Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Ava Was On The Lam

Friday night I got the radius of my tracking anklet widened and met my best friend at a local coffee shop/bookstore. It was in a beautiful historic building. We were there to hear her talented friend play the harp, and it was a wonderful time. I was offered the opportunity to try out the woman's harp, which was a small dream come true for me. She was so generous. I strummed it to my little heart's delight, and even plucked out two songs, which I'm pretty sure sounded almost as good as this.

Then the bff talked me into going swing dancing with her afterwards. It's been years since I've taken dance lessons, and I'm, admittedly, not a very good follower on the dance floor, so I figured I'd go and people watch and listen to the music. But that was not to be.

When we arrived, the very German dance instructor got me out on the floor. I was a bit wary, as you can imagine. Ever since the hostile polka takeover of 2012, I am practicing constant vigilance. But he was very persuasive with all the schnell-ing. I did alright, and laughed at myself a whole bunch. Later,  I danced with a tall cowboy, a spry seventy year old and a lumberjack with very stylized mutton chops. (He inspired a whole new post that will be coming soon.)

The dancers were great and the music was fantastic. They even played my favorite Ella Fitzgerald song, When I Get Low I Get High, which apparently you dance the Lindy to.

Dancing that night with the cowboy reminded me of another night out dancing with the bff, many years before. We were underage in this country bar with the bff's mom. She loved line dancing, and was determined to convert us. We were about sixteen or seventeen at the time, so she definitely had her work cut out for her.

As we're sitting at a table, a very large, burly cowboy comes up and insists I dance a waltz with him. The bff's mom, Mrs. S., laughing evilly, shoos me out on the dance floor and abandons me. Now this man had to be about sixty, with the biggest beer gut this side of the mighty Mississip. I fully expected Atlas, striking his classic pose, to be on the cowboy's large belt buckle holding up said gut.

So little city slicker that I was figured this was a bonafide redneck. My very first encounter, though as 'Possum Queen they have since become my people. He had the boots and the hat and the chunk of chew in his cheek.

Our primary exchange went something like this.

him - What's yer name, little girl?

me - Ava. What's yours?

him - Butch

me - *silence for about two seconds* Of course it is.

After stepping all over his feet, he did get a little surly and snapped, "A waltz is only three steps."

By the end I think he just put me on top of his boots and danced me around the floor.

Ahh, good times.

So, ever had any dancing related craziness? Do share! If not, what did you do over the weekend?

Friday, February 22, 2013

It's A Sign

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It's not mine, but I sure wish it was!
Look what the youngest Urchin picked out of a mystery Lego pack last week. A Roller Derby girl! (A Jammer, to be specific.) Move over Sea Monkeys, I think we're looking at my new mascot.

The local roller derby is starting up again in my redneck of the woods soon, and I'm psyched. It's such a fun time. April 7th is opening night with an inter-league bout.

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Here's her action shot. Note the tiny roller skates!
It's nice to have something to look forward to in the spring. Flowers, birds, warm weather, motorcycle riding and roller derby. What a perfect combination.

And to boot, I finished the massive paperwork for my writing group and sent it in to RWA last night. Now all I need to do is work off the extra chocolate calories I consumed in an ill-advised, yet completely necessary, stress induced feeding frenzy so I could finish said paperwork. But that's a story for another day.

So what are you looking forward to this spring?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

February, You Heartless Bastard

February has been kicking my ass. I don't even know where to begin. The lack of writing getting done, the influx of crazed paperwork trying to take chunks out of my hide, the added stress, the Urchins' activities, the Girl Scout Cookies. . .

I mean it's getting out of hand. I must have gained ten pounds just in chocolate relief from my writing chapter's paperwork. Have I mentioned I'm president this year? Who's idea was that ?

So I can only retaliate against this harsh month with Funk. From my arsenal comes Thievery Corporation featuring Rick Brown. Be sure to turn it up to 11.

Anything crazy going on in your world?

Friday, February 15, 2013

No Good Deed Ever Goes Unpunished

It's been a little while since I last posted. Things have been in ludicrous speed over here at Chez Quinn. The Man has worked thirteen days straight with no days off. I've been inundated with volunteering for too many projects, huge honking paperwork from being president of my local writer's group, and illness.

I'm sick with a heavy duty cold. It's draining, yet I can deal. But two nights ago, after the oldest Urchin's parent teacher conference, her former kindergarten teacher came out into the hallway looking like death warmed over. She was dizzy and pale, and soon began vomiting. Oh goody, the flu. She didn't have anyone to pick her up and was insisting that she would drive herself. To Harrisburg. During rush hour.

The Man was with me for the conference, as usual, and we decided that I'd drive the teacher in her car to her house and he'd follow in the deer dented minivan. So I gathered her stuff while she grabbed her trash can and we proceded to her car.

The brand new car she'd just picked up the night before.

So here I am, driving a brand spanking new SUV, during rush hour, with crazy people trying to re-enact my deer episode from last month, while I attempt to drive smoothly in the stop and go traffic as the poor teacher "had the flu" even more into her trashcan beside me.

And then it started to snow.

Not what I needed. Talk about white knuckling it. Fortunately, I made it to her driveway without a dent or scratch to the new car. Once back in the goldfish cracker encrusted interior of the minivan, I dug out my anti-bacterial cleanser and doused myself in it. If I could have taken a decontamination shower at that moment, I would've.

So now I'm paranoid. I feel like a ticking time bomb with an unreadable clock. I've moved from paranoid into freak out territory as I postulate new theories on whether or not one can contract the flu by thinking about it too much. Like reverse panacea engineering. That somehow if I miraculously didn't become infected, that my mind could just convince my body it had it anyway.

So now I have more paperwork to do on several different projects. I doubt my meager writing goal of finishing one new chapter on my wip will be a part of that. We'll see. I still have almost two weeks left to get it done.

I'm tempted to consult my Magic Eight Ball, but the answers I've been getting recently have been, shall we say, disappointing.

So any new adventures going on in your life? Lay it on me so I can take a break from all my TPS reports.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

You'll Be Missed, Jack

I was at a funeral today for a very close friend of the family. I'd known him all my life. He was a Marine. A World War II veteran. A great friend. A fantastic neighbor. And a wonderful man.

Jack always had a smile and a friendly story. He worked for a tire manufacturer. But he was the kind of man who, when you were around him, made you want to stand a little straighter, and do a little better.

He was a Marine guard at Camp David for several years. And he had one of the loudest whistles you ever heard. To all the kids in the neighborhood, that was its own brand of magic.

He enjoyed big cars. I remember in particular one sky blue Oldsmobile he had. He would shine it up every week. And when at seven or eight years old I'd go over to help, he'd let me wash the hubcaps. Then he'd point with pride to the small spots where the paint  had been marred by tape. Each a badge of honor for where it had been decorated for one of his kids' or grand kids' weddings.

We stood in the freezing snow today as two Marines folded an American flag, while a third played Taps. And when it was presented to his oldest son, my brother and I cried. We knew a great and humble man was laid to rest. Jack, you will be missed.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Sara Walter Ellwood Gambling On A Secret Author Interview

Please welcome Sara Walter Ellwood to Tongue in Cheek today.

A.Q. - Thanks for agreeing to answer some interview questions about yourself and your new book.
S.W.E. - Thanks for having me here today, Ava!

A.Q. - So, What is your book about? 
S.W.E. - Sure, Gambling On A Secret is a contemporary western romantic suspense. Here’s the blurb and excerpt.

When Charli bets everything on a secret, will she find the deck stacked against her?

Former runaway-turned heiress Charli Monroe is hiding her sordid past and planning a future in Colton, Texas. Attending the local college for a degree in social work, she intends to raise cattle on her newly purchased ranch, which she plans to open as a home for troubled teens. Only a few glitches—the Victorian mansion is crumbling, the barn needs a roof, and her oilman neighbor wants more than friendship. When she meets Dylan Quinn, Charli is willing to take a chance on the town drunk to help her rebuild the rundown ranch.

Dylan has his demons, too. The former Special Forces commander can’t get past his ex-wife’s betrayal and the botched mission that left him with much more than a bad limp. Certain the greedy oilman next door to Charli wants much more than just her heart, Dylan’s even willing to stop drinking in order to protect her.

When things get dangerous and secrets of the past are revealed, is he only looking out for his new employer, or is she the new start he so desperately needs?

“Ferguson, what are you doing here?” Dylan barked.

Leon ambled toward them on the stone path. “I’m saving a young maiden from torment. What are you doing here, playing the part of the devil?”

“I’m Miss Monroe’s new manager.” The deadly edge of his voice matched the flintiness of his eyes. “If there’s anyone to save the young maiden from, it’s you.”

“Mr. Quinn, please.” She turned to Leon. “Leon, is there something I can do for you?”

He smiled, showing off perfect white teeth in a face handsome enough to belong to an actor. “I was just passing by on my way home and decided to stop. How are the boys working out?”

Dylan’s stance widened and his hands flexed at his sides. “What boys?”

“Charli and I have entered into a business arrangement.”

She lost the battle with the urge to wrap her arms around herself. As much as she appreciated Leon’s kindness, respected him, and was even a little attracted to him, something about him didn’t sit right with her. He represented her peers in the community. According to Mrs. Pratt, besides the Cartwrights, she and Leon were undoubtedly the wealthiest residents in the county. No one in Colton could learn about her past. It would ruin her, and Leon, no doubt, had the means to dig up the dirt.

“Really?” Dylan stepped closer to her in a protective manner. Whiskey tainted his breath as the warmth of the exhalations tickled her cheek. “What kind of business arrangement?”

She could protect herself. Dylan Quinn wasn’t any safer than Leon Ferguson. Stepping away from him, she forced her arms to her sides. “Mr. Quinn, I can handle this.”

She faced Leon. “I’m amazed by how much the men got done since starting on Monday. The foreman told me last evening they’d be reseeding another fifty acres for hay this morning. And they have the corrals fixed and started on the fencing in the north pasture.”

“Good, good.” He glanced at Dylan. “I’ll be going, unless you need a more reliable exterminator. I couldn’t help but overhear about your snake infestation. I can give you the name of the company that has gotten rid of the snakes in our lakes over on Oak Springs for years.”

Although he presented the perfect solution, she didn’t the like way Leon had looked at Dylan as he said the word exterminator. “No, Mr. Quinn is quite capable of getting rid of the snake.”

“Oh, I’m sure he is.” Leon tipped his hat. “Let me know if there’s anything else I can do for you, Charli.” Dylan’s jaw tightened as his uncle glanced at him. “It’s good to see you up among the living again.”

Leon headed back to his Porsche. With no pretense of lowering his voice, Dylan said, “Now, there’s a snake no one wants in their garden.”

Upon hearing the jibe, Leon’s shoulders jerked in mid-stride.

Rattled by Leon’s attention and the snake fiasco, she turned on Dylan. “You aren’t off the hook. I want those snakes gone.”

“We’ll see.”

“I hate snakes.” She shuddered and put her hands on her hips. “Maybe I should have asked him who the exterminator is.”

A.Q. - Can you share an interesting behind the scenes tidbit about your story?
S.W.E. - The original title of the book was “Butterfly”, which reflected how I came up with the story after watching a butterfly hatch from its cocoon, and the theme of changing into something better which is heavy in the plot of the book. But my editor said, (rightfully so) “Butterfly” would never suit for a western title. So, she suggested trying to tie the books together with a common word in the title. I came up with “gambling” because the history of the three main families in the books are tied to three gamblers who won the county land in a poker game. Within a few minutes I had titles for all six books---Gambling On A Secret, Gambling On A Heart (releasing 9/2013), Gambling On A Dream, Gambling On A Wish, Gambling On A Song, and Gambling On A Lady.

A.Q. - What is your favorite part of the story writing process?
S.W.E. - Believe it or not, but I love the revision/editing process. I find writing the first draft painful at times, but I love to edit and polish that horrible rough draft into a book.

A.Q. - Writing can be such an isolated enterprise. Yet, I’m sure there are people who have helped, guided or inspired you along the way to becoming a published author. Could you tell us about one of them and how they helped you?
S.W.E. - There are several people who stand out, but my very good friends and critique partners D’Ann Lindun, Martha Ramirez and Carol Grosser have been wonderful and helped shape the writer I am today. They each bring something different to my writing and I value their opinions greatly

A.Q. - What are you working on now/next?
S.W.E. - Right now, I’m working on two projects at once—book 3 of the Colton Gamblers called Gambling On A Dream and a standalone I plan to shop around to agents called A Family for Jesse. Both are contemporary western romantic suspenses.

Now for the S.A.T. portion of the interview:

Fill in the blank –
If I were a villain, I would have __cute little puppies and kittens__ for minions to deliver my wrath because __everyone loves puppies and kittens—so they are the perfect Trojan Horse__.  
(And remember, sea monkeys are already spoken for. Mostly)

Sea Monkeys are to ____________ as zombie stinkbugs are to ________________. 

 I have no freakin’ idea!!!!  Sorry.

A.Q. - Please tell us where we can find out more about you and where we can buy your books.
Sara Walter Ellwood is an award winning author whose novel Gambling On A Secret was named by bestselling author Carolyn Brown in the Happy Ever After Blog on USA Today as one of her favorite romances of 2012. Although Sara has long ago left the farm for the glamour of the big town, she draws on her experiences growing up on a small hobby farm in West Central Pennsylvania to write her stories. She’s been married to her college sweetheart for nearly 20 years, and they have two teenagers and one very spoiled rescue cat named Penny. She longs to visit the places she writes about and jokes she’s a cowgirl at heart stuck in Pennsylvania suburbia.
She also writes paranormal romantic suspense under the pen name of Cera duBois.

Buy Links:

Author links:

A.Q. - Thanks again for stopping in!
You bet!!!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Big Orange is in the Clear. It's That Other One

Some of you may remember that the sea monkey tribe that lives in my bathtub made a territory grab last summer and infiltrated the fish tank. (click for back story) I immediately suspected that the sea monkeys had turned the enormous carny goldfish to the Wet Side. And believe me, they tried. But Big Orange remained true blue and wouldn't flip on the family.

Not so for the other one.

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The sea monkeys could ride that bad boy to world domination. (Note their eerie foggy presence.)

The white and orange fish apparently feels it's better than the other one since it came from a garden store. Because of this uppidy notion, he's thrown his lot in with the sea monkeys. How do I know, you may ask? Because of the sucking.

Yes. Sucking.

The smaller one (which is now almost the size of the bigger one) rises to the top of the tank and sucks its little brains out, making a loud slapping sound. It's freakishly loud! You can hear it all over the house! I mean the sea monkeys with their warbling tribal chants has nothing on this thing.

And it's driving me crazy. Ipso facto, the sea monkeys. They're behind this for sure.

So again, I'll need to go on the offensive. I'm ready to submerge an operative from the Gnome Underground Network (G.U.N.) in the tank to do a little "wet work" for me.

But for now, I'll only have time to do a quick tidy up since author Sara Walter Ellwood will be visiting Tongue in Cheek tomorrow. Stop back to check out her interview and newest release.

Until then, Citizens!

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