Friday, November 30, 2007

The Little Things

I’m fairly moody. (Not a word from any of you!) The worst part of it is that I never really know how I’m going to feel from one day to the next. There’s not much rhyme or reason to it. I’ll just feel sad one day for no reason. The next day, I’ll be really happy and excited about...who knows what? It can be a movie or a book I’ve read or a dream that upsets me and I can’t even remember it. It’s a crapshoot. Fortunately for those around me, I’m pretty good at keeping it to myself. At least, I think I am. (Again, no comment.)

I’m like that today. Yesterday I was bummed out and I didn’t know why. I shouldn’t be upset, we found out we’re getting our Christmas bonus early. I was able to shop for a pretty Christmas tablescape. And yet, I just sat in a funk all day. Today I’m brimming with excitement and I have no clue as to what brought it on. There’s nothing going on. I’m not really riding on a holiday high yet. I’ve had no major breakthroughs with my book. No bursts of productivity aside from some website work I’ve been procrastinating about. And yet, I’m giddy.

I think it’s the new shopping center they announced today. I’m really a sorry sort, but the mere mention of a Super Target and a Cost Plus World Marketplace can make me weak in the knees. They aren’t even finished with the big, fancy high end shopping plaza on the west side, but they’ve announced another one going in on the east side, a little closer to me. It’s not as fancy, but it will have lots of nice, cool stores all together – Best Buy, JC Penneys, Ross, Marshalls, Kohls, Pier 1, even a new movie theater and hotel.

I think I’m most excited by the Cost Plus World Marketplace. They don’t have one in town yet and I’ve waited 7 years for a store to open! Think Pier 1 meets import food and wine meets funky housewares, but cheaper. Its awesome for unique Christmas gifts. Maybe it will be open in time for the holiday's next year, but I doubt it. I believe its going to open in 2009 and it’s a big undertaking. Traffic in that area is already hell without a million shoppers descending on the place. DB works across the street from there and I'm sure he'll be thrilled. Fortunately, most people don't shop at 6AM when he gets off work.

That must be it. No other reason for me to be excited aside from still being giddy over the Publix they opened up the street. Most polite people EVER. The bag boy actually unloaded my cart onto the conveyor belt, then bagged and loaded my cart and unloaded it all into my trunk for me. No tipping allowed. I don't care if everything I buy is more than the Walmart. I'm paying extra for a clean store and polite employees.

Well, I'm off to let DB enjoy my good mood for a change. Hopefully it will carry on to my company holiday party tonight.

What's got you in a good mood lately?


Thursday, November 29, 2007

An Early Christmas Present

This year I got an early Christmas present - a title and release date. YAY!! Whispers in the Dark will be an August 08 Harlequin Blaze release.

Everyone keeps telling me that things are going to move quickly now. Art fact sheets. Line edits. Getting my cover. Seeing my book on the shelf. My first signing. And I know it will. 8 months is going to fly. Part of me just can't wait. And part of me is scared out of my skull.

What if my grandmother reads the book and hates it? (not that she'd probably say anything...) What if my mom reads the book and loves it? I don't mind her buying it but somehow that's a line I think maybe shouldn't be crossed, like the unacknowledged fact that your parents must have had sex in order for you to exist.

I've heard several times that selling your first book doesn't solve everything. You exchange one set of problems for another. I think in most cases you can substitute the word problem for fears. Each time I sent a submission out I was afraid - afraid it wouldn't be good enough, afraid to get feedback that would hurt, afraid that someone would say I should just quit while I was ahead. Those fears are gone, replaced by new ones. What if I get a bad review? What if I get prison mail? What if I can't do it again?

So no, the problems and fears don't go away they just morph and change. But this week none of that matters because I have a release date :-)

What are you anticipating?


P.S. The winner of PM's handy-dandy booklight is Chelle! Please email the Playground Monitor to arrange to get your prize.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

One Phish, Two Phish, Bad Phish, Pee-Yew Phish

Isn't it bad enough that the price of oil has risen sky high? That translates to higher prices at the pump and higher prices in the grocery stores. The bread I like is over $3 a loaf now. Milk is approaching $5 a gallon (which makes gasoline look cheap).

Everywhere you turn, prices are up, up, up. And that stinks.

If that's not enough to get your panties in a wad, check out these emails I've received lately. They are but a sampling of the efforts to which folks go to try and steal your financial information or wreck your computer. The one above left is an attempt to get me to log into my PayPal account and give them access to my checking account.

At first glance this appears to be an e-card from a friend. But no sender is named and a legitimate e-card from a website like Hallmark or American Greetings will give the sender's name.

This, my friends, leads to an executable file, which will most likely infect your computer with a virus and/or fry your hard drive.

Sadly, there is a legitimate site called But the link in the message doesn't lead there.

According to this one, I was entered into a UK Lotto and WOW! My number was drawn to win the one million dollar daily jackpot!

All I have to do is email and give them my bank info. Yeah, right. Instead of a one million dollar deposit, I'd most likely see the contents of my account withdrawn and disappearing into the night.

This one comes close to actually looking real, and that's scary. I use this bank and use their online site to monitor my account. According to the email they're doing a random security check and if I don't respond to the email, they'll assume my account is fraudulent and suspend it. "The purpose of this verification is to ensure that your account has not been fraudulently used and to combat the fraud from our community."

Boy do I feel better. Not!

This is my all-time favorite. I retrieved a message remotely from my answering machine and was told my online payments had expired and I needed to go to a certain website and update my information. I was a bit suspicious, and when I got home and checked the caller ID, my suspicions were confirmed.

The Better Business Bureau got tons of calls about this one and it was on the evening news and in the local newspaper twice. They have no idea why Caller ID showed up this way, but I'm glad it associated the number with a nefarious bunch hoping to separate some fools from their money. And would you believe that even with "THIS IS A SCAM" showing up on caller ID, some folks actually went to the website and gave them their personal info???

Beware! Phishing is becoming more prevalent and the phishers are getting more and more sophisticated. Banks and other financial institutions will NEVER ask for private information over the phone or via email. When in doubt, check it out.

Tell us about the scams you've run across and help educate our readers to the dangers lurking out there. Enlighten us and I'll pick one lucky commenter to win a nifty book light.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Some weeks are just better than others...

Nothing to whine about today. No venting. No ranting. Instead, I've had a run of good days lately, leaving me in an uncharacteristically good mood.

Hmmm. How odd.

Odd enough that I thought I'd share *why* I'm in such high spirits. (And, for once, it has nothing to do with spirits of the alcoholic variety!)
In no particular order...

1. My beloved Vols beat Kentucky in a nail-biting 4th overtime. My apologies to my blue-blooded CP, but what can I say-- GO BIG ORANGE!

2. We convinced AC to clean out her toy box, closet, and bedroom, resulting in a HUGE pile of toys to be given away. Clearing the clutter is a wonderful thing. I feel the feng-shui energy flowing better already. My closet will be the next decluttering project...

3. My mom and aunt made a wonderfully tasty Thanksgiving meal. A meal I don't have to cook or clean up after is enough to make me very happy. For it to be tasty is just a bonus!

4. I got the chance to catch up with my cousins, whom I haven't seen in ten years. (We were caught in the crossfire of a Big Family Drama.) It was a wonderful reunion and I cried a bit. (Okay, so some of the the limbs of my family tree aren't what exactly you'd call emotionally healthy. Got any nuts on your family tree? Thought so.) I now know where they are, so another ten years won't pass before I get to see them again.

Kandy, Kimberly, Kristy
(See any family resemblance? Nah, me neither.)
(Because my mother will want this clarified--the Big Family Drama wasn't from *her* side of the family)

5. Presents! As I celebrate my 29th birthday, I've received wonderful presents. I like presents. Presents are fun and good. One especially good present came from my mother in law:

I completely adore it! First of all, I love purses. I'm a bit of a handbag whore. Secondly, that's DG's family tartan, which happens to be very Christmassy and therefore perfect for holiday parties. And it has red fuzzy trim! What's not to love?

6. This, my friends, is quite possibly the best mood-enhancer of them all:

That is a picture of my former Work in Progress. It's done! Printed, packaged and ready to head to New York. I'll hit the post office this afternoon while AC is in dance class. To borrow a phrase from my friend Kelley St. John: Ding! Dong! The book is gone! I can now face the holidays without a book hanging over my head.

So, how's your mood today? Any good news you'd like to share?



A special giveaway for Kims And Those Who Love Them

I get a lot of books sent to me--for reviewing, as thank yous, etc--plus I've pick up some at booksignings. Shelf space is at a premium at Casa PC, and I really need to clear some books out. But the thing is, they've been inscribed to me--at least with my name. I can't give inscribed books to the used book store; it just seems wrong. (And it's not that I don't appreciate the gifts; I just don't have the space for all of them.) But I never could figure out how to give them away as blog prizes--who would want books inscribed to "Kim?" Then the answer hit me--other people named Kim or those lucky folks who have Kims in their lives.

So, if you're a Kim (or love a Kim and want to gift them with a book), email me. Actual Kims get first dibs; then I'll go down the list for those with Kims on their Christmas lists. There are several books to be had, and I'll give away until they're gone.

Monday, November 26, 2007

I'm Officially Tired...

But it's a good kind of tired. The kind that comes from satisfying work and playing hard. I'm tired from cooking and eating with family and friends. Chatting and cleaning up with the other women in our family.

Dragging out the Christmas decorations and starting to fill the house with Christmas spirit. Christmas shopping (yes, I even braved a few stores on Black Friday). And one of my favorite activities of the season—picking out and dressing our Christmas tree.

Boy, I've packed a lot into a week. No wonder I'm tired. :) But today it's back to work. Oh well...


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Something fun

I'm cleaning out my half of the office the other night when DG starts asking me random vocabulary words.

After the fifth or sixth strange word, I finally went to investigate his sudden interest in the more obscure parts of the English Language. Had he suddenly embraced his inner Word Nerd?

Nope. He'd found this.

Answer vocabulary words correctly and donate rice to the hungry.** I swear, this game is made for romance readers-- if you grew up on big meaty historicals, you'll see some familiar vocabulary. (Seriously, "tumescent" was one of my words. So was "swain" and "duenna.")

Have fun, and let me know how you do.

(Yes, I was going to have a contest and some prizes today, but the weekend has left me a bit drained. We'll do something fun with prizes later.)


**Although, I think you should earn more than 10 grains of rice for words like "harquebus," "liquescent," and "peregrination."

Saturday, November 24, 2007

We Got Six!

We got six!

War Eagle!

Auburn 17 - Alabama 10

Images from Tiger Rags -- Where Spirit Begins!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Giftie Dilema

Well, it’s the first official day of the shopping season. At this very moment, some of us are out on the prowl for the great shopping bargain. I was tempted at first to hit the Circuit City for a $99 camera and House, M.D. season one for $12. But not with temps in the 20s. No sir. Instead, I am asleep, thankful for and their free super saver shipping. I do have a few things left to buy, but for the most part, I’m done.

I did a bit in Scotland, picking up jewelry and soap for my female in-laws, so that was nice. DB told me exactly what he wanted and went ahead and ordered it, so I’m good there. His brother wants money towards a laptop and his nieces' scored goodies from Hot Topic. My mom asked me to pay for the scrap booking retreat we went on last weekend, so that’s done. My step dad wants a Gander Mountain gift card. Little Sister’s stuff should be on my doorstep today. I have a closet full of miscellaneous gifts to go along with everyone’s big present. Let’s see...that just leaves...oh yeah. The Playfriends.

You’d think that it would get easier to shop for people once you know them. Oh no. The first Christmas was a piece of cake. I got them all Christmas socks and little soaps. It was cute, impersonal, but did the trick. The next year, I had elaborate photobooks made with pictures from the Playground’s first year in existence. That was a good one. Hard to top, although I'm not really trying to. So here I am.

It’s hard especially since you want to get everyone something similar, even if slightly different. Of course, its easy to find an angel or devil charm or necklace, but what about problem child? What image embodies that and what jewelry store sells it? None, I’ll tell you, aside from the one that had the charm we gave her for her birthday. Sure, you can find a crystal encrusted whistle, but never comparable pieces for the other three. PC is the master of Cafe Press, so I leave any of those type gifts to her. Angel is the crafty one, so any handmade goodies are her thing. That leaves me with... A BIG NOTHING! I'm drawing a total blank.

Any good gift ideas? If you made the trek into the wild shopping wilderness today, did you snatch any faboo deals? Share your tales of pillage and plunder.


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!

We hope you have a wonderful day full of

family, friends and delicious food.

We're very grateful for the friends we've made here
over the last two years and hope those friendships
continue to grow for years to come.
Thank you for sharing your lives and thoughts with us.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving Eve

I've given the grocery store a huge chunk of change in the past week. #1 son, DIL and BabyGrand will be here tomorrow and #2 son arrived last night around midnight -- the first time in two years that he's been here for the holidays. My pantry is filled to overflowing. The turkey is thawing in the fridge. My freezer has no more room in it. I have recipes in a pile on the kitchen counter, ready to start cooking in the morning.

We'll be having this.

And this.

And this.

And somewhere on the other side of the world, a soldier will be having this.

Which looks like this when it's "cooked."

And this is dessert.

Doesn't seem quite fair, does it? That soldier's life is in danger, and I'm lounging on the sofa watching a rerun of CSI. He's looking out for roadside bombs, and I'm keeping an eye on my waistline. She's wishing she could get the sand out of her underwear, and I'm wondering if I should throw a load of laundry in the washer or just let it ride another day. After all, I have at least 14 days' worth of undies in the dresser.

I know their mothers wish they were able to sit around the table at home and visit with the family. I hope next year our soldiers will be home safely and their mothers will be chatting excitedly about how their children are coming home for the holidays.

Thank you to all the men and women serving in our armed forces around the world. We appreciate you.

Maven LJ's is still in the running for Amazon's Best for 2007. Click here to cast your vote for RAINTREE: HAUNTED.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Agents Behaving Badly?

I’ve been very nice recently, and my soapbox is getting dusty. Time to vent.

At the 2006 Atlanta RWA conference, I experienced something that really ticked me off. I volunteered to usher at the RITA/Golden Heart ceremony and was assigned to work the “gate” to the VIP section where the nominees and their guests would sit. Somewhere along the line, a wire got crossed and the hotel didn’t have enough chairs set up in this section. It got a bit chaotic, as I tried to keep out the folks without VIP passes and deal with the folks who had passes but couldn’t find a place to sit. No one was terribly happy. At one point, an author (whom I adore) and her editor (whom I find slightly intimidating) came to me to ask about the seating problem. The best I could do was point them in the direction of someone who might be able to get the hotel to bring in more chairs.

It wasn’t the best of situations, plus my feet were hurting due to my fabu Drag Queen shoes I chose to wear.

In the midst of this, an agent — who has a high enough visibility that I could recognize her on sight without a name tag — gets upset because she can’t find a seat with her author. Of the options available in this situation, this agent decided the proper course of action would be to shout at and berate me.

Yes, she took out her frustrations on me at the top of her lungs in front of oh, several hundred people. Now remember, this situation is A) not my fault, and B) not something I could do anything about — even if I was inclined to after being berated like that. (Remember how I couldn’t help adored author and her editor?) Once I picked my jaw up off the floor, I turned my back on her and went back to work. But it bothered me all night. I told the Playfriends and the Mavens about it, but kept it to myself otherwise.

My feelings were hurt from being shouted at, but the more I thought about it, the madder I got. What kind of person acts that way in public? I was dressed to the nines — obviously an RWA volunteer, not a hotel employee (i.e., someone who could have done something about the chair situation — not that she should have shouted at a hotel employee.) Although this agent had been on my list of agents to query one day, I immediately struck her from that list. If she’d act that way to me — not having a clue who I was — why would I want this person to represent me in a professional situation? Was this how she spoke to editorial assistants or other “underlings?” What would happen if she went after an editor like that?

Okay, so she probably won’t be missing out on much because I decline to query her or let her represent me one day, but we can hope that one day, like Susan Elizabeth Phillips said, this will be a “big mistake” on her part. But that was just for me. I never went out and “warned” folks away from her or anything like that. Maybe it was a once-off — just someone having a bad day, but I wasn’t going to risk it with my career.

Then, just recently, I hear of this same agent doing something very similar at the RWA conference in Dallas this year. A little later, another report trickles in. Hmmm, seems this behavior wasn’t just a once off. My estimation of this agent has sunk to an all-time low.

Now, I’m not saying the agent in question isn’t a good agent. She has some well-known (but not necessarily superstar) clients, and I assume they are happy with the services she provides. But every time I hear her name, I think of the hissy fits and I lose all respect.

Sadly, because I’ve listened to the lectures on Good Behavior for a Newbie Writer, I can’t (won’t) name her on the blog or publicly call her out for her behavior. All I can do is wait until someone privately asks my opinion about this agent, then tell them how uncomfortable I’d be about having her represent me based on her behavior at RWA conferences.

What unpubbed author hasn’t been lectured on the importance of acting professionally because you don’t want to sink your career (before it’s even started) because you acted like a raving bitch in public? (Ironically, this particular agent has even blogged about this particular topic. Seems she can’t take her own advice.)

So riddle me this, Honorary Playfriends: Would you — knowing what I know — query this agent? Would you feel comfortable having her represent you? Would you trust her to not berate secretaries and assistants? I’ve heard about agents making enemies of editors due to their behavior, and the stories never end well for the authors. If no agent is better than a bad agent, is a possibly-rude agent worth the risk? Seriously, inquiring minds want to know your thoughts.


Edited to add: No, I'm not planning on querying this agent. She's off my short list. I'm just curious to know if *other* folks would query her, knowing this information.

***Please, no speculating about the agent’s identity in the comments tail. In other words — don’t use any agent’s name, good or bad. I’d hate to have to delete your comment and have you miss out on a chance to win a prize this week in our Birthday giveaways.

You still have time to vote for Maven LJ's RAINTREE: HAUNTED as Amazon's Best for 2007. Click here. Vote early; vote often. She's only a couple of percentage points off the lead...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Creating Secondary Characters

We are extremely excited here on the Playground to welcome New York Times bestselling author of historical romances Eloisa James to our swingset! Well-known for leading a double life as a romance writer and Shakespearean professor, Eloisa just released her newest book An Affair Before Christmas on November 13th. Please join us in welcoming her today as we talk about an aspect of writing I'm currently obsessed with: Characterization...

It’s a truth known to every author that the only thing better than beginning a book is ending one. The book that I see in my mind, before writing, is a heart-breakingly wonderful, intricate yet clear novel that will make its readers sigh with joy… The first chapters are all panic, excitement and pleasure. Anything could happen. All sorts of things do.

Yet even in the midst of all that frenzy, I still need to set up a whole world – and that takes some work. Beginning writers often ask me how I come up with all the people in my novels. I’ve actually been thinking how hard it is to create an image of a character that will stick in the reader's mind.

Romance writers can always lovingly describe every muscle the hero has to his name, or the heroine's silky lashes, silky hair, silky breasts...all of it. There's a great poem by Marvell telling his lover that he would praise her breasts for two hundred years: sometimes it feels like that when you're writing romance. A hundred years for each breast, and two hundred more for all the rest. But all that chest description doesn't leave too much time to describe secondary characters – and they are integral to a story line. No matter the kind of novel you’re writing, the world must be peopled with more than the main characters.

I was looking around for help the other day and came across Mary McCarthy's Memories of a Catholic Girlhood. She does it brilliantly. Here's a priest: "a wrinkled, elderly man with a hairless face and brown, dead curly hair that looked like a wig." A girl: "Ruth Bent had red-dish-brown frizzy hair... her voice was deep, like a man's; her skin was swarthy and freckled... she had a good figure, small, with a sort of shimmying movement to it." And here's a hero: "Nevertheless, there was a wild strain in the family. The men were extraordinarily good-looking, dark and black-browed as pirates, with very fair skin and queer lit-up gray-green eyes, fringed by the 'McCarthy eyelashes,' long, black, and thick."

My current novel, Affair Before Christmas, opens at a house party. I introduce the main couple in a prologue set in Paris, and then the novel skips to England and a party at the Duchess of Beaumont’s townhouse. Since this book follows Desperate Duchesses, some readers will know the people at the party, and others won’t. New readers need to be introduced to the complexity of characters who already played roles in the previous book.

One of my favorite characters is the Duke of Villiers. He’s a chess master, wildly intelligent, full of self-loathing, and frequently bored. I create him through clothing. In Affair Before Christmas, he appears at the party just after losing a duel:

“The word cloak brings to mind black velvet: but Villiers wore a sweep of rosy silk, edged in a stiff little ruffle of deep violet taffeta. The ruffle bore a gorgeous pattern of embroidery that resembled iron lattice work… He walked a dangerous boundary, between masculinity and its opposite and yet – as always – his flamboyant clothes managed to make him look more male. Of course, his features weren’t in the least feminine: not that large nose and rough-hewn chin.

There wasn’t another man in England who would have dared to wear the cloak. But Villiers looked like a prince – the kind of prince who has a harem of dancing women, what’s more.

So here's a challenge: Pick a public figure. any public figure, but not one with the plastic beauty of a movie star, because that's hard to describe. And not a politician. Give us one or two good descriptive sentences. And then tell us who it is, so we can all revel in your description.

So let's discuss characterization. Especially those characters you may have to make stick in the readers' minds in just a sentence or two. How do you do it?

Eloisa will be giving away a copy of Desperate Duchesses to one lucky commenter today. Don't worry. The winner won't be judged by skill. Just the fact that you post (even a quick Hi!) will put you in the drawing. Don't forget to check out Eloisa's really cool website: !


Feelin' the Love


I don't know if I should flip my hair because we're so popular or fan the tears away in a Sally-Field-you-really-like-us moment.

Who knew so many places linked to our blog and/or site? Someone even put us on the Romance Wiki! There are several places where the Playground is listed under "Valuable Resources for Writers" or similar headings.

We're popular! We're valuable! Trust me, we are certainly feeling the luuuuuuve right now.

Thanks so much to all of you who mined the web and sent me the links. Opening those emails and clicking through to see our site listed was The. Best. Birthday. Present. Ever. (If I could afford the postage, I'd be spreading a lot of love in return. Sadly, the USPS doesn't give me a bulk discount.)

The winner, though, is Eva, who found an amazing 75 links to the Playground. She gets a Books-A-Million tote bag, goodies, and a few books. Coming in second with 22 spottings is Lauren. She'll be getting a surprise in the mail as well as soon as she sends me a mailing address.

This was great fun, y'all! Thanks for making our day!

~~fans eyes~~


Saturday, November 17, 2007

A Little Link Love Contest (and this week's winners!)

Lots of links to your website increases your Google ranking, of course, but it’s also a status symbol for some folks. We, on the other hand, are just tickled and honored that anyone finds us interesting or amusing enough to recommend our site to others via a link on their page. (Therefore, we are insanely curious to know who links to us.)

So, today’s Birthday Contest is all about satisfying my curiosity while filling your bookshelves…

Here are the rules:

Email the URL of sites that link to the Playground (main site or blog) to me:

You get one point for each URL you send us. If it’s **your** page, you get 3 points. Points (and possibly prizes) are also randomly awarded for such esoteric and purely arbitrary criteria like Coolest Site, Site Farthest Away from Alabama, Strangest Place to Find A Link To Us, Site With the Best Pictures of Cats, etc.

If you link to us, or know of some sites that do, forward the info to me before 6pm on Sunday. Books and goodies are up for grabs!

Contest Winners from this week:

shari c--contact Angel for your Monday win!

debra--contact Problem Child for your Tuesday win!

eva--contact Playground Monitor for your Wednesday win!

joy--contact Smarty Pants for your Wednesday win!

sonia clarke--contact Instigator for your Wednesday win!

j (at 2:12)--contact PC for your Wednesday win!

Ayla--contact Instigator for your Thursday win!

patl--contact Smarty Pants for your Friday win!

Winners need to send thier real names and mailing addresses to the appropriate Playfriend ASAP. Addresses are

More random prizes to come--birthday goodies are still to be had, plus we're headed into the big Christmas season, which brings out the Santa in all of us.

Friday, November 16, 2007

What a Difference a Playfriend Makes

Ahh...our birthday week is coming to an end. What a celebration! I’m wore out from the whole thing, that’s for sure. It has been fun. We hope you enjoyed not only partying with us this week, but for the last two years. You can call it craft or research or whatever, but we have fun every single day on our blog. We can’t help it. We’re just fun people.

In March, I will have lived in Alabama for 7 years. Crazy how time flies. Anyway, I moved out here knowing no one but the lady who hired me and my mom who came with me. I wasn’t really involved in a church or other social activities outside of work, so it took me a really long time to meet people. Most of my coworkers were 20+ years older than me or too wrapped up with their kid’s volleyball to go hang out with a 22 year old with no ties to anything. Aside from a friend or two at work and DB, I had no social life for about 4 years or so. (This helped when I did my one year master’s program, but the other 3 years were a drag.)

I was considering leaving. Moving someplace else. DB was the only thing keeping me here. Then I joined my local RWA chapter. Things didn’t change overnight - I had a slow start. I’m quiet and tend to scowl when I’m not paying attention, so people don’t naturally flock to me to introduce themselves. I was intimidated by the published authors. I watched each of the other playfriends, wanted to talk to them, but just kept my mouth shut for the most part of...uh...8 or 9 months. I only spoke up to volunteer to be PC’s roommate at Nationals. I ended up rooming with PC, Instigator and PM that year. It wasn’t until we were actually in Reno that things started to gel. I realized they were nice and wouldn’t bite me. They figured out I was funny and not nearly as intimidating as I seemed. The Mavens blessed us with a moniker that changed our lives. That was it. It was done. We were the Children. Somehow I had managed to get myself included in a great group of women.

By October, we were planning the playground and by this week, 2 years ago, we were launched. The last two years have been a fabulous roller coaster of friendship, tears, triumph, rejection, and most certainly lots of SQUUEEES. My life has changed by leaps and bounds and I can honestly say I don’t know what I’d do without my new family.

Some people come into your life and quickly go

Others stay for a while

Leave footprints on your heart

And we are never the same.

My roommate in college had a poster with this saying on it. I really liked it. I'm sorry for not crediting it to the author. I couldn't find it attributed to anyone online. A smart person, whomever it was.

We’ve had an over arching theme of friendship this week, of course. Have you ever had someone come into your life and make a dramatic positive impact, even if you only knew them for a short time? Share your story. One of our lucky commenter will receive some birthday goodies from my stash.


(PS. Don't forget to check back on the blog Saturday when we announce all our birthday winners. And, Monday - don't forget - we've got guest blogger Eloisa James! You can't miss it!)

(PSS. Raintree:Haunted by our very own Maven Linda Winstead Jones is still up for Best Romance Book of 2007 on I know many of you read the Raintree books and commented how much you enjoyed them. If you'd like, you can still vote for Haunted here. We're very excited for Maven LJ!)

(PSSS. Does the title of this blog make anyone think of those men's clothing commericials in the late 80s where there's a bunch of different hunky guys transformed from regular clothes into nice suits, ie. the hunk in a tennis outfit, then he's in a swanky suit? Anyone remember those? What a difference a day makes...and the difference is you. Just curious.)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The True Meaning of Friendship - Update

With names like Instigator and Problem Child you know that we have our share of mishaps on the Playground. Trouble seems to follow us. We have a list of rules that include no sharp objects for PC. When Mickey blares from the speakers we all sit down. When booking a hotel brand name doesn't always equal safe. Packing less is always preferable to repacking in the middle of the airport lobby. No colored drinks over white carpet. Foundation garments should be worn at all times when entering public space.
Not all of these 'accidents' are our fault. I mean, we didn't choose the hotel room with the meth lab on the other side of the wall. Despite that, there are a couple of truths we've learned from the mishaps. For the last couple years when we attend RWA national conference PM will check in long enough to remind us not to get in trouble and that she won't bail us out of jail. And she's right, she won't. Not because we won't get in trouble (because considering our track record I'm seriously waiting for that to happen) but because I know she'll be in that jail cell right beside us. And as far as I'm concerned that's the true meaning of friendship.
A good friend will bail you out of jail. But a great friend will be sitting beside you in the cell. And these women are great friends. Not only would they most likely be involved in any hair-brained scheme that might find me arrested, if they weren't involved they'd be right there beside me trying to explain to the officer exactly what I was doing and why it isn't illegal.
A great friend is one that will come up with the solution to your problem and then help you execute the plan. A great friend is one that will experience everything with you - highs, lows, good and bad and love you more because of those moments. The women I've found on the playground are great friends and I'm lucky to have them in my life (because you never know when I'll need company in that jail cell!)
Tell me about the trouble your best friend(s) bailed you out of or the moment they helped you the most. I'll be picking one commenter to win a prize from my goodie stash.
P.S. We've just learned that Raintree:Haunted by our very own Maven Linda Winstead Jones is up for Best Romance Book of 2007 on I know many of you read the Raintree books and commented how much you enjoyed them. If you'd like, you can vote for Haunted here. We're very excited for Maven LJ!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

We're Two Years Old!

The Writing Playground was born on November 14, 2005 and is 2 years old. The Children have 365 more days until they're out of the Terrible Twos.

When the Mavens created "The Children" did they wonder what would happen when we hit the Terrible Twos? Would we sail through with ease or be five handfuls of trouble? The first two years have been pretty good. We've had a book sale, a bunch of magazine sales, quite a few requests, some contest finals and a lot of very good feedback. I believe the Terrible Twos might not be so terrible after all.

There are five of us. I'm not sure how or why that happened, but it's a good number. There are five days in the week so the blogging works out great. Five seems to be a significant number in many areas. A star has five points. In music, a perfect fifth is the harmony in its best form and is the basis for the western tuning system. There are five oceans, five senses, five vowels and five tastes. Most mammals have five fingers and toes. The most destructive hurricanes and tornadoes are classified as fives -- a category 5 hurricane on the Safir-Simpson scale and an F5 tornado on the Fujita scale.

So two years ago the five of us decided to take cyberspace by storm and create a place to learn and have fun. I think we'd all agree we've succeeded beyond our wildest dreams. Among our visitors we've had best-selling and award-winning authors and well-known agents and editors. We've made new friends around the world and even found a few right in our own backyards.

But probably best of all, we've come to know each other -- what makes us tick, what drives us mad, what pushes us to succeed, what we fear and what we love. We've shared cars and hotel rooms, had numerous adventures, spent days on end with each other and... we're still friends!

Please join us today as we celebrate our birthday. We have party favors for randomly selected commenters.

So... tell me five special things in your life. One lucky commenter will win a book (either an erotic romance, a historical, a contemporary single title or a romantic suspense -- your choice) and a nifty book light from me.

P.S. All of this week's winners will be announced on Saturday. Check back every day for more chances to win and on Saturday to see who won!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Rants Welcome...Whining, no so much.

When it’s 106 degrees outside for the fifth day in a row and my air conditioning goes out, and the A/C company can’t get to me for at least another 24 hours, so the choices are either sweat it out or head to a hotel, what do I do?

Send an email to the Playfriends and bitch about it. Put “a rant” or “venting” in the subject line, and the others know what to expect.

Ranting and venting (or bitching, as it’s often called) is allowed on the Playground. It’s a pressure release for situations beyond our control. At most, I can expect sympathy. If I’m lucky, someone will have something helpful to add (like Angel volunteering an extra window A/C unit that would at least allow me to cool one room enough to sleep in). But I don’t expect it, and I feel better just because I was able to get it off my chest.

That’s what friends are for, right?

Whining, though, is a different animal. We don’t have much tolerance for that. If you’re whining, it usually means there’s something that can be done about it. We’ll offer sympathy, but also advice. Take it or leave it—it’s totally up to you—but your whining time is limited. As long as you are working to rectify the situation, you can continue to whine if results aren’t forthcoming (because then it technically becomes a vent or a rant). But if you aren’t actively working to fix the problem, then at most you’re going to get one or two rounds before we pass a moratorium on it. (Where do you think writing challenges come from? Whining about the WIP.)

Oh, it sucks, because it’s no fun to whine alone—you need an audience. But as we all know, it’s no fun to listen to someone whine incessantly. After a while, a sympathetic ear can get full.

You might not think it sounds very fair on the surface, but I assure you, it is. After all, if your friends can’t tell you when it’s time to put your big girl panties on and deal with it, who can? I’d rather them tell me to my face than roll their eyes every time I revisit a subject. And if I don’t whine at them, it means I can save my ranting for things like the luncheon or my Room Parent issues—which are endless.

So yeah, my Playfriends are there for me—whether I like it or not. Someone has to tell you when it’s time to grow up and get over it. That’s a true test of friendship.

Who listens to you when you need to vent? And do they call you on it when you cross over to a whine?


Don’t forget to comment today for the chance to win a book in our Book-a-Day giveaway this week. And we’ll see you tomorrow for our big Birthday Blog party, where there will be lots of party favors to be had!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Birthdays and Blessings

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Girlfriends are one of life's biggest blessings. If you can't agree whole-heartedly with that statement, then you've never had a true, soul-sharing girlfriend.

On the Playground this week, you'll probably hear us fawning over each other alot – with good reason. We're celebrating two incredible years of fun, ranting, adventures, secrets, and trouble here on the Playground. Not only are we mighty proud of ourselves and our readers, we're very sentimental about the journey that has made us family. So you'll have to overlook a few tears this week.

But the formation of this group didn't just provide us with girlfriends, it strengthened our writing bonds as well. When it comes to my work, these women's words are like gold to me. I know where they are coming from, the experience they have, and their knowledge of the business. We don't write Books By Committee. But if I have a plot problem or characterization issue, I know they'll help me fix it while keeping my own writing strengths in mind. (Hint: This is something to look for in a good critique partner as well.)

So I've grown just as we've grown these past two years. And I hope you've grown as well.

We've got exciting things planned for this week, including our book-a-day giveaway and a Blog Birthday Party on Wednesday. Today, I want you to tell us about your best girlfriend(s); those women that you can laugh with, cry on, and raise hell with! I'll pick from the comments for today's winner.


PS. And don't miss next Monday when guest blogger Eloisa James drops by to play!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Birthday Goodies

We have some winners from this week who get birthday goodies! Commentors bethre and Barbara Vey need to email me ( to claim a book and birthday goodies. Give me an idea of what kind of books you like (paranormal? historical? sexy?) and I'll suprise you from my stash.

Monday kicks off our Book-A-Day giveaway. Be sure to comment and you could be a winner.

Wednesday is our second birthday party--there will be goodies galore to give away to our party guests. Mark your calanders and bring a friend to the party!!


PS: Read Friday's post from SP. Then know that she and DG are downstairs RIGHT NOW dueling it out on Guitar Hero. Sad to say, but she's getting whipped.

Friday, November 09, 2007

I am a Golden God!

That's not a sentence I say every day. Never ever said it before, actually. The line is from Almost Famous, if you don't recognize it. The guy is a rock star, full of himself, and as I recall, about to end up in a pool. Anyway, saying I feel like a rock star is very abnormal for me, especially since I don't play a single instrument. (This despite the efforts of my musician uncles who gifted me with unsolicited instruments my entire life. Never taught me to play them, just have them to me. I had an acoustic guitar, electric guitar, keyboard, clarinet, violin...of course what I really wanted were DRUMS! No dice, mom ixnayed that real quick.)

I say I am a golden god because I have been bitted by the Wii bug. Its a very dangerous and expensive bug. I blame this entirely on Angel's husband. They invited me over for dinner and let me play Guitar Hero II on either his XBox or his PS2. It was fun. I really liked it. I just hadn't owned a game system since I was 9 and it was an Atari 2600. It would have to remain a novelty for when I visited. The next day I went to PC's house and found her husband had it too, only his was for his Wii game system. That was an interesting development...

The Wii has been nagging me for a while. When it first came out it was cool, but I wasn't interested. Then everyone I knew started getting them. Then they started selling out everywhere and even if I did want one, I couldn't find one. I liked the idea of moving around playing games. It seemed fun, different. Darling Geek's game system pushed me over the edge because not only could I have this cool game system, but I could play Guitar Hero too and the Wii version had a cordless guitar. Tempting. But alas, still sold out everywhere.

A few nights ago I'm at Walmart. I'm getting ready for my housewarming party. Buying snacks, and other whatnots. For some reason, I drift off into the electronics. I wanted to see what the Wii had to offer gamewise. Just curious, you know. Well, there were two people there at the case with one of the employees getting a bunch of Wii stuff. They had Wiis in stock. 2 left out of a shipment of 8 that had been put out less than an hour ago. I eyed the Wii. I eyed the pricetag. I eyed the man down the aisle that was waiting for me to falter and snap up MY game system.

So...I bought a Wii. Alas, if only it were that simple, though. The Wii comes with one controller and one numchuck. So I had to buy a second controller (which came with a Wii Games pack) and a second numchuck. Then I had to buy colored skins for them so we'd know who's controller was whose. Then I had to buy the Wii controller charger so I wouldn't waste a ton of batteries. I passed on the memory card for now, but of course...I got Guitar Hero III with the cordless guitar. I went home, put away my groceries and setup my new toy.

(As an aside, people kept passing my cart in the store and saying things like "ooh, someone's going to be happy this Christmas." Yeah, ME! It's mine. Not DB's. Mine.)

So last night, for the low low price of about $500 I hadn't planned on spending, I played Guitar Hero III. Without the cord, I could play sitting on my couch. I rocked. The game said so. I played great songs and almost - ALMOST convinced myself I could actually play guitar by the time I went to bed. Like I said, I am a golden god. At least on the easy level of "Slow Ride."

I mean, just watch this video trailer for it. How could you NOT want this?

DB came home this morning and asked if Santa had come early. He initially thought I had borrowed it from someone until he saw all the lovely unopened plastic packages on the table. He thinks I'm crazy. Should've gotten a laptop, he said. Whatever. That's just because he hasn't played it yet.

Any new gadgets catch your eye this holiday season? Are you preparing for a battle in the Target at some crazy hour for the last Butterscotch Pony or PS3? Have you ever played Guitar Hero? Tell me I'm not crazy and that game is awesome.


(PS. I've been doing a little game research! Not only do they have a trivia game named - you know it - Smarty Pants - but they also have a game called Boogie where you dance and yes - sing karaoke! Be prepared, Playfriends!)

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Nielsen Family

Starting today we are a Nielsen family. For one week we're supposed to log what we watch on every TV including watching the DVD player and DVR. It's kinda interesting and appears to be time consuming. We have to log by increments of 5 minutes.

Now, for a normal TV viewer that might not be a problem but I'm a flipper. I hate commercials so I'll flip to another show, get involved and forget to flip back to what I was watching to begin with. What do you say the odds are that I'll remember to log each time I do that? I'm thinking not very good.
To add to the complication factor they only provided us with one log book. We have 4 TVs including the one outside in the 'little house' where DH watches sports and plays pool. Who wants to guess at the probability of him remembering to log whatever he's watching (including channel #, call letters and name of show) when he comes inside. I'm not holding my breath.

I had no idea, but when they mail you the information they also include 5 one dollar bills. I'm not entirely sure why they don't include a check but I'm assuming it has to do with either not wanting to track them or not wanting to deal with people who don't have a bank account so they can cash it. Since I'm the one who will be filling the thing out I claimed the cash :-)

Our log book should be interesting reading. Anyone else ever done this?


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Cruisin' with the Girls

In case you hadn't noticed, I've been absent from the blog for a few days. See that ship on the far left? I was on it - the M/S Holiday, which is part of the Carnival fleet.

Several years ago my sister and I decided that instead of giving each other a Christmas gift that we really didn't need or want and having something else to dust or find a place to store, we would take a "Girls' Trip" every year. Several years ago we spent several days in Nashville, Tennessee, and painted the town red -- or as red as two mild-mannered women can.

Last year I spent a week at her house while her husband and son were gone on a Boy Scout trip. She lives on the Georgia coast so we figured why pay to go to some other resort area when she already lives at one. Then later in the year she came here and we leisurely drove the Natchez Trace and then toured several plantations when we got to Natchez. We also had lunch with Maven Beverly en route.

This year we went wild and took a four-day cruise to Cozumel. She'd never cruised before so she didn't want to go on something longer in case she hated it and/or became horribly seasick.

She did neither and we're already trying to decide where we want to go next year. Cruising, we've decided, is the way to go. They cook you three meals a day -- and I'm talking escargot appetizers, beautifully arranged salads, lobster and chateaubriand entrees and desserts you'd kill your mama for. There's a little soft-serve ice cream machine on the Lido deck and you can fix a cone any time you desire. They have shows and activities. If you're a gambler (we're not) there is a casino. On the day we docked in Cozumel, they had tons of shore excursions we could choose from. We chose to just shop. And on our two "fun days at sea" we just did nothing but read by the pool or in the shade on a side deck.

We're actually afraid they might not let us come back because we drank no alcohol, didn't gamble, attended only one show, took part in only two activities, didn't enter all the raffles and the combined total on our Sail & Sign cards was less that the one-day bar total for the average guest. They made very little if any money off us.

But we had a blast. Colin, our wonderful waiter, treated us like royalty.

Every time we stepped out of our cabin, Lary the cabin steward came in to freshen the towels, empty the wastebaskets and make sure we the ice bucket was full. And he created the little menagerie below.

Trips are always a learning experience and here's what I learned on my cruise.
  • An aft cabin on the next to lowest deck isn't a good place to be. The noise from the stern thrusters is pretty bad when you enter or leave port. And they will wake you up at 2:05 a.m. when they use them to adjust course. Next time I'll study the ship's deck plans more carefully.
  • If folks want your dollars, they'll speak your language fluently. I encounter more folks who don't speak English at the Wal-mart than I did in Cozumel. I shopped til I dropped in Cozumel and the Playfriends will just have to wait til Saturday to find out what I bought them. :-P
  • It's amazing how difficult it is to create those towel animals. One of the two activities we did was the towel art class. They make it look so simple. Ha! After trying to make a dog and a monkey, we decided we'd had just about all the fun we could stand and went to the Lido deck for one of those little soft-serve cones.
  • Any food is good when you don't have to shop for the ingredients, prepare it and clean up the kitchen afterward. Okay, so that Neptune Chef Salad wasn't exactly what I had pictured in my mind, but I ate every bite.
  • You will do a silly little dance around the dining room if it means you get to have Warm Chocolate Melting Cake which several of us re-named Orgasmic Bliss.
  • There are some majorly wacked out people on cruise ships. There are also some folks you end up trading email addresses with so you can stay in touch. We met two wonderful women from Atlanta whom we hope to see again some day. And we had breakfast with a couple who were on this particular ship when Hurricane Katrina blew through the Gulf of Mexico two years ago. Note to self: do not sail during hurricane season.
  • Some folks will spend hundreds in the duty-free shop on the ship just to win a $100 shopping spree. And when they win, they'll stand in the middle of the shop and say "Hell! Now I have to figure out how to spend $100." Duh!
  • People who consume massive quantities of alcohol should avoid karaoke night and audience participation activities in the main theater/lounge.
  • People who wouldn't dream of drinking the water in Mexico will get a tattoo or body piercing in Mexico. What's wrong with this picture?
  • Bethany is a witch with a capital B and her husband did not show his private parts at the pool. (The cabin walls are thin, this couple had the cabin next door and I heard every word of their rip-roaring fight.)
  • And last, but certainly not least, I don't think I've ever seen bluer water than in Cozumel.

The sunset leaving port was pretty spectacular too.

Fun as it was, it's nice to be back home. Thanks for keeping the other Playfriends company while I was gone.

Do you have any good vacation stories to share? Tell me all the funniest ones to keep me laughing cause I'm probably going to have to have my kitty cat put to sleep today. :-(

If you don't know me by now...

Have y’all seen that MasterCard commercial with the kids doing the robot dance? It’s all about the cost of school supplies, but the tag line (as they’re all doing the dance) is “Being with people who get you: Priceless.”

Having people who “get” you is, indeed priceless. That’s why I like the Playfriends. They understand my neuroses, never feed me nuts of any kind, and laugh at my warped sense of humor. They also don’t ask stupid questions that make me wonder if they’ve been paying attention at all the last few years…

We were at Angel’s not too long ago, and SP told a story about one of her oldest and dearest friends. We all laughed, because we knew that conversation would have never happened if she’d been with us. That led to the following list.


But you already have a pair of black shoes.

Danniele can ride in the back seat.

Alcohol is just empty calories, you know.

I really need some “alone time” right now.

Let’s take the stairs.

Girdles are so old-fashioned. (Or its cousin, Why would you wear a bra?)

Your heroine has way too much emotional baggage.

You don’t need a list.

So, I’ll see you at 6am for that cardio-kickboxing class.

I’m just going to skip the chapter meeting this time.

You’re not actually going to eat that chocolate, are you?

I’m really sick of hearing you bitch about that.

Why don’t you just pick a hair color and stick with it?

I’m not worried about what I’m wearing to Nationals.

You obsess over the smallest things unnecessarily.

Just ignore what the Mavens say.

So what's the phrase that no one who knows you well would ever say?

Sunday, November 04, 2007


Looking for a hero today? How about actor Thomas Jane? Strong and handsome, he can be intense...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

soft and sexy...

or the perfect action hero...

Enjoy your MoanDay, ladies!

Friday, November 02, 2007

The Top 20 Things I Learned at the Retreat

Traveling is always a learning experience for me. It doesn't matter if you're going a few miles, a few hours, or a few flights from home. You always encounter something new. You always try something different. You always meet someone that adds value to your life or learn more about old friends. This latest retreat was awesome. We had a great time, as always. Of course, there's the disappointment that we won't be able to do it again for another whole year, but I guess that's what makes it special.

Here's a few things to help summarize our latest trip...

  1. It doesn’t matter if it’s a weekend getaway, a week long conference or a trek to a foreign country, the Playfriends will have the same amount of luggage. We are limited only by my puzzle-like packing abilities and Angel’s need to see out the rear view window.

  2. The infamous “Death Stare” is even more frightening when accompanied by a goatee, a gun and a fedora. I was very seriously concerned about getting my kneecaps popped if I didn’t behave.

  3. Plotting a book in a room of over 20 people can be enlightening and inspiring at best, discouraging and confusing at worst. Either way it’s exhausting but you’ll get more out of it than you ever anticipated.

  4. Even in a room full of women, if you wear fishnets and act flirty, you’ll get your butt pinched.

  5. The term “fuzz” will never have the same meaning for me ever again.

  6. There is no point in thinking even for a moment, that I will get any sleep while on a Playfriend trip, even if it is called a “retreat.” Sleep requires you to stop talking. We find that difficult.

  7. Writers, when in the safety of the company of other writers, make excellent actors. They also make nasty, murdering, scheming extortionists.

  8. There are a great many flavors of Jelly Belly jelly beans. A group of grown women can be occupied for almost an hour tasting and deciphering the color and speckle code. For the record, sometimes the yellow splotches on the buttered popcorn ones are not that visible and you may believe you’re eating a coconut one until it’s too late. (As an aside, if you try to give away a box of Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans on the blog, the winner will not email you to claim it!)

  9. Men’s suits are very hot. No wonder they hate to wear them and are always taking their jackets off.

  10. Even the teeny-tiniest of women can give one heck of a massage. I wish I could keep that masseuse in my pocket and take her with me everywhere I go.

  11. When given advanced notice to come up with some facts and lies about themselves, people can come up with some crazy stuff. Stuff that can even stump your best friends.

  12. If you tell a group of women to bring snacks, be prepared. You will be inundated with fudge, cookies, crackers, nuts, chips, dip and giant bags of chocolate candies. Do not think for a moment that you will eat the low carb snack bars and cheese sticks you packed.

  13. If you pack up all your makeup and cute clothes, load them into the back of the truck and resign yourself to sweats and a pony tail, everyone will decide it’s a good day to take pictures.

  14. Not even romantic suspense writers will not take the time from their scheming ways to examine the evidence in a murder party game. Not even when you flat out tell them to.

  15. It will take 2-3 good washings to get Dippity Do out of your hair. It takes even longer if you add fake blood.

  16. Apparently, it is not normal for someone to know all of the lyrics to "Ice, Ice Baby" by Vanilla Ice. Or at the very least, to still remember them after memorizing them in 6th grade. I think I frightened PC, although she should know better – she mentioned us going on those lyric game shows together for a reason. (As a follow on, if you bust out a funky Roger Rabbit dance move, people will stare.)

  17. Even in the sanctity of a beautiful and historical church, some writers will feel the need to plot a murder there.

  18. You can have top shelf tequila, a fierce dance cd playing, snacks, a karaoke machine, you name it – and some people will still sit around and talk business. (They will also give you dirty stares every time you start bellowing “We Are Family” and disrupt them.

  19. Some clocks are smart. So smart, they reset themselves for daylight savings time. Unfortunately, they aren’t smart enough to read the paper and know the government changed it to a week later. I almost missed breakfast.

  20. My RWA chapter has some of the coolest people ever. I "heart" you guys. :) (fans face, world peace, world peace!)
So...learned any life lessons lately? Share them!

(PS. The winner of last week's mystery blog prize is: Carol. Email me at to claim your giftie!)

(PS. The winner of Angel's blog post on Monday is crystalgb. Email her at to claim your prize!)

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Goat Hell

To fully appreciate the story I'm about to share you need to understand that I'm not really fond of our goats. They're huge. A couple hundred pounds each. Male. And have massive curling horns that look rather wicked and sharp. DH swears that they're nice and I know that they are because we got them from some wonderful people. They're just big. And they like to play and don't realize they're bigger and stronger than you are. DH has no problem with them but the girls are scared of them and I have to say that I avoid the barn whenever possible.

Last Thursday morning that wasn't an option. I had woken up early because I was packing for a weekend away, had to get the girls ready for school and myself off to work. I needed the extra time if everyone was to arrive at their destination on time with paraphernalia in tow. What I got instead was a knock at my door (which never happens) at 7:15 AM. The woman, a neighbor I've never met (Not unusual. We live in the county and everyone pretty much leaves everyone else alone.), tells me - while the dog is trying to tear through the glass door - that my goat is out and charging her son waiting outside for the bus. Uhhh, then why are you standing on my porch alone?!?

Obviously, despite the fact that our goat is huge and I have no authority/control over it, I can't let it terrorize the neighborhood children. So after calling DH (who works 45 minutes away) I told the girls to stay in the house with the dog so I could go assess the situation.

I wasn't even halfway down my driveway before I realized the goat in question was not ours. It wasn't big enough. But no one else in the neighborhood has goats and this woman is walking behind me still in a panic over her son. Me, being the wonderful neighbor I am, decide that despite the fact this thing is not ours I can't leave it. So, I get the goat's attention and get her to follow behind me. She walks from the neighbor's place down the street, along my driveway, through my carport and into my back yard precisely five paces behind me. Whenever I stop she stops. When I walk she walks. She's also started crying. Loudly.

I realize she's lost, lonely, scared and probably hungry. She saw the boy and mother standing outside and thought people and ran to them for help. Only what they saw were her big horns.

Now I'm emotionally involved in this poor thing. I'm late. I'm not packed. The girls aren't ready for school and I should be leaving. Instead I spent fifteen minutes trying to get the goat into our pasture. She wouldn't go more than halfway through the gate because of our huge male goats who are now trying to escape. One goat wrangling a day is my quota so I slammed the gate shut with her on the outside and our goats trying to knock the thing down to get out to her.

Luckily, Sweet Pea choose that moment to come outside. I enlisted her help in trying to cajole our goats away from the gate with treats - something they'd usually stand on their head for. But no. They're more interested in the first female goat they've seen in a year and a half. After many fruitless attempts I'm about to give up when Baby Girl opens the door and lets Jack out into the yard. The dog went CRAZY. He's chasing the goat who is running a circle around Sweet Pea - who is screaming her fool head off - in an attempt to find sanctuary from the yapping, snapping thing on her tail.

I'm late, frustrated, cold, wet and now scared that my child is going to get accidentally gored by someone else's goat. Needless to say, the goat was not in our fence when I left. However, she was standing beside the carport crying as I pulled the van out of the driveway. I felt like a complete heel. We were hoping she'd stay around knowing that we had food and other goats. Unfortunately, she didn't. However, our youngest goat bleated for her for a day and a half. We really need to get the poor thing a woman.
P.S. Congratulations to Shari C for being yesterday's winner! Please email Eve here to claim your prize.