Monday, June 30, 2008

Redneck Tree Swing


Note the chic nylon suspension ropes and the Tiki torch for ambiance! Gotta love this decorating style.


Town doesn't matter. State doesn't matter. Region of country doesn't matter. Just pick any backwater Hicksville then drive oh, about 30 miles any direction, turn onto a gravel road follow until it turns into a dirt road, through the muddy bottoms, round the curve and there you'll have it. Or have this, I mean.

Every family has the relative who would or who has displayed something totally ridiculous in their front yard. I'm not referring to a pink flamingo (unless they put a whole flock in their yard.) No, this is a serious infraction (known in the country as an eye-sore) of decorating sense. Being from Texas and sporting our share of small towns, I've witnessed washers and dryers in the yard -- no, not hooked up to electric -- just in the yard, sometimes straight up, sometimes on their sides, and once upside down; decapitated campers; collapsed tents; RVs with flat tires; RVs with no tires; just the tires and no vehicle; rocking chairs; dining room tables; old suitcases; and bird baths of every description even one that looked like old boots.

So for those of us who have the relative that we're certain was abducted by aliens then returned for reasons everyone in the family can understand . . . know that you don't stand alone. The Redneck Tree Swing is all the evidence you need that there's a passel of hillbillies anywhere you go in the country.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

What's this? Another Harm's Way review? Wahoo!

Scrolling through the Wild Rose Press marketing information I found a brand-new review for HARM'S WAY.
Okay, any review is great, but the book has been out for a year and it's still drawing attention so in MHO that's pretty over the top great.

Thanks Tammy at Fallen Angel for reading HARM'S WAY and finding it worth your time to review.

Read the whole 4 ANGEL review -- it only take a few minutes, -- just click here: HARM'S WAY FALLEN ANGEL REVIEW.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Summer Fun . . .



The NT Critique Gang

Pictured are: Sherry, LA Mitchell, Andrea, Jayliss, and Delores . . . I'm shooting the shots, so alas no me!


The NT Critique Gang + lovely Candace Havens (author of the Charmed & Dangerous series). This shot was taken at LA Mitchell's book-signing. So much fun to sit with tea & coffee, and great cookies -- thanks Georgette (master book-seller at Barnes & Nobles) and great friends. Pictured are Andrea Geist, Sherry Davis (release of HERE COMES THE BRIBE from The Wild Rose Press this Friday), Candace Havens (new release LIKE A CHARM is out now), Delores Shaffer, and Mary (Jayliss) Karlick (winner of the 2008 Sandy award for best Young Adult fiction) Again, I'm clicking away so don't expect to see me in any of these photos.


Fun, fun and more fun with friends and great writers. RoseMary Clements-Moore (PROM DATES FROM HELL) joined us as well, and lovely Georgette sat for a bit while overseeing the book-signing. Great vacation plans and discussions for the upcoming RWA National convention to be held in San Francisco last week of July; loads of writing insight, a little agent news and tons of laughter -- I can't think of a better way to spend a Saturday.


Swing by my porch anytime. Rained here a bit last night -- okay, it was more of a summer deluge, so the temps are a little cooler and the humidity is way higher but the porch is always a lovely oasis and you're always welcome.


What are your summer plans?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Good news . . . no, wait, great NEWS!

This Friday, that's the 27th of June, one of my dearest writing buddies will release her first long contemporary from The Wild Rose Press.

HERE COMES THE BRIBE,
is a seriously funny romp between a too-busy, work-alcoholic, too-gorgeous-for-his-own-good boss who's totally in trouble with his family and his female assistant, who's saved him from drowning so many times it's become habit. When he once again dives into the deep end, it's up to this feisty heroine to keep him from going under for the third time. HERE COMES THE BRIBE is a great read at anytime of the day or night, and a perfect way to spend a little summer down time. Only don't expect to stay cool reading this great book, because the hero and heroine heat up the pages.

You can bet I'll be visiting The Wild Rose Press Friday morning to purchase my own e-book copy. The hardback version will follow later this year, and I'll be back to buy mine then. Oh yeah, I happen to know this author. Guess I'll just ask for my own autographed copy.

Can't wait to pop the cork on this cyber-celebration and read my own copy of HERE COMES THE BRIBE.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Wahoo! LA Mitchell's book-signing

Okay, it is really a book-signing for the anthology, Love, Texas Style, which is a great collection of short stories all written by member of North Texas Romance Writers of America chapter. (This just happens to be my home chapter.)

This group of authors has done a tremendous amount of promotional work behind this release and this is their 4th book-signing, but just happened to be the first one close to home. So much fun!

Pics of the signing

.
Pictured here are: (L to R)Arline Tood, Jen Fitzgerald, and Beth Shriver



More authors: (L to R)Marty Tidwell, Mary Malcolm, LA Mitchell, Nikki Hollaway


In addition, multi-published author Karen Whiddon (writes Romantic Suspense) was signing that day as well. Hi, Karen!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

How to Fold a Shirt



I'd love to take credit for this, but alas as this woman is speaking a foreign language (and for those who know me well, it's pretty obvious that English is all I can manage) I'll guess you realize that I didn't come up with this idea.

However,

this is a cool thing to learn.

Now, maybe this woman works in a clothing store. Maybe she has sixteen kids. Or maybe she simply wanted to find a faster way to fold a shirt.

What I can tell you is this technique works. Just this fast.

Enjoy!

And just imagine what you can do with all that time you save.

Oh, and disclaimer time -- I do NOT know what those symbols imprinted over the video feed mean. I don't speak this language, I don't read this language. So just enjoy learning how to fold a shirt, okay?

Swing on by my porch anytime. The tea is always cool and the fans are on high this time of year in Texas.

~Sandra

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Colors X 2

Several months ago, I delivered a short blog about COLORS and what they mean to a writer and a reader. A more fleshed article was submitted to my local RWA chapter and has since been picked up by the additional publications: Great Vancouver Chapter, WisRWA, Diamond State Romance Authors Craft Loop, Chicago-North Loop RWA, and MERWA eloop.

Since so many have enjoyed the elongated article, it's now here for your persual. Hope you find something worth use to enhance your writing.

The first box of Crayons was released in 1903 and sold for a nickel a box. All right, cool trivia tidbit, but is that all? Originally, only eight (8) colors were in the box: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, brown, and black – limited, even dull by current standards and certainly not enough to enhance the reading experience for today’s visually-bombarded reader. Colors have blossomed and bloomed in the past one-hundred years, and writers, just as Crayola did, need to expand their ‘color’ vocabulary.

Crayola has utilized buyer’s input to add, eliminate and re-invent color choices. Prussian Blue gave way to Midnight Blue in the 50s. Flesh became Peach during the Civil Rights movement in the 60s. Even Indian Red changed to today’s version of Chestnut. Each of these colors is a part of history and brings images to mind.

What about these colors?
Cotton Candy
Deep Sea Blue
Purple Heart
Fire-engine Red
Tar
Head-light White
Sunshine Yellow



Is there a heartbeat flash? A lightning strike of recognition? How many have never eaten Cotton Candy? Or at least been to a fair or a carnival and seen the sticky stuff? Word of caution: if the writing is destined for heavy distribution in overseas markets, not all of these words will work. For most readers, however, Cotton Candy is universal and provides instant color association. Even in a 95,000-word work of fiction, no writer wants to spend ten words to produce color recognition, when one or two will do. Consider options when describing shades. Use personal history. Each of the above images belongs to my background. What shades come from your history?

Still grappling with sensory perception? Here are a few more examples to get started (the last listing in each line belongs from my Crayola box):

Purple: plum, violet, lavender, lilac, Purple Mountain Majesty

Pink: orchid, fuchsia, shrimp, carnation, rose, blush, salmon, Wild Strawberry

Gray: steel, slate, iron, dove, metallic, silver, Timberwolf

Blue: sky, aqua, Bluebonnet, navy, periwinkle, Denim

Green: lime, sea-green, kiwi, celery, emerald, grass, avocado, leaf, Granny Smith Apple

Yellow: sunshine, lemon, banana, mustard, dandelion, SunGlow

Red: crimson, blood, Christmas red, auburn, scarlet, apple, terra cotta, Brick Red

Black: coal, ebony, asphalt, midnight, tar, ink, onyx, Outer Space

Here are a few extras thrown in:
Ghost, carrot, sienna, blueberry, blackberry, ocean, aqua, ruby, topaz, school-house red, fire-engine red, cinnamon, sand, clay. Be careful with this one. If you live in parts of west Texas, the color would be red clay (and dust – just ask a west Texan); if you live in north to east Texas, it would be the notorious black clay that dries to the durability of concrete; if dealing with modeling or sculpting clay, the color would be slate gray.

Are you getting the point that many tangible items come with inherent color recognition? Use those immediate connections to strengthen the reader’s enjoyment. Loss, sadness, joy, anger, and even love are images and emotions that can be enhanced by selecting the right color word. Purchase a box (super-sized) of Crayons, or an enlarged color wheel. Walk through the nearest market, the winery, the flower garden. Color descriptions will spring to mind. Spend a few moments reliving the past and thinking of shades that not only produce emotions, but bring back clear memories. Make a list of the combined efforts and keep it by the computer. Readers trust a writer to provide the most vivid journey into the world of make-believe possible. By choosing the right color word, writers can paint brilliantly hued words across the page and deepen any reader’s experience.

So spill those crayons across the page, and color your writing!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Summer Movies

Ooh, I just love summer for the laziness that comes embedded in the forever days. While some of you are sweating and working away -- whether under the blast of overworked A/C units or in the blaze of Texas sun -- a few of us find a certain moment each day when 'Summer Time' shows up. It's more a state of mind than an actual tick on the clock. It could show up first thing in the morning, when I'm trotting my dog around the block before the sun becomes ferocious. It could be late evening, when I'm swatting away mosquitoes and cussing the latest device I've purchased that guarantees 'nary a skitter for a mile' (apparently the ad companies idea of a mile and mine are a mite different). It could be mid-day when I'm headed to the water park to bake my feet on so much concrete and boil in the pretense of sun-block. But at least once a week or so, I find 'Summer Time' rolled into a movie.

The massive Hollywood producers swear their studios save the best films for when kids are loose from school and driving 'Miss Daisys' or alias their moms around the bend. Perhaps summer films are really better. Perhaps, we, Miss Daisys, are plain-and-simple more desperate to shoo the rugrats out of the house for awhile. And perhaps, sliding into the coolness of A/C that someone else is supplying and paying for, sucking in the tantalizing scent of buttered popcorn, and experiencing the thrill of low lights, loud sounds, and larger than life heroes and heroines makes summer movies so attractive. Whatever the combination, I'll admit to being drawn into the advertising scheme of those Hollywood producers.

This past week, my youngest daughter and I went to see IRONMAN. Robert Downy Jr. still has great eyes and does a decent job in this film and Gwyneth Paltrow has always been one of my favorites. The plot is predictable, but works fine. Actually, it does have a bit of that anti-war sentiment if one considers where part of the film takes place, but I liked the 'whole' higher-learning, we-can-become-more-than- what-we've-always-been angle. And the film wasn't preachy, if that's a concern. Robert Downy has a great character arc in this movie. Overall, it's just one of those fun summer films and the exact anti-dote for a hot Texas afternoon.

As it's Sunday afternoon, and the heat is still baking the ground, we're headed out to lite up the grill. Nothing fancy, nothing automated about our grill -- still done with a serious dose of lighter fluid and a box of kitchen matches at our house. Don't stand to close now, you hear.

But do come by the porch again soon. I'll be sipping something cool and chasing mosquitoes. They just love fresh meat.
~Until later,
Sandra

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Into summer

Terrible, terrible me, I really took this summer thing seriously and went to the beach (in my head) and sorta stayed there. So much for blogging every day.

However, fun things have been happening.

Last weekend, my CPs (Critique Partners alias TWBs or True Writing Buddies) and I took an awesome day-trip to a Psychic Fair. I know a few of you visit some other blogs who have written about this, so I'll try to find a different spin.

The Psychic Fair had Tarot and Majong readers, Astrologists, Numerologists, Psychics, and Aura photographers -- Side note please -- if you think getting a great candid snapshot is tough, try capturing some one's 'AURA' on film. Really, that whole what-hue-are-you? thing gets tricky. I'm sure there were several others in attendance as well, -- I forget, okay, it wasn't a memory fair. Bottom line is if you're looking to dabble in the psychic world, this was a great place to go. Me, I've never believed too much in the mystical hocus pocus so I dutifully double-parked my cynicism with the valet service and entered with a fairly open mind. I was secretly hoping to people watch. Come on, you gotta figure that there will be an odd eight ball or two at one of these conventions. Sorry, fellow people-watchers, there were just lots of normal folks hanging around.

It is pretty cool that you buy your ticket and step-in to sign up for a 'Reading'. I mean besides the library or a special event at the bookseller where you gonna find a 'Reading'.

I went to a Palmist (yes, that's a real word -- check it in Word Web if you don't believe me). This woman read my palm. Personally, I thought that made her a palm-reader, but apparently that makes her a licensed Palmist. At least I assume you need a license for touching and squishing around on some one's palm.

I've got to admit to an onset of nerves before my appointment time. You don't just walk in and take a seat. No, this is like scheduling an appointment to see your doctor or dentist, only you don't wait as long and they play better music than tired elevator trash. I had an hour to cool my heels and people watch (already mentioned that was a dud), so I simply tried to enmesh myself in the cosmic flow -- pick up vibes and that sort of stuff. I think my antenna was broken; I didn't even get a bad radio signal while I was waiting.

The time clicked away and then it was my turn. Wiping my sweaty palms on my blue jean skirt, -- who'd want to read sweat? Ick! -- I sat across from this incredibly innocuous creature. No fake French manicure, no high style hair-do, or swinging ear-hoops, dangling necklaces, nope, she could have been someone I pass in the Wal-Mart chasing down specials. Not a single thing on her screamed that she was drenched in psychic holy water.

However, she had nice warm hands, an awesome magnifying glass (gotta get me one of those) and a friendly smile.

Overall, did I learn anything new? Did she say anything that made me believe she could really tell something about me from the lines on my hands? Well, maybe.

My Fate line took a serious jar right as it encountered my Head line. What's that mean? According to my Palmist, at some point in my life I completely changed careers -- not one of the those refining exercises, nope, I jumped the track and caught a whole new train(career-speaking). Did she get that right? Yes, she did.

What else?

I have this funny little cross, almost in the middle of my palm. It's not formed by any of the major lines, but exists almost unto itself. According to my Palmist, I'm either in the medical industry {Nope, that would be wrong} or I would save someone at my own peril. As in someone who'd jump into flood waters to save a drowning person. Okay, without fire rescue equipment that would be pretty dumb, right? But I gotta tell, folks, without a doubt I have done dumber 'rescue' things in my life. I remember when that Washington plane went down in winter into the Potomac River. The passengers who survived the crash were freezing and drowning. Folks stood on the banks, ringing their hands and shouting at the rescue helicopters. Remember, that guy who shucked out of his coat and went into the water after that woman who'd lost her hook on the line? What he did made total sense to me. It wasn't a question of should, I just simply would have jumped in. Does everyone have this cross in the palm? No, they don't. Some folks come geared to be smart enough to wait on the bank for the rescue equipment, get blankets, warm up the people pulled to shore and help out a thousand other ways . . . but me, I'm a swimmer.

Anything else? Oh, yeah, my lifeline isn't very long. Maybe I looked a little panicked when she said that -- keeling over at her table from the shock to my heart would have been bad for business -- so she quickly reassured me that didn't 'exactly' mean I would die young. Swell, 'exactly' dying young might have been a little tough since I left young behind 10 years ago. Come on, did this gal think I was a spring chicken or something? Apparently low energy can also mean a short lifeline. However, I did get a little unnerved when she asked if I'd been sick recently. I definitely need to get my money back on this make-up brand. I mean if it looks like I'm recovering from an illness or headed to an early tombstone that should constitute for a refund, right?

Will this visit to the Palmist change my life's course? Alter my current attitudes and beliefs?

Well, I haven't rushed to change my will yet. It hasn't rained here in several weeks, so I'm pretty safe from flood waters, and as for my current career . . . I can't think of anything better than telling big ole' Texas tales and getting paid for it.

Drop my the porch anytime. I'll even show you my palm.
~Sandra

Texas sayings

~Watch your step! Cacti, tumbleweeds, and an occasional armadillo might be ahead.

~Welcome to the land of tar-bubbling summers, gas-guzzling pickup trucks, standard Stetson headgear, and mile-high hair.

~Welcome to the Lone Star State, and Romance With A Texas Twist!

Quote of the Day