Friday, August 25, 2017

Celebrate the Small Things

Is Friday here again? Already? Well, time flies when you're on vacation. But before I get into that, let me thank our host, Lexa Cain, and her cohosts L.G. Keltner and Tonja Drecker.

This past week I was in Asheville, NC, visiting my parents and hoping to catch a glimpse of the eclipse, but I'll save that story for later. Today, I'd like to celebrate our trip earlier this August to the Toronto Zoo. It's a big place, and even though we had four hours to enjoy it, we didn't get to visit all the exhibits. 

First on our must-see list was the pair of kidlet pandas. I won't say baby, because they were half the size of their parents. Here's a nice shot of one of the youngsters:

Nom, nom, nom

We watched the two kids for about 15 minutes and they never stopped munching on their bamboo. There was a huge pile of bamboo behind them as well, kind of moving. Eventually we realized the mother was underneath her breakfast, slowly eating her way out. If one of the bears rolled on its back, it would still keep eating. Now that's dedication.

Dad panda was in another enclosure. I guess he stayed up late, eating.

This is the life.

After tearing ourselves away from the adorable, chomping pandas, we went to visit the polar bears. There were several. It's hard to get a good shot of a swimming bear, but here's a shot of one lounging in the grass. Yep, green grass plus polar bear (equals Lost flashback?)

All I need are ten penguins for bowling pins.

Continuing with the arctic theme, we have a white wolf, who looks a lot like the white spitz I grew up with, but this fellow has longer legs.

Paparazzi fatigue

Keen on seeing a grizzly, we headed off to the Canada domain, but first we met the sweetest little raccoon. I don't know why charities don't employ these little guys. How could you ever say no to this face?

Just drop one french fry. I won't tell a soul.

The grizzly was hanging out in the back of his enclosure, but his head was visible and impressively humongous, even from a distance:

Object behind log appears closer than it is

We found this colorful parrot on the way to see some panthers (who were sleeping behind glass, so those shots didn't turn out so great.)

There is no controversy here. I'm blue, black, white, and gold. Promise.

We enjoyed watching some white lions snooze, baboons by a beautiful waterfall, and a cheetah hiding among some trees. Luckily the zebra wasn't shy and came right up to the front to greet his visitors.

This is my best side.

Then we were off to see the hippos, a tiger, and two lovely giraffes, who long eyelashes would make any woman envious.

Even laying down, I'm taller than you.

It was a wonderful afternoon and I highly recommend a visit if you're in the Toronto area. 

Take a bow!

Have you been to Toronto? What did you do there?

Monday, August 14, 2017

Best Night Ever!

**Note: Due to some family stoof (good stoof), I will miss this week's Celebrate the Small Things blog hop. See you next Friday!**

Best. Night. Ever
By Rachele Alpine, Ronni Arno, Alison Cherry, Stephanie Faris, Jen Malone, Gail Nall, and Dee Romito

 Love Actually meets Adventures in Babysitting in this hilarious novel written by seven authors about seven classmates who are preparing for a crazy night at their middle school dance.

Lynnfield Middle School is prepped and ready for a dance to remember, including an awesome performance from Heart Grenade, the all-girl band who recently won a Battle of the Bands contest. Seven classmates—Carmen, Genevieve, Tess, Ryan, Ellie, Ashlyn, and Jade—intend to make the most of the night…or at least the five of them who are able to attend do. The other two would sacrifice almost anything to be there.

One thing’s for sure—this entire crew is in for one epic night! Gail Nall, Dee Romito, Rachele Alpine, Ronni Arno, Alison Cherry, Stephanie Faris, and Jen Malone have created a charming, hilarious, and relatable novel that’s perfect for anyone who can’t wait to dance the night away.

Buy Here:

Meet the Authors:

One of Rachele Alpine’s first jobs was at a library, but it didn’t last long, because all she did was hide in the third-floor stacks and read. Now she’s a little more careful about when and where she indulges her reading habit. Rachele is a high school English teacher by day, a wife and mother by night, and a writer during any time she can find in between.  She lives in Cleveland, Ohio where she writes middle grade and young adult novels. Visit her at

Ronni Arno Blaisdell is the author of Ruby Reinvented. She has written for several magazines, blogs, and websites. In a previous life she worked as a publicist in Hollywood, and eventually built a home in Maine. She is a keen SCBWI member and contributor to the blog. Visit her online at

Alison Cherry is the author of the YA novels RedFor Real and Look Both Ways, and the middle grade novels Willows vs. Wolverines and The Classy Crooks Club. She is a professional photographer and spent many years working as a lighting designer for theater, dance, and opera productions. This whole “writing books” thing is just a cover for the international crime ring she runs out of her Brooklyn apartment. (Shhh, don’t tell.) Visit her online at

Stephanie Faris knew she wanted to be an author from a very young age. In fact, her mother often told her to stop reading so much and go outside and play with the other kids. After graduating from Middle Tennessee State University she somehow found herself working in information technology. But she never stopped writing. When she isn’t crafting fiction, Stephanie is indulging her gadget geek side by writing for online technology sites. Her work is regularly featured on the small business blogs for Intuit and Go Payment and she is a featured columnist for She lives in Nashville with her husband. Visit her online at

Jen Malone is a former Hollywood publicist who once spent a year traveling the world solo, met her husband on the highway (literally), and went into labor with her identical twins while on a rock star’s tour bus. These days she saves the drama for her books. Jen is also the author of the middle grade novels At Your Service and The Art of the Swap, coauthor of the You’re Invited series, and wrote the YA novels Map to the Stars and Wanderlost. You can visit her online at

Gail Nall lives in Louisville, Kentucky, with her family and more cats than necessary. She once drove a Zamboni, has camped in the snow in June, and almost got trampled in Paris. Gail is the author of the middle grade novel Breaking the Ice, the coauthor of You’re Invited and You’re Invited Too, and the author of the young adult novel Exit Stage Left. You can find her online at and on Twitter as @GaileCN. Visit her online at

Dee Romito lives in her hometown of Buffalo, New York, where she and her family are steadily checking items off their own bucket list of adventures. You’re likely to find her at the local ice cream shop, writing at a cafĂ©, or curled up on the couch with her cats. And while she does her best to be a grown-up most of the time, giggling with her BFFs is still one of her all-time favorite things. To join the fun and create your own bucket list, visit

Want to win a free copy? Enter here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Did you go to any dances in middle school? 

Friday, August 11, 2017

Celebrate the Small Things

It's Friday Fun Time! Do you have a little something to celebrate? Then please join us. Our super host, Lexa Cain, and her cohosts L.G. Keltner and Tonja Drecker would love to have you.

Today, I'm celebrating homecomings. We got home yesterday after a six-day trip to Toronto and the Niagara Falls areas. In Toronto, we celebrated my in-laws 50th wedding anniversary and then continued with a family reunion of their three sons plus families (14 in all) on a whirlwind adventure through all the crazy and gorgeous attractions in Niagara Falls. I'll be sharing more details and photos next week. 

For now, 'cause I'm still wiped out, I'll just share a happy little homecoming tale of Barney the house cat. Barney is our neighbor's cat. I've never met the fellow, but apparently he is large, grey, and extremely shy. He's also an escape artist. Three months ago, he snuck out the his door and into the wilds of our suburban neighborhood. 

I'm an animal lover. I feed birds, squirrels, chipmunks, possums, raccoons, and deer on our deck and in our backyard. I fed one stray cat so much, that he adopted us. (That would be Mr. Mistofellees.) I also feed this stray cat we've named Pretty Kitty:

In fact, I'm thinking we need a sign like this for our deck:

Image: Jasperdo

So Barney started coming over to chow with the rest of the crew. Whenever we spotted him, we would call his dad, who would rush over only to find Barney had left. After a couple of weeks of near misses, Barney's owner brought over a raccoon kitty trap.

The first day of the trap--no luck. The second, Barney came by, sniffed the food, and then lay down on the deck, looking me straight in the eye and I swear, he was telling me he was hungry. I couldn't stand it, so I put another plate of wet food about six inches into the trap.

He approached and started eating! I tried not to jump up and down with glee. Then he left. Darn it! Then he came back and started sniffing at the second bowl, down at the business end of the trap. Ever so slowly, he crept toward that second bowl as I held my breath. 

Then BAM! The trap door shut behind him. Five minutes later, he went home with his owner and was reunited with his other cat friends. I was so thrilled for both him and my neighbor. Success was reward enough, but the next day, Barney's dad came back and surprised me with these:

Good luck, Barney! I hope you stay inside, because we all know ... winter is coming.

Do you have indoor or outdoor pets? Ever have to capture an escaped critter?

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

IWSG and Celebrate the Small Things

Good Wednesday, y'all! I'm feeling all kinds of insecure. How about you? It's time to unload our worries with Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh and his fabulous co-hosts, Christine Rains, Dolarah @ Book Lover, Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor, Yvonne Ventresca, and LG Keltner!

So last Thursday was the IWSG Twitter Pitch Extravaganza. I made a list of tweets and fired off my first one shortly after 8 a.m. La-da-dee-la-da. An hour passed. Nothing. Oh well. Sent off number two. Hum-dee-dee-da-doo. Another hour passed. Nada. I started thinking that maybe I should add #whatwasIthinking? or #Istinkatthis but of course, there wasn't enough space.

And then it happened. A "like". I felt like Annie Potts as the secretary in the original Ghostbusters: WE GOT ONE! 

Now this month's IWSG question has to do with pet peeves. I'd been tinkering with my novel for some months now and I was happy with its progress with one exception: the word count. It was too long, like 112K. (Stop laughing, it was 118K a few months ago.) Anyway, as I browsed through this agent's website, I found an article that states she doesn't read anything over 100K. Oh, SugarHoneyIceTea.

That's it. I was doomed. But then I thought about that quote by Faulkner. You know, the one I'm talking about: In writing you must kill all your darlings. Baby, it was a bloodbath. Thursday night, I went to bed at 102K. Friday, I ripped out 3K more. 

For the next three days, I tweaked the query, rewrote my synopsis 83 bajillion times (and I still don't like it), and got my sample pages in order. On Tuesday, I hit send. Whew! 

But I can't relax yet. I still need to reread the thing one more time (or two, or three) and make sure all the lhllllllllhhhhhhkkkkkk my cat typed while sitting on my keyboard are omitted. Really, Dove?


Okay, I'll admit it. I missed the celebration last Friday. If you read the stuff above, you'll know why. And that's not the half of it. But first, let me acknowledge the host of this shindig: Lexa Cain, and her awesome cohosts: L.G. Keltner and Tonja Drecker.

As if my first Twitter Pitch (and the aftermath) wasn't enough excitement, my two darling children were in a production of Hairspray! this past weekend. The shows were outstanding. The cast only had three and a half weeks to prepare and they did such a marvelous job. Here's a picture of them in their costumes:

Micada (green) and Sedona (black, purple)

Here's a professional snap from the finale. Sedona is right behind the lead (Tracy, center stage) in the checkered dress and Micada is behind the girl in red on the right. You can't see them except for a knee and an elbow. Oh well. They were both on stage in several scenes and had a blast. I am so stinking proud of them.

And the events keep coming. Today I'll be making nine more of these centerpieces for my in-laws up-coming 50th wedding anniversary!


Have you participated in a Twitter Pitch event? Have you seen Hairspray as a play or a movie? Are you a crafty critter?