Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween Sunday!

Happy Halloween!

In honor of this Sunday Halloween, I'm forgoing my usual book review. If you feel you can't live without some Sunday Reading, check out this prior post, recommending Charlaine Harris and her Sookie Stackhouse series, (perfect for Halloween!)

Here at my house, we have a full day of Halloween activities (and family birthdays) on tap, but it's already been a lo-o-o-ng weekend. My Girl Scouts had fun visiting the local Nursing Home party to bring some young faces to their costume party. Next year, we need to learn some pumpkin carols to sing for them - Any suggestions?

And the last night, my son's band, NonCompliant had their first "real" gig - playing for an elementary school dance. The band loved it - the kids at the party loved it - it was a wonderful experience all around! The band played two sets and an encore, judged the costume and dance contest and gave out prizes, ran across the stage giving high fives to the "groupies" with their outstretched hands... there were probably 200 people packed into the Horace Mann school last night, rocking out with the band.

...PLUS one of the dads had tour tshirts made, listing the 4 concerts they've played this year (which I have to wash for school tomorrow.) It was an empowering experience for my son, and for the band, one which we all hope will be repeated again soon. Anyone on Cape Cod need a band of 10 to 12-year-olds for your next party? They play some mean Ratt and Steppenwolf... and Green Day... and the Ramones...

Now... Bring on the Trick-or-Treat!

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy Halloween Weekend!

What do you have planned to kick off your spooky weekend plans? I'm actually dressing up today for Halloween, and taking my Girl Scout troop to visit a nursing home after school. They need some trick-or-treaters for their holiday party and the girls are always happy to help out (especially when candy is involved!)

Tomorrow my middle child rock-n-roll star has his first "real" gig with his band, playing at a middle school costume dance. A far cry from the costume parties my husband and I have attended in recent years, but a milestone moment nonetheless! And then Sunday is all about trick-or-treating with our extended family, like we used to when the kids were young - so much fun to have Halloween on a weekend!

But what are YOU doing today to celebrate? How about a visit over to Substitute Teacher's Saga, to check out the Halloween Haunting Game that Theresa started? There are three great YA books offered as prizes, and lots of new bloggers to meet and haunt.

So what are you waiting for? Go check it out! And have a happy, spooky Halloween!

Puppy Devours Another Book...

Puppy's taste for sci fi is growing. This time she ate not only the cover and first fifty pages but the last 100+ pages as well, including the end of the story, the glossary of terms, the outline of the feuding families and the first 30+ pages of the next book in the series.


Luckily, my son is only on page 300. I have a week or so before he'll get to where he needs to still have pages 915-995 actually attached to the book (and legible...) but when he finally gets there it WILL be a crisis. Need to work a trip to the bookstore into my weekend schedule.

Thanks a lot, Puppy.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Puppy Goes Stir Crazy

Despite some of the cuter photos I've taken of her, Puppy doesn't like to sit around quietly. She and I are both ready for her stitches to come out. Trying to keep her "quiet" is like trying to tell the wind to stop blowing over the ocean.

"What do you mean no bouncing?" she whines.

"What do you mean I can't come to the field with you guys for a romp?" she grouses.

Every squirrel that dares set foot in the back yard sets off another round of frantic barking and pawing at the sliding glass doors, anxious to get outside and chase the offending interlopers off the property. Click on leash, tug arm out of socket in our haste to exit the building.


Just a few more days.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Puppy Likes to Run

You may think this is strange, but it never really occurred to me just how active and bouncy Puppy is, until I tried to keep her quiet. These are photos are from last weekend, when she was still allowed to run. And run she did.

Let me explain.

Puppies of a certain age need to visit their vets for a "special" visit, one that ensures longer healthier lives for them, but also means there will be no little puppies nipping at their feet. At least, not their own little puppies.

Yes, Puppy went for the big "S" and was spayed last week. The surgery went well, and she came home the next morning after a restful overnight stay with the lovely staff at the Animal Hospital of Orleans.

But now all she wants to do is run.

You'd think after major surgery, she might want a few days to recover? I know I would. We're doing our best to keep her quiet, but the accusatory looks are wearing me down. She wants to play. And romp. And bounce.

The vet specifically said, "No Bouncing."

When I looked through photos this morning, I realized it's hard to find one of Puppy where she isn't running and/or bouncing. There are some, but not a lot. My husband keeps saying how mellow she is, and he's right. But she's also extremely exuberant.

Can't wait until she can get back to the beach again, and be her old bouncy self.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday Reading

I know I said I was going to read books that were deeper and more lyrical, but Halloween is coming up and I needed some candy. Many people find Nicholas Sparks to be too "popular," but then again, many other people buy and read his myriad novels, which is what shoots him onto the NYT list with each and every new book.

The Lucky One was a fast read, finished in two days even with an impossible schedule this week (I used some of that waiting-in-the-car time that moms always seem to have. I had a bunch this past week.)

Each chapter is labeled with the character whose viewpoint it's told by - the story alternates between three main characters, one of whom is "the bad guy," except it takes a while to figure out why and then what he's going to do, helping to build tension and suspense. But the changing viewpoints also offered logical stopping points to be able to put the book down.

The story is very contemporary. The main character is Logan Thibault, a U.S. veteran of the current Middle East war, survivor of three tours of duty overseas. The scenes Sparks paints of the war are just as gripping as the familiar scenes he paints in his beloved North Carolina.

When the book begins you don't know too much about Logan, except that he's a vet and there might be something wrong with him because he's just walked across the country - from Colorado all the way to the Atlantic Coast. He's searching for a woman who's picture was his "good luck charm" in Iraq.

The blurb on Sparks' official website reads:

When U.S. Marine Logan Thibault finds a photograph of a smiling young woman half-buried in the dirt during his third tour of duty in Iraq, his first instinct is to toss it aside. Instead, he brings it back to the base for someone to claim, but when no one does, he finds himself always carrying the photo in his pocket. Soon Thibault experiences a sudden streak of luck—winning poker games and even surviving deadly combat that kills two of his closest buddies. Only his best friend, Victor, seems to have an explanation for his good fortune: the photograph—his lucky charm.

Back home in Colorado, Thibault can’t seem to get the photo—and the woman in it—out of his mind. Believing that she somehow holds the key to his destiny, he sets out on a journey across the country to find her, never expecting the strong but vulnerable woman he encounters in Hampton, North Carolina—Elizabeth, a divorced mother with a young son—to be the girl he’s been waiting his whole life to meet. Caught off guard by the attraction he feels, Thibault keeps the story of the photo, and his luck, a secret. As he and Elizabeth embark upon a passionate and all-consuming love affair, the secret he is keeping will soon threaten to tear them apart—destroying not only their love, but also their lives.

Filled with tender romance and terrific suspense, The Lucky One is Nicholas Sparks at his best—an unforgettable story about the surprising paths our lives often take and the power of fate to guide us to true and everlasting love.


I enjoyed this book. Sparks definitely has the gift of storytelling down to a science. Since I don't read a lot of his writing, I can't tell you if it's like his other books or different. But if you're looking for a fast read and a little escapism I'd recommend it. The story is nice, the characters are likeable, and the suspense is easygoing. Not a fast-paced, can't-put-it-down thriller like Steig Larsson's trilogy, but certainly a keep-your-interest tale of people you grow to care about.

What are you reading?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Short Excerpt from my Upcoming New Release...

As promised, I'm posting a short excerpt. It's from Chapter 5, where Jane is trying to decide whether to go through with her friend's dare... and kiss a perfect stranger.

(This scene is PG, don't worry, although there are racier parts to the novel...)

Here we go...

I can’t believe I’m doing this, she thought. Jane didn’t like feeling she was the type of girl to do something crazy just because someone had dared her. It wasn’t who she was. But it had bugged her when Sarah laughed at hearing Brent’s proposition. It wasn’t that far fetched to think Jane would get propositioned by an almost stranger, was it?

She’d come to Gilley’s specifically to find that blue-eyed man she’d seen at lunch. Brent had said the guy’s sister owned the place, so she figured he’d be a regular. Besides, it was the only bar on Main Street and the only bar within walking distance of the B&B.

Of course the first person she recognized when she walked in was Brent Nickerson, seated on the far side of the bar with his arm around a blonde woman. Why did men always choose blondes? It didn’t seem fair to Jane. She’d tried to dye her hair once back in college. The results hadn’t been pretty.

She stared at Brent from a distance, wondering if that was his girlfriend, or just another friend-with-benefits. “It didn’t take him very long to find a replacement for tonight,” she grumbled. “Just like Dave.”

Jane gave herself a mental kick for even thinking of Dave. She was supposed to be looking for a replacement herself, someone to help her forget the pain of losing her fiancĂ© before he’d even popped the question. He did pop the question, Jane reminded herself. Just not to me.

She moved forward through the crowd, toward the bar. She needed something to help numb the ache in her heart, and strengthen her resolve to at least flirt with the blue-eyed man. One of the guys in front of her up next to the bar suddenly spit his beer all over himself and his friend, and as the friend wiped the sleeve of his leather jacket, Jane recognized him. The blue-eyed stranger. The guy she’d been looking for to flirt with.

And now here he was. She’d found him, and was now standing right in front of him, unsure what to do next. Did she really want to go through with Sarah’s dare and take this handsome stranger home to her bed? Should she just turn and head home now, before she had to decide? A thrill of panic ran through her body, as she imagined what it would be like to kiss him. Fear battled with excitement in her head and she was just about to give in to the fear when his eyes locked with hers.

Hope that catches your interest! Maybe another excerpt next week...! (and definitely some Puppy Tales... )

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

New Cover Art to Share!

Just received the final artwork for my new book, coming out in November from Moongypsy Press. It's a romantic suspense, set on Cape Cod. I haven't received the final "blurb" from my editor yet, but the one I'd written goes like this:

Dumped by her boyfriend in a made-for-the-tabloids bar scene, reporter Jane Peterson decides her life needs a total change. A new town, a new career path… and a new attitude toward men when she accepts her best friend’s dare to kiss a perfect stranger.

Because of his famous father, Keefe Walker is no stranger to the tabloid press. He’s kept a low profile for years, painting houses and drifting through life without much thought to career or future. Until he meets Jane. She’s everything that scares him. And everything he desires.

When her past catches up with her, Jane and Keefe need to decide if they trust each other... and if what they have together is worth fighting for.

Sometimes it takes a perfect stranger to make you realize what you truly want.

I guess I need to read through the story again and find an excerpt to post now. What fun!

Twelve days and counting!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sunday Reading

"Human history seems logical in afterthought but a mystery in forethought." - page 265

My husband read this book - twice - earlier in the year. He handed it to me over the summer and wanted me to read it, too, because he found it so interesting. My husband is not a reader in general. He reads slowly and deliberately, not generally for fun. So if he actually finished this book twice, I figured it must be important. I started reading it in August, but put it down until I had more time to absorb more of the details. (Fall=Back to School=Less Fluffy Reading)

The Fourth Turning, by social historians William Strauss and Neil Howe, is not a "fun" read. It's basically a textbook. An historical view of the past with predictions of how the past and present reflect on the future of our country. The main premise is based on an ancient Greek idea that history can be viewed as cyclical, as a saeculum, with four distinct seasons or "Turnings." The "Fourth Turning" is the Crisis phase, which according to the authors is what we're currently experiencing.

The generations can likewise be divided into four distinct archetypes depending on what part of the saeculum they are born during and what archetypes their parents are. A generation generally consists of children born within a 20-year time period. The authors trace the generational archetypes throughout history with graphs and tables, showing the similarities of behaviors of their archetypes during similar periods of the saeculum. American history and generations fit quite neatly into their historical premise.

Most interesting is that the book was written in 1997, well before the election of George W. Bush, the events of 9-11, the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, the failure of government during Katrina (Heck of a job, Brownie), the economic meltdown on Wall Street, the real estate foreclosure crisis... all of which are vaguely predicted in the final chapters of the book.

According to the authors, "A Fourth Turning is a solstice era of maximum darkness, in which the supply of social order is still falling, but the demand for order is now rising."

The authors write: "A Crisis era begins with a catalyst - a startling event (or sequence of events) that produces a sudden shift in mood... The catalyst can be one spark or, more commonly, a series of sparks that self-ignite like the firecrackers traditionally used by the Chinese to mark their own breaks in the circle of time. Each of these sparks is linked to a specific threat about which the society had been fully informed but against which it had left itself poorly protected. Afterward, the fact that these sparks were foreseeable but poorly foreseen gives rise to a new sense of urgency about institutional dysfunction and civic vulnerability. This marks the beginning of the vertiginous spiral of Crisis."

They also note that "This is a critical threshold: People either coalesce as a nation and culture - or rip hopelessly and permanently apart."

Like I said, not "fun" reading. But very interesting.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Puppy Plays in the Nor'easter

I'm not sure if this Nor'easter is coming to Cape Cod or not, but the clouds this morning were pretty ominous. Our beach is on the South side of the Cape, on Nantucket Sound, thus more sheltered than a lot of ocean beaches. But last night and this morning, the waves were pounding so loudly against the shore that I could hear them from my house. With the windows closed.

Puppy didn't seem to care. She ran along the beach, in and amongst the crashing waves like they were no big thing. She played and romped with Big Dog just as if it were a bright sunny day.

At one point, she even lay down in the waves. Big waves, crashing down and soaking her thoroughly. She never flinched, like most dogs would have in the same situation. She just smiled. Even the Big Dog would have gotten rolled by some of those waves... although, actually Puppy is a little bit bigger than Big Dog now. She has almost 20 pounds on her at this point. But Shhh, don't tell her.

We get the question all the time - is she a full Saint Bernard? We explain yes, but she's just a Puppy. People tell us they didn't know Saint Bernards liked the water. They always seem amazed that she enjoys the ocean as much as she does.

Who ever said Saint Bernards aren't supposed to be beach dogs?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sunday Reading

As the nights grow cooler, I think it's time to enjoy curling up with a good mystery.

This wasn't it.

James Patterson made a name for himself writing edge-of-your-seat page turners, but in recent years has taken to collaborating with other writers (lots of other writers) so that his name is more of a franchise label than a promise of great suspense.

7th Heaven is part of a set of stories dubbed the Women's Murder Club series, many of them co-written with Maxine Paetra, and yes, they are NYT best sellers. Reading other people's reviews on the subject, the consensus seems to be that the ones Maxine has worked on are superior to the others in the series. But...

It's not a bad book. It's just not a great book. The chapters are short, the story keeps you moving forward, but the details are unsatisfying. Emotional questions and conflicts are raised, and then solved in very trite ways. The red herrings that are introduced are dismissed so quickly it's almost as if they were added in as an afterthought to inflate the total word count. (By the way, for an interesting etymology of the term Red Herring, go read author Lydia Kang's blog post from this past week on the subject here on her delightful blog "The Word is My Oyster.")

I wouldn't recommend this book, and am sad that it's the only book I had time to read this week. It left me with a real empty feeling in my gut, as if I hadn't read anything at all. Hopefully the next mystery on the TBR list will fill that hole - The Private Patient by P.D. James. James is a master of suspense, although I have to admit that it better be good or I won't get past the first few chapters. I'm not sure I'll finish a second unsatisfying book so quickly after my bitter disappointment with Patterson.

On the bright side, Barnes & Noble has a wonderful new set of reissued classics for both children and adults - my middle child was lured to the rack by a graphic skull and crossbones and begged me to buy him Treasure Island, the classic tale by Robert Louis Stevenson. So I bought it (how could I say no to a classic like that?) I can always borrow it if P.D. James doesn't do it for me.

He also begged for - and I mean begged for - the original Robin Hood and Huck Finn, but I told him I already own those and he can borrow my old books. Big Kudos to B&N for bringing back the classics and making them fresh in the eyes of a new generation! If you haven't noticed those racks, take a look. The hardcovers in the children's section have great cover illustrations and are $9.99. The soft cover versions in the adult section have black & white graphic woodcuts on the covers and are only $4.95. Great Christmas ideas... nice counter point to Halo Reach.

What are you planning to read this week?

P.S. I also saw a funny book in the children's section on the Halloween table, Dick and Jane and The Vampire. Classic Dick and Jane style wording and illustrations, but I'm not sure who the target audience for it is. Kids today don't start with Dick and Jane in school (and haven't for a long, long time) so the irony is kind of lost on them. Both my kids said, "Huh?" to it, not understanding the humor.

*sigh* File under the category of "It seemed like a good idea at the time..."

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Puppy Goes to Race Point

For those of you unfamiliar with Cape Cod, Race Point Beach is down at the very tip of the Cape, in Provincetown. It's one of those beaches you can get permits for to drive on, to park RVs on, and to have bonfires.

One of our best friends lives in P-town, and every year we have an end-of-season beach party with him. This year was a little colder than usual, but between the bonfire and margaritas, we stayed warm.

It was Puppy's first time at Race Point. She loved it.
She loved running back and forth with the kids, up and down the wide beach and along the water's edge where curious seals kept a close eye on the fishing rods. The seals are notorious for stealing fish right off your hook.

One of the other traditions we've developed over the years is to try and take the "dreaded" Christmas card photo during this fall trip to the beach. If you have kids, you understand. It's an annual ritual that's just got to be done. By trying to take it during a fun afternoon, I'm hoping to get real smiles out of the kids.

It was Puppy's first time being part of the picture-taking process.
Puppy put up with it pretty well, and cooperated as my husband snapped dozens and dozens of photos...
...and he kept taking pictures as the waves crashed the party, completely soaking sneakers, socks, pants, dogs...
...but finally the waves got to be a little too much and everyone scattered. The boys hightailed it out of there, back to the bonfire to dry their sneakers. My daughter and Puppy, however, decided to play in the surf for a while. Luckily, I'd packed both towels and dry clothing.

A successful trip, even if we didn't get "the" photo for the Christmas cards. Next year, I'm hoping for warmer weather...

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sunday Reading

When I read my first book by Chris Bohjalian, I fell in love with his almost lyrical prose style. I had a bout of complete writer's envy, but told myself it was also the subject matter he wrote about in Skeletons at the Feast that gave his work the weight and beauty.

That novel jumps between characters in dire straights at the tail end of World War II in the European countryside. Not quite lost souls, but struggling souls trying to navigate between Nazi soldiers and the onslaught of Russian soldiers, navigating between being German and being Jewish and being trapped behind enemy lines... sweeping, sad and beautifully rendered.

My mother in law recently cleared out her reading shelves, giving me a box which contained (among other things) all the rest of Chris Bohjalian's books (except for Skeletons at the Feast) I thought I'd try one of his earlier works to see if his magic was still on the page.

Bohjalian published Water Witches in 1997. It's a much smaller scope of a book, set in upstate Vermont near Montpelier with a fictional ski resort at the center of the controversy. The main protagonist is a lawyer who works for big business, as it is in Vermont. Mainly the ski industry. His sister-in-law is the best dowser in the state, a water witch. While his wife has the abilities to some extent, it's his young daughter who has inherited the family gift. The lawyer's complicated relationship navigates between Nature and the Ski Industry, and his conflict occurs when he realizes he has to finally and publicly choose sides.

The setting and controversy are not nearly as sweeping in scope, but Bohjalian renders them beautifully and honestly. My parents owned a ski lodge for 14 years in Killington, Vermont and I spent a lot of time there in my late teens and twenties, working for them and with others who still call Vermont their home (including both my sisters.) I understand the industry and it's complicated ties with the land and people of Vermont. Bohjalian captures a lot of it spot on.

I'm not going to give anything else away, as I do recommend this book. It's short (327 pages) and not a quick read because of the poetic style. You want to slow down and read the descriptive passages, and enjoy his turn of phrase in various beautiful small scenes, such as when the protagonist watches his daughter dance as a butterfly among the fireflies in the nighttime garden.

The book is set in summertime, but it's not a beach book. It's a slower, more literary read for fall. Hey, the kids are doing it in school - my son had to read Of Mice and Men (I loved that book, too.) My book club is reading Little Bee (although I'm not going to make it to that meeting, and that book still languishes on my TBR pile.) My friend's book club is reading To Kill a Mockingbird (another great book I need to reread soon.) So get out there and read something you have to sink teeth into.

What are you reading?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Puppy Has a Cold

Dog snot.

It's one of those things you don't think about, until it's practically the only thing you can think about.

Poor puppy has had a stuffed up nose all week long. She's drinking water like it's going out of style, and having trouble finishing her breakfast (although dinner never seems to be an issue.) We thought it was allergies, but now it really seems more like a cold.

Her nose and throat have been rattling with - forgive the phrase - Dog Boogers. Thick, nasty boogery mucous.

She's finally started blowing them out - gross, and quite different than the drool she copiously wipes on the other dogs and anyone who stops to say hello to her when we're out walking. Drool is a Saint Bernard hazard. I'm hoping dog snot isn't a Usual Thing.

She still insists on jumping in the car with me whenever I do my mom-taxi gigs, and it's getting hard to get out of the front door without her, even with her not feeling 100%. She may be the only dog I know who needs to learn the command "Not Going."

She will accept this new command at certain times of the day. Not for the early morning trip to the bus. She likes that one. Won't let us leave the house without her. And certainly not for the afternoon trip to pick up after soccer. She likes to take her 3:00 nap on the backseat during that long, round trip drive. But "Not Going" is becoming more imperative to learn than "Sit" or "Come."

Maybe a new command to learn this weekend will be "Blow," to see if we can get the rest of those dog boogers out of there.

Friday, October 1, 2010

A 5-Star Review for Unfolding the Shadows!

Received one of those great emails last night, to alert me of a new review for my book.

Siren Review Site gave me 5 "siren stones," their equivalent of stars! I was afraid they wouldn't like the book so much, seeing as how most of the romances they review are much, much steamier than my PG-13 offering. But the reviewer loved it. "couldn't put it down," she said.


To read the complete review, go here:

...and don't forget to do a happy dance with me! I'll be dancing in the rain today, but dancing nonetheless!