Monday, December 26, 2011

Happy New Year!

With Christmas over (Wow, did it go that fast?), we now turn to the coming New Year. I'd like to wish you all a happy, healthy, and productive 2012, and I hope that the next year brings you all good things. Have a safe and enjoyable one!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Comes Early

Hubby and I agreed earlier this year that we weren't getting each other anything for Christmas, and we would just focus on the kids in our family. So naturally, we got each other something. :D

His gift to me is an iPod Touch, which he let me "open" early (i.e., it never saw wrapping paper - LOL). So far, I love it. My old iPod was a G4 Nano, and it has served me well. I'm going to pass that down to our son. The new iPod has lots of shiny graphics features, Internet capability, eBook reading capability (the clincher), and lots of storage for songs and video. I can also use it to take notes, photos, etc. Keen! I am not a cell phone girl, but there's no living with me if I can't have my music. Big hugs to Hubby for the gift ... and for ignoring me when I said "No presents." I hope he likes his, too. :)

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Just posting today to wish you all a safe and happy holiday season, and best wishes for the new year. Enjoy the season, and remember to take some time to relax!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Christmas Tree 2011

This year, we went with a tree the hubby would like: The Great Outdoors. I found the coolest buffalo check plaid ribbon online (Karaboo Ribbons, if you're interested). To that, I added my wooden cranberry string, flicker flame lights, bobbers, a whole mess of clearance lures (with hooks clipped off for safety) from The Bass Pro Shops, wildlife, and S'more characters. There are also some other outdoorsy things, like a cute little sweater. And yes, that's a hunting hat on top. ;) I give you the Greenwood House 2011 Christmas tree:

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to those of you celebrating with good food, family, and friends today. Enjoy your day, and take some time to think about what you're thankful for this year. Gobble, gobble!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

We Have A Winner!

Congratulations to Terri P., who has won a special gift basket giveaway containing a variety of Nantucket-themed items, all packaged in a beautiful lightship basket:

  • A bottle of Wegmans non-alcoholic Concord Grape flavor sparkling grape juice

  • A seashell tealight holder

  • A Yankee Candle votive in Beach Walk scent

  • An adorable Monet seafood cooking pot trinket box

  • Decorative seaglass accent stones

This gift basket was offered exclusively at the book signing on November 19th at Books 4 Less in Liverpool, NY! Click the picture below for a larger view of this wonderful gift basket.

Keep an eye on this blog for announcements of future prizes and upcoming book signings. I'll list them all here as they come up. Congratulations again to Terri P., and Happy Reading!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Hydrofracking Concerns

Hydrofracking has become a growing concern among environmentalists within the past several years. It's the process of extracting natural gas or petroleum from within bedrock by the injection of pressurized fluids. You can read more about it here - Wikipedia on Hydraulic Fracturing or see a video from Fox News here - America's Energy Boom: What Is Fracking?

The concerns about this process range from possible air and water contamination to the influx of industrial traffic to areas that may not be equipped to handle it. There have also been worries about how fracking affects the stability of the bedrock, resulting in earth tremors. That could lead to rupture of the pipes that inject the fluids into the bedrock, or the wells that store the fluid afterward. The fluids used in fracking normally contain mostly water, but chemicals are used also, and the drilling company doesn't have to tell you which ones.

Fracking does not have enough government regulation to adequately protect the environment due to exceptions in the law. There are known cases of pollutants damaging nearby property and groundwater.

If you live in NY State, please tell Governor Cuomo not to allow fracking. New York has vast and beautiful natural areas that may be damaged by this procedure. It's just not worth the risk until more regulation for fracking can be secured. Go to A Million Fracking Letters and use your voice to protect our environment! Thank you!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Veteran's Day!

Many thanks to all our veterans and soldiers today, wherever you are. I appreciate what you do to make us safe!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Another Great Review for WATER!

WATER has received another great review, this time from a reviewer at Romancing The Book, who calls WATER "enchanting and charming" and awards it the Lovely Rose (Recommended Book) rating!

I'm thrilled with the feedback on this book so far, and I can't wait to share WATER with some of you in person at its premiere book signing on November 19th at Books 4 Less!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Exclusive Book Signing Giveaway (11/19/11)!

I will be presenting a special gift basket giveaway to guests at my book signing of WATER on November 19, 2011 from 12:00-4:00 PM at Books 4 Less in Liverpool, NY (Click here for directions). The giveaway (a $40 value) contains a variety of Nantucket-themed items, all packaged in a beautiful lightship basket:

  • A bottle of Wegmans non-alcoholic Concord Grape flavor sparkling grape juice

  • A seashell tealight holder

  • A Yankee Candle votive in Beach Walk scent

  • An adorable Monet seafood cooking pot trinket box

  • Decorative seaglass accent stones

This gift basket will be offered exclusively at the book signing on November 19th at Books 4 Less in Liverpool, NY, so if you're in the neighborhood, come and visit! No purchase is necessary, and though you will need to be at the signing to enter, you need not be present at the time of the drawing. If you win, you may pick up your prize at Books 4 Less after the closing of the event. Click the picture below for a larger view of this wonderful gift basket.

Keep an eye on this blog for announcements of future prizes and upcoming book signings. I'll list them all here as they come up. Good luck, and Happy Reading!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

WATER Reviewed by Sizzling Hot Book Reviews!

The reviews are beginning to come in for WATER, and to favorable response! Stacey at Sizzling Hot Book Reviews calls WATER "A touching, humorous story about home being where the heart is. Very refreshing."

Thanks, Stacey, for your awesome review! I'm thrilled you enjoyed it!

Monday, October 17, 2011

"The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" comes to Syracuse Stage!

My inner kid is beaming. The last time I got this excited was when they made an IMAX production of "The Young Black Stallion."

November 25th through December 31st, Syracuse Stage is producing "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe," arguably one of my favorite books (and movies) EVER. There's not even a question of me not springing for the best possible seats.

I love theater to begin with, and I can't imagine how they'll adapt this to stage, but I. Am. PSYCHED. I loved these books as child, I love them now, and if I opened up my closet and saw Narnia in there, you can bet your booty I'd be off like a shot. So, this holiday season, if you're local to Central NY, come see "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" at Syracuse Stage!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Book Signing Announced for WATER: November 19, 2011!

Be sure to visit Nicki at her upcoming book signing for WATER at Books 4 Less in Liverpool, NY on Saturday, November 19, 2011 from 12:00-4:00 PM! Nicki will be signing copies of WATER and will answer questions about her books. If you'd like a printable copy of the flyer, please click here.

Nicki will also be offering promotional giveaways featuring her books, and there will be a drawing for a special gift basket that will go home with one lucky winner! Stay tuned for details!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Guest Blogging Today At "Life Is A First Draft!"

I'm guest blogging today at Life Is A First Draft - come and visit! You can read the opening lines of WATER, and learn a few interesting things about me. Have a great weekend!

Friday, October 07, 2011

WATER Official Release Is Today!

Today is the official release date for WATER, Book Two of the Elemental Series!

Water Elemental Morgan Clifton has finally found somewhere to belong. As the chef at a bed-and-breakfast on beautiful Nantucket Island, she uses her gift - the power to manipulate water - to cook for guests, and even to influence the weather. At last, she fits in...and then the bottom drops out. The property's been sold, and the new buyer rattles her peace of mind from the first word out of his mouth.

Businessman Trent Williams lives on dissolving dreams - dismantling properties and selling off the pieces. When he arrives to buy the Seaglass Inn, the last thing he expects to find is a mysterious chef who won't leave. The more they battle, the more intrigued he is...especially about the secret she's hiding.

Trent believes in finance, not family. Morgan longs for the ties that bind. Are they running from each other, or are their clashes the first step to finding true happiness?

* * *

Keep an eye on my website for upcoming contests and book signings, or order your copy of WATER now in print or digital format at The Wild Rose Press!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Would You Like Your Scene With Or Without Music?

So yesterday, I spent six hours editing, and while I recall quite vividly writing this manuscript with music, I realized that editing it with music didn't fly.

That was weird.

I like to write to music, and I often have a soundtrack for each book I write. Music is a wonderful inspiration, especially for an avid moviegoer like myself, who can't imagine a movie without its soundtrack. So it was with some surprise that I realized my fruitless first half hour editing was because the music distracted me. Thus, I turned it off. Voila - three chapters, polished and ready to roll.

I have a large music library at my disposal, but the more I write, the more I realize that as much as a good song can help a scene, a bad one can kill it. I'm a little pickier than I used to be about whether or not to write to music, but still ready and willing to jot down a song that makes me go "Ooh!" (Pandora's great for that, by the way.)

Do you write to music? Do you prefer silence? Some other ritual that gets you into the groove? Every writer is different, and I love hearing what makes other scribblers tick. Let me know!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Literary Agent Chelsea Gilmore!

A Chat With Chelsea

Yesterday at the CNY Romance Writers meeting, we were treated to a chat with literary agent Chelsea Gilmore of the Maria Carvainis Agency. Chelsea presented an information-packed Q&A with our authors that ran the gambit from the world of self-publishing (no longer the stigma that it used to be) to the future of the industry (still unfolding, but we were assured that there will always be a place for good stories, and agents will always be there to promote us).

The first thing that struck me about Chelsea is her willingness to encourage a potential client. She opened the conversation by saying "We wouldn't be here without you." Chelsea firmly believes that her job wouldn't exist if it were not for writers, and she goes that extra mile to help her clients, whether it be career guidance, editorial feedback, or simply the knowledge that there's a cheerleader in their corner.

Love You, Love Your Writing ... And She Will Too

Chelsea told us that "ego" is important in the world of publishing. She likes it when her authors know their story is good. We need to love our work, she said, because that enthusiasm shows when we're pitching. (And there's no need to get intimidated by the pitch. Pick a few things that stand out in your book and talk about those! She wants to hear what excites you about your work.) She advised us that if an agent turns us down, that it may be a very good thing. After all, if your agent doesn't absolutely love your work, why would you want them to represent it?

Chelsea also shows a wonderfully supportive attitude toward the writers she doesn't sign. She is willing to work with an author whose story has potential, but isn't quite "there" yet. She will often provide some commentary on manuscripts she decides not to accept. If your manuscript isn't right for her, she's willing to explain why.

If she does sign you, she will champion your work as well as your artistic vision. If an editor asks for changes to your manuscript, she will help you ensure that those changes are for the better of your story (and your intent with it) before making them.

Looking For A Few Good Manuscripts

Chelsea looks for cleanly written stories with strong voices. Humor is a bonus! She likes new takes on old stories, and well-written characters are a must. She accepts the following genres: young adult, romance, women's fiction, literary fiction, mysteries (including cozies), commercial thrillers, pop culture, or historical fiction. She does not accept science fiction, children's picture books, or inspirationals.

Chelsea prefers paper submissions including a query letter (don't forget to include your word count), a two- to three-page synopsis, and either the first thirty pages or three chapters of your manuscript, whichever is longer. Previously published work is accepted, as long as the author has received his or her rights back. Submissions should be directed to:

Maria Carvainis Agency, Inc.
Attn: Chelsea Gilmore
1270 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020

Thank you so much to Chelsea for coming to the CNY Romance Writers meeting and sharing your insight with us!

Friday, September 16, 2011

WATER Now Available For Pre-Order!

WATER is now available for pre-order through The Wild Rose Press! If you'd like to order a copy in digital or paperback, please click this link. Make your summer last!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering Our Heroes

Today I am posting to honor those who died on 9/11/01. Please keep them and their families in your hearts and minds today, and never forget that our freedoms have always come with a sacrifice. Thank you to all who have served and died for our country to keep it free of terrorism.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Fall Is Coming!

Well, I had to close all my windows a couple of nights ago ... same for last night, but I'll be darned if I turn the heat on while it's still August.

Yep, it's that time of year. The chill is on the air, and we're beginning to turn our thoughts to autumn. The stores are already showing off their fall colors, football is on, and we're preparing the yard for its winter nap. My vegetable garden is full of miniature pumpkins and sunflowers. I have had lots of skippers and cabbage whites in my butterfly garden (but no monarchs, even though I'm hopeful I'll see one passing through for a snack).

The big news this fall is that my second book, WATER, will be available October 7th. I plan to do book tours and signings, and it'll be a lot of fun. I hope to see some of you at the events. Keep an eye on my website for a listing of times and places! If you can't make a signing or tour stop, don't worry - I'll also be giving away some fun prizes, which I will announce on my website as they come up. Even though fall is almost here, WATER will keep the summer simmering for you!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I'm A Mom Again (Sort Of)!

This morning I had a treat waiting for me when I visited my butterfly garden: the (alleged) Monarch butterfly eggs have hatched! It took three days from the time I first noticed the eggs. They're tiny yet, not even 1 x 3 millimeter in size, and they barely look like anything yet. (They bear a creepy resemblance to tiny maggots right now ... eww.) I will be keeping a close eye on them over the next two weeks while they grow. At two weeks, they should be fat, 2-inch caterpillars with black, white, and yellow stripes, assuming they are in fact Monarchs. Here's the picture I snapped today:

The thing that makes me wonder if they are Monarchs is that the eggs were laid in a cluster, rather than dotted all around the underside of the leaf as I have read Monarchs do. It could be that my Monarch mom was an anomaly. It could even be that these are a whole different species of butterfly ... though from everything I've read, if you find butterfly eggs on a milkweed, they're bound to be Monarch eggs. Time will tell! If you want to learn more about the Monarch butterfly life cycle, which takes about a month to complete from egg to adult, visit Rose Franklin's Monarch Metamorphosis page!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Success (I think)!

Took a tour of my butterfly garden yesterday, whilst lamenting that I hadn't seen more than two species of butterfly anywhere in the vicinity. (The insects are enjoying it quite a bit, though.) I examined my Asclepias incarnata 'Ice Ballet' (known by the less pretty name Swamp Milkweed), to find a cluster of some 50 eggs which I hope will turn out to be Monarch butterfly eggs!

Only after I mentioned this to my husband did he remember to tell me he'd seen a Monarch flit through our backyard the previous day. *rolls eyes*

I will keep you all posted, as I plan to make daily trips out to the butterfly garden to see how and when the eggs hatch. If my milkweed starts looking like Swiss cheese, and I see little black, yellow and white striped caterpillars, I'll know I've hit the jackpot.

I also saw a pair of damselflies hovering around my Morning Glories. Not sure what species it was, but this is what he looked like. These guys are voracious eaters of pesky insects like beetles, flies and mosquitoes, so I was happy to welcome him:

My 'Pink Delight' butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii) was also blooming nicely. Looked like the bugs had been visiting it, since it was a bit chewed here and there. With a butterfly garden, you want things to be a bit ragged. That means you have customers!

The garden is in full bloom now, and it's such a pleasure to see everything so green and lush. I can't wait to see if I get lots of flying flowers, now that I know the butterflies have discovered my garden. Keep watching here for updates!

Friday, July 08, 2011

Guest Blogging Today at Coffee & Romance

I'm guest blogging today at Coffee & Romance! Go to the Featured Author page at Coffee & Romance to learn a little about me and my upcoming book, WATER. While you're there, feel free to post a comment. I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, July 04, 2011

Happy Fourth of July!

Wishing all Americans a safe and happy Fourth of July. Be safe, and have a great day!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

WATER Release Date and Book Trailer Announced!

The release date for WATER, Book Two of the Elemental Series, has been announced! It will be released in digital and print formats on October 7, 2011. Mark your calendars, and stay tuned to my website for information on upcoming releases, book tours, contests, and more!

With the announcement of WATER's release date, I have unveiled its book trailer! You can see it here:

Thanks to everyone who made this book possible. I'm very excited about it, and I hope you will be too!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

This one speaks for itself, and it's for all you dads out there.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Disposable Me

Trash Talk

One of mankind's biggest weaknesses these days is our shortsightedness - our lack of willingness to do things that would benefit successive generations, long after we're gone. For instance, to engineer products that are so hard-wearing, our great-grandkids will be using them. Some of it is, sadly, willful. Products are made to be disposable - one use (or a few) and we toss them out. Razors, plastic bags, dinnerware. All that stuff goes into a landfill, and much of it won't biodegrade. This is the easy stuff. Everyone can take that step toward reusable grocery bags. But there are other issues at stake, less obvious.

Vroom, Vroom

Cars. Can you really believe that with all the technology available, we haven't been able to engineer a car that can run 100K miles before it even starts showing signs of wear? That we haven't made more of an incentive out of choosing hybrid or electric cars when purchasing a vehicle? That we can't make it more practical for a consumer to think pro-environment? Nobody comes forward with the technology, because it benefits the auto makers and oil companies to continue producing something you have to keep buying, fixing, and gassing up. Good for their pockets now ... bad for the planet later.

Let's face it. Consumers need a reason to choose pro-environment ... and while pro-environment is the pricier option, with no visible return, most folks are going to choose what appears (right now, and superficially) to be the cheaper choice. Hybrid cars are more expensive, with perhaps one or two examples earning back their investment (financially) over the course of the car's lifetime. My next car will be a hybrid, regardless of up-front costs, because it's environmentally the right thing to do. Without incentive to turn to sustainable practices, the oil and auto industries will continue to make those cash-cow products. It's a social mindset we need to change. And because money is what concerns them most, your dollar is your biggest and best voice. Where you put your money is where the manufacturers will put their efforts.

Fix It And Forget It

Recently I was treated to an irritating example of this throw-away, buy-more mentality. My Crock-Pot's plastic knob broke. I have had this appliance for nearly nine years of light use (as compared to my mother's thirty-year-old model, which is still kicking with its original parts). The Crock-Pot website does not list a replacement part for this knob, and I can only assume that's because they want you to buy a whole new Crock-Pot for $50-plus. Mine works fine ... it's just missing the knob. Also, no replacement knob anywhere on the Internet, by the way.

Off I went with my irritation to the local hardware store for a universal replacement. Crock-Pot, however, designed the pin that holds this knob just oddly enough that any old knob isn't going to fit.

Enter ingenuity. I bought, for five bucks, a tube of heat-resistant epoxy putty. I will fill the backside of the old knob with it, stick it on the pin to assure a good fit, and let it dry. New knob and fifty bucks or so in my pocket. Dinner, I am sure, will taste that much better.

Fix It And Remember

Your grandparents were good at thinking ahead. Root cellars, canning, homemade solutions to daily problems, tools that would last. Take a page from their books and revisit that old-fashioned, reuse-it mentality, because it's not a new concept - just a forgotten one. The knowledge is out there. The Internet and library are full of resources.

Spend your money in smart places. It takes a little more money up front to buy something that will last ... but it is worth it, I promise you. And the earth will thank you by being beautiful for your grandchildren.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

If You Build It, They Will Come (Hopefully)

I've been out in my new butterfly garden nearly every day - at the very least, to fill the birdbath (Coolest birdbath ever, btw - got it at a home store and put a solar fountain in it. Moving water attracts butterflies and hummingbirds - and other visitors, as you'll see). Being in the garden is therapeutic, and also a nice breather to turn to as another creative outlet when I'm not writing. Most of the seeds I sowed early in the spring seem to have survived. Some have begun to flourish. Others, not so much, which may be due in part to the insane rainstorms we have been getting. So, I bit the bullet and bought some live plants.

I admit to going a little nuts ... and I am still not done tinkering. :)

The terra-cotta saucer you see in the background is filled with wet sand. Several species of butterflies will engage in a behavior called "puddling," where they will land on wet sand and sip at nutrients in it, especially salts, which they can't get from nectar. Interestingly enough, this is exclusively a male butterfly thing. You can do something similar in your own yard by burying a dish, pan, or bucket to its rim, filling it with sand and enough water to dampen it, then sprinkling a pinch of non-iodized salt over it. Just be sure to keep it moist.

Besides salts, butterflies also like a lot of things that might gross you out: rotten fruit, carrion, and manure. Boy, that sounds just ... well, it's icky, is what it is, but hey, I'm not a butterfly. I opted out of adding those to my garden anyway. LOL

So far, I have seen one cabbage white butterfly flitting across my lawn (though I think he was more interested in the clover than the butterfly garden). The birds are visiting my birdbath daily, in particular some house sparrows who nest in a birdhouse next door. I have more varieties of insect and spider than I know what to do with, including this potter wasp who surprised me while he was having a sip of water from the wet stone at the edge of my birdbath:

I also noticed a spider carring her egg sac across the ground, presumably to bring it somewhere safe. That was pretty cool - I had never seen a spider "move house" before. So far, no butterflies visiting the garden itself, that I have noticed yet, but I have high hopes. I have provided some caterpillar host plants, and lots of nectar plants for the adults. I hope it's a veritable buffet by summer.

Meanwhile, I'll be the one doing the enjoying.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Guest Blogging Today at LASR!

Just a short note today to let you all know that I'm guest blogging today at Long and Short Reviews - stop by and visit!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day!

I'm just writing this evening to wish all of you real-life heroes - our soldiers and veterans - a Happy Memorial Day, and to thank you for your service in the armed forces. I'd also like to remember those who have lost their lives in service to our country, and to extend my respect and gratitude to them and their families. Happy Memorial Day!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Got My ISBN# for WATER!

I have received my ISBN# and my galley for WATER, which means it won't be long before Book Two of the Elemental Series sees publication. When its pub date is announced, I will unveil the book trailer and excerpt. I will also begin putting together some exciting contests and book signings. Keep an eye on the blog for announcements. It's going to be a great summer!

Friday, May 13, 2011

All That ... And Green Too

I am totally and unabashedly posting today because of last night's "Vampire Diaries" Season 2 finale. Which, if you love the Brothers Salvatore (and all things Damon, in particular), should have made you giddy.

But know this, Ian Somerhalder fans: our favorite blue-eyed baddie is not just another pretty face. Ian is using his resources to ... well, preserve our resources. He started the Ian Somerhalder Foundation to help protect our planet. In the words of his website, the Ian Somerhalder Foundation 'aims to empower, educate and collaborate with people and projects to positively impact the planet and its creatures.' Who doesn't love a handsome guy who loves critters?

It's wonderful to see celebrities use their monetary muscle to back a good cause (Leonardo DiCaprio is another noteworthy celeb who's very involved with pro-environment causes). Lots of folks talk the talk, but starting an organization whose focus is to protect the earth is definitely a case of walking the walk. And Ian, for the record, you can saunter past me anytime.

To learn more about what Ian and the ISF do to protect the planet's resources, energy, and living creatures (including you and me), check out the Ian Somerhalder Foundation.

Monday, May 02, 2011

On The Bright Side

It always seems to pour when I want to garden. And, silly me, I find myself doing the gardening anyway.

Last year, it was two days of pouring rain while I did our front foundation landscaping. REALLY pouring. As in, Take Three Showers That Day, Look Like The Loser In A Mud Wrestling Match, pouring. And yet, I have a lovely garden in front, just beginning to wake up to spring. The lamium is already beginning to flower, which makes those early bumblebees happy. One of my "Autumn Joy" sedums did not survive the winter, and will probably be replaced by some spring or fall bloomer. The boxwood is sprouting new growth, and even my astilbe (the blooms of which I have not yet seen because I bought it at the end of the season on clearance last year) have burst from the ground in what seems one day.

This year, I am battling the rain to get my butterfly garden in. I started over the weekend in what was, by divine Providence, the Perfect Weekend to do this. I wasn't finished by the time the sun went down, but I decided to save the rest for today.

Naturally, it rained. But, on the heels of last year's rain battle, I forged ahead anyway and got the last of my plants in, as well as the edging. (Much easier than the edging I used for the front, since this just connects to itself and then stakes into the ground. Not perfect, and not breathtaking, but I hope to have so many flowers in there ya just can't see the darn stuff for long. Hope springing eternal, and all that.) And when I was done, and decided to photograph my efforts, I was rewarded with two very lovely portraits of two of my new charges. The first is the aquilegia, or columbine, you see at the top of this entry.

The second is this beautiful little shot, totally unplanned and somehow perfectly sprinkled with rain. This is dianthus "Neon Star," also called pinks because of the zigzag border of its flower petals. This is a cousin to your familiar carnations, and smells like cloves! Mmmmmm. Reminds me of my mother's Easter baking.

The flowers I am putting in this butterfly garden are purported to be magnets for butterflies and hummingbirds. All of which will, I hope, afford me lots and lots of great new pictures to share with you. Cheers!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day! Today's the day we think a little greener around the world. For ideas on what you can do to participate in the effort to keep our planet healthy, visit Your planet will thank you!

Thursday, April 07, 2011

More Reasons To Love Wegmans

I think there's even an ad campaign about it. When actor Alec Baldwin asked his mother to move out of NY, Carol Baldwin replied vehemently that she wouldn't leave Wegmans.

Wegmans is a Rochester, NY-based chain of grocery stores, offering a wide variety of items that doesn't just stop at food. They also offer takeout, seasonal and home decor, plants and flowers, books, cards, and video, and a growing natural foods department that sparked my interest in environmental living several years ago. I am lucky to live a hop, skip and a jump from one of their stores, and I'm with Carol on this. I wouldn't leave Wegmans, either.

This month, as we celebrate Earth Day, Wegmans has presented an entire webpage on their sustainability efforts. This includes buying local produce, offering reusable shopping bags, and an explanation of their own efforts to reduce their carbon footprint.

And for you and me, who aren't a big grocery chain, they include ways you can help at home, including a page on starting your own garden. Check it out and go green!

Monday, April 04, 2011

WATER Cover Released!

The cover for WATER, Book Two in the Elemental Series, has been released! WATER is slated for a tentative summer release, and with a setting like Nantucket, I hope it's just the beach book you're looking for.

SUMMARY: Water Elemental MORGAN CLIFTON has finally found her haven as the chef at a bed-and-breakfast on beautiful Nantucket Sound. Then slick and sexy businessman TRENT WILLIAMS arrives to buy the property out from under her, and he's equal parts infuriating and irresistible. Can she hang onto her senses and the secret of her gift, or will she lose her heart as well as her home?

Details of promotion and purchase will be added to my website as soon as they become available. Cheers!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

CNYRW Mini-Con 2011

The 2011 CNYRW Mini-Conference was so informative, I think my head is going to explode.

This year's Mini-Con was three seminars for the price of one. And as if that weren't enough, we were treated to two speakers: Anna DeStefano, the bestselling author of more than eleven award-winning books, and literary agent Michelle Grajkowski of 3 Seas Literary Agency.

Friday night, we had a candid discussion on the state of the industry. Anna publishes with Dorchester whom, as you know, is the first New York publisher to have gone digital with its catalog. If Dorchester succeeds, the consensus is that the rest of the major publishing houses will follow. The wheels turn slowly in publishing, but it's to Dorchester's credit that they were able to look at the facts and adapt accordingly. Good luck to them!

Saturday morning, Anna presented her method of craft and characterization. Character and story are deeply intertwined, and the simple chart she presented allows a character to drive the events of the story through his major personality flaw and its arc. Who knew you could create a 400-page monster from the push of such a little bitty chart? Anna also went over the process of drafting and revision, with the reminder that a first draft is always going to be less stellar than we anticipate, and that's okay! The revision is where we can perfect it. (Thank goodness!)

In the afternoon, Anna and Michelle presented a workshop on industry professionalism, with emphasis on respecting personal boundaries. Michelle gave us the unique perspective of an agent (hint: they're nervous at those pitch appointments, too, so don't sweat it so much), while Anna brought us the point-of-view of an author. The information presented here was helpful not only in business relationships, but personal ones. This was good stuff we could take home and practice on our families, so Anna and Michelle reminded us not to limit it to those "writing things."

What a great Mini-Conference! I feel like we packed a week into two days. Thank you to Anna and Michelle for their energetic, fun, and informative presentations. What a blast! Can't wait to see what CNYRW does next year!

Friday, March 25, 2011

We Have A Winner!

Congratulations to May P., who as part of The Romance Reviews Grand Opening contest has won a signed copy of my first book, "Earth!" The prize pack includes a signed copy of "Earth," a postcard featuring the book, and a very special 100% biodegradable bookmark! When you're finished reading the book, plant the bookmark in your garden or a flowerpot, and its paper will grow into a beautiful bouquet of wildflowers!

Keep an eye on this blog for announcements of future prizes and upcoming book signings. I'll list them all here as they come up. Congratulations again to May P., and Happy Reading!

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Little Therapeutic Demolition

Yesterday was perfect. Perfect sunshine, perfect touch of lingering chill in the air, perfect absence of snow on the ground ... and perfect decimation of the ugly aluminum shed that's been lingering on our property for seven-odd years.

We built a new shed last summer, and the old aluminum one spent the winter on our back patio housing the snowblower. We didn't have much chance to organize the newly-built shed last year before the snow hit, so everything was basically a cluttered mess in there. Well, we cleaned that up, hung tools, built a shelf for my gardening supplies, and moved the lawnmower and snowblower into their new homes in the new shed.

Then we eyed the Ugly Aluminum Beastie with gimlet glares. The UAB gave a shudder of fear.

Hubby walked over, picked the whole works up, and moved it into the center of the lawn. We started by unscrewing what bolts we could get to. UAB resisted. Then Hubby decided on a better (and certainly more satisfying) tactic. He proceeded to kick it down to scrap metal by sheer force. (I helped, but without quite the grin of delight on Hubby's face.) Let me tell you how nice it is to wreck something that ugly when it's been staring you in the face for seven years on your property. The neighbors even came out for the show. I think they were as glad to kiss it goodbye as we were.

We carried it out to the curb, and the scrap didn't even have the chance to warm the dirt before someone pulled up and offered to haul it away. Bye-bye, UAB! Hello, room for my new greenhouse. (That's going in as soon as the tax refund comes back.)

And just so you know, I slept like a rock last night.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Squirrel Wars 3: Fuzzy Strikes Back

They're at it again.

After the rousing success of my squirrel-proof suet feeder (not for lack of their trying, mind you; the thing's covered in tiny scratches from their foiled attempts at opening the cage), Fuzzy and his gang regrouped. They have taken to shaking the squirrel-proof tube feeder so that some of its contents will spill to the ground, and they can feast. They are also still hanging upside-down from the roof of my squirrel-proof hopper feeder, and scooping out bits of the food within. Smart little suckers, ain't they? It still takes them quite a while to make any sort of dent in the seed, though, so I suppose I should take my victories as they come.

But Fuzzy's not done tweaking my nose yet.

Yesterday, the Greenwood family spent the afternoon at the local zoo (which, by the way, is still fun in winter, especially if you're one of the penguins - one of them spent a good ten minutes showing off for my son, who loved it). When we arrived home, Fuzzy and one of his little lookouts (or maybe his squirrel hitman) had found their way into our trash can, and were fast making off with the remains of a tortilla. They scattered once we got out of the car, but this time, I just shook my head, pulled out the rest of the tortilla, and dropped it on the ground for them. (It's gone as of this morning, in case you wondered.) You may have won this time, Fuzzy, but I will prevail!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Borders Bookstore Filing Chapter 11

Borders Bookstores has announced it will be filing for Chapter 11 reorganization under the Bankruptcy Code. They have also announced their intent to close "underperforming" stores, but no word yet on which ones will be affected. They advise patrons to check their website as news becomes available on this. will operate as normal. See the full story here:

Monday, February 14, 2011

"The Romance Reviews" Grand Opening

March 2011

* Get ready for loads of fun activities!
* Play awesome games!
* Meet new and favorite authors!
* Chat with fellow book lovers!
* Vote for the Best Book of 2010!
* Over 90 participating authors!
* Over 100 winners with
* Over $1,500 worth of cool prizes to be won!


Weekly Prizes
$10 Gift Cards – 32 winners!
(8 winners each week)
Hundreds of Book Giveaways

Major Prizes
Grand Prize: $100 Gift Card
2nd Prize: $70 Gift Card
3rd Prize: $50 Gift Card

For Authors
(based on results of book votes)
Grand Prize: $200 TRR Advertising Package
2nd Prize: $100 TRR Advertising Package
3rd Prize: $50 TRR Advertising Package

Main Sponsor
Dorchester Publishing

Participating Authors
Kat Martin
Beth Kery
Susan Lyons
Ashley March
Karen Rose Smith
LK Rigel
Sandra Edwards
Grace Elliot
Suzanne Barrett
Maeve Greyson
Sable Hunter
Josie Arlington
Laura Tolomei
Kristen Painter
Renee Rearden
Susanna Ives
Amy Corwin
Keta Diablo
Suzanne Tyrpak
TL Schaefer
Monique Martin
Susan Meier
Laura Moore
Susan Roebuck
Brita Addams
KT Grant
Winslow Eliot
Jan Scarbrough
Victoria Blisse
Sharon Buchbinder
Bronwyn Storm
Patricia Preston
Alice Gaines
Ann Tracy Marr
Joan Beth Erickson
Tara Lain
L.J. McDonald
Lucinda Brant
Mahalia Levey
Joanne Troppello
Rhonda L. Print
Pamela Jackson
Mary Manners
Eve Silver
Jennifer Crusie
Jocelyn Modo
Sloan Parker
Eden Baylee
Heather Matthews
Marcia James
Cherie De Sues
Simone Eden
Lauren Fraser
Annie Nicholas
E.D. Walker
Rachel Haimowitz
HP Mallory
Andrea Speed
Elle Amery
Nichelle Gregory
Shermaine Williams
Berengaria Brown
Tina Donahue
Red Haircrow
Virginia Cavanaugh
Hailey Edwards
Rachel Brimble
Frances Pauli
Nancy J Cohen
Em Petrova
Heather Wardell
Cara Marsi
Mary Eason
Skhye Moncrief
Judy Reynolds
Alison Chambers
LoRee Peery
Gail Pallotta
Nicki Greenwood
Alianne Donnelly
Madison Blake
Gem Sivad
Stacy Juba
Tory Richards
LaVerne Clark
Sibel Hodge
Ashley Ladd
Elaine Hopper
Victoria Howard
Jennifer Labelle
Darcia Helle
Sarah J. Bradley
Kerri Williams
Tiffany Ashley
LK Below
and many more…

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Monday, February 07, 2011

Squirrel Wars 2: Revenge of the Fuzzballs

OK, now that I have the birdseed situation ironed out and squirrel-proofed (the Squirrel-Proof Tube Feeder is working - see Squirrel Wars), I have to contend with what the lil' monsters are doing to my suet - as in, eating it in 3 days. At ten bucks a case, I am going to be eaten out of suet and home by the end of the winter. I had - sort of - outsmarted them by using these ingenious little screw-shut chain links, called Quick Links:

and though they try like heck, they haven't managed to open my suet cages. That doesn't stop them wolfing it down faster than a blue-ribbon champ at a pie eating contest. Help, gods of wildlife management, what's a girl to do?

Enter my hero, the unimposing but brilliant Squirrel-Proof Suet Cage:

Hooray! My sleek, wiry green hero, whatever did I do until you came along? This feeder works on the same principle as the tube feeder. Small birds can get through the baffle to dine on the suet, but Evil Grey Fuzzball cannot vanquish the wire to suck down the goods. (Note that I still have to screw it shut with its silvery sidekick, Quick Link.)

Both these nifty gadgets, and the tube feeder as well, are available at Tractor Supply. If you're a birder, it's well worth checking them out. Go, go! Defend your yard against the Squirrel Army of Doom!

All is well now in Greenwood House. I can't wait for spring, so I can sit out there with my coffee again and watch the birds visit - and actually get to eat something.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

WATER Under Contract!

Exciting news! My second book in the Elemental Series, WATER, has been contracted by The Wild Rose Press! I hope to have more info on the website soon, including a cover, excerpt, and blurb for you. Stay tuned!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Bald Eagles In Syracuse, NY!

This morning, our local paper offered some refreshingly good news: bald eagles, once-endangered, have come to Syracuse, NY's Onondaga Lake, and in surprising numbers. About two dozen have been spotted at one time, fishing an area of open water where the Wastewater Treatment Plant's treated, warm water flows out into the lake and prevents ice formation.

This is very exciting news, especially when you consider that Onondaga Lake has the dubious distinction of being one of the most polluted lakes in the United States. It's recovering, in part due to mandated efforts by industries responsible for its pollution, and in part due to Mother Nature's own efforts. In fact, the lake is cleaning itself up ahead of the schedule we mapped out for it.

My one concern among the high notes of the eagles' return is the still-high level of mercury in the lake. The effects on the eagles remain to be seen and are being monitored. Local environmental groups are also working to create a safe-range viewing station where the eagles can be observed, but not bothered. It is, no matter which way you slice it, a huge coup for Central NY and for the environment in general. Hooray!

For more on the CNY bald eagles, visit's many articles on the subject:

Monday, January 24, 2011

Winter Creativity & Family Memories

My grandmother taught me to crochet. A couple of times. Then my mother and I picked it back up. It didn't catch on. Now that it's double-digit negative temperatures out there, I am having some second thoughts.

Recently I dug out my knitting/crochet basket - the knitting needles are useless to me, BTW, because I just can't even figure out how to get started with that yarn and two tools to mind on top of it. So I put those down in favor of the old crochet hooks.

And it's weird, but I can see my grandmother teaching me all over again. I remember it. I remember a blue hook and purple thread and my grandmother's voice explaining (How did she stay that patient?) how to turn the piece. I may have been near-useless in the kitchen, but Grandma did pass on something that stuck, a form of creativity that I can work with and relate to. And it makes me smile to know I can make something similar to the blankets she made me, to keep me warm at night. Now I can make one for my son ... when I get good at it, of course.

In addition to the satisfaction of making something (and certainly the easier task of minding only ONE tool and the yarn), I find it soothing to mow through the repetition of crochet. It's also a nice creative outlet for when I'm not writing. And bonus: I have something to do while my husband watches all that football this time of year, and I can still spend time in the living room with my family. Sweet!

I will post pictures of my finished project, once I finish it. And this time, Grandma, I WILL finish it. I swear. :)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

On Love: An Interesting View Of Romantic Idealism

I was noodling around on the Internet today, and I came across a discussion about the James Cameron film "Titanic" - why people love it, and why they hate it. It's a thought-provoking piece on a few different counts, but what I found most interesting was its dissection of romanticism vs. cynicism. In particular, why there's so much backlash to art portraying romance.

Mr. Beason talks about the prevailing, cynical worldview in society today, and he seems to believe that is the reason people in general find it necessary to lash out at something that portrays love in a positive light. In short, Joe Cynic has had so many bad experiences with love, that anything depicting love must necessarily end badly, or it's junk.

I'm sure you've heard them all, Romance Writer. I know I have. Some folks who learn I write romance novels immediately want to know, "Are they trashy?" Take it with a grain of salt, buck up, and consider it an opportunity to show someone the new face of romance. It's lovely, gritty, magical, scary, varied, tough, and amazing, and writers today have grasped that concept and run rampant with it. Look at all the talent out there. Look at the bestsellers in film and fiction. Love is alive and well in art, and I think society needs a positive note more than ever. Check out the number of box-office blockbusters and NYT bestselling romance authors, for starters.

So, daunting task that it is, Romance Writer, pick up that pen and wield it with ferocity--and a healthy dose of romantic optimism. The world needs you. :)

You can find the piece that kicked off this entry here, as well as links to the rest of the author's site, devoted to the film: Why People Hate Titanic

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

New Website Unveiled!

I'm excited to announce the unveiling of my new website at! The basic layout has remained the same, but as you navigate through the website you will find a few new surprises: my characters have been paying the site a visit! Check back often to see what the Elemental Series characters - Kincade, Morgan, Elsa, and Ethan - have to say (or doodle) throughout my website.

Enjoy the new look, and drop me a line to let me know what you think!

Sunday, January 02, 2011

New Changes To The Website ...

... and more to come this year! In 2011, I will be updating my website and making a few changes to its appearance and layout. Here's a sneak preview, which you can already see in action on my site:

Not much to go on, is it? Keep an eye on for more snazz and pizzazz! :)