Friday, August 31, 2012

Winner of the 2012 "Hot Fun In The Summertime" Contest!

Congratulations to Donna M., who has won the 2012 "Hot Fun In The Summertime" contest! Donna has won her choice of one print copy of either of my currently released books, EARTH or WATER.

Thank you to everyone who entered the contest. Some of you shared with me your own interesting family histories, and it was really cool to get to know you. Keep checking this blog for announcements of future prizes and upcoming book signings. Congratulations again to Donna M., and Happy Reading!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Autumn Is Coming: Clean House!

We've had wave after wave of hot weather this summer, and I find myself looking forward to autumn, when the temperatures will be more tolerable, and Mother Nature puts on some of her prettiest colors. I'll also be a lot happier about sitting in my non-A/C, upstairs office to write!

Autumn is a season of tangible change, and it's a good time to take stock of what you have, and what is unused. A good rule of thumb is, if you haven't used it in a year, it should go. Kids outgrow their clothes, and everyone has something at the back of their closet that they don't (and won't) wear. These things can go to a charitable organization. Most will supply you with a donation sheet, which you can itemize for tax purposes, so it's a win-win!

"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” ~ William Morris

Got more than just clothes? No problem. Organizations like are dedicated to keeping reuseable items out of landfills. Why just throw that perfectly good widget away, when someone in your town might want one? You can also post your wanted items, in case someone may have an item you're looking for.

Cleaning unused items out of your house can be a very satisfying task, if your unwanted stuff goes to a person in need. It's refreshing not to be "weighted down" with extra things you'll never use. Start small, one room at a time. You may find yourself zooming through the house, gathering up unwanted items that will become another man's treasure. Then you have a clean slate, and who doesn't love that?

Friday, August 17, 2012

If You Build It, They Will Come (v. 2.0)

Today's the day my persistence (and environmentally-concerned determination) paid off. Close to a year and a half after building my butterfly garden, I got what I've been waiting for.

I was outside today, thinking, "Gee, I really ought to trim back some of the leggier stuff in my garden. It's been so hot, I haven't done much, and everything's gone haywire." No sooner did I start trimming back the leggy stuff and unwanted volunteer seedings, than I hit the brakes. There, tucked in the back on a milkweed seedling, I found a Monarch Butterfly caterpillar!

Needless to say, I'm elated. This is what I built the garden for: to help along the Monarch species, which has been in a devastating decline due to habitat loss and pesticide use. And now, proof positive that my garden lives up to the purpose for which I built it!

Well, I ran right out and bought some mulch and began laying it ever-so-gently in between plants, where bare soil still existed (never did any mulching except a "green mulch" this year with a thick mat of Alyssum "Carpet-of-Snow" plants to keep the soil in place and somewhat moist). This will also help the various insects find places to hide.

Well, there I am with a bag of mulch on my shoulder, and as I approach the garden, I see a Giant Swallowtail on my butterfly bush:

Double yay! I am now considering registering my little side garden with Monarch Watch, an organization dedicated to helping this butterfly species survive. Of course, other species of butterfly and insect are always welcome. My property is wildlife-friendly, and I'm proud of that.

I don't even mind when the Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds fly by and holler at me to refill their feeder ... again. :)

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Back to the Grind!

I have just finished up a week's vacation, and I am so refreshed! I forgot how nice it was to relax for several days, without an agenda! My family and I packed a whole lot of vacation into just seven days, going from the beach to the Strong Museum of Play, and everywhere in between. I even carved out some time to rewire a lamp (for an upcoming project) and finish my son's quilt! You can see lots of those photos on my Facebook page.

Now, it's back to work, and back to writing in earnest. My editor says she's nearly ready to start working with me on my next book (the first in the Gifted Series), THE SERPENT IN THE STONE. I'm also continuing on the third book in the Elemental Series, AIR. Oh, yes, and my day job. *grin* Lots to do. Have a good day, everyone!

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

2012 "Hot Fun In The Summertime" Contest!

Hey, readers! It's August, and that means it's time for the "Hot Fun In The Summertime" contest! All month long, you can enter to win one print copy of your choice of either of my currently released books, EARTH or WATER! Enter for a chance to win by clicking the link here and filling out the form:

Contest ends at 5:00 PM EST on August 31st. The winner will be announced that evening on my blog. Good luck, and Happy Summer!