Monday, April 30, 2007

Thomas Edison did what????

R.I.P Topsy

Topsy, Electrocuted by Edison
Died 1903 - Coney Island, New York

As the 19th century turned into the 20th, one of the biggest attractions at Coney Island's "Luna Park" was its private herd of elephants, which roamed freely. A favorite was Topsy, a three-ton tusker whose great strength had been put to use building the attractions that made Coney Island so much fun.

But Topsy had a temper. She killed three men in three years, the last a drunk trainer who had fed her a lit cigarette. Topsy had to go. But how? The authorities fed her carrots laced with cyanide. She wolfed them down without effect. Topsy was one tough elephant.

Thompson & Dundy, who owned Luna Park, decided to turn Topsy into a moral issue -- and to make a profit at the same time. They announced that man-killer Topsy would be publicly hanged for her crimes. The ASPCA protested: Hanging was cruel and inhuman punishment. After all, hadn't New York State just replaced the gallows with a modern electric chair?

All right, said Thompson and Dundy. Coney Island has a powerful electrical plant -- we'll FRY Topsy! But to pull it off, they needed top-shelf technical support. And that's where Thomas Edison came in.

Edison at the time was engaged in his own free-for-all, battling George Westinghouse for control of America's electric infrastructure. Edison had declared that his direct current system was safe, but that Westinghouse's alternating current was a deadly menace. To prove it, Edison had been publicly electrocuting dogs and cats for years. And it was Edison who had convinced New York to use Westinghouse's "deadly" AC for their electric chair.

Topsy offered an opportunity that Edison couldn't resist. What better way to demonstrate the horrible consequences of alternating current than to roast a full-grown elephant?

Edison sent over a crack team of technicians -- and a film crew. Topsy was led to a special platform, the cameras were set rolling, the switch was thrown. It took only ten seconds. Edison later showed the film to audiences across the country to prove his point.

In the end, it made no difference. AC beat out DC, but both Edison and Westinghouse prospered. In fact, Westinghouse was awarded the Edison Medal for "meritorious achievements in the development of the alternating current system."

That wasn't much consolation to Topsy, who was dead, nor to Luna Park, which was eventually destroyed in a horrible fire. Today, nothing remains of either except for Edison's film. If you ask the folks at the Coney Island Museum, they'll show it to you.

FIRST FIVE from 4/14

Five books going out today to these who responded first on my birthday:

Dee Ann W
Lucky Lou

Brenda and Lou, since you're already getting a book from that posting, I'll send you something else for your quick posts yesterday.

Betsy and Karen W will get books for reviews asap.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Let's make a Deal!

What does this picture have to do with today's blog? Well, it got your attention, didn't it?
I've done many different types of things to promote my books over the years. I've sent review copies to bookstores and to libraries and reviewers. I never know how much good it does, but I'm always open to change and to trying something new. I have a deal for you this week. Instead of a contest, I'm making this offer:

If you agree to write and post a review of The Preacher's Daughter at and barnes&, I will send you an advance copy of the book. Autographed. One of my personal author copies.

Five is a good number, don't you think?

I will send books to the first FIVE people who post here and agree to write reviews.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Featuring a Hunk on Friday

Nicolas Cage is the nephew of famed director Francis Ford Coppola. In his first movie, fast Times at Ridgemont High, he appeared under the name Nicolas Coppola for the first and only time. He might have had a bigger role in the movie, but he was just 17 when it was getting made! He turned 43 in January.

Some things just get better with time...

Love him or hate him?
Favorite movie he starred in?
Mine is Face Off.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

They don't make TV like they used to....

Cover Wow

My friend, Pam has a July HH, too. Is this an awesome cover, or what??

I rec'd my author copies of The Preacher's Wife this morning.
Get ready for a contest this week. I think I need to give a couple away.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I took a day off yesterday. I used it to clean windows, wash curtains, and do Spring cleaning upstairs. I know, some day off, eh? But it was time away from the "work in progress" as we writers call the current projects. My creativity had been a bust for a week or more, and when that happens, it's time to give myself permission to do other things, knowing that it frees me up to think again in due time.

It was one of those perfect days: perfect weather to clean windows and have them all open; perfect weather to shake rugs and smell the clean smells from the dryer in the backyard. When I do tasks like that I prefer no music or TV or distractions, just me and my mundane thoughts.

Long about afternoon, I took a break with an apple slathered with peanut butter and checked email. I have google alerts set for specific words and phrases: my name, my book titles, so I catch reviews, etc.. A reader blog came through as having posted lists - and you know how I love lists - favorite books, favorite authors. There among Sybil's favorite books was one of mine - and on her list of favorite authors was my name.

All afternoon I had time to really think about that and what it means. I've read similar posts and reviews, of course, but yesterday I had time to contemplate being a favorite author. It's every writer's dream to have their stories read and enjoyed. Sometimes, after the day-to-day hassle of the business, we writers take having our books published for granted, sort of like turning on a switch and knowing there will immediately be light in the room. I am someone's favorite author. Several someones. That's an extraordinary concept, one I do appreciate because I have my own favorites and know the pleasure their books bring me. To realize that I am able to give that same feeling to others is awesome.

Today it's raining. Seriously raining. My rooms are dusted and vacuumed and everything is neatly in order. My clean windows are drizzled with rain, but hey, it's spring and my flowers will be bursting when the sun warms things up.

And I am someone's favorite author.

Tune in on Tuesday

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Favorite Covers

You have until May 11th to vote for your favorite nominated covers at the Cover Cafe. Warning: There is also a worst cover category.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Far Away Thoughts

A reader noted the similarity of The Preacher's Daughter cover to a painting by Charles Curran. It's lovely.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Child of her Heart - Japan

This is a two-in-one, paired with Karen Rose Smith's story, and it's quite obviously not my hero on the front! Child of Her Heart has an African-American hero. I left the banner on the book to scan, so you could see the whole thing. The green banner is a loose strip that comes off. Japanese books are printed backwards from our books, so what you see here is what we consider the back cover.

Cool, huh?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Bones a Rerun - but a GOOD one if you missed it

From E! Online:

In the wake of Monday's tragic shootings at Virginia Tech, Fox is taking no chances with its programming.

The network made the decision to pull a new episode of Bones from its Wednesday lineup, fearing that the plotline, which centers on the discovery of human remains on a college campus, would strike too close to home.

"Out of sensitivity to the victims and families touched by this senseless tragedy, we felt the change was appropriate," a Fox spokesperson told E! News.

A Bones repeat will fill the gap in the schedule.

In the episode originally scheduled to air Wednesday, Dr. Temperance Brennan (Emily Deschanel) and FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz) visit a college campus where the remains of the school's star basketball player have been found crushed underneath a set of courtside bleachers.

After reconstructing the victim's skull, Brennan and Booth determine that he was dead before the bleachers fell on him. They then work to establish motives for his murder, interviewing individuals such as his girlfriend, his replacement on the team and his future basketball agent.

Their search for answers reveals that the victim was caught up in a shady situation before his death and leads to questions about whether more than one person could have been involved in orchestrating his demise.

Fox has not yet determined when the episode will air.

Bones is the network's fourth-most watched scripted series (after House, 24 and Prison Break), and has averaged 9.2 million viewers to date this season. Fox announced in February that it had picked up the drama for a third season.

Ironically, it's not the first time a show starring Boreanaz has been rescheduled in the wake of a deadly school shooting.

Following the Columbine High School shootings in April 1999, the WB postponed two episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, fearing that scenes where students armed themselves with guns were inappropriate.

One of the delayed episodes was the second half of the two-part season three finale, "Graduation Day," which was replaced with a rerun at the last minute, much to the dismay of the show's fans.

After receiving thousands of letters demanding that the finale be aired, the WB finally complied on July 13, 1999—almost two months after the episode's original broadcast date.

The other episode, "Earshot," was originally slated to air just one week after the Columbine massacre, but was postponed until September, due to a scene where a student arms himself with a high-powered rifle with the apparent intent of committing mass murder.

The rampage at Virginia Tech on Monday left 33 people dead, including the gunman, and more than a dozen hospitalized. It was the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Prom Night

Last night was Erin's prom. Is she a knockout or what??

Fish Guy

Took pics for Jared today. He's a fish guy - breeds, sells, goes to shows. These are a few shots of fish in his various aquariums.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Preacher's Daughter is a beauty!

Here's one of the pictures I sent the art department as an example of the heroine and the cover concept I envisioned for my July book.

Here's the cover of The Preacher's Daughter! These came in the mail today. It's the first cover I've been so excited about for a long time -- and they arrived on my birthday, so it was an unexpected gift!

I'll send an autographed cover to the first FIVE people who post a comment!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Gray's Story

Gray's Anatomy was, disappointingly, a recap of the past three seasons narrated by dead Denny. Anyone who stuck it out was rewarded by the new video and song at the end. Go listen to The Story by Brandi Carlile. Eventually I will find the video, too. For now you can watch mine and my slideshows.

Actually, I'm more into Bones this season. Less is more when it comes to sexual tension, something we romance writers know all about. And the chemistry between Brennan and Booth is burnin' up the screen!

Remember, you can pause, stop and start on all the songs and videos.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

George's dog

My friend Elaine, who knows I'm a Gray's Anatomy fan, sent me this article from the Lincoln newspaper about Katherine Heigl buying a rescued dog for T.R. Knight. The black lab is from a rescue center in Auburn, Nebraska, and was flown to Los Angeles. Elaine knows that besides being a Gray's fan, I'm planning a story about a heroine who rescues dogs. Cool, huh?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Call off the hounds; Glinda is home!

The all points bulletin is no longer in effect. Glinda has found her way to her friends and is safe in her new habitat.

See, doesn't she look happy?

FYI: a couple people have mentioned problems posting to the blog. I have no idea why. I can't find any glitches on my end. Please keep trying! It's been quiet lately. Mel is moving to sunny Florida, which sounds REAL good right about now--hey Mel, how about a postcard to remind us what sun looks like? Brenda is taking care of herself and her family and so is Nicole. Remember I'm thinking of you. Come back whenever you can.

How is everyone else doing? What are you reading? What did you do for Easter?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Ode to Spring


Spring, spring, where art thou Spring?
I have my trowel and my old my shirt.
I got frostbite out in the dirt.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Why do we eat chocolate eggs (and bunnnies) ?

Delve into the history and origins of the Christian festival of Easter and you come up with a few surprises. For instance, Easter eggs do not owe their origins to Christianity and originally the festival of Easter itself had nothing to do with Christianity either. A closer look at the history of both Easter and the Easter Egg reveals a much earlier association with pagan ritual and in particular, the pagan rites of spring, dating back into pre history.

For us, the ancient rites celebrating the Spring Equinox are most obviously associated with the mysterious Druids and places like Stone Henge, but most ancient races around the world had similar spring festivals to celebrate the rebirth of the year. The Egg, as a symbol of fertility and re-birth, has been associated with these rites from the earliest times.

The Christian Festival Of Easter
In fact, the festival of Easter is a classic example of the early Christian church adapting an existing pagan ritual to suit their own purposes. The Saxon spring festival of Eostre, was named for their goddess of dawn, and when they came to Britain in about the 5th century AD, the festival came with them along with re-birth and fertility rituals involving eggs, chicks and rabbits. When the Saxons converted to Christianity and started to celebrate the death and the resurrection of Christ, it coincided with Eostre, so that's what the early church called the celebration, Eostre or Easter in modern English.

The actual date that Easter falls on every year is governed by a fairly complex calculation related to the Spring Equinox. The actual formula is: The first Sunday after the first full moon following the Spring Equinox is Easter Sunday or Easter Day. This formula was set by Egyptian astronomers in Alexandra in 235ad, and calculated using the same method as the Jews have traditionally used to calculate the feast of the Passover, which occurred at about the same time as the crucifixion.

Easter Eggs
As well as adopting the festival of Eostre, the Egg, representing fertility and re-birth in pagan times, was also adopted as part of the Christian Easter festival and it came to represent the 'resurrection' or re-birth of Christ after the crucifixion and some believe it is a symbol of the the stone blocking the Sepulchre being 'rolled' away.

In the UK and Europe, the earliest Easter eggs were painted and decorated hen, duck or goose eggs, a practice still carried on in parts of the world today. As time went by, artificial eggs were made and by the end of the 17th century, manufactured eggs were available for purchase at Easter, for giving as Easter gifts and presents.

Easter eggs continued to evolve through the 18th and into the 19th Century, with hollow cardboard Easter eggs filled with Easter gifts and sumptuously decorated, culminating with the fabulous Faberge Eggs. Encrusted with jewels, they were made for the Czar's of Russia by Carl Faberge, a French jeweller. Surely these were the 'ultimate' Easter gift, to buy even a small one now would make you poorer by several millions of pounds.

The Chocolate Easter Egg
It was at about this time (early 1800's) that the first chocolate Easter egg appeared in Germany and France and soon spread to the rest of Europe and beyond. The first chocolate eggs were solid soon followed by hollow eggs. Although making hollow eggs at that time was no mean feat, because the easily worked chocolate we use today didn't exist then, they had to use a paste made from ground roasted Cacao beans.

By the turn of the 19th Century, the discovery of the modern chocolate making process and improved mass manufacturing methods meant that the Chocolate Easter Egg was fast becoming the Easter Gift of choice in the UK and parts of Europe, and by the 1960's it was well established worldwide.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

books on ebay

I always get a kick out of seeing my books show up on ebay. Today a copy of The Lawman's Bride is available with an entire blurb about the story. I get emails notifying me whenever one of my newer titles is mentioned so I can check reader/reviewer blogs, etc., that's how I see these.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Emergency Update: Seeking Glinda

Okay! I have 1 Dorothy, 3 Wicked Witch of the West, 4 Cowardly Lion, 5 Tin Man, 6 Wicked With of the East, 7 Daisy the Munchkin, 8 Scarecrow

I need #2: Glinda the Good Witch

Theme For 2007 is Wizard of Oz

Madame Alexander has teamed up with McDonald's each year since 2002 to present a special collection of dolls in Happy Meals Mighty Kids Meals. This year will have doll collectors and Happy Meal collectors jumping for joy, because the theme is The Wizard of Oz! The dolls will be available from Friday, March 23rd through April 19 2007 or until supplies last. The dolls are 4.5" tall and will include Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, The Wicked Witches of the East and West, Glinda and the Daisy Munchkin.

Gale Jarvis, President of Alexander Doll Company, said in a recent press release "We are so thrilled to be working with McDonald's once again on this wonderful Happy Meal campaign...Working with McDonald's provides a wonderful opportunity to reacquaint mothers with Madame Alexander, allowing them to introduce their favorite characters to their own daughters, inspiring a whole new generation of collectors, and helping to create new memories by sharing fond ones from the past."

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


I just discovered today that McDonalds is putting Madame Alexander dolls in Happy Meals again. They are Wizard of Oz characters this time, but I was only able to get two, numbers 5 & 6. If you're at a McDonalds, please ask if they have numbers 1 through 4. If you throw these away from your kids' happy meals, DON'T. Save it for me. Please post me if you find any of them so I can call off the emergency search.

My ClustrMap

I got an upgrade on my CustrMap (to the right under my profile). You can now click on it and it enlarges to show the areas in more detail. Click where you live and see if you can find where you're from.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Don't mess with kids

A little girl was talking to her teacher about whales.

The teacher said it was physically impossible for a whale to swallow a human because even though it was a very large mammal its throat was very small.

The little girl stated that Jonah was swallowed by a whale.

Irritated, the teacher reiterated that a whale could not swallow a human; it was physically impossible.

The little girl said, "When I get to heaven I will ask Jonah".

The teacher asked, " What if Jonah went to hell?"

The little girl replied, "Then you ask him".