On March 15 of every year, the swallows return from their winter residence in Argentina to the "Jewel of the Missions," Mission San Juan Capistrano in Orange County, California. On that day, the city of Capistrano begins the celebration of "Swallows Week," which this year sets its 50th observation of this event, although these little birds have performed their mighty migration since before the mission was built by Father Junipero Serra in 1776.

Fireworks, Jail-'em-and-Bail-'em, street vendors, placards and banners, Mariachis in the Mission, entertainment and guided tours on the Mission grounds by Docents dressed in colorful caballero costumes, as well as a parade in which Ortega Highway--the main road leading into town from I-5 South--is blocked off from 6:00 AM until 6:00 PM, are a few of the ways in which the townspeople celebrate this event which has put their home on the map. Usually held on March 15, designated as "Swallow's Day," the parade was postponed until March 29 this year because it coincided with St. Patrick's Day, St. Joseph's Day, and Holy Week, and will be held today beginning at 10:00 AM.

In an ironic turn of events, many of the little birds no longer nest at the Mission--which is one of the twenty-one churches established by the Spanish along California's El Camino Real (the "Royal Road" which stretches 600 miles along the California coast)--because of the presence of the very tourists who have come to see them. The Mission Gift Shop, as well as Ortega's Capistrano Trading Post (located across Camino Capistrano from the Mission) are filled with swallow souvenirs for those who wish to say they were there on the day the swallows returned--items ranging from 14 carat swallow pendants to windchimes, tiles, and trivets with hand-painted swallows on them to "singing" swallows from the Audubon Society. Free pamphlets with the story of the swallows on it are also handed out and CDs of the famous song, "When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano, that's the Day I Pray that You Come Back to Me," are also available.

Since the Trading Post is my domain (my boss is an 8th-generation Spanish trader), I look forward every year to the excitement of the event, and also fell awe that these little creatures can travel so far driven by instinct alone. Fewer swallows return each year, their admirers driving them to nest elsewhere, but for now, the swallows still come back to Capistrano.

The trailer for my paranormal romance, Somewhere My Love, is doing very well on YouTube!

Posted by Beth Trissel

Have you read any Jennifer Cruise? Sometimes I get into moods to read certain authors. Getting Rid of Stanley kept me laughing. Jenny's characters are real and flawed. Though the book was published in 1994, you'll love the dark and handsome cop with commitment issues and the heroine who has just signed her divorce papers. What happens when you try to fix a bad dye job, you know, from bleached blond to brown? That's just a small problem compared bullets flying and explosions.

Jennifer Cruise and Bob Mayer have teamed up to write romantic suspense. Bob likes high body counts and Jenny loves the man/woman relationships. In Agnes and the Hit Man, a hit man tries to protect a chef with anger issues. Both add to the body count. This is their second book together. Don't Look Down was their first.

Now I'm finishing a Rebecca York werewolf book, NEW MOON. Other books in the werewolf series include SHADOW OF THE MOON, CRIMSON MOON, WITCHING MOON, EDGE OF THE MOON, AND KILLING MOON. Those Marshall men can almost make me believe a woman can love a man who chases his food and eats it fresh and raw! These brothers and cousins shape shift and become wolves and marry women with powers and talents of their own. Page turning books!

Another winner! Congrats, Helen

Posted by Mary Marvella | 7:54 PM | 5 comments »

Back from her appearance as an American Title Finalist, Helen Scott Taylor joins the Gold Heart Finalists for this year in the paranormal category with The Magic Knot!

Huge News!

Posted by Anonymous | 4:17 PM | 5 comments »


Fellow blogger Beth Trissel is a finalist in the Romance Writers of America's Golden Heart contest for unpublished writers. Her entry, Through the Fire, will go on to be judged by acquiring editors from romance publishing houses.

Go Beth!


Traffic -- AARGH

Posted by Nightingale | 9:22 AM | , , , , , | 6 comments »

TRAFFIC, need I say more. Okay, anyone who lives in a big city (and even smaller ones) hates traffic. Patience, I'm counseled. Somewhere along the years, I hit the delete key on patience or maybe like a sense of direction I was simply born without.

So on with my raving. I work in the Medical Center in Houston. When my commute of 10 miles takes an hour, I feel I'm justified in wanting to drag the guy who just ran up on my bumper from his car and beat him with his cell phone.

Then there's the interstate, God help us. I've always been a sports car enthusiast (make that car crazy—if it has two seats and four wheels, count me in). I've owned a Jaguar XKE, an MGB, a Triumph TR6, now drive a Mazdaspeed Miata, a turbo-charged roadster. Whipping a nimble convertible around mountain roads is fun. Getting on Highway 59 North in rush hour is suicide.

Several times, when I bred Andalusian horses, I visited Los Angeles for shows or looking at prospective purchases. A friend took me on an adventure on an LA interstate. Ten years ago in the City of Angels, you planned your entire day around traffic. I swore I'd never live in a city where my life revolved around seas of taillights. Never say never.

My ex is British and when someone chatters on endlessly, he asks, "What are you rabbiting on about?"

So that's my rabbit-on for the day. Happy motoring. And as the suspect ending to this little rant, I saw a bumper sticker on a truck here in Texas: Keep Honking. I'm reloading.

While we're at it, here's an Easter pic of wee Beth that I'm rather partial to.
These clothes are likely hand-me-downs from my cousins as my father was a poor English teacher.

Me in my first Easter outfit. Mama made the dress from flower sack fabric and the shoes were probably hand-me-downs. They were definitely bought with ration coupons. World War II was raging and many things were rationed in the US. People couldn't run out and buy lots of shoes. I was in school before I could have dressy patent leather shoes for church.


I love creating Easter baskets, but my daughter seems to have outgrown them. We'll see if she mentions wanting one next year, since I just handed her stuff this year. For me it's about selecting a cool variety of little toys and goodies.

I've always tried to find certain Easter candy on sale the day after Easter. I freeze the chocolate covered marshmallow bunnies and eggs. At half price they taste good, but when I find them cheaper, they taste great.

More as the day progresses!



Posted by Mary Marvella | 12:44 AM | 2 comments »

If this works you can get an Angelwinks card. If not, I'll toss it and try something else!

Click to send an Animated Card from AngelWinks

By Pamela Roller

Raise your hand if you love those sugar-coated marshmallow chicks and bunnies. Now put your hand down quickly. I don’t really want to know.

For those of you fortunate enough to be unfamiliar with them, marshmallow peeps are those squishy, sugarcoated confections packaged in clear cellophane to show off their, um, beauty, and are usually available around Easter.

Please understand. I love marshmallows. I eat them raw—right out of the bag! I knead them between my fingers until I get a white string to twirl like a tiny jump rope. I melt them under chocolate and graham crackers, or toss them into a mug of hot chocolate. I love to skewer them and hold them over a flame until they’re black and crusty—the outer, burned part reveals a soft inner core that puts me in mallow nirvana.

But for some reason, I can't bring myself to eat those little sugary peeps. Which is okay, because I'm an adult and I can make that choice. However, my son loves them. He’s expecting a whole slew of them in his basket on Easter morning. Unfortunately, the chicks don’t lay eggs and the marshmallow bunnies can't reproduce at light speed like real bunnies, and I don’t want to be seen buying several packages of the things.

So I researched instructions on making homemade peeps and found a plethora of recipes. Be sure to visit the websites for photos. After you make the peeps, please do not put them in the microwave to watch them puff up and explode. That’s just mean.

This one is by Elizabeth LaBau

And another by Martha Stewart
Here's one from The Washington Post

Pamela Roller is the author of On Silent Wings, a gothic historical romance set in Restoration England. No marshmallow peeps in this novel! Visit her website at http://www.pamelaroller.com/.©Pamela Roller

Happy Easter everyone!

Quote for the Day

Posted by Nightingale | 11:14 AM | 2 comments »

For a long time, it had seemed to me that life was about to begin - real life.
But there was always some obstacle in the way.
Something to be got through first, some unfinished business,
time still to be served,a debt to be paid.
Then life would begin.
At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.

~ Fr. Alfred D ' Souza

"I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend...if you have one."
--George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill

"Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second...if there is one."
--Winston Churchill, in response

Dear Readers and Friends who like to check our Pink Fuzzy Slippers Blog,

Have you ever wondered who are the women behind this cute name?

Yes, we like to wear our pink fuzzy slippers and curl in front of the fire with a good book, but there is more to us the proud writers of Pink Fuzzy Slippers blog than meet the eye. Let me be your host and introduce our members in alphabetical orders:

Beth Trissel is our new coordinator and here’s what she tells us about herself:
I write historical and paranormal romance, also creative non-fiction.
I should add that I've sold Somewhere My Love (light paranormal) to the Wild Rose Press.

Cinthia Hamer says:
Though I’ve yet to be published in book-length fiction, I’ve had several articles published in The Galley, which is the chapter newsletter for Georgia Romance Writers. I also have a journal entry for a knitting project I participated in with Peachtree Handspinners Guild.

Deborah Julienne is a lovely lady and part of this group. She writes romantic suspense.

Helen Scott-Taylor A finalist, and hopefully winner of the Romantic Times American Title Contest IV. Helen writes fabulous paranormals, The Magic Knot and Passion Beyond Reason. We hope we will have a chance to receive an autographed copy of her books very soon.

Joanne Barnaba writing as Josie Riviera:
I read Joanne’s wonderful historicals about Gypsies, in England. They won several contests and are close to be published.
Fatal Fortune, First Place winner, Historical, Golden Pen 2006Fatal Flaw, First Place winner, Historical, Golden Acorn, 2007.

Linda Nightingale:
I write paranormal romance and dark fantasy. I have a ms under consideration at NAL titled Sinners Opera about a vampire concert pianist. My WIP is a ??fantasy?? about a fallen angel and the end of the world (funny light reading ha ha). I've also written a ms about a world peopled by Centaurs invaded by post-apocalytic Man. Only sold short stories so far.

Liz Jasper,
Her first book Underdead released and now printed by Cerridwen Press won the 2008 EPPIE award for best mystery.

Mary Marvella:
I write Romantic Suspense, Women's Fiction/Romance, Paranormal Romance(Reincarnation with ghosts) and a Romantic Comedy. None sold.
But I received the GRW Service Award '04, Sandra Chastain Service Award'06

Mona Risk writes romantic suspense for Cerridwen Press. TO LOVE A HERO has recently been released as an e-book. FRENCH PERIL will follow soon, Mona is working on a third one called High Rise Style. Mona also writes medical romance that are not yet published-- but hopefully will be one day-- by Mills & Boon Medical Romances.

Pamela Roller
Pam’s book On Silent Wings is published by The Wild Rose Press.
Pam is also our webmistress.

Sandra Cox, is a muli-published authors with several books released at Cerridwen Press: The Cristal, Boji Stones, Rose Quartz, Black Opal,… A Historical Silverhills, and a lovely book about cats, Shardai

Toni V. Sweeney:
I write horror and sci-fi and cross-genre romanceHorror: Murder in Old Bloodsci-fi/romance: Sinbad's Last Voyage; The Rose and the Dragon; Dragon in Chainshistorical romance: Walk the Shadow Trail; Vengeance from Edenparanormal romance: The Irish Lady's Spanish Loverfantasy/romance: Bloodseeksci-fi: Space Dog's Best FriendAll published (paperback, e-book, audio book); got nine short stories on Amazon Shorts, too.

Mon aRisk http://www.monarisk.com/

A Funny Kitty Movie

Posted by Nightingale | 9:44 AM | 6 comments »

You may have seen this but worth repeating for cat lovers.

Joanne----Deal of the Day

Posted by Josie | 9:22 AM | 4 comments »

Linens and Things has beautiful items with free shipping. Type in "Deal of the Day."

Also, code word "BRUNCH" will give you an additional 20% off.

Lots of great items for the kitchen and bath.

"I can't afford to save any more money." (Borrowed quote.)

your picture on a magazine cover-

Posted by Misc. Muse | 6:29 PM | 2 comments »

Fake Magazine Covers with your own picture at MagMyPic.com

Kind of a fun thing to do.

St Patrick's Day!

Posted by Helen Scott Taylor | 5:34 PM | , | 2 comments »

As St Patrick is the Patron Saint of Ireland, I searched the Internet for details of the traditional celebrations of St Patrick’s Day in Ireland, expecting to find all kinds of weird and wonderful ways the Irish celebrate this well know day.

There are lots of sites dedicated to the celebration of St Patrick’s Day in various parts of the world, but surprisingly few about Ireland. Ex-pat Irish all over the world, especially in North America, celebrate the day with enthusiasm. But the history of the saint’s day in Ireland suggest the celebrations we are familiar with today are fairly modern.

St. Patrick was a fifth-century English missionary to Ireland. He is thought to have converted many of the Irish to Christianity. The feast of St Patrick’s Day has been observed in Ireland for hundreds of years. The feast day falls during lent, but the church lifted the prohibition against eating meat for this day to allow the people to celebrate the day with dancing, drinking and feasting on the traditional Irish fare of cabbage and bacon.

As the feast was primarily a religious festival, the pubs in Ireland were required to close on March 17th until the 1970s when the law was changed. Over the years the day has become more a celebration of Irish culture and in the nineties, the Irish adopted the custom started in America and organized parades to celebrate the saint’s day in the major Irish cities.

The parade in Dublin, Ireland is now a weeklong affair including a fireworks display, street theatre, open-air Irish folk music, and a traditional parade.

Revelers wear shamrocks, the symbol of Ireland, tri-colored hats of green, white and orange, and girls decorate their hair with green ribbons.

Legend has it St Patrick used the three-leaved clover to demonstrate the doctrine of the trinity to his pagan Irish audience. Over the years, the shamrock became a symbol of Irish nationalism. Now the leaf-green color is synonymous with Ireland and people all over the world, both Irish and wanna-be Irish, will be decked out in green to celebrate today.

Happy St Patrick’s Day. Don’t drink too much Guinness!

Not for Children Only

Posted by Mary Marvella | 3:26 AM | 3 comments »

Are there things you enjoyed as a child, things you don’t do now because they’re for children only?

My list of such things is short. I can’t physically do some, my body simply won’t let me. I no longer stand on my head, do summersaults or back-bends. I hate that my neck and back and knees won’t allow it. I’d certainly never give those up if I didn’t need a week to recuperate when I try. I was the champ until I passed forty.

I’d never give up playing in the sand or dirt, but I feel more comfortable when I have a child to teach about making frog houses and sand castles. Surely you haven’t forgotten frog houses. You may have called them something else. Remember? You sat on the ground and covered one foot with sand or clay or just plain dirt, your main building material. Once your foot was well covered with the material of your choice you could work said foot from the pile, leaving an entrance.

Some of the other builders were satisfied to leave as soon as a simple cave-like hut was done. Those of us with runaway imaginations used that simple structure to create mansions, castles, forts, or more. This activity was not for children only. Actually children often moved on far too soon, leaving at least one adult or teenager to use engineering and architectural skills to build. The opening must remain undamaged, no matter how much dirt was piled on the structure. Far too complicated for a mere child.

Digging moats, building walls, those activities were fine for the kids. Adding water to the moats or turning a simple wall to the Great Wall of China, wide enough for pedestrians or vehicles to use as roads, was fine for younger hands, unless they tired of the game or weren’t doing a good enough job for the boss.

I can remember working on my masterpieces in fading daylight or even by moonlight. I did that even as a child. Why stop as an adult? I know, some people frown at sandcastle-building adults. They’re probably jealous or they simply don’t understand how therapeutic sand or dirt feels on hands and feet, how using one’s imagination to create eases tension, or the sense of accomplishment of making each new mansion better than the last or the one next to yours, built by another adult.

These same people probably don’t teach their children to dunk cookies in milk or take each Oreo apart to eat it. They probably don’t read the funnies, comic strips to some of you, even with no child to listen. They probably don’t ride the waves in the ocean or stroll along the beach searching for shells. Bet they don’t even blow bubbles with their bubble gum, or enjoy suckers, or popsicles, or making snow angels, or splashing in puddles, or making mud pies.

Send ‘em to me. Let me teach ‘em to skip when they would walk. I’ll give ‘em pie or cake with no plate, or fork, or napkin and teach ‘em to lick their fingers clean. Some things mustn’t be for children only.

While looking for a short story I wrote last summer, I came across this very old beginning to a book that was never born. I probably wrote this shortly after I picked up my pen in 1991. Since no one had signed up for today...I beg your indulgence for my attempt at high fantasy: No Title.

Ebienne slung his bow over his shoulder and let his horse amble back along the path to the castle. He had ridden much farther afield than he'd planned, and darkness would surely catch him far from home.
Home. The word echoed hollowly in his heart. He couldn't remember when he'd stopped thinking of the castle as home. Couldn't explain why he felt a stranger amongst the people who were the only family he'd ever known. In the distance, he glimpsed a spire jutting above the tree line. He felt lonely as sin, yet reluctant for company.

That morning in the kitchen, he'd learned of the Prince's planned visit. He had taken his bow and ridden into the forest. Today, he was in no mood for an encounter with Lew who always found some chink in Ebienne's armor through which to ram a demeaning remark. The Prince irritated him far more now than he had when they were children. And their rivalry had matured as the two boys--one dark, one fair--grew to manhood.
Though Ebienne had seen a young buck, and his Elven arrows never missed their mark, he hadn't unslung his bow. After visiting the old god's shrine and sprinkling wine from his skein on the tumble-down altar, he'd ridden by the stream until he came to a place shaded by enormous oaks. Peace lay over the spot like the early morning mist. Taking his book from the saddlebags, he sat by the swift, cold creek. Hours passed while water gurgled and the exiled Elf practiced the small magics he'd discovered buried in his soul. He made fire by looking at a stick, then put it out by levitating the stick into the stream. He moved his hands in the air and saw heat shimmers before him.
But he didn't know what the shimmers meant. They were a mystery like his past and his future. His memory of the days after coming to Knollwood was perfect, but it was as if the first six years of his life didn't exist. As if he'd been born that day Sir Henry had brought him to Knollwood, tucked away from the cold beneath the man's cloak.
Several times Lianne's face interrupted his concentration. A little angry that she could follow him even here to this haven where he truly felt at home, he banished the vision of a young woman with fair skin and hair the color of mahogany. Of late he'd noticed a subtle change in his feelings for Lianne. His chest burned when he remembered Prince Lewellyn kissing her hand. She'd laughed but hadn't taken her hand away. A merry glint in her green eyes proved that she enjoyed the attention.
Ebienne sighed. If not this year, perhaps next, he would go to The Vinings to study the magic he'd inherited in the Elven blood. From the delicate points of his ears to his long lean stature, it was obvious he was an Elf. And Lew never forgot to remind him that he was an Elf, and, therefore, inferior, his race subject to Man. Pure blood flowed in his veins, sometimes thudding with rebellion when Lew launched a particularly brutal attack, but he didn't know who his parents were or why he'd been fostered with the human.
Yes, soon he'd go to The Vinings to study the controlled magic that kept the humans safe from the Warlords to the North. Lianne would be someone's wife, mother someone's children. Lianne, his friend, the only person he'd truly loved, the only one who truly loved him. He ignored the familiar, dull ache.
He'd no right to think of her with such gentle warmth, with such misplaced longing. He was destined for The Vining's cloistered halls. Thoughts of love were folly indeed.
Stars peaked through the blue velvet curtain of the sky. The night was still, unmoving, magical. No insect song or call of bird disturbed the intensity that rested on him as heavy as the cloak slung over his shoulders.
Nimble as a cat, his horse lurched left, crashing into low brambles which tangled around his legs, brining the animal to a prancing halt. Wind whipped his hair across his face, blinding him for an instant. Trees bent, leaves torn from the tossing branches and the ground shook. Ebienne raked the hair back from his face and squinted at the glint of moonlight on iridescent wings then a giant shadow eclipsed the moon.

Today we're thrilled to have romance author Jenyfer Matthews guest blogging. Her third novel, All the Way Home, was released yesterday! Congratulations!! Jenyfer is known for her charming, suspenseful stories full of humor and romance--makes my TBP decision for this weekend easy. : ) You can win one of Jenyfer's wonderful books in the Spring Fling contest. For details, visit http://cerridwenpressauthors.blogspot.com/. Oh, you want to hear from Jenyfer now? Here she is!

I’ve lived abroad for nearly a decade now and in our first year away, my husband and I made friends with a couple from a small, small town in the mountains of Virginia. The husband from that couple spent a lot of time talking about how much he missed spending time with his friends, watching familiar TV shows, eating his favourite junk foods and just generally being home. He couldn’t wait for summer vacation to roll around.

Funny thing happened though. When we all returned to work in the fall, he told us how unsatisfying it had been to go home. His friends were all still the same – doing the same things, having the same conversations, eating the same food while watching the same TV shows - but he had a hard time slipping into his old role among them. Nothing had changed – except him. He hadn’t realized how much until he went back to his home town.

Even if you’ve never lived abroad, we’ve all had experiences like this. Does your grandmother or your mother treat you as a fully mature, competent adult when you go home to visit? Do they show an interest in your job, seek your opinion on current events? Ask your advice with a problem? Or do they still remind you not to stick a knife in the toaster or to wear a hat because it’s cold out or not to snack before dinner because it will ruin your appetite?

I’m no exception. Forget that I’ve travelled to nearly a dozen foreign countries and have flown across the world countless times with two children and a mountain of luggage in tow. When I go home, my mother will still try to tell me how to cook, drive, feed my children, or go to bed. It’s that sort of behaviour that drives otherwise mature adults to acting like snarling teenagers again.

It can be hard for the people who have known you all your life to let go of old perceptions of you and accept the changes that come with time and maturity and life experience. But while the people who know you best can sometimes drive you crazy, they can also be a blessing and a comfort. I can tell people about my childhood, but no one fully understands like my sister does. My mother stocks up on all my favourite treats when I come to visit without having to be given a list. And I can slip into conversations with my best friends that feel like I never left.

It was experiencing this firsthand that gave me the idea for writing my newest release ALL THE WAY HOME. My character Maggie leaves her home town for college and stays away, motivated in part by her parents’ unhappy marriage. A decade later, Maggie reluctantly returns to help her sister deal with a domestic crisis. In this case, it’s Maggie’s own perceptions of what her home town means to her that are the problem. And it isn’t until she meets the hero Sam, town bad-boy made good, that she begins to accept that maybe her old perceptions are outdated.

Going home again isn’t a problem - driving back to her home town was the easy part. Letting go of old ideas and accepting that just maybe there really are such things as happy relationships and happy endings is Maggie’s real journey.

You can visit Jenyf'er's website at http://www.jenyfermatthews.com/ or her blog at http://jenyfermatthews.blogspot.com/ and friend her at myspace at http://www.myspace.com/jenyfermatthews

A Friday Laugh - In the News

Posted by Nightingale | 9:52 AM | 4 comments »

From my witty friend Lucienne's MySpace blog:

Friday, March 14, 2008
Headline News for the Week of March 10-14, 2007 Category: News and Politics
I know that there have been a lot of stories in the news regarding the Obama/Clinton political battle, but the following were the most interesting news highlights to hit the internet this week. They all fall into the category of "I can’t make this stuff up."

New York Governor Spitzer and the Salaried Slut:
The idea of these two together in any way is just mind-boggling. Was "Kristen" a "Spitzer" or a "Swallower"? (thanks Rob for that editorial).
The only image more cringe-inducing was when Paula Deen said on her show, " When you wrap your lips around it, I need it really wet."

In Britney Spears News:
Britney is scheduled to appear on the show, "How I Met Your Mother" on CBS. She was supposed to appear on "How on Earth Did I Become a Mother" but the CW lost all visitation rights to the show in a custody battle with former station UPN.

Woman Sits on Boyfriend’s Toilet for Two Years:
At first I thought this was yet another Britney Spears story, but if it had been, she would have invited a member of the paparazzi into the bathroom with her.
Actually, this is a true news story out of Kansas. Supposedly the boyfriend had been trying to get her off the throne for the full two years. The boyfriend had called the sheriff’s office a month before to report that something was wrong with his girlfriend. Apparently, her skin had grown around the toilet seat and her legs had atrophied.
"We pried the toilet seat off with a pry bar and the seat went with her to the hospital," Sheriff Whipple said. "The hospital removed it."
This begs the following questions:
Why on earth would she still be on the toilet after 2 years? (Because I’ll just stay away from that restaurant.)
What did she eat while on there? (This gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "Grab-and-Go" food, doesn’t it?)
Were there two bathrooms in this house? What did the boyfriend do when nature called for him?
Why did it take him so long to call for any help? (I would have worried after two hours, let alone two years. )
Now do you understand why Dorothy "left" Kansas for the acid-induced Oz?

Woman Does 21 Accents in 2.5 minutes:
You can see the full clip of this right here on youtube.com:
I would have been REALLY impressed had she done 21 of something else in 2.5 minutes, but I think Governor Spitzer has been busy enough lately.

School Backs Off Skittles Suspension:
In Connecticut: An eighth-grade honors student who was suspended for a day, barred from attending an honors dinner and stripped of his title as class vice president after he was caught with contraband candy in school will get his student council post back, school officials said.
The kid was caught buying a bag of candy from another student. I want to know what this school is doing for fund-raising because I used to sell candy for fund-raising at my school. If the kids have nothing else to do, this is probably why...

At Least 1 in 4 Teenage Girls has Sexually Transmitted Disease:
At least one in four teenage girls nationwide has a sexually transmitted disease, or more than 3 million teens, according to the first study of its kind in this age group.
Is this supposed to be better than buying and selling Skittles in class? Really, where are our priorities?

Warning—BSC alert. I’ve temporarily moved from BSP (blatant self-promotion) to BSC (blatant self congratulation). I couldn't be more thrilled. This has been a great week. Last Monday, I received a five angel review from Fallen Angel Reviews. The next day, I signed the contract for the sequel to UNDERDEAD, which means UNDERDEAD IN DENIAL will probably release sometime this summer or next fall. On Friday, I got my new bookmarks in the mail (I’ll send you oneu if you email me: liz at lizjasper.com). And then I went on a road trip to Legoland and the Wild Animal Park, which has nothing to do with books, or writing, or Underdead, but couldn't have been more fun. It's worth heading down to San Diego just for the Mexican food. I looove refried beans, dripping with cheese, some chicken enchiladas to swirl in them, add a little fresh salsa on top. Sooo good. Hold on, where was I?

Right. About in the headspace where I was when I got home from the trip, fat and tired and feeling lazy in that “what a great trip” fatigue. I was in charge of making dinner for everyone (for the record, stew, which I always make before a trip so all I have to do is reheat), but did a quick e-mail check, because the last thing I wanted was to have the disappointment of not winning added to the disappointment of having my guests leave. And one of my author friends sent me an e-mail with “Congratulations!” in the subject box.

And that was how I learned I'd won the EPPIE Award for best mystery. Then I went to my publisher's chat room and found a whole email string congratulating me. And just now, I went to the PFSW chatroom and again my writer friends were congratulating me without me having to announce I’d won the award.

Now, writing is a solitary endeavor, and often a lonely one. There are a lot of down times, a lot of rejections, a lot of times when you're sure the best thing you could do is give up. I heard a quote recently in a bad movie, “even the most successful people have failures,” or something like that, and I found it very encouraging. Just because one gets a rejection or criticism or has tyranny of the blank page for weeks on end, it doesn't mean you are a failure or should give up. What it means is, you should make sure you always have some understanding friends around to give you a hug or a kick or whatever it is you particularly need to keep going. And chocolate. That is key.

So, while BSP might be a reality in an author’s life, BSC doesn’t have to be, not for long, if you’ve got some good buddies, the sort who are there to support rain or shine.

How many of you are saying to yourselves, "My GAWD, would someone PLEASE cue the music! She’s getting maudlin!” Or turning to the person next to you and whispering, “Whatever happened to reading a quick list of names and getting the heck off stage?!?” or “I remember when just saying, ‘thank you’ was enough!”

All right, all right. Back to BSP. UNDERDEAD is available as an EPPIE award winning ebook from www.cerridwenpress.com. It is also available in paperback from the usual places (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders, Target (hey, they sell books!) and ask for it at your local indy bookstore. If you want to try ebooks but are too cheap to buy a reading device (I am, I still read ’em on my computer) you can win one, loaded with ebooks, in the Spring Fling Contest—there’s still time to participate! (For details, visit my website at www.lizjasper.com). And if you’ve always wondered if men wore make up in olden times (they did) or what ancient Egyptians or Victorian misses or cave people did to make themselves more attractive (prepare to be horrified), read my article in Lady Jaided Magazine, http://www.ladyjaided.com

Here's the back cover blurb:

Science teacher Jo Gartner thinks teaching geology to hormonal pre-teens is deadly…until she is bitten by an inept vampire and becomes Underdead—all the problems of being a vampire, none of the perks.

When she finds a body on her classroom floor with teeth marks in his neck, she must figure out whodunit before her Underdead secret gets out. But she’s running out of time. The detective in charge of the case is dogging her every move, her vampire traits are evolving in new and embarrassing ways, and someone wants Jo dead…the traditional way!

Thank you.


Joanne---Deal of the Day

Posted by Josie | 9:26 AM | 2 comments »

LandsEnd.com has a free shipping deal that ends today (Tuesday)

At checkout, enter BLOOM and 492718848

Check out their "overstocks" and "On the counter" for even greater savings on quality clothing.

Recharge your mental batteries

Posted by Mary Marvella | 1:39 PM | 7 comments »

We all need to recharge our mental batteries.

For writers this isn’t about writer’s block, it’s about avoiding that condition. Sometimes writers can become so caught up in pen and paper or computer time that we forget about the real world.

For everyone else it might be about digging through the doldrums and getting things done.

How do you recharge your batteries?

You could read a good book or a bad one. Your choice might include fiction, nonfiction, books, or magazines. Don’t say you don’t read. If you don’t, you need to change that. Read what you enjoy or what makes you feel. Let other writers’ words make yours flow faster, even if you’re showing you can do better.

Leave your workspace. Sit on your deck, porch, or patio. Lounge at a pool, or a lake or perch on a park bench. Go to a bookstore coffee shop or any other coffee shop. Soak up nature or people-watch, whichever works for you. Go to the mall and wander around. Go to Walmart, or the Dollar Store, or any store with a dollar area, and rummage. If you give yourself a spending or time limit you can play for a while and catch fun bargains. You can put things back if you have little money with you.

Watch people and listen to them or window-shop. Any of these can work at different times. Listen, watch, and soak up what’s around you.

Physical activity can make a writer’s blood flow and sometimes feed his or her brain. For as long as I remember I’ve watched people and made up stories about them. "There’s a story in there somewhere." I’ve said it and I’ve heard other writers say it in response to a new item, an overheard conversation or just watching people interact. Even without hearing people’s words, we make assumptions about they’re saying and how they feel for purposes of giving them a story. I can spin an entire tale without knowing anything.

Movies and television shows can offer more food for thought and escape for a while. Watch a silly show, a kid movie, or even cartoons.

Or dig in the dirt! Re-pot your inside plants. Plant something outside, cause it's Spring!


Posted by Mary Marvella | 5:02 AM | 2 comments »

Once upon a time there was a little girl named Marvella who learned to read. Other children around her learned to read, but Marvella was different from most of the children. Marvella loved to read so much she could never be seen without her nose in a book.

Well, Marvella read novels, lots of them. She read the classics. Some of the books she read weren't classics then, but they are now.

Marvella loved to tell stories, too. She still tells stories. Now she writes them. She enjoyed writing them until she learned that there so many rules.

Here the fairy tale veers off and the real world intrudes.

Who makes the rules?

Publishers have rules and they are entitled to decide what they will buy. Some rules are stated in their guidelines and some are known only by the editors who offer the contracts we all covet.

Are there other rules? I hear them all the time. They refer to things writers cannot do in their books. Some are made by other writers. They can knock a writer and the fairy tale princess from her tower. They would surely keep a prince from rescuing the princess if the prince doesn't follow those rules.

If you have stories to tell, you can try to learn all the rules or you can tell your stories the way you need to tell them.

What if you are one of the writers whose stories and styles don't fit the rules? Learn who made the rules. It the rules are publisher or genre rules, follow them or you won't sell to those publishers or in that genre.

If the rules are made by other writers, you should do with them what you can. You might consider them suggestions. Some can be helpful and strengthen your writing while others will stifle you.

Keep in mind that not all readers like to read the same books or the same authors. I say this because I am a reader as well as a writer. Write what you like to read. If your goal is about selling, you need to spend more time learning the rules and how you can follow them. Just be sure the rules are made by people who can publish your books.

If you write because you have stories you must tell, write them. Keep looking for the publisher who sells the kind of stories you like to write. Trends come and go. The books you can't sell today might fit a new trend in the future or even break ground for a new trend.

Keep in mind that we write stories for readers and for ourselves.

I am still a reader and I don't read by rules.


Posted by Mary Marvella | 3:55 AM | 4 comments »


This season’s colors are pretty and bold versions of pastels.
Remember your skin tone and eye color determine which colors will work best for you.

If you use liquid foundation or powder, apply it on your eyelids, too. Shadows will go on more smoothly and will stay on longer.

For color intense shadow, run your brush over the shadow, then on your hand before you put it on your eyelid. It’s easier to add shadow than to tone it down. You should shake or tap your brush to remove excess shadow that might get into your eyes or under contacts or settle on your skin where you don’t want it.

Dab the shadow colors you are considering on the back of your hand. If the skin around the color looks clearer and younger, you’re choosing the right shades. If the skin around the dab of color looks bruised, ashy, or jaundiced, the color is wrong for you.

Most of us look best with pink tones or gold tones, but not both. Neutral tones are useful but seldom flatter your skin or eyes. They are safer to use but less fun!

If the lid color you use is darker than your skin, your eyes will look smaller and less vibrant. To open your eyes you should brush a light color over the entire lid. A pale pink or sheer gold tone will often brighten your eyes.

For ideas, look at ads for shampoo, hair color, and skincare. They tend to be subtle and flattering for most women. If you are adventurous, look at the seasonal shadows ads and play with them for a look that works for you. You might use the same colors in the photos, but tone them down with a sheer pink or cream, or gold over them.


If you already covered your eyes with a light color, brush a color 2-3 shades darker in your crease for dimension. This can be pink, rose, gold, tan or taupe.

You can create the crease your want by putting the darker shade where you’d like that crease. If you have deep-set eyes, you want the crease in a light shade or skip it.

You can use blues and greens or purples, (lavenders are easier to handle than purples or plums.) Test your colors on your hand to see how your skin looks and how color intense that shadow is.

Grays, purples, and some greens often make the skin under your eyes appear darker or bruised, even though you haven’t spilled any shadow. If you brush a color on your eyelid, then check the effect and the area under your eyes, you’ll know if the shadow is causing the circles to appear or look darker.


Brush white or very light shadow on your brow bone and along the area under your crease, close to your lashes. A dab of white in the inside corner of your eyes can make your look more dramatic. a touch of pink in the inner corner can brighten your eye. A light pink or gold in the center of your eyelid, the middle of your eye, can put a sparkle in your eye or make your lid seem more sounded.

Lining your lid. You should keep your liner at the base of your lashes on your eyelid, the closer the better. If you are good with eye pencils, you might draw a broken line ----, then use a Q-tip to smudge the line. If you like a stronger look, make the line solid, then smudge it. Your line should go from corner to corner. Making your line a tad thicker at the center and at the outer edge adds drama.

When eyes lose the elasticity, powder liner can be easier to use.

Eye shadow works well as a powder liner and give you wide variety. Use the smallest brush or applicator to keep the line narrow at the base of your lashes. You can set your liner by brushing a dab of shadow over it.

Try dipping a tiny, pointed brush into water, then run it across your shadow to create a soft version of a liquid and smoother look than dry shadow. Test by drawing lines on the back of your hand until you learn how much water and/or shadow your need. You can add layers of color as you need to.
When you use this method, do your liner before you apply water-based mascara.

Black or dark brown liner is often harsh, while taupe, brown, navy and deep green, like khaki or dill, can make your eye color pop.

Green liner can bring out gold or green in brown eyes.

Line your lower lashes from the outside to just past the halfway point to keep eyes open and looking larger. Lining them all the way from corner to corner can make them appear smaller.

Using navy or dark blue liner can make the whites of your eyes seem whiter.

Want more? Later!

Have specific questions? Ask me!

By Beth Trissel (photograph of our farm)

Spring can be very wintry here, with snow lying on the ground sometimes until Easter and a brisk wind blowing from the North. But the sun shines brighter, when it shines, and the geese begin to fuss, a sure harbinger of spring. Squawky geese are always the first sign, even before the pussy willow blooms, or whatever it is that pussy willows do.

This annual sign of spring makes me think of other spring observances. March is usually the first month when gardeners can really get their hands into the earth and plant something, like those first rows of peas, often put in with cold fingers right before a rain. The rains are so close that there may only be a day or two when the soil is workable before it’s too wet again. Veteran gardeners watch the sky and feel the earth, wrinkled pea seed in readiness, and when it’s all systems go, there’s a mad scramble for the garden as the gray clouds roll in.

A bit of lettuce, spinach and radish seeds are scattered in short rows, then back to the house for a hot cup of tea and the toasting of numbed extremities by the wood stove, the contentment of a spring rite observed. There’s something of a one-upmanship among country folk about who gets their peas in the earliest. “Got your peas in yet?” is apt to be a seemingly casual conversation opener, but only for the one who has, of course.

Spring is also the time of year when I regard the cows with a deep wariness. Inevitably, the cows will get out. I never know exactly when they’ll time their visit, but their attraction for newly planted gardens and flower beds is their annual spring rite. Around here, in the spring, cows are the enemy. They particularly like a newly planted garden just after a spring shower, because they can really sink their hooves in and churn up the earth. A freshly re-seeded lawn will do in a pinch, even shrubbery if all else fails. We have a side of the house called 'Cow corner' where the bushes appear to have been strangely pruned by a mad gardener.

I once threw myself in front of a stampeding young heifer as she made her way for my very newly planted raspberries. I was in the midst of planting them when she and several others escaped from the calf pen my husband was cleaning. He had left the gate unbolted for a second--that second cows live for. Yelling “No!” I hurled myself in her path. He came running just in time to see me prepared to be martyred for my cause.

The heifer, a coward at heart, veered at the last moment and leapt off the small wall at one end of the garden. I heard some discussion later about the price tag value of the raspberries compared to the cow had she broken her leg. I’m relieved to add that she didn’t, and there was some concern for my safety had I disappeared under her charge.

I’ve watched in horror as bovines of all ages have frisked their way through tender young snapdragons, newly emerging peas and dozens of other cherished plantings. Later in the season when the weeds get thick and the weather grows hot and dry, I begin to lose my earlier enthusiasm for my garden and so do the cows. They prefer to make their pilgrimages while the earth is fresh and new and the plants are carefully chosen and special. Don't we all?

Have any gardening stories of your own? Please post them under the comments section!


Posted by Mona Risk | 10:10 PM | 5 comments »

Last week, Liz Jasper blogged about e-Books twice and I blogged about more of the same on my personal blog at monarisk.blogspot.com. One would wonder what’s more to add.

Two days ago I decided to go to the RT convention in Pittsburg and started checking the agenda. I was surprised to find out that almost two days out of the convention four days are reserved to e-publishers. An agreeable surprise for me considering I have two books TO LOVE A HERO and FRENCH PERIL published by Cerridwen Press, an e-publisher. It looks like e-books are becoming an accepted format for readers and writers.

I posted here some of the workshops offered by e-publishers and e-books in the hope this list can help those of you who are considering submitting manuscripts to e-publishers.

Wednesday, 12 - 1pm: When submitting to an e-publisher, standard format isn't standard anymore. Learn which submission formats publishers want and why and how NOT to leave garbage code behind when files are converted. Also learn about the various file types and how to format your submissions in the body of an e-mail.Captain: Brenna Lyons Panelists: Shawn Clements, Treva Harte and Margaret Riley

Wednesday, 12:30-1:00pm: Wild Rose Press Press

Wednesday, 1 - 2pm: All the romance you need from all the publishers you love. Join us in celebrating, the first E-Book, Independent Publisher & MultiMedia Expo. With over a hundred publishers represented and thousands of titles available...We Are Hot! Hosted by: All Romance eBooks

Wednesday, 2 - 3pm: What are the contract red flags? What about IP rights? What is the Millennium Act, and how does it affect us? What can't I use on my website, and why not? What is a release cause, and why should I care? Captain: Brenna Lyons Panelists: Will Belegon, James Buchanan, Jennifer DiCamillo, Wendi R. Felter and Raelene Gorlinsky

Wednesday, 2:30-3pm: Crescent Moon Press

Wednesday, 3-3:30pm: Red Sage

Wednesday, 3 - 5pm: From ranting blogs to, PODcasts, to breaking BSP rules, there are hundreds of ways to shoot your online marketing efforts in the foot. What is netiquette? What are the rules of online promotion, and how do you apply them without annoying readers and industry pros? Captain: Brenna Lyons Panelists: Maura Anderson, Lynn Crain, Jennifer DiCamillo, Eliza Gayle, Lori James and Caitlyn Willows

Wednesday, 3:30-4pm: Resplendence Publishing

BOOKSELLER: CRAZY AND FABULOUS NON-BOOK ITEMS THAT SELL! Thursday, 3-4 pm: Back by popular demand! Come see new sidelines that will sell in your store like hotcakes. Hear recommendations from other stores in the network…and learn about misadventures with those items still collecting dust on your shelves. (Of course all samples will be given out to those of you in the audience!)

Wednesday, 4-4:30pm: Aspen Mountain Press
Wednesday, 4 - 5pm: How Does The POV Add To An Erotic Scene? For the most intimate moments, some writers dare to take the reader right to the source (who needs narration anyway, right?) Let's explore the use of POV in sex scenes, and how a simple shift in perspective can change the game. Captain: Renee Bernard Panelists: Barry Eisler, Angela Knight, Cheyenne McCray, Sharon Page and Kimberly Kaye Terry

Wednesday, 4:30-5:00pm: Amira Press

Wednesday, 5-7pm: Come meet the authors of e-Publishing, Independent Publishers and Alternate Media. We will have books for you to buy and e-publishers waiting to help you with your e-pub questions. Industry experts will be on hand to help with purchasing your downloads, find that book on-line or that publishing house you had questions about. Don't know about E-Readers? This is the place to be. More Information...Hosted by: Romantic Times

Thursday, 11:30am - 12:30pm: Learn about Second Life - a 3-D virtual world where real business happens and where publishers and authors can profile books, give readings, sell short stories and interact with fans from around the globe. This "brave new world" self-segregates into communities that avidly pursue common interests, making it perfect for niche marketing. Second Life is growing at about a million registered users a month. Learn how to leverage its power to compete for readers' attention, not just with other books, but with movie studios, musicians and video games. Panelists: Jennifer Dunne and Diana Hunter

Thursday, 3-4pm: Ellora's Cave

James reached for his tankard of ale and shook an errant strand of hair away from his face, grown long from neglect. He had haphazardly tied it back with a leather thong.

Sir Geoffrey, his eldest knight, limped into the room, and James gave him a quick glance. “Is she finally here?” James asked.

Sir Geoffrey cleared his throat. “I beg your pardon, Lord Colchester. Two gypsy women are here, not one. Their wretched shrieks are loud enough to wake the entire estate, if not all of England.”

James frowned. He thought he had heard distant screaming a few moments ago. “Are they here willingly, as I asked?”

“Not exactly. I assumed ’twas best for you to speak with both of them.” Sir Geoffrey doffed his cloak and threaded a wrinkled hand through his white hair. He perused the sideboard before selecting a ripe pear. “May I sit?”


The knight’s heavy profile cast a stooped shadow along the candle-lit room. He angled his chair near the fireplace and grabbed the flagon of ale from a nearby table, taking a lengthy swill. He had been James’s loyal knight since childhood, so he was allowed liberties many believed too lenient. James would have trusted him to fight the very devil---bringing a fortuneteller to the castle should not have tasked him.

“Everyone could hear their screams, except for Lord Jeremy, of course,” Sir Geoffrey continued. He squinted at the sleeping child in the earl’s lap. “Poor boy.”

“My son may have been born deaf, but he is not poor.” James clenched his jaw and slammed down his tankard with more force than he intended. The boy sighed in his sleep.

When the world was new and I was young, I ordered a dozen Rouen ducklings from a game farm and began my love affair with ducks, blessed by its moments of joy and cursed with inevitable tragedy. The box of downy babies was delivered directly to my door much earlier in the day than our mail normally comes as the mailman had wearied of their incessant peeping. I took the new arrivals from the grateful carrier and transferred them to a corner of the family room under a warm light bulb.

My two oldest children, now young adults, in elementary school then, were delighted with their new playmates, but soon joined me in the discovery that these tiny creatures were incredibly messy. The ducklings reveled in their food, spewing a mixture of feed and water on themselves, the box, and the walls. This led to their speedy removal to an unoccupied rabbit hutch in an outbuilding. Here they grew in sheltered bliss until we deemed them ready for life on the pond, unaware that our charges needed parental guidance. The unchaperoned youngsters soon slipped under the fence and lost themselves in the neighbor’s grassy meadow. We tracked their frantic quacks and carried them home, only to have them forget and stray again.

Sadly, unwary ducklings do not know to be on guard against snapping turtles, something their mama would have taught them. By summer’s end, just two grown ducks remained and were fondly named Daphne and Darlene. They were inseparable and divided their day between the cows and geese in the barnyard and forays to the pond. The next spring Daphne and Darlene built a mutual nest inside a clump of gold-button tansy at the edge of the garden and patiently sat on the eggs that would never hatch. It was time to find them a suitable spouse.

One fall evening 'Don' arrived in my husband's pickup truck. The girls took an instant liking to the handsome drake, and he to them, though he showed a slight preference for Darlene. As spring neared again, we noticed a wild mallard drake observing our little band. He dashed forward for a bite of grain at feeding time, only to be driven away by Don. We pitied Dwayne, as he soon became known, and tossed a handful far to the side for him. Besides the free lunch, it seemed that Dwayne was attracted to our Daphne, much to Don’s strong disapproval.

Undeterred, the small male eventually won acceptance, amusing us by his attempts to mate with Daphne, twice his size. Persistence won out, though. That year the girls had separate nests, Darlene at the base of a bittersweet vine, while Daphne went back to the tansy. Don and Dwayne bonded, swapping stories as they awaited imminent fatherhood. The ducklings hatched in late spring and grew quickly. All survived with excellent care from their mothers. By fall, we could see Dwayne’s influence on the flock. His offspring were much smaller.

This was a happy, golden time. Late afternoons we quacked loudly, calling our ducks for feeding. Heads popped up from the seeding grass and they answered back, then waddled single file behind Don, their noble leader. If we were late with dinner, they gathered to complain about the lack of service and were not averse to heading up to the house to fetch us if necessary.

Autumn in all its’ splendor passed into a winter that was our most severe in years. We tromped faithfully through the deep snow every day to scatter feed on the frozen pond. Then one morning after fresh snowfall we could not find a single duck. Our anxious calls came back to us empty on the wind, searching revealed only spatters of blood and dog tracks in the snow; the silent witness to their grim fate. Still, we hoped that some birds had escaped the attack and combed the neighborhood, finally locating a pair of Dwayne’s offspring. Only the smaller ducks could fly well. We had unwittingly fed the others up to be sitting ducks, an expression I now understand all too well.

A week later Dwayne returned, but it was a bleak time. How empty the pond seemed without the gang. That May, Betty, our lone remaining female, hatched a fuzzy brood. Familiar quacks again filled the air and gladdened our spirits. It just isn’t spring without ducklings.

By Beth Trissel

Joanne--- Deal of the Day

Posted by Josie | 9:29 AM | 2 comments »

Kohl's online has some great deals on jackets:

Villager denim jacket, orig. $54.00, now $10.80

Chap's velveteen collar denim jacket, orig. $79.50, now $15.80

Use code NEW2623 for an additional 10% off.

And, shipping is 99 cents per item. Kohl's card owners might be able to use additional codes for more savings.

“Devlesa araklam tum.”
“It is with God that we found you.”
-Old Romany saying

Chapter Two

James Saren, Earl of Colchester, rubbed his eyes, struggling with the fatigue of several sleepless nights fighting another senseless battle in King Henry’s name without his most trusted men at his side. Time he preferred to spend near his son.

Once the battle ended, he had ridden like a man possessed by demons to arrive home earlier that evening. His son’s excited squeals of laughter as he ran into his father’s arms rewarded him for his efforts. Warmth moved his heart, lifted his spirit. The sweating sickness had not stricken his son while he was gone.

Now, with the boy finally asleep on his lap, he forced his shoulders to relax. James shifted in the straight-backed chair, pressed unyielding against his sore muscles, barely able to contain his long form and his little son’s, too. Despite his prosperity, James favored the simplicity of his sparse chambers---an unadorned fireplace, a clean bed, a trestle table concealed beneath a woven tablecloth.

Mascara. Part 1 Don't Fear it

Posted by Mary Marvella | 11:46 PM | 4 comments »

Mascara, Part 1
Don’t Fear It!

The basics

Selecting mascara is important. Some mascaras thicken, some lengthen, and others condition lashes. If you have problems applying mascara, don’t go for products that promise extreme results. Unless you have black hair, try a black/brown or a brown for practice. Black mascara can look harsh on blonds and is less forgiving than stark black is.

Waterproof mascara is thicker and slower drying and more likely to smear before it dries. Some waterproof mascaras are harsh and will flake and cause lashes to break. Repairing mistakes can require extra effort and special cleaners. They are more likely to irritate eyes than other mascaras are.

If your eyes water when you use mascara, try for one that is water-based and fragrance free. Hypoallergenic mascara, though it has been tested on a lot of women, isn’t safe for every woman. Water-based mascara is also safer and more gentle than others are. If your eyes water after you apply it, if you cry, or if you have allergies, you can use a damp Q tip or a dab of petroleum jelly or even lotion to clean smears. You can even lick the end of your pinky finger and clean smears.

You can usually return mascara products, so do so if you open the container and notice a strong fragrance.

Before you apply mascara, shake the container, then open it. Don’t pump the applicator in the container because you pump air into it, which can cause bacteria to grow. Dip your wand into the container, then clean any globs or excess mascara from the wand. Even the most expensive mascaras can have globs on the wand. If you are a novice or just leery, wipe your wand gently on a tissue to clear off the extra. You are less likely to smear this way and the result will be very subtle.

Step 1. Looking straight ahead and keeping eyelids lowered but not closed, apply the wand to the tops of your upper lashes on each eye. Yes, I did say the tops. Brush down the lashes to the tips. If you check your mirror after you apply mascara to the tops of the lashes of one eye, you might be surprised at the difference, even if you don’t begin at the roots of the lash. Sunlight lightens the tops of lashes, as it lightens hair so we don’t always realize how long our lashes really are. To avoid getting mascara on your brow bone, don’t open your eyes immediately. Your lashes should dry quickly if you are using a water-based product. You shouldn’t need a fresh dip for this step.

Step 2. Dip the wand into the container and clean off excess mascara. Open your lids, but not at their widest, and brush the underside of your upper lashes from the roots to the ends. Use an upward sweep as you go to help lashes curl while they are wet. If you draw the wand bristles carefully to the ends, you can separate your lashes as you go. Blink and a small amount of color will touch your lower lashes. Again, if you feel the lashes look clumped, you can wipe the wand on a tissue before you apply it to your lashes.

Step 3. For lush lashes, dip your wand, clean it, then slowly brush mascara on the bottoms of your upper lashes again, drawing it to the end of your lashes. Use the wand to separate them. Blink again and you will transfer a small amount of color to the lower lashes.

Remember to apply mascara to one eye and compare both eyes at each step to see the differences. It might make a believer of you.

Using all three steps will thicken and lengthen lashes.

For your lower lashes, you shouldn’t need a fresh dip into the applicator. Use what is left and brush the tips of your lower lashes. The look should be subtle and show you lave lower lashes.

Want to see part 2?

Easter Marble cheesecake

Posted by Josie | 3:44 PM | 2 comments »

Hope you enjoy this easy recipe that closely resembles an Italian cheesecake, and is much easier to bake.

Marble Cheesecake

1 marble cake mix
2 lbs. coarse ricotta cheese
1/2 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup maraschino cherries

Follow recipe on cake mix box and set aside.

Add other ingredients and place on top of mix.

Bake in a large round pan, (cassatta pan or large bundt cake pan without the hole) at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours

Set aside for 2 hours and refrigerate.

March 2-8 is Read An E-Book Week. Here are some figures from the Read An E-Book website (http://www.domokos.com/readebookweek.html.)

* It takes 12 trees to produce a ton of printing paper--24 trees for higher grade writing paper.

* A mature tree can produce as much oxygen in a season as 10 people inhale in a year.

* Up to 35% of books printed for consumers (down from nearly 60% several years ago) are never read. They are returned to the publisher and end up in landfills.

Not sold? Ebooks just not your thing?

Mona Risk quoted me yesterday in her blog (http://monarisk.blogspot.com/) and I'm quoting her to give an example of how enjoyable ebooks can be:

“ I personally discovered ebooks a couple months ago. Somehow I thought it would be difficult to download them. Well the first time I bought an ebook, I couldn’t believe it took exactly ten seconds for the download. Doubting my own sight, I checked. The book was here, saved in Adobe on my computer. By the way, the first e-book I bought was Mad About Mirabelle by Amarinda Jones. I read it on my monitor screen at a comfortable font size. It was easier to read than printed books with tiny letters and provided a good break from writing while I sat at my computer, reading, laughing and relaxing.”—Mona Risk

Okay, so maybe you're a little interested, but you don't know where to get an e-book, you wouldn't know which one to get, and Santa didn't bring you a fancy shmancy Kindle.

Well, there are a lot of wonderful e-book authors here at the pink slipper writers, so that’s a good place to start. Beyond that, you can win—free stuff, hooray!--some e-books-- e-books that have won awards, garnered rave reviews, straddled genres and/or stayed in beloved ones publishers have left behind at the Cerridwen Press author’s SPRING FLING. The grand prize winner gets not just seven e-books, but a gently used Rocket 1200 Ebook reader (go green—reduce, reuse, recycle!) to read them on.

To participate in the contest, channel your inner Easter egg Hunter and look on the author’s websites (a good way to learn about books) and blogs for trees (go green! Yes, that is the theme) and words to a phrase. It's not that hard -- my website, for one isn't complicated enough to really bury anything-- and it's a nice way to learn about new books. Aren't we all looking for a new good book to read?

For details, please visit the contest page on my website: http://www.lizjasper.com/contest.html

The SPRING FLING CONTEST starts today and runs through March 15, so get cracking now!

Happy reading!

--Liz Jasper, whose 2008 EPPIE Award nominated cozy vampire caper, UNDERDEAD, is available as an e-book or in paperback at major booksellers (Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Borders, Target (hey, they sell books!), www.cerridwenpress.com) and look for it at your local independent bookstore.