Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Talent of Mine (Day 19)

All right, honestly. I don't have a major talent. Yes, I can sing. But so can 97% of the population. Yes, folks, that's right. Only 3% of people in the entire world literally can't sing, because they're tone-deaf. I can write you a story. Any story. Fantasy, sci fi, contemporary, historical... whatever. But so can a gazillion other writers, aspiring or otherwise. I can even make an Origami swan out of a gum wrapper, which always dazzles the waitresses at TGI Friday's, but I suspect a lot of people can make cooler stuff like, I don't know, Mickey Mouse heads or boats or something. And as for other, more personal talents... well...

Those are between me and The Hubby.


But as for a bona fide, knock-your-socks off, whoa momma! talent? I got nothing. Nonetheless, because it's a challenge and I said I'd do the darned challenge (though I may regret it before the 30 days are up), I'll share with you this little snippet of wicked ability. True talent at it's best. Seriously. If I could have any skill in the world, anything at all, I'd be doing this right here. Enjoy.

By the way, that's Máiréad Nesbitt of the traditional Irish group Celtic Woman.

Do you have a special talent? If so, I'd love to hear about it!

Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,


Friday, April 29, 2011


To Wills & Kate...
And all the rest of us who got up at the butt-crack of dawn to watch this...

Happy Wedding Day!

Wills & Kate hangin' out

What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.

Finally hitched!

Giving props to an adoring crowd.

More props.

And the girl finally gets her prince.
Don't you just love happy endings?

Especially when, at the end of the day, you get to share a kiss.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Ode to My Favorite Candy (Day 18)

So, today I am to write about whatever tickles my fancy. Truly, a lot of things are doing just that these days. YA novels, particularly Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games series. Addicted to it like nobody's business. Seriously. Ah, the Sucker Punch soundtrack--every single song, backwards, forwards, makes no difference. Amanda Seyfried and Benjamin Godfre, because they're the fresh faces of my work in progress. Fanfiction! Because the good readers at Granger Enchanted are so complimentary and give me wonderful plot ideas. Aeropostale sleep shirts, because oh my goodness, they're soooo comfortable!!

Yeah, so, obviously it's hard to pick. But since I always end each post with Peace, Love, and... you've got it... Junior Mints, I figured... why not? Why not let you in on a little of the history behind this deliciously delectable candy? We all need as many brain creases as we can get, right?

Good, glad to know you're already on board.

Originally created in 1949 by James Welch, Junior Mints is a staple confection with both movie theaters and candy sellers all around the US-of-A. Really, what's not to love? They're small, they're round, and they've got a sumptuous soft peppermint filling inside dark chocolate coating. To quote Rachael Ray, "Deeeee-lish!" What's interesting is that Jimmy created the candy as a bit of a pun off his favorite Broadway play, Junior Miss!, written by the prolific American screenwriter Sally Benson (Meet Me in St. Louis).

After its birth and successful stint with Jim's Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company, Junior Mints went through two more franchises before finally finding a permanent home in 1993 with Tootsie Roll.  Through the years, it's made many star-worthy appearances ranging from music to books to television. In fact, it even played an integral role in the famous TV sitcom Seinfield, where in an episode entitled "The Junior Mint," Jerry and Kramer accidentally dropped one of the small candies into Elaine's ex-boyfriend's abdominal cavity.


As for me, Junior Mints play a very important role in my everyday life. And before you ask, no, I don't eat them every single day. Although if I--and my hips, for that matter--could get away with it, I/they certainly would. But when The Hubby and I venture out to the movies... I have to have Junior Mints (and popcorn and Dr. Pepper). And when I've finished a book, dancing around for joy at the blinking cursor after the period, after the entire text following "Epilogue," I reach for a theater-size box. Of course, then comes editing. And what's the best cure for the editing blues? Junior Mints!

Stephen King, who needs no introductions, brilliant man that he is, indulges in them, too. In fact, he spears several with a toothpick, eats 'em like shish kabob whenever he goes to the theater.  Jessica Simpson mixes a whole box with her popcorn, closes the bag, shakes it up, and has a little sweet 'n salty with her movie. No matter how you enjoy the Junior Mint, they always have that uncanny ability to make you smile. Feel like a kid again. Even to the point you scrunch up your shoulders, wrinkle your nose, and wiggle your toes.

And, really, what's better than that?

So, what's YOUR favorite candy? And when you go to the movies, even if you've just had a monstrous steak dinner, are you like me? Do you smell the popcorn, see the candy behind that shiny glass counter, and salivate all over again?

Peace, Love, and--glory, glory, Hallelujah--Junior Mints for everyone!


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

An Art Piece (Day 17)

A connoisseur of art, I am not.

However, I do enjoy a lovely landscape, a pretty portrait, or a beautiful backdrop just as much as the next person. Especially if it's of the historical variety. That said, for today's charming challenge I'd like to share with you one of my personal favorites from among the many accomplished artists (discovered and starving, alike) all around the glorious globe. (Yes, all right. Enough with adjectives.)

Red Basque by Victoria Frances

Red Basque by 29-year-old Spanish artist Victoria Frances is perhaps the first genuine piece of art I purchased. When I received it from Spain, I rushed to our locally owned Ellis Potter (they have the most talented framing department in three or more parishes, I swear), picked out my mats and frame, and left it in their capable hands.

My Red Basque
Matted & Framed by Ellis Pottery, Bossier City, Louisiana

My apologies for the camera glare, but that room leans toward the dark side (no pun intended). In any event, I love this piece of art. Whenever I walk into the computer room, surrounded by our collection of United Cutlery swords, flails, and axes, the Harry Potter wands, and our family coat of arms, the single thing which always commands my attention is this. The girl in the red corset, surrounded by low burning candles, standing before an ancient... door, perhaps? I'm not exactly certain. But I love her manicured nails and laced gloves. The single black tear falling in a thin rivulet down her fair cheek. I often wonder if she mourns for someone. A lover, perhaps? Did he leave her? Die? Maybe theirs is a forbidden love, and they've been forcibly separated. Truly, the possibilities are endless.

The artwork itself is from Victoria's first portfolio, Favole, a remembrance of Verona, Venice, and Genoa. You can check out this and her other works here, most of which are available for purchase via the worldwide web.

So, what's your favorite work of art? Do you have one? Several? Do you, like me, hold a special penchant for one artist's work in particular? Spill!

Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Song That Makes Me Cry (Day 16)

Many, many songs fit the bill for this particular challenge question/confession. As you know, I love music. Live it, breathe it. Not a day goes by when I haven't listened to at least half a dozen songs and thought about how each and every one might pertain to a scene in my current work in progress. It just happens that way. If a song isn't working for Le Muse, I move to the next one; see if she likes what she hears. If so, plot possibilities begin to appear, patches of dialogue, character epiphanies, and so on.

As you can see or may already know, emotion plays a huge role in the creative process. So, it comes as no surprise when a song, whether by lyrics or music or both, brings tears to my eyes. Heck, sometimes I sob. Have to stop the car, pull over. People pass by, doubtless murmuring, "What in the...??"

All right. So, that's a little dramatic.

Let's just move on to my choice in song for this challenge, then, shall we?

Memories, as performed by Elvis Presley.

Elvis Aaron Presley

I grew up listening to bands like America, The Eagles, and Bread, as well as great solo artists like Jim Croce, Gary Wright, and Conway Twitty. And yes, among these greats, scattered throughout several of my mother's old vinyl records, was the King himself, Elvis Presley. Of all his hits, however, and there are so, so many, this song stands out in my mind as a sort of symbol, a marker for the love I share with my family.

We're a tightly knit bunch, my family. On both sides, too. The lyrics to Memories, the flowing strings, and Elvis's honey-smooth baritone tug at my heartstrings like no other song. When it rolls around on my iPod, I reflect on my mother, all the fun we've had, our struggle to get through some really hard times, and then coming out stronger. Smarter. And much, much closer than ever before.

The lyrics are simple, yet profound. Memorable, as a good song should be. And no matter where I am, whether in the car, walking the track, or in the frozen food section at the local grocer, when it comes on, when I hear those first few notes, I stop. Reflect. And, yes, tears well my eyes. Every time.

So, what song does this for you? And I know you've got one, so don't be shy.

Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,

P.S. Here's a few others that spark my waterworks:  Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol, Pieces by Red, The Dance by Garth Brooks, Romeo and Juliet by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, and Scarborough Fair, traditional.

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Fanfic (Day 15)

Ah, now, this one is just all too easy. Why? Well, because 1) I adore fanfiction and 2) I so happen to write it for J.K. Rowling's fabulous Harry Potter series.

Currently I have one completed and one in progress. The completed fanfic is called The Reason, which I finished a few years ago.  It's not perfect by any means, but I most definitely enjoyed the process of writing it and working through the different scenes, character arcs, etc. More or less, it was a great learning experience, and really paved the way for the next story I wrote, an historical romance entitled Betrothed.

Here's the blurb for The Reason, which can be found here at Granger Enchanted:

Labeled by her peers as the brightest witch of the age, Hermione Granger had no problem landing a prestigious professor's position at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Having recently recovered from a failed relationship, the last thing on her mind is falling love.

Until he enters her life for the second time, and on brand new terms.

The second fanfic, the work in progress, is entitled A Scandalous Proposition. Really, I've had the best time writing this story. It's in first person/present perfect and alternates between Draco & Hermione, a totally new feat for me, as I'm generally accustomed to writing in third person.

Two years after her husband’s tragic accidental death, successful civil attorney Hermione Granger decides she wants a baby. Thing is, she doesn’t want the inevitable man-ties that go with it. But how exactly does one ask a perfect stranger to father one’s child, then discreetly slip away? He would have to be a loner, in for the weekend/out for an eternity kind of guy, which doesn’t fit the description of any man she knows.

Except one.

Private Auror Liaison Draco Malfoy has kept his distance from London—and, for that matter, England—over the past decade. A constant traveler, he successfully executes highly classified cases for the International Auror Division of the Ministry of Magic. He slides, slips, and steals his way through life, a clandestine agent to the Ministry, a vapor to society. But when the head Auror summons him for a special mission, one that will put the last known Death Eater behind bars in Azkaban, Draco discovers a long-forgotten link to his iniquitous past.

Her name is Hermione Granger.

And she’s got a scandalous proposition.

A Scandalous Proposition can be read here, again at Granger Enchanted.

So, I'm curious... Do you read fanfiction? And if so, which ones? Have you written on yourself? Ever considered it? Do you find it helps with your own original works, as I do? If you have written a fanfic, please post the link! I'd love to give it a gander!

Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

E ternity held its breath
A nd sent the Holy Child:
S avior of all the earth,
T o God's will reconciled, 
E nsnared by bonds of death -
R esurrected undefiled.

To all my friends and family, to all of you out there celebrating the true meaning behind this glorious day, Happy, Happy Easter. "May God grant you always... A sunbeam to warm you, a moonbeam to charm you, a sheltering Angel so nothing can harm you. Laughter to cheer you. Faithful friends near you. And whenever you pray, Heaven to hear you."

Peace, Love, Junior Mints, and Easter Goodness for All,


Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Nonfictional Book (Day 14)

Nonfiction reading is not exactly one of my favorite past times. Well. Not like reading the good old standard fictional novel. My mother is actually the nonfiction reader of the family, and it is quite difficult--and futile, I've come to discover--to persuade her otherwise. But it's absolutely necessary from time to time, because I'm a writer, and what do writers find themselves doing throughout the course of nearly every single story? You got it.

Research. And it doesn't matter what you write: contemporary, fantasy, science fiction, memoir. Before the fat lady sings, you're gonna have to crack open some factual account of... well, something. You simply cannot escape it.

If you're an historical writer, like me, you're probably in possession of one or two--maybe several--bookshelves dedicated to historical and biographical accounts, diaries, maps, etc. etc. My one (lovingly built by The Hubby, thank you very much) features titles like What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew, Georgette Heyer's Regency World, Wellington's Victories, The Prince of Pleasure, The Recollections of Rifleman Harris, and (one of my personal favorites) a 1960-ish edition hardback atlas I've used since childhood. (Every time I open that collection of maps, I have to get a good whiff of the pages. Love the pungent, musky aroma of old books.)

To pick one out of the many I've had to either thumb through or read from cover to cover for whatever bit of information I've needed at the time proved to be a more difficult feat than this challenge's first request (favorite song), but I do believe I've narrowed it down to a single title.
(This is what my copy looks like)

First, a little bit of history about the author. Marcus ruled as Emperor of Rome from April 26, 121 to March 17, 180. A busy reign, his was. At the time, Rome had set out to conquer the world. The Parthian Empire, Marcomanni, Sarmatians, and Quadi--and that's just to name a few--fell hard to his ruthless, highly advanced armies. The book we call "Meditations," whose Greek title actually means "To Himself," was written during an entire decade of these battles (170-180) and is not only one of the greatest philosophical works of all time, but is revered as a literary monument of service and duty, guidance and inspiration.

Why do I love this book so much? Firstly, it was given to me by my mother. Yes, the nonfiction reader of the family. When I received it in the mail some years ago, taped inside the front cover lay this note: "I do so hope you enjoy this book; I know I have. You'll reflect on it time and time again."  All throughout, my mother's perfect flowing handwriting appears. Highlights and underlines. Scripture, definitions, and her own personal thoughts written in the margins. She must've spent days, possibly a week or two, making certain she left no page unturned. No bit of philosophy without some comment or comparable Biblical scripture.

Page after page reflects a man's search for wisdom, his appreciation to those who taught him, a fierce love for his closest friends and his family. He even respected his enemies and those who diligently sought to find fault in his personal beliefs. In regards to the critic Alexander, a Greek scholar known as 'the Grammarian,' he says, "It was the critic Alexander who put me on my guard against unnecessary fault-finding. People should not be sharply corrected for bad grammar, provincialisms, or mispronunciation; it is better to suggest the proper expression by tactfully introducing it oneself in, say, one's reply to a question or one's acquiescence in their sentiments."

To Maximus (Claudius Maximus, the Stoic philosopher, not Maximus the general from Gladiator, although that would've been really cool) he says, "He was my model for self-control, fixity of purpose, and cheerfulness under ill-health or other misfortunes.  His character was an admirable combination of dignity and charm, and all the duties of his station were performed quietly and without fuss."

I could go on and on, there's so much wisdom to be had in this short account of the Emperor's musings. For me, it's been one of those bedside books. Pick it up, read a passage, put it down, turn out the light, and then meditate on what you've just read. I've used excerpts in my own writing, as well. Even had a secondary character who labeled Marcus Aurelius as his most favorite philosopher, and therefore quoted bits and pieces of wisdom to his children whenever the notion struck or the particular scene or issue at hand called for it.

So, I ask you, gentle reader... What work of nonfiction do you hold most dear? Is there a particular book to which you return over and over? Is it for research? Pleasure? I'd love to add some new spines to my shelf!

Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,


Friday, April 22, 2011

A Fictional Book (Day 13)

Oh! I could hardly wait for this one! *claps hands gleefully*  And then, of course, I sit here, fingertips at the ready, thinking to myself, "Well, how in the heck are you going to pick just one out of the hundreds upon thousands of wonderfully delicious books out there??" 

So, I figure since YA's totally ticklin' my fancy at the moment, I'll share one of the first I read that really, really gripped me. And by gripped I mean on the edge of your seat, gasping every other minute, can't put the book down because you've just gotta know what happens next or you'll die, told the hubby (or wifey, whichever) you just needed to read a little bit to make yourself drowsy, but the chapter ended on a cliffhanger and, oh my gosh, you just have to go on, and before you realize what's happened it's 3 o'clock in the morning and you've gotta get up in 2 hours...

Yeah, it's that kind of story.  

From the back of the book:  

Winning will make you famous. Losing means certain death. In a dark vision of the near future, a terrifying reality TV show is taking place. Twelve boys and twelve girls are forced to appear in a live event called The Hunger Games. There is only one rule: kill or be killed.

But sixteen year old Katniss Everdeen has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.

What an amazing tale, folks. Written in first person/present perfect, Suzanne's nail-biting futuristic novel puts us directly in the shoes of District 12's female tribute Katniss Everdeen.  She's smart, incredible with a bow & arrow, and she loves her family. Fiercely. In fact, there's not anything she won't do to ensure their safety and well being.  Even if that means fighting 23 other girls and boys, some of whom are, like, Amazon huge, to the death.

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen

Her male counterpart, Peeta, is the son of a baker. Quiet, loyal, and honest. Handsome. He's not as good at this fighting business as Katniss, but he's got something even better. A way with words, especially for the public on whom they so desperately rely. Charm and gentle humor. And a secret--one he's kept bottled up inside since the dawn of adolescence--that'll turn the tables and their violent-minded world topsy-turvy when you least expect it.

Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark

I won't spoil the rest, because each and every one of you is going to read it, right? Right? Good! 

But I will say this:  It's been a long time since I've experienced such a raw, unadulterated thrill from a story. The Hunger Games is not only deserving of that most coveted slot on your Keeper Shelf, it begs to be read more than twice. Thrice, even. Perhaps you should read it every year as a sort of tradition or something. Really, it's that good. In fact, when I finished this book--a Sunday evening; The Hubby was watching a movie and playing Farmville on FB--I literally gasped, shot off the couch, raced to my laptop, pulled up Amazon, and (thank you God for the Buy Now with 1-Click® button!) immediately purchased the next in the series, Catching Fire.

The Hubby, bless his heart, merely stared at me, unblinking, and after several long moments said, "What the heck just happened?"

"She just--" inhaled deeply, willed heart to slow back down to normal "--left me hanging!! I had to get the next one. I just had to!"

As could be expected, The Hubby simply shrugged and went back to Farmville, because he anticipates this sort of behavior out of me from time to time. Especially when it comes to reading and/or writing.

Anyways. Get the book, check it out at your local library, whatever. I promise, you won't be disappointed. Oh! And they're even making a movie out of it next year! Hence, the pics of Katniss and Peeta. Enjoy!

And while you're finding out how to grab a copy of The Hunger Games... Tell me:  What particular work of fiction really tickles your fancy? What book can you go back to over and over and over, and it still rocks your world... every... single... time?

Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,


Thursday, April 21, 2011

A New Story's Ticklin' My Fancy! (Day 12)

As I mentioned in posts previous, I am currently at work on a new story.  A tale of a young girl, seventeen or thereabouts, who falls into a state of comatose and shortly thereafter finds herself in between worlds.  Interim, I've chosen to call it. At least, for now.  And I guess there is as good a place to start as any.

What exactly is... interim? By definition, interim means a temporary pause in a line of succession or event. It is often used as an appositive noun, thereby serving as an adjective meaning "in between," "transitional," or "temporary."  It suggests a time intervening.  An... in the meantime. Or, an interval between events.

And that, dear reader, is precisely the pickle in which our heroine, Samantha Chase, finds herself.  One moment she's looking down at her friends, all of whom gaze up at her from the cool river water, urging her to jump, and the next she's... here. In this strange place. And in possession of an equally strange ability.  Foresight, or so it certainly seems.  But how did she get here?  And why?

So, for a little bit of fun on this fine Thursday morning (tomorrow's Good Friday and no work... hooray!), I'd like to share with you an excerpt from Chapter 1 of my current WIP.  Mayhap, if we cross our fingers real, real tight, it'll end up on the YA bookshelf in your local bookstore sometime in the (preferably) not-too-distant-future. Cheers! And pre-thank you for reading. :)  

            No one knows when they’re going to die.
Not for certain.
Oh, we’ve all listened to the drivel of proclaimed prophets, of gypsies and mediums, psychics, palm-readers, and infomercial preachers. But none of those flamboyant fools can really predict the future. Or dredge up the past. They can’t, with the snap of a finger, the scanning of a few tarot cards, or the pass of a hand over a crystal ball, predict when a person will take their last breath. See their last sky. Weep their last tear.
Because they’ve never been there. Never experienced the terrifying strangulation, the mortal pain, the sheer panic of death’s unyielding stronghold.
But I have.
I have, and let me tell you… It’s not all it’s cracked up to be. And, please, spare me the dumbfounded expression. Every last person in mankind knows exactly what I’m talking about. Because we’ve all been led to believe death is just a natural part of life. The End is the Beginning is the End, to quote Smashing Pumpkins, though I’m not so sure even Billy Corgan understands the true meaning of afterlife proceeding death. Or vice-versa.
And, yes. There is a vice-versa.
But I’ll get to that later.
Passing from one realm to the next should be easy, right? We do the best we can on earth, drift into death while sleeping – or, in my case, while attempting to prove I really can free-jump off Plymouth Bridge with the popular kids – and then… bam! There we are enjoying the good life, floating down a chocolate river and sipping on a blue raspberry ICEE, while admiring our new home in the clouds. Sounds a bit like Willa Wonka decorated Heaven, I know, but that’s how I’ve always pictured it.
Before you ask, no. I’m not dead.
At least, I don’t think I am.
One, there’s no chocolate river in this… place. Two, I’m parched, but I see no Seven-Eleven for my blessed ICEE, only blocks upon blocks of dilapidated buildings with busted windows and big red X’s on the front doors – that is, the ones that actually have doors. Three, soot and ash, not big fluffy clouds, and some substance which looks too close to blood to be anything but, scatters the blacktopped streets.
I can almost hear Dorothy whispering, “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore, Toto.”
I remember very little of the accident. Flashes, really. Nervousness roiled low and persistent in my belly, heart hammered wildly in my ears, much as it is here, now. I could barely make out the sound of my friends, half-submerged and cheering me on from the water below. Christian Harlowe resting his lean tanned arms on a black inner tube, golden head craned backward. Squinting those deep blue eyes up at me.
Gosh, how I love those eyes.
Unfortunately he chose that moment to turn them on Larissa Slade, the dark-haired goddess of our little group. She’s beautiful, fun, fearless, and she’s known Christian since kindergarten.
I only just met him last year, when Dad’s job moved us to Cherokee County, Iowa, and I matriculated into Aurora High.
Tough break for a girl on the tails of her junior year. But one smile from Christian Harlowe, captain of the football team, track star, and, I soon learned, the most popular boy in school, made everything – the awkwardness of my parent’s divorce, uprooting from our posh London condo to a 1960’s subdivision in America’s farmland, God help me – all worthwhile.
Yeah, I can do this, I thought. Foolishly, of course, now I look back.
Deep breath. More nervousness. The tiny hairs on my neck, just beneath my long blond ponytail, stood on end.
“Come on, Chase, jump! The water’s warm!”
That’s me. Samantha Chase. Sam, to most people. And those particular words of encouragement coming from Del Ringgold, my best friend, who always calls me Chase just to be different and ornery, meant the aforementioned water was probably freezing.
Nevertheless, I inhaled deep through my nostrils, shook my hair from where it had lodged in the back of my Speedo one-piece, and jumped. Mere milliseconds passed, but I remember the rush of the wind, the whistle of it in my ears, the faint gurgling bark of a heron. I could’ve sworn it pleaded for me to, “Stop! Stop! Stop!”
But I couldn’t.
The impact came swift. Blinding to every sense. I remember trying to imagine what went wrong, how I’d managed to muss up a simple cannonball that badly.
I sank fast. Panicked. Tried to scream, and water filled my mouth, rushed straight into my lungs. Helpless, I fought for purchase, struggled and kicked to swim upward – up, up, up – but to no avail. Invisible chords reeled me lower. Lower still. My hands flailed, gripped nothing but liquid space.
To fight suddenly became inconceivable. Useless. Blackness overtook light. Surrounded me like a woolen blanket, fresh out of the dryer. I gave in, fell into nothingness.
And now…
Now I’m here. Wherever here is.
Smoke billows upward, pillar-like, in the distance. Beyond the tops of the mottled stone buildings, dark gray clouds hover in monstrous clumps, thick and completely opaque. The atmosphere resembles nothing short of a warzone. Chaotic, and yet… eerily quiet. One would almost think to hear machine guns and helicopter blades, not the phantasmal chill of dead silence.
I move forward, carefully, because my feet are bare. In fact, whoever saw fit to send me here apparently didn’t think to provide me with a new set of clothes. God? I wonder, and quickly push the notion aside. Certainly I’d be in diaphanous white robes or a Juicy tracksuit or something less… well, revealing than a swimsuit if I were in Heaven.
No. This is definitely not the work of angels. Fallen angels, maybe, though surely even they have higher standards than an atmosphere which, now I think about it, looks very much like a set from one of the Terminator films.
Chills slither all over my skin, and I rub my upper arms, inch forward. An odd silvery disc, no bigger than a quarter, rolls past, slowly. Grazes each of my OPI Holy Pink Pagoda! painted toes, as though controlled by some unseen force. My heartbeat quickens, sweat forms on my upper lip. Suddenly I am aware of much more than the spooky buildings, gothic skies, and the fact that I’m standing virtually naked on a trashed street.
How long have I been here? Yesterday’s pedicure still looks fresh (though it will doubtless be ruined should I stay much longer), but was it really yesterday? Did the accident just happen? If so, then it’s Saturday, and nothing bad happens on the weekend, right? Or maybe that’s just on Sundays. Heck, I don’t know.
I look again at my feet, the only color in this gloomy place besides my African violet one-piece. The disc, lingering beside my left pinky-toe, vanishes. Literally. Into thin air.
Of their own accord, my eyes seal shut.
And then it happens.

That's all for now. But I'll most definitely drag the lot of you through research and all sorts of paranormal goodness as I plunge deeper into the story. Hope you stay along for the joyride.

Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Photo of Me Taken Recently (Day 11)

(From L to R) Scottie, Monte, Me & The Hubby

This is actually a couple years old, but I don't make a huge habit out of allowing pictures to be taken of me. Call me crazy, but I don't like it. The last photos of yours truly were actually snapped in California, but they're professional wedding pics, and I don't wanna get in trouble with BFF's expensive photographer by posting one of 'em without permission.

All right.  Enough with the why's and why not's.  This was taken outside Monte's hotel room in New Orleans, right before the Bengals/Saints pre-season game.  Yes, yes, before you spaz, start name-calling, or throwing rotten tomatoes or whatever... The Hubby and I are Bengals fans, because he's an Ohio boy, and I didn't give a rat's butt about football before I met him.  Why?  I guess because none of my guy friends in high school bothered to explain it to me while we sat in the stands during third quarter with the band, sipping on hot chocolate and playing Louie, Louie half a million times.  Then again, it could also be because the flag line had a better time making fun of our cheerleaders, rather than actually paying attention to the game.

Go figure.

Anyways. This was a great time, as you can tell by the wide smiles.  The Saints fans were nice, of course, because everyone's happy when they're in New Orleans.  Seriously, strangers come up to you, hug your neck right there in the middle of the street as if you're a long lost relative or some such.  Cars honk.  Some drunk on the sidewalk raises his glass and yells something you can't understand, because it's Cajun Coon-Ass and, therefore, might as well be a foreign language.  The owner of a jazz bar on Bourbon sticks his head out his tatty open door and yells for you to come in, sit down a while, have a drink, and you tell him you can't, because you're going to the game.

"Ah ha!" he yells. "Geaux Saints!"  And, yes.  They do spell it that way down here.

Now, any excuse to go to New Orleans and we're on it.

So, do YOU have a favorite destination/location?  Just a nice, quick weekend getaway?

Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Photo of Me Taken Over 10 Years Ago (Day 10)

Wow.  This photo was taken by the wife of our banjo player back in, I don't know, '98-ish?  Oh, yeah.  Didn't I tell you?  I used to sing lead in a bluegrass band called Southern Express.  Surprised?  Seriously, I love the stuff.  In case you're uninformed or perhaps even misinformed (as so many are who think bluegrass is, like, a twangy spin-off of country western... not even... more like the other way around, hello), bluegrass is enigmatically close to jazz with all its extemporaneous solos, perfect harmonies, tales of love and loss and murder because of it.  And, oh my, the people you meet at festivals are so nice.  If they love you, they scream for more. You may sing three encores of one song, just so they can bask in the heartfelt (or murderous, whichever) lyrics, the supersonic guitar pickin', and/or the voices that make you swear you're in heaven, listenin' to the heavenly angels themselves.

Yep.  We had a grand time.  Unfortunately, we eventually went our separate ways.  But I keep in touch with our guitar player, who still picks and gives lessons and is, like, one of the most talented people I know or, I suspect, ever will know.  It's most definitely one of the best times of my life, a time I shall never forget for all the fond memories I made with my fellow band-mates.

As a treat, here's a video of Brittany & Briana Pearse singing the famous "Down in the Willow Garden," one of them there murder songs I was tellin' ya 'bout. :)  Oh, and while you're at it, tell me one or two of your fondest memories. Is it from childhood? Adulthood? Were you a Mighty Morphin Power Ranger in another life?

Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,


Monday, April 18, 2011

A Photo I Took (Day 9)

I took this last year, I believe, at my parents' farm in Gulfport, Mississippi.  I had gone out to take a few shots of the horses, and this young fella--jet black, but you'd never know from the setting sun throwing red streaks in his mane--became really curious about what I was doing.  He followed me around everywhere, sticking his muzzle in the camera, ears pricked forward, eyes wide.  At this point, I had attempted to sneak behind a tree, get a good shot of the sun sinking into the horizon.  But two seconds later, his head popped from around the corner and I literally clicked the button at that very moment, not meaning for a horse's head to be in the foreground of the gorgeous sunset.

At any rate, it turned out cute, I think, and proved to be a rather humorous memory of that late afternoon.

Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,


Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Photo that Makes Me Angry/Sad (Day 8)

I thought and thought on this one, and wow, what a thing to choose on a Sunday, of all days, right?  But really, nothing hurts my heart more than to see a picture or television commercial or program of animals in shelters. Three or four weeks ago, on a Saturday, The Hubby and I went to our local PetSmart to purchase a few toys for our babies; we have four dogs & one cat--yes, we're enormous pet-lovers and would totally have more if we didn't live in a subdivision.  Well, as most of you who own pets know, Saturday is Adoption Day at PetSmart.  So, what was on the cat toy aisle this day?

You got it. Wire cages. Each with a dog or cat who so desperately needed a home.  The first dog I saw was a large-breed female, older--maybe 5 or 6--whose adoption fee had gone down to, like, half-price (most are $60), because I'm guessing she'd been there for a long time.  She looked up at me with those sad eyes, and I swear I heard her whimper, "Please, Lady. Please take me. I really don't like this place anymore."

My husband, bless him, took my hand, squeezed it, and said, "Baby, you know we can't."  And, yes, I knew. But it still hurt so bad that I had to get out of there.  Literally, I was tearing through people and pets (excuse me, excuse me, I'm so sorry, excuse me...) to get to the next aisle.  There, I sobbed for a good minute or so, my husband rubbing my back, before I finally looked at him and said, "Why do they always take the puppies? Why can't someone, anyone, just take the older dog for once??"

He didn't respond.  Because really, what response is there?  It's the same way with adopting a human child; why should adopting a pet be any different?  But it is.  It truly is.

At any rate, I left with my heart hurting and swore I'd never go back on a Saturday, unless I could take one home. I will say this: Please, people, please. Don't buy from pet stores. ADOPT. RESCUE. Because, yes, non-kill shelters do exist, but the majority practice euthanasia. And why shouldn't every dog or cat be given the opportunity to just live?  When I got my French Papillon, Despereaux aka Dez, brought him home, and put him outside, on our lush green lawn, he froze. Limbs board-straight, little brown eyes wide. For a while, he shook, and it took several seconds for me to realize:  He'd never seen grass before! Never felt it beneath his little paws, smelled all its wonderful, earthy aromas.

Yes, I cried. Wouldn't you?

So, if you're in the market for a pet, check your local shelters--most of them these days even have online sites, where you can view all the precious canines and felines looking for homes.  You can also check out, as well as

Thanks for reading, y'all.  Oh!  Tell me what picture makes you angry or sad!  War pictures are another which always bring tears to my eyes.  Why can't we all just get along? 

Peace, Love, Junior Mints, and homes for all animals, whether domestic or safe in the wild,
The Animal Rescue Site

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Photo that Makes Me Happy (Day 7)

(From L to R:  Temper, Momma, & Red)

Love this picture. I think, I think, it was taken by my stepdad during the Christmas holidays two years ago. Why does it make me happy? It's my mother, and this is definitely one of the moments when she's at her happiest. That is, whenever she's with her horses. She's a naturally happy person: nice to everyone, strangers, friends, and family alike.  Loves a good joke, watches Fox News, A&E, and the History Channel like nobody's business, unless of course she's reading, which she also does frequently--mainly her Bible, nonfiction, biography-type, and factual accounts, etc.

Always, always, she's been a model of inspiration for me.  A true southern belle, lady-to-the-core, she believes in maintaining decorum at all times (even when you think no one's looking), politeness to all (even when you don't feel like it), and a close, close relationship with God (even when you think He must not see little old you, with all your minor problems that don't include world hunger, etc.).  She's forever encouraging me to strive and strive hard. To reach my goals, and do it honorably, without stepping on toes or hurting feelings. To never forget where I came from: a small town in South Mississippi, a place that most believe to be backwards and so behind on the times, cell phones must be an enigma, right?

So, here's to my momma. A lady, a friend, and the best mother a girl could ask for. Thanks for sharing your love with me, your intelligence and wisdom, and, most of all, for believing in me, even when I didn't believe in myself.  I love you.

And I'd love to know what picture makes YOU happy, too, folks!  Is it of someone you know? Something? How about an art print? Share! :) ~ 

Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,

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