Thursday, July 31, 2014

Outwitting humans: a guide for common household objects

Welcome! Today we’ll start with a salute to single socks.  Look at you go!  Of all household objects, socks seem to have the most ambition, know how and cunning.  Although, we feel a certain sadness for the partners left behind, we know that all you escaped single socks will find adventure and happiness in your new lives. 

They're lonely, sure, but it's the price to be paid.

  Nothing ventured. Nothing gained.  We imagine you doing well.

For escaped socks, life is one long party: martinis, candlelight, you name it.

Then all you sunglasses must not be overlooked, because for sure the humans will get bent out of shape finding you.  Here’s a suggested exercise: edge yourself up to something that will provide a bit of camouflage.  See here's a tricky pair of sunglasses disappearing into the black cushion.  The human will hunt and hunt and will be very lucky to find you before someone sits on you.  Be careful!  This is great practice working up to making a break for it at the grocery store or the bank.  If you are good looking at all,  you’ll never have to go back home.  

They won't be looking here. Laugh your head off!

A similar strategy is the well-known black on black technique: here we see a wallet lounging on a black chair, invisible to the searching eye.  Once the panic has set in and the credit cards have been cancelled and the ID reapplied for, you can make yourself seen.  You’ll end up back in the pocket, but you’ll always have the satisfaction of knowing your power. 

Finally, keys.  You are very adept at getting lost.  Some of you hide in umbrellas, shoes or out of season clothing, but really, to create a storm, all you have to do is slide under a larger object.  Use your core muscles to get under a magazine, a scarf or a book and watch the excitement start.

Sidle under a book and they'll ransack the house looking for you! Too funny for words.

Next week:  we’ll have top tips for all you  passports,  reading glasses and umbrellas.
In the meantime, happy hiding my friends.  I can hear your humans gnashing their teeth from here. And really, such language!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

It’s all about fun!

Okay, it’s summer and hot and that means it’s time for amusement parks and blue ice cream and flying saucers and roller coasters and merry-go-rounds and things you eat on a stick. 

I’ve never been to Disney but we've taken vacations to Cedar Point here in Ohio and to King’s Island. So my question today is... What is your fav amusement park and what is your fav ride now or when you were a kid?

Are you a roller coaster person? Hands up, front car, screaming your head off. Or are you a stand on the ground screaming at your kids to hold on!

What about those rides that are not only roller coasters but flip you up-side down? I am so not an upside-down person!

What about those drop rides that take you up and up and up then cut the cord and you drop like rock. Personally a falling elevator has always been one of my nightmares.

Then we have the rides that go around and around. Like the tea cups at Disney. At Cedar Point they have this octopus ride that goes up and down and around. Not great after just eating a chili dog.

Are you a flying swings person? This is great on hot days so you can get cooled off.

Water rides are another great get-cooled-off ride but then you look a soaked mess for the rest of the day and really a bad idea if you are in a thin T-shirt. Oh Lordy!

Merry-go-rounds are one of my fav as King’s Island has vintage horses that are hand-painted and so lovely. My daughter worked this ride for a summer. Loved it and still hums Bicycle Built For Two when she’s bored...the calipee music does tend to stick in your head after a while.  

What about the dodgems? Where you drive a little cart and try and ram people. We have our own version of this on the interstate here in Cincy.

Personally my fav is the food. Not exactly a ride but I got a thing for blue ice cream and chilidogs and kettle corn and of course we all know that anything eaten at an amusement part is calorie-free.

Soooo what is your fav amusement park or state fair and what is your fav ride?

I’ll give away two of my romance books from the answers. Please check back to see if you are a winner.

Have a great summer! And most of all keep riding and have fun!!!!

Hugs, Duffy

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Deep in the Heart of Texas

by Maggie Sefton

Last Wednesday I flew into San Antonio, Texas, for a BIG conference filled with over 600 fiction authors and over 3000 readers.  Ravenous readers who absolutely love fiction.  And where you have readers and writers, you'll definitely find Starbucks and coffee.  :)

RWA, RomanceWriters of America hold one of the very best yearly conferences with sessions on all aspects and fiction and writing fiction.   It went through late Saturday.

San Antonio has a lovely area called the Riverwalk which runs alongsidethe San Antonio
river and is filled with great cafes and hotels and lots of tourists:

Meanwhile, I thought I'd share some photos of the very lively, dynamic RWA conference.

                                                                                                                         It was a great conference.  :)

Monday, July 28, 2014


 by Kate Collins

I’m so happy I can eat butter again. And bacon.  And nuts. And avocados.  I missed them. A lot.

Like millions of others back in the 80s, I fell into the hype that butter was evil and switched to margarine. So what if it was all chemical-based? It wasn’t butter! It wasn’t that awful death wish that our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and so on ate for centuries! Same with nuts. And bacon. And fatty meat that came straight from the animals they raised on their farms (that weren’t given hormones, antibiotics, or genetically tinkered with corn.)

Now a slew of studies have debunked the butter and saturated fat myth, and I, for one, am REJOICING by making my eggs with butter again and eating bacon with it, (although I do buy a nitrite and hormone free variety.) These studies prove cardiovascular disease is NOT related to fat and cholesterol intake. Yay!!!

In her new book, The Big Fat Surprise journalist Nina Teicholz lists the flaws in the original Ancel Keys study that the myth was based upon; how saturated fat has been a healthy human staple for thousands of years, and how the low- or no-fat craze has resulted in excessive consumption of refined carbohydrates, which has resulted in increased inflammation and disease.

If fat WAS the culprit, and thousands upon thousands  of us practically eliminated it from our diets, we should see LESS diabetes, LESS heart disease, and LESS other health issues than before. Right? Instead, we have them in epidemic levels.

And all along the true culprits have been sugar, chronic stress, toxins in the environment, and sleep deprivation. 

Another myth that has now been debunked is that cholesterol is bad. I always questioned this. Why would our bodies manufacture something bad for us? Now they are finding out that people have a higher risk for heart attacks and cancer by having their cholesterol levels too low. But that’s not what Big Pharma would have you believe.

Cholesterol is vital in building cell membranes, interacting with proteins inside cells, and helping regulate protein pathways required for cell signaling. Why would you want to do away with it?

And just as a body needs cholesterol, it also needs saturated fats for proper function. We evolved as hunter-gatherers and have eaten animal products for most of our existence. Why would they suddenly become harmful? (Well, except when the animals are kept in tiny cells, filled with hormones and antibiotics to make them larger, and given feed loaded with pesticides. )

So go forth and enjoy your butter again. And bacon. Seriously, who doesn’t love bacon? Just make sure you buy the healthy kinds. (For me, the extra I pay for organic butter and hormone-free bacon keeps me from having to pay a doctor later.) And as with anything we eat, moderation is the key.

Buttered popcorn anyone? Yum.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Don't Text and Walk

by Leann

Since we are in the middle of moving, I am writing this blog early. Next weekend, if the internet is working (PUH-LEASE let it be working!), I will share pictures of our new home!

Today I am tackling a different subject. We all know how dangerous is can be to
text and drive--or even talk on the phone while navigating the highway. I'm certain you've been behind someone who is swerving, going too slow or paying no attention to traffic ahead. It's scary and I often like to guess if their erratic weaving is caused by cell phone behavior. When I get the courage to pass them, I am usually right.

But there's another danger out there--the danger of me saying something I shouldn't to a stranger. And who knows where that could lead? Hairpulling? Punching? Who knows? I am talking about people who almost walk. If you cannot pat your head and rub your belly, you should know that you cannot text and walk. Do one or the other. Please.

This happens most often in the mall or the grocery store. You're walking along and bam! You almost run into someone in front of you who has stopped dead because they are texting or reading a text. They are in a world of their own. You do not exist. In grocery aisles this can cause a back-up and even loud throat clearing has no impact. Most times, when they've sent or read their IMPORTANT text, they move on. Slowly, eyes focused on their phone and waiting for a reply.

This past week I was walking on a rather long narrow sidewalk that leads into my doctor's office. The woman in front of me was texting. A turtle would have won a race with her. But she was busy. And she took up the whole sidewalk. When we reached the front of the office, there were two doors. She slowly went to the right, so I took the left door, walked in and reached the sign in sheet before she did. All of sudden, she was refocused on her current reality--and not happy. I got the stink
eye as we both waited to see the doc, but guess what? Being considerate of others is something I value. Being inconsiderate of others has consequences. But somehow, I don't think she will ever understand.

Texting and walking might not kill you, but maybe parents need to add cell phone etiquette to the life skills they teach their kids. What about you? What are your pet peeves when it comes to people talking on their phones or glued to their phones EVERYWHERE?

Saturday, July 26, 2014


by Mary Kennedy
When I told my friends and colleagues about my new Penguin series, the Dream Club Mysteries, I was surprised at the outpouring of interest and support. Everyone, it seems, is fascinated by dreams, curious about their meaning and eager to discuss their potential significance.
As a psychologist, I have to tell you that my clients love to talk about their dreams. Are dreams really the "royal road to the unconscious" as Freud suggested? Can they give us new insights into our deepest thoughts and most hidden emotions? Or are they simply random firings of neurons as the brain rests and recharges itself, taking a few hours to deal with the "residue of the day."
My new Penguin-Random House series is about dream clubs. Their popularity is definitely on the rise, especially in the northeast. If you're not familiar with dream clubs, think of an ongoing support group with members who are passionate about their dreams. Members are carefully selected, the group agrees to at a particular time and date for a certain number of weeks. Everyone agrees to agrees strict confidentiality. After all, whether they're filled with sunshine or terror, dreams are personal stuff.
Would you ever be interested in forming a dream club with your friends? In Nightmares Can Be Murder, my dream club is composed of a group of Savannah women who meet once a week to analyze their dreams, eat some delicious pastries and solve a murder or two. They meet in an apartment above a vintage candy store called Oldies But Goodies and the living room is featured on the cover.                      

See the cat playing with the dreamcatcher in the bottom right of the cover? A sharp-eyed reader noticed the dreamcatcher was broken and asked if it was deliberate. Did the cat break it? Or did the cover designer portray it as "broken" to suggest that "nightmares" could slip through. As you know, the purpose of a dreamcatcher is let the "good dreams" through and trap the nightmares so they never disturb your sleep. The characters in the series have both "sweet dreams" and "bad dreams" and they often contain clues that help them with their murder investigation.
      I hope a lot of you are interested in dreams, because I'm running a giveaway all next month that should be lots of fun. The prizes will be "Sweet Dream Kits" that contain a dreamcatcher, along with cookies, tea and a signed ARC of Nightmares Can Be  Murder. Everything you need for a good night's sleep!                                                      
If you want to learn more about dreams right now (and can't wait for the Sept 2 release) you can buy the little 17 page guide shown above, "A Psychologist's Guide to Dream Interpretation." It's something I put up on Amazon for fun, it's 99 cents and ALL the proceeds go to the Wayne County Humane Society in Lyons, New York. If you read the dream guide, you'll know the answers to participate in the contest for the Sweet Dreams kits (and you'll be helping a wonderful organization.)
So stay tuned for a fun Sweet Dream giveaway during the whole month of August, and feel free to tell me your dreams!  Sweet dreams, everyone.
by Mary Kennedy

Friday, July 25, 2014

Happy Birthday, Mary!

by Lorraine Bartlett / Lorna Barrett / L.L. Bartlett

This week my husband's family is celebrating a remarkable event: his mother's 100th birthday.

Holy cow! How does one live that long? What is her secret? In her day, Mary drank gallons of beer. She ate tons of butter. Somehow she managed to outlive 4 of her 5 siblings. (Only the baby of the family is left alive.)

I think what saved her is just plain hard work. There wasn't a day that this woman didn't work hard to take care of her family and then herself.  In her late 80s she was still raking 80+ bags of leaves from her front and back yard.  She had a snow blower and she took care of her very long driveway so that she would get her car out of the garage. (Don't ask me how she ever got that Gran Torino down that narrow driveway, because I sure as hell would never have been able to do that.)

She lived on her own until the age of 96. That's when we brought her from Buffalo to Rochester. She lived in assisted living for another three years before a health crisis forced her to move to a nursing home earlier this year.  Still, she's very sharp for her age. She reads the daily newspaper and talks about current events. She loves to play Bingo and Uno (and win).

We've planned a party for next week for close relatives and her peers in the nursing home (ALL of them younger than her) this week.

So, Happy Birthday, Mary -- and I hope you celebrate many more.

Have you ever had a family member make it to 100 or beyond?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Have you ever fallen in love with a fictional character?

We definitely have lost our hearts to characters in mysteries and Jordan Bingham, the young sleuth in the  book collector mysteries, is head over heels for Archie Goodwin in The Wolfe Widow,  the third book in the series.  

Sure, she had a bad case for Lord Peter Wimsey in The Sayers Swindle, but he’d be a hundred and fourteen years old now if he was real and there were other impediments to them living happily ever after too. He was married to Harriet Vane for one thing.  

But Archie – the right hand man to the great detective Nero Wolfe – remains happily single and very dishy. That’s always such a challenge for a girl carrying a torch. Jordan thinks Rex Stout should have called those books The Archie Goodwin mysteries. 

Never mind, he’s a good role model for Jordan who is the first person in her family to go straight.  Jordan could do worse than imagine what advice Archie would offer after she gets fired and her boss’s book collection is threatened.  Oh yes, and lives are at risk too.  

I found it wonderful to work on this book as one-half of Victoria Abbott (with my daughter) especially as I got to reread so many of the Nero Wolfe books and enjoy the good life in the brownstone and the wit and banter in these mysteries that hold their own with re-reading.  Yes, I still have that crush on Archie Goodwin, although I suppose young Jordan would have a better chance with Archie if he were real.  

Now I’m off reading the Roderick Alleyn stories by Ngaio Marsh for The Marsh Madness, the fourth book collector mystery. I must say, I love my job!  Roderick Alleyn is pretty appealing too, an aristocrat who is also a Scotland Yard detective.  Maybe in the course of research I’ll fall in love again.  But right now, Archie Goodwin’s still my main fictional heartthrob.  

How about you?  Do you ever get a crush on a character from a book?  Let’s hear it. There are no secrets here, my friends.  Mind you,  I am tempted to say that Archie’s taken, but I think he’s still playing the field.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Tattoo…sexy or stupid?

I can still remember that phone call from daughter. Guess where I am!

There should be a law against any child anywhere ever starting a conversation with those four words. My son used them when he was in Vegas. Do you know how much trouble there is for a young guy to get into in Vegas! He did it again in New Orleans. Even more trouble there! Any wonder I am totally gray!

But I digress, we’re talking about my daughter and where the heck she was that she shouldn’t have been. This time it was the tattoo parlor...or whatever it’s called!

Sweet Jesus! She was getting a rose tattoo on her back. The back I washed and dried and powdered and put sun block on was now decorated with a tattoo. Would you like to know how nice that didn’t look with a beautiful wedding dress...but I digress again. Kids!

A lot of celebs have tatts. Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie, Keith Urban and a ton of others. Some are so hot and others what the hell were they thinking!

Tattoos sometimes mark you as part of a club...or a gang. In Iced Chiffon the scum-sucking, no-good, low-rent but to die for handsome Walker Boone has a tatt, a 17. In his pubescent years  Walker Boone was part of the Seventeenth Street gang. Now he’s older, wiser and... well you can take the boy out of the hood but the other way around not so much.

What about the hero in your books? Should he or she have a tattoo? Do you find it sexy? And what about the heroine? Personally I love the hidden tatt where when making love there it is. A little extra zip to an already zippy situation.

Do you have a tatt? Where? Why? Ever want to get it off?

Weigh in on this and I’ll give away two of my romances from my other life as Dianne Castell. Remember to check back to see if you won a book. :-)