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Friday, December 12th, 2008
Scrapbooking with Amy

I’m really excited about my guest blogger today. I met Amy W online through our mutual love of books, reading and paranormal romances. She’s also a digital scrapbook designer and does the most amazing projects. Today she’s taking us through the basics of digital scrapbooking and also has a special surprise gift for us. I’ll leave you in Amy’s hands, and if you have any questions just ask them in the comments section.

Hello everyone my name is Amy W. You may have seen me here from time to time commenting on Shelley’s entertaining blog and begging her for more Middlemarch books (I love that series!). First off I want to thank Shelley for inviting me to guest blog, it’s my first time and a great honor. That being said I’m not a writer, just an avid reader, I am digital scrapbook designer. “What’s a digital scrapbook?” I know that question just popped into your head right now. If you are at all familiar with traditional paper scrapbooks, then know that digital is just a way of creating those same lovely scrapbook pages on a computer. And if you’re not familiar with them, then we make photos look really pretty.

Let’s talk about scrapbooking for a minute. People scrapbook to preserve memories in a special way. Rather than just putting photos into an album, a scrapbook page draws the viewer into the memory. These pages are rich with color, detail and wonderful journaling. Each page is a work of art lovingly created by a scrapbook artist. Every piece put on a page is carefully chosen to reflect the theme, colors and feeling of the photos and moment. They can be breathtaking to see when finished. I have seen pages that made me feel the fun and adventure of a 6 year olds birthday party, the sorrow of a loved one missing, the love shared by a couple at their wedding or their 50th anniversary and a parent’s pride on graduation day for their child. A scrapbook is filled with moments of time captured forever not just in a photo but in a one (or two) page story of visual richness.

Now let’s talk more specifically about digital scrapbooking. I chose to create digital scrapbooks versus paper scrapbooks for a few reasons that you may understand:

1. I don’t like cleaning up the mess after creating a page. Bits of paper and ribbon are everywhere. Plus have a small child who likes to get into things. It’s so much easier to just save a file, then to clean up and put away traditional materials.

2. I can reuse supplies and kits as many times as I want and I never run out of letters in an alphabet, just copy and paste the files over and over again.

3. I can resize, crop, change to black and white, sepia tone or reuse my digital photos however I choose and as often as I want.

4. Digital scrapbooks are more cost effective (cheaper) that traditional. There are many scrappers out there who create pages to share entirely for free.

5. The ease of which I can share my special memory with friends and family, either via the internet or with printed products.

Overall I believe digital scrapbooking is just easier than traditional. But I still on occasion like to play with stickers, glitter and ribbons, so I do some hybrid scrapping. Hybrid scrapbooking is where you combine traditional paper scrapbooking with digital. Print out a digital card or a gift box. Grab those stickers, bows, ribbons and glitter off the shelf and create a wonderful creation that uses both scrapping styles. There are a variety of programs that can be used to create digital scrapbooks and they run from free to expensive. There are also a tremendous number of designers giving away digital scrapbook supplies, or freebies, every day. You can also go into an online scrap shop and buy the perfect kit for your special occasion. (Please stop by mine and take a peek. digibydesign.com)

Now, since you’ve all read this far though my explanation of digital scrapbooking I’ve got a special treat for you. Here is a file with 3 Christmas Bragbook Goodies inside. Download it and you’ll find inside Christmas cards for you to print and create. We call them bragbooks because the 4×6 inch size is standard for photo prints and easy to show, share or simply brag about. The first bragbook is a simple card that you print and then fold to give to a loved one. If you want to jazz it up think about adding glitter, stickers or bows to it. The second project is called a quick page, for this one you’ll need a photo to put in the empty spot and you’re done…a quick scrap page. Both the card and quick page can easily be used with either MS Word or Outlook to print or share via email. Lastly is a digital layered template, or a jumpstart, for those of you who already know how to digitally scrapbook.

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You can download your Christmas Bragbook Goodies HERE.

Enjoy the goodies and have a Happy Holiday Season!
Amy W.

P.S. Don’t forget to take lots of pictures over the holidays so you can scrapbook them later!

Sunday, December 7th, 2008
Black Eyes and Fat Lips

Mr. Munro went fishing this weekend with a friend. He dropped a stainless steel bucket overboard, and when he jumped into the water to retrieve it, the boat moved. He ended up with a fat lip and several scrapes and bruises. He rang me most perturbed because it was interfering with his beer drinking. Men!

I still have a black eye and numerous bruises from falling off my bike last week. I tell you, people are going to start talking about us and the things that go on in the privacy of the Munro home. Has anyone else had a black eye? I want to know how long I’m going to need to walk around looking like this. At least I’m colorful…

We went for a quick walk tonight with the dog. It was later than normal and everyone had turned on their Christmas lights. It was very pretty. My favorites are the colored lights that look like icicles. We never put up lights but it’s fun going for a walk this time of the year to indulge the inner child.

It’s my birthday tomorrow. It’s actually on 8th December but because we’re 13 hours ahead in NZ my birthday is also on the 7th if you live in the US. Confused? LOL I’m off to the zoo to see the tigers and do some research for my next Middlemarch Mates book. I’m looking forward to seeing the new tiger cubs. Auckland has a great zoo and I always enjoy my visits. I’m meeting hubby later in the day and we’re going out for dinner. No cooking or housework for a day. It sounds like a good idea to me.

Do you put up Christmas lights? And if so, what sort? Has anyone else been accident prone during the last week?

Friday, December 5th, 2008
A Visit to Banff National Park

My special guest today is Barbara Martin who lives in Canada. I met Barbara online and love visiting her blog because it’s always interesting. On each visit I learn something about wildlife, history or beauty spots in Canada. She writes dark fantasy, short stories and flash fiction. Today Barbara gives us an opportunity to visit a beautiful spot in Canada, Banff National Park. Once again, I think you’ll need your warm clothes for this visit, although the pool looks inviting.

Thank you, Shelley, for this opportunity to provide a post during your birthday month.

This post is on my favourite vacation location in Canada, Banff National Park in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta. Every summer during my young formative years my family would come here to enjoy the sights and excursions, as my mother had done during her childhood.
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Thursday, December 4th, 2008
Flirting: Fun Human Interaction

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Things about FLIRTING

1. Flirting – according to Wikipedia flirting is a form of human interaction between two people, expressing a romantic and/or sexual interest. It can consist of conversation, body language, or brief physical contact. It may be one-sided or reciprocated.

2. Flirting is used as a means of expressing interest or gauging the other person’s interest in courtship or even casual sex.
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Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008
Research with Monica Burns

My special guest today is author, Monica Burns. If you enjoy historicals and haven’t had a chance to read either Mirage or Dangerous, I suggest you grab a copy from Samhain Publishing today. I enjoyed both books very much and can’t wait for Monica’s next release. BTW, both Mirage and Dangerous are EPPIE finalists, which doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. Over to Monica now who is talking about research and a little about Egypt.

I love everything Egypt. It’s drawn me to it since I was a kid. One of these days. I hope to gather up the courage to visit this fascinating country. You see, I have a great fear of snakes, which is the main reason why I’ve not made a serious effort to tour this wonderfully sensual and exotic land. But just because I can’t go there in person, doesn’t mean I have to stay at home in my head. I have written two books now with Egyptian themes. Dangerous and Mirage. In both of these books are Egyptian cults, mysticism, and ancient artifacts are used in the plot. In Dangerous, my book is set in Victorian England at a time when spiritualism and all things Egyptian were at their height.
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Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008
The Boredom Factor

Author Kaye Manro had a good post at her blog last week about opening lines in novels. As authors we’re told first lines are important, and we should work at making them perfect.

While I go along with this advice and try to make my first line intriguing, it made me wonder. I used to finish reading every book I started. I’ll admit there might have been times when I skimmed toward the end of the book, but I finished reading it.

These days my personal reading time is valuable. Heck, if I’m truthful, I don’t have personal reading time because I’m always analyzing how other writers do things. When I pick up a new book to read, I tend to give the author one to three chapters to grab my attention. If I’m not interested by then, the book goes and I move onto the next. I’m not that faithful reader any more. LOL – I guess I tend toward the slutty kind. If I’m not hooked I move on to the next and the next until I find one that satisfies my needs.

I’d also like to say that we’re all different. There’s one author everyone seems to like. I find her here. I find her there. I find her everywhere. On blogs, that is. Yet her books just don’t grab me. What works for one reader doesn’t necessarily work for another.

What about you? How long do you give an author to make an impression on you, the reader? Do you give them the first line? The first paragraph? The first chapter? How forgiving are you as a reader if the first line doesn’t hook you in?

Saturday, November 29th, 2008
Broken.

Due to a fault at an Auckland substation thousands of Aucklanders were without Internet access last night and today. I was one of the thousands and have suffered through the 24 hour downtime with great impatience. I dislike my ISP. I’d change if it wasn’t such a huge hassle.

Hubby and I went to do our shopping today. Hubby made me wear my sunglasses and suggested that I wear jeans. I wore shorts and took off my glasses in the glasses place so they could fix a bit that had fallen off. No one said a word, although they kept taking furtive looks at my very colorful eye. If anything my black eye looks worse than it did when I first fell off my bike and cut it – sort of purple, red and now a bit of yellow creeping in. As I said – colorful.

I’m blogging at the Samhain blog on Saturday morning. My post is about Women Taking a Stand. All will become obvious when you read my post. Here’s the link.

Thursday, November 27th, 2008
A Contemporary Read

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Contemporary Romances I’ve Read Recently

I’m going through a contemporary blitz at the moment and thought I’d share what I’ve been reading. I enjoyed all the following books but have noted my extra favorites. I’m also after some sympathy. I did a header over the handle bars of my bike yesterday and collected almost enough ouchies to do a separate TT. I even have a very impressive black eye and a dashing cut above my eye. I need virtual hugs!

1. Sexiest man Alive by Diana Holquist.

2. Catch of the Day by Kristin Higgins. This was written in first person and hooked me in from the start. I thought the heroine made a few stupid decisions but it was still a good read.

3. Virgin River series by Robyn Carr. I love this series and can’t wait for the three back-to-back releases coming out early next year. I loved the characters and really invested in them. I feel like they’re family.

4. Irresistable by Susan Mallery. This is also part of a good series. I have two more books waiting on my to-read pile.

5. The Laws of Attraction by Sherryl Woods. This was a category. I’m going to pick up some of her single titles when I get a chance.

6. Sweet Surrender by Maya Banks. I really enjoy Maya’s writing and can’t wait to pick up some of her others.

7. Rough, Raw and Ready by Lorelei James. I mentioned this book in my menage a trois TT. Lorelei did an awesome job with this book and it’s one of my favorites of her series.

8. Seduction of Shamus O’Rourke by NJ Walters. This has just come out in print. I fell in love with Shamus. He’s such a great hero!

9. Flashpoint by Jill Shalvis.

10. The Darker Side of Pleasure by Eden Bradley. I love Eden’s writing. I’m a huge fan.

11. Asking for Trouble by Leslie Kelly.

12. Sarah’s Seduction by Lora Leigh. I read the first in this series, Marly’s Choice a while ago. It’s not an easy series to read because it deals with abuse, but Lora does a great job making the reader care for the characters.

13. The Stranger by Portia Da Costa. This is what I’m reading at the moment. I’ve read a couple of Portia’s books and always enjoy them.

As you can see, I read a real mixture. Some hot and some not. Some are category while others are single title. Do you like contemporary romance? If so, have you read any good ones recently?

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Wednesday, November 26th, 2008
Naming Names.

I saw this ad on TV the other day. It’s from my favorite New Zealand store, Whitcoulls, and it made me laugh because this name problem has been me for the last three weeks. Today, I sat down and toughed it out, choosing names in much the way this couple did. In fact, I used the very same baby naming book to work out character names for my new work in progress.

How do you choose names for your characters? How did you name your kids?

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008
Kiwis Flee The Nest

Last month, a record number of New Zealanders left the country to move to Australia in the hope of finding a new and better life. On average around 700 people leave New Zealand each week.

We had elections this month. My husband and I haven’t been happy with the way our government was running things, and thankfully, many NZers agreed. A new prime minister was signed in at the end of last week, and he’s currently at the APEC meeting in Peru.

I love my home country. We have a lot going for us. Of course, things are tough at the moment, as they are in other parts of the world. If the government hadn’t changed hubby and I would have looked at our options very carefully.

So, my question to you is: If you had the option and didn’t have ties, would you consider moving to another country? And if you would move, which country would you choose?