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Archive for November, 2009

Time For a Rest

Camera Critters

This photo of a “Bambi” was taken at Bear Country. Mr. Elk looks very relaxed, chewing his dinner. The weed-like bits on his antlers is actually velvet that’s falling off.

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To see more photos visit Camera Critters

Where Do I Take My Date?

Thursday Thirteen

I picked up a fun book during my last visit to the library. It’s called Guide to Great Dates
by Paul Joannides and Toni Johnson and give details of places to go, an estimate of cost, the things you need to do to prepare ahead of time plus phone numbers and internet resources. I’ve chosen some of my favorites to include in my Thursday Thirteen this week.

Thirteen Places to Take a Date

1. Star Gazing – visit the local observatory and learn about the stars.
2. Never on a Sundae – go to a place that makes ice cream sundaes.
3. Making waves – go to the beach, watch the sun set and snuggle on a blanket.
4. Corn Maze Challenge – visit a farm with a maze and have fun getting lost.
5. Go fly a kite – build a kite together then go and fly it.
6. Renaissance Faire – hire costumes and visit a renaissance fair.
7. Go to a rodeo – he haw! Ride ‘em cowboy!
8. Visit a fortune teller or psychic – have your fortune read.
9. Hot Air Balloon Festival – get up early and watch all the balloons take off.
10. A drive-in movie – find a drive-in movie theatre.
11. The zoo – visit the zoo. Some zoos have special evenings or behind-the-scenes tours.
12. Play pool – go to a pool hall.
13. Factory tour – visit a jelly bean factory, a beer factory, a chocolate factory etc

And speaking of dating – one of the women who works with my sister has a father who has just entered a home for older people. She said to him jokingly that he’d be able to find a girlfriend. Her father said in a testy voice, “Have you seen the women in here?” I guess he won’t be going on a date anytime soon!

Do check out Guide to Great Dates because my list is a very brief summary of the ideas and details in this fun book.

What are some of your favorite places to go on a date?

It’s All About the Fizz

About two weeks ago, my sister told me about this new program she’d started watching on the Living Channel about organizing wardrobes and cleaning. My first thought was “Huh! There’s no way I’m getting excited about housework and cleaning!”

While our house is reasonably tidy, it’s not spotless. My opinion is that life is too short to obsess about a clean house. I tend to let things slide when I can, preferring to do fun stuff instead.

Fast forward a few days, and I was channel surfing. I came across the program called Lush House and settled in to watch it. Each week features a different family, along with their cleaning and organizational problems. They might have carpet stains, severe clutter, disorganized rooms, poor ventilation, problems in the garden and other cleaning nightmares within the house. Along comes Shannon Lush to solve all their problems. She uses natural methods of cleaning and dispenses lots of cleaning tips. By the end of the show the family and their pets are organized with their houses all spick and span.

I was fascinated with her basic cleaning supplies—all natural products and inexpensive. I thought about all the expensive cleaning materials underneath my kitchen sink and decided I’d try some of Ms. Lush’s methods. It wasn’t as if I was wasting a lot of money if they didn’t work.

During my next shopping trip, I purchased a packet of baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) and a bottle of white vinegar. What you do is sprinkle baking soda on the area to be cleaned then spray it with white vinegar. It makes a very satisfying hissing sound when the two items react, lifting dirt and grime at the same time. I was pleasantly surprised at the way it cleaned my sink and stovetop. I’ve also used the baking soda/vinegar to clean my oven with some success. The grime is a bit baked on in my oven so it will take two or three cleaning sessions, but it does work. The baking soda/vinegar can also be used to clean dishwashers, toilets, baths, and showers. I tell you it’s miracle stuff, and the child in me really enjoys the hiss and sizzle the baking soda and vinegar make when they react.

Here’s a link to the fact sheets and the various cleaning problems Ms. Lush has tackled to date.
Ms. Lush has also published several books on cleaning the natural way. I tell you—I’m a believer. I really like using the more natural products. It’s got to be better for the environment and it’s sure easier on the pocket!

Do you like housework? What is your favorite cleaning product?

I’m On Strike!

Camera Critters

This photo was taken at Bear Country in South Dakota, USA. Mr. Munro and I loved watching the bears because some of them were real characters. This one wasn’t letting any traffic past.

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To see more photos visit Camera Critters.

Sexy Pantyhose

Thursday Thirteen

Pantyhose are a fairly recent invention. Allen Gant invented the modern form of pantyhose in 1959, and a seamless version was manufactured by Glen Raven Mills in 1965. I wear them on occasion, but I’m not a fan. I find them uncomfortable, and because I’m tall it used to be difficult to get a pair to fit. These days they are made to fit different heights so it’s not such a nightmare. I still dislike wearing them though.

Thirteen Alternative Uses For Pantyhose

1. Use to clean taps.

2. Protect delicate items (such as lingerie and sequined clothes) in the wash.

3. Thread pantyhose through the arms of woolen jumpers when drying on the clothesline.

4. Use to clean ceiling fan blades – wipe the blades with damp pantyhose on a broom.

5. Grow alfalfa in a section of pantyhose about the size of a tennis ball. Mix equal parts of sawdust and alfalfa seeds and put them inside the pantyhose and tie off tightly. Sit it on a saucer on a windowsill, water regularly and trim the sprouts.

6. Clean pet bowls by wiping over them with damp pantyhose.

7. Use them to wash the car. Place pantyhose over the head of a broom and sweep over car.

8. Use them as hanging pots. Pack the bottom of leg with soil, add seeds and hang. This works best with lighter plants.

9. Polish chrome furniture to keep rusty spots at bay.

10. Remove soap scum with damp pantyhose.

11. Use to polish saucepans.

12. Use them to clean the fridge.

13. Use as a scourer for cleaning Teflon frying pans.

Source: A nifty book called Save – Your Money, Your Time, Your Planet by Shannon Lush & Jennifer Fleming

Do you like wearing pantyhose? How often do you wear them? Are pantyhose sexy?

Make-Believe Monday

I’m guest blogging with Debra Parmley today and talking about writing, books and Middlemarch. Here’s the link to my Make-Believe Monday post.

Laughing Hyena

Camera Critters

This week’s critter is a hyena and pup. This photo was taken in Kenya, and we stopped to watch the mother and three pups. Her burrow was right near the road. They’re not the prettiest creatures, but they are interesting to watch.

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Hyenas aren’t exactly common in romantic fiction. As it happens I’ve recently read Ilona Andrews’ novella Magic Mourns (part of the Must Love Hellhounds anthology) and the hero and heroine in her story are hyena shifters.

I’ve also used hyenas as part of the plot of Romantic Interlude, the third story in my Talking Dogs series. If you’d like an armchair journey to both New Zealand and Africa then this is the story for you.

This is the link to visit other Camera Critters.

Reviews & Sale (of sorts)

I really admire the people who review books–it’s a job I couldn’t do. I have to admit that before I wrote, I never read them. These days I read my own, of course, but I’ll usually flick through the other reviews that come through at the same time. A review doesn’t usually sway my purchases, but if I see lots of good reviews, sometimes I do get tempted to buy. I never search for reviews before I buy a book. Do you check out reviews before you purchase a book?

I’ve received reviews recently for House of the Cat and Make That Man Mine.

House of the Cat Make That Man Mine

Megan at Veiled Secret Reviews says, “With an abundance of lovable characters playing against a backdrop of stars and alien worlds House of the Cat is a rollicking thrill ride that will keep you turning page after page…With so many secondary characters steeling your heart and the mystery of Ry’s origins to unravel I can only hope that Ms. Munro plans another visit to the exciting world of House of the Cat.” 4 Dragons. Read the full review here.

Hockeyvamp at Bitten by Books says, “I was totally enthralled with this short novella from start to finish. The erotic play between the two main characters was both flirtatious and arousing. The perceptions of themselves as less than desirable because of the flaws they saw within themselves could be both accepted and desired by the other. I only wish that this had been a full length novel as the sexy and fun banter between the main characters was very entertaining.” 4 1/2 Tombstones. Read the full review here.

In sale news, my story Wild Child has been chosen as one of the stories in All Romance ebooks’s 28 Days of Heart charity campaign to benefit the American Heart Association. The stories will be released in February 2010 and Charlaine Harris, author of the Sookie Stackhouse series is doing the forward. Very exciting!

First Draft in 30 Days.

30_DaysAs a writer I’m always interested in craft books, and I’ve been meaning to pick up this particular one for a long time. The title—First Draft in 30 Days is a bit misleading because if you follow the methods prescribed you’ll end up with a very detailed outline rather than a first draft. Ms. Wiesner does state though that because you revise the outline so much before starting to write, the end result is more like a final draft, which will require only minor polishing before submission.

The first part of the book deals with preparation and the things the writer should do during thirty days. Days 1 – 6 are for the preliminary outline and include character, setting and plot sketches and a summary outline. Days 7 – 13 are for research. Days 14 – 15 are for story evolution, internal and external conflict etc. Days 16 – 24 are for a formatted outline where research, character and setting are incorporated into the outline. Days 25 – 28 are for evaluating the outline and days 29 – 30 are to revise the outline.

The book includes a series of worksheets for each day, which are helpful. They can be handwritten or done in a computer file.

The second part of the book shows how to incorporate the 30 day method when you have a completed manuscript or a partial one that is perhaps not working. There is also a section on setting goals for projects and book promotion.

One thing Ms. Wiesner stresses is the importance of brainstorming throughout the outlining process, which is something I agree with. She says constant brainstorming during your day means you’ll never sit down in front of a computer and wonder what to write.

I’ll admit that I’ve always been a determined pantser, but after reading Ms. Wiesner’s book I think I’ll try her outlining method. I’ve decided to plan a new story while I complete my current work-in-progress. I am a little worried about sticking to a rigid plan because I’ve always thought too much planning spoiled the story for me, so it will be interesting to see how I go during the next 30 days.

The methods outlined in this book will not work for all authors, but it is definitely worth reading.

First Draft in 30 Days by Karen S. Wiesner is available from Amazon.

Writers: Do you read craft books? Do you have any favorites that you reach for on a regular basis?

Readers: I’m always on the lookout for book recommendations, in particular young adult stories at the moment. What are you reading this week?

October Blog Participation Award

I’m a little late with this announcement. I swear the last time I looked it was still October!

Congratulations to RK Charron who wins a print copy of Tea For Two.



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