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Archive for January, 2011

Warning: An Unladylike Topic Ahead

Most days I go for a bike ride. It’s a great way to get out of the house and combat bottom spread–the writer’s curse. I think I suffer from a very mild form of hayfever or allergies because the minute I go outside my nose starts to run. It’s not enough to cause me distress, but when I’m exercising I tend to breathe through my mouth.

Picture this: Me calmly riding along on my bike with my mouth open and listening to my iPod.

Got the picture? Right. The minute I open my mouth it’s like an invitation to a Rave. The invitation spreads fast and far to every bug in the vicinity. They fly in like kamikaze pilots, diving bombing me to get to the party.

Now, we get to the unladylike topic of spitting.

Here’s what happens. A bug flies into my mouth. First I almost run my bike off the path. I’m choking and gasping and flapping my hands. Oh, good, I think. The bug didn’t get in. Then I feel it. The bug inside my mouth. I gag and splutter and attempt to spit it out. It’s still there. I gather up saliva, swish my mouth and do my very best spit. A great blob of saliva lands on my hand and I start laughing. Remember I’m still riding my bike? Right. I’m now chuckling like an idiot, wobbling down the path, and swiping my wet hand on my T-shirt. Oy!

When hubby reads this he’s gonna laugh. He’s always said I’m a girl when it comes to spitting. Personally I don’t think it’s a skill I need to learn, not unless I come back as a llama or a camel. Then I’ll be in real trouble.

BTW – today’s bike ride was a two-bug day.

How are your spitting skills?

Thirteen Things For Authors To Tweet About

Thursday Thirteen

I’m fairly new to Twitter, and I’m always wondering what to tweet about. I subscribe to The Book Marketing Expert newsletter and this week they included an article covering things for people to tweet about. Here are a few of them.

Thirteen Things For Authors to Tweet About

1. Teach stuff – teach a little mini-lesson on Twitter. Delve into your area of expertise or just talk about book publishing and how to get published.

2. Share sites or blogs that your followers would be interested in. Be their “filter” to new and exciting information.

3. Use Twitter as a news source: you can easily announce news both from your world (as long as it relates to your topic) and from the world of your expertise.

4. Tweet any good reviews your book gets, it’s always fun to share the good stuff!

5. Feed your blog through Twitter using Twitterfeed.com

6. Use YouTube to share helpful videos you think your followers will love.

7. Run a contest.

8. Ask for advice or ask questions that encourage responses.

9. Talk about the latest trends in your industry.

10. Review a product or book on Twitter.

11. Post an inspirational quote or message.

12. Follow big names in your market on Twitter: this will often bring in their followers too, and you want to see what the “big guys” are up to.

13. Widen your network – follow other Twitter folk, this will not only give you some ideas for your own “tweets” but it’s a great way to network with other writers or professionals.

Source: Reprinted from “The Book Marketing Expert newsletter,” a free ezine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques. http://www.amarketingexpert.com

Are you on Twitter? If so, what is your Twitter handle? (I’m @ShelleyMunro) What do you tweet about?

In Love and War by Suzanne Barrett

Today Suzanne Barrett is visiting to give us a taste of her recent release, In Love and War.

Timnagh, County Waterford, 1993

Irish dairy farmer, Meaghann Power, struggling to make ends meet, rents her converted castle keep to an embittered war correspondent wounded in Bosnia.

Quinn Lawlor has come to his ancestral homeland to heal and to be left alone. However, pragmatic Meaghann discovers much more than just her attractive-but-surly tenant’s body is in need of healing. What begins as indifference turns to fascination, and later, desire. But can their passion survive Meaghann’s own dark secrets?

‘But where can we draw water,’
said Pearse to Connolly,
‘When all the wells are parched away?’
‘O plain as plain can be
There’s nothing but our own red blood
Can make a right Rose tree.’
William Butler Yeats

Love and War“Well, my girl, you’ve done it, now!” Brid O’Donnell’s efficient voice sliced through the stillness inside the cheese barn, sharp as a knife through curd.

Meaghann Power straightened, wiped milk-spattered palms on her white apron, and turned toward her aunt. No secret remained long in the village, but the speed with which this particular news had traveled surprised even her. “What have I done, Aunt Brid?” she began.

Arms akimbo, the stout middle-aged woman loomed in the open doorway in a dripping yellow mackintosh. She smoothed wisps of rain-dampened hair from her eyes as moisture pooled beneath her on the barn’s concrete floor. Aunt Brid’s usually set features tightened into a disapproving frown. Outside the barn door, Ireland’s continual rain misted the hillside and ran in rivulets, forming a lake in the driveway.

Meaghann plunged her hands into the sink’s soapy water and groped for the wooden paddle floating on the surface. Please God, not another lecture. She drained the suds and refilled the sink, staring at her work-roughened hands. A paraffin heater in the corner hissed as a drop of water landed on its black enameled surface. Above her a string of incandescent bulbs cast a golden glow over the paint-peeled ivory walls.

“Done?” the older woman snapped. “You invite a single man to live with you, then act as if it’s nothing!” Brid’s voice rose several decibels. “The decent people of the parish won’t be seeing it that way, and neither do I. It’s not seemly for a single woman and a strange man to be livin’ together,” Brid clucked. “This sort of carry-on may happen in Dublin, but not in Timnagh. And not in my own family.” She punctuated her remark with an irate shake of her head.

Caught by a gust of wind, the door behind Brid creaked on its hinges, and Meaghann stepped to the threshold and wrenched it closed. Only then did she face her aunt. “We won’t be ‘living together’. He’s renting the keep. And he’s not a stranger. The Lawlors came from the village.”

Brid gave a humph, then moved to the dusty corner where the heater glowed. “Hardly! They left thirty-five years ago. Besides, you know nothing about him. If you’d come to your senses and take Seamus, you’d not be struggling to run this farm by yourself.”

Meaghann stiffened her jaw. Didn’t she have the Devil’s own troubles trying to keep the place from falling to bits around her without her aunt determined to foist onto her every available man under seventy? With a sigh, she lifted the washed utensils from the sink onto a towel. “Aunt Brid, the truth of the matter is, I don’t want to marry Seamus. I­ ” She paused, not waiting to give thought to her reluctance, then plunged on. “I…don’t want to marry anyone­least of all Seamus.” She’d wanted to marry once, but that was a long time ago. Then she could afford to dream, now…. Her jaw tightened and she picked up another utensil. Now there was just today, and an endless stream of work, which never quite got done.

Brid’s heavy arms criss-crossed her ample bosom. Ginger brows furrowed as she spoke. “The way I see it, you’ve little choice. I hate to remind you, but you’re growin’ no younger. Seamus is a good man, and a fine farmer.”

Meaghann whirled around, her hand wielding a three-foot paddle like a sword.
“Seamus McHenry is fifty-seven years old!”

Brid snorted. “Don’t see as how you can afford to be choosey, girl. You’re goin’ on for forty yourself.”

How well she knew. Noisily, Meaghann expelled her breath, at this point not caring if her frustration carried over in her voice. “You’ve been at this for the last three years. Give it up. Seamus doesn’t want a wife­he wants a mother for that brood of his. Five young ones and little Cara not out of nappies.”

Meaghann turned her back on her aunt and plunged the still-damp wooden paddle into the milk curd. She gave the curds another swirl, then, satisfied the culture was working, set the paddle on a plate. “I’m managing just fine, Aunt Brid. I don’t need a husband to help me run my farm.”

Bold words, she thought as she pushed the ribbed cuffs of her cardigan up her forearms. Fact was, she needed help in the worst way.

Jack Power’s daughter wasn’t one to crumble under a little adversity when keeping her farm meant everything­security, a sense of place­of continuity. She’d grown up here in Timnagh, seeing the cycle of life repeat itself again and again. She loved the welcoming acceptance a small, close-knit community offered, as well as the chance to grow old with those you loved.

But there were times when the load she carried threatened to crush her.

Purchase In Love and War

Suzanne Barrett spent part of a winter in Ireland researching In Love and War. She has published four books with Kensington. In Love and War, twice a Golden Heart finalist, is her second book for Turquoise Morning Press with four more releases scheduled for 2011.

The Latest Must-Have Fashion Accessory

We’ve had our puppy Bella for about two weeks now. She’s the cutest little thing, but she does tend to be a bit cheeky/naughty. When she gets excited she starts to bite. Since she still has her baby teeth, it feels like needles piercing the skin. We definitely want to dissuade her from this habit.

Author Kimberly Menozzi had an excellent hint in one of her recent Thursday Thirteen posts. She keeps a spray bottle filled with water to dissuade her kitten from biting and clawing. I was immediately taken by this idea, deciding it could work with a rambunctious puppy.

This morning Bella was really naughty during her walk. I was half a block from home and decided to return to get the spray bottle. I didn’t care if people laughed when they saw my giant blue spray bottle. All I wanted to do was get her to stop biting both me and the lead.

The spray bottle works a treat. All I have to do is show it to her now and she stops biting furniture or people.

Blue Spray Bottle

Really, a bright blue spray bottle is the very best of fashion accessories for the discerning puppy owner!

Do you have any puppy (or kitten) tips?

I’m visiting Rhonda Print’s blog today. Rhonda did an interview with me and I’m also giving away a download of A Discreet Affair to one commenter. Here’s the link to Rhonda’s blog

Make Your Own Hand & Foot Scrub

During our last holiday one of the special activities on board the cruise ship was making beauty products using items from the pantry.

Below is one of the recipes:

Sweet Brown Sugar Scrub

1 part milk
4 parts brown sugar

Mix the sugar and milk together.

Apply to hands, scrub and rinse. This scrub makes the skin soft yet avoids the use of artificial ingredients. You can also use on elbows, feet, knees and other rough skin. Replace the milk with cream to make an extra silky, rich scrub.

Thirteen Variations of James

Thursday Thirteen

Character names have been on my mind this week since I’m starting to percolate a new story in my head. It struck me when I was searching through my baby naming book how many variations there were of some names. Take James, for example. James is a nice strong name. In fact I’ve used it once already in Fancy Free. Here are some variations.

Thirteen Variations of James

1. Diego (Spanish)

2. Giacomo (Italian)

3. Hamish (Scottish)

4. Hemi (Maori)

5. Iago (Spanish)

6. Jacques (French)

7. Jago (Cornish)

8. Jaime (Spanish)

9. Seamus (Irish)

10. Shamus (Irish)

11. Jay – a diminutive

12. Jem – a diminutive

13. Jim/Jimmy – a diminutive

An extra – Jamieson – the son of James

Writers – how do you choose names for your characters? What are your favorite sources for names? What is your favorite variation for James?

Lazy Weekend Fun….

We decided it’s never too early to start getting our new puppy used to traveling in the car and went for an outing to our local Botanical gardens. Bella had a ball exploring, despite the heat of our summer.

Botanic Gardens

This is Bella exploring one of the rose gardens.

Botanic Gardens

I really liked this lily. I thought it was very pretty and took a photo or two.

Botanic Gardens

A wedding party turned up as we arrived. It was a Samoan wedding with a huge number of attendants. There were six bridesmaids plus groomsmen along with flower girls and little boys dressed in suits. The groomsmen wore black trousers and had lavender vests to match the bridesmaids’ dresses.

What did you do during your weekend?

New Zealand: White Island

White Island, NZ

White Island, NZ

White Island is one of New Zealand’s volcanoes—the most active one. The island is privately owned and was once mined for sulfur. I’d never seen White Island before and was looking forward to our visit. We had perfect weather and the volcano puffed out a little steam for us. Part of the crater has collapsed, allowing views of the inside. The cruise ship sailed around the island several times allowing 360 views.

Puppy Power!

We picked up our new puppy from the Humane Society tonight. She’s a Jack Russell X and is fifteen weeks old.

puppy,dog

She only has one speed—fast!

puppy,dog

Her name is Bella and she’s very cute.

puppy,dog

Recipe: Delicious Rice Bubble Goodies

This is a recipe from my childhood. It was a favorite – both to eat and to make.

Rice Bubble Goodies

Rice Bubble Goodies

1 stick butter (4 oz)
1 cup sugar
8 oz chopped dates
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg beaten
1 cup chopped nuts – I like walnuts
2 cups Rice Krispies
coconut

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the sugar, dates, vanilla and the beaten egg. Stir together and cook on the stovetop for a few minutes until you have a thick golden mixture and the dates are soft. Remove from the heat and cool. Once mixture is cool add the nuts and the Rice Krispies. Form into small bite-sized balls and roll in coconut.

Enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee.



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