal rescue center operated by the SPCA. Since one baby was dead, the wildlife rehabilitator said this one should be checked out. So the woman who let me use her phone also let us borrow a small dog crate and a blanket to cover it up. I scooped baby crow into the crate while my friend covered my back—by that time Mom and Dad were hopping mad—and we took it to a local vet hospital, who in turn delivered him to Wild ARC.
I called the next day to check on him and found out that he had been badly bruised, although thankfully he had no fractures. So whatever had torn up his sibling had also had a go at him. He'll be at Wild ARC for a while, and they said it's good we took him in because he never would have made it on his own. Today, a week after being rescued, he is still recuperating and is in a cage with another crow. They’re hanging out and doing crow stuff together, and here’s hoping they can be released together, too.
The day after rescuing the baby crow, my daughter told me about seven ducklings that had been rescued by her friends, Barbara and Brad. The mother duck had been taking her ten ducklings across a busy street during rush hour. She and three babies were run over and killed, and the remaining seven left to dodge traffic on their own. Motorists were actually driving around the poor things, but Brad pulled over and loaded the babies—still at the teeny little puffball stage—into a box he had in the back seat. This young man is definitely hero material, don’t you think?
Brad and Barbara kept the babies overnight. The babies were given chopped tomatoes and carrots for dinner, which they gobbled up with gusto, and then their stand-in parents put a little water in the bathtub for them to paddle in. After Barbara took them out of the tub, she noticed the babies weren’t drying off. Some Internet research revealed that wet ducklings can easily get hypothermia, so she set her hair dryer on low and waved it around the box from a distance till the babies were dried off. Apparently they loved it, and they were all ultra poofy by the time they were dry!
The babies finally settled in for the night in their makeshift but cozy little home, complete with a water bottle filled with nice warm water.
The next morning, the babies went to Wild ARC, where they received the care they needed until they could be released. Kudos to surrogate parents Barbara and Brad for taking such great care of the little darlings, and special thanks for sharing their story and their wonderful photos!
Labels: animal rescue, crow, duck, SPCA
Putting the “Sell” in “Celebrity” by Jennie Lucas
Here is the image I saw, in a huge billboard size, every time I looked out of my window at the Hyatt Regency at last month’s National RWA conference in Dallas
Jennifer Aniston and her SmartWater®.
Jen’s not the only one cashing in. Sally Field is worried about your bones breaking without Boniva. Sarah Jessica Parker really wants you to color your hair in Nutrisse. Gwyneth Paltrow is dancing through meadows to convince you to buy all your fragrances from Estee Lauder.
It’s not just Hollywood, either. Have you checked out the world of sports? The L.A. Kings skate in the Staples Center, the Cleveland Cavs bounce their balls at the Quicken Loans Arena. Not to mention college football bowls—what would the holiday season be without the Meineke Car Care® Bowl, the Chick-Fil-A® Bowl and my own beloved Tostitos® Fiesta Bowl?
It got me thinking. Is it possible that we romance writers have a vast untapped income source?
I say, it’s about time we got some corporate sponsorship!
Imagine the possibilities:
RWA’s Golden Heart Award could link up with a cholesterol-lowering drug to become the Lipitor® Golden Heart Award.
The RITA could be sponsored by America’s best-selling brand of flavored tortilla chips to become the Frito-Lay DORITA.
But why should we let RWA make all the sweet deals? Authors, let’s seize the day!
Titles can be so difficult, and let’s face it—half the time, our editors don’t keep our titles anyway! So why not tinker a bit since there’s money to be had? For instance:
--A paranormal entitled The Vampire’s Kiss could be changed to The Vampire’s Hershey’s Kiss®.
--A lush medieval called The Knight Takes a Princess could be easily altered—presto chango!—to The Knight Takes a Princess Cruise®.
--A sexy erotica called Her Secret Garden is changed with no trouble at all to Her Secret Olive Garden®.
But wait. This is a good start, but we’re still leaving money on the table. How about product placement?
I can just see it now…
“Kiss me,” she whispered.
“Yes,” he growled. “I’ve waited long enough.” But as he lowered his mouth to hers, she stopped him with a sudden intake of breath.
“You forgot this,” she said, handing him a small tube.
He frowned. “ChapStick®?”
“Yes,” she murmured with a sigh. “It’s on sale this week at Target®.”
Sure, we’re writers who believe in our craft and are passionate about the stories we tell. Maybe that’s the problem. Hey, if selling out is good enough for movie actors and sports teams, why not us?
So let’s forget this “starving artist” business. Corporate sponsorship, endorsements and product placement are the wave of the future. It's synergy. It's thinking beyond the box. It's...money. We’ll be laughing all the way to the bank, baby. To the bank!
The joys of a garlic press
I was reading this month's top 10 tips
over at the e-zine, in which Colleen Gleason talks about easy ways to improve your cooking. Her great article really hit home. Especially since we cook nearly everything with a few cloves of garlic added in (no vampires here). The problem is that we don't use jarred chopped garlic because my cooking partner is against it (I am totally for it, a little jar already chopped? Bring it on). He always says, "We can just chop it ourselves, it doesn't take much longer." Well, I'll tell you, when I get hungry EVERYTHING takes too long. Enter in a little contraption called the garlic press. *insert angel's singing*
My cooking partner was a non-believer, and it took a gift from an outside party (my Mom) to make him use one. He loves that thing now. It halves the prep time and you can reload as needed. Just stick your clove into the press, crunch it together, and voila! Crushed garlic in your pan. We peel our cloves first, so that we can use everything, but no peeling is technically required. And it really does work. A quick rinse has the peeler ready to use again. And if someone ever breaks into your home, you can use it as a weapon. Seriously. I once used it to tenderize meat, before I had my little meat mallet.
Anyone else have something in the kitchen they deem indispensable? Something that they might have scoffed at previously? Or is there an herb you can't cook without? In addition to garlic, we put chilies in just about everything. ;)
What Did You Like Best?
In the opening scene of the movie “City of Angels
,” Nicholas Cage as the angel Seth asks the little girl he’s escorting to the afterlife what she liked best.
“Pajamas,” she replies.
I only stopped a second to answer that question for myself.
Cats, of course. But wait...what about chocolate, and zinnias? What about little girls giggling, and little boys practicing karate kicks?
Fresh sheets on your bed? Meeting a new friend?
What about that new-car smell, and the endless possibilities of a new home? Starting a new book-—and finishing it?
And birthdays? And babies?
What do you like best?
Books that make you laugh out loud
There's a new issue
of the Wet Noodle Posse e-zine up for your reading pleasure, and one of the things we cover this month is our favorite nonfiction books in the Top Faves
listing. My contributions to that list were a couple of hilarious travel books by Bill Bryson, In a Sunburned Country
(about his travels in Australia) and A Walk in the Woods
(about his trek along the Appalachian Trail). Both of these books, along with his Notes from a Small Island
and I'm a Stranger Here Myself
, made me laugh out loud. I'm talking snorting out the nose here.
It takes a lot for an author to be able to make me laugh out loud while reading, but Bryson always manages to. As does Janet Evanovich in her Stephanie Plum series. Off the top of my head, I can't think of another author who regularly makes me laugh out loud (well, except for e-mails I read from fellow Noodlers Esri and Janet). But I love it when I find them because if you're in a bad mood, these are the types of books to read. Heck, even if you're not in a bad mood, they're great to read.
So my question to all of you is, who are some laugh-out-loud, "snortworthy" authors -- either fiction or nonfiction? I know humor is different for everyone, but I trust you. :)
Labels: books, humor