Wednesday, March 29, 2006


I am sick. The whole upper right side of my head is stuffy and painful. I also have a very unpleasant medical procedure to go to tomorrow, for which I have to prepare all day today by eating nothing but clear liquid. There is a third aspect to my misery that I will spare you, but let's just say it has made my day a home run.

So, no real blog today or maybe even tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Calling All Noses!

This Week's Recommendation: Freesias

If you've never smelled freesias, you have been deprived. They are one of the best smelling flowers, sweet and citrusy and they come in a gorgeous array of colors. The thing I love best about them is that you plant them once (they're bulbs) and the keep coming up spring after spring like presents from the dirt! They last a long time, too, much longer than daffodils. Just one sprig makes my kitchen smell sweet. The bad news is that you have to plant them in the fall, so maybe come fall, I'll recommend them again. I guess that was cruel of me, but I'm too lazy to find something else to recommend this week.

Monday, March 27, 2006

The 5th of November

This Week's Trivia: Guy Fawkes' Day, November 5

I just saw V for Vendetta this weekend and loved it. Of particular importance to the plot was Guy Fawkes and his role in British history. I had heard of Guy Fawkes' Day being a holiday celebrated there, but didn't know much more beyond that. So, here's some info I dug up from

In 1605, a person named Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the British Parliament with 36 barrels of gunpowder. He, and his band of fellow conspirators, were caught after one of the group sent a letter to King James of England warning him to stay away from Parliament. Guy Fawkes was imprisoned and eventually put to death for his trouble, although modern British people remember him as "the only man ever to enter Parliament with honest intentions!"

Nowadays, the British mark Guy Fawkes' Day (or simply Bonfire Night) by building bonfires and letting off fireworks. Traditionally, children made effigies of Fawkes from old clothes stuffed with newspaper, and display their "Guy" in the streets, asking "Penny for the Guy?", and expecting to receive some money. Guys were then thrown on the bonfire at the height of the celebrations.

Big firework displays are organised in public playing fields and open areas, usually with huge bonfires. The bonfires often take weeks to build, and in small communities and villages everyone will bring some wood to add to the pile.

The events of 1605 are also remembered in a nursery rhyme.

"Remember, remember, the 5th of November,
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
We see no reason why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot."

Friday, March 24, 2006

Ups and Downs

Today I heard some terrific news. Romance Writers of America has two prestigious awards they bestow on writers. The RITAs are given to outstanding books by published authors, and the Golden Hearts are given to unpublished authors with great promise. I have two friends who have made the final round for both awards. Trish Cerrone is up for the Golden Heart for her manuscript, "A Virgin in L.A." and Jane Thompson is in the running for a RITA with her novella "Simon Says," from the Secrets, Volume 15 anthology. I'm thrilled for them! Hundreds of people vie for those nominations.

However, I got a bit of bad news. My eighteenth story for Woman's World weekly magazine was rejected. Alas, they seem to have received too many stories lately revolving around coaches of one form or another. Oh, well. They say you can't win them all, and you can't sell them all either.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Change of Plan

I've decided that typing a recipe every week is a pain. Thursday is now Question Day.

The inaugural question is: If you could win an Olympic medal, what sport would it be in?

I would have to say, pairs figure skating. I've always wanted to be able to do that and pairs is so exciting to watch. Having a strong man throw me around so confidently... Heh heh. Yeah. That'd be fun. Plus, there's good money to be had afterward doing shows around the country.

So, how about you? Choose a sport.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Surrealist Artist: Rene Magritte

I clearly remember my fifth grade teacher, Mr. Reed, showing a book to us of Rene Magritte's work. It fascinated me and was so different from any other art I'd ever looked at. Of course, only being about 10 years old, I hadn't had that much exposure to art. So, here are two Magritte paintings that have always intrigued me. The first is Gonconda. The second is called La Condition Humane.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Don't Wanna Be Yul

This Week's Recommendation: Nioxin

My hair was getting thinner. Now it's not. I've been using Nioxin shampoo and conditioner for several months and I've got new hair growth. Yeah, it's a bit pricey, but thicker hair is worth it!

Monday, March 20, 2006

A Successful Failure

This Week's Trivia: The Post-It Note

Spencer Silver worked in the 3M research labs in 1970 trying to invent a strong adhesive, but invented a weak one instead. Although no one knew what purpose such a weak glue could serve, he didn't get rid of it.

Four years later, another man, Arthur Fry, got the bright idea to use the glue to make his bookmkarks stick to the page of his hymnal. The bits of paper were always falling out of the book and Silver's adhesive worked perfectly.

It wasn't until 1980 that 3M started selling Post-It Notes. Sometimes I think about office supplies and how simple they are. The paper clip. The staple. Tape. And I think, they've invented everything that we'll ever need. But then along comes something like the Post It note, which I can't live with out.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Excerpt: Losing It

Here's a snippet from Losing It, the novella of mine that Liquid Silver Books will be publishing this year. It's slightly steamy, so if you're not into that, you'd better close the window.


“How much pain is there when you lose your virginity?”

In the bathroom where he was laying tile, Ben Hayden fumbled. With a wild juggling motion, he caught the float just before it clattered into the tub. The splattered grout dribbled down the unfinished wall, but Ben just stood there, frozen, listening hard.

Although he knew it was wrong to eavesdrop, he hadn’t bothered to remind his client, Charlotte, that he was still working in the bathroom. After all, she and her sister Kerrie were only discussing seating arrangements for Kerrie’s wedding. He’d expected to hear them chatter about cake toppers or menu choices.

Unfortunately, the bride-to-be had something less mundane on her mind.

“I mean, what if it hurts so bad, I cry or something?” Kerrie asked. “You know how bad I am with pain. If I cry it could ruin everything.”

Despite the risk and his disapproving conscience, Ben leaned toward the open doorway. He was curious to hear what Charlotte had to say, because on and off over the past couple of months, he’d often considered crossing the line between contractor and client. Something about the way she used her hands seriously turned him on. She had this graceful way of manipulating things that mesmerized him, whether it be turning the pages of a book or buttoning a sweater. It didn’t matter what she was doing, her hands drew his attention and had him thinking sexy thoughts in no time flat. Thoughts about what those hands would feel like splayed over his back as he kissed her, or clutching his butt as he thrust into her.

Ben blew out a silent breath and glanced at his watch. Today he’d lasted forty-five minutes before fantasizing. Sometimes he didn’t even get past the front door before his imagination dove into the gutter. Good thing he always wore loose canvas pants to work.

“You won’t cry,” Charlotte assured her sister. “It’ll be wonderful. Now, let’s get back to business. We have a wedding reception to plan.”

“On a scale from one to ten, then,” Kerrie insisted. “One being a paper cut and ten being...oh, I don’t know...decapitation.”

Ben smothered a laugh, but Charlotte’s reply sounded strangely off-hand. “Oh, somewhere in between, as I recall.”

“Well, is there anything I can do to alleviate it? Any certain position? Should he go in slow or just push real fast and get it over with?”

Crap. That did it. Glancing at the door, Ben decided to make a run for it.

“Kerrie, please!” Charlotte said, clearly exasperated. “I really don’t want to discuss the thrusting velocity of your future husband!”

“I can’t help it!” Kerrie sobbed, and to Ben’s great discomfort, she started crying. “Please, I love Michael so much, I don’t want him to be disappointed.”
With the utmost care, Ben set the float down and took a slow-motion step out of the tub. If he made it to the hall, the front door was only a couple of yards away.

“Look,” Charlotte said, “the truth is, I can’t help you because...”

He took another cautious step toward the door.

“...because I’m a virgin, too.”

Ben stopped, mid-stride. Charlotte was a virgin? A smile dawned on his face as his mind did a half-gainer back into the gutter for an erotic free-for-all, celebrating the idea of introducing Charlotte to the wild, wet, and wonderful world of sex. He was busy imagining her panting under him, shuddering through her first man-induced orgasm, when he realized something wasn’t quite right. The delicious sexual scenarios he’d been imagining scattered as he listened and noticed that--Jesus Christ--there was now a chorus of crying: Charlotte and Kerrie, both of them in tears, two virgins whimpering together over their chastity.

Could things get any worse?

Yes, he thought, they could. Because if they found out he’d been listening, they were going to rip his ears off.


Thursday, March 16, 2006

Pork Ragout (ra-GOO)

Here's a tasty recipe for "the other white meat" that serves two. When my hubby and I were newly married, I made this a lot.

1/2 pound pork loin, cubed
1 small onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic
1/2 tsp rosemary, crumbled
2 tbsp margarine or butter
1 bouillon cube
1/2 cup water
2 cups cauliflower florets
1 cup sliced carrots

Brown pork with onion, garlic, and rosemary in margarine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Dissolve bouillon in water, stir into pork mixture. Cover, simmer 20 minutes.

Add cauliflower and carrots. Cover; simmer 5 minutes longer or until veggies are tender/crisp. Serve with hot white rice.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Stop and Smell The Flowers

This Week's Art: Black Iris by Georgia O'Keeffe

I have always loved Georgia O'Keeffe's work, from the moment I saw it in my art history class some 20 years ago. I wonder why I've never bought a print of hers and hung it in my house. Maybe I will.

Edith Evans Asbury had this to say about her:

"O'Keeffe was strong-willed, hard-working and whimsical. She would wrap herself in a blanket and wait, shivering, in the cold dark for a sunrise to paint; would climb a ladder to see the stars from a roof, and hop around in her stockings on an enormous canvas to add final touches before all the paint dried."

I can feel all that joy in her paintings. Cool, huh!

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Where are the damn scissors?

This Week's Recommendation: Brother P-touch 65 Label Maker

This little gadget is one of my favorites. It only runs about forty bucks and really comes in handy. I use it to label folders, obviously. I have labeled the lids of my spice canisters, since I have them in a container and couldn't read which jar was which without lifting them up. All the boxes in the garage have neat labels on them. Sports equipment and school supplies also get labels. When I bring a potluck to school, I stick my name on the serving platter and utensils. The list is endless.

As for the scissors...I have several pairs in the house: in the gift wrapping box, in the den, in the junk drawer in the kitchen, etc. What was happening was I'd go to cut something and not be able to find scissors. A search around the house would show two pairs in the same place or more often, just left out. Now that they're labelled, the males in the family have no excuse why the scissors cannot be returned to their rightful place.

Now, does that little trick work? Are my scissors miraculously sitting where they're supposed to be whenever I want them? Most of the time yes. Now if only I could devise a method for keeping Lego bricks off the living room floor...


Monday, March 13, 2006

A Girl's Best Friend

This Week's Trivia Topic: Diamonds

--The word diamond is derived from the Greek adamas, which means unconquerable.

--The Cullinan Diamond is the largest gem-quality diamond ever discovered. Found in 1905, the original 3,100 carats were cut to make jewels for the British Crown Jewels and the British Royal family's collection. The largest stone was put into a sceptre (shown left.)

So, even though JK Rowling is richer than the Queen, I'll bet she doesn't own this big a diamond.

--In medieval times, it was believed that diamonds could ward off the plague. This was because the poor always died first, but this was because they lived nearer to where plague-bearing ships docked, not because they didn't have two pennies to rub together. Even so, the rich mistakenly thought that if they wore their wealth like a talisman that this would keep them disease free.

--Diamond powder is a legendary poison, often used by Catherine de Medici. I wonder if using diamond powder to kill someone would make good fodder for a mystery novel or forensic TV show.

--Most diamonds found in nature are 1-3 BILLION years old.

--Each suit in a deck of cards represents the four major pillars of the economy in the Middle Ages. Hearts represent the Church; spades, the military; clubs, agriculture; and diamonds, the merchant class.

--A diamond will not dissolve in acid. The only thing that can destroy it is intense heat. If you put it in an oven at 850 degrees for about an hour, it will dissipate.

I'll take this one on faith, thank you!


Friday, March 10, 2006

Governed by Words

I wasted a lot of time today writing a scene that I ultimately decided to delete. I had wanted to advance the plot between my heroine and a secondary character and thought of a terrific scene in which to do it. Everything was going well, but that scene demanded another scene, and I realized that I couldn't do it. My maximum word count for this story is 13,000 words, and I was already at 13,500, with a few scenes at the end still to write. I spent some time going back and cutting here and there, but it soon became obvious that there was no way I could cut enough.

So, it was with frustration that I delegated everything I had written today to the Snippet File, a sort of purgatory for any narrative I delete. I'm going to have to figure out another way to show that relationship between the characters and hope that the reader will buy it.

Writing is such a bitch.


Thursday, March 09, 2006

"Pizza Cookies"

My kids call these "Pizza Cookies" because of their shape. They are a favorite in our house and simple to make. I like to add nuts to my batches, but make sure you chop them fine, otherwise they make it difficult to break the cookies into their perfect wedges.

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Add flour and salt. Stir in chips.

Divide dough in half. Press each half into an ungreased 8-inch round cake pan. Bake 12 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Score cookies with sharp knife, taking care not to completely cut through. Make 8 wedges per pan.

Let pans stand on wire racks 10 minutes. Invert cookies onto wire racks; cool completely. Break into wedges.


Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Van Gogh's Cafe at Night

I love this painting of an Arles cafe. The colors are so beautifully bright. I'm usually not a fan of compositions with symmetry in them. (See how the canvas is divided pretty evenly between left and right?) But, it doesn't bother me here. The yellow warmth of the cafe is so inviting. It makes me smile. "The Starry Night" doesn't hold a candle to this one, in my opinion.


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Music to my Ears (and Fingers)

This Week's Recommendation: "Gladiator" Soundtrack

As you may have gathered, I write erotic romance. I like to listen to music when I write. It helps get my creativity flowing. But I can't write to music with words, so I have a large collection of movie soundtracks. Opera, too, because they sing in foreign languages and I can't get distracted by lyrics I don't understand.

The soundtrack to the movie "The Gladiator," is fabulous. It's very intense and though my temptation is to play it very loud, too much volume makes it hard to write. Even if you don't write, it's great music. Dennis Prager, the radio talkshow host, uses it as his theme music.


Monday, March 06, 2006

Antonio Banderas' Buns

Okay, so he's not Italian. But the man is still seriously hot, and I laid eyes on his naked behind last night. I tried to watch the movie Original Sin, but the DVD was scratched and I wasn't able to see the last ten minutes or so. I don't really regret missing the last of the movie; it was sort of a downer. But I do think they should have shown him nekkie from the front.

Anyway, here's a bit of trivia about him:

--He was born by Caesarean section on August 10, 1960. That means he's two years older than me.

--He wanted to be a pro soccer player, but a foot injury put that dream to bed. Bad news for him, good news for us movie goers.

--His family lived across the street from a bordello in Malaga, Spain.

--Way before Heath L. and Jake G. made playing a gay man trendy, Antonio appeared in "Law of Desire," in 1987, slipping tongue to some other guy.

--Here's what he said about his first kiss: "I got dizzy and she got dizzy," he says. "It was a pretty experience. It's like a pink memory. A flowery memory."

I'd probably faint if he kissed ME.

Here's a nice site that tells everything you could ever wnat to know about Antonio.


Friday, March 03, 2006

Fit To Be Tied

Friday is writing day and I decided to post a very small snippet of my work-in-progress, titled Fit To Be Tied.

“Don’t do that,” Max said.

Sadie looked up. “Do what?”

“Stare at my crotch.”

She gave him a slight smile. “Why? As crotches go, it’s a nice one. From what I can see anyway.”

That did it. She’d given off enough come-and-get-me signals for him and Max’s tolerance had reached critical mass.

“I’ve had enough,” he said, putting his pencil away and organizing his work. He still had two insect specimens to catalog, and although it bothered him to leave that unfinished, his need for Sadie was more immediate. He could come back to the museum tomorrow.

Besides, the bugs were dead.

Sadie gathered her purse and keys.

“I’ll say,” she said. “Nobody should have to work this late on a Friday night."

“That’s not what I meant.”

He stood up slowly and moved close, into her personal space. She didn’t back away, but looked up, uncertainty plainly showing on her face.

“What did you mean?"

He cupped her head and tilted it up. Their gazes locked. “I’m tired of the flirting games," he said, lowering his head. “If you have any objections to my kissing you, you’d better voice them now.”

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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Chicken Marsala

This is a very easy recipe, has few ingredients, and is sublimely delicious. What more can you as for from a recipe? How about a low calorie count as well? This is only 164 calories per (an admittedly small) serving. It serves four.

4 (1/4 pound) thin sliced chicken breast cutlets
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tsp olive oil
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
2 tsp all-purpose flour
1/4 cup Marsala wine
1/4 cup reduced sodium chicken broth

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper

Heat oil in skillet over a medium high heat. Add chicken and cook until done, about 3 minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate and keep warm.

Add mushrooms to skillet and cook, stirring frequently until browned, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle mushrooms with flour, stirring to blend. Add Marsala and broth, bring to a boil. Cook, stirring occasionally until sauce thickens, about 3 minutes. Spoon sauce over chicken.


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Dance Me To The End of Love

This Week's Artwork
I love Jack Vettriano's work. If you looked at last Wednesday's offering, you'll see a similarity. The subject matter is nostalgic like Kenton's, the style is simple and clean. And of course, you know I am a die-hard romantic, and some of Vettriano's works speak clearly of love and courtship.