Wednesday, January 28, 2009

THANKFUL THURSDAY

Posting a little early for Thankful Thursday. Tomorrow is a very busy day.



Today I was reminded how thankful I am for .........Books.



Here is my sometimes-quiet-corner, where I like to sip tea, and explore a new life in a novel.



Books are on my mind today because of our remodeling project. Since the laundry room is being moved, our laundry chute has to be relocated, too. It is going from beside our dresser, in a corner, to the closet in our bathroom.


Out of sight, yes! The carpenter in my bedroom (to get to the bathroom) uh oh. Gotta do some quick clean-up before he comes.

In this case, a quick clean-up involves hiding our stash of books. They are on the bedside tables, on the headboard, on the footboard, and stacked on the floor next to the bed. Really.

Here is the edited TBR pile for my DH.....


.....and for me.



Sooooo......This is what I cleared off the nightstands, headboard, footboard, and floor in our room:

That's right, an ENTIRE LAUNDRY BASKET FULL OF BOOKS! I hid them in our sons' room (they're sharing a room during construction) and as I was stuffing the books in the basket, I was reminded how much reading means to our family. When the architect asked what we wanted in our redone space, DH and I shouted, "Lots of bookshelves!"

We all read a lot. We love books, and give them as gifts. We inherited a fantastic library from my F-I-L and bought a special bookcase for his books.

I can't imagine going through life without books. I have explored the frozen seas with Shackelton, traveled to distant galaxies with Miles Vorkosigan, gone back in time to Hawaii before European contact, and helped to hunt down a murderer in New Jersey all in the past week.



And who snuggles up with us when we read before bed?

The shelties, of course.

What are you thankful for today?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

ONE WORLD-ONE HEART

The local paper said that we may have the fourth January in history that will not get above freezing. So, on a chilly January morning, this is something to warm your heart.

Over at Lisa's blog, she has organized a world-wide bloggers' give-away. Share your art, photography, or crafts with bloggers all over the world, and give a bit of your creativity and warmth to someone else. AND discover cool people, too. There are currently 709 participants. The world just got a little friendlier.

Click the icon below to get more information on the project.
Photo

Participation guidelines are here.


Now, for my little contribution:

If you have an active blog, and comment here on this post, between today and February 11, 10 pm CST, I will draw 4 names to get a set of eight note cards with envelopes, each featuring one of the tropical blooms below. (I'm participant # 622. There's still time for you to sign-up, too.)

Please be sure to leave a way for me to contact you--either a link to your blog, or your email, with your comments. I will announce the winners on February 12.


















*sigh* I can feel my toes thawing out already. I can't wait to hear from everyone.



Have a warm day,

Fiona

Monday, January 26, 2009

What is this?

Photo

Click on, and find a blogging world full of cool people who are giving away stuff.

I just found out about it, so I'm trying to come up with a way to participate. Most likely, I'll whip up some note cards from sheltie and tabby photos.

Stop back by tomorrow afternoon and see what I've created.

BOOK OF THE WEEK



My book of the week is SOME LIKE IT HOT BUTTERED by Jeffery Cohen.

Laugh-out-loud funny, with a great mystery. The murder is "off the page" so there is no gore, and the "romance" part is sweet.

I love the "voice" of this writer. He's smart, funny, and great at portraying believable characters. I love his references to old movies. Now I'll have to request them from the library.

His humor was perfect for me. The arctic blast, hobbling on a cast, and my DH gone for a week had put me in a winter funk. This book lifted me right out. I enjoyed it so much that I ordered his other books, too. I need some humor in my life.

I checked and they have all of his books at our library, too.

Have some fun and check out this new-to-me author.

UPDATE: Jeffery Cohen is blogging today. Check it out.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

BLOG OF THE WEEK

This blog is a joy to read, even as it makes me feel like the biggest slacker-mom in the universe!

I love her voice, the recipes are amazing, and I have spent way too much time enjoying her photos.


I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

THANKFUL THURSDAY.......MUSIC


Over at Rhondi’s blog, it is THANKFUL THURSDAY, and I'm joining in for a second time.

I am thankful for music, and violin music in particular.

My sons have played violin since they were very little, and it is such a joy for me to hear them play. After dinner is practice time. It is one of the most special times of my day. They are classically trained, but they play American and Swedish fiddle music, too.



Enjoy Joshua Bell's performance:




I can't imagine a world without music.

Now, I'm off to piano lessons---I just started in September.


Do you have a favorite style of music? A favorite instrument? What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Contemplating Change

I watched the inauguration yesterday with my kids, and was so proud of my country. We had a transition from one major political party to the other. Peacefully. With a million people in the streets--not to riot, but to celebrate.

Eight years ago, a President was inaugurated who lost the popular vote, but was judged to have won the electoral vote. There was no need for martial law, or suspension of elections, to have the transition.

Now, this is not a political blog, so I'm not going to wax poetic on which inauguration sent me to the moon, but I WILL say how thrilled I am that these transitions take place peacefully.

Four or eight years from now, someone else will be sworn in, and perhaps from the party not in power now. I expect that to go on without hysteria, too.

I am so thankful to live in a country where this can take place. We can vote without fear of violence. We can have transfer of power from one major party to another without civil war. I don't have to fear change. I know my vote counts. I can speak out against politicians and not fear loss of life or liberty.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

COMMENT MODERATION ON

Comment Moderation is back ON, due to spam posted in comments yesterday.

When dreams become a reality.....

I wanted to put this up yesterday, but was not feeling up to posting.

My sons have seen this so many times, they have memorized much of the speech.

As the mother of Asian-American children, this has a special meaning for me. I pray that the world will be a better place when they are adults. And I hope that they are part of the reason the world is a better place.





What are your dreams? What are you doing to make them a reality?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Taking the day off



My new look for the next couple of weeks. Stylish, isn't it?

I tripped over the step stool in the kitchen last night. I can't even blame a cat on this one, just me being a klutz.

The xray this morning shows two breaks in the base of the fourth toe on my right foot. The foot looks like it has been tie-died.

Ice and tylenol are in my future.


See you tomorrow.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

10 things I love...

Betsy has tagged me with a meme. Here's how you can join in: post a comment, AND ask for a letter (I get to pick the letter, but I promise it won't be "X"). Feel free to post even if you don't want to play.

TEN THINGS I LOVE, THAT BEGIN WITH the letter "F".......

1. FAMILY--see my THANKFUL THURSDAY POST.

2. FRIENDS--I have been blessed with wonderful friends.

3. FORGIVENESS--what a wonderful thing to receive, and give.

4. FREEDOM. Living in the U.S., I have so much freedom--more than most people in history, and more than many people in other countries. I don't want to turn this into a political post, but I am grateful, and mindful, of the freedom I enjoy.

5. FICTION-- reading it and writing it. I can't imagine life without stories.

6. FLOWERS. I love to see them, smell them, and even eat them---yes, there are many edible flowers, and I have a section of my garden devoted to them.

7. FUR--when it's still connected to a critter: the silky fur on Mr. Whiskers; the lush coat of Skitter Kitten; the magnificent ruff of Scooby; the resplendent pelage of Baby.

8. FRUIT. Since Christmas, I have eaten fruit with every meal. Mango, papaya, grapefruit, pineapple, tangerine, pear, persimmon, pomegranate, orange, banana...........

9. FIREFLIES--they are summer, and childhood dreams.

10. FLANNEL SHEETS. Trust me, when it's -24, you'd love them, too.


BTW, this is my fiftieth blog post!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

BLOG OF THE WEEK

My blog of the week this week has the most beautiful birds and is sure to give me a smile.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Mr. Whiskers



Mr Whiskers found some sun on the coldest day of the year.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

THANKFUL THURSDAY


Over at Rhondi’s blog, it is THANKFUL THURSDAY, so I'm going to join the fun.


I have so many reasons to be thankful, not only today, but every day. I'll hit the high points:

I have a husband who is wonderful. My mother told me the day I married him if she had been able to choose who I was to marry, she would have picked him. Her opinion, and mine, have not changed in two decades.

I am blessed with two fabulous children. The journey to parenthood was a long a difficult one. We were married over five years before our first son arrived. Three years later, our family was complete with our second son. Now that they're in the teen and tween years, I am still thankful, every day, for the privilege of being their mother.

We have everything in life we need--- a secure job, a safe home, a church we love, excellent schools, and (mostly) good health and wonderful family and friends.


I have the opportunity to pursue writing as a career. This has been a dream of mine for years, and now I am doing it full-time, or as full-time as anything can be with a husband, two kids, and various other responsibilities.


Thanks for letting me join your THANKFUL THURSDAY, RHONDI.


What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

PROGRESS?


Home office progress.

The concrete is out. Insulation should be installed this week, I hope. A new floor over that is due next week. So.....the dust, dirt, and noise are GOOD THINGS, I keep telling myself.


Skitter Kitten disagrees.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

TWENTY BELOW--THAT' S FAHRENHEIT, FOLKS

"Is it cold enough for you?"

That will be the greeting of the day. It was twenty below (for those of you who haven't had coffee--it's FIFTY-TWO below freezing) when we got up this morning. Minus 38, with windchill.

The dogs look at us like it's our fault.

The conventional answer is, "It could be worse."

And it has been. January 1996, it was THIRTY-FOUR BELOW. That is not windchill, but actual air temperature. Schools state-wide were closed--for cold.

This is why you hear about "Minnesota nice"----you never know who you will need to jump start your car or push you out of a snowbank.

Twenty below---it's what makes us Minnesotans.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Reading is on the Rise

According to a new report from THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS, reading is on the rise! This is great news for writers and book-lovers.

When people are reading, they are buying books. Writers have a better chance of selling their work if publishers know the readers are out there. So....

Readers will have a larger selection of books.

Good news for everyone.

Any good news in your world?

BOOK OF THE WEEK



THE PRICE by Alexandra Sokoloff

If the classification of "HORROR" tends to call up images of slasher movies and badly written books, think again.

One of my New Year's resolutions was to read outside of my comfort zone (mysteries, literary fiction, and SF are my staples for fiction) and this was the first book on my list. I took it with me on my vacation. I haven't read much horror since high school, but I had the pleasure of meeting Alex in San Francisco at RWA, and I enjoy her posts on craft at MURDERATI, so I took THE PRICE along.

I was glad I did.

The story was heart-rending and disturbing---in a good way. It made me think, "What would I be willing to do to save my DH or my kids?"

I love it when a book moves me and makes me think.

Many years ago, I worked in a Childrens' hospital, and found Alex's portrayal of that environment nuanced and accurate. I hate to discuss the plot more, because I don't want to ruin one minute of your enjoyment discovering the story yourself.

What have you read recently outside your "comfort zone" and did you like it? What makes you pick up a new author's book? What is in your to-be-read pile?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

BLOG OF THE WEEK

Author J. A. Konrath's blog is a wealth of information for new writers.

Check it out.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Happy Birthday.....


to me.

Dh has been down with a stomach bug---I promise, no details----so we're going out tonight to celebrate my birthday.

Before kids, we'd celebrate New Year's Eve and my birthday together (my birthday's the third), but that hasn't happened in years. Now, we do a nice dinner out and are home early.

Each time we go out to a nice place (for birthdays or anniversaries) we find ourselves seated next to DRAMA. First date disasters; obviously bored couples; little kids who are up way past their bedtimes; and the worst--- business travelers who mistake the dining room for their office and have laptop and papers strewn over the table and who shout into their cellphone while we try to whisper sweet nothings.

I wish I could write romantic comedy; there is so much material in our "dates."

So, happy belated birthday to me.

This year is a BIG birthday for my DH (in the fall), so I may throw a surprise party for him. I would hate to have have one thrown for me, though.


How do you celebrate your birthday? Do you enjoy a fancy dinner out? Have you experienced dining disasters? What's your opinion about surprise parties?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Someone in need

My sister's family experienced a tragedy 4 years ago. They had an electrical fire and due to smoke and water damage, lost the entire contents of their home. They were safe, all the pets were rescued, but they literally only had the clothes on their backs.

It took almost a year to rebuild, but the loss continues to this day: Photos that can never be replaced, the rocking chair that had been in the family for four generations, hand-written recipes from our grandmother, my nephew's guitar collection which was not covered by the insurance, my niece's doll collection from all over the world.

They rebuilt, moved on, and still grieve.

That is why when I read about author Travis Erwin and his family's loss, I wanted to help and help spread the word.

He, his wife, and kids are safe, but I'm sure you can only imagine how awful it must be to loose EVERYTHING.

Here's a link for where you can help.

Now, go check your smoke detectors!

Spelling Bee



AS the only one in the family who can spell without spell check, Bug Boy easily made it into the school spelling bee. DH and I decided to be fairly hands-off and let him enjoy the experience. There was no cramming, no flashcards or word lists. We went over the expectations last night and put him to bed a little early.

After eight rounds, with fourteen contestants, he won. Now I wonder, is this a blessing or a curse? Do we prepare for the district round, or leave it alone?



Anyone out there have experience with spelling bees? How about advice for the parent who doesn't want to be ONE OF THOSE PARENTS? Can you spell without spell check?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

And that's why we call him....

BUG BOY!



My youngest son got his glasses when he was two. When we came home from the eye doctor's office, we headed straight for the park. The first thing he noticed were the ants--he could not see them before he got glasses. He's been "BUG BOY" ever since. As soon as he could pronounce it, he told me he was going to be an entomologist.

I had never considered New Orleans as a family vacation destination, but this changed my mind. Our school district has a five day weekend in October, and I think the the Audubon Insectarium will be our first stop.

BTW, that's a praying mantis on his head. I screamed; he insisted on a picture.

Do you like bugs or think they all need to be stepped on? What is your secret passion? Do others in your life share it? Willingly? What new world has someone in your life opened up for you?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A FEW MORE FLOWERS

Cold and snowy, so I was looking through some pictures that made me feel warm.




And the winner........

OK, let's make that WINNERS. I'm feeling generous today. Maybe it was due to the SIX HOURS I got to write yesterday, or maybe it's because it was 20 above zero today, but Phylliso and Betsy are winners.


Phylliso and Betsy, email me at fionakcrawford (@) gmail (.) com with your snail mail address, and copies of DIE FOR ME and SCREAM FOR ME will be headed your way.

I hope you enjoyed your visit to THE GODDESS BLOGS.

Monday, January 5, 2009

First draft of short story WIP

“Had a beer, but I don’t think I’m gonna sleep,” he said, as he slid into the middle seat and stuffed down a tattered backpack. “I never sleep on planes. I hate to fly.”

With a nod and a smile, I re buckled my seat belt. Could he be old enough to drink? When he stopped at my row, I had pegged him as a teenager escaping from the rest of his family for the long flight. Frayed jeans, unlaced sneakers, rumpled tee shirt. Then his breath assaulted me. It was a good bet he had more than one beer.

Across the aisle my husband and kids were settling in. Blankets, pillows and iPods arraigned. An argument over who got the laptop first ensued. My shift sitting by the kids, and playing referee, had been on the flight out. It was my turn to relax.

I resumed my Sudoku puzzle. It helped empty my mind. I needed to sleep in the next eight hours. Unpacking, laundry and grocery shopping awaited me at home, and the cough I’d had for the past two weeks had drained my energy and patience. A family trip was not a vacation, even if it was two weeks on Maui.

“You’d think a sailor wouldn’t mind flying. I’ve been in mighty heavy seas--no problem. But a bumpy plane ride, that does me in. Every time I fly, it’s bumpy, too.”

His elbow knocked my arm just as I was completing the top row of a five star puzzle. I glanced over and smiled again, then leaned to the other edge of the seat. I found my airplane seat confining; he barely filled half of his. He fiddled with a watch that enveloped his meager wrist. It reminded me of when my son tried on my husband’s. His two-generation-old game boy was in front of him, along with a scarred cell phone an a generic mp3 player.

“Yes ma'am, I never had a good flight. Going to basic--bumpy all the way. Out to Oahu, like a roller coaster and I never could ride a roller coaster. This afternoon, over to Maui, all we did was bounce.”

He pulled out the backpack, dropped in his cellphone, elbows and knees splayed, and shoved it down. The final 5 in my middle box became a lightning bolt. I leaned further over, then back again, as the flight attendants whisked down the aisle, hands gliding on the overhead bins.

“When do you think they’ll give out the sodas and peanuts?” he asked and looked around.

The occupant of the window seat had her eyeshades and earplugs on, and a jacket pulled up to her nose. Smart woman. This time I had to answer him.

“They’ll wait until we’re up and the seat belt sign is off, then bring out the drinks and snacks. They don’t give out peanuts anymore, though, and there’s a charge for everything.”

He looked at me hard, a frown blooming across his brow.

BOOK OF THE WEEK.

HOT READING FOR A COLD WINTER'S NIGHT: SCREAM FOR ME by KAREN ROSE



Karen Rose is a NEW YORK TIMES, LONDON SUNDAY TIMES AND USA TODAY best-selling author. I'm going to gush so much over her and this book, you're going to think she's paid me. Well, you're wrong. It's just that Karen Rose is a wonderful person and a great writer and I want to introduce her to as many new readers as possible.

I've known Karen Rose since we were teenagers. She is brilliant, funny, kind, generous, thoughtful, a wonderful mother, and one of the best people I know. I have so much respect and admiration for her. And then, there are her books.

If you haven't read one of her books yet, you don't know what you're missing. Her books are classified as "Romantic Suspense" but that doesn't begin to describe the intricacies of her plots and her realistic characters . Well-written, tightly paced books about people who seem so real, you'll finish one of her books and feel like you have made new friends. Friends you'll want to read about again.

You're in luck. SCREAM FOR ME is the second in a three-part series. You don't have to have read the first, DIE FOR ME, to enjoy SCREAM FOR ME, but why miss out on another great read?

After you've read these two books, you'll want to read more. Lucky for you, the third book, KILL FOR ME, comes out on February 2, so you won't have long to wait.

Back to SCREAM FOR ME. In this book, as in the whole series, Karen Rose takes large, serious issues, and how they touch people's lives. As with all of her other books, they are well-researched. The characters move you. The love story is compelling, and the mystery is thrilling.

It's out. Today. In paperback. Do yourself a favor and pick it up. And, Karen Rose is blogging today over at THE GODDESS BLOGS. I know Sunday is my regular BLOG OF THE WEEK post, so count this as a two-for-one special. Great book AND a new blog for you to check out. What's not to love?

Even better, if you post over there today, AND post here today, I will enter you in a drawing to win her first two "FOR ME" books in paperback. That's right, a gift to you from me, just because I think you'll enjoy reading her books.

The winner will be announced tomorrow. Must be 18 or older.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

BLOG OF THE WEEK

As you can see from my blog list (you haven't checked out my blog list? well, head on over to my "profile") I read lots of blogs. Some have to do with the writing business, and some are just for fun. Many are a mix of both.

I have made new cyber-friends visiting these blogs. This is important, because writing is a lonely business. There are no friends at the water cooler or lunches out with coworkers.

Most days, it's me, the cats and dogs, and the keyboard. That's why I want to give a virtual shout-out to the bloggers who make my workday a little better, and introduce you to some cool people I have met this past year.

This will, hopefully, be my regular Sunday topic.

TODAYS "BLOG OF THE WEEK" IS:

Janet Reid’s blog.

It is mostly about the writing business. She has links to cool people, and blogs about books she has enjoyed. It often makes me smile and usually gives me something to think about.

Check this blog out, and let me know what you think.

So, what blogs do you enjoy? Are there blogs you MUST check EVERY DAY? How do you find new blogs--do you follow links from other blogs, or just serf? Do you regularly post, or do you just lurk? What has been the most interesting, or unusual, blog you've found.

Please share the links.

Friday, January 2, 2009

THE BAD

No pictures on this one, folks. My only "bad" on our trip were some of the books I took with me to read on the beach. Fortunately, the beach was great and I had little time to read, because I had picked some stinkers, along with a couple of good ones.

Because tastes vary, I won't name the title or author, although I will share what DIDN'T WORK FOR ME.

One was a mystery. I love mysteries. I love this author's blog. The book was a huge disappointment. The "villains" were the adult children of the main suspect but--here's the "twist" --they were evil and framed her because they weren't her "real" children, they were secretly adopted!!!! PLEASE! How awful.


FAIR WARNING, I'M STEPPING ON MY SOAPBOX.

My children were adopted. My sister was adopted. Several of my cousins were adopted. Many of my friends' children were adopted. I am so sick of the "damaged adopted person" in fiction.

I know many people from difficult backgrounds who have grown into wonderful adults due to their (adoptive) parents. I have also know some horrible people who were raised by wonderful (biological) parents. It all can't be traced to "NATURE" or "NURTURE." Saying the character turned into a villain due to "bad blood" doesn't work for me.

If "adopted" was substituted for ANY racial or religious designation, this book would not have been published. As a culture, we seem to be (thankfully) getting past outright racism, sexism and religious intolerance in mainstream fiction. However, adopted people seem to be fair game. Give me a break.

For the first time ever, I sent a letter to an author. It was respectful and I made sure to begin it with the things I liked about the novel. Then I told the author to stop perpetuating stereotypes and educate herself about adopted people. I hope she responds.

What is a deal-breaker for you in a novel? Is there a type of character that makes you put a book down? Do you read a certain type of book, or do you read a variety of books? Have you ever written to an author about their work, and did they respond?


UPDATE. I heard back from the author yesterday. She was gracious and understanding. She said,"I will try to keep your comments in mind -- and to be aware of the
implications -- if I ever use adoption again in one of my stories." A true class-act. I WILL be buying her next book.

THE GOOD

As promised yesterday, some of THE GOOD from our trip.



That's right, Santa is in an outrigger canoe, with his trusty dolphins leading the way.



This is the Io Needle. The green is so intense. I wish the pictures did it justice. We were there our last day, and watched the storm roll down the mountainside. Beautiful.













There's a reason people associate the hibiscus with HI. The variety and prevalence can not be described. Monday I'm off to the garden center to get a couple for our living room. Hey, I can't bring home the beach, but the hibiscus will remind me of the ones that bloomed outside our patio last week.





A Christmas Eve rainbow. There were rainbows every day, because it rained a bit each morning and afternoon. Instead of being annoyed by the rain, we all looked forward to it each afternoon, so we could look for the rainbows. They were amazing, and there's no way to do them justice with my little camera.


So, what's good in your life?

Tomorrow, THE BAD and THE UGLY.