Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Pen Review: Confessions of the Cleaning Lady


Confessions of the Cleaning Lady is one of my favorite e-books by our very own Miriam Newman. I really enjoyed reading the tale of Shawna Egan and the journey she embarks on with the faeries and with Malachi.I'm a big lover of anything Celtic and Miriam has such a way with words. I absolutely loved how they faeries were portrayed with their emotions and characters. Anyone who loves faeries and romance will surely love it! 

Summary: 
Stowed away in the trunk of a pharmaceutical representative from Killarney, a band of feisty Irish faeries is released in the outlying suburbs of Philadelphia, where Malachi McCurdy sets up bachelor housekeeping. In need of a housekeeper, he is introduced to Shawna Egan, unaware that "his" faeries have taken up residence in her oak tree. Shawna, who was raised with tales of the Fair Folk but never realized she can see them, learns it the hard way when she cuts down the tree in which they made a home. She gives them another and faeries always repay their debts. But Shawna has secrets, and although she knows Mal is what she is seeking, will he want her after he has heard the confessions of the cleaning lady? If so, he will need help from the Fae, for the dragons he must slay for his lady live in her mind.

Please check out Miriam's website: www.miriamnewman.com
If you'd like to purchase the books, please go to:

Rating : 4 pens!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Inspiring Speech...


This speech was very inspiring. I loved the quote, "Why must we look to the past for leadership today?" It speaks of the power we have to change. 
Please watch and share your thoughts! 


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

How to use your iPod/MP3 Player to Inspire and Motivate Your Writing








I remember back in the day when there were only CDs. I used to make mix CDs in order to keep me motivated with songs that inspired me to write poetry or that of a scene I needed for the novels I was writing. With technology constantly changing, the blessing of the MP3 players came along. Since then I have learned all I could in order to figure out how to use it and how to share my love of music with others out there. So it got me thinking how I could share how to create a playlist with songs that inspire and motivate all fellow writers write!

I would have to say that one of my favorite music players is the iPod due to it's versatility, simplicity to use, being compact, and it's looks. The software that came along with it called iTunes is also one of my favorites. iTunes allows the user to control what goes on the iPod and allows you create easy playlists that you can play on your iPod and in iTunes.




If you are familiar with the process of using iTunes then you know there is a left hand side bar that allows you to make playlists with the click of a button. You can name the playlist and then begin to drag songs to that playlist. Syncing your iPod allows you put this playlist and take it on the go with you. See my example on the above. I created a playlist on the left hand side and named it White Rider Project (after a novel I am editing), I then dragged songs to the playlist. I took songs that reminded me of the characters, a particular scene, or that I preferred listening to while writing. Now I can listen to them on a loop while writing, add more songs (if you so choose), and even take them with you the go!

There are also many other programs/ Mp3 players you can use besides Apple products should they not strike your fancy. There is Windows Media player and the Zune is also out there. Google is a great resource to use should you want to look into getting an Mp3 player out there at a bargain price.

We all know how important music is. We see it in movies all the time. The beautiful score right before a big battle or even the during the scene where the hero and heroine kiss. Music is what moves us and inspires us to write. It helps us relive those moments that are most cherished to us.

If you'd like to learn more about using iPods or iTunes please visit : www.apple.com/support

For any information on Microsoft products please visit: www.microsoft.com





Promo Update: The Bitten By Books Bloggy Carnival !

CONTEST INFO

Readers, here’s how to enter the contest. You can do ONE OR ALL of these things, and each one will give an additional entry and thus MORE chances to win. Check next to each contributors page to see if there are MORE ways you can get chances win.

1. Join the NEW Bitten By Books Community and start a page to talk about all things paranormal fiction! Meet authors, join in on upcoming contests an more! You can have your own blog where you can post about THIS contest (and that gets you an entry). You can start groups and chat in our forums as well as participate in live chat. Best of all it is FREE. Paranormal authors come and start fan page for yourself! Here’s the link! Sign up and join in the fun!

http://bittenbybooks.ning.com/
You get 10 additional entries for joining our community!

2. SUBSCRIBE to our newsletter here on the right hand side of the site. You MUST verify your subscription via the email the site will send you. Unverified subscribers will not be entered into the contest. This option is for new subscribers only.

3. Post this blog post in it’s entirety with a link to our contest on your blog, groups, forums or websites and you will be given FIVE additional entries to win for EACH place you post. You MUST post the links where you have shared the info in one response here in this thread. The more places you post the event, the more entries you get, so spread the word! NOTE: Don’t worry if your post doesn’t show up right away or you get an error message, the spam filter on the site will catch it if there are too many links. I will approve your posts so no need to worry, if this happens please don’t post your list multiple times. Check back later in the week to see if it is up.

4. Make a purchase between 10/27-11/2 from ANY or all of the retailers / book sellers participating on our page (see list below) and send us a copy of the receipt for your purchase to: racoo.smith @ gmail.com (no spaces) for an additional FIVE entries. You get entries for every purchase you make. Be SURE to put BBB Contest Entry in the subject line so it doesn’t get lost in our spam filter. NOT valid on past purchases.

5. Check every contributor’s prize listing below for a way to gain additional entries. This is an easy way to get more chances and really increase your chances to WIN!

6. Add us as your friend on Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/bittenbybooks

7. Add us as your friend on Facebook: http://www.new.facebook.com/profile.php?id=614064436

8. Follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/BittenbyBooks

Be sure to mention that you are friending us for this contest so we know to enter you! ;)

9. Stumble, Digg or share the post with any social networking sites. There is a button right at the end of this post that says “Share” that you can use. :)

10. Twitter the URL for this event throughout the week: http://bittenbybooks.com/?p=1526

11. Add Bitten by Books to your blog roll or links page: http://bittenbybooks.com if you leave our link up permanently you will always be entered into our contests automatically. Just be sure to stop by each contest we hold and leave the link to where it is.

12. Invite ALL of your friends! If your fiends come and post here and say you sent them, they get TWO entries and you get TWO entries! They have to tell us who you are so we know who to give the entries to. You can invite as many people as you want and get all the extra entries!

13. Read through the Bitten by Books blog and find your favorite review and come back here and post the LINK to it. One favorite review per contestant please.

Be sure you leave a valid email and your name AND COUNTRY when posting here so we can contact you if you are the winner. We will contact the winners and request your first/last name and a valid email which we will give to the retailer whose prize you have one. It is up to the individual retailers to award your prizes. If we do not hear back from winners within one week of contacting you, you prize will be forfeited and an alternate winner will be chosen. We reserve the right to delete any inappropriate or inflammatory remarks or comments. Bitten by Books is NOT liable for prizes that are not delivered, awarded or lost in the mail. It is the sole responsibility of each contributor to honor their prize obligation.

And last but certainly not least A BIG thank you to our fabulous contributors!!

Here is the list of AMAZING prizes you are trying to win!

****************************************************

The GRAND PRIZE up for grabs this time around is a brand NEW Compaq iPAQ 3955 Color Pocket PC!!! Valued at $400.00!!

Been craving a way to read all of those awesome e-books out on the market? Well, enter to win this baby the week of October 27-31st, and your dreams may come true. This amazing prize has been contributed by the multi-talented author Ciana Stone. Visit her website today http://www.cianastone.com/ and be sure to sign up for her other contest. This site does contain adult content and you must be 18 to enter. Ciana is willing to ship this prize within the US and Internationally! *** For an additional contest entry go to Ciana’s site, find the book gallery. Pick a title you would like to read and then come back and post a LINK to that book’s page here. Only one book choice is necessary.

Hachette Book Group - 5 sets of the following TEN books (5 winners win all ten titles). Shipping to the US and Canada, NO P.O. Boxes please. Valued at $764.50
THE HERETIC’S DAUGHTER By Kathleen Kent
ISOLATION By Travis Thrasher
THE 13 BEST HORROR STORIES OF ALL TIME By Leslie Pockell
THE MONSTERS: Mary Shelley and the Curse of Frankenstein By Dorothy Hoobler , Thomas Hoobler
THE MYRTLES PLANTATION: The True Story of America’s Most Haunted House By Frances Kermeen
GHOSTLY ENCOUNTERS: True Stories of America’s Haunted Inns and Hotels By Frances Kermeen
THE TERROR By Dan Simmons
DRACULA By Bram Stoker
WHEN GHOSTS SPEAK: Understanding the World of Earthbound Spirits By Mary Ann Winkowski
THE HISTORIAN By Elizabeth Kostova
http://www.hachettebookgroupusa.com/
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to the Hachette Book Group site and pick any book you would like to read, then come back and post a LINK to that book here. Only one book choice is necessary.

Sue Durkin - An incredible prize package including a 1 hour intuitive consultation worth $80.00 and a copy of her book worth $14.95 to TWO winners. Valued at $189.90. Will ship the book internationally. I can do a long distance call 24/7 in the USA and Canada. International readings will have to be in email or messaging, unless they wish to call her.
http://rebootyourlife.suesunshine.com/
“I do intuitive readings/consultations and I am the author of Life is Like Making Chocolate Chip Cookies.”
*** For an additional contest entry go Sue’s site, find the services page. Pick a service you would like to have and then come back and post a LINK to that page here and tell us which service package you wish you could have. Only one choice is necessary.

Marr Williams - $130.00 credit towards a blog customization. International customers welcome.
http://www.13pumpkins.com/
“Web and graphic design company that specializes in small business blogs and web sites.”
*** For an additional contest entry go Marr’s site, find the portfolio page. Pick your favorite design and then come back and post a LINK to that page here. Only one choice is necessary.

Melissa Alvarez - $100.00 gift certificate good for a reading at her website. for any reading or service that I offer. It can be used in any combination - ten single questions or one general reading and a yes/no question etc.
http://melissaa.com/a-psychic-haven/
*** For an additional contest entry go Melissa’s site, find the store page. Pick a service you would like to have and then come back and post a LINK to that page here AND tell us which service you wish you could have. Only one choice is necessary.

Aspen Mountain Press - $100.00 in gift certificates to their online site. 4 winners will be drawn each will win a $25.00 gift certificate.
http://www.aspenmountainpress.com/
“Adventure, Mystery, Passion”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to the Aspen Mountain Press site and pick any book you would like to read, then come back and post a LINK to that book here. Only one book choice is necessary.

Mundania Press - 4 $25 gift certificates for the Mundania Press site. Four winners.
http://www.mundania.com/
“Science fiction, fantasy, and horror from talented authors.”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to the Mundania Press site and pick any book you would like to read, then come back here and post a LINK to that book. Only one book choice is necessary.

Bitten by Books Review Staff - 2 electronic copies of the epic story “Nothing But Red”. This is not a paranormal story, but it is a book with a collection of stories that impacts women worldwide. The review team of BBB would like to spread the word about this important work and encourage each of you to purchase your own print or e-book copy of “Nothing But Red” in support of woman and ultimately humankind. About the book:
“In April 2007, a group of men pulled seventeen-year-old Du’a Khalil Aswad into a mob. They proceeded to stone and beat her to death, a supposed “honor” killing for allegedly falling in love with a man of a different faith. Several camera phones recorded the entire incident from the front row, and videos later surfaced online. One month later, popular filmmaker Joss Whedon expressed his despair and outrage at the misogyny in all cultures on a fan-run blog. “Because it’s no longer enough to be a decent person,” he wrote. “It’s no longer enough to shake our heads and make concerned grimaces at the news. True enlightened activism is the only thing that can save humanity from itself. I’ve always had a bent towards apocalyptic fiction, and I’m beginning to understand why. I look and I see the earth in flames. Her face was nothing but red.” The arts anthology Nothing But Red was conceived as a way to raise both awareness of the issues he spoke of, as well as money for the charity Equality Now.” Buy the book here: http://stores.lulu.com/nothingbutred
If you purchase a copy of this book and send us the reciept, you will get TWENTY additional entries!

Lyda’s Pen - Contributing Three Prizes -1 Sterling Silver Necklace Heart - Valued at $20.00, 1 Sterling Silver Pair of Earrings with Matching Necklace Valued at $40.00 and a prize package including 1 Sterling Silver Necklace, Rectangle Turquoise Stone with Christine Feehan’s Book “Deadly Game” valued at $27.99. US shipping only
http://lydaspen.wordpress.com/
“Lyda’s Poison Pen, where the Pen is mightier than the sanity.”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to Lyda’s Blog and pick your favorite post, then come back and post a LINK to that post here. Only one choice is necessary.

Bauble Bath - One Holiday Gift basket valued at $75.00 with 3 scrubs (Candy Cane, Sugar Plum, Gingerbread). We three Kings bauble set (3 scented with Frankincense and Myrh). Holiday Candy Bauble set ( 8 mini baubles in a variety of “candy” fragrances ), Snowmen and Penguin bath melts. 2 soaps in cinnamon and Honey almond and 3 Lip Balms. Shipping to the US and Canada.
http://baublebath.com/
“Thick Creamy scrubs as well as bath bombs in indulgent fragrances.”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to the Bauble Bath site and pick any product you would like to own, then come back here and post a LINK to that product. Only one choice is necessary.

Minnette Meador - Autographed copies of four books! Including: Starsight Volume I, Starsight Volume II (epic fantasy), The Centurion & The Queen, and The Edge of Honor (historical romance - available December 2008). Valued at $75.00. US shipping only.
http://www.minnettemeador.com/
“My worlds…real or imagined…”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to Minette’s site and pick any book you would like to read, then come back here and post a LINK to that book. Only one book choice is necessary.

Brenna Lyons - Brenna is offering PDF copies of every e-book release she has in 2009 to one winner (approx $50 value) and one signed print book of choice to a second winner (approx $15 value). Shipping to US and Canada only.
http://www.brennalyons.com/
“Brenna writes milieu-heavy dark fantasy, science fiction and horror books, straight genre through erotic romance; all winners of Brenna’s materials should be age 18 or over.”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to Brenna’s site and pick any book you would like to read, then come back here and post a LINK to that book. Only one book choice is necessary.

M.J. Rose - Two sets of the Reincarnationist Series by bestselling author M.J. Rose, including a copy of THE REINCARNATIONIST (paperback edition) and THE MEMORIST (hardback edition). Two winners. Valued over $60.00. US shipping only.
http://mjrose.com/content/index.asp
“Gripping… Rose once again skillfully blends past and present with a new set of absorbing characters in a fascinating historical locale.” –Library Journal, starred review.
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to M.J.’s site find the book page and pick any book you would like to read, then come back here and post a LINK to the page and the book title. Only one book choice is necessary.

Dahlia Rose - A tote bag with an autographed copy of each of her books. Paradise Found, Velvet Leather and Roses, When Angels Falls, Sensual Bites and The Collettes Trilogy. Valued at $55.00. US shipping only.
http://www.thedecadenceofdahlia.com
“Bestselling Author of Contemporary Erotica”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to the Dahlia’s site and find her book page, then pick any book you would like to read, then come back here and post a LINK to that book. Only one book choice is necessary.

Bad Girlz Bath Co. - A $50.00 gift certificate to their online store. US shipping only.
http://badgirlzbath.com/
“We’re the Passionate bath & body company. Check us out. We’re NOT your mothers bath & body shop, We’re Lot’s more Fun!!”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to the Bad Girlz Bath site and pick any product you would like to own, then come back here and post a LINK to that product. Only one choice is necessary.

Kettlepot Soap - A $50.00 gift certificate to their online store. Shipping to US and Canada.
http://www.kettlepotsoap.com/
“There’s something magical about Kettlepot Soap! Natural, handcrafted products for skin care.”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to the Kettle Pot Soap site and pick any product you would like to own, then come back here and post a LINK to that product. Only one choice is necessary.

Amanda Young - Gift Basket, including autographed copies of Missing in Action, Temperature’s Rising and other goodies, valued at $50.00. US shipping only
http://www.amandayoung.org/**Adult Content**
“Romance Without Inhibition”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to the Amanda’s site and pick any book you would like to read, then come back here and post a LINK to that book. Only one book choice is necessary.

The Pen & Muse - 1 Apple IPod 1GB shuffle (winners choice in color).
http://thepenmuse.blogspot.com/
“The Pen & Muse blog is dedicated to writers who enjoy reading about a variety of things from new technology, book reviews, author interviews, and writing tips.”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to the Pen & Muse Blog and pick your favorite post, then come back and post a LINK to that post here. Only one choice is necessary.

Katie Bug aka Domestic Diva - $20.00 Amazon.com Gift Card
http://katiebugdomesticdiva.blogspot.com/
“My own site where I post anything that pops into my head.”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to Katie Bug’s Blog and pick your favorite post, then come back and post a LINK to that post here. Only one choice is necessary.

Eternal Press - 3 Halloween e-books. Three winners will be drawn each will win a choice of one of their Halloween titles. Valued at $17.85.
http://www.eternalpress.ca/
“Eternal Press offers quality ebooks at an affordable price. We’re not just a publisher; we’re family.”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to the Eternal Press site and pick any book you would like to read, then come back and post a LINK to that book here. Only one book choice is necessary.

Ann Tracy Marr - $15.00 Amazon.com Gift Card
http://www.anntracymarr.com/
“Romance with a splash of magic”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to Ann’s site and pick any book you would like to read, then come back here and post the name of that book. Only one book choice is necessary.

Sidhe Na Daire - 1 eBook copy of Yesterday’s Dreams, 1 Autographed set of Yesterday’s Dreams and Tomorrow’s Memories and 1 eBook copy of Tomorrow’s Memories. Three prizes, three winners will be drawn. Valued at $44.00. US shipping only.
http://www.sidhenadaire.com/promoTM.htm
Celebrate the Launch of Danielle Ackley-McPhail’s Long-Awaited novel Tomorrow’s Memories, the sequel to Yesterday’s Dreams. Also, see webpage for details on how you could win a replica Scottish Claymore.
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to the Sidhe Na Daire site, find the book page and pick any book you would like to read, then come back here and post a LINK to that book. Only one book choice is necessary.

Judith Rochelle - $25.00 Amazon.com Gift Card
http://www.judithrochelle.com/
“At my web site you’ll find sizzling romantic suspense”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to Judith’s site find the book page and pick any book you would like to read, then come back here and post a LINK to that book. Only one book choice is necessary.

Desiree Holt - $25.00 gift certificate to Total-e-bound
http://www.desireeholt.com/**Adult Content**
“Visit Desiree and check out her hot erotic romance”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to Desiree’s site find the book page and pick any book you would like to read, then come back here and post a LINK to that book. Only one book choice is necessary.

Diane McEntire - A prize package including a $20.00 Walmart Gift Card, t-shirt, cap, pen and other goodies. Valued at $30.00. Worldwide shipping.
http://www.dmcentire.com/ **Adult Content**
“Paranormal, Western, Action/Suspense, and Historial Romance”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to Diane’s site find the book page and pick any book you would like to read, then come back here and post a LINK to that book. Only one book choice is necessary.

Karen Wiesner - One autographed trade paperback of WOODCUTTER’S GRIM SERIES (romantic horror). Valued at $20.00. Shipping to US and Canada
http://www.karenwiesner.com/
“The world of award-winning author Karen Wiesner”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to Karen’s site find the book page and pick any book you would like to read, then come back here and post a LINK to that book. Only one book choice is necessary.

Selena Illyria - 2 e-book copies of Tartan Interlude, two winners. Valued at $7.00.
http://www.selenaillyria.com/**Adult Content**
“Werewolf Iain is in love with Katherine, a human. Katherine doesn’t think that anyone can fall in love in three months. Mating is one thing, love is another altogether.”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to Selena’s site find the book page and pick any book you would like to read, then come back here and post a LINK to that book. Only one book choice is necessary.

Carol North - A prize package including a $10 Amazon.com Gift Card and two e-book short stories “Fear Not” and “As the Seed Sown”. Valued at $15.00
http://carolnorth.com/
“Romance Author”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to Carol’s site find the book page and pick any book you would like to read, then come back here and post a LINK to that book. Only one book choice is necessary.

Gracie C. McKeever - (5) e-books (PDF) to five different winners (1 book each winner). Their choice between these five Siren Publishing titles: 1) Between Darkness and Daylight; 2) Eternal Designs; 3) In Plain Sight; 4) Nine Inches of Snow and the Ebony Princess; or 5) The Wolf in the Mansion. Valued at $24.00.
http://www.graciecmckeever.com/
“Cross-Genre Erotic Romance…on the edge”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to Gracie’s site find the book page and pick any book you would like to read, then come back here and post a LINK to that book. Only one book choice is necessary.

Casey Daniels - Complete set of her Pepper Martin series including:Don of the Dead, The Chick and the Dead, and Tombs of Endearment as well as a bookmark for the upcoming book, Night of the Loving Dead. Valued at $21.00. Worldwide shipping.
http://www.caseydaniels.com/
“The Pepper Martin books feature Pepper, a cemetery tour guide, who solves mysteries for the ghosts in her cemetery.”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to Casey’s site find the book page and pick any book you would like to read, then come back here and post a LINK to that book. Only one book choice is necessary.

Frank Say - 3 autographed copies of his book Nine Lives. Three winners. Shipping worldwide. Valued at $47.85
http://www.franksay.com/
“Announcing the release of debut novel, Nine Lives.”

Liquid Silver Books - 4 E-Books. 4 winners can chose one book from their entire eBook library and in their preferred format. Valued at $30.00.
http://www.liquidsilverbooks.com/ **Adult Content**
“Liquid Silver Books is an Erotic Romance eBook publisher, selling classy, distinctive, and HOT Erotic Romance.”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to the Liquid Silver site and pick any book you would like to read, then come back and post a LINK to that book here. Only one book choice is necessary.

Resa Nelson - Two autographed copies of The Dragonslayer’s Sword, two winners. Valued at $29.90. Worldwide shipping.
http://resanelson.com/
“The Dragonslayer’s Sword is a new fantasy novel about a female blacksmith who lives in a world of dragons, shapeshifters, and ghosts.”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to Resa’s site find the book page and pick any book you would like to read, then come back here and post a LINK to that book. Only one book choice is necessary.

Molly Harper - A prize package including a $25 Borders gift certificate, plus an early copy of her debut novel Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs as soon as it becomes available. Valued at $32.99. Worldwide shipping.
http://singleundeadfemale.blogspot.com/
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to Molly’s Blog and pick your favorite post, then come back and post a LINK to that post here. Only one choice is necessary.

Sally Painter - $25.00 Amazon.com Gift Card
http://sallypainter.com/ **Adult Content**
“Paranormal Erotic Romance Author of hot, sexy gargoyles, vampires, futuristic, and fantasy heroes.”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to Sally’s site find the book page and pick any book you would like to read, then come back here and post a LINK to that book. Only one book choice is necessary.

Mayra Calvani - 3 books, 3 winners one book each. Prizes are The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing, nonfiction, ebook. Dark Lullaby, supernatural thriller, ebook. Embraced by the Shadows, romantic horror/vampire, ebook, value $15.00
http://www.mayracalvani.com/
“Multigenre author and book reviewer.”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to Mayra’s site find the book page and pick any book you would like to read, then come back here and post a LINK to the book page and the title of the book you would like to read. Only one book choice is necessary.

Marilu Mann - A prize package including the November 7, 2008 release Changing Hearts (Lusting Wild 2) download and set of recipe cards. Valued at $7.99. US shipping only.
http://www.greatmta.com/
“The 2nd book in the Lusting Wild series, Changing Hearts is a sensual paranormal romance guaranteed to spice up your life.”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to Marilu’s site find the book page and pick any book you would like to read, then come back here and post a LINK to that book. Only one book choice is necessary.

Marta Acosta - A prize package including autographed copies of Happy Hour at Casa Dracula and Midnight Brunch
http://martaacosta.com/
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to Marta’s site find the book page and pick any book you would like to read, then come back here and post a LINK to that book. Only one book choice is necessary.

Savannah Chase - A prize package including a handmade bookmark, a goodie bag filled with author promo items and a bath set. Valued at $20.00. Worldwide shipping
http://www.savannahchase.com/
“Satisfy Your Desire…Indulge The Temptation”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to Savannah’s site find the book page and pick any book you would like to read, then come back here and post a LINK to that book. Only one book choice is necessary.

Shelley Munro - $15.00 Amazon.com Gift Card
http://www.shelleymunro.com/**Adult Content**
“Adventure into romance with Shelley Munro–I write paranormal and contemporary erotic romance, set in New Zealand.”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to Shelley’s site find the book page and pick any book you would like to read, then come back here and post a LINK to that book. Only one book choice is necessary.

The Wild Rose Press - $10.00 gift certificate to their website
http://www.thewildrosepress.com/
“Publisher of Romance and Erotic Romance”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to the Wild Rose Press site and pick any book you would like to read, then come back and post a LINK to that book here. Only one book choice is necessary.

The Wilder Roses - Erotic romance website of The Wild Rose Press - $10.00 gift certificate to their website
http://www.thewilderroses.com/ **Adult Content**
“Publisher of Romance and Erotic Romance”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to the Wilder Roses Press site and pick any book you would like to read, then come back and post a LINK to that book here. Only one book choice is necessary.

Christine Norris -Prize package with swag PLUS an autographed copy of Return to Zandria. Valued at $25.00. US shipping only
http://www.christine-norris.com/
“YA Fantasy Author”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to Christine’s site find the book page and pick any book you would like to read, then come back here and post a LINK to that book. Only one book choice is necessary.

Raine Delight - A prize package including a copy of Fairy Kisses (Out Nov. 7th) and a promotional envelope full of goodies. Valued at $5.00. Worldwide shipping.
http://authorrainedelight.com/ **Adult Content**
“Scorching hot romance amid the pages……”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to Raine’s site find the book page and pick any book you would like to read, then come back here and post a LINK to that book. Only one book choice is necessary.

Beth Trissel - 3 prizes, 3 winners. One digital download of her book “Somewhere My Love”. Valued at $18.00
http://www.bethtrissel.com/
“Romance charged with danger from ages past!”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to Beth’s site find her books and pick any book you would like to read, then come back here and post a LINK to that book. Only one book choice is necessary.

Spa Secrets - $30.00 gift certificate to their website.
http://spasecrets.net/
“Spa Secrets offers an amazing collection of luxurious bath and body, skincare, and aromatherapy products for your home spa needs.”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to the Spa Secret’s site and pick any product you would like to own, then come back here and post a LINK to that product. Only one choice is necessary.

Michele Bardsley - $25.00 Amazon.com Gift Card
http://www.michelebardsley.com/
“National bestseller Michele Bardsley is the author of WAIT TILL YOUR VAMPIRE GETS HOME, the fourth novel in her popular Broken Heart, Oklahoma vampire series.”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to Michele’s site find the book page and pick any book you would like to read, then come back here and post a LINK to that book. Only one book choice is necessary.

Ericka Scott - $10.00 Amazon.com Gift Card
http://www.erickascott.com/
“Author of Seductive Suspense”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to Ericka’s site find the book page and pick any book you would like to read, then come back here and post a LINK to that book. Only one book choice is necessary.

Lori Johnson - A prize package including a $15.00 Amazon.com Gift Card and 1 autographed copy of People of the Bear (available now) or Heart of the Bear (when released). Valued at $30.00. US shipping only.
http://www.lori-johnson.com/
“Find fantasy, romance and adventure in my Bearwalker Trilogy”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to Lori’s site find the Bear Facts page and pick any fact, then come back here and post a LINK to the page and your fact. Only one choice is necessary.

Murdoch Hughes - Two books, two winners, one book each. One autographed copy of The Seattle Barista Killer and one copy of Death Mask Of The Jaguar. Valued at $23.90. Worldwide shipping.
http://www.werewolfdetective.blogspot.com/
“IMurdoch Hughes is the award-winning author of the Rick Sage Mystery Series and the Harley Wolf Mystery Series, which both feature paranormal elements; “Death Mask of the Jaguar” features a Mayan Jaguar Spirit, and the protagonist of the “Seattle Barista Killer” is a vegan werewolf detective.”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to Murdoch’s Blog and pick your favorite post, then come back and post a LINK to that post here. Only one choice is necessary.

Adelle Laudan - 1- $10 gift certificate Wild Child Publishing and 1- $10 gift certificate Freyas Bower Publishing. Two winners.
http://adellelaudan.com/
“Changing the image of bikers…one book at a time.”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to Adelle’s site find her books and pick any book you would like to read, then come back here and post a LINK to that book. Only one book choice is necessary.

Jeri Smith-Ready - Autographed copies of the full ASPECT OF CROW trilogy: Eyes Of Crow, Voice Of Crow, and The Reawakened. Valued at $44.85. US Shipping only
http://www.jerismithready.com/
“Author of romantic and urban fantasy, including the popular vampire novel WICKED GAME and the ASPECT OF CROW animal magic trilogy.”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to Jeri’s site find the book page and pick any book you would like to read, then come back here and post a LINK to that book. Only one book choice is necessary.

Dana Marie Bell - A $25.00 gift certificate to Books On Board
http://www.danamariebell.com/
“Dance with an alpha in the pale moonlight…”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to Dana’s site find the book page and pick any book you would like to read, then come back here and post a LINK to that book. Only one book choice is necessary.

Ann Cory - 2 each $10.00 Amazon.com Gift Cards, two winners.
http://www.anncory.com/ **Adult Content**
“Erotic romance author.”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to Ann’s site find the book page and pick any book you would like to read, then come back here and post a LINK to that book. Only one book choice is necessary.

Gracen Miller - One copy of her e-book, The Devil’s Den, to five different winners. Valued at $35.00.
http://www.gracenmiller.com/
“Author of The Devil’s Den, a dark paranormal e-book”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to Gracen’s site find the book page and pick any book you would like to read, then come back here and post a LINK to that book. Only one book choice is necessary.

Sapphire Phelan - 1 eBook. Winner can choose one of the following titles: Wedded Magic, Crimson Promise, or Beast Magic. Valued at $5.00
http://fantasticdreams.50megs.com/
“Go beyond the usual, instead take the unusual that stretches the boundaries and find romance with Sapphire Phelan’s aliens, werewolves, vampires, fairies, and other supernatural/otherworldly heroes and heroines.”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to Sapphire’s site find the book page and pick any book you would like to read, then come back here and post a LINK to that book. Only one book choice is necessary.

Miriam Newman - A prize package including two e-books: Confessions of the Cleaning Lady - a four-cup Coffee Time Romance contemporary fantasy romance and The King’s Daughter - winner of five blue ribbons from Romance Junkies, a historical fantasy whose sequel, Heart of the Earth, will be available in December, 2008, and a coupon for Heart of the Earth to be issued and honored upon the release date of the book. Valued at $19.50.
http://www.miriamnewman.com/
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to Miriam’s site find the book page and pick any book you would like to read, then come back here and post a LINK to that book. Only one book choice is necessary.

Sloan McBride - A prize package including an electronic copy of “The Fury”, Book One in Time Walker Series, an autographed copy of her debut novel, “Highland Stone”, and a $25.00 eBay gift certificate. Valued at $35.00. Worldwide shipping.
http://www.sloanmcbride.com/index.html
“Paranormal Romance Author”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to Sloan’s site find the book page and pick any book you would like to read, then come back here and post a LINK to that book. Only one book choice is necessary.

Cinsearae Santiago - An electronic copy of her book The Abraxas Series. Valued at $10.00
http://www.bloodtouch.com/
“Gothic/Horror & Paranormal Romance Author, jewelry designer and Gothic still-photographer.”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to Cinsearae’s site find the store page and pick your favorite piece of jewelry, then come back here and post a LINK to that page and tell us which piece it is. Only one choice is necessary.

Designing-Diva Boutique - A $25.00 gift certificate for their online store. Worldwide shipping
http://www.designing-diva.com/
“Artisan handcrafted silver and fused glass jewelry and home decor adornments for mortal goddesses everywhere!”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to the Designing Diva’s site and pick any product you would like to own, then come back here and post a LINK to that product. Only one choice is necessary.

Michelle Gagnon - Spend Halloween in the BONEYARD with Michelle Gagnon: Win a prize package including a $25.00 Amazon.com Gift Card and a signed first edition of the IMBA Bestselling thriller Boneyard. Valued at $31.99. Worldwide shipping.
http://www.michellegagnon.com/
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to Michelle’s site find the book page and pick any book you would like to read, then come back here and post a LINK to that book. Only one book choice is necessary.

Pink Petal Books - A $10.00 gift certificate to their online store
http://www.pinkpetalbooks.com/
“Pink Petal Books publishes romance, because we believe that love is a beautiful thing.”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to the Pink Petal Books site and pick any book you would like to read, then come back and post a LINK to that book here. Only one book choice is necessary.

Jupiter Gardens - A $10.00 gift certificate to their online store
http://www.jupitergardens.com/
“Nurture your inner worlds with products and services from Jupiter Gardens, LLC.”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to the Jupiter Gardens site and pick any product you would like to own, then come back here and post a LINK to that product. Only one choice is necessary.

Jennifer Turner - An autographed copy of Eternal Seduction and a 10 pc. Halloween Gift Box from Godiva. Valued at $32.00. US shipping only
http://www.darknesswithinnovels.com/home.html
“Dark Paranormal Romance Author”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to Jennifer’s site find the book page and find the name of her 3rd book. Then come back here and post a LINK to that page and the book name. Only one book choice is necessary.

C.A.Milson - 5 e-books of his novel, The Chosen. 5 winners. Valued at $30.00
http://authorcamilson.blogspot.com/
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to Chris’ Blog and pick your favorite post, then come back and post a LINK to that post here. Only one choice is necessary.

Joey W. Hill - A prize package including a signed copy of her new release, A Mermaid’s Kiss and Set of David Delamare Mermaid Art Greeting Cards (The Grand Aquaria set) - Valued $35.00. Worldwide shipping.
http://www.storywitch.com/
“Surrender to a romance – Free excerpts from all of my books on website…”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to Joey’s site find the book page and pick any book you would like to read, then come back here and post a LINK to that book. Only one book choice is necessary.

Christiane France - 2 x $5 gift certificates for downloads of any of her e-books from Amber Quill Press. Two winners.
http://www.chrisgrover.ca/**Adult Content**
“I write adult erotic romance - contemporary, historical, paranormal, time travel, hetero, gay, and m/m/f.”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to Christiane’s site find the book pages and pick any book you would like to read, then come back here and post a LINK to that book. Only one book choice is necessary.

Kelsey Lewis - A Prize package including a $20 Amazon.com Gift Card and an e-book copy of her book Reunion. Valued at $24.00.
http://www.kelsey-lewis.com/**Adult Content**
“Shamelessly erotic romance”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to Kelsy’s site find the stories page and pick any book you would like to read, then come back here and post a LINK to that book. Only one book choice is necessary.

John B. Rosenman - An autographed, trade paperback copy of my science-fiction adventure novel, Speaker of the Shakk. Valued at $12.95. Worldwide shipping.
http://www.johnrosenman.com/
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to John’s site find the coming soon pages and pick any book you would like to read, then come back here and post a LINK to that book. Only one book choice is necessary.

Manic Trout - A $25.00 gift certificate to their online store. Worldwide shipping.
http://www.manictrout.com/
“Manic Trout has a wide array of baubles and bracelets that will add a funky finesse to your next outfit.”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to the Manic Trout site and pick any product you would like to own, then come back here and post a LINK to that product. Only one choice is necessary.

Erin O’Riordan - Three signed copies of The Erotica Anthology, three winners. Valued at $15.00 each. Worldwide shipping
http://www.aeess.com/ **Adult Content**
“AEESS is the home of quality erotica and more by Erin O’Riordan.”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to Erin’s site and pick any book you would like to read, then come back here and post a LINK to that book. Only one book choice is necessary.

Mary Eason - A Print Copy of her latest release entitled: The Things You Think You Want. Valued at $14.00. US shipping only.
http://www.maryeason.bravehost.com/
“Carrie Sinclair thought she knew exactly what she wanted from life until she came face-to-face with the bluest eyes in Texas.”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to Mary’s site find the booklist page and pick any book you would like to read, then come back here and post a LINK to that book. Only one book choice is necessary.

Ashley Ladd - A prize package including her electronic books”Wishcraft” and “Blessed Be” which are both Halloween romances. Valued at $10.00.
http://www.ashleyladd.blogspot.com/
“I write erotic romance and have several books published and available for sale.”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to Ashley’s Blog and pick your favorite post, then come back and post a LINK to that post here. Only one choice is necessary.

Amira Press - Two $10.00 gift certificates to the Amira Press store. Two winners
http://www.amirapress.com/ **Adult Content**
“Publisher of Romance and Erotic Romance”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to the Amira Press site and pick any book you would like to read, then come back and post a LINK to that book here. Only one book choice is necessary.

Source Books Casablanca - 2 copies of Warrior: The Cat Star Chronicles by Cheryl Brooks and 3 copies of Hex Appeal by Linda Wisdom. 5 winners. Valued at $34.95. US Shipping only.
http://www.sourcebookscasablanca.com/
“Sourcebooks, the largest woman-owned publishing house in the United States, is a twenty-year-old innovator in the publishing industry. Sourcebooks has been the #1 non-fiction romance publisher since 1997 with its Sourcebooks Casablanca imprint.”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to the Sourcebooks site and pick any book you would like to read, then come back and post a LINK to that book here. Only one book choice is necessary.

eXcessica Publishing - A $25.00 gift certificate to their online store.
http://www.excessica.com/ **ADULT CONTENT**
”An innovative, hot new publishing company bringing you everything from the sweet to the forbidden in erotic fiction!”
*** For an additional contest entry to win go to the eXcessica Publishing site and pick any book you would like to read, then come back and post a LINK to that book here. Only one book choice is necessary.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Promo: The Bitten By Books Bloggy Carnival!



The Pen & Muse is proud to announce that we have joined The Bitten By Books Bloggy Carnival! Our blog is listed as giving away a prize of an 1GB iPod Shuffle, color being the choice of the winner! Please check Bitten By Books blog!

DonorsChoose.org Update

Hi All,

I just wanted to give a quick update on the earlier article that I had posted about DonorsChoose.org. I recently got four letters from teachers stating that their projects were funded and how much a difference I make. I am so happy that I could help! Letters like these make me happy that I could help people in my community and in other places. So please if you haven't taken the chance to go to this website, please do. You can make a difference too!

Below are the letters I have received:

Dear Denise,

"Winning Writers At Work" (at http://www.donorschoose.org/donors/proposal.html?id=200454) is now becoming a reality for the students of Mrs. Johnson-Quinn. Mrs. Johnson-Quinn wrote you this note:

Dear Denise,

Thank you very much for your donation. I no longer will have to spell out words for my students. Your donation will make them independent learners as well as creative ones. My children have already started writing descriptive paragraphs, flip books, and narrative stories. Just think of how your donation will turn these pieces of work into more detailed, elaborated published copies. Again, thank you for your support and we will certainly use these materials daily in our classroom.

*******************************************************************

At Their Level: Read Books For 2nd Graders" (at http://www.donorschoose.org/donors/proposal.html?id=215697) is now becoming a reality for the students of Mr. Dypiangco. Mr. Dypiangco wrote you this note:

Dear Denise,

Thank you so much for funding my proposal. I was so thrilled to check my email this morning and see that it was fully funded. My lower level students have read the handful of books that are at their level, so this donation will provide a much needed infusion to our classroom library. My students will be ecstatic when I share the news with them on Monday morning that they will be getting these books. Thank you for your donation. You have made a difference in the lives of my 20 students, and you have provided our class with a quality library of books that I would be unable to afford on my own.

*************************************************

Dear Denise,

"Pillows For Peanuts" (at http://www.donorschoose.org/donors/proposal.html?id=206911) is now becoming a reality for the students of Mrs. Singleton. Mrs. Singleton wrote you this note:

Dear Denise,

What a wonderful surprise it was to get the e-mail stating that our project had been funded. We have been hoping for this for some time now and the little ones in my class have no idea about the comfort that they will soon receive. They will have a soft pillow to rest their heads on at Quiet Time and the children in my class in the years to come will also know this simple but wonderful pleasure as well. Thank you for thinking of us and for sending such a meaningful gift. Sincerely, Mrs. S

**********************************************


"Ready to Write!" (at http://www.donorschoose.org/donors/proposal.html?id=188619) is now becoming a reality for the students of Mrs. Boles. Mrs. Boles wrote you this note:

Dear Denise,

Thank you! My students will be so excited to use these supplies in daily writing and illustrations for research projects. I look forward to having the students begin working with the supplies and seeing their enthusiasm as they become more successful students. Thank you again!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Setting Word Count Goals and What It Could Mean To You!

Hello everyone!

I am a big believer in setting a daily word count goal. If you are able to sit and do it all in one sitting fabulous, or if it takes a few stolen moments throughout the day, at least make the committment.

If you are serious about writing as a career, you have to take yourself and your writing seriously. You have to make deadlines for yourself, and meet them. Treat it like a full or part time job.

I was doing some math trying to figure out how I could reasonably write 6 books a year. Sounds astonishing doesn't it? Well believe it or not, it really isn't.

Here's how it works:

If I write roughly 2000 words a day, 5 days a week, that will equal 520,000 words for the year. Some of the novels I write are 50K, some 75K and some 95K, that doesn't even include the short stories I write. If I up it to 2200 words a day I could get in a couple of novellas with my six novels.

So let's get started with you. I think you should set a goal to write at LEAST 5 days a week, I often write 6 or 7. Even if you think you can only get in 100 a day, thats a start.

In Stephen King's book On Writing, he suggests if you're serious that your write a minimum of 1000 words a day, for 6 days a week.

You've committed to writing at least 5 days a week no matter what, and you've chosen the amount of words you will write come hell or high water, you will get those words down! If you write more fantastic!

100 = 26,000 words a year (A novella)
200 = 52,000 words a year (A category)
350 = 91,000 words a year (A novel or 3 novellas, or 1 category and 2 novellas)
500 = 130,000 words a year
750 = 195,000 words a year
1000 = 260,000 words a year (3 novels!!!)
1500 = 390,000 words a year
2000 = 520,000 words a year (6 novels!!!)
2500 = 650,000 words a year (At least 7 novels and a novella)

The formula to figure this out is really simple. Take the number of words you've committed to write x the number of days you will write x 52 (weeks in the year) = your words for the year.

Just remember that all you need is a few hours a day. One of the things that I do to help myself, which may also drive some of you insane, is I work on 3-4 WIPS at a time. That way if I get stuck at 750 words on one, I move on to the next until I hit my word count for the day. As far as editing goes, I still make sure I get my word count in, even if I have edits to do. It just means I'm at my computer longer that day.

So let's hear your committments!!! What are your goals?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Dancer Dog - Part Two

I had nearly forgotten where the local shelter was; it was a good thing Sam was with me. We drove my pickup and there wasn't much room in the cab for a dog, but I only wanted a small one and Sam volunteered her lap.

She ended up volunteering a lot more than that. Some staff recognized her, so we bypassed the waiting room where a receptionist tried to talk me into taking the one-eyed Pug keeping her company. He was little and sweet and the eye didn't bother me. I had a one-eyed horse, too. But my mother had instilled in me a prejudice against male dogs, which she assured me would pee in your house NO MATTER WHAT. Fred had immortalized himself on my furniture, my saddle, even the slatted wicker clothes hamper and all its contents. Anything that could lift a leg was out.

That narrowed the field. There were young puppies, but I dreaded housebreaking. I liked to sleep. I hadn't slept through a night for years while Dave was sick.

A few dogs refused to engage with us, but most came straight to the front of their pens, paws and noses pressing the diamond-shaped cyclone mesh. "Take me, take me!" their eyes begged. The shelter was well run and clean. But it was a typical November day, sullen and cold. Chill permeated every inch of a concrete and wire environment where doors opened onto outer kennel runs and a stiff breeze wafted in with every trip made by every dog. It was freezing and smelled of disinfectant and the din of all those dogs never ceased as they bid frantically for attention--anyone's...anything to get them out into the world again. They were prisoners who had committed no crime.

Most were pit bulls and I just shook my head.

"What about a mix?" Sam asked. "Some of them aren't pure pit."

"I don't know," I said dubiously. "That blood predominates."

Everywhere I looked, I saw the broad foreheads, wideset eyes and powerful jaws of fighting dogs. All of these dogs had been tested for temperament, but that breed is nothing for the faint-hearted to take on. Of course, I wasn't faint-hearted. I was used to wrestling with twelve-hundred-pound horses.

"Let's keep looking," I said.

Halfway down the first side, a young brindle bitch came to greet us. She stood up against the wire with such grace and dainty forefeet that I knew at once she was a pit mix. She had the face, but much thinner. Thin was the operative word for that dog. She was nothing but ribs and protruding vertebrae.

"I'm a stray," read the placard on her pen. That explained her condition, but--God!--she was sweet. There were white patches like little eyes on the backs of her paws; they twinkled as she moved, like a light show. And her walk! I had never seen anything like it. Accustomed to watching the movement of horses, I saw at once that she didn't walk in a four-beat gait, but in a lateral movement like a pacer.

"What the heck is she?" I asked Sam. "Part hound?" She just shrugged while the little bitch tried to inhale her fingers. The poor thing had a sizeable wart right in the middle of her forehead and fell right on it, overbalancing when she tried to follow us past the corner of her pen. I could feel her eyes boring into my back as we left.

I checked every pen: every one, both sides, all occupants. When we got to the last one, I turned. Sam was watching me, trying hard not to laugh.

"That one," I said, pointing back at the brindle.

She just smirked. "Oh, yeah."

They had a "get-acquainted room" at the shelter and I asked that they put a cat in there. I had two old, defenseless cats, after all.

"Oh, she won't bother them," the young kennel technician leading in my prospective dog assured us. "Dancer is a sweetheart." The shelter had a policy of naming every animal and it was easy to see how Dancer had earned her sobriquet. She greeted every human with her forepaws, conveniently offered at waist level without any jumping. She touched you like a feather and she had misty, melting eyes and the cutest streak of white from chin to chest. It showed to full advantage in the greeting position.

Still, I wanted to see if she ate the cat.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Free Read

By Miriam @ mrmireland@aol.com


I was a bereaved person: empty, abandoned, listening for a familiar footstep. In this case, it was the patter of four paws I would miss. Well…no…not a patter, exactly. Polly the Bull Terrier’s best gait was a thud. Thud-thud, thud-thud, snuffle, snort, wham. That’s the Bull Terrier mamba…one I would never hear again.


My house was too quiet. The television droned inanely, my ancient cat wheezed softly in the rocking chair, undisturbed by the Bull Terrier mamba or a pig-like snout rooting through her cotton-candy fur. Kitty was in Nirvana. I was in hell.


It was Saturday. On Friday—drawn by some inexplicable telepathy—I had gone home to check on Polly. Her heart had been failing for some time: an enlarged, inefficiently pumping bag which sometimes skipped beats, leading to collapse and unconsciousness in a dog who had been the definition of demonic energy in her day. Sadly, Polly had too few days and Friday was her last. When I came in at lunchtime, she was dead, lying on the living room couch with her head on my favorite throw pillow. She was still warm. I was just moments too late to say goodbye.


That afternoon, my brother came to help bury her. It was a glorious Indian Summer day, just the kind Polly spent as a puppy snoozing under pine trees in the front yard of the old farmhouse where my husband and I lived then. Dave had been enthusiastic about the puppy until the first time she rocketed like an animated bowling ball into his shins, knocking him flat. Bull Terriers do things like that. He hadn’t been amused. He also hadn’t been well. We knew when we got the pup that Dave had leukemia; he bought her for me so I would have company after he was gone.


Returned to me shortly after the funeral by her breeders, who had kept her at their house when things were at their worst, Polly clung to me as if she knew how much I needed her. I had Dave’s fox terrier, Fred, but he was old and deaf and blind…not much company. The little guy felt the same way about me. That dog was my husband’s to the end; he lay in bed with Dave for weeks at a time and was there when he drew his last breath. We had to take Fred out of the room so the undertakers could do their job. It broke the poor dog’s heart.


Mine wasn’t in much better shape. We had lived in the old farmhouse for five years and it felt like mine, but it wasn’t. I had money for three months’ rent if the landlord kept our deposit. Business is business. I had to go and so did the dogs, the cats, and the horses. Dave and I had collected animals the way some people do shoes and there was no way I was going to see them lose a home just because I was losing mine. Fortunately, my aunt had left me a portion of a sizeable estate. I had to humble myself and call the trust officer handling matters, explaining that I was about to be on the street. I had had major surgery three times in eighteen months while my husband was ill and was in no condition to go job-hunting. It felt like I had been through a war. Sometimes I wakened in the morning unable to remember whether it was morning or night, whether or not Dave was dead. I could barely remember my name.


But Polly was always there, snuffle-snorting and nudging me into some semblance of animation, demanding her breakfast, her walk, her toys. She gave me a reason to get up in the mornings. Polly was a living, breathing hurricane, brimful of wriggling affection. Her slanty little eyes glinted with fun, soliciting even the slightest grunt of laughter, and on most days that was all she got. She didn’t care. She was back with me, back where she wanted to be, and all was right with her world.


The trust officer came through and so did the money; I could buy a house. I wasn’t picky. It was in the right location, it was the right price, it had enough land for the horses and a garage which could be turned into a small barn. I would never love another house anyway, so if it was structurally sound I would take it. Friends and my husband’s grown children helped me move. Dave’s son, Doug, was going to try his hand at representing his Dad’s dairy brokerage while I held down the office and we would split the proceeds. If that didn’t work out, I didn’t have many options. I had quit the social services job into which I had been grandfathered without a Master’s degree. I had done it with what everyone conceded was uncommon skill and dedication for eighteen years and people thought I was crazy to quit. But my husband needed me and that’s what you do. You know. “For better, for worse.”


But I was slowly regaining my health and I had my animals, especially Polly. And then, only a few short years later, she was dead, too, and I had nothing. The business was defunct; without Dave, it went South in a hurry and so did Doug and his wife, back to Florida where they had a home. I had taken a secretarial job for a time and several courses towards the degree I now needed, but it was impossible to finish. My aunt’s bequest had stretched as far as it could go. I had a living to earn, animals to care for, and I was in my forties. The degree wasn’t going to happen and secretarial work didn’t thrill me. It didn’t pay well, either. When a friend asked me to houseclean for her for extra cash, I didn’t say no. Before long I had more business than I could handle and was turning people away. It was time for a career change…maybe even a mid-life crisis. Dave had died with many of his dreams unfulfilled; I was going to take the time to realize some of mine before time ran out.

And then Polly’s time ran out.


On Saturday, I called Samantha. We joke that Samantha is my daughter and, in some weird way, it’s almost true. She is a much younger friend with whom one of my friends worked. Sam was just a kid then, fresh out of college and struggling to make it on her own. Family problems prevented her from returning home and pretty soon she was in mine. It was an arrangement born of mutual need—I needed income, she needed a room. We liked one another; it was that simple. She loved horses, helped out in the barn, flambee’d her hair making Bananas Foster, entertained me with her romantic entanglements and went to work for the SPCA. She was the one to take Fred there and put him to sleep when his chronic ailments of old age became unbearable and I couldn’t stand to do it. Her natural way with animals made her a hit at the shelter, but it didn’t pay the bills. She moved on to other things and then marriage. I always say I just got her between the “idges”—college and marriage. But we were close and stayed that way and she was the person I called when I lost Polly.


Sam had stayed close to some other people, too, most of them still working at the SPCA. The shelter opened on Sunday at eleven. Maybe the two of us should just go and…well…look.


The adoption fee at the shelter was $90. I had that much in change in a huge vase I kept as a doorstop in the dining room. If I got a puppy on Sunday and rolled my coins Sunday night…and got to the bank on Monday…well, maybe I could go look. I probably wouldn’t find anything. I had heard practically every dog in that shelter was a pit bull from the economically depressed area of Coatesville, where dog-fighting had become big business. I didn’t want one of those dogs. Sometimes you could find…well, a small spaniel. An older dog. Some nice little thing that would like to curl up on the couch with me.



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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

DonorsChoose.org







How many times have we heard no funding available for schools? I am sure with today's economy that we hear it all the time. When back to school was in session and parents were trying to buy for their kids, it was all over the news. Parents struggling to find items for their children. Parents had to shop/search for bargains in order for their child to progress at school. I found this ridiculous.

I know growing up myself there was not enough funding in my high school's art department and yet it was the department that I thought understood me better than any other class I took. Unfortunately, the school is still in the same situation.

So I ask all the fellow writer's looking at this blog, take a look at this great website DonorsChoose.org. It's a website whose mission is to help people across the nation fund their projects. Projects range from helping build libraries for young children to getting new technology to teach young adults. The great thing about this site is you can search by state or your interests!


Also know that your donation is tax deductible and you are doing good for your country. No donation too small. Helping others is good for the soul.

Finding Your Muse in Nature

Whether you are a writer or embrace another type of creativity, nature can provide so much for you and your muse.

I live on a mountain, and behind my house is a thick forest with walking trails, either made by other people, deer or the teenagers who love 4-Wheeling through it. Yesterday I went for a hike with my sister, who happens to have photography as her art of choice. While walking we both seemed to be in a world of our own.

The purpose of our hike besides getting some fresh air and exercise was to see if we could find anything for a collaborative project we're working on. It's called Abandoned. She's doing the photography and I'm doing the writing. Needless to say this forest held a plethora of ideal photos and writing ingredients.

We found an old canal and bridge, and when I say old I mean early 1800's. The stone work was amazing, covered in moss and with trees and ivy climbing all over it. The once thick waters were now a creek, and above the canal/bridge were the remains of an old railroad. The only way you'd even know was the neatly cut thick peices of wood jutting from the ground where they'd long since been buried.

Were there ever raiders racing on horseback shooting their guns alongside the train?
About 50 yards away was a new railroad. Beside the railroad was an abandoned campfire. Who was warming themselves there? I don't know but my mind certainly went to town trying to figure it out.

We found an old tricycle covered in rust, its bright red paint long since chipped away.

As we walked home I asked my sister if she could imagine living in the woods just like they did in the olden days. No electricity, going to the canal to wash up or gather water for cooking. Hiking through the woods searching for berries, nuts or crab apples. Carrying our long barreled shotgun to get that nights meat for stew. She laughed at me and told me no she couldn't, and I had a very vivid imagination. I rolled my eyes, this was coming from a girl who can set up a set up a stage with models and props to take the most compelling, heartwrenching or horrifying pictures you can imagine... I have goosebumps just thinking about her last project, Destroyed.

I guess we have a different type of muse and our imaginations run in different directions. But there is no doubt we both gathered much from our little hike in the woods. If I could, I would drag my desk and laptop out there and write beside that canal. Somehow I don't think that will ever happen...

I encourage you to talk a walk in nature. You never know what can happen.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

PEN OR MUSE???

By Miriam @ mrmireland@aol.com


Pen or muse, chicken or egg? Which came first? In either case, do we really know?

I began pondering this point almost from the moment this blog was named. I loved the name. It said so much to me, but in the convoluted way my mind works it twisted the title, inserting an “or” for the “and” in a way that gave me to know it had a point to make.

I wondered when I first began to feel my Muse and if it pre-dated my ability to use a pen…or even a pencil, for that matter. The answer to my question was not long in coming. Memory drawn from more than fifty years ago told me this happened when I was four years old, ill with what was thought to be appendicitis. I was not too young to understand that this was a serious matter and that an “operation” might be required. I even knew pretty clearly what an “operation” was. And I was scared witless.

As we awaited test results, my mother (who was also scared witless) searched for some method to calm me. It was too early in the science of behavior modification for the words “counter-phobic behavior” to have any meaning for Mom, but instinctively she knew what it was. I had to face a fear and overcome it. Since the fear of surgery couldn’t yet be overcome, because they didn’t know if an appendectomy would be necessary, she gave me something else.

My mother’s answer was to read a poem no one in their right mind would ever read to a child today. But I never said my mother was in her right mind. Like mine, her brain took side trips down dark alleys, peeking in thrill-seeking wonder at things better left untroubled, going, “Aha!” And so my dear mother (and she was quite dear in her own way) read me “The Skeleton in Armor” by Longfellow.

Melancholy and macabre, it was the poetic tale of a knight who had fallen upon his sword out of frustrated love for maiden fair (this memory is close to sixty years old and may be a tad off, but you get my drift—he was a Poor Soul). Consigned to a hideous haunting, he roamed the halls of his former castle, presumably still clanking; well, it was called “The Skeleton In Armor,” after all!

I was entranced. Bemused. One might even say…be-knighted. The term “chicks in chain mail” hadn’t been coined yet, either, but I was always a marked girl. Chick. Poet. And eventually novelist.

My appendix is still with me, lol!, these many years later. And so is my love of poetry, armor and hauntings. How many of us have such memories? What of your own awakening into the Muse?

Stories, anyone?

Nora Roberts: An Inspiration for all Writers


Good morning!

This is my first post on The Pen and Muse!

Toady I thought I'd discuss a goddess in romance and suspense writing, Nora Roberts aka J.D. Robb. While I casually browsed the library on Monday this week, I was actually specifically looking for Stephan King's, On Writing. But happened to come across another book, The Official Nora Roberts Companion, with a foreword my favorite historical romance author, Julie Garwood. (I did also find King's book, and after I read it I will post my thoughts here.)

On the front of the book it says, "An in-depth guid to the #1 New York Times bestselling author's complete works-with photos included."

But it wasn't just an in-depth look at her work, it was an in-depth look at Nora and HOW she works. I learned so much from reading the artciles about her and interviews inside the book with her editors and agent.

Can you believe Nora writes 8 books a year??? WOW! She's been writing now since 1979 (29 years now), and in that time she'd managed to pound out over 160 books! She has 294 million copies in print, and 147 of her her novels have been best-sellers.

The sheer number she's written is astounding, and she shows no sign of retiring any time soon. In fact in the book she says, "Retire from what? I want to die at age 120 at my keyboard after having great sex. Wouldn't that be great?"

I say, yes that would be awesome and I can only hope with a lot of hard work, I can do a tenth of what this wonderful writer has done!

I suggest reading the book for inspiration and a kick in the pants. The woman has a great work ethic and really sticks to her schedule. So after I hit "publish post" I'm gluing myself to the computer for a few hours.

Also check out her website, www.noraroberts.com, it has some great facts and info about Nora and her books.

Cheers!