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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wearing panties just isn't scary...

Back in July, the #goatposse (if you're unfamiliar with this twitter hastag, click here for a glimpse of the madness that is GOAT) started hazing new members (and even some veterans) with a diabolical and outrageously fun meme started by our own dastardly delightful Michelle Simkins.

The infamous outbreak came to be known as The Evil Panty Meme, and struck laughter and dread into the hearts of all who were tagged. Here's my own rendition, from when I fell into the meme's clutches.

Recently, there have been rumors that the panty meme died a quiet death in the cybersphere. But today I found proof that it's still a living contagion:



And to that I say: Justin, take it away!


1.What do you call your panties/underwear/undergarments? Do you have any commonly used nicknames for them?

Wifey calls them “pain in the ass”.

2. Have you ever had that supposedly common dream of being in a crowded place in only your underwear?

Before you read this just remember: you asked!  I once had a dream that I “preemptively” killed a tribe of cannibals while in nothing save my underwear.  This happened immediately following my reading the book, THE WOODS ARE DARK by the late (and great) Richard Laymon.  It was a cool dream…and may end up in a book sometime. 

3. What is the worst thing you can think of to make panties out of?

Metal filings glued to burlap.  What’d you expect?

4. If you were a pair of panties what color would you be? And why?

Black. Enough said.

5. Have you ever thrown your panties/underwear at a rock star or other celebrity? If so, which one(s)? If not, which one(s) WOULD you throw your panties/underwear at, given the opportunity?

No, but I once had a pair dangled in my face in a mosh-pit.    

6. You’re out of clean panties. What do you do?

Go commando. (Ditto)

7. Are you old enough to remember Underoos? If so, did you have any? Which ones?

Yes, I remember them, but I never had any (thank you, mom).

8. If you could have any message printed on your panties, what would it be?

Probably the title of one of my books: INHUMAN possibly J heh heh  

9. How many bloggers does it take to put panties on a goat?

Only one—the goat posse is made up of fully-grown goats and they can put on their own panties…IF they want them on.

Tag Four People and tell them why you are being so cruel to them.

No more evil panty meme, all gone, bye-bye.

 ~~~~~~~~~~

Justin didn't tag anyone, but since this is MY blog, I get to tag someone in his place. We have two new #goatposse trainees who have yet to do the meme:

Shelly Brown
Amy Rolland (since you don't have a blog, you're welcome to guest post on one of the residing #goatposse’s blogs)

And let's not forget that Kalen is still MIA per this rite of passage.

So, you goats are up!

Long live #goatposse, and may the panties prevail. :)

To the rest of my readers, I have a **very special guest** coming THIS Friday for my Query Trackers Making Tracks series. Tune in to find out what makes the wheels spin in her head. Here's a hint, it's got a furry face, and it's not a goat.

Until then, have a lovely middle of the week!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Posie & Mosey Monday

On Mondays, I like to share word posies with my readers. Comments are disabled so you can enjoy this gift of poetry then mosey on along to your list of daily do's.*

Please drop back by on Wednesday, my interactive blogging day of the week. Until then, have a lovely and productive Monday and Tuesday.


*Hungry for more in-depth Monday posts? Visit any or all of the entertaining and insightful blogs on my sidebar. ;)


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Fairy Song
~Louisa May Alcott (1832 – 1888)
       
The moonlight fades from flower and rose
And the stars dim one by one;
The tale is told, the song is sung,
And the Fairy feast is done.
The night-wind rocks the sleeping flowers,
And sings to them, soft and low.
The early birds erelong will wake:
'T is time for the Elves to go.

O'er the sleeping earth we silently pass,
Unseen by mortal eye,
And send sweet dreams, as we lightly float
Through the quiet moonlit sky;--
For the stars' soft eyes alone may see,
And the flowers alone may know,
The feasts we hold, the tales we tell;
So't is time for the Elves to go.

From bird, and blossom, and bee,
We learn the lessons they teach;
And seek, by kindly deeds, to win
A loving friend in each.
And though unseen on earth we dwell,
Sweet voices whisper low,
And gentle hearts most joyously greet
The Elves where'er they go.

When next we meet in the Fairy dell,
May the silver moon's soft light
Shine then on faces gay as now,
And Elfin hearts as light.
Now spread each wing, for the eastern sky
With sunlight soon shall glow.
The morning star shall light us home:
Farewell! for the Elves must go.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

First kisses, fiery operas, and blog awards, oh my!

I’ve been looking through my “blog post ideas” document (yes, I’m geeky enough that I actually have one—eek) and realized that I was given several awards over the last few months which I’ve never acknowledged or handed out.

SO, today I’m playing catch-up. As I’ve been prone to do, I’m changing the award rules mainly because if I followed all of them, this post would take the ENTIRE month to read. As it is, we're already bordering on tomorrow.

To save time, I’m listing the original rules to each award along with how I plan on circumventing most of them (heehee).

On with the awards!

Thank you sparkly Cherie from Ready. Write. Go. for the Cute Blogger and Awesomesauce awards!


In turn, I bequeath the puppy to:


Puppy Club rules are:

1st RULE: You do not talk about Puppy Club.
2nd RULE: You DO NOT talk about Puppy Club.

Hee.

Instead, you talk about 5 books/films/TV shows you’ve read or watched in the last 12 months. In answer to this, let me direct you to the list of seven books that made me who I am today. I figure they’re even more consequential than the ones I’ve read recently, considering how they shaped me when my mind was young and pliant.


My Awesomesauce nominees:
Mindy McGinnis for consistently coming up with new series ideas for her blog along with clever acronyms to represent them. She ROX at this! Just go see!

Bethany Crandall because she's not only witty and charming, but she's also a spectacular writer and #goatposse activist. OH, and she has a hamster living in her brain. If that's not awesomesauce, I don't know what is.

Jenny Phresh because her diabolically wicked and sharp wit never cease to amaze, astound, and impress me. She's also a respected member of #goatposse and can write prose as eloquent as any Charlotte Bronte poem when she sets her mind to it, both of which are no small feat for a pony.

Michelle Simkins, a faerie queen with a green thumb, a crafter, a writer, and an exceptionally creative blogger who excels at networking. Oh, and she's #goatposse, too. How she juggles all of these talents and still has time to twitter-play with us is beyond me. Such a busy lady deserves a side of Awesomesauce on her full plate.

Rules:

1. Thank and link to the person who gave me this fabulous piece of work. Check!

2. Pay it forward to no more than one person per month. Elaborate why said person is deserving of said award. Yep. I cheated on that. But it's justified! Since I've had this award going on three months now, I opted to nominate three winners. And I added one extra for next month, because I doubt I'll be giving the award out again after this.

3. Answer the following questions:

- What is your favorite song currently playing on your iPod, CD player, etc.?
Letters VS. Numbers - My Turn to Evil. Because it's EPIC and the words are disturbing. 

- If we peek into your Internet history, what would we find?
Lots of research on opera and also tigers eye gemstones. They both play roles in my current YA WIP, a Phantom of the Opera spinoff. One opera in particular: The Fiery Angel, is very symbolic throughout the story.

-And lastly, what is your all-time favorite movie that you watch over and over again?
Some Kind of Wonderful. BEST FIRST KISS EVER! Here, let me show you...


 I related to the story because I crushed on my best friend in high school and he never knew. Unrequited love is so deliciously painful! But this movie always made me smile because the ending is what I would've wanted for us (back before I met super-hubbie and found TRUE love, that is).  ;) 

Next, A.M. Springer of Inner Owlet (aka Owlgoat), Liesl of Writers Ropes and Hopes, and Brenda from Write Turn Ahead handed me this lovely little award:


Liebster is German for either “friend” “favorite” or “lobster”. I’m not sure which. So either my blog’s appreciated by these generous ladies for its charm, or it has really big red claws that are tasty when steamed and they’re craving some seafood. Whatever the case, THANK YOU ladies, for the gift!

The rules of the award are simple:

1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.
2. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog or twitter.
3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
4. Have faith that your followers will spread the love to other bloggers.
5. And most of all - have bloggity-blog fun!

 
The goal of this award is to spotlight up and coming bloggers who currently have less than 200 followers. Since I don’t technically qualify, I won’t be posting the award at the bottom of my blog with the others. But I WILL take this opportunity to pass it on to some excellent bloggers who deserve 200 followers and more. And since three people gave it to me, guess what? I get to pick FIFTEEN to pass it on to. Squee! If you have never visited these blogs, please take the time to drop by soon. They're so worth the visit.



Last but not least, Anne Michaud at Musings & Little Obsessions gave me the versatile blogger award. Thanks Anne! This lady is a fabulous short short story writer, so hop over to her blog and check out her prose. 


And the nominees are:

The rules are:

1. Thank and link to the person(s) who nominated you.
2. Share seven random facts about yourself.
3. Pass the award along to five blogging buddies.
4. Contact those buddies to congratulate them.

To whit I direct you to an earlier post where I met the requirements (same rules as The Stylish Blogger Award) with the seven reasons my MC is way cooler than me. And for a little teaser, that post inspired another I'm planning in a couple of weeks called: seven ways my antagonist is way tastier than a cookie. Heh.

Well, that's it for the awards folks. Whew. Congrats to the winners, and to the rest of my lovely readers, thanks for bearing with me! Have a wonderful last half of the week and a restful and productive weekend. :)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Posie & Mosey Monday

On Mondays, I like to share word posies with my readers. Comments are disabled so you can enjoy this gift of poetry then mosey on along to your list of daily do's.*

Today, I have a treat. A new acquaintance from twitter, @dlcorb, has offered to let me display his gorgeous artwork and one of his poems here. If you enjoy them, please hop over to his blog by clicking on his twitter handle above and let him know.

Also, be sure to visit again Wednesday, my interactive blogging day of the week. Until then, have a lovely and productive Monday and Tuesday.

*Hungry for more in-depth Monday posts? Visit any or all of the entertaining and insightful blogs on my sidebar. ;)





Untitled
  ~David Corbet

Grey horses gallop across the sky
            Splattering the plebian village below
            With foam and spittle
I dip my hand in wine
            Covered in blood, I retreat from truth
            Pseudologos masked in words of love
The last train left me standing
            Cold and wet, riding alone one
            Dark horse, truth forgotten
Run the wild streets screaming
            “All is lost! All is lost!”
            The night descends on all
I turn away, my love, back away
            Forget the joy, the love
            Dream of fools and jolly giants



Friday, August 19, 2011

Query Trackers Making Tracks, #11


Today is installment number eleven of my Friday series on successful authors from QueryTracker. Some of my guests have agents, others have found success in less conventional ways. But one thing they all have in common is the utilization of the QueryTracker website to help make their tracks in the publishing world.

Today’s guest, Stephanie of The Cracked Slipper Blog
, signed with her agent  Rebecca Friedman of Hill Nadell Literary Agency on the VERY first book she ever wrote. From my experience, that's a rather rare occurence, so kudos to you Stephanie! What an amazing feat. You can find the details in her QueryTracker success interview.

I've had fun getting to know Stephanie over the past six months or so. She was with me in the query trenches and we commiserated a few times over rejections. I was thrilled when I heard she'd found success and remember asking her right then to come on my series one day.  Finally that day has arrived and we get to hear how she came up with her wonderfully unique book idea. J

~~~

AGH: Welcome Stephanie! Could you give us a quick summary of the book which snagged your agent?

STEPH: Set in a pseudo-renaissance, corset-and-petticoats enchanted kingdom, The Cracked Slipper is the other side of happily-ever-after: A love triangle between a scholarly Cinderella, an alcoholic prince, and his Mister Darcy-ish best friend. It's a book club friendly fairytale retelling.

AGH: Before you signed with your agent, how many books had you tried to query?

STEPH: The Cracked Slipper is the first book I've queried.

AGH: What were the responses to those queries (stat-wise: fulls, partials, etc.)?

STEPH: I had a lot of full and partial requests, but I'm not sure of the exact numbers! I think I sent out about fifty queries.

AGH: What genre(s) do you write?

STEPH: I write fantasy that leans in the direction of women's fiction. I'd like to try my hand at historical fiction, but I'm sure anything I write will have a speculative element.

AGH: What inspired your very first book idea?

STEPH: The Cracked Slipper is my first novel. I thought of the initial concept while driving ballet carpool and listening to the Cinderella story with my daughters (then six and four). The girls were of course enthralled by the happy ending, but I had this thought: "Whatever! She probably died in childbirth."

I have an MA in Sociology with a focus in Women's Studies, and that first idea inspired me to rewrite fairytale marriage within the constrains of women's lives in pre-industrial, patriarchal societies. Despite the dragons, unicorns and witches, The Cracked Slipper reads more like historical women's fiction than genre fantasy.

AGH: How do you come up with titles?

STEPH: My titles tend to be metaphors based on significant physical objects in my books. Obviously, there is indeed a broken glass shoe in The Cracked Slipper! My second novel (the sequel to The Cracked Slipper) is called The Red Choker. I'm working on a kaleidoscope theme for book three!

AGH: What books / authors have most influenced your own style and concepts?

STEPH: Three writers that have most influenced my style are Stephen King, Jane Austen and Frank McCourt.

I read my first Stephen King book, IT, when I was about ten years old. IT gave me nightmares for months, but also changed my life as a reader! Memorable characters, snappy dialogue, vivid setting, wholly unique fantastical elements: that book has it all. I tore through all of King's novels over the next twenty or so years, and I count IT, The Stand and The Dark Tower Series as my favorites.

I first read Pride and Prejudice in tenth grade English, and fell in love with Jane Austen's wit, biting social commentary and strong female characters. I also admire Ms. Austen's ability to craft a subtle love story. Longing and conflict create romantic tension. Of course, I'm not opposed to a steamy scenes, but Austen created some of our most beloved romantic relationships...and her characters rarely come into physical contact with one another.

Lastly, I've never fallen for an author's voice quite so hard as I fell for Frank McCourt's in Angela's Ashes. The light, lyrical quality of the prose and the subtle aging of the first person narration blew me away. McCourt found ways to bring humor into the most tragic of situations. I was literally laughing on one page and crying on the next.

AGH: How did you find QueryTracker, and how did it aid in your effort to get inside the publishing doors?

STEPH: I found Query Tracker through Google! I'd recommend the site to all querying writers. It helps you stay organized, but even more important the commentary from other querying writers gives you insight into agent interests, responses methods, and response times. New agents are always popping up on the site, and it's a great way to ensure an agent's reputability. Also, a great way to meet other writers! 

AGH: Have you recently learned anything about the business side of publishing that you can share with up and coming writers?

STEPH: The best advice I can give to other writers is make sure your MS is very clean before you query. First, make sure you're really ready. Compare your work to published material. Does your prose sounds natural? Have you followed basic rules of POV, grammar, plot? Have you upped the stakes for your characters? Have you revised and revised and then revised some more?

Once you think you're ready, stop! Let lots of people read it. Give it to all your bookish friends. I probably had forty people read The Cracked Slipper, and most of them gave me valuable feedback. In addition, book doctors and editors can be expensive, but worth it if you can swing it. You're paying someone to examine every nook and cranny of your manuscript and give you honest feedback. I struggled with critique groups and beta exchanges, because I simply didn't have time to provide the kind of extensive feedback these reciprocal relationships require.

Once you do start querying, pay attention to feedback, or lack thereof. If you send twenty queries and get no bites, revise your query. If you get five partial requests and none turn into fulls, re-examine your partial. Most of all, settle in for the long haul and try to grow about ten extra layers of thick skin. Querying is not for the faint of heart!

AGH: Do you have any current news to announce?

STEPH: My fun news: The Cracked Slipper is currently on submission. So I'm back to waiting on pins and needles!

**Five for fun**

AGH: Team Dog or Team Cat?

STEPH: I used to be heavily Team Dog but I'm drifting toward Cat these days. We have a very sweet dog, but in general dogs are just too high maintenance for this point in my life. I have three little kids. Poor doggie is pretty low on the totem pole. I appreciate our kitty's independence.

AGH: If you could morph into any food, what kind would you become and why?

STEPH: If I could morph into any food it would be a dark chocolate covered almond. Chocolate and a super food. What could be better?

AGH: When would you go to if you had a time machine, and why?

STEPH: If I could travel to any time it would be the court of Elizabeth I in the early 1560's. I'm a sucker for all things Tudor, and QE1 is my most admired historical figure. Just amazing how she held her own against the most powerful men in the world for decades. Most literary (and film) portrayals give us a fierce, regal matriarch. I'd love to meet her as a young woman. Watch her find her feet.

AGH: If you were tight with one of the Greek gods, which one would it be and what favor would you ask of them?

STEPH: If I could be tight with one of the Greek gods it would have to be Apollo. I'd love to steer the sun across the sky. I'd ask him for some godly advice on the global climate crisis. Maybe he could help us out with renewal energy sources. Solar, anyone?

AGH: Drinking tea … pinky up, or heavy on the Long Island?

STEPH: My tea is definitely heavy on the Long Island, but I still drink it with my pinky up. :)


~~~

Thank you for the interview, Stephanie! I love the idea of a kaleidoscope theme. J And Angela's Ashes had the same affect on me. I also loved To Kill a Mockingbird for the amazing voice. 

Don’t forget to visit Stephanie’s The Cracked Slipper website / blog and follow her on twitter to stay abreast of news and announcements. Also, please leave her any questions, comments, or kudos below. I know she'll be thrilled to see them!
 
Stephanie, I hope you hear some good news very soon, and that the submission trail is a short one for you! I'll be looking forward to reading this book series one day. Everyone else, have a wonderful weekend and I'll see you next week!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Query Trackers Making Tracks ... Resurrection

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First of all, I'd like to thank everyone for all of your wonderful comments and congrats via twitter and blogger over the past couple of days regarding my book deal news! You've made this such an amazing and memorable experience for me, and I can't wait to do the same for you one day soon!

Now, I know it's not my regular day to post, but I wanted to give a quick heads up that I'm raising my "successsful query trackers" series from its grave. My new goal is to have one the first Friday of each month, but because I had promised to start up again in August, we're squeezing one in tomorrow.

Be sure to stop by and see who my author guest will be. Here's a hint: her heroine once lost a shoe at a very important dance. ;)

Hope to see you tomorrow, and again, thank you so much for the gracious writerly/readerly support. You all ROCK. Have a wonderful Thursday!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Book Deal! Overwhelmed, Ever-grateful, Blessed, and...


I feel like Charlotte's been spinning lovely webs around my Splintered manuscript to make it more attractive to those who can give it a home, and I'm as grateful as that little pig who grew up big yet never became bacon on someone's breakfast plate.

After seven years of querying and writing books (follow this link for a detailed look at my timeline), I finally got my YES! Last week, Agent Goddess and I were in the midst of a best bids auction, in which the interested publishers threw their "highest we can go" offers into the hat. I ended up having a few phone calls so I could get a feel for personalities and editing ideas. Now the decision has been made and I finally get to share it. :)

Splintered has a FANTASTIC place to call home: Abram's Amulet imprint. SQUEEEE!! I'm following in some very big footsteps: Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Shine, just to name a couple. The publisher offered a two-book deal, so I get to hang my hat there for awhile, and I couldn't be more thrilled!

For the record, it took revising my MS one final time before I tasted success. It made all the difference, because that's when things started rolling. 

I'm grateful to my wonderful agent Jenny and my new editor Maggie (who is a DELIGHT!), for loving my story and believing in it. And I'm blessed to have had each and every one of you rooting for me along the way. Lastly, I'm overwhelmed and humbled by this feeling of complete and utter happiness.

What I want more than anything now, is for all of you to experience this, too. So DON'T give up. No matter what.

I'm ashamed to say I almost did a few times. Several of you know this because you were my lifelines. (HUGE THANKS and cyber hugs for that, I would never have buoyed without you).

But then the sun slipped out from the clouds and illuminated that sparkling silver web ... you know, the one that said "she might not look like much yet, but give her a chance. She could grow up to be some pig ... er, writer ... one day."  

So THANK YOU for that chance, Amulet. I'll do my very best to earn it.

Splintered is due out in hardback, Spring of 2013. The PublishersMarketplace announcement will be posted next month. I'll display it here once it's up. (I've always dreamt of getting to do that.) *happy sigh* I'm planning a series of detailed posts about being on the submission trail along with stats and will start them up when the book comes out, to help promote its debut.

There are a few more things I'd like to share pertaining to some foreign interest, but I'm keeping them on the DL just a bit longer.  Gotta give you some kind of reason to keep visiting me here. ;)

By the way, you guys are the best support group on the WORLD WIDE NET. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Special thanks to my beta readers and crit gals, #goatposse, fellow bloggers, tweeps, and a hearty shout out to the QTers out there. That's where I got my start, too. I'm sorry I haven't been in the threads for a while, but things got crazy for a bit. Still, my heart smiles each time I think of you, and I have the highest expectations for you all! I know I'll be seeing spectacular news from you VERY soon. <3

Oh, and one last thing...



Monday, August 15, 2011

Posie & Mosey Monday

Wait! Don't mosey along yet... I know I promised some news this week, and it's on its way tomorrow. Getting all of the I's dotted and the T's crossed at the moment.

In honor of  the waiting that IS writing, our word posie this week was written by Patience Worth, a classical American poet with a gift for beautiful imagery. In keeping with my Posie & Mosey Monday rules, the comments are closed, but please make sure to stop by tomorrow when I finally spill the beanie weanies about the good stuff that's been going on.

Until then, I hope everyone has a spectacular Monday!

*Hungry for more in-depth Monday posts? Visit any or all of the entertaining and insightful blogs on my sidebar. ;)
 





  
When Thou Art Gone
~Patience Worth (1883-1937)

When thou art gone, the little sunlit shadows
Still may dance, and the flowers nod,
And the trees whisper confidently one to the other.
When thou art gone, the day may be
No longer bright, but with slow tread pass on;
And the sun shall lag, and the moon be late in coming;
And the stars shall be lone-beamed,
And faintly gleaming, and the valleys shall draw
Their scarfs of mist about their breasts.
When thou art gone, the lilac nodding yon,
Shall make a sign of understanding.
When thou art gone,
No path shall seem to call invitingly.
When thou art gone,
The songs shall lack a tenderer chord.
But I shall not unhappy be!
For I shall follow thee,
Leaving all the mourning.

Friday, August 12, 2011

BIG HAPPENINGS on the horizon...

Details coming soon. Here's a little teaser ... listen closely to the last few sentences of Jeff Bridges' monologue (0:35).


Check back next week for full disclosure! Until then, have an AWESOME weekend. :) 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Summer of Bloggerly Love...

Woohoo! Today is the day the spectacular and splendid Ms. Michelle Simkins is guest posting on my blog. Which means I get to kidnap HER blog. I'm holding it hostage until all of our readers visit both posts. Ha! ;)

While my post is about love ... hers is about gardening. Which I think is apropos, since love takes careful nourishment and tender care, much like a garden. Gardening is one of my newest passions, and Michelle is a gem because she knows how crazy visual I am so she sent pictures, too! Thank you, dear lady! Take it away.

***

I'm so excited to do this blog swap with Ms. Howard! She is some kind of mad genius, and her post for my blog is outstanding. She asked me to share a little bit about my garden, so here it is!

When I moved into my current home in 2003, there was no garden. A handful of tiny raised beds and a few leggy, straggling herbs languished in a sunless corner, and more than 40 neglected rose bushes suffocated in the grip of bindweed and blackberry canes. And one thick patch of invincible oregano spread out beside the Hawthorn tree, defying inappropriate soil, frequent accidental mowing, trampling, lack of water and deep shade.

But the boyfriend and I had big dreams. We wanted to grow our own food! We wanted lots and lots of herbs!

We had no idea what we were doing.

We murdered many innocent plants in our first few years of gardening. We did absolutely everything wrong. Sometimes I was sure I would never, ever learn how to grow things properly. And the truth is there are still some plants that I can't seem to grow, even though they are supposed to grow in my region. (For example, my very presence seems to spell death for all chamomile plants. Don't let me near yours, they might croak.)

But we kept trying. We read books, we did research on the internet, we talked to other people who garden. We also got married, worked on the house (it's an old house), had job changes and all the stuff that comes with raising kids.

And we came up with a (sort of) plan.

Our soil is hard, suffocating clay. We took two different approaches to the garden. We are overrun with bindweed and blackberries here. The bindweed is especially impossible to get rid of, and strangles plants to death as it climbs them. So we covered a huge section of our field with woven ground cover fabric. Then the hubster built raised beds on top, and we filled them with manure and soil. Those were for the vegetable beds.


In the front yard where we planned to grow herbs and flowers, we spent years hauling in manure. We brought in a truckload of spoiled, mildewing hay from a local stable. And we created one bed at a time. These days it looks pretty awesome. We're starting to get gravel paths laid in between beds and slowly eliminating the grass in the front yard. Weeds are still a problem, but not as bad as they used to be. And it's beautiful. And it takes less work to keep it in shape than it used to--except in the spring, when the hubster and I both spend a lot of time in the garden. But I'm also a bit of a lazy gardener. I don't worry about perfection, and nothing is manicured or precise. As long as the plants are doing fine, I'm happy. So if there are weeds or things get straggly from time to time, I don't sweat it. I just do what I can, one thing at a time.


The garden is still a work in progress, and probably always will be. But I kind of like it that way. For me the point of a garden is more than just having flowers and vegetables and herbs. For me, a garden is a relationship with plants, with soil, with the weather, even with the animals that pass through. When I haul soil and pull weeds, when I give water to thirsty things, I'm relating to the green world in a tangible, intimate way. And eating something I've grown, or putting beautiful flowers on the table from my yard, is a more meaningful experience than going shopping for the same items.



And gardening has a lot of side benefits. The exercise, the fresh air and sunshine, the beauty, the smells and tastes, all work a kind of magic on the body and soul that I've never found anywhere else. It's like meditation, a workout, and aromatherapy rolled into one. And best of all, it's an act of co-creation with nature. I do what I can to give the plants what they need, and then I watch in amazement as they grow. And grow. And grow some more.



So I'm hardly an expert on the subject of gardening. I'm pretty haphazard about the whole process. But if I were asked how to start gardening, I think I would say, start with mother nature. What I mean is, learn about your bioregion. Really get to understand your temperatures and soil. Then, do whatever you have to do to get decent soil--it is the most important thing about gardening. YES, the SOIL is the most important thing. THEN find plants that thrive under the conditions you are working with. My garden is full of things that thrive in the mediterranean, because we have cool wet winters and hot, dry summers. We had to change our soil to accomodate the herbs, which prefer good drainage, but our climate is ideal for them. If you live somewhere very dry, emphasize drought tolerant plants. Bring home the plants that belong in the habitat you've created, and your chance of success will be much higher.



And the other thing I would say is, start small. Pick one small area at a time, and work on it, and get the whole area filled with plants and soil and a watering system before you move on to another area. If you finish a section, you will have a sense of accomplishment because you'll really be able to see what you've done. This helps the budget too. If you can only afford ten plants? Choose ten plants that you would like to put in a bed together, and create a section of garden big enough for just those ten plants. Then when you are ready to buy more plants, get the next section ready for them.


The last thing I'll leave you with is a few books that I have found very helpful. The first is The Anne Lovejoy Handbook of Northwest Gardening.



Now, this won't be useful to those of you who don't live in the Northwest United States. BUT, here is what is good about it. It emphasizes plants that do well in my region, and it emphasizes sensible garden structure, including soil building and planning. Find a book that is specific to your region that tells you about planning a garden that works.

Another is Toby Hemenway's Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Homescale Permaculture.



Permaculture is an agriculture design philosophy that focuses on sustainability and careful attention to the inter-relationships between the denizens of the garden. Hemenway's book gives wonderful advice on plant combinations, soil building, and design that are good for the garden and good for the planet.


There are so many good resources out there for gardeners, it's a wonderful time to pick up a shovel. Just don't forget to also pick up some good gardening gloves. There are thistles out there.

***

Ms Michelle Simkins is a: writer, knitter, gardener, homemaker, and a member of the very exclusive #goatposse on twitter. She also SOMEHOW makes time to craft beautiful homespun gifts and metaphysical goodies that she sells at her Green Fingers shop on Etsy. And after reading this post, no one will wonder how she thought up the fantastically fab name. :) Thanks Michelle!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Posie & Mosey Monday

On Mondays, I like to share word posies with my readers. Comments are disabled so you can enjoy this gift of poetry then mosey on along to your list of daily do's.*

Please drop back by on Wednesday, my interactive blogging day of the week. Until then, have a lovely and productive Monday and Tuesday.


*Hungry for more in-depth Monday posts? Visit any or all of the entertaining and insightful blogs on my sidebar. ;)
 
 
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My Life Closed Twice
~Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

My life closed twice before its close;
It yet remains to see
If Immortality unveil
A third event to me,

So hug, so hopeless to conceive,
As these that twice befell.
Parting is all we know of heaven,
And all we need of hell.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Contest Winners!

Thanks to everyone who played my contest on Wednesday!

We had thirteen correct guesses and since the game wasn't exactly easy, they each warrant mentioning for their hard work:

1. Jessica Nelson
2. Melanie McCullough
3. Angela Cook
4. Cherie
5. Bethany Crandell
6. Melodie Wright
7. Kayalee Hamblin
8. Leigh Talbert Moore
9. Brandy Hoskins
10. KV Taylor
11. Mary Kate Leahy
12. TS Welti
13. Tracy Jorgensen (Tracy, I apologize for mispelling your name the first time!)

In the interest of complete fairness, I assigned each name a number in the order of their answers and let Mister Random.org decide the three winners. He chose:

Jessica Nelson
Mary Kate Leahy
T.S. Welti

Congrats winners! Please email me your addresses: anita(at)aghoward(dot)com and I'll get one of the books sent your way with some shiny new bookmarks.

For those of you who didn't win this time around, I'll have another contest sometime in the future for more free books.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! :)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Fun for Me-me = Free Books for You-you!

First, a quick promo for all of my zombunny loving compatriots: If you enjoyed Clive the Bloodsucking Pygmy Goat...



And his silent adventures on my blog over a week ago, please hop over to Michelle’s poll and check out the other entries for the zombunny prize. No matter who you vote for, just please vote! Plus, while you’re there, explore Michelle’s awesome blog. She’s not only crafty, but also has a green thumb and writes beautifully. Her blog has something for everyone!

Onto the meme/book give-away contest. My cake-worshipping blogster Carissa tagged me with a fabulous meme, and then my pal Colin from twitter did the same. So, twice tagged is twice blessed. :)

But the blessings don't stop there my book-loving friends, because this meme will take a very lucrative turn for you in the end…

Off we go (and disregard the strange highlighted letters for the moment, you'll understand their purpose later)!

  
1.      If you were a vampire, which celebrity would you first sink your teeth into?

 Kristen Stewart, of course. All the cool vampires want to sample Bella’s fragrant blood. ;)


2.      What’s your middle name? No, not your real middle name, your MIDDLE name.

Jelly Bean. And I refuse to explain, so have fun conjecturing. Heh.


3.      You’re stranded on an island. There’s a monkey with you there, but he’s not too chatty. You also have a ball at your disposal. A ship passes by, but it’s daylight. How will you attract their attention?

Who said anything about attracting attention? Why would I want to escape? I have a Monkey who’s useless for company and a big bouncy ball. I have everything I need to stay occupied and in shape for the rest of my castaway life.



4.      What are you secretly afraid of? And what are you REALLY afraid of?

Never having my books in print.

Waking up one day to realize I’ve been kidding myself and I CAN’T write AT ALL. EEPS.


5.      Describe your best friend in five words.

I have two besties, so this is both of them combined: Effervescent, Irreverent, Cheerleader, Mobster, Funny.


6.      What’s your current favorite song? What about the annoying one stuck in your head?

Fave: Every Car You Chase – A remix of Sting’s Every Breath You Take and Snow Patrol’s Chasing Cars. One of the best mash-ups I’ve ever heard.

Most annoying ear worm: That irritating opening song from The Nanny.


7.      What’s the last movie you watched? Was it good? (Fishing for recommendations.)

Battle: Los Angeles. (It was hubbie’s night to pick--heh.) It was okay. Wreaked a little of Independence Day, which I thought was much better. For an excellent movie, I’d recommend The Fall. Beautiful cinematography, unique and emotional storyline, and superb acting.



*** CONTEST TIME ***


Here’s where I cheat. Instead of tagging anyone, I’m turning this into a CONTEST!! Each of you will have an opportunity to win one of these three books:







And I’ll even stick in some fancy brand spankin’ new bookmarks from my crit partners’ newest releases:




Here’s how you get into the drawing: I’ve spelled out a four-word movie/play title in the above answers. You can find it by looking for the highlighted letters then unscrambling them.

 Here are the clues:

 I’m giving the first word of the title away since it’s only one letter: A

Second word can be found in both the question and answer part of #3.

Third word is in the answer of #4.

And fourth word is in the answer of #5.


Want another hint? Here’s the premise of the story:

A wacky tale where everyone is besotted with each other, but the wrong way around. They live happily ever after once they're paired off correctly.


And here’s a little known tidbit about the author. He wrote his own epitaph:

Good friend for Jesus' sake forbear,
To dig the dust enclosed here:
Blest be the man that spares these stones,
And curst be he that moves my bones.


Anyone who figures out the title of the movie/play can either DM me on twitter or email me here: anita(at)aghoward(dot)com. Good luck!

*PLEASE don’t leave your answer in the comments.* We want to give everyone a fair shake at figuring this out. All of the right answers will go into a drawing.

The contest will run until Thursday (August 4), 11:59pm central. I’ll announce the three winners on Friday.

Until then, have a great rest of the week!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Posie & Mosey Monday

On Mondays, I like to share word posies with my readers. Comments are disabled so you can enjoy this gift of poetry then mosey on along to your list of daily do's.*

Please drop back by on Wednesday, my interactive blogging day of the week. Until then, have a lovely and productive Monday and Tuesday.

*Hungry for more in-depth Monday posts? Visit any or all of the entertaining and insightful blogs on my sidebar. ;)







BESSIE'S SONG TO HER DOLL
~Lewis Carroll (1832-1898)

MATILDA JANE, you never look
At any toy or picture-book.
I show you pretty things in vain--
You must be blind, Matilda Jane!
 
I ask you riddles, tell you tales,
But all our conversation fails.
You never answer me again--
I fear you're dumb, Matilda Jane!
 
Matilda darling, when I call,
You never seem to hear at all.
I shout with all my might and main--
But you're so deaf, Matilda Jane!
 
Matilda Jane, you needn't mind,
For, though you're deaf and dumb and blind,
There's some one loves you, it is plain--
And that is me, Matilda Jane!


**Reprinted from The Hunting of the Snark and Other Poems and Verses. Lewis Carroll. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1903.