Monday, December 17, 2012

Monday, December 10, 2012

eBooks, great for the sight impaired, too!

Ever since I was a little girl and saw my first rerun of Star Trek, I wanted a tablet that would store all kinds of books and other stuff. When hubby bought me a Nook a few years ago, I felt like I was in one of those episodes. It was awesome! No more driving to bookstores and wading through the usually skimpy fantasy/sci-fi sections. No ordering online and waiting for books to be shipped, not to mention shipping costs that some places charge.  I love the convenience and instant gratification of eBooks. It's also a great way to discover new writers and I've added several to my reading lists over the past few years. When I find a book I want to read, I can pay and download it in minutes from either my eReader or my computer. Many times I can find a book I want for under $5 and can store hundreds of them on my devices. Hubby and I loved the Nook so much that we bought a Kindle so we wouldn't have to take turns reading. Not only can we read eBooks on our Kindle but we can also surf the web, play games, watch videos and listen to music. We also have the free apps on our phones so we can read anywhere, like waiting at the dentist or the airport.

But there's another bonus I've found with eReaders. One that I think outweighs all the others. My mother, an avid reader, began losing her sight a few years ago due to complications from a childhood disease and is now permanently sight-impaired. In order to read paperbacks, she has to use a magnifying glass, which is awkward and tedious, or spend extra money on large print books, which sometimes cost double the paperback price, or buy whatever limited stock the local library has on sale. She can't read on her computer because of the eye strain it causes her. So last year, we bought my parents a Kindle. I can still remember the elation on my mom's face when she realized she could read any book she wanted just by making the font size larger. I was thrilled to see her so excited about reading again. Not only can she read any eBook, she can now read mine, something she wasn't able to do before she got her Kindle.

eBooks and readers have opened up a whole new world for readers, but I'm especially excited for those with visual problems, like my mother. I'm also excited that she finally gets to read my work, something I thought she would never get a chance to do.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Looking to add to your end-of-year donations? Todd Davis Memorial Scholarship

Looking to add to your end-of-year donations? 

My seventeen-year-old nephew died in 2008 from injuries he sustained in an automobile accident with an impaired driver. My brother and his wife have set up a college scholarship in his memory if you wish to donate. Anything is appreciated and is tax deductible.

Todd Davis Memorial Scholarship
The Todd Davis Memorial Scholarship is open to all University of Houston—Clear Lake (UHCL) students who have volunteered their time at UHCL for leadership events.

There are three ways in which you can donate:

1. under the “give to UHCL” tab. Just be sure and select “scholarships” in the gift designation box and write “For the Todd Davis Memorial Scholarship” in the memo box just above the “Personal Information” section on the page.
2. or you may call Kim Herhold at UHCL at 281-283-2036 and pay by credit card over the telephone. Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express are accepted.
3. or you may mail your check to: UHCL, Office of University Advancement, Attn: Kim Herhold, 2700 Bay Area Blvd., Box 318, Houston, TX 77058
Note: please write “Todd Davis Memorial Scholarship” in the memo section of your check. And please check with your employer’s HR department to see if they participate in a matching gift program. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

My book almost gets a kid expelled from school!

Okay, have to share some disturbing news that involves my tween/teen post-apocalyptic adventure The Mask of Tamirella. A friend's 11 year old did a report on it for school. Sounds like a good thing, right? The teacher asked if she could read the book. Another yippie, right? Now here's the big BUT - Because the main character, an underage girl, has a crush on an older man in the book, this teacher reported our friend's kid, stating that he was using the book and his book report to hit on her. The poor boy almost got expelled. Thankfully, his family backed him and straightened the teacher out. 

I'm sending him another book free of charge and I hope that teacher apologizes to him.

Here's a link to the book I'm talking about.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

This old house is starting to feel like home.

We're very happy to be back home in sunny SoCal. It's been 2 1/2 weeks since we moved into our new "this old house" and we're finally starting to settle in. Got most of the rooms organized and all the blinds hung so no more paper shades. Gardeners come tomorrow to cut the weeds, um, I mean grass, since hubby's out of commission with a hernia. Yeah, he got that from lifting heavy boxes during the move and is scheduled for surgery in late November. At least he'll be good to go in the new year. Thankfully, we got the heavy stuff done before it happened.

To top off the fun, hubby's company did a re-org and they're no longer keeping him on for another year, as they originally planned. He's getting laid off right before New Years. We always plan ahead for rainy days like this but the timing really sucks with the new house and all. Plus, we couldn't get out of our rental lease so unless the manager gets another tenant in soon, we're paying the equivalent of 2 mortgages until February.

We still have a few minor repairs to do with the house but everything else we had planned will have to wait until hubby lands another job. Authors like me don't make the big bucks so we'll be tightening our belts until then.

Meanwhile, we're enjoying all the flowers that are in bloom and have been visiting with family and friends. Hubby can't walk to the beach in his condition right now, but we can always drive the 2 miles to sit on the sand and just enjoy the waves. That costs nothing.

Happy Halloween! Stay safe!

Monday, October 15, 2012

We Did It - Got Our LA Home!

Well, hubby and I made it into our new "this old house" over the weekend and have met five neighbors already. They all seem very nice and one gave us a welcome plant with beautiful yellow flowers. Of course, now we have a gazillion boxes all over the house and I've lost count of how many bruises I have from running into stuff. I hope to get back to a regular writing schedule soon, but I just can't stand messes so I plan to get as much unpacked as I possibly can this week.

I love my new office, too. Nice big window and a fireplace. The fireplace needs repair so we can't use it for an actual fire, yet. But I intend to put several battery-operated candles in it for ambiance until the budget allows us to fix it.

I started putting up Halloween decorations immediately. Like you didn't guess that already. My favorite holiday in my favorite state - beautiful and sunny SoCal. I couldn't ask for anything better. Been a long, hard 20 year road to get where we are today but we finally did it.

Keep on dreaming. But more important, get planning for your dreams and you'll eventually get there. Now, I'm off to enjoy those ocean breezes.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The big move!

Hubby and I are preparing for the move to our new "this old house" here in LA and I hope to get back to my regular writing schedule soon. Just about done with repairs and most of the decorative items have been moved already. Still have some clothes and dishes to haul over there. We're letting the movers take the big stuff on Saturday. They've got all those big muscles and everything. The new place is 2 miles from the beach, something we've been working toward for 20 years, so we're beyond excited that it's finally happening.

I'm also excited because my new house has a Bewitched-style front door. I'm trying to talk hubby into painting it green. =D

My new door!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Halloween Spooktacular guest blog and contest today!

My Halloween Spooktacular guest blog and contest is up! Today only, so hurry on over for some spooky reads and a chance to win a free copy of Desert Magick: Phoenix Lights (Bk 4)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Released: Shapeshifter's Library by Amber Polo

Have a fondness for dogs? Addicted to books and libraries? Want to know the real reason why a dog is “man’s best friend” and werewolves have such a bad reputation? Amber Polo answers these questions in her fun-filled fantasy Released: The Shapeshifters' Library (Volume 1). 

Polo’s subtle and not-so-subtle humor throughout the novel made me chuckle more than a few times. Think this is just another werewolf novel? Think again. The author gives a saturated genre a fresh spin and I found myself cheering for Liberty Cutter, the heroine in the novel, until the end of the book. In addition to the fun, Polo injects danger, romance and an array of characters, both delightful and frightening, and I found Shapeshifter’s Library an intriguing and enjoyable read. 

Once you read Polo’s book, you might just find yourself wondering about your local librarians and be tempted to peek behind those staff-only doors.

Something is very wrong in Shipsfeather... Welcome to the strange and wonderful world of Shipsfeather, Ohio, where an ancient race of dog-shifters has been charged with cataloging the knowledge of the world, and with protecting civilization’s libraries from the machinations of evil, book burning werewolves. For years a curse has imprisoned the dog-shifters in the basement of the Shipsfeather library—where they have made the best of things with a gym, a spa, a Starbarks, and, of course, their wildly successful internet company, Zoogle—but now, thanks to librarian Liberty Cutter and her zany staff, they may actually have a chance to break free again. If only they can convince her to believe in magic…

About the author:
Amber Polo has had a lifelong love affair with libraries and dogs. A fascination with lost ancient libraries and curiosity about why werewolves outnumbered dogshifters in literature inspired her new urban fantasy series filled with librarian dogshifters. The Shapeshifters' Library: Released is the first volume. Her previous novels include the award-winning Flying Free, an Arizona airpark romance with a high-flying Alaskan Malamute, and a Sedona paranormal romance Romancing Rebecca. To help writers and stressed readers reduce stress, her book Relaxing the Writer: Guidebook to the Writers’ High offers suggestions and simple exercises. Using her calming voice she’s recorded relaxation CDs that help almost anyone relax. After working in more than six libraries and living with five Old English Sheepdogs (at one time) she happily calls a small town in Arizona home.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

September is here? Seriously?

I've been so busy that September totally snuck up on me. If you saw past posts, you may have read about the big move back to Los Angeles the end of July. Our furniture arrived a week after we did with only a couple of things broken. Nothing that can't be replaced, thankfully. But the biggest news is that we put an offer on a house and it was accepted. 

We're now in the middle of escrow craziness, with all the inspections, negotiations, appraisals, and papers to sign. We spent the last 14 years in the desert, scrimping and saving and enduring hot summers, so we could save enough to buy a home in Los Angeles. It's surreal that our dream is now coming to fruition and we're thrilled! If all goes as planned, we'll be celebrating Halloween in our new home.

The next two months are going to be uber-busy, but I'll try to get at least a couple of blogs posted during that time. 

Meanwhile, you can always see daily mini-posts about the ongoing craziness at my Facebook page

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

I just received the Liebster blog award!

I just received the Liebster blog award! Thank you, Gina Marie Long! 

These are the "original rules":

  1. Thank the giver who gave the award to you and link back to their blog
  2. Reveal your top five picks for bloggers and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
  3. Copy and paste the award on your blog with your posting similar to this.

If you are short on time but like the concept, just follow the original rules above and do not worry about the extra steps below!! If you want to get more elaborate, then choose the following:

These are the "alternate rules" (longer option):

2. Reveal your top 11 picks for blogs/bloggers (this version--no limits on how many followers they have).
3. Copy and paste the award image on your blog with your own posting similar to this, making your own changes as necessary.
4. Share 11 facts about yourself.
5. Answer the 11 questions sent to you.
6. Come up with your own 11 questions for the next round of people who you give the award to…and they can choose to answer if they wish.
7. Then pass on the award to those 11 bloggers you've picked by leaving a comment on their blog about the award you're giving them. Include your link back to your blog…so they can see what this is all about.

Okay, I’m swamped catching up with work I missed during our recent move, so I’m going to do a little mix and match from the above choices. Here are 6 bloggers I think deserve this award (the final three write for the same site but do independent work):

1)     Sandra Cox -
2)     Amber Polo -
3)     Lizzy Stevens -
4, 5, 6) Carrie Hinkel-Gill, Gracen Miller & Margay Leah Justice -

Gina’s questions for me:

1) Coke or Pepsi? – I don’t drink sodas very often, but I do love a Diet Pepsi as a treat once in a while.
2) Pizza or Chinese Food? – This is a tough one. I love both!
3) Vampires or Werewolves? – Hmm, I’m more of a witch and medium fan. But if I have to choose between the two, I’d probably go with weres.
4) Have you ever gone to Comic-Con or something similar? A big fat yep to that one! I worked a few Sci-fi cons back in the day.
5) Favorite TV shows? I could go on and on here so I’ll just give a few highlights. Bewitched is my all-time favorite vintage show. I also love Buffy, Xena, various Star Treks, Fringe, Big Bang Theory, Gilmore Girls and the current Bunheads.
6) Do you prefer paper books or ebooks? eBooks! But I have a lot of paperbacks, too.
7) Name one pet peeve. Rude people. Just don’t get it.
8) Do you like to cook? More than I used to but hubby’s the main chef around here.
9) Do you live in a big city, medium sized city or small town? Love my beach town, dudes!
10) Do you normally go to the theater to watch movies or wait till they come out on DVD? We mostly download but go to the theater if there’s something we just can’t wait to see.
11) What's your favorite type of music to listen to? I love 80s, 90s, some current pop hits, as well as Indies and alternative.

My questions to the bloggers I’ve chosen:

1)     Beach, desert, or mountain?
2)     Sunshine or rain?
3)     Dark chocolate or milk chocolate?
4)     Favorite book character?
5)     Favorite TV character?
6)     Pool or ocean?
7)     Dog or cat?
8)     Are you allergic to exercise, an avid workout person or somewhere in between?
9)     What’s the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you? (Keep it PG, please!)
10)  Vintage or new?
11)  Are you also a crafter? If so, what medium do you prefer?

Rock and roll - We’re back in Rumbletown!

We've been back home in SoCal for less than three weeks but have already gotten that familiar welcome mat called a trembler. Yesterday and today Yorba Linda had 2 moderate shakers. Rock and roll, dudes, we're home!

The first earthquake I remember feeling was back in the 80s. I was sitting on the carpet in my bedroom late at night when it felt like the house started rolling down the street. I looked out the window and realized we weren't going anyplace. My first thought was that I was overly-tired and really needed to go to bed. Then I realized it was an earthquake. They don't always shake like TV shows and movies portray. Sometimes, when you're far enough away from the epicenter and depending on the direction of the waves, they roll into town. It's an odd feeling and one I'll never forget.

The next trembler I remember feeling was a much bigger deal. It was 1987 and I was on location for an early morning TV shoot when everything started shaking. One of our assistant directors screamed, "Run!" She took off to the open area, since we were outside, and the rest of us followed, locals moving a lot slower than our spooked AD. One of the crew members was in a bathroom trailer at the time and got mad because he thought someone was playing a joke on him. I still laugh about that. On and off the rest of the day, we experienced aftershocks that caused shooting delays. That was the Whittier-Narrows, a 5.9 on the Richter. Aftershocks hit for several days after and I remember being jolted awake a couple of times then things settled down.

There were several smaller quakes over the years but it was pretty quiet in my little beach town. Until 1992 when the Landers quake hit. This one was strong - a 7.3 - but short, lasting just a couple of seconds. It made the place jump then rumble and woke me up. I'm sure we had aftershocks but I really don't remember them. The quake I remember best hit us in 1994. Epicenter located in Northridge, it literally threw us out of bed at 4:31 in the morning. I'll never forget that time. I narrowly missed smacking into the wall. We stumbled around, trying to get our balance and get downstairs to where our birds were freaking out. We hadn't installed the handrail yet so we didn't dare try to maneuver the stairs until the shaking stopped. We had just got our birds calmed down when the first aftershock hit and it was a shaker. Several videos were tossed onto the floor from our bookshelf, pictures hung askew, and there was a crack in one of the corners, but we were lucky.

After things settled a bit and we got the electricity on to watch the TV news, I turned to hubby and said, "So what do you think? Six point oh?"
He nodded. "At least."
That's a bit of an inside joke for Cali residents, as we always try to relieve tension by guessing the magnitude. I think it helps us cope with the adrenaline rush and makes us feel more a part of what's happening rather than being just victims.

Unfortunately, like most big quakes, Northridge caused a few deaths. We had building and freeway collapses around SoCal, but since it hit so early in the morning, it could've been worse. Hard to believe, I know. But if that one had hit during rush hour, we would have seen a lot more injuries and deaths.

I was also doing a theatre production in Burbank at that time and the cast and crew who lived near the epicenter didn't fare as well hubby and I did. I think there was a minor injury among them but no one got seriously hurt, thankfully. One of the aftershocks hit when I was one of just two people at the theatre the next evening. I was walking through the costume area when everything started to shake. I called out to the other person to make sure they were following, then got outside and away from the building immediately. In that part of town there are a lot of old brick structures and those are usually the first to go down in a quake. The last place you want to be when the earth starts shaking. That was the last aftershock I remember experiencing, but I woke up every morning at 4:31 for about six months after that quake.

In 1998, hubby and I moved to AZ, where we never felt anything shake unless it was from thunder. Fourteen years later, we're living in SoCal again. The first night we were here, I woke up and looked at the clock. It read 4:31. All was quiet. I shook my head, knowing exactly the reason, and went back to sleep. Yesterday, a 4.4 hit Yorba Linda. And again this morning they got another shaker. Yep, we're back home in Rumbletown.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Moving Madness!

Been living in a crazy whirlwind the last couple of months. We put our Phoenix home up for sale and got multiple offers in just three days. We then had to travel to LA to find a temporary rental. Fast! Luckily for us, we found one the first day in town and secured it. After that came inspections, repairs, and waiting for buyer finance approval before we could sign the closing papers. It's bittersweet, since we built that house and really love the hiking trails and open desert that surround it, but after fourteen years, it was time to return home to beautiful SoCal. We'll miss our AZ friends but will stay in touch via email, posts, and Skype.

We made the big move back to LA five days ago and are still waiting on our moving van to arrive with our stuff as of this post. They're scheduled to deliver our things tomorrow. Finally! Hard to write with just a beach chair and boxes as my desk. Once we get our stuff in place, we will start looking for a home to buy. I can't wait to house hunt. Buying is definitely more fun than selling.

In the middle of all this madness, my latest novel was released. No stress here, right? Desert Magick: Phoenix Lights (Bk 4) is now available for the Kindle and Nook and will be available in other formats very soon. As soon as I get our rental organized, I will be doing another virtual tour with free eBooks, so please stay tuned.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Monsoon Season is Officially Here!

Monsoon 2012 officially starts today in the Valley of the Sun! Woohoo! The downside is that we'll be creeping up to 112 degrees this coming week with no rain in the forecast. But it's a dry heat, right? My snarky answer to that is, "So's my oven."

We might be waiting a while for rain, but we have no end of deadly heat . Yes, it's beautiful, and yes we do go hiking and biking in the summer. But there are rules. And you thought graduation meant no more rules. Silly you. But seriously, if you venture out in the heat, please remember a few things that just might save your life. Natives and long-term residents might know this stuff, but newbies may not. And a refresher never hurt anyone.

1. Try to keep outdoor activities to the early morning or evening hours when the sun isn't so intense. This goes for dogs, too. Imagine wearing a fur coat out in this heat. I personally prefer a nice cool swim or a trip to the local ice-skating rink.
2. Stay hydrated. Take lots of water. And drink it. Yeah, that sounds like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised how many people forget.
3. Use sufficient sunblock and reapply it every 2 hours. If you're fair-skinned like I am, you'll need at least 30 or 50 SPF. If you're dark-skinned, you might be able to skip this step, depending on how much melanin you have.
4. Wear a hat. It might not make you look cool, but it may help keep you alive.
5. Don't hike trails that are too difficult for you, especially in the heat.
6. Take a cell phone. No, not for yapping with your peeps. It's for emergencies, silly.
7. Be aware of your surroundings. Nothing ruins a beautiful hike like a rattlesnake bite, a scorpion sting, or a broken bone.
8. If you're driving during a monsoon, don't cross barriers or washes. Besides getting stranded and ruining your car, you'll get a nice bill from authorities who have to rescue your butt. It's called the "Stupid Motorist Law". Yep, it's a real law and it's enforced.
9. Don't go outside to take photos of that awesome lightning. You might just find yourself on the other end of several thousand volts. It'll be really hard to work that camera when you're dead.
10. Stay off the golf courses during a monsoon. It's just as hard to swing a club when you're dead as it is to use a camera. See #9 for further details.

I really don't want to see my peeps or readers on the 6 o'clock news, so stay safe out there this summer. Better yet, stay inside and read a book.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

You Know You're a Desert Dweller When...

Summer solstice is a week away and I’m feeling a little goofy from the heat, so I thought I’d share a little Arizona desert fun with you.

You know you’re a desert dweller when…

  1. You keep a pair of oven mitts in your car for summer driving.
  2. A summer cold front means the temperature will drop below 110 degrees and it’s time to fire up the barby!
  3. When house hunting, you ask, “How big a pool does it have?”
  4. You pause during your walk to let a scorpion cross the sidewalk in front of you.
  5. A run to the corner store in summer means taking a water bottle for the ½ mile drive and the a/c finally cools off the car just as you park.
  6. A ten foot scrawny tree equals – shade, baby!
  7. You drive around a parking lot for fifteen minutes in summer just to get a spot under a ten foot scrawny tree. Score!
  8. Dressing up in summer means choosing what color shorts to wear with which pair of sandals.
  9. You own more sandals than any other type of shoes.
  10. The first crash of monsoon thunder sends you scrambling to the window with excitement and high-fiving your office buds.
  11. Summer betting involves how far away the lightening is and which golf course it just struck.
  12. You pass three golf courses on your five mile drive from home to work.
  13. Driving the freeway safely involves physics equations and a heck of lot of luck.
  14. The phrase “Snowbirds are back in town” sends you into a panic because you’ll have to allow an extra fifteen minutes to get anywhere until summer arrives again.
  15. You see a cloud in the sky and wonder if it’s monsoon season.
  16. You have at least three bottles of sun screen near the door year round.
  17. Winter means you get to use the 30 spf sunscreen instead of the 50.
  18. You see someone without sunglasses and know they’re from out of town.
  19. You hear someone pronounce saguaro with the g sound and know they’re from out of town.
  20. The temperature drops below 75 degrees and you get excited because it’s jacket weather.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Vikings and Tulips and Ancestors, Oh My!

Once every year or two hubby and I take a vacation out of the country. In 2010 we chose Egypt as a celebration of our 20 years of marriage and a place we had both longed to see since childhood. This year, we decided to go to Denmark and Holland. Why? Because we hadn’t been there. And because we both have ancestors from those areas.

Being west coasters, hubby and I don’t have a lot of cold tolerance, so we bundled up in three layers of clothing to brave the 30-50 degree temperatures and off we went. Copenhagen is a proud, green city with an efficient public transportation system, electric cars, renewable power, and lots and lots of bicycles. The city is planning to be carbon-neutral by 2025 and is well on the way to meeting that goal. I love that about the Danish people.

We visited Hamlet’s castle, the location Shakespeare chose for the setting of his famous play, complete with a moat and temperamental swans. The Danish have a saying that goes something like, “The castle made Shakespeare famous in his day and today Shakespeare keeps the castle famous.” We also stopped at Rembrandt’s house to see where the famous painter once lived and worked. We walked around the city, enjoying the old buildings and green areas, and even found ourselves at the water’s edge where The Little Mermaid statue rests. There weren’t a lot of tourists here so we got to experience daily Danish life without having to press through crowds of people.

As someone with Scandinavian ancestors and a high probability of Viking roots, I had to visit the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde. Fifty years ago, archaeologists recovered five Skuldulev boats that were deliberately sunk with stones to create a border that kept enemy ships out of the harbor. The preserved remains of these ships are on display in the museum, and it’s amazing to see the expertise it took to build such ships long before the modern age. This July, the recreated Sea Stallion ship, will sail from Denmark to Ireland in commemoration of Vikings who sailed that route so long ago.

Next, we flew to Amsterdam, Holland. This place is special because hubby and I both have ancestors from this great city. No trip to Amsterdam would be complete without a visit to VanGogh’s museum, which just happened to be a short walk from our hotel, thanks to hubby’s great travel-planning skills. The painting of Van Gogh’s bedroom and his famous self-portrait is here, but they didn’t have Sunflowers or Starry Night, my favorites, so I was a bit disappointed.

We ventured into Utrecht, where one of my prominent ancestors once lived but had no luck finding records here. And you can forget finding your ancestors in the cemeteries if they died more than 50 years ago. The Dutch rent out graves for a period of several years then the bodies are dug up and cremated, making room for another family to bury their loved ones in the same spaces. Land is scarce here, so this makes sense, but it can make genealogy cemetery research a headache sometimes. Still, it was a treat to see the city where my ancestors lived and worked nearly four centuries ago.

Back in Amsterdam, we had better luck, at least on my side of the family tree. I got a printout of a marriage record, thanks to the wonderful people at the Amsterdam archives. They even took the time to translate the Old Dutch language for me. Afterward, we got to visit the Oude Kerk (Old Church) where my ancestors listed on that printout married back in 1638, just before they left for New Amsterdam (New York City) and a better life. Oude Kerk was built in the 14th century so it’s seen a lot of history. When I showed the marriage record to the church personnel, we were escorted into the restricted area where my ancestors signed their marriage announcement, just four years before Rembrandt signed his. I walked and stood exactly where my ancestors and the famous Rembrandt had been 375 years earlier. I can’t tell you how amazing that felt. I was saddened we didn’t locate any of hubby’s ancestors on this trip, but I’ll keep digging in the online records. And who knows, maybe one of the photos we took will connect with his side of the family tree.

While the excitement of finding ancestors is on the top of our list, tulips come in at a close second. The whole reason we decided to visit Holland in April was so we could go to the Keukenhof. The cold snap didn’t deter the flowers from blooming and we saw thousands of vibrant colors. Needless to say, I went a bit photo crazy here. And we certainly wouldn’t go to Holland without visiting the famous windmills. I think these iconic structures typify Holland as much as wooden shoes and tulips. Seeing them from the inside is a treat, as well. Especially when you realize they run solely on wind power and were built long before electricity was discovered.
Our vacation to Denmark and Holland is just a memory and a giant photo file now, but these countries will always have a special place in my heart because our ancestors once lived and worked there before coming to the New World. Without them, hubby and I wouldn’t be here now.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Dana’s 2012 birthday special ends Monday! Buy a paperback book for your tween or young teen and support autistic kids. 50% of all royalties Dana receives for The Mask of Tamirella trade paperback sales from February 1, 2012 until Dana’s birthday April 9, 2012 will go to the Autism Society. In addition, Dana will match those royalty donations up to $50. Note: This offer is for the paperback version only and does not apply to the eBook. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy 100th, Arizona!

Arizona is celebrating our Centennial today. Rather than blog about it, I've decided to show you some of my favorite things and places. I made my Arizona album on Facebook public so you can enjoy photos I've take around this state where I've lived for nearly 14 years now. Just follow the link below and enjoy! 

Friday, February 3, 2012

My Monkish Ways and Writing

Okay, I admit it. I can be a bit OCD about some things. Like wanting the house clean or the dishes done after a meal or a shower after a workout. If you’ve ever watched the TV show Monk, you know what I’m talking about when I mention my Monkish ways. Now, I’m in no way as bad as that character. If I were, I’d never get anything productive done. But hubby has told me he learned new things about me by watching that show. Not sure how I feel about that. Okay, so I don’t like when things are dirty. And I really don’t like bugs in the house. Really, really, don’t like it. 

If you’re squeamish, like I am, you might want to stop reading here.  Because this next part is making me shiver just thinking about it. 

We have one of those glass patio sliding doors leading out to our backyard. They don’t seal all that well, and we occasionally get bugs coming in through the gaps, usually spiders. Not to mention a few scorpions – Okay, I know they’re not bugs but they’re still yucky. But I’ve never in my life, and I mean never, had a pregger fly get inside and start laying her young. On the tile right by the patio door.  I told you this was gross.

When I saw the little miscreant, I did a Monk dance and made about a hundred disgusting faces before I got rid of them and disinfected the floor. Twice. Then I washed my hands three times, maybe four. I lost count. I’m still wigged out about the whole thing. Yes, I know, bugs are living creatures and beneficial to the environment. But flies are dirty, nasty creatures and not at all beneficial to the inside of my home. You and I both know where they like to hang out. And we both know what fly babies are, don’t we? Shiver.

So, like the dutiful writer I try to be, I worked very hard to stop doing my “This is absolutely disgusting dance” around the house, and think where I could use this incident in my writing. I don’t write CSI stuff. I write fantasy and sci-fi with a touch of mystery and, oh yeah, sometimes horror. That’s it! Horror! I just might be able to use it in a horror scene. Well, The Fly has been done. But that was a guy, right? Not a pregger female. Oh, and Buffy had a giant praying mantis teacher lady lay eggs in a basement and try to eat Xander. And of course, they’re both TV shows, not books. Hmm, guess I’ll have to think on this a bit more.

So don’t be surprised if you read a scene in one of my future novels that harkens back on the “fly incident” as it’s now known as in my house. Okay, I’m off to wash my hands. Again.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Irrational Phobias in Writing

I recently posted on Facebook about irrational phobias and got a whole lot of responses, so I decided to write a little more about them and how they’ve been a useful tool in writing for a long time. 

I’m a rational person, really I am. As a paranormal investigator, I even hunt ghosts, things that tend to scare a lot of folks. There are things that frightened me as a kid and still give me the wiggins even as an adult. I use those memories in my writing, and sometimes attribute phobias and irrational fears to characters in my books. It makes them seem more human, with faults, and also can spice up scenes with a little bit of tension. It’s also cathartic in a face-your-fears sort of way for me.

Horror writers and film makers have cashed in on phobias, so I know I’m not alone in these irrational fears. I was a kid who, from the time I can remember, watched horror shows and read ghost stories, so I enjoyed being scared. At least, when it was a safe scare. Of course, the mind doesn’t always make rational decisions about what’s scary and what’s not. Take a simple thing like a doll. Millions of kids play with them every day. So why should anybody fear them?

Well, when I was a kid, I received an antique doll as a gift from my great-grandmother. She spent a lot of time making the beautiful dress, hat and shoes for the doll. Despite all her hard work, I couldn’t get past the glass eyes and the rows of teeth. Yes, it had teeth! The Twilight Zone’s Talky Tina rerun came to mind immediately whenever I looked at this doll. I hadn’t been too fond of dolls in the first place, except maybe the Barbie versions, so this one went straight into my closet with several others. I think it got passed on to a cousin some years later. I never really asked.

Here’s a particularly scary doll with teeth that I found listed on ebay. Be warned, she might just fuel some nightmares.

Going back to The Twilight Zone’s Talky Tina – She’s so memorable, you can now purchase a replica on Amazon. Yeah, let me just get my credit card out for that.

Chucky is probably the most well-known of the nightmare dolls. At least for my generation. And they made movie sequels, giving him a homicidal wife. Stores even sold Talking Chucky dolls, complete with replica murder weapons he used in his movies. Great to have in the family, don’t you think?

Clowns are another thing I’m not too fond of (real or doll versions) and they’ve been used numerous times in books, films, and TV shows. Stephen King’s IT is probably the most famous book with the Pennywise clown. If you were a teen or adult sci-fi buff in the 90s, you probably remember Xander’s nightmare scene from Buffy, the Vampire Slayer.

And who can forget what is probably one of the most famous clown dolls, from the Poltergeist movie? A two-fer scare for those of us who aren’t fond of dolls or clowns. My brother had a clown doll like the one in Poltergeist and we joked about it after we saw the movie. But I do believe it went into his closet that same day. Or maybe he donated it. Hmm, maybe I should ask him.

Clown and doll phobias are so popular, USPS even made a commercial that uses one to sell services. Thanks to a Facebook friend for reminding me of this one. I hadn’t seen it in a while.

So, next time you have to face your own irrational fears, think about using them to write a scene. While it won’t make the fear go away, it will make for interesting writing. And you might get a little cathartic therapy out of it.

Happy writing and Happy New Year!

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