Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Wet Man Haiku: Orlando Bloom

Fear not, my friend
'Tis not a vicious monster.

I had beans for lunch.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Random Acts of Patriotism

I have a great respect and sense of gratitude for our military. A couple of years ago, I "adopted" three soldiers by sending them care packages one to two times a month. I don't do that anymore, but I do send the occasional book, note, postcard, etc. to individuals through the Books For Soldiers program. (See link to the right if you're interested.)

However, I just found out a completely free way of supporting the troops that the Xerox company is sponsoring. With just a few clicks of your mouse, you can send a note of gratitude to someone overseas. I think it's important to let them know that their daily sacrifices are appreciated here at home.

It can take, literally, as little as ten seconds if you're not particular about which card or message you send. So come on...brighten a soldier's day.


Monday, October 29, 2007

Story: The Apology

What follows is an analysis of a Woman's World story with suggestions/observations for people who want to sell stories to WW, peppered with some personal opinion, too. :)

Story: "The Apology" by Collette Shannon from the October 23, 2007 issue.

Tagline: Lori would never forget how mean Brian had been as a boy. Never...

In A Nutshell: Lori is dismayed to discover the new intern at the hospital is none other than Brian, the boy who teased her in junior high. When he apologizes for his behavior back then, she discovers he's a nice guy now.

Teaching Points: This story has the classic three-act structure. In the first act we get the backstory. Lori and her friends see Brian. Her friends like how he looks. Lori can only remember how nasty he once was.

The second act occurs a week later. We see Lori being cool to him as they encounter each other in the elevator. This part is fairly short. In fact, acts one and two take up about half the story.

Then in the final act, Brian is finally able to talk to her alone and he apologizes for his behavior back then, explaining that he was only trying to get her attention because he liked her. The story ends with the two of them agreeing to go out on Saturday.

It's tough to fit three acts into a 1000 word story, but Shannon demonstrates it can be done.

Best Part: This part shows Lori growing as a character: When he smiled warmly, my urge to tell him how much I'd hated him totally vanished.


Friday, October 26, 2007

Artist: Todd Horne

Back in July, I featured Todd Horne's painting, "Bottle for One." And guess what! The man commented on my blog. He must have Googled his name and found my post. I think it's so cool when people find themselves on my insignificant blog. So, I checked out his website and found this companion piece, "Table for One."

I love this for the same reasons I liked the other. I love the nostalgic, somewhat rustic style. I like the subject matter. It evokes feelings of protectiveness in me and makes me want to go up to this guy and hug him, press my cheek against his.

Thanks for visiting my blog, Todd, and more importantly, for painting.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Thursday 3: Too Much of a Good Thing

I know I'm not the only one, but I have a problem with certain items. I succumb to the urge to buy these items more than I should.

Take this woman, Angelika, for instance. She has collected 220,000 pens, an item that I adore. (See below.) She even organized a club that meets twice a year to trade pens.

I don't go that crazy, but here are three things that I do have too much of:

1. Pens - I seriously love pens. It's really dangerous because these days they come in these multipacks. When I was a teen, I would blissfully browse stationery stores, looking for something to spend my allowance on since I had no "real" expenses. They didn't sell stuff in bulk yet. Anyway, my household has far too many pens. And yet, not enough. Not nearly enough.

2. Scrapbook paper - I have to admit, my friend Tammy has a bigger weakness for paper than I do, but again, I have way too much. In my own defense, I have to say that they're designing some real kick ass gorgeous paper these days and it's not my fault that I want to help foster the scrapbooking industry and encourage those talented paper designers. No, I'm NOT in denial. I'm not!

3. Yarn - Same deal. Lots of projects begun, but not finished. I have big plastic bins of yarn of various weights and colors. I was strong enough once to throw out all the baby yarn, but I still have skeins and skeins that are not being knitted or crocheted into anything.

Please help me. Angelika and I can't be the only sad women who can't control themselves. What items do you have weaknesses for and can't stop yourself from buying?


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Recipe: Roast Chicken with Potatoes, Lemon, and Asparagus

This is DELICIOUS and EASY. Your whole dinner is in one pan! It will be a staple at my house from now on. It comes from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food Magazine.

Roast Chicken with Potatoes, Lemon, and Asparagus

1 ½ pounds new potatoes, halved
3 tbsp butter, cut into small pieces
coarse salt & pepper
1 package cut-up whole chicken (about 3 lbs.)
1 bunch asparagus (1 lb), trimmed an cut into 2-inch pieces\
1 lemon, cut into 8 wedges
6 sprigs fresh thyme

1. Preheat oven to 475. Place potatoes and half the butter in a roasting pan. Season with salt and pepper. Roast, tossing once, until potatoes are golden, 20-25 minutes.
2. Place chicken, skin side up, on top of potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Roast until chicken starts to brown, about 20 minutes.
3. Scatter asparagus, lemon, remaining butter, and thyme around chicken. Roast until asparagus is tender and chicken is opaque throughout, 5-15 minutes.
4. Serve chicken, vegetables, and lemon drizzled with pan juices.


Wet Man Haiku: Lance Armstrong

Naked, I pedal,
At one with nature, and yet
torturing my nuts.

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Story: I Love My Wife

What follows is an analysis of a Woman's World story with suggestions/observations for people who want to sell stories to WW, peppered with some personal opinion, too. :)

Story: "I Love My Wife" by Christina Dymock from the October 16, 2007 issue.

Tagline: With all the demands of a busy family life, something had been lost--and Steve wanted it back...

In a nutshell: Steve realizes that parenting three kids under six makes nurturing his relationship with his wife a challenge, a challenge neither of them had been meeting lately. At work, we see him tempted by a co-worker, but he resists, prompted to plan a surprise date night for his wife.

Teaching Points:
1. This is a nice already-married story, easy to imagine as really happening. Any reader with kids understands how taxing they can be on a marriage and will identify with Steve and Sarah. So, keep in mind when coming up with story ideas that not every story has to be about two people just starting to get together.

2. I have explained before about how sweet in tone Woman's World stories must be. And yet, they don't completely ignore that fact that adults have sex. In this story, Dymock does a wonderful job alluding to Steve's manly urges in a very WW way.

He used to crave her nearness when she was away from him. But that physical closeness had waned, and now they barely managed a little pillow talk before they dropped off to sleep.

3. Go for the commonplace when naming characters. Dymock chose Steve, Sarah, and Karen, not Stone, Trinity, and Carreyn.

Best Part: "Okay. Call me later." Steve got a face full of hot air as Sarah leaned over to peck him on the cheek.

I laughed at this part because I've totally done this and had this done to me!

In My Humble Opinion: The POV switch after Steve calls his mom on the phone was a little rocky, however, it may just be that I'm so trained to read 3rd person limited that I automatically go into that mode as a reader and forget that omniscient POV hasn't died completely. :)


Friday, October 19, 2007

Artist: Unknown M&M Lover

I love puzzles. I love M&Ms. Here's the best of both worlds. It's a huge painting, Bosch-style, with M&Ms in it. The challenge is to find references to 50 dark movies. I only got 36.

Okay, this isn't exactly art like I usually do it, but go with it. I mean that literally! Go here to see how many you can find.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Wet Man Haiku: Prince William

My Cinderella
will come to me in the night
and volley my ball.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Joke: Come Rain, Come Sleet

It was the mailman's last day on the job after 35 years of carrying the mail through all kinds of weather to the same neighborhood. When he arrived at the first house on his route the whole family congratulated him and sent him on his way with a gift certificate. At the second house they presented him with a box of fine cigars. The folks at the third house handed him a selection of terrific fishing lures.

At the fourth house he was met at the door by a strikingly beautiful woman in a revealing negligee. She took him by the hand and led him up the stairs to the bedroom where she blew his mind with the most passionate love he had ever experienced.

Afterward, she fixed him a giant breakfast: eggs, potatoes, ham, sausage, blueberry waffles, and fresh-squeezed orange juice. As she was pouring the coffee, he noticed a dollar bill sticking out from under the cup's bottom edge.

"All this was just too wonderful for words," he said, "but what's the dollar for?"

"Well," she said, "last night, I told my husband that today would be your last day, and that we should do something special for you. I asked him if he had any ideas. He said, 'Fuck him, give him a dollar.'"

The lady then added, "The breakfast was my idea."


Monday, October 15, 2007

Story: Cards on the Table

What follows is an analysis of a Woman's World story with suggestions/observations for people who want to sell stories to WW, peppered with some personal opinion, too. :)

Story: "Cards on the Table" by Melissa Ramirez from the October 9, 2007 issue.

Tagline: Tilly had tried to work up th enerve to invite Walt Jenkins out, but she just couldn't do it...

In a nutshell: Tilly walks to church every week to play bingo, and every week she passes the widower Walt's house. She tries twice to ask him to join her, but remembering years ago how he'd declined (while his wife was still alive), she can't muster up the courage. Walt finally surprises her by showing up anyway one night.

Best Part: I thought it was romantic when Walt clipped the rose for her, and when he said Tuesday nights were his favorite, too, I knew it was his favorite because Tilly walked by his house.

Woman's World Stand-bys: This story has a hesitant woman and a pet cat, both commonplace in WW stories.

In My Humble Opinion: I understand Tilly's reluctance, especially considering that she's a senior citizen and probably unaccustomed to asking men out, however, I don't particularly care for women who end the story without having grown as characters.


Friday, October 12, 2007

Latte Art

As you may or may not know, I'm a barista for Starbucks. I'm exhausted from being on my feet all day today at work. So, without much intellectual commentary, here are some photos of latte art. These are created by pulling espresso, steaming milk, and pouring the creamy foam into the espresso with flicks of the wrist and/or use of a pointy object or sometimes even a paint brush. Enjoy!


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Thursday 3: Imagined Dialogue

My friend Anna J. Evans does this thing on her blog that I adore called Man Meat Monday. She gets pictures of men and writes what they might be thinking to themselves. I'm copying that idea for today's Thursday 3, but with the caveat that she does this much better than I do.

I recently saw the movie 3:10 to Yuma and liked it very much. It stars two of the three guys here--Christian Bale and Russell Crowe. There were no more guys in the movie that I could find "wet men" pictures for, so I just took Rusty Joiner because his name was next to Russell's.

"This hot water feels so good on my naked manly body. If only I had more light so I could find my loofah..."

"I told you never to interrupt my beer-drinking, cigar-smoking, dog-tag-wearing sessions. Tell Spielberg I'll call him back."

"Now, let me get this straight. I'M the limbo pole????"

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Joke: Miscommunication

A construction worker on the 3rd floor of an unfinished building needed a hand saw, but was too lazy to go down and get it himself. He tried to call his fellow worker on the ground to get it for him, but this guy could not hear a word he said. So, he started to give a sign so the guy on the ground could understand him.

First he pointed at his eyes, meaning "I," then pointed at his knees, meaning "need," and moved his hand back and forth demonstrating the movement of a hand saw.

Finally, the guy on the ground started nodding his head like he understood and dropped his pants and started to jerk off.

The guy on the 3rd floor got pissed-off and ran down to the ground and started yelling at this guy, "You idiot, I was trying to tell you I needed a hand saw."

The other guy replied, "I know. I was trying to tell you that I was coming."


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Slash(ed) Fiction

I have been marked down! LOL. Actually, my book has been marked down. Leap of Faith is now on sale for the bargain price of ONE DOLLAR at Phaze. You can't even buy a cup of coffee from my beloved Starbucks for that. It's only available until October 31st, and then it will be in limbo for, hopefully, a short amount of time. More info on that when I get it.

In other news, I got a review from Susan of Night Owl Romance on A Man of Vision that made me grin for a long time.

A Man of Vision by Kate Willoughby caught me by surprise with the depth of characters and emotions. Delphine is a modern day courtesan and never got attached to her patrons. Then she becomes the hired mistress of Cristoforo Valtieri, a famous Italian sculptor, and finds that her body and emotions want to be more than Cristoforo’s mistress. Will he find a place in his heart for her? Or will she continue on in her profession and leave him behind? This was a great story and I enjoyed it very much.

My story and Panther's Pleasure were Susan's top picks from the anthology. Yay me! This makes up for the other mediocre review I got a couple of weeks ago. Oh, you didn't see it here? Huh. Must have forgotten to post it. LOL


Monday, October 08, 2007

Story: The Audition

What follows is an analysis of a Woman's World story with suggestions/observations for people who want to sell stories to WW, peppered with some personal opinion, too. :)

Story: "The Audition" by Elicabeth Hawn from the September 25, 2007 issue.

Tagline: Lizzie hoped this Paul Verner guy would be the right man for the job...

In a nutshell: Lizzie's ex-fiance is getting married, and she's feeling blue. She works as activities director for an assisted living facility. Madeline, the person who usually brings in pets to entertain the seniors, can't make it. Paul fills in and does a fantastic job. Turns out he's a widow and Madeleine is looking for someone to fill in for her on a regular basis. Lizzie likes that idea.

Teaching Point: Moving a character along a character arc is something to strive for even in these very short stories. Here, Lizzie starts out feeling blue. Her first step along her journey is when she checks out "his ring finger--something I haven't done since Gary dumped me." A little later in the story, she realizes, after watching Paul at work, that her ex is a doofus and she's better off without him. By the end of the story, she's thinking about Paul romantically.

Woman's World Stand-bys: A dog and a matchmaker.

In My Humble Opinion: This story didn't pack a lot of umph for me.


Friday, October 05, 2007

Artist: Peter Carl Faberge (1846-1920)

Welcome to another mini-exhibit at my blog. This week I'm featuring the work of Peter Carl Faberge.

Easter is the most joyful celebration of the Orthodox faith in Russia. After the devout church services, families gather to exchange gifts of decorated eggs, symbols of renewed life and hope. The Easter of 1885 also marks the twentieth anniversary of Czar Alexander III and Czarina Maria Fedorovna, and the Czar needs an exceptional gift for his wife. So he places an order with a young jeweler, Peter Carl Fabergé, whose beautiful creations have recently caught Maria's eye.

On Easter morning, Fabergé delivers to the palace what appears to be a simple enameled egg. But to the delight of the Empress, inside is a golden yolk; within the yolk is a golden hen; and concealed within the hen is a diamond miniature of the royal crown and a tiny ruby egg – both now lost to history. His wife's delight is all the Czar needs to reward Fabergé with a commissionfor an Easter egg every year. The requirements are straightforward: each egg must be unique, and each must contain a suitable surprise for the Empress. With consummate craftsmanship and an inventive spirit, Fabergé repeatedly meets the challenge, borrowing inspiration from the gilded lives of the Czar and Czarina.

All the elements of the Romanov story come together most elegantly in the Fifteenth Anniversary egg (1911), a family album just over five-inches-tall. Exquisitely detailed paintings depict the most notable events of the reign of Nicholas II and each of the family members. "Not only is it a staggering tour-de-force of the jeweler's art," says Forbes, "but probably more than any other egg, it is the one most intimately associated with the whole tragedy of Nicholas and Alexandra and that incredibly beautiful family. There are these five children – all these sort of glamorous events surrounding their lives – and there they are looking out at us happily unknowing what was going to happen to them just a few years later.


One of only two eggs executed in the Art Nouveau style, this golden egg is covered by a multitude of pearls and pale pink enamel. The egg is supported by cabriole legs of matte green-gold leaves with rose diamond dewdrops. The gold-stemmed lilies of the valley have green enamelled leaves and pearl flowers. The egg is topped by an Imperial crown of rose diamonds and cabachon rubies. A pearl knob, when twisted, reveals the surprise of this egg: portrait miniatures of Czar Nicholas II and his two oldest daughters, Olga and Tatiana. The portraits are raised by a geared mechanism inside the egg that causes the portraits to spread fan-like once they have emerged. The portraits are framed in rose diamonds and backed with gold panels engraved with the presentation date: April 5, 1898.
--Bruce R. Schulman

The Trans-Siberian Railway Egg – 1900 This egg commemorates the completion of the trans- siberian railway line. On the silver part in the middle is etched a railway line map, with the stations of various jewels. The train is of gold and platinum with an ingenious wind-up mechanism. The cars are individually distinct: a gentlemen’s car, a restaurant, and even a traveling church are part of the foot-long locomotive. --Caleb Bailey

Bruce R. Schulman states that until Faberge, "...many felt the value of jewelry was intrinsic, based upon the precious metals and stones. Faberge felt that the artistic creativity and fine craftsmanship of jewelry made it art that transcended bullion value."

Truly, the man revolutionized the art of jewelry making. (Pardon my pun.) Someday I may write a story involving Faberge eggs. I think they're fascinating.

Enjoy your weekend. Come back next Friday for more art! :D


Thursday, October 04, 2007

Thursday 3: Willoughby Cubed

I saw this meme on Rhian's blog and thought it looked like fun. Here's how you participate: Go to Enter your name in the search box. Post the first or best book that comes up. Since this is my Thursday 3, I chose three.

This book looks like it was published in the fifties. Still, the title makes one wonder what the heck this book is about.

Personally, I like my princes to have fresh breath and be able to stand upright.

Finally, this title intrigued me, considering that I write erotic romance. Heh heh.


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Recipe: Chicken Chili with Cheddar Cheese

Looking for an alliterative recipe? LOL I just made this last week and it's awesome. I'm tempted to call it Albino Chili, but that doesn't sound too appetizing.

White Chicken Chili with Cheddar Cheese

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
1 medium yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
1 tablespoon minced fresh jalapeno chili (I used the whole chili)
1.5 teaspoons ground cumin
1 can (15 oz.) creamed corn
1 can (7 oz) diced mild green chiles
2 cups whole milk (I used percent milk.)
1 can (15 oz) while beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups shredded shredded cooked chicken
Salt and pepper to taste
1 to 1.5 cups shredded white cheddar cheese

In a large pan, combine oil, onion, bell pepper and jalapeno. Stir often over high heat until onion is limp, about 3-4 minutes. Add cumin, corn, green chiles, milk, and beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally. to blend flavors, about 10 minutes. Stir in chicken. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in cheese and serve immediately.


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Haiku: Angelina Schmangelina

Leave her, Brad, darling!
What's she got that I don't have?

...Forget I said that.

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Monday, October 01, 2007

Story: The Patchwork Quilt

What follows is an analysis of a Woman's World story with suggestions/observations for people who want to sell stories to WW, peppered with some personal opinion, too. :)

Story: "The Patchwork Quilt" by Jennie Pitkus from the September 18, 2007 issue.

Tagline: Elizabeth knew that some things are definitely worth waiting for...

In a nutshell: Elizabeth is saving to buy a condo and puts herself on a strict budget. However, she falls in love with a quilt in a consignment shop. A man buys it for a window display in his new bookstore/coffee house, just down the street from the condo complex. They agree that she can make monthly payments to buy the quilt when he changes the window display. Six months later, Elizabeth has her condo, her quilt, and her guy. :) He suggested making payments so he could continue to see her.

Teaching Point: The climax of this story occurs in the middle, strangely enough. In the first half of the story, we find out about Elizabeth's goal to buy the condo, how she covets the quilt. Halfway through, she finds out that it's been bought. The rest of the story tells how she resolves her quilt problem.

This jostling of the climax works mainly because the story is so short. This would never fly with a full length novel, because there would be little reason for the reader to stick with the story if there is no tension building.

Best Part: As a barista, I was tickled that the story started out with the heroine drinking a raspberry mocha latte. Yum.

In My Humble Opinion: It seemed a tiny bit of a reach to believe he would recognize Elizabeth from the slight description the consignment shop owner gave him.