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Archive for October, 2009

Recipe For A Family

Today I’m participating in a mass blogging! WOW! Women on Writing has gathered a group of blogging buddies to write about family relationships. Why family relationships? We’re celebrating the release of Therese Walsh’s debut novel today. The Last Will of Moira Leahy: A Novel
(Random House, October 13, 2009) is about a mysterious journey that helps a woman learn more about herself and her twin, whom she lost they were teenagers. Visit the Muffin to read what Therese has to say about family relationships and view the list of all my blogging buddies. And make sure you visit www.theresewalsh.com to find out more about the author.

Family –there’s no doubt families can be fun, irritating, supportive, encouraging or they can be a pain in the neck, causing total misery. When it comes to families the saying the good, the bad and the ugly certainly fits.

My own family is complicated. My parents divorced when I was a teenager and that marital split changed the design of our family. I think this personal history shows its face in the sometime theme that shows up in my writing. I tend to write about people seeking security and often that security takes the form of a newly formed family. It might not be a traditional one, but it’s a family none the less.

Most of us would define a family as a group of persons with a common ancestry, but Webster’s dictionary says a family can also be a group of individuals living under one roof. That’s right! Individuals don’t need to be related to each other in order to become a tight-knit unit or family.

Robyn Carr writes the Virgin River series, which is one of my favorites. The first book Virgin River (Virgin River, Book 1) tells the story of Melinda Monroe, a nurse practitioner, who starts afresh in the township of Virgin River. It’s a small town and as the series progresses, it’s a joy to experience the sense of family that Robyn Carr evokes in her books. Only a few of the characters are blood relations but they learn to depend on each other in both good and bad times. This is to me what a family is about.

I have a new release called House of the Cat out on Wednesday. My hero Ryman Coppersmith is adopted into a loving family as a child. Unfortunately there’s jealousy bubbling under the surface, his stepbrother sets him up and he’s accused of a murder. Ry is forced to flee for his life. We first meet Ry several years later. During the passing years, he’s become captain of a spaceship. He’s a good man and tends to collect people who are down and in trouble. They usually end up as part of his crew, their loyalty to Ry and each other blending them into a family. When Ry decides it’s time to take revenge on his brother and clear his name, they’re there for him one hundred percent. Ry and his crew will do anything for each other. It’s all for one and one for all. A true family.

How would you define a family?

Knives & Forks

English department store Debenhams have reported that dinner forks are outselling knives by two to one. The retailer is organizing a civilized dining campaign designed to make sure we don’t lose the traditional way of eating.

A spokesman said, “Using both a knife and a fork to eat has held this country in good stead for centuries. It’s one of the mainstays of being British. It’s about maintaining standards, before the single fork habit becomes ingrained in the next generation. Bad table manners can turn an enjoyable meal into an embarrassment.”

Forks

Knives were always used for eating in the past, with each person owning their own to use during meals. Forks are a more recent invention and weren’t introduced to England until around 1608. People were very resistant to the new tool, asking why they required a fork when they had hands. Slowly the upper classes embraced forks and they became a symbol of the wealthy.

I must admit that my husband and I tend to eat more ethnic dishes these days. I think of them as bowl foods and we use either a fork or a spoon, depending on the consistency of the food. We’re more likely to use forks than both knives and forks. Actually tonight we used both, but that’s not usual.

My nephew and his wife (who is Japanese) don’t own many knives and forks. They’re a chopstick family and if we have a family gathering at their place, we have to take cutlery.

What happens at your house? Do you tend to use forks more than knives? Is our style of eating shifting?

Stand Tall

Camera Critters

Today’s critter is a Pronghorn, and this photo was taken at Custer State Park, South Dakota, USA.

Photobucket

To view more Camera Critters follow this link.

Instant Kiwi Attitude

It’s time for some more New Zealand ads. Some of these are older ones, but they’re still some of my favorites.

The one below is an all-time favorite. They’ve recently reissued it, combining it with the “Get A Perm” guy from the ad below, but I couldn’t find a version of that on You Tube Yet. Unfortunately the quality isn’t too good at the start, although it does improve.

This one below has proved very popular and they’ve done a series featuring the two men. It is Instant Kiwi’s most recent ad campaign.

Which is your favorite? Have you got the instant Kiwi Attitude?

Awesome Things

Thursday Thirteen

About six months ago I came across a blog called 1000 Awesome Things. I was so taken with this blog that I put it on my RSS feed, and now it’s the first one I read every day. It never fails to make me grin. For my Thursday Thirteen today I’m highlighting some of my favorite posts.

Thirteen Posts from 1000 Awesome Things

1. Fixing your wedgie when no one is looking.

2. Running for the bus or train and actually catching it.

3. Fitting every last thing in the dishwasher. (My husband knows a thing or two about this one)

4. Vacuuming a dirty carpet and hearing all the tiny rocks going through the hose.

5. When your laptop or cell phone is about to die and you manage to run and plug it in before it dies.

6. Wordless apologies.

7. When you’re awkwardly standing by yourself with a full cafeteria tray of food and you suddenly spot your friend waving at you.

8. Sneaking cheaper candy into the movie theater.

9. Being so excited you forget to take your bike helmet off.

10. Taking the stairs beside someone taking the escalator.

11. When somebody holds the elevator door for you.

12. When the person scratching your back finds that one really itchy spot.

13. Making someone laugh when they have a really full mouth.

I hope you have time to follow some of these links because they come complete with a story and photos and a big AWESOME. They are fun posts and make my day.

What do you think is awesome?

What Makes a Good Heroine?

My special guest today is paranormal author, JA Saare. Her post is about heroines and in particular Buffy and Bella. I’m a huge Buffy fan, but also a very new one since I’ve just started watching the series for the first time. I’m hooked. Over to you, Jaime…

Author, JA SaareWhat makes a good heroine? Is it a hard-assed Buffy or a soft-spoken Bella?

I remember it like it was yesterday. The WB network was advertising this brand new show that was a spinoff of the movie sharing the same name. At first it was laughable, and I made the common joke about the “frog” network and their futile attempts to survive in a Seinfeld ruled world.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer – really?

Beastly creatures and high school metaphors aside, how could anyone take such a thing seriously? The market for the paranormal, at that time, was weak. Even with a devout cult following, shows like Kindred: The Embraced were shelved after one short season. Darkness didn’t prevail, people wanted pep, they wanted sass, they wanted Rachel’s latest haircut! Still, I tuned in, reminiscing about the days when Dylan Mckay was the hottest thing since freshly mopped tar on a sweltering summer roof. Chewing my popcorn and drinking my Jolt cola, I watched a young and impressionable Buffy Summers enter into the Hellmouth, err, I mean the doors of Sunnydale High, for the first time.

And whaddya know? It was love at first stake.

Buffy was tough. She was strong. And she could make the high school jocks cry like hard core sissies. But even more importantly, she was a total girl. Her need to belong to the world she was so apart from was so raw, and so very relatable. Each week brought about new challenges with real themes, ranging from first love, to domestic abuse, to losing your virginity and discovering the guy you thought you loved isn’t who you thought he was at all.

Those next seven years were some of the most memorable of my life, and I remember them fondly because they were shared with a young girl that was roughly my age when the show started and ended. Oddly enough, we shared heartache and growth, and when those final credits rolled on the final episode, The Chosen, I wept. When it was all said and done, I knew there would never be another heroine to compare, and I bid a very fond farewell to one of my favorite characters of all time.

Fast forward a couple of years.

I was browsing the books in my local Barnes and Noble, looking for something to pass the time. My favorite authors weren’t due to for a new release, and I wasn’t in the mood for the usual romance. I wanted something different, something with bite.

A cover got my attention. It was simple but elegant, a pair of alabaster hands palming a ripe red apple. Figuring I had nothing better to do, I snagged the book and purchased it along with a double Mocha Latte. I read it in record time. It was a beautiful story, a romance that used sensuality to sell. Sure, Bella was a tad annoying, but what girl isn’t at that age? And that hunk, Edward, hubba-bubba! Not a bad read at all, and guess what? The sequel, New Moon, was coming soon!

It was a good thing I had the foresight to save that first edition hardback, because soon after, the Twilight frenzy was born.

Now, it’s all about New Moon. The motion picture is on the way and the hype has just begun. As I stare at the numerous billboards lining the walkways of Target and Wal-Mart, I have to ask myself…What is the deal?

Attending the release party at that same Barnes and Noble for Breaking Dawn was a mind-blowing experience. For one, I discovered no book, and I do mean no book, is worth the agonizing shrieks of ecstatic tweens as they clamor for their sparkling vampire fix. Fights broke out over quizzes that indicated your “blood type”, and if you were the parent of the disgruntled girl that got the white paper bracelet that signified Jacob’s preference, Lord help you.

Then it hit me.

The frenzy isn’t about Bella at all. It’s all about Edward – the man that completes her. For without him, she is nothing.

Testing my theory, I pulled out Twilight and read it again, then came New Moon and Eclipse. Yep, it was just as I thought. Bella, the ever normal Mary Sue that is plain and shy but shows up at a new school and becomes uber-popular and snags the attention of the notorious unobtainable vamp himself, is only important so long as the topazed-eyed vegetarian sparkler is at her side. What better way to prove self-worth than to gain the attention of the most beautiful creature in existence, and maintain it permanently?

Jaded and angry, I pulled out my DVD collection of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, starting with season one. There were similarities – anxiety, shyness, attempting to fit in.

But then, it happened.

Buffy meets Angel, and in true kick-ass manner, she blows him off. Oh, to be sure, she did so in a sultry fashion. And what do you know? The boy follows her. Thus, one of the most beloved and indelible couples on the small screen was born.

It’s a shame Buffy The Vampire Slayer didn’t get the recognition Twilight has. Though they are notably different (Buffy, though in print and comic format, is inherently a television show), the messages were so much deeper, so much more involved. Sure “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” sounds silly, but that goes to show you that it’s not smart to judge a book by its title, or in this case, the catchy symbolism of a cover.

If Mr. Whedon has some free time, maybe he can schedule an intervention and do the world a favor.

Have Buffy give Bella a call, Joss. The world needs a reality check.

Happy Reading!
Jaime AKA J.A. Saare
http://jasaare.com/

Soft As Moonlight Moon Kissed Lick of Frost A Kiss Before Dying

J. A. will be giving away a $10 Amazon.com gift certificate to one randomly drawn commenter from her blog tour so don’t forget to comment here to have a chance to win. For details of JA Saare’s entire blog tour go here.

Which heroine do you prefer? Buffy or Bella? What do you think makes a good heroine?

Blowing in the Wind.

I have a fascination with wind chimes. I love the sounds they make and find them soothing. My husband isn’t such a big fan, although a few years ago we purchased one. It’s a tiny one with elephant shapes and it doesn’t make much noise. My sister has a larger one and it’s very melodious. Wind chimes sort of remind me of the xylophones we used to have at school. I wasn’t very good at playing them – I was more a recorder girl – but I liked the sound they made.

Do you like wind chimes? Do you have any at your place?

NEWSFLASH: Tomorrow, author JA Saare is my special guest. She is currently on a blog tour promoting her four upcoming paranormal releases and is giving away a $10 book voucher. That means if you comment on my blog, you have a chance of winning her blog tour prize. She is talking about What makes a good heroine? Is it a hard-assed Buffy or a soft-spoken Bella?”

Here’s the link to the details of JA’s full blog tour plus details of her four releases.

Mesa Verde National Park

Camera Critters

My husband and I always find the squirrels fascinating when we visit the US or other places that have them. We took this shot at Mesa Verde in Southwest Colorado. I’ve also included a photo of some of the ruins since this is why people visit this National Park. It really is an amazing place.

Photobucket

Mesa Verde, USA

To visit other Camera Critters go here.

Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater…

Our local farmers’ market has a giant pumpkin growing contest every year. This year I decided to buy some seeds and register. I gave some seeds to my father and sister, and my husband gave some seeds to both of his brothers. We’re all getting ready to plant our seeds and there has been much discussion about where to plant them. I mean, how big will they grow?

My father reckoned his pumpkins would grow big enough to use as houses for his pigs. The townie part of the family (that would be hubby and his brothers) are more worried about fitting the pumpkins in their gardens. So far we’ve planted the seeds in seedling containers, and we’re waiting for them to germinate.

Have you ever tried to grow giant pumpkins or other giant vegetables?

Raven Scavenger Hunt

It’s time for the annual Raven Scavenger Hunt. Click on the icon below to get to the offical Scavenger Hunt Page.

Raven Scavenger Hunt

You might win one of the following prizes:

Autographed book Dragons Prefer Blondes by Candace Havens
E-book from N.J. Walters’ backlist (winner’s choice)
E-book from Bianca D’Arc’s backlist (winner’s choice)
E-book from Candice Gilmer’s currently available backlist (winner’s choice)
Belong to the Night by Cynthia Eden (print paranormal romance anthology)
Tea for Two by Shelley Munro (print)
November ebook from Cobblestone – THE DEMON NEXT DOOR: ALI by Kate Austin
Forbidden: The Sacrifice (eBook copy) by Samantha Sommersby
Autographed print book from Shiloh Walker’s Backlist
E-book Divinity Warriors 1: Lilith Enraptured by Michelle M. Pillow
Mayan Secrets by Ciar Cullen (print US or Canada), ebook otherwise
E-book of Obsession (romantic suspense) by Sharon Cullen
Selkie Island by Jorrie Spencer
Autographed copy of Tempting Turquoise (print) by Amy Ruttan
Autographed copy of Hard Candy by Amanda Young
Adrienne (print) by D. Renee Bagby
Heart of the Volcano, ebook by Imogen Howson
E-book copy of Private Property by Leah Braemel
Furry, Fluffy & Wild (ebook anthology) by Nina Pierce
Venus In Blue Jeans (print) by Meg Benjamin
E-book copy of Lay Me Down in pfd format by Taige Crenshaw
The Forbidden Chamber (ebook) by Ella Drake
The Ghost Exterminator: A Love Story (ebook) by Vivi Andrews
Angelic Avenger (ebook) by Kaye Chambers