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Tuesday, July 14th, 2009
Pasta

When we were in the supermarket at the weekend, hubby and I debated purchasing some fresh ravioli. We decided it was too expensive and thought that maybe we should try making our own. Tonight hubby searched through our recipe books, made the pasta dough and filled it with ricotta cheese, spinach, pumpkin, nutmeg and a little cheddar cheese. We don’t have a round cookie cutter so it was difficult cutting out circles of the pasta dough. In the end, we did squares or triangles. Cooking them was easy, and although we worried about the filling squirting out while they boiled, this didn’t happen.

End result: They were delicious, although next time we’d try to roll the dough a bit thinner. We had a little of the filling over and that’s for tomorrow night’s dinner – we’re putting it inside jacket potatoes.

Have you ever made your own pasta? Do you like pasta, and if so, what’s your favorite kind?

Monday, July 13th, 2009
The Egg-Timer Method

I don’t know about you, but there are times when I’m terrible at procrastinating and my usual “Just Do It” attitude hides at the bottom of the garden. It can be writing procrastination or housework related or perhaps the ironing pile. When I find things are out of control, and I’m not getting anything done, I turn to my trusty egg-timer. (Actually, it’s the oven timer but either works)

So here’s my hint for people who are having trouble fitting writing into a busy day or aren’t getting certain hated household chores done. Set your timer for half an hour and write this entire time or iron or whatever chore you’ve put off. It might be difficult at first, but do keep it up because gradually you’ll get past the procrastination. Half an hour passes quickly, and you’ll be surpised how much you’ll get done if you’re focused and concentrating. You can also apply this to children – perhaps they can tidy their rooms for half an hour while you’re writing. No? Okay, I’m good but not a miracle worker!

What strategies do you use to counteract procrastination?

Sunday, July 12th, 2009
Standing Tall

Camera Critters

My animal this week is a giraffe. This particular photo was taken in Kenya, I think at Samburu National Park. We were also able to visit the giraffe center near Nairobi during a different trip. I still remember feeding the giraffes. It was amazing, although their tongues were sort of sticky! If you’d like to see a photo of me feeding a giraffe, follow the photos link above to take you to some of my other photos.

Photobucket

To find other Camera Critter photos, follow this link.

Thursday, July 9th, 2009
Bottoms Up!

Thursday Thirteen

My Thursday Thirteen today is inspired by the Drinking and Drunkenness section of Marc McCutcheon’s Building Believable Characters. (And it had nothing whatsoever to do with my grump in the previous post!)

Thirteen Drink Related Descriptions and Symptoms

1. Inebriated
2. Tipsy
3. Stagger
4. Excessive
5. Swill
6. Soused
7. Pickled
8. Giddy
9. Stupor
10. Headache
11. Double Vision
12. Brawl
13. Guzzle

If you wanted to describe a drunken hero or a tipsy heroine which words would you choose?

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009
Stress!

Thursday Thirteen

I’m feeling a little out of control this week, so I thought I’d explore the topic of stress.

Thirteen Things about Stress

1. Stress is your bodies natural response to danger or threats.

2. Your nervous system responds by releasing a flood of stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones rouse the body for emergency action. Your heart pounds faster, muscles tighten, blood pressure rises, breath quickens, and your senses become sharper.

3. These physical changes increase your strength and stamina, speed your reaction time, and enhance your focus – preparing you to either fight or flee from the danger at hand.

4. Modern living can be so fast-paced and full-on that stress becomes part of the everyday life.

5. In small doses, stress is good. When stress is a constant factor, your body and mind pay the price.

6. Long-term exposure to stress can lead to serious health problems. Chronic stress disrupts nearly every system in your body. It can raise blood pressure, suppress the immune system, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, contribute to infertility, and speed up the aging process. Long-term stress can even rewire the brain, leaving you more vulnerable to anxiety and depression.

7. Stress can cause a lot of damage so it’s important to know your own limit.

8. A network of supportive friends and family members buffers against life’s stressors. The more lonely and isolated you are, the greater your vulnerability to stress.

9. Managing stress is about taking charge: taking charge of your thoughts, your emotions, your schedule, your environment, and the way you deal with problems.

10. Spend time with the people you love and don’t let your responsibilities keep you from having a social life.

11. Relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing activate the body’s relaxation response, a state of restfulness that is the opposite of the stress response.

12. Physical symptoms can include: Aches and pains, Diarrhea or constipation, Nausea, dizziness, Chest pain, rapid heartbeat, Loss of sex drive, Frequent colds.

13. Top Ten Stressful Life Events – Source: Holmes-Rahe Life Stress Inventory

Spouse’s death, Divorce, Marriage separation, Jail term, Death of a close relative, Injury or illness, Marriage,
Fired from job, Marriage reconciliation, Retirement

Source: Understanding Stress

My favorite things to do to destress are spending time with my hubby, because he makes me laugh, and exercising – either walking or cycling or boxing on the Wii or walking the dog. I also like to bake cakes and listen to my iPod. :grin:

What is your favorite way to destress?

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009
Cry Mercy with Toni Andrews

Cry Mercy

Today my special guests are Toni Andrews and Mercy Hollings, the heroine of Toni’s new release, Cry Mercy. I interviewed Mercy and this is what she said…

Toni is giving away a copy of Cry Mercy. All you need to do to enter the draw is comment on this post. (Note – I’m a little late posting this for Toni and Mercy so I’ll choose the winner on 25 June)

Toni’s web site
To receive a signed book plate send a Self Addressed Stamped Envelope here
Toni’s Blog
Toni’s TV show
Cry Mercy Trailer

Links to purchase the book:

Mira Books (discounted while they last!)
Amazon Link
Amazon UK Link
Barnes and Noble
Indigo Books (Canada)
Rendezvous Romance (Australia)

Monday, June 22nd, 2009
Reading Roundup

I haven’t mentioned books and reading for some time. I’ve read some excellent books recently that have really stayed with me, and with every one of them it’s been the characters that have grabbed me by the throat. It’s also interesting to note that three of the four books below are written in first person. I’d highly recommend any of the following:

Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas – I always used to read Ms. Kleypas’ historicals, but after historical burnout I hadn’t picked up one of her books for ages or tried her contemporaries. This is the third contemporary set in Texas and featuring members of the Travis family. I hadn’t realized this was a series of sorts and as usual picked up the books out of order. They are written in first person. I started reading quite late and had problems putting the book down. I liked the two main characters, Ella and Jack and their interaction and the plot moved smoothly. There was some great dialogue too. I liked it so much I went looking for the first two books and ordered them online. This particular story is only available in hardcover as yet and was borrowed from the library. I think I’ll be buying a copy in paperback when it comes out because I liked it that much.

Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews – This is book three in the Kate Daniels series, an urban fantasy rather than a romance. I think this series gets better and better with each book. I loved the interplay between Kate and Curran. Once again, it was the characters that grabbed me, although I like the interesting plots in this series. This one contains some Indian mythology.

The Education of Madeline by Beth Williamson – This is Beth’s first NY published book, set in the American West. I liked the characters, although I have to say that the plot didn’t ring true with me. This didn’t stop me devouring the book, and I could be wrong because I’m not an expert in American history by any means! I’m not going into detail because that would mean spoilers. Beth has another book coming with some of the characters she introduced in this book. I’ll be snapping the second book up when it comes out.

Hard Fall by James Buchanan – this is a gay romance. It’s written in first person and is about a Mormon cop who is in the closet. He falls for an ex-con and while investigating a murder, his secret comes out, creating havoc in both is personal and business lives. Joe, the main character is interesting, and I liked the glimpse of the Mormon faith. This is an excellent read.

What books have you read recently? Do you have any recommendations?

Sunday, June 21st, 2009
Bear Necessities

Camera Critters

Photobucket

This photo was taken at Bear Country in South Dakota. We wanted to make sure we saw plenty of bears and this is a black bear. As well as bears we saw bison, moutain lions, and otters to mention a few. To visit other Camera Critters go here.

Thursday, June 18th, 2009
Lie to Me

Thursday Thirteen

Mr. Munro and I have been watching Lie to Me, a show where they use body language and facial expressions to solve a crime. I haven’t heard much buzz about the show online, but we really enjoy it, and for a writer, it’s pure gold. I especially like the way they integrate body language from well known people such as past presidents and celebrities.

Here’s an intro to the show if you haven’t seen it:

Thirteen Anxious/Impatient/Nervous/Tense/Fearful Expressions

1. Clear throat

2. Rapid eye blink

3. Wide eyes

4. Perspire – palms, face, neck, armpits (cold sweat)

5. Tense lips, neck, shoulder muscles

6. Raspy voice (unable to speak)

7. Pale skin

8. Wet lips with tongue/touch lips with finger

9. Bobbing/jumping Adam’s Apple in male

10. Dilated pupils

11. scratching, rubbing, pinching or holding parts of the body

12. Clenched fists

13. Flaring nostrils

Source: my thirteen was taken from an article on Cerridwen author Joanna Waugh’s website. Here’s the link to her list of Body Language Cues to Emotion. Joanna also has heaps of links and resources for the historical writer.

Have you seen the show Lie For Me? If not, do you watch crime shows and which ones are your favorites?

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009
TSTL and Whiney

I read a review today about a book I’ve read. The reviewer said the heroine was whiney and didn’t act her age. That didn’t come through for me when I read the book. I know reviews are subjective, but it made me start thinking.

What qualities does a good heroine possess?

I know most of you are going to mention the “too stupid to live” heroine. No one likes a heroine who consistently does stupid things such as walking down to the cellar to investigate noises when she’s been told not to go down to the cellar. But is it all right for a heroine to make a silly mistake if she learns from it and deals with the consequences? My answer would be yes. It’s the heroine who consistently makes stupid choices that drives me nuts.

I like an intelligent heroine, one who knows what she wants or failing that, decides what she wants during the course of the book. I want her to make choices, and if they’re bad ones to learn from them. I want her to have the strength of character to deal with the consequences of her choices. I want her to play nice with others, yet stand up for herself if a bully confronts her. I want her to show some passion and not be afraid to love. If she’s been hurt in love before, I want her to grow and become willing to take chances again because this is after all, a romance.

I want her to have pride in her appearance without being vain. I’d like her to be confident with her body and to remember that a person’s attitude makes them sexy. Sure, people judge by appearances, but it’s personality that drives an attraction.

I don’t mind a little whining, but “woman up” and deal with the situation after the whining. Don’t keep stomping on that whining button! I don’t expect my heroine to be perfect. None of us is perfect and our heroines shouldn’t be either. Integrity is good and above all, a heroine should be consistent so she doesn’t come across as a flake.

And lastly, I want her to be kind to animals. I have a soft spot for animals and like heroines who have the same interest.

Two of my favorite heroines include Eve Dallas created by JD Robb and Mercy Thompson created by Patricia Briggs. Both are strong women, both have integrity. It’s interesting to note both are in series. Possibly that’s why they’ve made such an impact on me.

What qualities do you think a heroine should have? Which flaws can you forgive? Who are some of your favorite heroines?