Bieber Fever

Posted by Scarlet Pumpernickel | 1:03 AM | , , , | 13 comments »

Bieber Fever

For her birthday in late summer the granddaughter got tickets for the December 21st Justin Bieber concert in Birmingham. My daughter and I were elected to take her to the concert, which was only fair, since it was our idea to buy the tickets.

We planned for months, had everything scheduled, plotted and worked out. Piece of cake. Yeah right. What could possible go wrong? Well, let’s see. First the concert fell on the day the doggie was scheduled for the groomer. She had to go for her Christmas do, that could not be put off. So the plan to spend the night before the concert in Birmingham had to be cancelled.

Then we forgot to pick up the premier parking ticket, so that took another hour.

Next we locked the car keys in the house (I’m being nice it was my daughter that did it) and us outside the house, that took another hour to solve.

We used driving directions printed from the internet, they had us exit at the wrong place, got us lost in downtown Birmingham and cost another hour.

Still, we were at the venue early, so we walked around and found where Bieber’s tour bus was parked. There was crowd waiting there for him. Granddaughter stood in the cold for an hour and a half hoping to see him and finally they heard a security guard say he was already inside.

I found a quiet, peaceful spot in the bar at the hotel down the street, ordered a Bieber Fever, which turned out to be a Mimosa, and sat with my Alphasmart working while my daughter and granddaughter enjoyed the concert.

The concert, according to the GD, was fantastic, the music fantastic, the show fantastic and Justin Bieber totally awesome. Daughter and GD were both worn out by the time it was over. Granddaughter had lost both her voice and her heart. Yep, she was in love with Justin Bieber. Definitely Bieber Fever.

Oh to feel that special puppy love that allows a little girl to dream of her knight in shining armor. She slipped a note to Santa the next day asking for Justin for Christmas. He deliver a tee-shirt instead. Smart Santa.

Please help me welcome Dale Mayer, who is becoming a regular guest here. More talk of goals, but very worthwhile! I have watched this woman go after goals and achieve them!

Writing goals - past and future

Writing a blog for the end of December just has to be on goals. I don’t care if it’s writing goals, parenting, weight loss goals or something totally different. We all make them and we all break them. Maybe not this year or last, but I doubt there is a person alive that hasn’t broken at least one of their annual goals.

It’s not a crime. Sometimes life just gets in the way. Sometimes you get in the way of yourself. It happens.

Does that mean you shouldn’t make goals? Not at all. If you’re the kind of person that likes to have a spot in your future to reach for then go for it. And congratulations for making a step to do ‘something.’

I don’t make formal goals. Every year end, I spend a lot of time, and this can be days to weeks, where I mull over my last year. Did I do okay? Am I happy with the way the year went? Did I put in enough effort to making change happen? Or did I just sit back and enjoy the ride this time? Not every year is about maximizing time and effort to get somewhere. Some years are all about healing, or building relationships, or learning skills, or learning to be less instead of more.

2010 for me was a year of perpetual financial stress. That’s an overriding theme that carried over from the previous year. But on the writing front, it was an unqualified success. I wrote one single title novel, five YA novels for a start and then as a ghostwriter countless full size books and eBooks for clients. Then there are all the books I revised getting ready to send out. Tuesday’s Child is one of those. I did one final round of revisions before I put that manuscript into the Brava writing with the Stars contest. I’m so glad I did!

I can’t look back on this last year with anything but satisfaction – regardless of the many tough times. Amongst other things, like becoming more fit, getting back skiing etc, I also lost 25 pounds! I’d wanted to do more in the writing and I’d wanted to lose more in the weight, but that seems to be because I’m a chronic overachiever!

Sometimes I think I set my goals too high. Then there are the times when I think they aren’t high enough. I’ve learned that I can do a whole lot more than I expected to. I like to have easily met goals for a sense of satisfaction and achievement and hard to reach goals to make me stretch as a person.

When I can’t reach a goal – as in I didn’t sign with an agent nor did I sell my first novel this last year, I have to remind myself of goals I have control over and those that I don’t. I can control doing my best to get that book revised and out to an agent, but I can’t control their response.

Now I could focus on not reaching my goals, but that won’t take me to a place I want to be. So instead I choose to look at the unexpected positives that came out of this year. One of those was my writing routine that settled nicely into place and to a production level I wouldn’t have thought attainable last year. That’s got to count for something!

What about you? Did you reach the goals you set for 2010? Are you happy with the effort you made? Will you set new goals for 2011? *new website/blog


Reminder, Dale is still in the running and needs our votes in the Brava Writing Contest..

A new year is knocking at our door, and if you’re like the majority of the human race, you’re planning to set goals for 2011. You have a burning desire to tackle an area where you think you need to improve yourself or your life. You visualize where you want to be in a few months or by the end of the new year or even years down the road. Come midnight on January 1st, you’re totally focused. Your jaw is set and you’re determined to meet those goals until ...da, da, da! …your first set back.

If your goal is to get up earlier, the set back will be the morning you oversleep. If your goal is to lose weight, your set back will be the first cheeseburger or candy bar you’ll gobble up. If your goal is to write every day, the setback will be the day life took over and you didn’t have a minute to boot up your computer or grab a pad and pen.

It’s important to keep in mind when working towards your goals that there will be setbacks. As sure as the sun will rise in the east, there will be setbacks. They happen. How you handle them will determine if you will make your goals.
Like a cowboy who gets thrown off his horse, you need to get off your butt, dust yourself off and get right back in the saddle. Like a ball player who gets thrown a third curve for a strike out, you need to shrug off the disappointment, study the pitcher and stand up to him again. Like the chef whose cake falls, you need to start over. I could go on with the analogies, but you get the picture.

Hints for making your 2011 goals.

1) Make your goals reasonable. Something you can control. And be specific.
Ie: (Non-writing related) I want to lose X number of pounds in 2011. (Writing related) I want to write my next book- 350 pages.

2) Write the goals down. Yes you can have more than one. Excelling at one might help your determination to do better at achieving the other. Post the goals where you will see them every day.

3) Break the goal or goals into manageable bits.
Ie: I will write 10 pages a week.

4) If you’re the type of person who needs to report to someone, an accountability partner, find one and set up a schedule to report. IMPORTANT NOTE: Keep in mind there will be weeks, maybe several in a row, when you are the one having trouble making your goal. Remember that cheeseburger. It’s okay. There will be weeks when you will shine.

5) Don’t get depressed when a mini-step toward the goal is not met on time. Life happens. Computers crash. Kids get sick. Husbands come home with candy hearts. Enjoy life. A happy person is more productive.

6) Mondays are the first day of the week for many of us, probably because of the business world, and the day of the week we seem to be most productive. It’s a mind thing. If you have more time to exercise or write on the weekend, try thinking of Saturday as being your first day of the week. Make a calendar labeling Saturday as the first day of the week if that will help you. Again, it’s a mind thing.

7) For the most part, we know our schedules for the week. Plan the minutes or hours you’ll work toward your goal out.

8) Make a list of things that have stopped you from making your goal in the past. Post that list too and don’t go there. Ie: Television, email, over volunteering, buying junk food, over stocking the pantry.

9) Remember the old adage. Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.

10) Remember this saying: Just do it. It says it all.

I hope my list will help you make your goals in 2011.

I had a love/hate relationship with my Christmas presents this year. Sure, Santa was good to me, but he was also probably chuckling as I unwrapped some of my gifts. Tucked in among the sweaters, scarves, and other useful items was my first digital reader and what my cellular provider calls a smart phone. I soon learned that being a smart phone didn’t mean it would be any less challenging for me to master. Hey, I belong to the old school generation, so give me a break!

Even with all my concerns, upon seeing the Kindle I jumped to my feet and stomped out an Irish jig. Then fear set in again, for my track record wasn’t too good when it came to anything technological.

But being a writer I decided to put my experience into words. Below is my adaption of Twas the Night Before Christmas.

Christmas Morning
By Pamela Varnado

Twas Christmas morning and all through my house,
Nothing was clicking, not even my computer mouse.
The presents were wrapped and sat under the tree,
Ribboned and bowed with much love and much glee.

My family was up and out of their beds,
While visions of Christmas dinner swirled in their heads.
My husband in his plush robe, and I in my Tee,
Had just settled down for a hot cup of coffee.

When out in the family room there arose such a shout,
I sprang to my feet to see what it was about.
Across the tile and the carpet I flew in a flash
And raced in to see what was happening at the speed of a dash

When, what to my amazement did I see,
But presents wrapped up under the Christmas tree just for me.
My son Joel did a little dance, so lively and quick,
And shouted, “Look Mama, there’s gifts from St. Nick”.

Some of the packages were large and very hard to lift,
But he laughed and he danced as he passed out each gift.
Here Mama! Here Papa! Here Christina and Lily!
For Triston! For Ivan! For Andrew and Billy!

From my lap to my head my stack of presents did rise,
Until I thought they would surely end in the sky.
So I ripped off the wrappings in lickety-split.
As I basked in the warmth from the fireplace pit.

And then, my heart skipped more than a couple of beats,
As I beheld my first digital reader, what a magnificent feat.
I drew in a breath, my joy so wondrous and complete,
That I thought I would float right off of my feet.

My Kindle was sleek and fit right in my hand,
With a 6 inch Display and New E Ink Pearl Technology it could only be called grand.
I stood to my feet and I raced to my office,
I needed to hurry up and plug it in to charge it.

My eyes, how they twinkled as I stared down with pleasure!
And oohed and aahed over my WI-FI ready treasure!
After a while it was charged and ready to go,
So I flipped on the switch and smiled at the screen’s glow.

I spoke not a word, as I studied the User’s Guide,
For this Christmas I was determined to make such great strides.
I played with my new toy like a ten year old girl,
Pushed buttons and selected menus all the time doing a swirl.

I downloaded Blessings in Disguise and Daughter of the Wind,
Notorious Eliza, Hot Spanish Nights, and one of my favorite’s Blood Sin,
A press of my finger and out flowed Evil’s Witness, Tripping through Time, and Rx for Trust,
And, of course, my own story After Glow was a must.

Nestled in my favorite recliner I browsed and I read.
Until finally I realized this technology was nothing to dread.
I was soon ready to tackle things even more challenging, it’s true.
Like smart phones and IPads and future technology, too.

They allow me to reach out in ways I thought never to do,
To add a humanizing factor to gigabytes and electronic paper, to name a few
Now with pictures and stories and online greeting cards I can say,
Happy holidays to all, and to all a have a great day!

Well, I've said all I'm going to about birthdays. You know who we Birthday People are, so I'm digging again into my Bag O' Facts for one last batch of trivia before the year ends. Read on, marvel, and enjoy!

Kool-Aid was invented in 1927 in Hastings, NE by Edwin Perkins. There's a museum, too.

The Twinkie is 80 years old this year.

Anne, Lady Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron, invented the analytical engine, the predecessor of the computer. She is considered the first computer programmer.

Anne Bradstreet (1650) was the 1st published American woman writer. The book was The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America.

John William Polidori, Lord Byron’s personal physician, was the author of The Vampyre in 1816, the novel which became the progenitor of the vampire romance. It was also the first vampire story written in English.

Antarctica is the only continent without reptiles or snakes.

Henry II of France (1519-1559) originated the method of registering a patent.

Hawaii is the only US state growing coffee.

Lord Byron’s dog, Boatswain, has a larger grave memorial than his master. In the 1950’s, English schoolchildren raised money to provide the poet with a suitable monument.

The only active diamond mine in the United States is in Arkansas.

The only country in the world having a Bill of Rights for Cows is India.

Smallpox only exists as samples in laboratories in Atlanta and Moscow. When scientists destroy the samples the smallpox virus will become the first life form intentionally eliminated from the earth.

The pecan tree is the only naturally growing nut tree in North American. It is native to the Texas, Mississippi and Mexico River Valleys.

The Chihuahua is the only dog breed indigenous to the New World.

There is a highway in South Carolina paved with uncut amethysts.

During pregnancy, the average woman's uterus expands up to five hundred times its normal size.

On average women say 7,000 words per day. Men manage just over 2000.

The average US male will spend 2,965 hours shaving during his lifetime. If the average man never trimmed his beard, it would grow to nearly 30 feet long in his lifetime.

Actor Boris Karloff’s great-aunt was Anna Leonowens, the English tutor whose story was told in Anna and the King of Siam and the musical The King and I.

Looking forward to the New Year. Bring it on! (The pictures don't mean anything; just thought you'd like to see them.)

Merry ChristmasAnimals

My father made the mistake of promising us a pony when we moved. I hated to move, but my father's
job made it necessary for us to move a lot. Every three years or so he'd get a promotion and off we'd go.
All six of us kids hated it, and to placate us my dad would promise us some special thing. We were moving to Vermont, close to the country where we could have a pony of our own. I was only six but I had friends I would miss. It was also my birthday on Christmas. I asked so many times if I was getting a pony or not. Neither parent would really give me a definitive no. So I figured that meant yes! I picked a name for the pony, looked in catalogues at saddles and horse stuff. I planned how I would be the envy of all the kids, nice and nasty alike.
I was thrilled, a pony, a real pony of my own! It was all I could think about. From the time we moved in September to the week of Christmas I talked about my pony. My anticipation on Christmas Eve kept me awake late into the dark, snowy evening. Where was it, where did they hide it? I even thought I heard it neigh in the night. I looked out the window late and watched snow fall. It was beautiful. Pristine it covered my snow fort, our dried out garden and the tool shed became distant and fuzzy. The street lights cast a hazzy glow in the yard as I looked for my pony. Where was it?
Animals Merry ChristmasImage Ref: 01-36-55 - Shetland Pony, Viewed 13534 times

Then Christmas morning arrived and I ran down the stairs looked over the railing pony.
I was so upset I cried. I didn't even see Little Blue until my older sister said she'd keep it if I didn't want it.
What! What did she say. Something she'd want that was mine?? I ventured to my side of the tree where my gifts were. It made me mad at first. All shiny, blue and chrome with a comfortable black seat, wide tires and a bell that rang when I pushed the lever. I'd never been on a bike and couldn't even ride her. She mocked me to try. I kicked her. She didn't feel it but darn my toe did. Not only was it not a pony, shoot I had to learn to use it. I took me awhile, but no way was I gonna use the darn training wheels. Pissed that it wasn't my beloved pony I decided it was about time. I went for broke!

image 2084537895-0

One day I mastered it.A couple of feet, then yards, then I was making it, I was moving, I was riding my bike!  And then all of a sudden I was flying down the road on Little Blue! The wind in my hair and my legs pumping away I was free. I could go so much further on Little Blue then I could walking. It opened up new things for me. The library, where I could read all I wanted to. The park, where I could swing to the top and almost go over without tipping over the swingset! Slides, big huge slides, hot in the summer they burned your legs in shorts and cold in winter they chilled you into goosebumps. Though I parked her in the garage every evening I wiped her down just so she'd stay nice and shiny. I got good at it, I got a bit cocky, I craved speed!
Me and Little Blue did tricks, I could stand on her seat. Ride the fender and still pump the pedals and even ride backwards. I pretended I rode the back of my pony just like in the circus. I finally had a friend that never let me down.The big tires trudged through snow, were steady in rain and fast on the road when I wanted to be. It was the mini version of a convertible with the top down.And to think at first I hated her.Clipart: Little Girl Riding Her Bike

never got the pony, but I never forgot Little Blue. My first taste of flying free had two wheels instead of four legs. But she was my pony for sure...
I hope you all get a pony for Christmas!

Merry Christmas

Cutting the Christmas tree ourselves is a significant tradition that dates well back to the years before I was married, with the whole family going together to select and cut it, as we still do. The ranks have grown considerably over the decades and have included guests from foreign countries.

This year we went to our favorite tree farm on a hillside outside the quaint hamlet of Singers Glen with all of our children and grandchildren, the youngest just four months old. Quite an adventure. The little people were especially excited, but a good time was had by all. Finding the candy cane tree is the ultimate challenge. Weary from the steep incline, three yr. old granddaughter Emma confided to me, “Dumma (as I’m called because our oldest grandson couldn’t say his G’s so Gumma became Dumma) this gonna be a hard day finding that candy cane tree.” But we did. A happy shout from our son-in-law sent everyone tramping off down another side of the hill.

To mix things up this year, my college art major daughter, Elise, suggested we get the ugliest tree we could find for our immediate household and see what we could do with it. Six year old Ian thought this was a great idea, however, after he’d helped cut it, Ian asked, “Dad has out tree, right?” He didn’t want to get stuck with a dud. 

The couple who own the tree farm were glad someone still liked Charlie Brown trees, thinking they’d never sell this one. Not only do they have a beautiful farm, but a wonderful old spring house where the wife serves hot chocolate and visits with guests by a cozy fire in the vintage hearth and children are invited to choose an ornament to take home from their decorated tree. This is the best Christmas tree farm ever.

Visitors from China who’ve stayed with my parents over the years have found this tradition of trekking off to cut an evergreen ourselves rather fascinating, as they do the whole concept of stuffing a large tree into our house and decorating it with eclectic baubles, like the glittered light bulbs our son made when he was in first grade, or the dough angel with glasses my brother created some time ago. But that’s another story.

In the beginning of our marriage my hubby didn’t yet grasp the importance of this communal tree-gathering experience, the snow or mud squelching beneath our boots, haggling over the merits of every pine and spruce on the tree farm honored by our presence. Shortly before December 25th, that first year of wedded bliss, DH turned up with a tree he’d purchased from the local rescue squad––already cut.

I sadly contemplated the little evergreen and tried to make it my own, but this was not to be. Realizing his gross error, Dennis accompanied me at his first opportunity to a neighbor’s farm where we were given free rein to choose a tree from the field that had gone to cedars. After careful searching, he sawed down the tree of our choice, with far less debate than there is now with all the added opinions.

Still, there were difficulties. We hadn’t ever cut a cedar on our own before and didn’t realize how they sometimes grow. When we cut the trunk shorter to fit in the stand, it fell apart into three trees, none of them suitable. 

My father, a veteran cedar cutter, took me for the third and final time to choose a tree from the farm our family had traditionally patronized. By this point Dennis, Mom and Dad all agreed that I was becoming somewhat obsessive about the whole thing and perhaps there’s some justification in this, but the pressure was on to select the most perfect tree ever, like Papa Bear in The Berenstein Bears Christmas.

We finally found one, after considerable searching on my part and growing impatience on my father’s, not to mention cold feet. I decorated it lovingly in the little apartment Dennis and I lived in then, but I didn’t bask in its presence for long. The apartment just wasn’t home, so I spent most of the holidays at my parents’ house in front of their tree.

This year Elise and I decorated our ‘challenged’ tree with strings of popcorn and lights, as it’s rather skimpy to hold the traditional ornaments. All in all, it’s not a bad little tree. Quite pretty, really. Ian is impressed.

*Pics are of the grandchildren, my daughter and daughter in law, the hearth in the old spring house.

In spite of being transplanted to faraway places, I still consider myself a Southerner, and I still celebrate Southern Christmas customs wherever I may be. I’d like to talk about three special Southern customs observed during Christmas. One appears in my family alone; the others used to be carried out throughout the state.

Back in the Olden Days when there were many children and little money, each child would get a pair of shoes for Christmas. Generally, these had to last until summer, at which time, bare feet were the stated fashion. Then, come fall and with colder weather, another pair of shoes were in order. The shoe box was saved and placed on the hearth before the fireplace where Santa, dear old chap, would remove the lid, fill it with small gifts, such as socks, handkerchiefs, candy, metal cars, and perhaps a small doll, replace the lid and go on his merry way. Naughty children got a box filled with coal. If I’d been alive back then, I’m certain I would have amassed enough coal to keep myself warm for many winters but—Lucky me!—I wasn’t born until decades later when this custom had going out of style because people were making more money and buying their kids Ataris and Transformers and ponies.

The other custom dates back to before the War of Northern Aggression and now exists only in any family which has an older Southerner in its midst: Shouting the Christmas Gift. This consists of seeing who can get to the Christmas tree first on Christmas morning—without being seen. It was more fun, of course, when the bedrooms were upstairs and everyone had to creep—ever so quietly—down the stairs, trying not to wake everyone else. Generally, they all caught up to each other on the landing at the same time. The first one to yell “Christmas Gift!’ thus beating everyone else to the punch, got to open his gifts first while all the others impatiently waited their turns. My family no longer practices this custom, although when phone calls are made, instead of “Hello” we answer with “Christmas Gift!” because who else would be calling on Christmas Morn but another family member?

The third custom is one that, as far as I know, only my family observed. Every Christmas morning, my father would get up before everyone else and disappear into the kitchen where, for the next twenty minutes, he would work as hard as a pastry chef on concocting an egg nog for Mother. Made with real whipping cream, real eggs, and a healthy slug of Jack Daniels whiskey. No cinnamon or nutmeg, please! Pouring it into a wine glass, he’d cut a slice of fruit cake, place both on a tray and carry it to the bedroom where he would offer it to Mother who was just waking. Once she ate the fruitcake and drank nog, she would get out of bed and it was officially Christmas Day. Then and only then, could we open our gifts.

I get nostalgic thinking of these customs, and perhaps a little sad that they are no longer around.

However, there's something that rates high on my list during Yuletide and that is my birthday, so when you raise those glasses in a Christmas toast, think of me and all the people who share December 27 as a birthday, and toast us, also!

Toni V. Sweeney
Linda Nightingale
Rudy Jackson
Eva LaRue
Oscar Levant
Sydney Greenstreet
Gerard Depardieu
Bill GoldbergJohannes Kepler
Louis Pasteur
Marlene Dietrich
Maryam d'Abo
Tovah Feldshuh
Heather O'Rourke
Cokie Roberts

Happy Birthday to us all!

Since it’s Christmas time, let me reminisce about my Christmases.

When I was a little girl, we always traveled to my grandparents’ houses.
My mom and her two daughters stayed at her parents’, my dad stayed at his parents’. Fair is fair. Each set of grandparents wanted his kid home. We would spend Christmas Eve with Dad’s family and Christmas Day with Mom’s family.
There was a lot of food in both places. But no Christmas trees or gifts. My paternal grandparents had lost four of their children the same day when their house collapsed and there wasn’t much joy there. My sister and I were the only kids and we were often afraid to talk loud or laugh.
On Mom’s side, we had a lot of fun, screamed, laughed and played with my aunts who were more like older sisters to me. Hardly three, five, eight,.. years older. But with such a big brood to feed—as I said there was always a lot of food—my grandfather didn’t believe in gifts.
My parents made sure I received a book every year. I kept my ball and jumping rope for years and my sister had her big doll that came straight from Italy. Every year, we both built a manger with brown paper, in the bedroom we shared.

Once I had my own family, things changed to the other extreme. My parents, aunts, and sister lavished my kids with so many presents it was almost disgusting. We didn’t have enough space to store all the toys. I learned to cook and continued the tradition. Christmas Eve at my house and Christmas Day at my parents’.
My in-laws were always included in our gathering that reached forty or fifty people. We all gave gifts to each other. As a result, Christmas became a very expensive endeavor for our young family and brought a good deal of stress, but no one dared suggest a no-gift deal. I have pictures with mountains of boxes near the Christmas tree.
Now that we moved to the rank of grandparents, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day celebrations are both held in my apartment with sensible rules. Gifts for the kids only. My mom used to say that she was an old kid and we included her in the list. In addition to my children and grandchildren, we invite any friend who doesn’t have a family nearby. The friends know they should bring a present for the four little ones. It’s such a pleasure to see them opening their presents before supper.
After dinner, the four of them sit on my office couch and watch cartoons. And the parents snatch a few pictures. I have the same picture taken every year and I add it to a big frame. These pictures are my Christmas gift.
If you like to travel and love to read, come and enjoy my international romances. I will take you around the world through stories that simmer with emotion and sizzle with heat.

BABIES IN THE BARGAIN winner of 2009 Best Romance Novel at Preditors & Editors and winner of 2009 Best Contemporary Romance at Readers Favorite.
Rx FOR TRUST, winner of 2010 Best Contemporary Romance at Readers Favorite and 2011 EPICON.

Every day, ordinary people aren’t the only ones who make ill-advised choices. Here's a list of actors and actresses who were first choice for movies sending their stars on to fame and fortune and the occasional Oscar for the role (but for one reason or another dropped out of the running):

Hugh Jackman was the original choice for the role of Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Carribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. Johnny Depp got the part.

Eric Stoltz should have been Marty McFly in Back to the Future. Michael J. Fox was better known at the time, however, so…

Who was supposed to be Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark? Tom Selleck! It could’ve worked.

Buddy Ebsen was the original Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz until he had an allergic reaction to the aluminum makeup used. Original footage still exists of him in the role.

Bela Lugosi was first choice for the Monster in Frankenstein (1931). He turned it down because the make-up hid too much of his face. And we know who got the role...

Stuart Townsend was replaced by Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn in Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (2001.

Michelle Pfeiffer succeeded Annette Benning in Batman Returns.

Harvey Keitel replaced by Martin Sheen in Apocalpyse Now though some of his footage was used in the final film.

Molly Ringwald and Jennifer Jason Leigh both turned the role of Vivian in Pretty Woman which went to Julia Roberts who, in turn, refused Sharon Stone’s role in Basic Instinct. Jodie Foster, Kim Bassinger, Ellen Barkin, and Nicole Kidman also passed on Basic Instinct.

Warren Beatty turned down the Gordon Gekko role in Wall Street, as well as Robert Redford’s role in The Sting.

Michelle Pfeiffer and Jodie Foster were originally cast as Thelma and Louise but had to drop out when pre-production dragged.

Keanu Reeves turned down the role played by Charlie Sheen in Platoon but was cast in Speed when Richard Grieco refused because he thought the script sucked. Stephen Baldwin also turned down that role.

Sarah Michelle Gellar had scheduling conflicts preventing her from play Cher in Clueless so she became Buffy instead. Maybe that choice wasn't so bad.

Will Smith turned down the Keanu Reeves role in The Matrix but got the lead in I, Robot after Denzel Washington refused it.

Leonardo di Capprio also turned down the lead in The Matrix, as did Nicolas Cage. Along with Edward Norton, he turned down the title role in American Psycho which was won by Christian Bale.

John Travolta decided against playing Forrest Gump but got the role in Pulp Fiction after Michael Madsen turned it down, while Tom Hanks turned down the lead in Jerry Maguire, which went to Tom Cruise, who in turn, was first choice to play Kevin Bacon’s role in Footloose. Did you follow all that? Hope I don’t have to repeat it!

David Boreanaz might have been the new Batman, but he let it go to Christian Bale, who lost out on the role of George W. Bush in the film W.

Alec Baldwin relinquished the role of The Fugitive to Harrison Ford. I could see Baldwin in the role, if I squint.

Hugh Jackman got the role of Wolverine after Dougray Scott and Russell Crowe both turned it down.

Before Russell Crowe became The Gladiator, the part was offered to Mel Gibson. Gibson also refused Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and that role went to Kevin Costner. Along with some other poor choices he’s made lately.

Steve McQueen lost out on Apocalypse Now,and playing Butch Cassidy.

Steve McQueen, Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, Al Pacino, and Jack Nicholson all lost out on Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Michelle Preiffer, Geena David, Meg Ryan, and Melanie Griffith all were asked to play Clarice in Silence of the Lambs. They decided not to.

Do you suppose it was on their agents’ advice, or their own opinions? And are they still kicking themselves?



6 C popped corn 1/2 C sliced green onions 1 C chopped celery

3/4 C crumbled bacon 1 C grated cheese 1/2 C chopped water chestnuts

3/4 C mayonaise

Combine all ingredients except popcorn and chill. Add popcorn just before serving.


Facts to Whirl your mind and Increase your Literary Knowledge, while showing you how you sometimes aren't as bad off as a Writer, as you think you are.

In the first submission of A Study in Scarlet, Sherlock Holmes was called “Sheridan Hare”. Somehow, it just doesn't have the same flare.

“Doc” Holliday, cousin of Margaret Mitchell, is said to have been her model for Ashley Wilkes in Gone with the Wind. She supposedly based Rhett Butler on her first husband. Methinks the lady led an exciting life.

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley was 19 when she wrote Frankenstein in 1816. Oh, those teenagers!

Bram Stoker is said to have based the character of Dracula on his employer, Shakesperean actor Henry Irving. Who needs a boss like that?

The Phantom of the Opera was first published in 1909 as a serial and sold badly, yet the musical based upon it is now the longest running show in Broadway history. Guess someone listened to the Music of the Night.

Actor Errol Flynn was the author of three novels and his autobiography, all of which are still available. The Tasmanian Devil is still striking back!

It took Frank Herbert six years to research and write his science fiction masterpiece Dune, and it was rejected by twenty publishers before finding acceptance. So waiting 6 months to hear back isn't so bad after all.

After submitting Gone with the Wind and having it accepted by a publisher, Margaret Mitchell changed her mind and asked to have her manuscript returned. And Carol Burnett could never made that hilarious comedy sketch!

The Guinness Book of World Records is the most sold book in the world; The Bible is the most published book in the world; El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha (The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote of La Mancha) is the second most translated book ever (after the Bible); the Diamond Sutra is the first printed book with a cerifiable date (868 AD) but it isn’t necessarily the oldest printed book or the first. Movable type was invented around 1050 AD in China by Bi Sheng and the oldest printed book is likely a Buddhist religious text from the 11th century. In Korea, book were printed by movable type as early as the 1200s, wand the first surviving printed book is the Jikji (1377). The Gutenberg Bible was printed in 1454. What can I Say?

The original title of Gone with the Wind was Tomorrow is Another Day.

Just doesn't have that Zing!

Edgar Allan Poe is credited as being the first writer to try to earn a living through writing alone. He is also credited with originating the detective story. He never used the name “Allan” in any of his signatures, but always signed “Edgar A. Poe.” Hm, and we all use it, don't we?

With H.G. Wells, Jules Verne shared the title “Father of Science Fiction” for his stories which give accurate predictions of the future, such as From the Earth to the Moon, in which three astronauts are launched from the Florida peninsula at Tampa Town, and recovered through a splash-down landing. Fiction is sometimes coincidental to Truth.

The two most famous science fiction novels are Frankenstein and War of the Worlds. Can't argue with that.

Western novelist Louis L’Amour wrote 89 novels which sold 225 million copies. At the time of his death in 1988, he had 108 written works in print. And I've never read one. Memo: Put on "To Read" list.

Jack London was one of the first fiction writers to obtain worldwide celebrity and a large fortune from his fiction alone. In 1903, he sold Call of the Wild for seven hundred and fifty dollars and twenty-two days later Macmillan bought the book rights for two thousand dollars thus beginning his fame. Lucky devil!

As of 2010, Stephen King has written 49 novels, 5 non-fiction books and 9 anthologies, which have sold 350 million copies. Originally, King threw out his manuscript for Carrie which was retrieved by his wife who encouraged him to finish it. It was published in 1973 while he was teaching at Hampden Academy in Maine. I still say he could print his grocery list and it'd be a bestseller!

Ryoki Inoue, a Brazilian writer, is listed by the Guinness World Records as world's most prolific writer, having had 1075 books published. But do they sell?

53 of Stephen King’s novels have been made into movies; 30 of Louis L’Amour’s; three of Bram Stoker’s; Jules Verne – 27; Agatha Christie – 78; Sir Author Conan Doyle – 63. They must be doing something right!

Robert E. Howard was never paid by his publisher for many of his "Conan the Barbarian" stories. And we complain about our paltry Royalties!

My Recipe Offering


(Absolutely No Calories!)

1/2 pound ground almonds or walnuts 7 separated eggs

pinch of salt 1/2 C honey

1 tsp vanliia

Beat egg whites until stiif. Set aside. Beat tolks with honey until creamy. Add nuts, salt, and vanilla and fold mixture ito egg whites. Bake in grease tube pan for 1 hour at 325 degrees. Cool before removing from pan.

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

Good morning, Edie! This brave woman has gone the self-publishing route for two books! You must read this blog and learn why I would call her generous, as well brave and tenacious!

A huge thank you to Mary Marvella for inviting me to blog at my favorite Pink Fuzzy place today. And thank you to the other Pink Fuzzy ladies who are always so welcoming!

I’ve written about more than one character who has a heart so full it puffs up like a balloon. That’s how I’ve felt for months now, and I swear my heart is actually getting bigger. I’ve self-published two books and one short story, and I didn’t do it alone. It took a global village. I’ve named names before from my own personal Wall of Heroines and a couple of Heroes. But I’d like to add reviewers to my global village.

Karin Tabke (who’s high on my Wall of Heroines) recently blogged at Magical Musings about having to go off-line and ignore her emails, stop commenting on blogs, and practically disappearing from Facebook. Why? Because she has deadlines and just can’t do it all.

Her deadlines are contracted, and my deadlines are self-imposed. Though my book comes first, it’s important for me to have an online presence. There are thousands of indie authors uploading their books every day. I need to get the word out about my books. Even so, I still can’t do it all.

I took a few forays into Kindle boards and Kindle Nation, and it was confusing and a bit scary, like driving in a strange city at night and running into a round-about. I’ve guest blogged on friends’ sites (a SMOOCH to Mary for having me here so often). I like blogging, and that works better for me.

Another way to get the word out is to send review requests to reviewers. So a HUGE thank you to reviewers. So far I’ve gotten either really good or great reviews for CATTITUDE and my newest book DEAD PEOPLE. It’s gratifying and a big relief.

We writers do a scary thing. We put our stories out there, and this is all so subjective. Not everyone likes the same stories. And it’s scarier for indie writers. We don’t have an agent or an editor backing us. Sure, I get great comments from my CPs and beta readers, but having people who don’t know me say they love my books… That’s a pretty good feeling.

My husband and I have a decorated tree with sparkly lights, and it’s like having a bit of magic in our family room. Every time a writer sits at the keyboard and make up sentences, it’s another kind of magic. And every time someone says they appreciate what we do, that’s another kind of sparkly light.

Besides Karin Tabke, another name on my Wall of Heroines is Dale Mayer. Dale is a single mom who’s raising four children and actually supporting them by her writing income. We all know what a miracle that is. She’s in my GIAM group, and her recaps make me look like a slacker. But she’s always positive and always ready to help another member out.

Dale is one of six remaining finalists in the RT/Kensington Writing With The Stars Contest. This is the third round, and the voting is on the blurbs. Of course, I think the best one is Dale’s. The winner gets a publishing contract, and I hope you’ll check out the blurbs and vote.

Who’s on your Wall of Heroines / Heroes?

Edie Ramer

Otters are playful animals and appear to engage in various behaviors for sheer enjoyment. Different species vary in their social structure, with some being largely solitary, while others live in groups – in a few species these groups may be fairly large.
Otters are very active, chasing prey in the water or searching the beds of rivers, lakes or the seas. Most species live beside water, entering it mainly to hunt or travel, otherwise spending much of their time on land to avoid their fur becoming waterlogged. The sea otter does live in the sea for most of its life.

Otters have long, slim bodies and relatively short limbs, with webbed paws. Most have sharp claws on their feet, and all except the sea otter have long muscular tails. The twelve species range in adult size from 0.7 to 1.8 metres (2 to 6 feet) in length and 5 to 45 kilograms (10 to 100 pounds) in weight.

Many otters live in cold waters. For most otters, fish is the primary staple of their diet. This is often supplemented by frogs, crayfish and crabs.[3] Some otters are expert at opening shellfish, and others will feed on available small mammals or birds. Prey-dependence leaves otters very vulnerable to prey depletion. Otters do not attack humans unless they are affected with rabies, in which case they can be very dangerous. If they bite a person they will contaminate her with rabies.

Three weeks ago, a few days before Thanksgiving, our friend, Al—not his real name—went for his daily walk at 6:30 am in his complex located in Boca Raton, FL. It was still dark but he knew his way well as he walked briskly, sometimes stepping over grassy areas to soften his steps.

Imagine his surprise when out of no-where an animal jumped on his feet. Al tried to kick him, but the animal grabbed Al’s leg and bit him. Al shook his free leg and kicked with all his strength. The animal clawed at Al’s other leg. Screaming for help, Al wriggled and pushed the animal’s head to free himself. The animal abandoned Al’s legs, barked and aimed for Al’s head. Luckily, Al managed to turn and started to run, but the animal tripped him. Poor Al sprawled on his face. The mean animal sprang on Al’s back and bit his butt.

Fortunately, someone must have heard Al’s screams for help. Sensing the presence of a new comer, the animal abandoned his victim and ran away. Al didn’t wait. He scrambled to his feet and limped as fast as he could to his house to wake his wife.

She almost had a heart attack at the sight of her husband covered with blood. A few minutes later they were in the car heading to the ER of the nearest hospital. Meanwhile the police identified the animal as an otter--an enraged otter affected with rabies.

Al refused to be interviewed on TV but the story made national news on ABC, CBS and NBC news.

As a result of his injuries by an enraged otter, Al had to be immediately vaccinated against rabies. He received five painful shots injected in the belly as a first treatment. Two days later, he was injected with four shots. The week after with three shots, and later with two and then one shot.

The mean otter bit a woman the same day and still couldn’t be trapped. Two days later, a young man called Mark walked early in the morning and managed to approach the otter and videotape him, but the otter scratched him. Mark had to be vaccinated against rabies in the same painful way that Al went through. Al and his wife came to dinner at my house two days ago and told us that the otter was found floating in the ocean, dead, the same morning, but Al has still one more injection to receive.

If you like to travel and love to read, come and enjoy my international romances. I will take you around the world through stories that simmer with emotion and sizzle with heat.

BABIES IN THE BARGAIN winner of 2009 Best Romance Novel at Preditors & Editors and winner of 2009 Best Contemporary Romance at Readers Favorite.

Rx FOR TRUST, winner of 2010 Best Contemporary Romance at Readers Favorite and 2011 EPICON.

(This blog is posted by Toni V. Sweeney for Tony-Paul de Vissage, fellow Southerner who has absolutely no computer-savvy when it comes to anything Internet.)

Toni suggested I write a blog about Christmas customs unique to the Southern US, especially that insular little part in which I grew up. So I sat down and attempted to compose such a chef d’oeurve. Then, I got this e-mail from amie Merrylee. It gave me the chuckle, so I had the brilliant idea: Why not share it with the PFSW’s reading audience? Mais oui! So, with Merrylee’s permission, here are her suggestions (and replies) to ways to make holidays easier and give you more time for important things, like eating most of those cookies you’re going to bake and drinking a good portion of that eggnog. Plus, I've included a few winter snaps to make you're glad you're inside and not out in all that snow.


If you’re giving les infants ice cream cones to nosh on between meals (after all it is a holiday so how can it ruin their petit appetites, non?) or decide to indulge yourself, prevent drips by stuffing a miniature marshmallow in the bottom of the cone.

Marshmallows? Just suck the ice cream out of the bottom of the cone, for Pete's sake! You're probably lying on the couch with your feet up eating it anyway!

To keep potatoes from budding, place an apple in the bag with the potatoes.

Potatoes? Bags? Buy instant potato mix. Keeps in the pantry for up to a year. After that, you just sift out the weevils and add hot water.

When a cake recipe calls for flouring the baking pan, use a bit of the dry cake mix instead and there won't be any white mess on the outside of the cake.

Who bakes? Go to the bakery! Hell, they'll even decorate it for you! And if you snivel properly, they'll deliver, too.

If you accidentally over-salt a dish while it's still cooking, drop in a peeled potato and it will absorb the

excess salt for an instant 'fix-me-up.'

Who doesn’t have a heavy hand with the salt cellar? Les Americaines love sodium. It's true! And have you ever had the top simply fall off as you shook it over a saucepan? If you over-salt a dish while you're cooking...Too bad, Bud! Please recite after me my Maman’s motto: I worked all day on this. You'll eat it and I don't care how bad it tastes!

Wrap celery in aluminum foil when putting in the refrigerator and it will keep for weeks.

Celery? Is that a food? Never heard of it!

Cure for headaches: take a lime, cut it in half and rub it on your forehead. The throbbing will go away.

Better recipe: Take a lime, mix it with tequila, chill and drink! All your pains go away! (And the next morning, you can do the same thing to cure the hangover.)

Don't throw out all that leftover wine. Freeze into ice cubes for future use in casseroles and sauces.

Leftover wine??????????? HELLO!!!!!!!Since when????????? Ignore last suggestion, take empty wine bottle, place in recycling bin, head to bed with orders to those still awake to clean up. Use next to last recipe upon awakening.

And now, one of Maman's cookie recipes, to add calories perhaps but also to make you enjoy the holiday mood.


1/2 C margarine 1 tsp vanilla

3/4 C sugar 1/4 salt

1 C raisins 1/2 pecan bits

1 beaten egg 2 1/2 C puffed wheat

1 tbl milk 1 1/2 C coconut (optional)

Melt margarine in saucepan. Add sugar, raisins, egg, milk, vanilla, and salt and bring to boil for 2 mins. Add cereal and nuts and mix thoroughly. Cool slightly and spoon by tablespoons onto coconut and roll to coat. If not using coconut, spoon onto wax paper by tablespoonfuls. Cool completely before service. Makes 3-3 1/2 dozen.

Joyeux Noel, mon amies. Et une Nouvelle Annee Heureuse, aussi!