Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Queen Victoria's Underpants

Just the title of this blog makes me laugh!
You know, while other writers are blogging updates on the RWA conference and sharing brilliant bits of history and even offering tips on writing, I'm here to talk about underwear. Royal underwear as a matter of fact. I know, I have a rather irreverent attitude, but we'd all be a lot happier of we didn't take ourselves so seriously. So loosen up and enjoy this one.

A Canadian buyer paid $9,000 at auction for a pair of Queen Victoria's bloomers. The handmade knickers, modeled in the photo by Samantha Rhodes, date back to the 1890s and bear the monogram "VR" for Victoria Regina. They have a 50-inch waist.

The auctioneer said Queen Victoria's underpants belonged to "a very big lady of quite small stature with a very wide girth." She was said to be 5 feet tall.

The handmade knickers -- which date back to the 1890s -- bear the monogram "VR" for Victoria Regina. They are open-crotch style, with separate legs joined by a drawstring at the waist, a popular style in the late Victorian era.

The royal drawers belonged to a family in western England whose ancestor was a lady-in-waiting for the queen.

"These pants, considering their provenance and pedigree, are very exciting," the auctioneer said. "They are monogrammed and crested and we know that they are hers."

Also up for auction was Queen Victoria's chemise, with a 66-inch bust, sold for $8,000. Her nightgown sold for $11,000.

Queen Victoria lived from 1819 to 1901. She became queen at age 18 and was the U.K.'s longest-reigning monarch. Her reign is noted for both imperial expansion--no pun intended -- well, okay yes it was -- and the decreasing political power of the monarch.

And there you have it -- er -- them. Vintage royal knickers.

Want Your Man to Live Longer?

A diet rich in oily fish, which contains omega-3 fatty acids, may be why middle-aged men in Japan have fewer problems with clogged arteries than white men and men of Japanese descent in the United States, a study has found.

The research, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found that Japanese men living in Japan had twice the blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids and lower levels of atherosclerosis compared to middle-aged white men or Japanese-American men living in the United States,

Atherosclerosis is the buildup of plaque inside the arteries. Over time, they harden and narrow the arteries and can lead to serious problems like heart attacks and stroke.

"The death rate from coronary heart disease in Japan has always been puzzlingly low," said Akira Sekikawa, assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh, in a statement.

"Our study suggests that the very low rates of coronary heart disease among Japanese living in Japan may be due to their lifelong high consumption of fish."

Japanese eat about 3 ounces of fish a day on average, while Americans eat fish perhaps twice a week. Nutritional studies show that intake of omega-3 fatty acids from fish averages 1.3 grams per day in Japan, compared to 0.2 grams per day in the United States.

Earlier studies by Sekikawa's team showed that Japanese men had significantly less cholesterol build-up in their arteries despite similar blood cholesterol and blood pressure readings, similar rates of diabetes and much higher rates of smoking.
But it was unclear whether Japanese men were protected by strong genes, a high-fish diet or some other factor.

In this study, Sekikawa's team recruited 868 randomly selected men aged 40 to 49. Of these, 281 were Japanese from Kusatsu in Japan, 306 were white men from Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, and 281 were third or fourth generation Japanese-Americans from Honolulu, Hawaii.

"Our study clearly demonstrated that whites and Japanese-Americans have similar levels of atherosclerosis, which are much higher than in the Japanese in Japan," Sekikawa said.

"This indicates that much lower death rates from coronary heart disease in the Japanese in Japan is very unlikely due to genetic factors."

So, my conclusion from this study is that if you want your husband to live to a ripe old age, marry a man living in Japan - or feed your guy lots of fish.

If he wants to take a day off to go fishing, simply say, "Sure honey! You catch 'em, you eat 'em!"

Or not.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Nashville Star

Any Nashville Star fans out there?

Last night's elimination took it down to the final three. I think Melissa Lawson is great, but my vote is for Shawn Mayer.

How about you?

(Buh-bye, Coffey, I don't know how you made it that far.)

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Dinner Date

"Would you like to go out to dinner tonight, dear?"

"You know I would. It's been a long day, foraging for food and flitting about and all."

"Where shall we go?"

"I know this wonderful place that's shaded right about now. They keep the feeders full, and won't disturb us so we can be alone."

"Sounds romantic."

"Oh, it is."

"Well, let's go enjoy ourselves then. You're sure they won't have the sprinklers on?"

"They don't do that until later. Very thoughtful, these feeders."

"You're looking lovely tonight, my dear."

"Don't look now, but the paparazzi have found us."

"Act like you don't see them."

Friday, July 25, 2008

Garden Sprite

This is Rebekah. Daddy took the picture and Mommy made it even more gorgeous. Is this awesome or what? I think Robyn needs to enter this photo in a contest.

RITA Finalist: Jenna Kernan

So check this out. Also finaling in the novella category is a novella from the same anthology as mine - so many of you have surely read this one.

“Fallen Angel” in A Western Winter Wonderland by Jenna Kernan
Harlequin Enterprises, Harlequin Historical
Ann Leslie Tuttle, editor

When Abby March is accidentally shot she and her young boy are taken into a rugged stranger’s care. Dark and mysterious, Ford Statler hides a softer side and offers much more than just a Christmas to remember…

2008 RITA for Best Romance Novella Finalists

“Angel and the Hellraiser” in Demon’s Delight by Vickie Taylor
Penguin Group USA, Berkley Sensation
Cindy Hwang, editor

“Born in My Heart” in Like Mother, Like Daughter by Jennifer Greene
Harlequin Enterprises, Harlequin NEXT
Melissa Jeglinski, editor

“Christmas Cravings” in Holiday with a Vampire by Maureen Child
Harlequin Enterprises, Silhouette Nocturne
Melissa Jeglinski, editor

“Christmas Day Family” in A Western Winter Wonderland by Cheryl St. John
Harlequin Enterprises, Harlequin Historical
Ann Leslie Tuttle, editor

“Eternity in Death” in Dead of Night by J.D. Robb
Penguin Group USA, Putnam
Leslie Gelbman, editor

“Fallen Angel” in A Western Winter Wonderland by Jenna Kernan
Harlequin Enterprises, Harlequin Historical
Ann Leslie Tuttle, editor

“Mischief and the Marquess” in Perfect Kisses by Sylvia Day
Kensington Publishing Corp., Brava
Kate Duffy, editor

“On the Fringe” in Dead of Night by Mary Kay McComas
Penguin Group USA, Berkley Jove
Cindy Hwang

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Duh Moment: Stuart Little and Hugh Laurie

Well, duh. I just realized that the dad in Stuart Little is none other thsn that mean ole nasty Dr. House!


RITA Finalist: Nora Roberts

Only a few days left! I'm still posting the other novellas. As in, Nora Roberts and I are finalists in the same category. Yes, you read that right.

“Eternity in Death” in Dead of Night by J.D. Robb
Penguin Group USA, Putnam
Leslie Gelbman, editor

Nora Roberts, writing as J.D. Robb, puts futuristic lieutenant Eve Dallas in a supernatural showdown with a most seductive criminal: a vampire.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Why English Teachers Die Young...or Not

Today's blog offering is from an email that has been circulated in many forms. This kind of email is lumped in with urban legend lore because it's not what it claims to be, but gullible people believe it is.

If most of these fractured bon mots seem too clever to have been accidentally conceived by high school essayists, that's because they weren't. They were entries in a long-running Washington Post contest launched in 1993 called "The Style Invitational." Among other literary challenges, readers have been invited to compose intentionally humorous similes and metaphors, often centered around particular themes. Most of the examples were published in 1995 and 1999.

Subject: Why English Teachers Die Young

Every year, English teachers from across the country can submit their collections of actual analogies and metaphors found in high school essays.

These excerpts are published each year to the amusement of teachers.

Here are last year's winners.....

1. Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.

2. His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.

3. He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.

4. She grew on him like she was a colony of E. Coli, and he was room-temperature Canadian beef.

5. She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.

6. Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

7. He was as tall as a six-foot, three-inch tree.

8. The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife's infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM machine.

9. The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn't.

10. McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.

11. From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you're on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30.

12. Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze.

13. The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.

14. Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.

15. They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with picket fences that resembled Nancy Kerrigan's teeth.

16. John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.

17. He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant, and she was the East River.

18. Even in his last years, Granddad had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long, it had rusted shut.

19. Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do.

20. The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.

21. The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.

22. He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame, maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.

23. The ballerina rose gracefully en Pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.

24. It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools.

25. He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Guilty Pleasures

At my last chapter meeting, our illustrious president Cyndy Salzmann asked this question for an ice breaker: What is your guilty pleasure?

The responses were mostly hilarious. I plan to do a P&P blog on the subject and still want to, but so far I don't have many collected. I asked members to send me their answers and only a couple have done so. At first I couldn't think of anything, but then I came up with something.

Now I thought of something else.
Boom Blox

Kristin and I often stay up until midnight or one AM in Boom Blox competitions--when we both have to get up for work in the morning. We've done it several nights in a row lately, and my arm and shoulder are so sore, I just had to take some Tylenol so I can go to sleep. I kid you not.

Boom Blox is a Wii game created by Stephen Spielburg. The fiend. Our favorites are the towers you have to slide blocks from and try not to topple them, and also the blocks of towers you do try to knock down systematically. You can play alone or as partners, but we choose to compete against each other.

This from me, the person who won't have games on her computer.

Nintendo DS is fun, too (the one Carrie Underwood plays on the commercials) but this Wii game rocks.

Do you have a favorite Wii game? Do you play DS? One of my chapter friends plays Fashion Solitaire online. I confess I checked it out, but resisted the free hour. I don't need any more addictions.

What's your guilty pleasure? It doesn't have to be a game or anything related. If you give me permission, I'll consider using your guilty pleasure in my P&P blog. Tell me if you want to go by a fake name. :::snort:::

RITA Finalist: “Born in My Heart”

“Born in My Heart” in Like Mother, Like Daughter by Jennifer Greene
Harlequin Enterprises, Harlequin NEXT
Melissa Jeglinski, editor

Another novella in the RITA finalist category. I intend to show them all for you and am a little behind. I went in search of this book and found the cover on jennfer's Greene's website. However, I couldn't find it at eharlequin, so I was unable to grab a description. There were reviews on amazon, but with a different cover. The above cover is the one on the RWA RITA site. I'm confused. It's a NEXT, which Harlequin no longer publishes, but I'd think the book would still be somewhere.

If you've read Jennifer's novella or have the book, I'd like to hear about it.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

no cost to you!

Be careful how you place your cake order

Imagine this phone call:


"Hi, I'd like a sheet cake please. Marble with white frosting."

"Wait, I gotta get some paper."

"And I'd like yellow flowers."

"This pen don't work. Okay, what kinda cake was that?"


"Butter cream or whipped icing?"

"Butter cream."

"That it?"

"No, I want it to say, 'Best wishes, suzanne. s-u-z-a-n-n-e.' And underneath that 'We will miss you.'"

"When do you want to pick it up?"

"Friday morning. Thanks."


Friday, July 18, 2008

Christmas in July?

Nope. Just thinking ahead.

Charlene Sands already asked if I'd be holding The Great Christmas Tree Tour again, and I assured her I would be.

So plan on taking a picture of your tree for me this December!

I'll ask some of your favorite authors to send pictures, too, and we'll have fun seeing each other's trees.

Now back to your regularly scheduled summer....

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Monday, July 14, 2008

That Summer Place

An anthology by Debbie Macomber, Jill Barnett and Susan Wiggs

July 2008
ISBN: 9780778327134

It's nothing special on the surface, merely a rambling old Victorian summerhouse on a secluded island, where the sky is blue and the water is clear. Yet after a month at the Rainshadow Lodge, people begin to change—and fall in love. How else can you account for what happens to the most mismatched, unlikely couples?

There's Beth, who's stuck sharing the lodge with a complete stranger—and a difficult one at that. And Mitch, a workaholic on a deadline who has to depend on free-spirited Rosie, who functions on "island time". Not to mention Catherine, who's falling in love with Michael, the lodge's handyman—for the second time!


Saturday, July 12, 2008

New Cover - and an Excerpt!

Excerpted First Chapter of A BABY BLUE CHRISTMAS
The Magic of Christmas Anthology
October '08


Chapter One
November, Ruby Creek, Colorado

There was always at least one rude traveler for the duration of a stage ride, and this time it was an overweight and cloyingly perfumed woman in a bright green traveling suit. She’d slept nearly the entire trip since Salt Lake City, snoring in snorts and whistles that punctuated every tedious, bone-jolting inch of the way.

Gabrielle couldn’t complain.

She was exceedingly grateful it was Snore Lady beside her and not Whiskey Breath. From his seat directly across from her, the man with the bristly brown-stained beard gave her sidelong looks that made her skin crawl. The one time she’d erroneously met his gaze, he’d smiled. His teeth were brown and decayed. One of the rules of etiquette required that he offer to share the bottle, and he’d done so begrudgingly. Only one passenger had accepted his invitation. Gabby wouldn’t have touched her lips to that bottle if she’d been dying of thirst.

Gabby had taken only short trips with the Wells Fargo Overland in the past. Heat and dust were definitely worse during summer months, so late November was marginally better for a hasty and ill-planned trip. Being packed in like sardines was an advantage this time of year and in this unfamiliar part of the country.

The coach hit another rut and her teeth jarred yet again. Snore Lady gasped in her sleep and then lapsed back into vigorous and prolonged inhaling and exhaling.

The driver struck the side of the coach to gain their attention, and a gentleman in a gray wool suit opened the flap to listen to his message. A flurry of snow filtered in and dusted the buffalo robes.

Gabby stared at the flakes glistening on the dark fur. She was from the Steptoe Valley in eastern Nevada and had only seen snow in stereoscope slides. Having been forewarned about winter, she’d bought a warmer coat at a layover in Utah.

“Last bend before Ruby Creek,” the gentleman traveler conveyed.

Having been delayed most of the afternoon for wheel repair, they were finally reaching her destination in darkness. Gabby prayed the hotel would check her in at this late hour. To hurry her travel, she’d brought only one small satchel. All she needed was a place to lay her head for the night.

She’d been following her cousin for weeks, traveling by any means available and inquiring from town to town. She had learned that Willow had come to Ruby Creek only a day or two ago. This was the closest Gabby had come to finding her since starting out a month ago. She didn’t let herself think about what could happen if she was too late. Willow always landed on her feet, but the baby she was about to give birth to was defenseless.

With a final lurch, the stagecoach slowed, turned a new direction and came to a halt with a screech of springs.

Snore Lady roused. “Where are we?”

“Ruby Creek,” Whiskey Breath replied.

The obese woman raised the flap and peered out into darkness. “It’s late! Nearly bedtime.”

Gabby exchanged a glance with the man in the gray suit.

The coach rocked as the driver and a passenger climbed down from the top seat. The door opened outward, a bitter cold draft and more fascinating white flakes swept inside.

“Ruby Creek!” the driver called. “Those goin’ on will have to find a room for the night on Well’s Fargo’s tab. We’re half a day behind, but we cain’t go no farther in the dark. Too dangerous for the horses.”

The reflection of the moon and stars on the snow lit the night with an odd silent brightness. Gabby stepped down into the freezing inch-thick blanket of white. Her thin-soled shoes made a squeaking sound with each step. Drat. She’d bought the coat, but hadn’t thought of warmer footwear.

Eager to be on the road, Gabby had been the first passenger aboard the coach that morning; her bag was buried between crates and trunks. Waiting impatiently as the driver and a man from the freight line unloaded, she turned to cast a look at the town.

Four gas lamps burning at uneven intervals lit Ruby Creek’s Main Street. She made out hanging signs for the hotel, a livery, mercantile and pawnshop. Other signs painted on windows were indistinguishable in the dark. Dissipating smoke curled from half a dozen chimneys.

Within minutes, the cold seeped through her shoes and chilled her toes. Beneath her coat and dress, frigid air encased her legs. Within seconds numbness set into her thighs.

By the time the men uncovered her satchel, she was the only one left standing at the station. She took her bag with a weary thank you and pointed herself toward the sign that read Friberger Hotel. The frosty layer that had settled on the boardwalk made her final steps treacherous. She slipped and slid and finally grabbed the doorknob as a lifeline. The door opened and she slid into a chilly lobby, relived to at last be indoors.

“Full up!” A wiry man with hair standing in pewter-colored tufts around his ears called to her as soon as she closed the door behind her.

Now what would she do? Her whole body ached, and she was so tired, she could have fallen asleep standing there.

Carrying a no vacancy sign, the proprietor limped toward the front door. The crown of his head was bald and pink. “Just let the very last room.”
He hung the sign in the front window.

Gabby set down her bag. “I need a place to stay.” Refusing to give in to desperation, she thought quickly. “I’ll share a room with someone and pay the entire cost.”

The man obviously wanted to get back to his bed, but he sighed and obliged her by plodding up the stairs. He was gone a long time, so Gabby looked around for a chair. There was only a long narrow bench beside the door. She remained standing.
At last he returned. “Won’t nobody share. The new arrivals ain’t payin’ their own way, so they don’t care.”

With her hopes in shreds, she closed her eyes against the discouragement crushing in. “What am I supposed to do?”

“Sometimes Miz Sims takes a border overnight. How long ya stayin’?”
She only wished she knew when she’d find Willow and be able to head home. When she’d made up her mind to do whatever she could to get to her in time, Gabby’d had no choice but to come on this trip alone. There was no other family besides her parents. Besides the fact that they’d given up on Willow, they had a business to run. “I’m not sure.”

“Other’n that, maybe the reverend. No, come t’ think of it, he’s a widow man and don’t take in no females on account of propriety. Sometimes Turner over t’ the livery lets a fella stay the night with his horse. ‘Specially in poor weather. Ya might ask ‘im.”

Tired, hungry, supremely frustrated, Gabby picked up her bag and tugged her collar around her neck. She forced herself to thank the man politely. In the morning half the travelers would move on and, if she hadn’t found Willow, she’d still be in need of a room by tomorrow night.


Long about three o’clock, Ruby Creek and the day closed in on Turner Price. He tended the horses as usual, did chores and ate simple meals, but come nightfall and the locked silence of the businesses along Main Street, he saddled his gelding and rode out, staying away from the hills and the creeks and finding clear moonlit trails.
Often, no matter the weather, he dismounted and walked, his Mexican spurs jangling and silencing night creatures as he passed.

This snowy November night made for a bitter cold ride and a colder walk, but he was accustomed to the elements and had dressed warm. With the stars spread overhead and the frigid air biting his lungs, it was easier to keep his thinking focused on the present.

Snow glistened in the moonlight and brightened the landscape. His horse didn’t care what Turner said or didn’t say, didn’t have an opinion or feel pity. Comanche just plodded along at his side with an occasional snort or soft whinny for companionship. Comanche didn’t demand Turner talk or feel or change, and Turner liked their relationship just fine.

Judging by the stars, it was time to head home. He mounted and urged the Appaloosa toward the livery. He reached the door, dismounted, and rolled the wood sideways to lead the gelding inside.

One of the other horses nickered from its stall and Comanche responded with a soft snort and a shake of his head.

Turner hung his coat and hat, unsaddled Comanche and picked up a blanket to dry him. “Hold on, I’ll get you dry and warm and you can settle in for the night.”
He was brushing the animal’s withers when a sound arrested his attention. His hand fell still. A cat? A pair of cats? Not impossible that felines had sought lodging in the warmth and safety of the building for the night. But why in tarnation were they making so much racket?

The sound registering more clearly, Turner rolled around additional possibilities. He was either losing his mind or….

Lying down the brush, he gave his horse a pat on the shoulder and grabbed a lantern that hung from a nail on a beam. His spurs jangled a beat as he strode down the long row of stalls.

The horses were agitated, stamping and moving restlessly. A bay he was boarding for a traveler pinned his ears back and rolled his eyes, a distinct reaction to a disturbing smell. More than Turner’s late return was exciting these horses. Something--or someone--had disturbed them.

The high-pitched sound had grown louder and was definitely coming from the back of the barn. These end stalls were always the last rented.

Turner’s gut clenched at the sound he now recognized as a baby’s cry. And not just one slender reedy trill--two.

The stall gate was unlatched, and he swung it outward to enter. Two impossibly tiny infants wrapped in bright-colored cloth lay on a mound of hay, their tiny fists flailing in the chill air.

For a full minute, he couldn’t make sense of what his eyes told him. He stopped breathing to simply stare and absorb.

Just looking at them hurt.

He’d been gone only a couple of hours at the longest. How could this be? Hesitant, but unerringly drawn, he stepped forward and knelt. Their eyes were squinched shut, their faces red with agitation. Turner touched one finger to the nearest infant’s matted damp scalp. Like newborn colts, these babies still bore evidence of their recent birth. They were mere minutes old, barely over an hour at the most.

An unsettling sense of trouble clawed at his nerves. Where was their mother? Unwilling to leave them alone, he glanced around as if their parent would appear or he’d find the answer in the wooden enclosure.

Both infants’ stiffly held arms trembled as they screamed. They kicked at the cloth covering their legs until the material pushed aside. Boys, both of them. Hungry, frightened, tiny boys.

Stricken by the unexpected sight and the tormenting effect on his mind and heart, Turner acted instinctively.

Shrugging out of his heavy flannel shirt, he knelt and--one at a time--gingerly placed the babies against the warm fabric and tucked the bulky garment around them. He folded back the excess, careful not to bury their faces.

He lifted the bundle gently and held it against his chest, his mind racing. Turning on his heel, he inspected the stall, the space leading to it, and each of the surrounding pens. Twelve contained restless horses. Eight were empty.

None hid a woman.

He checked the tack room and even walked back to his quarters. The room held everything he needed for his sparse existence: A bed, a small coal burner, a table and one chair.

Warmth and motion soothed the babies. Nestled against each other in the soft bundle of his shirt and against his heart, they grew silent.

He studied their miniature features, and a torturous ache weighted his chest. He didn’t want to look at them, didn’t want to add to his misery, but he couldn’t keep his gaze away. The child with the most hair had a hand splayed against his cheek, and his fingers were unbelievably tiny with perfect little nails. The other opened his heart-shaped mouth and turned his seeking face against the flannel. Turner couldn’t catch his breath for seconds. His head swam.

Tiny and helpless and alone. The fact that someone had abandoned them chafed Turner’s temper. The act was inconceivable.

And now what in blazes was he to do with them? They wouldn’t survive a day without milk and proper care. He stirred the ashes in the coal burner and added fuel to get the room warm.

The bell outside the entrance clanged once, then silenced abruptly as though someone had placed a hand on it. It was rare that anyone came for his mount or to leave a horse this late. He’d heard the stage earlier, though, and occasionally, if the small stable behind the freight station was full, the drivers boarded animals here overnight.

He placed the babies on his bed, making sure they were bundled snugly before he strode through the building. He hadn’t tethered Comanche. His horse had wandered to the other side of the open area and stood with his head lowered. “I’ll get you bedded down in a shake, boy.”

Two lanterns still burned on either side of the entrance. Turner opened the door and peered out.

A feminine form in a dark coat and fur-lined hat moved into the glow of the lantern. “Pardon me for disturbing you so late.”

So here she was. He looked her over, suspicion sending a warning signal to his senses. Her hat was pulled low so that it almost hid her eyes, and her nose was red. “Who are you?”

“My name’s Gabrielle Rawlins. I need a place to stay. The hotel’s full, you see. The man there told me--.”

“What were you tryin’ to pull?”

“Pardon me?”

“Takin’ off like that?”

She glanced over her shoulder and repeated, “Pardon me?”

“Looks like a mighty warm coat you’re wearin’ there.”

“It’s sufficient. What I need is--.”

At that moment, a thin wail rose from the back of the building and echoed through to the front. It was immediately joined by a second.

The young woman’s eyes widened and she stared at Turner.

“Had somewhere important to go?” he asked, narrowing his gaze.

“I told you, I--.”

“Tell me anything you like, but what kind of woman leaves two spankin’ new babies alone in a horse stall?”

The squall was unmistakable. Her shocked gaze traveled past his shoulder. Eyes a rich tawny color like dark honey widened.

“Yeah, I found ‘em. What did you think would happen?”

So quickly that he didn’t have time to stop her, she slipped past him and ran toward the source of the pathetic cries.

Taking note of her bag sitting in the snow, he moved it inside before he bolted the door and followed.

Friday, July 11, 2008

My Garden Photos

I've been lax in posting pics of my garden, so here are several.

These are the first blooms on my trumpet vine! It took me a couple of years to get one to start. Our good friend, Bob, dug out a really deep-rooted piece from their gorgeous monster plant, and this one finally took off! This is its second year, and it's growing over the new gate arbor and BLOOMING! I'm so excited. I've wanted one forEVER. I remember how much I loved the bright orange trumpet-shaped flowers when I was a kid. This takes me back and makes me smile.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Julianne and Derek Hough

My favorite Dancing With the Stars Dancer Julianne sings with her brother Derek, also a DWTS dancer on her debut abum.

Don't miss this recipe!

Check out what I made for supper tonight. It's quick and easy and it's a taste sensation! It's my world famous easy chicken enchiladas. Step-by-step recipe and photos.

How long could you survive in space?

How long could you survive in the vacuum of space?
Created by OnePlusYouTake this fun litttle quiz and see how long you could live in the vacuum of space.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Tips from a Road Warrior by Blythe Gifford

If your trip to the RWA Conference in San Francisco marks your first airline flight in awhile, be prepared! The rules of the road have changed. As one who has come by my travel credentials honestly (and has the frequent flyer miles to show for it), I’ve got a few hints that will help make your airport adventure go more smoothly.

Pack light.
• This is old news, but never more important. American Airlines, and others, have announced a $15 charge to check a bag. (The second bag will cost even more.) Check your airline for requirements. Whether there is a charge for your bag will depend on what class of ticket you bought and when.

• I recommend no more than three pairs of shoes (and you’ll be wearing one!). And stick to a color scheme of neutrals and one color. That way, everything will go with everything.

• You can carry on a purse or briefcase and ONE bag that fits in the overhead bin.

Dress for security.
• You will have to take your shoes off. Wear slip on shoes or shoes with Velcro to get through quickly. No lace up athletic shoes, please!

• Keep your jewelry in your purse until you’re safely through. It can set off the metal detector. Rings are generally okay, but I’ve had silver bracelets give it fits.

• If you are carrying on lip gloss, makeup, contact solution, or any other gels or liquids, they MUST go in a one quart plastic bag and be placed prominently in the bin for scanning. And each container must be a three ounce size or smaller. A partially used four ounce container is NOT acceptable. (For me, this now means I always check my suitcase, since for any multi-day trip, I need more than three ounces of contact solution.) Yes, this means whatever is in your purse AND your suitcase if you are carrying it on. You can put however much you want in your checked luggage.

Make check in simple.
• Check in (online!) before you go to the airport. Print your boarding pass. Have it ready, with your photo ID, when you get to the airport.

• You’ll still need to “check in” to check your baggage, but the process should be quick. Use the self-service kiosk. It’s MUCH faster than waiting in line for a person. You’ll need a credit card, so they know who you are. Slip that in and out of the machine (your card is not charged) and follow the prompts. Note: despite my saying “no charge,” there may be a charge upon check in for the bag, depending on when you purchased your ticket and what kind of ticket you have.

• Once you punch in how many bags you are checking, and get confirmation, step away from the machine and wait a minute. An attendant will call out your name. Take your bag over, show the attendant your boarding pass and photo ID. S/he’ll tag your bag and either put it on the belt, or show you where to take it to leave for X-ray.

• Hold on to your photo ID and boarding pass and head for security.

• Don’t buy anything to drink on the way. You can’t take it through.

Plan your security strategy.• Some airports now have lines to sort travelers by level of complexity: frequent flyer, ordinary traveler, or families/people with special needs. If you can’t breeze through security on auto-pilot, don’t pick the frequent flyer line.

• Here’s my routine:
o Lay out three gray plastic bins:

o Remove shoes (now see why I said slip ons?) and jacket or sweater and belt, if you have one, and put in the first bin. (Yes, you have to take off any “outerwear” as well as shoes. And a belt buckle can set off the alarm.)

o Briefcase or purse goes in the second. The plastic bag with the gels and liquids can go on top in either bin. Any bags that go through security must be flat on their sides. Note that cell phones, change, anything that is metal must go in the bins, not stay in your pocket.

o The third bin is for your laptop, which must be scanned separately.

o If you are bringing a bag through, lay that on the belt last.

o Still clutching your photo ID and boarding pass, smile and walk through the metal detector when prompted.

o On the other side, the bin with your shoes and clothes will come though first. Grab them and slip your shoes and jacket on while the other two bins are being scanned.

o When the second bin comes through, set your briefcase up straight, grap the computer from bin three, and put it back in the bag.

o If you are not dressed yet, please do not stand at the end of the line. There are people and bins coming immediately after you. Hold on to whatever you haven’t got on and move away from the conveyer. There should be a bench or a chair nearby where you can put yourself back together.

o Make sure you have everything: cell phone, purse, boarding pass. You can now put away your photo ID.

Relax and prepare to fly.
• Now’s the time to buy a bottled water or two (airplanes are dehydrating) and a book or magazine if you haven’t brought something with you.

• Go to the gate, but stay alert. Gate changes and flight delays are not uncommon. Even once you get on the plane, you may be delayed in take off. Never get on a plane without reading material. You may be there for awhile. And on a flight to San Francisco, you may have time to finish that book --- just in time to load up on all the new ones you’ll get from conference!

In a previous lifetime, Blythe Gifford ran a national publicity campaign and authored a booklet of “Tips for the Woman Business Traveler.” Now, when not traveling on business, she time travels to the 14th century to write her medieval romances. Innocence Unveiled is out now from Harlequin Historicals.. Visit her at

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

dare ya not to laugh

A man takes his Rottweiler to the vet and says, "My dog's cross-eyed, is there anything you can do for him?"
"Well," says the vet, "let's have a look at him."
So he picks the dog up and examines his eyes, then checks his teeth. Finally, he says, "I'm going to have to put him down."
"What? Just because he's cross-eyed?"
"No, because he's really heavy."

A Question for Western Romance Readers!

Morgan Doremus, a freelance writer is doing an article on the appeal of the western romance for the October issue of Romantic Times Magazine! Yee haw!

So readers,
Morgan would love to hear from you and have you answer this question:
What is the appeal of western historical romance novels?

Email her at:
Use western historical romance novels in the subject line.
Include your name so that if she selects their quote, she can credit you properly. How cool would that be?

Monday, July 07, 2008

Jill Marie Landis - Homecoming

For the first time, Eyes-of-the-Sky prayed to the white man's God.

One look in the mirror told her she was not a Comanche…yet she remembered no other life. She watched the whites who had taken her in after her "rescue," the mother, Hattie, and her handsome son, Joe, and wondered what her life had been like before her childhood abduction. She looked at Joe, who had suffered much and forgave little, and knew longing in her heart.

But questions remained: What am I? Who am I?

Jill Marie Landis weaves an unforgettable story about a young woman adrift in two worlds, and her courageous journey to discovery, belonging and love.…

Honestly, I can't remember the last time I enjoyed a book as much as I enjoyed HOMECOMING. It's been a long time since one of my favorite authors wrote a book in my favorite genre and drew me into the characters the way Jill does with this story.

A fish out of water or an underdog are my favorite characters. Jill does it all here: emotional trauma, motivating backstory, worlds colliding, humor and family drama, all wrapped up in her captivating style that takes the reader right into the lives and emotions of her story people.

This is a single title Steeple Hill Historical, which means it's longer, with room to explore the hero and heroine and fleshed out secondary characters.

Jill won RWA's Golden Heart award for her first book, SUNFLOWER. It was published in 1988 and I've been a fan ever since. This is one fangirl who is delighted that JILL MARIE LANDIS returned to her roots in this outstanding western tale of love and faith.

The good news? She has more westerns coming our way!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Any favorite Summer Shows?

One time (boy band) Nsync singer Joey Fatone and former Spice Girl Mel B. present The Singing Office. The two did well together on Dancing With The Stars.
This show - separately, they go into businesses, schools, etc. and put employees and owners on the spot by asking them to sing in an impromptu audition. From the auditions, five are selected to be a team and compete. Each team gets a voice coach and a choreographer for only TWO DAYS of practice, then Joey's team competes against Mel's.

It's looks tough to me, but these people did suprisingly well for two days worth of rehearsal.

“It’s not like American Idol or Dancing With the Stars,” Mel told The Associated Press. “It’s not a serious competition. It gives people a break from their everyday lives to have some fun with their co-workers.”

On the two shows so far, we thought the correct teams won.
Sunday evenings on TLC.

I really like this show!
Hopefully, there will be YouTube of performances soon, but until then, here's the promo.

What do you wish they'd bring back?

This weekend I was thinking how simple the 4th of July was when I was a kid. A backyard picnic and then we carried our blankets and lawn chairs to the park for fireworks. Everyone was happy.

Ever get nostaglic for things from 'The Old Days?' I wish I had the switch for the brights on the floor of my car. What things do you miss the most? Here are a few to get us started.

Remember Nehi Grape pop? Nothing tasted better on a hot summer day - except maybe the occasional Orange Crush.

Remember real Popcicles? Blue were my favorites!

"Open the wing!" Kids today wouldn't know what that means! It was a great way to get ventilation without wind in your face.

Penny candy. And it was a penny! Remember how the paper stuck to those silly dots, but you ate it anyway? And wax bottles with sugared liquid inside.

And while I'm right here - The Satuday Evening Post! Those covers were incredible bits of Americana at its best.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

My Mop

Here's my favorite floor mop. Cleans things in a jiffy. Do you have one like it?