28 April 2008


Okay, kids, my web site hosting service has fixed my updating problem, so it's time to get this contest under way!

I have three main prizes:

1. Tote Bag o' RT Goodies
A snazzy purple-and-black RT 2008 logo tote back filled with bookmarks, cover flats, pens, buttons, and other goodies.

How to win it: Simply sign up for my email list (don't worry, it's not a discussion list and I won't spam you with frivolous announcements!). All I ask is that you set your account to "Special Notices", not "No Mail." I'll draw a winner from this list.

2. Big Honkin' Box o' Free Books
A box full of free books - mass market and trade paperbacks, one hardcover, a pot pourri of genres - historical, fantasy, urban fantasy, erotic, contemporary, etc.

How to win: See above about signing up for my email list. :)

3. Samhain Logo Lap Blanket and Coffee Mug
Here's the limited-edition prize you're going to have to work for! :)

How to win:
Go to the Books page of my web site. Click to read the excerpts and answer the following questions, then email me the answers:

1. In Beaudry's Ghost, the heroine has an injury. Which shoulder is injured?

2. In Abhainn's Kiss, what element does Abhainn shapeshift into? ("element" meaning air, fire, water or earth)

3. In Wildish Things, what's Kellan O'Neill's ride? (Be specific, right down to the color!)

4. Finally, there's a mouse hiding somewhere on my web site! Find the mouse, then copy and paste the correct URL into your email along with the answers to the questions. Here's what the mouse looks like:

(Mouse courtesy Aon-Celtic.)

Hint: Mice live in holes. [grin]

5. This contest is open to everyone, though I'd really appreciate it if you'd sign up for my email list. (Sense a theme, here? LOL)

I will draw a winner from those who send in correct answers.

Deadline to enter: May 10, 2008


  • Must be 18 or older to enter.
  • Sorry, packages can be mailed to U.S. addresses only! If I draw your name and you don't live in the U.S., you aren't out in the cold, however. I'll send you a Samhain Publishing download of your choice (doesn't have to be one of my books!).
  • Winners have 2 business days to respond to notification of their prize. After 2 days I will draw a new name.
  • One entry per household, please.

  • 25 April 2008

    RT Photos and a CONTEST!!

    I've posted my RT 2008 pictures over on my web site. Click here!

    And don't forget to sign up for my newsletter in order to be eligible to win some RT goodies!

    Here's just some of the goodies in the collection for my RT giveaway! Yes, hanging from the tote bag is the infamous screaming purple tiara that got me so much attention at the ebook fair. :)

    And yes, your eyes do not deceive you! The two "special prizes" that you'll have to jump through a hoop or two for are a big, gorgeous coffee mug courtesy of moi, JC Wilder, Gia Dawn, Lauren Dane and Isabo Kelly. And a cozy, comfy, embroidered lap blanket courtesy of Samhain Publishing. Stay tuned for what the "hoops" will be to get a chance to win one of these!

    24 April 2008

    Thirteen Things You Can't Live Without at RT

    1. No fear of crowds. If you're claustrophobic, get in shape for using the stairs because the elevators will be packed!

    2. Items to make your room as much of a peaceful sanctuary as possible: Music, candles, ear plugs, aromatherapy eye mask, your favorite comfort tea or coffee, your own pillow, bunny slippers, etc.

    3. Food - Bring your own, because you can never depend on finding decent food at the hotel. Or, even if they do have a good restaurant or two on premises, you may not get a table. (Corollary - the hotel will probably be out of fridges. Bring a cooler or purchase a small fridge to haul with you. You'll be glad you did after a long day when you'd kill for an ice cold glass of something.)

    4. Comfy shoes. Forget fashion - save your feet!

    5. A good attitude. Be careful about bitching (even good-natured bantering) to random people - you may not recognize until it's too late to whom you're talking. ("Can you believe the terrible food at that luncheon? Oh, um, you're the author who sponsored it? Urk...")

    6. Caffeine!

    7. No qualms about talking to complete strangers. I meet the nicest people just standing around in lines!

    8. A rolling suitcase for the free books. Or, if you're lucky, a hunky husband/s.o./con slave to trail in your wake, carrying everything for you.

    9. A sense of humor. Pretend you're in boot camp with 1,500 of your closest friends. Stuff IS going to happen - roll with it with a smile.

    10. A shawl. One room may be boiling, but the next one will be arctic, guaranteed.

    11. A big supply of business cards, and an ample pocket in your bag to slip the ones handed to you. (And a pen to jot notes on the backs, or you'll never remember why you talked to this person!)

    12. Camera. Don't be shy about snapping away with the shutter. Most authors will be pleasantly suprised you want their picture. :)

    13. Water and more water!

    More Thursday Thirteens here!


    22 April 2008

    RT Booty Giveaway!

    I'm back from RT, and I've got a load of goodies to give away!

    Want in on the fun? Sign up for my email newsletter. All members are automatically entered in all my contests. :) Just make sure your account is NOT set to No Mail, though! Special Notices is fine.

    Among the goodies are bookmarks, pens, buttons, BOOKS!, and a couple of items so special you'll have to jump through a hoop or two in order to get a chance to win one. [evil grin]

    Stay tuned!

    20 April 2008

    RT Day 4: In Which Carolan Spews (But Does Not Pee Her Pants)

    Yes, you read the date and timestamp right - it is 2 a.m. Sunday morning and I'm just staggering in from the bar! Staggering because I'm exhausted, not because I was imbibing. Truly, if I never see another mojito again it will be too soon.

    The Book Fair was a roaring success - so roaring, we blew a fuse, plunging the entire ballroom into darkness just 10 minutes before closing time. Which means the cash registers shut down, too! After the requisite collective gasp of surprise, in the blackness I saw dozens of cell phones being flipped open. A cell phone as a substitute for a flashlight? That's a new one on me! A few of us started singing "Kum Ba Yah". I found my mini flashlight and held it in my teeth while I finished signing my leftover books. :)

    I'm pleased to report I sold more books this year than in all my other RT bookfairs combined! Even some that didn't buy came up to me, pointed at the Love & Lore cover, and took the time to tell me how much they liked "Wildish Things"!

    I sat next to the beautiful and statuesque Jackie Ivie. Of course we had to trade books, since we are probably distantly related on our Cornish ancestors' side. :) She gave me "Heart of a Knight" and I can't wait to read it. I hope she enjoys WT on her flight back to Anchorage.

    Let's see, what else...

  • Not being able to find a table for a late lunch in the hotel, Jade Lee, Cindy Holby, Isabo Kelly (with Moonbo on board), JC and I repaired to our room to break out the cold pizza, cheese, crackers, bagels, and whatever else we could graze on. For over an hour we camped out among the food, trading stories and screaming with laughter.

  • Yes, the title of this post is right, I spewed Coke all over myself as Jade told a story I will not repeat here. Nor in polite company anywhere on this earth. Jade, you're a goddess and I adore you.

  • A while later we had dinner at the Palomino restaurant in downtown Pittsburgh followed, in which I ate myself painfully full on cheese fondue, seafood louis salad, and creme brulee. This is the first time since the Walmart Odyssey that I poked my head outside the hotel. It smelled of rain when we left and was raining slightly on the walk back.

  • Stomach too full to go to bed, we ended up in the bar (imagine that...) for an evening of observing the human species at play that I find difficult to describe. J.C.'s blog will probably 'splain it better than I. Suffice to say at one point there were 13 of us lined up along the back wall, observing the goings-on across the room at the bar. J.C. was giving the play by play, complete with barks of "Batter UP!" at crucial moments. "Seventh inning stretches" were filled in with renditions of "Take me out to the ballllll gaaaaaame." The amusement turned to a bit of squick for me when I learned that the gentleman in question is married, and not to the barely-dressed object of his, erm, affections.

  • As usual, I left too soon, dizzy with fatigue. I later found out the floggings began right after I left. Well, phooey. Just when things were getting really good, my camera wasn't around to bring it home to you. My abject apologies. [grin] Will, I hope you got your flogger back at some point from the woman who swiped it from you. ;) I've got a book of yours and Alessia's I promise to try to remember to carry with me tomorrow for you both to sign. Thanks for the tour of your lace-up suede boots.

  • The Dorchester party was great fun, and free books were carted home by all. The band was fantastic, very danceable. I came away with a copy of "These Boots Are Made for Stomping." :)

    More tomorrow, probably after I get home. Between packing up, attending the Samhain Sayonara, and driving home, it'll be a while. :)


  • 19 April 2008

    RT Day 3: In Which Carolan Needs No Other Vampire Costume...

    ...other than her bloodshot eyes.

    Yes, friends, between the dry hotel air and the remodeling dust that pervades the building, my contact lenses are stowed for the duration.

    Last night's Midnight Texas Holdem tournament, hosted by Christine Feehan, was so worth the pain of staying up late! I've never played before but author C.L. Wilson was kind enough to coach me enough that at least I wasn't the first one out. :) She, of course, won the table and generously shared her prize bag with the rest of us at the table. Next year, if Christine has this event again, I will plan it better and hopefully enjoy it to the fullest extent. :)

    Today was blur of time spent in Club RT, the awards luncheon (Look! More chicken!) and generally hanging out with readers and author friends all day. I met the nicest bookseller standing in line for the luncheon...she hasn't opened her doors yet but she plans to cater to the elderly and infirm in Florida who can't get out to buy books, and don't shop on Amazon. I hope she will email me because of course her name fell right out of my head.

    I met and chatted a bit with Smart Bitch Sarah this evening for a couple hours before the vampire ball. It was my pleasure to just listen to this very sharp woman talk - she knows her stuff.

    I didn't quite make it into the vampire ball...I know Heather Graham puts on a great party, but I just wasn't hungry, and wasn't up to the crush of people and noise. I contented myself sitting in the common area outside the ballroom, watching the parade of sexy costumes. Most were in the best of taste - some, to be honest, crossed the line from inappropriate to outright trashy. This is what RT is all about? Where's the fantasy and romance? Where are the gentlemanly cover models? Actually the Mr. Romance competitors are still gentlemen, but the badly behaved models [cough Cavemen cough] are hogging the attention. Like the one that nearly landed on my head by jumping around the bar like an out of control monkey.

    What does it say about this event where it seems wardrobe malfunctions and public simulated sex are so commonplace almost no one notices or raises and eyebrow? That an author thinks it attractions the right kind of attention to her work by dressing as little more than a streetwalker, complete with bowl of cherries nestled between her breasts - and then stands around wondering why no one is coming within ten feet of her.

    Now I'm no prude, but I didn't pay 1K to be here to watch other women's private parts spill out all over the place when I'm attempting to eat.

    And let's talk a little bit about snark. There was even a snark workshop this year. I'm completely capable of appreciating well-done snark - it's probably the world's third oldest profession, after all. But when did snark degenerate into "It's okay to make unkind remarks because it's just snark and if you're offended than you obviously need a humor transplant"? Words have power. They are not to be tossed around like spit wads.

    And let's not talk about the guy wearing the Dark Castle Lords t-shirt who didn't bother to do his research about how to properly present himself in a kilt. I know, he was trying to draw attention to his dotcom by flashing the plaid and his manly legs. Kilt and T-Shirt stretched over a nicely muscled chest - gooood. Brown leather huarachi-type sandals - wroooooong. It would have been better if he'd gone barefoot.

    Now, on the other hand, Will Belegon knows how to carry off a kilt and plaid with style. Bravo, Will! You looked smashing. I have a book for you to sign.

    Where is security? Tonight I saw random men from the bar downstairs wandering up to the ballroom to crash the party or just gawk. I'm pretty sure the impression they're going to get and take home with them is not going to be altogether favorable. That's too bad for our industry.

    Okay, let's talk about the wonderful costumes - the two ladies wearing gorgeous antebellum and Victorian - and historically accurate - dresses. You looked gorgeous, ladies! I also enjoyed the humor - the Cousin It, the Uncle Fester, the Ghostbuster and vampire slayers. :) That's the spirit!

    On another bright note, I spent some time with Katherine Kingston, Jessica Bimberg, Ashleigh Raine, Beth Williamson, Mechele Armstrong and Melissa Lopez his afternoon, and had the pleasure of meeting Cheryl Holt, who is celebrating the release of her 20th book this year. We sat on the couch and talked industry while watching the costume parade go by. After all this success, she is still genuinely humbled when a reader expresses love for her work.

    Coffee Time Romance.com had a live chat going on during the vamp ball, and as I sat in on the chat for a few minutes, I glanced up at a very nicely shaped male rear view and realized it was John DeSalvo. In a move I would never have contemplated even a couple years ago (J.C. has taught me well), I tapped him on the shoulder and invited him into the chat room. Nice guy that he is, he gave me 2 minutes to type for him while he talked online (I type faster. [grin])

    Now that's class.

    What does it say that classy behavior is becoming the exception rather than the rule at RT?

    Much as I love getting together with my author friends and meeting readers, I'm not certain that Orlando '09 is going to be on my schedule next year. I believe my conference money is better spent at smaller, more intimate events like Celebrate Romance, and the Lori Foster get-together in June. Now, those ladies know how to put on an intelligent, stripped down, no frills, it's-all-about-the-books event.

    Forgive me, it's 1:30 a.m. and I'm beyond tired.

    Tomorrow is the Bataan death march of book fairs. :) I'm off to bed.

    17 April 2008

    RT Day 2: In Which the Jr. Suite Gals...

    ...wreak havoc in the panels.

    This year I was asked to step in and moderate a panel when the very lovely Eden Robins couldn't attend RT at the last minute. When I stepped into my panel, the "Psychics: Fact or Fiction?" panel, I had to force myself not to drop instantly into my "I'm not worthy!" genuflection. There right beside me were Marilyn Campbell, Jade Lee, Gail DeYoung and Hollie Van Horn. I wished I were sitting in the audience taking notes rather than moderating the questions!

    But I managed to get through it with proper (cough) decorum, and without hyperventilating.

    Then of course I had to drop in on J.C.'s panel just to see what kind of havoc she was wreaking. She didn't disappoint. :)

    Couldn't seem to stay out of Club RT! It's a hoppin' spot and of course my favorite vendor is there, Frozen Light jewelry. I simply plan on giving them a big chunk of my discretionary spending money whenever I'm at RT.

    The best part - a reader seeking me out to tell me she'd loved Wildish Things. :)

    I got to sit with Melissa Lopez at the Samhain table for a delightful half hour, in which Lynne Connolly let us play with her adorable little mini-laptop.

    We also met a wonderful therapy dog named Peggi, who was clearly enjoying all the attention she attracted wherever she went.

    The one panel I managed to get to was "Book in Three Minutes with Joy Nash, Donna Birdsell and Emily Bryan. I highly recommend this panel to get your creative juices flowing. There is no plot knot these ladies can't pluck loose. Luckily for Joy, I had to leave right at the end of the panel before I had a chance to go slobbery fangirl all over her.

    Gia Dawn and I bonded over a couple of cold ones in the bar and completely lost track of time. I swear, I fall in love with this amazing writer and wonderful woman every time I see her. We're always finding something else we have in common, from our inner insecurities to our wonderful families.

    Once again just missed snagging Will Belegon at the Faery Ball. I saw him swash by in all his piratey glory, but it was too noisy in there for him to hear me wailing in despair as he was swallowed up by a flock of faery winged partyers.

    The costumes were, as always, spectacular. However Bianca D'Arc and I were witness to at least one wardrobe malfunction that will give us nightmares for weeks to come. :) Suffice to say that if one is going to wear a skin-tight mermaid dress with no straps, a little bit more than prayer is needed too keep that baby from "heading south."

    They're called STRAPLESS BRAS. Learn to love them, people. 'Nuff said.

    Let's not talk about the woman who didn't get the memo that this was not a Victoria's Secret runway show. Ahem. Poor Scott Carpenter got an eyefull he sure didn't need. (LOVED your costume, Scott! Next year - tights!)

    (Note to the FAR ladies - THANK YOU for letting me sit at your table!!)

    I'm now supposed to be taking a brief nap before heading down to Christine Feehan's Texas Holdem tournament, but I'm afraid if I close my eyes that'll be it and I'll be out till morning. Tomorrow promises to be a much more laid-back day. And I owe Gia a couple cold ones.

    Back into the fray tomorrow!

    16 April 2008

    RT Day 1: In Which We Spend Half The Morning...

    ...in my car attempting to follow J.C. Wilder's possessed Magellan to the nearest Walmart in pursuit of A) a REAL coffee-maker and B) a mini-fridge.

    I figure if I use both only for conferences, I can write it off. Right? Right? Anyone?

    This alleged 6 mile jaunt took a total of 45 minutes to accomplish. Then the three of us (one of our editors was along with us) scattered across the store in different directions.

    Somehow we all ended up in the shoe section. Go figure.

    I came away with an adorable pair of red high-top sneakers that will go perfectly with my red and black blazer and pants outfit for tomorrow.

    Let's see, what else...

  • Lisa Jackson has some of the best promo stuff. I never pass up a free t-shirt, ever. This one is cool.

  • I walked by a doorway on the Ballroom level and somehow got sucked into the rollicking vortex that was the Intergalactic Bar and Grill. Somehow I came out wearing a screaming purple sequined tiara. The best part? I forgot I had it on. I wandered around the ebook expo wondering why everyone was smiling and bowing in my direction. Wow! My fame as an author must be spreading!

    Uh, no.

    It was the screaming purple tiara.

    Oh well, it was a great conversation starter, and at RT it's all about attracting attention to oneself.

  • Saw S.J. Willing and his lovely partner Theresa at the ebook expo. It was good to see him looking so well.

  • I cannot BELIEVE I did this... a camera crew walked up to me when they saw my pubbed author badge and offered to interview me for their documentary. I promptly stuttered and steered them in the direction of the lovely, statuesque, and beautifully pregnant Isabo Kelly, who was decked out all in black, her hair in a princess Leia braid, and sporting a sword across her back.

    Me? Pass up a chance for free promo? I should turn in my promo ho card forthwith. [hanging head in shame]

    Luckily Isabo was gracious enough to mention my name for the anthology we did together.

    Am busy kicking my own butt now...

  • I adore Linnea Sinclair. She's a kind and generous person, not just a fantastic author.

  • Stacy Klemstein. She's darling. Especially after three martinis. ;)

  • My table at the Intergalactic Bar and Grill came THIS CLOSE to winning a big prize basket. We did very well on the trivia questions, though. Best part - watching the lawyer at our table get into a laser-gun death ray match with a doctor. Oh, yes, there will be a photo posted of this!

  • We had a nicely attended pizza party in our room this evening.

  • J.C. and I have come to the conclusion that we've reach An Age where some kind of a suite will be required at every con from now on. Doing the whole sharing-the-college-dorm-sized rooms are fun when you're young and don't mind climbing over everyone's stuff and each other. But ya know, we just don't climb all that well any more.

    Tomorrow is going to be busy...I start off with a stint in Club RT at 10:30 a.m., then moderating the "Psychic Fact or Fiction" panel at 11:30. I'm free to panel-hop until 2:30, when I'm doing another stint in Club RT. My biggest scheduling blunder? Signing up for Christine Feehan's Speakeasy poker tourney. At mignight tomorrow.

    Not that I'm not looking forward to it - even though I have NO idea how to play poker - but let's face it, after a full day I'm going to be wanting to snooze at midnight. Oh well. How often do I get to do stuff like this? It'll be fun. And I'll probably be out of chips in 15 seconds anyway. LOL

    I have my REAL coffee maker set up for tomorrow, loaded with my freshly ground Kona coffee. None of this "pod" coffee stuff for me. I made some pod coffee this morning and it wasn't bad, honestly, but after 2 cups I wasn't feelin' it. I still needed a can of diet Coke to open my eyes.

    Ok, I'm off to bed. :)

  • "It's All About Scaring The Straights..."

    The Day Before RT

    Compared to last year's odyssey Road Trip To RT Houston Via New Orleans, yesterday's 3 hour jaunt to Pittsburgh was a mere day trip.

    The best thing that happened was we pulled into a random highway rest area to, well, you know. J.C. was in the middle of telling me something (not like I was listening, I kind of tune her out after the first hour, you know), and abruptly she is screaming "ROSEMARYEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE" at a hypersonic pitch only a few talented dogs can hear.

    I turned around and there is Rosemary Laurey hobbling toward us, trailed by her Southern Gentleman husband George. She, too, is having foot issues, having just broke it a few weeks ago. Great, all three of us will be gimping around with canes all week! LOL

    In short order two more authors appeared, and within seconds we were having our first RT gab session on the sidewalk at a random roadside rest in Ohio. Ah, the magic has already begun.

    More fun-ness:

  • By some miracle we scored a junior suite at the Pittsburgh Hilton, which we hadn't planned on but find we sorely needed to accommodate the six boxes of promo we brought!

  • Not 30 seconds inside the lobby door, and we learned that the SF/Fantasy Romance contingent have named Isabo Kelly's expected bundle of joy: "Moon Beaver." Don't ask.

  • My abs are already sore from dinner last night with J.C. Wilder, Linnea Sinclear, Stacy Klemstein, Cindy Holby, Isabo Kelly and Robin D. Owens. I won't name names, but one of spewed liquids. From more than one bodily orifice.

  • I think we gave our little waitress an education she will never forget, as she managed to approach the table at the most odd moments. "Tripod method..." "...a double ended sex toy named Thor..."

  • We cleared the section of the restaurant we were sitting in. The last holdouts were four people who kept throwing disapproving glances in our hootin-and-hollering direction. (Okay, it must have been the 60 decibel conversation about anal sex, I will admit...). As J.C. so aptly put it, "It's all about scaring the straights."

  • "You're getting MORE ice?" (Gia Dawn, camped out in the hallway talking to her family on her cell, after my fourth trip past her on my way to the floor below to the ice machine since THE ONE ON OUR FLOOR IS BROKEN. *ahem*

    Well, I'm off to get my coffee. RT Day One, straight ahead!

    Our work finished for the day, we staggered off to bed around midnight.

  • 14 April 2008

    Celtophile Monday

    Welcome back to Celtophile Monday! This week's is a bit shortened due to my annual mad rush to finish preparing for RT this week. All sources credited. Enjoy! (Photo from www.gmhg.org)

    Highland Games
    Highland Games occur all over the U.S. - in fact, it seems they are more popular here than in Scotland! Having said that, though, if you happen to be visiting Scotland this summer here's a schedule for you.

    The Association of Scottish Games and Festivals has a similar list on their site for the United States. If you can't find anything there, you can try typing "highland games [your state]" into a search engine and I bet you'll find something within an hour or two's drive. Here are three games I've attended and enjoyed:

    Grandfather Mountain Highland Games - You can't beat the setting for the premiere event in the eastern half of the U.S.; this one is my sentimental favorite.

    Triad Highland Games - May 2-3, 2008. For a more intimate but no less enjoyable experience.

    Ohio Scottish Games - June 28, 2008. I've rarely attended a better piping competition.

    April is Scots/Scot-Irish Heritage Month in North Carolina!

    Scottish Curlers Suffer Final Defeat
    Scotland lost 6-3 to Canada in the final of the men's World Curling Championship in North Dakota. David Murdoch's rink trailed 4-3 with two ends remaining in a close match, but the Canadians sealed victory by winning two shots in the ninth. It was revenge for the reigning champions, who had lost 7-6 to Scotland on Friday in the round-robin stage. The Scottish team lost three early games in the finals, but won their next seven games to reach the final. For defending champions Canada, who saw off Norway in the semi-final to set up the rematch with Scotland, it was the 31st time they have won the men's title since the tournament began in 1959. The holders won 10 out of 11 matches on their way to the final. Their skip, Kevin Martin, scored two points in the decisive ninth end. Martin, 41, won a silver medal in the 1991 championship and finished fourth in 1997. (Source: BBC)

    My New Favorite TV Theme Song
    Space Pirates! Youtube has a bunch of video clips of this show, if you're looking for a silly, fun time-waster.

    Rare Owl Recaptured
    A rare eagle owl which escaped from a falconry centre in Ayrshire two months ago has been recaptured. Wally and his mate Annie escaped from Kelburn Country Centre during stormy weather in February. Annie was recaptured a short distance from the centre just over a week later but Wally had eluded efforts to entice him back. However, the four-year-old returned to his handler Alan Jenkinson over the weekend. Wally had been making regular visits to Haylie House care home, near the falconry centre, where he allowed residents to approach and stroke him. He was recaptured there on Sunday afternoon. Read more

    Blog of the Week
    Flying Cat - The diary entries of an averagely intelligent feline and his Marmalade Chum. (Orkney Islands)

    Rampant Scotland Colour Supplement
    Rampant Scotland's bi-weekly collection of beautiful photographs from Scotland. Click here

    Have a good week!

    12 April 2008

    13 Clues (plus a few more) You Might Be An RT Veteran

    I know, I know, it's not Thursday. But next Thursday I will be at RT Pittsburgh and that particular day will be the most hectic, from workshops in the morning to poker tournaments at midnight.

    I posted this about a year ago at this time, but it's a goodie and it's all still true, with a few tweaks!

  • (If flying...) You have one suitcase for promo, one suitcase for costumes, and no room for regular clothes.

  • Your carry-on bag is stuffed with healthy snacks, because from past experience you know after three days of all-chocolate-all-the-time, you'll be desperate for a piece of fresh fruit.

  • (If driving...) You bargain with your long-suffering husband to remove both rear bench seats out of the back of the van, and you still worry there won't be enough room for all your promo.

  • You're sweating bullets waiting for your Vistaprint order to arrive in time, because you realized at the last possible minute you don't have a bookmark for your latest release. You designed the bookmark three months ago, but forgot to actually order it.

  • You have writers cramp because along with your newly arrived bookmarks, you forgot to autograph the other 600 you already had.

  • You cause a scene in the grocery store when you find post-Easter bags of Hershey Kisses on sale for a dollar a bag.

  • You burn calories by working up a sweat trying on every piece of clothing you own, praying something other than your bathrobe will fit.

  • You burn more calories working yourself into a lather searching for the one and only strapless bra you own, the one you swear was in your underwear drawer yesterday but has now disappeared. Your husband finds it stuffed in the back corner of the bottom drawer. You swear the faeries are playing with your mind. Again.

  • Your life is divided into two parts: Before RT, and after RT. ("I have this great idea, but let's wait until after RT to talk about it because my brain is fried.")

  • For every item you check off on your RT to-do list, two more items mysteriously appear.

  • No matter how well and how far in advance you plan, the last three days before departure are Hell. Pure and simple.

  • The color cartridge on your printer will run out of blue ink at precisely the moment you need it most. You will not have a spare handy, and it will be 5 minutes after OfficeMax closes.

  • The OfficeMax staff knows you by your first name. They don't bat an eye when you show up in your ratty sweats and house slippers and ask them to print out a copy of your book cover in poster-size. You know, the one with the nekkid man-butt on the cover.

  • You step up your facial exercises so your cheeks won't hurt so much from wearing your best "Yes, I know I write dark and bloody paranormal romance, but I'm really a nice person and I won't bite" smile for 12 hours straight.

  • You have just a few square inches of space left in your suitcase. You must decide between packing toothpaste, or your rum flask. You choose the rum.

  • Got anything to add? Share your RT prep woes in a comment! LOL

    10 April 2008

    Thirteen Random Vacation Pictures

    Thirteen pictures from our recent trip to Hawai'i. Enjoy!

    One thing you may notice is that I seem to be incapable of holding the camera level. It has nothing to do with the number of mai tais consumed. Honest.

    My husband and I with the first (of only a few, honest) mai tais of the week.

    Coastline near Pololu Valley.

    Sea turtle, south Kona coast.

    Marie explaining how coffee is grown and harvested at Bayview Coffee Plantations, south Kona region.

    Ceiling of Painted Church, south Kona region.

    One of many varieties of ginger that grows on the island.

    No, that's not me. That's Lauren, a young lady celebrating her birthday by jumping off the cliff at South Point.

    Lava Tube Trail, Volanoes National Park

    One of many geckos we met on our travels.


    'Nother sea turtle, temporarily trapped in a lava tide pool until the next high tide comes along.


    Orchid garden at Hawai'i Botanical Garden

    Pu'u O'o Crater, the black sheep of Kilauea that's been behaving badly recently.

    Lava from Pu'u O'o pouring into the ocean. Sadly, you're looking at what used to be the beloved village of Kalapana. The hand with the death grip on the oh-sh!t handle belongs to my son. :)

    Black sand beach at Waipi'o Valley.

    Mauna Loa, as seen from the slopes of Mauna Kea.

    Sunset from the summit of Mauna Kea. This was followed by a chilly but so-worth-the-frostbite star talk at the Onizuka center.

    Um, that was more than 13, wasn't it? :)

    See other Thursday 13s!

    07 April 2008

    Celtophile Monday

    Welcome back to Celtophile Monday! Sorry that I've been out of town for a couple weeks. :) All sources credited. Enjoy!


    Institute Tackles Global Warming

    Academics at the Rowett Institute in Aberdeen have been tackling a major cause of global warming - animal flatulence. It seems that the average cow's annual production of methane can contribute as much to global warming as a family car that travels 12,000 miles. The experts at the Rowett Institute, which is an internationally recognised centre of excellence for nutrition research, are trying to produce foodstuffs that will make livestock less gassy. They have produced an additive to animal's food which stops hydrogen produced by their digestive systems being turned into methane. Trials with lambs have been highly successful, cutting the volume of methane by 70%. But is seems that cows are more stubborn and more research is needed.

    Defence Ministry Blocks Windfarms
    The UK's Ministry of Defence (MoD) has objected to 13 wind farm projects from the Scottish Borders to Caithness on the grounds that they will create radar "blind spots" which might allow hostile aircraft or hijacked passenger aircraft to creep in below the defensive screen. One of the sites giving concern for other reasons is at Eskdalemuir where there is a seismological reporting station, part of a global chain monitoring if there are shockwaves from nuclear explosions anywhere on the planet. The MoD is concerned that the vibrations from giant wind turbines could affect the monitoring station's delicate sensors. Spinning blades also create "clutter" on radar screens, similar to that produced by propellor-driven aircraft. There is also a "zone of invisibility" created up to three miles away and at 5,000 feet. There may be a solution on the horizon, however. BAe Systems, the UK's biggest defence contractor, has been awarded a contract to develop computer software capable of separating turbine blades from aircraft on a radar screen - similar to naval radar that can differentiate sea-skimming missiles from flocks of seabirds.

    Top of the Pecking Order
    The Big Garden Bird Watch 2008, organised by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, shows that the chaffinch is the most commonly-sighted feathered friend in Scotland's gardens. Those taking part saw on average 5.43 chaffinches over an hour, when the survey was run in January. The second most common bird reported was the house sparrow, followed by the starling. Even though the total numbers were smaller, the blackbird was the most widely-seen bird, found in over 90% of gardens. But being territorial, blackies are rarely seen in any numbers in the one garden. For the first time the colourful siskin flew into the top ten - their numbers bolstered this year by Scandinavian immigrants. Overall, the survey suggested that fewer birds were seen compared with last year. Last summer's poor weather may have taken its toll of fledglings although milder winters also meant fewer birds came in this year from the countryside to feed in gardens as they had enough food in the wild.


    Germans Focus on "Exotic" Haggis
    When Alan Beattie from Northern Ireland took over a butcher's shop in Dalbeattie in Dumfries and Galloway four years ago, he knew nothing about making haggis. But he set about perfecting his haggis recipe and he became the youngest ever haggis champion at the Scottish Meat Trade Fair in 2007. Now a German TV programme that focuses on the "most exotic foods worldwide" has filmed his secrets of haggis-making to feature on channel Pro7.

    Plans for Kinloch Castle Rejected
    Plans by Prince Charles to restore Kinloch Castle on the Isle of Rum in the Inner Hebrides were dealt a blow this week when the Scottish Government declined to contribute £4.5 million of taxpayers' money to the project. Prince Charles has been "passionate" about saving Kinloch - which his great, great grandfather Edward VII used as a "pleasure palace". But the "green" scheme proposed by the Prince's Regeneration Trust to restore and develop the 111-year-old castle would have cost over £12 million - twice the original estimate, due to the inclusion of alternative energy systems such as photo-voltaic and solar panels in the roof and ground source heat pumps. Rum is inhabited by just 31 residents, but has 8,000 visitors a year. The island is owned by Scottish Natural Heritage, which is paying £70,000 a year just to maintain the castle.

    Cost of Caring for Relics
    Many local areas are keen to see the return of historic items that are currently located in central locations such as Edinburgh or London. From time to time they appeal for treasures to be displayed locally, at least for a short spell. But when they see the cost of ensuring the safety of the priceless relics, they can sometimes have second thoughts. That seems to be the case with Angus Council, where they have been pushing for the return of the 8th century Monymusk Reliquary. It was said to have housed a relic of St Columba and was kept at one time in the care of Arbroath Abbey in Angus. It was carried ahead of the Scots at the victory at the Battle of Bannockburn - though if it was that potent, why did the English win other battles so often? It is currently displayed at the Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, but officials there have hinted that it might be moved to Arbroath for a loan of several months - if security and environmental conditions for displaying the reliquary can be satisfactorily met. Councillors are now looking at the costs associated with this and, with local government budgets being tightly squeezed these days, may have to back off if the costs are too high.

    Scottish Historical Events
    April 6 1320 - Declaration of Arbroath - "For we fight not for glory nor for riches nor for honour, but only and alone for freedom, which no good man surrenders but with his life".
    April 7 1968 - Jim Clark, Duns farmer, twice World Motor Racing Champion, killed in crash, Hockenheim.
    April 9 1139 - Second Treaty of Durham in which David I is recognised as King of an independent Scotland by King Stephen of England.
    April 10 1512 - King James V born.
    April 10 1988 - Sandy Lyle becomes the first Scottish (and British) golfer to win the US Masters tournament.
    April 11 1700 - Scottish settlement in Darien, Panama, abandoned.
    April 12 1606 - Union flag adopted as the flag of England, Wales and Scotland.
    April 13 1951 - The Stone of Destiny, which had been removed from underneath the Coronation Chair by Scottish nationalists on 25 December 1950, was returned to Westminster Abbey after being found at Arbroath Abbey.
    April 14 1582 - University of Edinburgh founded.
    April 14 1903 - Aberdeen Football Club was founded.
    April 15 1799 - Prof Joseph Black chemist, researcher, teacher, first to identify carbon dioxide, died.
    April 15 1924 - Actor and comedian Rikki Fulton born in Glasgow. He was best known for his double act with Jack Milroy as "Francie and Josie" and as the Rev I M Jolly in "Scotch and Wry".
    April 16 1746 - Charles Edward Stewart defeated at Battle of Culloden.
    April 16 1953 - Royal yacht "Britannia" launched at John Brown's shipyard, Clydebank.
    April 17 1937 - A British record attendance at a football match was set when 149,547 watched Scotland play England at Hampden Park, Glasgow. Until 1950, this was a world record.
    April 18 1874 - Remains of David Livingstone interred in Westminster Abbey.
    April 19 1390 - Robert II, grandson of Robert the Bruce, died at Dundonald Castle.

    Bagpipes to Encircle the World
    In 1995, a 3,500-strong parade along Princes Street led to the Pipefest event being replicated and expanded not only in Edinburgh but also in other locations around the world, raising considerable sums for charity in the process. Now the organisers have unveiled plans for an ambitious 24-hour global celebration. The idea is to have concerts and parades held at 20-minute intervals in at least 70 towns and cities around the world on 31 July 2010. A worldwide TV audience of 100 million is targeted for this 2010 Pipefest, dubbed "Around the World in 24 Hours". Places likely to take part include New York, Toronto, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dunedin, Perth, Osaka, Hong Kong, New Delhi, Islamabad, Cape Town, Reykjavik, Belfast and Dublin. The organisers hope that the concerts and parades will be staged at "iconic locations" in participating cities - and raise even more money for charity.

    All the above are from the RampantScotland newsletter.


    Web Sites of the Week
    Do One Thing for the environment this week.

    Scotland the Wild wildlife explorer.

    Isle of Skye webcam

    Heritage Ireland

    Cadw (Wales)

    Cornwall Heritage Trust

    Blogs of the Week:
    Squidgy the Otter, island of Coll
    Ireland Photoblog by John Williams

    03 April 2008

    Thirteen Really Cool Things About My Vacation

    While I'm still recovering from the time change and sort through a bajillion photographs, here are some fun tidbits about my 10 days on the Big Island of Hawai'i.

    1. Reading. This is the only benefit of long plane rides - I get to read non-stop for hours and hours. I plowed through 2 novels in 10 days, which has to be a record for me. What did I read? Gena Showalter's "The Nymph King" and Joy Nash's "Deep Magic."

    2. Amusing - Reading the smokin' hot "Nymph King" side by side with my husband, who was reading Lee Strobel's "The Case for the Real Jesus."

    3. Taking a ukulele lesson from a 100% Hawai'ian.

    4. My new camera. A little Sony Cybersot. Lurve it!

    5. Discovering I really DO want an MP3 player, after resisting for years.

    6. Channelling my inner lizard on Hapuna Beach one day, then freezing my butt off at 13,000-plus feet at the summit of Mauna Kea.

    7. Flying in a helicopter over the active Pu'u O'o crater, on the slopes of Kilauea.

    8. Visting ancient sacred sites (heiau), feeling the peace of some, and feeling creeped out at the bloody history of others. Human sacrifice, anyone?

    9. Playing in the Kapoho Tide Pools.

    10. Swimming in volcanically heated Champagne Pond.

    11. Hawai'i Botanical Garden, just north of Hilo. Oh my. I burned through two memory cards there.

    12. Exciting Jeep ride down into Waipio Valley.

    13. Kona coffee. 'Nuff said. It's the only souvenir beside pictures that I brought back with me. :)

    See more Thursday Thirteens!