Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Puppy Plays Dress-Up

When you have little girls in the house along with a new puppy, playing dress-up is inevitable. Midget had her first introduction to the wonders of make-believe during a recent sleepover.

The girls had her try on several different outfits... she didn't like wearing the sunglasses at all, but smiled as they tied scarves around her body and shimmied her into a purple tutu.

She was a good sport, but it helped that she was able to observe the Master of Doggie DressUp and learn tolerance by example.

Madison has been playing dress-up now for three years. Boas and leopard prints are her favorites.

She'll even wear the glasses.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Ghost Tale for Tuesday

And speaking of haunted places to visit on your next trip to Cape Cod...

The Orleans Inn ( is supposed to be haunted. Very haunted.

Don't stay in Room #5. Two former employees hanged themselves at either end of the house, one in the basement and one up in the cupola. Two different guests have gone insane while staying at the Inn overnight.

Originally built in the 1800s, it was known as "Aaron's Folly" because Aaron Snowe took so long to build it, and sunk so much money into it.

A hang-out for gangsters and gun molls in the Roaring 20s, it was apparently known then as the place for bootleg gin and easy women, one of whom is still there and likes to parade naked around the Inn. Yes, she's a ghost. A naked ghost.

The current owners know about all the ghosts and have come to terms with living amongst the dead. The Orleans Chamber of Commerce tipped off the Ghosthunters from the SyFy channel, who featured the Inn on last week's Wednesday night show, entitled "Inn of the Dead." Not too over the top, eh?

Inn of the Dead on the SyFy network:

Inn of the Dead coverage in the local newspaper:

Monday, April 26, 2010

Puppy Visits the Lake

All of our dogs have learned to swim in Chatham's Schoolhouse Pond. My husband spent his childhood summers in a cottage on the shore, which his mom still owns.

It's a kettle hole pond, common on Cape Cod, and really more of a lake in size. Usually there are sandy beaches, but with the unusually wet winter and spring, the water is the highest I've ever seen it.

When Midget showed an interest in the ocean last week, my husband said, "We should get her over to the lake." There was a break in the clouds on Sunday, and we loaded the dogs into the minivan.

Her first reaction was one of confusion. Where were the waves? Where are the shells and crabs to chew on? And then she took a tentative drink - she was excited to find the lake water tasted good, and drank a few gallons before jumping on in.

The lake doesn't offer sandy beaches or spider crabs, but the tall grasses and cattails make excellent hiding spots, as the puppy tried to sneak up on the bigdogs to steal tennis balls.

We loaded wet and happy dogs back into the van. The puppy may not have learned to swim, but she really loves the lake.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday Reading

Okay, so I read an intellectually stimulating book this week, and I totally need to recommend it to anyone who'll listen to me.

I received it as a hardcover for Christmas (and put off reading it for fear of messing up my own WIP.) It's now available as both a Kindle on Amazon and in paperback. It's award winning. And it's a debut novel that will make you cry in envy if you're a writer.

The story is set in the post WWII South. Black soldiers trained and fought in Europe, defending America's interests. Instead of being greeted as heros, they came home to find all the old prejudices that they left behind.

All of the returning soldiers, black or white, came home with inner demons. Women's roles in America were changing, and expectations were caught between the old and new, especially in the South.

The novel is told with rotating viewpoints, each chapter heading is the name of the narrating character. It may be a bit tricky at first, but when you catch on it's an extremely compelling device. Especially to hear the same riveting incident from several different points of view.

The writing is both lyrical and solid. Hillary Jordan paints us such a complete portrait that you can picture the muddy fields and dusty farmhouse even if you've never lived in the rural South. She firmly puts us in the head of the main female character, which a reader would expect from a woman writer of a similar age, but she also fully captures the voices of the black mother and son, and the white male farmer and his WWII pilot brother. The narration all flows smoothly.

The opening chapter is from the end of the actual story, where two of the main characters are digging a deep grave in the muddy field to bury their father. It's a brilliant starting point and opens so many questions in the reader's mind. The answers trickle down slowly, and are not always what you may have expected them to be.

Circumstances forced me to put the book down halfway, but I picked it up the following day and gobbled the rest of the story, needing to understand what had brought the characters to that muddy field to dig that grave. All of the character voices and stories tie together so well. The ending itself was a little vague, full of "what ifs" of the final character's narrative that leave you to imagine the ending you think he deserves.

Has anyone else read this book? I'd love to hear what you thought. I'm totally green with envy for the wonderful storytelling and unique perspective Jordan brings to the story of race relations in America. It reads like a piece of history that's been swept under the rug and is only now being shaken out into the light of day.

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Puppy's Expectations

When you watch the big dogs do it, it looks easy.

The water was calm, the big dogs were splashing and happy. Midget thought she'd try it out. It felt a lot different than she anticipated. I'm not saying she didn't enjoy the experience, but it certainly wasn't what she expected.

Her belly got cold. Her ears got wet. The wet sand squished between her toes and got stuck in her fur. In the end, she wasn't sure if she liked it or not.

This is true of many things in life. When you see someone else doing something and it looks fun and relatively easy, we think, "Hey, I can do that!" More often than not, the experience is not quite what we expected.

Expectations are tricky things. I tend to be an optimist and a dreamer, and my expectations usually climb way too high, leaving the actual event to be more of a let down.

This is true with raising kids, and it's especially true in publishing. I was so-so-so excited when I signed my first contract. And then it took a year for the book to be released in ebook format, and I'm still waiting to see whether it will printed as a paperback. Sales numbers in this economy are not what I expected, and self-promotion for a new author is not as easy as it sounds. Especially not while raising aforementioned kids.

Other authors make it all look so easy. On the outside looking in, I thought, "Hey, cool, I can do all that, too." It's not as easy as I thought it would be. I guess if it were, everyone would quit their day jobs and become authors.

With this second book contract, I'm trying hard to temper my expectations. I'm excited, but I'm not crowing about it. Yet. Let me get through the revision process. And the cover art negotiations. And the copyediting procedures. And the waiting game.

I'm sure it will all go smoothly, and I'll be crowing soon enough.

Just like I'm sure the puppy will go back in the water and actually swim one day soon.

Next time, she'll know what to expect.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Ghost Tale for Tuesday

Since it's School Vacation Week, and I don't have a lot of time to myself, I'm directing you to another website, which claims to be the "Original" internet source for true ghost tales.

The Shadowlands website says it's been collecting people's stories for at least 16 years. Visit them at

They have some interesting stuff - I could lose a lot more of my morning poking around to find my favorite tales - but then I figured why not let you, the reader, check it out for yourself?

Besides, I just read one that totally freaked me out. I need to get out into the sunshine and clear the spooky cobwebs out of my brain!


Monday, April 19, 2010

Monday Sunshine

The sun is out, the sky is blue, and I signed my second book contract.

It's a romantic suspense set on Cape Cod, contracted by another (different) small publisher to be both an ebook and a paperback novel. They hope to have it edited and out for a July release, so in addition to track, soccer, Girl Scouts, and magazine editing, I think I'm going to be quite busy with actual writing and rewriting in the next month or so. *yea!*

The working title of the story is "Perfect Strangers." My mother said, "Hasn't that been used before?" so I looked it up on Oh yeah, it's been used before. At least thirty times in the last thirty years, give or take an extra article or preposition. Danielle Steele already has two novels by that name all by herself. Okay, so one thing has to be changed right off the bat!

I was truly hoping the next manuscript I sold would be my middle grade mermaid adventure. Which is still under consideration with a really great NY agent (fingers crossed) But I'm enjoying this contract, too. And hoping it all goes smoothly.

Meanwhile, April vacation beckons. Time to make marshmallow fudge from the Pink Princess Cookbook with my own little princess! What are you doing to celebrate Patriots Day?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sunday Reading

It's the first day of April vacation week. Time to stay in pjs as long as possible, drink coffee, and catch up on some reading. So many books of all stripes sitting there in the TBR pile...

I'd like to say I read something deep and intellectual, but c'mon. It's vacation.

Let me start with a disclaimer. I love Jennifer Crusie. I love everything she's ever written. I started with the novels that my library has, and took them out more than once. (Bet Me and Welcome to Temptation are my favorites of the six hardcovers my library owns.) Then I realized there were a bunch more not available in the library, and now being reissued in new paperbacks. Lucky me! Charlie All Night was the first one I found, which I ended up buying twice because I lent the first copy and never got it back. Now I make a point of looking whenever I'm in the bookstore.

The Cinderella Deal is a new reissue of a 1996 book, just released by Bantam Books in 2010. At 278 pages, it's a fast and highly enjoyable read. Fast as in I started it at 9 a.m. and finished it by noon, including time out to make pancakes for the kids (and a pot of coffee for myself.)

The back blurb reads: "Daisy Flattery is a free spirit with a soft spot for strays and a weakness for a good story. Why else would she agree to the outrageous charade offered by her buttoned-down workaholic neighbor, Linc Blaise? The history professor needs to have a fiance in order to capture his dream job, and Daisy is game to play the role. But something funny happens on their way to the altar that changes everything. Now, with the proverbial midnight hour approaching, will Daisy lose her prince, or will opposites not only attract but live happily ever after?

It's an old-fashioned romance, full of sexual tension but no actual sex until toward the end of the book. And it's still a lot sexier than many other nuts-n-bolts romances. Okay, I would have picked different names for some of the characters, but once you get past that, it's a fun book. While Crusie relies on stereotypes for her secondary characters and some situations, her main characters are well-drawn and fully developed emotionally. Fun, fanciful, flirty, fast.Two thumbs up and a grin on my face.

What are you reading?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Puppy Gets Her Feet Wet

The puppy seems to have decided that the ocean is "no big deal." Unlike many dogs we've had the pleasure to introduce to the Atlantic shoreline, this one is trying really hard to be blase about the whole thing.

The waves don't phase her as they scoot in an out, reaching up to wet her toes as she bravely trots along the line where water and sand meet. She stops and watches the curl and rush with nary a flinch.

But she has yet to swim.

Which is good, since she's little and it's the Atlantic Ocean, after all.

She got close over near the long jetty, as if the rocks gave her some reassurance that the vast ocean wouldn't swallow her whole. She almost went in... then changed her mind. She tasted the ocean - salty, I'm sure. Perhaps that gave her pause.

I'm in no rush. She has all the time she needs.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Read the Spring Issue of CapeWomenOnline magazine

The Spring Issue of CapeWomenOnline magazine is now available to read online. Please take a few minutes to check it out, and see what's new! We've got a lot of new voices and a lot of great stories to share with our readers.

Our publisher, Nicola Burnell, has highlighted several key stories in her publisher's note, but I want to point out that my sister Tamara has contributed a wonderful article about the importance of CSAs and eating locally grown food for our Environment page. For those who don't know, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and means that the farmers sell "shares" of the harvest before the growing season even gets going.

My sister lives in northern Vermont, and for the past several years has been managing an organic farm. She visits us here on the Cape a lot in her "off" season, and we go visit her to help on the farm during summer vacation. My kids all love working on the farm with their aunt!

Also of note is an article by Jen Villa, a photographer and collage artist, and owner of The Little Beach Gallery in Hyannis. Jen grew up summering on Cape Cod but moved to California after college to have an "endless summer" experience. A year ago, she moved home to open her own gallery on Main Street. Her story is inspiring, and makes me long for warm summer evenings of wandering down Main Street to check out the various shops and art galleries!

Summer is still just a dream, but Spring is definitely here!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Ghost Tale for Tuesday

Not only are there a lot of ghost stories here on Cape Cod, there are a lot of people who believe in spirits, ghosts and angels. Many will tell you that they believe because they have experienced personal encounters.

At CapeWomenOnline magazine, Lynn Delaney is a regular contributor whose column is entitled "Message from Spirit." Each issue, she channels a message for our readers from her spirit guides, giving Universal truths. She also has her own website and teaches classes in such things as mediumship and opening yourself to messages from your own personal spirit guides.

According to Lynn, the Universe is always trying to talk to us. We just need to slow down and listen to the wisdom it tries to impart.

Okay, I'll admit that I thought that the Message from Spirit she submitted for the Spring Issue was based on her own personal experiences, and held little Universal Truth. But then I saw how the rest of the articles in the magazine were shaping up. Teen Cutting. Depression. Surviving Cancer. The death of a Child. Dealing with Grief. Heavy topics for a Springtime Issue.

It was then I realized her Message really tied to the whole theme of making it through the darkness of Winter into the light of Spring, no matter if the seasons are metaphorical or based on the actual seasons.

There's a Holistic print magazine called "Spirit of Change" which also has a similar column, where the author gives a Message for the month, and then forecasts a few of the zodiac signs (he never seems to forecast Leo for me, though.) Anyway, I was surprised to note that his Message dovetailed perfectly with Lynn's. Maybe there is something more Universal to these truths and messages than I had realized.

Lynn has also written a few articles for the magazine, including a Christmas story that can really be called a Ghost Tale for Tuesday. Since I've already rambled on, click here to link to the Holiday Issue of CWO to read her story, A VISIT FROM THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS.

Please sign up on the homepage of the magazine to receive announcements and notifications for when the latest issue comes online. We promise not to fill your inbox with unwanted notices, but we do want you to know when you can find all the new stories and articles - and a new Message from Spirit. The Spring issue is almost live - don't miss it!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Finally Friday

It never occurred to me that Editor Kitty might just be tired.

Not frustrated, not giving up, just plain ol' tired.

I'm so tired this morning, that I know I need to go back and look at those magazine pages one more time. They didn't make sense when I opened them earlier, although last night they all sounded fab (in my jellybean-fueled frenzy) during a long conference call with the publisher while we organized the Letters to the Editor page over the phone.

The new Spring issue of CapeWomenOnline should be available online this weekend. We have some fabulous articles lined up - although in truth there seems to be a theme of emerging from darkness running through most of them. It was a long, cold, wet winter. Now we head into Spring and all its bright glory, while acknowledging that we made it through.

I for one am so very done with the winter season. Cape Cod did not get to enjoy the 80 and 90 degree temperatures felt off-Cape this week (that cool ocean breeze kept us in the 60s) but we had a few beautiful days nonetheless. I'm ready for the full-time sunshine of Spring. But I need a nap first.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Puppies Can Sleep Anywhere

(she was actually snoring with her head in the water dish. Every day is such a big adventure for the little one...)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

What are You Reading?

I've spent a lot of time in bookstores over the last few months. Two of my kids take guitar lessons, and I have all this time to kill in town while I'm waiting... a bookstore seems like the friendliest place to hang out, especially for a reader like me. My only problem is choosing. So many good books to choose from...

My 12-year-old son just finished reading THE BOOK THIEF by Markus Zusak. He couldn't stop crying.

When his class read NUMBER THE STARS by Lois Lowry earlier in the school year, he really enjoyed it quite a bit. I had read something online about THE BOOK THIEF, and how it broke so many rules of children's literature and yet still was fabulous. I went out and bought it for him to read next. He didn't want to.

He thought the cover looked boring. He thought the back flap sounded wierd. I read the first few pages out loud to him, and he poo-poohed it.

When he had nothing else left in his TBR pile on his nightstand (yes, my children have TBR piles) he grudgingly picked it up, but warned me that if he didn't like it he wasn't going to finish it.

He was completely engrossed. And couldn't stop crying when the last page was done.

The book now sits in my TBR pile. I've been anxiously waiting for him to finish so I could have a go, but after his strong reaction, I think I may need to wait for a lull in the "action" before I begin.

What else are we reading? I just finally finished HER FEARFUL SYMMETRY by Audrey Niffenegger yesterday while sitting on the bleachers at my other son's soccer practice. It's been sitting in my car as my "while-you-wait book" since I started it after Christmas. Usually I reach a point with those books where I just bring it inside and finish it one night. Never happened with this one. I loved-loved-loved THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE, but this one never grabbed me. None of the characters are particularly redeeming. Although the language is beautiful, the story never took root in my psyche.

What are you reading? Suggest a book or two. I'm still waiting for Charlaine Harris's latest Sookie Stackhouse book to hit bookshelves (May 4th!! Mark calendar!!)

And what makes you buy one book instead of the one next to it on the shelf? Do you research your choices before hand or do you let the cover and jacket copy help you decide?

My son would never have chosen to read THE BOOK THIEF. And yet, it's now his favorite book of all time. At least for now. So many more books yet to read...

Monday, April 5, 2010

Making New Friends

Making new friends is hard for me. I guess part of being a writer is being more comfortable in my own mind than out in the real world. Introvert versus extrovert kind of thing. I'm better at observing than participating.

Puppies don't have these problems.

They jump in with all four paws, into any and every situation.

We've had Midget now for a week, and she's been through all kinds of new things - all with a tongue-lolling grin on her face. From fourth-grade pet day to walks on the beach, she's carried it all off with grace and aplomb. New people, new situations, no problem.

I've recently acquired a new slew of Facebook and Twitter friends through an online social media class that just wrapped up over the weekend. Most are writers like me, spending some of our precious writing time trying to learn to connect with other writers and readers. I also hooked up with a new critique partner (CP) through a writer chat loop on Yahoo.

Each connection feels like an effort, even the ones that are a mere click of the mouse. Perhaps its the vestiges of winter still clinging to my psyche. I don't feel ready to come out of hibernation and greet the world.

It's so much easier for Puppy. In the last week, she's met and had fun with our two dogs as well as a Pug, a Bernese, a Vizsla, and a cat or two. It hasn't mattered that these other animals were so different - and all bigger than her, even the cats. She wags her tail and goes nose-to-nose.

She's met an entire fourth grade class as well as the ladies in the school office and everyone at the vet's office. She romped with a girls' soccer team and half of the U-14 boys soccer club. Today she may meet the middle school track team as well. She's greeted friends and neighbors, many of whom stopped by the house just to meet her.

Everyone loved her, and she loved everyone she met.

She also made it through Easter weekend without any egg mishaps - chocolate or otherwise! With three dozen hard-boiled eggs and over 150 plastic ones scattered about the house yesterday morning, I anticipated disaster. She ignored the chocolate altogether. I wish I had her resolve. And her friend-making skills.

What about you? Are you like the puppy, putting your self out there and making new friends every day? Or like me, holding back just a little too much? What's your best strategy for meeting new people?

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A Day at the Beach

Midget loves the beach.

Well, who doesn't? The ocean breezes, the crash of the waves upon the shoreline, the treasures to be found along the strandway, the sand squishing beneath your feet... all the familiar sights and smells and textures become new again through the eyes of a puppy.

At first she didn't know what to make of it. But with the other dogs and children obviously running around having fun, she quickly decided - hey, this place is cool!

She took a run in the sand, dug a few holes, ate some seaweed... and wore herself out! Halfway down the shoreline, she sat down in front of us and wouldn't walk any further. Which is okay. She's just a baby, after all. There are plenty more days to walk on the beach.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

A Puppy Named Procrastination

Having a new puppy is a lot like having a baby in the house.

Now, before you go getting upset with me, I have three young kids. I know about having babies (of all ages) in the house. And there really are a lot of similarities at work here.

Such as the fact that my time is suddenly not my own. Yes, we are crate training her, which is something you really can't do with a baby (unless you count the crib, the pack-n-play, the bouncy seat, the exer-saucer, the car seat...) But just like a baby, I like to keep her near me during the day. If I'm up, she can be up. And when she naps... I can take a shower. Just like being a new mom.

And where did the writing time go? For the last three days there has been none. None at all. Well, Monday I polished off a synopsis to send out with a manuscript. But she slept more on Monday (since she was crying the cage all night Sunday.) She's slept through the night for the last few nights. Granted, we're up at 4:30 a.m., but that's still a good 5 or 6 hours of straight sleep. (More than I got from the kids during their first months!)

I didn't start writing fiction until all my kids were in school full-time (thank the heavens for full-day kindergarten.) I have trouble listening to my characters when there are live characters demanding my attention. Now there's a puppy lying at my feet making cute puppy moaning sounds in her post-breakfast snooze.

When the kids were young, my mother always advised me to time things for nap times. Anything I wanted to get done should wait until then. And when I'd sound too tired on the phone she'd remind me to sleep when the baby was asleep. (A trick which only works when there's not an extra toddler hanging around, waiting for the chance to grab your undivided attention.)

Puppies nap as much as babies do. My pup's little body is busy growing, a tiring business if ever there was one. She's already fast asleep as I type this. Maybe Mom's right and I just need to time things for nap time. Writing in two hour bursts could work, right?

As long as I don't spend every two-hour slot adding new puppy photos to my Facebook page!

What do you think? How do you adjust your schedule around your kids, pets, and other responsibilities? I'm sure everyone needs a new trick to add to their repertoire! How do you find time for yourself?