I write romantic suspense and warm, family relationship type novels, often with a touch of humor. Many of my books have featured animals as key players--dogs, cats, llamas, cockatiels, horses...even our son's pet albino corn snake, Sssssid, who appeared in my first Superromance back in 1999.

Animals have been a big part of my life since I was a child. How about you? I hope you'll become a "blog follower" here (see the right-hand column for a place to click) and will come back often. So...let's talk about our pets!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Horses, kids, and hot summer days....

Down memory lane....

It's been hot here. Hot and humid and stormy. I am really, really looking forward to a cool spell! The weather got me thinking about those long, endless days of summer during childhood...when the span of time between the last day of school and September seemed too long to even imagine. Now, I seem to be in an alternate universe, where Memorial Day and Labor Day are just a breath apart.

What are your favorite summer memories?

I got my first horse when I was six years old. What an exciting summer that was! Jeannie seemed tall as an elephant to me. She was supposedly part Welsh, part quarter horse and around fifteen years old. I'm guessing she was closer to thirty, but she'd basically "been around the world" and was the perfect first horse.

My dad talked to George Boyd, the local horse trader, who said I shouldn't have a saddle until I'd ridden for a couple years so that I'd really learn to stay on, so I rode her bareback everywhere. It was like giving the keys of a car to a six (almost seven)-year-old. Ah, the freedom! Especially after I started meeting up with other kids who had horses in a several mile radius, and started tagging along with them.

Have you seen those westerns where the cowboys leap up on a horse from the rear? That never worked for anyone I knew! In fact, most of my riding buddies had to mount by grabbing a chunk of mane and swinging up. Didn't work for me, though, because I was too little. I basically had to grab some mane and shinny up her leg...until I learned to just let her graze. Then I'd sit on her neck, just behind her ears, tug a rein, her head would come up, and I'd slide into place...backwards. (smile) That helped until I was a year or so older, and could swing up like everyone else.

My mom would be quite perturbed when I was supposed to be practicing the piano and had eight faces peering through the window at me--four friends sitting on their horses--waiting for me to join them. It wasn't conducive for concentration!

I look back and think it's a wonder I survived some of the adventures that came along, often far from home. If my parents had only known!

Being a little pipsqueak had disadvantages other than mounting--it was mighty hard to reach things up high.

My old horse had trouble with dry, cracked hooves, and the farrier recommended an economical alternative to hoof dressing through the winter: plain ole lard, slathered on the hooves right up along the coronary band (where the pastern stops and the hoof begins.) My dad brought home several gallon pails of it.

Keeping the stable clean (really, our "stable" was an addition added to our garage, with a box stall and a tack area) was like playing house. I loved to pound nails for hanging things and keeping things "just so." The following summer, while I was cleaning out there, I reached up for a forgotten container well above my head.

I still remember that hot summer day.

The way that heavy, nearly full gallon pail slowly, slowly, slowly rotated within my grasp.

How I teetered precariously on a step stool.

My surprise when I realized the lid was gone...

And a millisecond later, the horror of feeling warm, melted, rancid lard dump over my head. Complete, mind you, with an ample supply of flies that had drowned in it through the summer months. The slime in Ghost Busters has nothing on melted lard!

My clothes had to be thrown away.
Shampoo couldn't cut through that thick grease.
We tried vinegar, and lemon juice, and more shampoo.
My hair hung in dark, limp, stinky strings for a good week.

Maybe it didn't look quite as bad as the Jell-O incident....but that's another story!

So...have any good summer memories to tell from your childhood?! We'd love to hear them!

Incidentally, thanks to everyone who has been stopping by. The visitor numbers have been increasing a lot, and it's great to have you here!

Blessings to all,

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Lazy, hazy summer days...death for kids and pets

How much do you love your pets...and your children? Beware!! Your car is no place for them, on a summer day.

We all know that, of course, but it can seem like "only a few minutes" when you have to run into the drugstore or a fast food place, or to pick up dry cleaning. But add in the patrons ahead of you, a slow cashier or other small delays, and those "few minutes" can be deadly. The heat of the sun can turn your car into an oven--and the windows act as an insulator to help it build.

"On a warm, sunny day, the temperature in a parked car can reach dangerous levels, 120ยบ in minutes, even with the car window partially open. A pet can quickly suffer brain damage or die from heatstroke when trapped in these high temperatures, " according to the Humane Society of the United States. Learn more at: http://www.hsus.org

The temperature in a car can rise to 200 degrees, depending on the outside temp, angle of the sun, and how long it sits there, and even parking in shady spot with the windows cracked isn’t safe. NEVER leave pets and small kids in the car. Passers-by probably won’t hear signs of distress, either...as the child or pet is likely to be quiet while being overcome and slipping toward death. Call 911 if you see a child or pet in this deadly situation!

And this is no time of the year to leave pets outside without shade and plenty of water, either. Today, the heat index is 100-105 where we live...which can also be deadly for a pet left tied out in the sun without the relief of shade and fresh water.

On nice days, our dogs often have the run of the deck that runs the length of our house, and though it offers shady spots, soft rugs--their "sleeping bags", my husband says :) --and I keep water out there for them, that deck is no place for them on a day like today, due to the "urban heat island effect." Just step out there in late morning through late afternoon, and the intense, radiating heat rising off the deck is evident.

The heat island effect refers to hard, modern surfaces like asphalt, shingles--and the dark wood of our deck--which absorb heat and can create an island of temperature 50-90 degrees hotter the current temperature that day. In contrast, damp earth and grass under shady places will be far cooler.

Hope you and your pets are all keeping cool!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Author LENORA WORTH.....and Cujo!

WIN A FREE BOOK!! Lenora will draw the winner from those who leave comments here. Stop back next Tuesday, to see if you won!

If you ever watch a cat in action, you can learn how to write suspense. Cats are notorious for lurking about, missing in action, or just hiding for hours on end.

I have a black cat named Cujo. Yes, Cujo. She is thirteen years old this year. Cujo got her name because she has never liked humans very much so she buddies up to them then hisses and scratches at them--a bit rabid at times! But we love her anyway (and we named her that because my daughter is a Stephen King fan.) But being around Cujo
has taught me a lot about plotting.

She loves to chase me up the stairs, attacking my feet and legs much in the same way a panther might be chasing me through the jungle. So I know what it feels like to know a bad guy or vicious animal is after me. She likes to hide behind the chair and jump out and scare me, so I know what it might be like to think a prowler was in my house. She also likes to wake me up in the middle of the night with a mournful wail, because she wants water out of the bathroom sink. So I know the feeling of hearing something sinister howling in the dark. She also knows how to alert when she hears a noise, so I can understand being alert in a tense situation.

I've learned a lot from my cat. She will chase anything, whether she can catch it or not. And she will run really fast when she is being chased.

Now that summer is here and we have May flowers, Cujo likes to lounge out on the patio and sneak drinks of water from the pool. She stalks birds, squirrels and even the rabbit that comes to visit each spring. She has taught me patience, how to be stealth and silent and how to attack without notice--all things I can use in my writing. But she's also taught me to laugh, to cry, to run in the wind and to snuggle up in a cozy chair when it's stormy outside. She's shown me the coolness of a hero and the sassiness of a heroine.

I never know what to expect with Cujo. And that's the way I want my readers to feel--as if they can't wait to find out what's around the corner. If you want to learn about suspense, just watch a cat. And think like a cat, too. That should do the trick.

Lenora :)

From Love Inspired Suspense:
The CHAIM series:
Heart of the Night (January 2009)
Code of Honor (April 2009)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Early this winter we went to Puerto Rico for the first time...just for a long weekend. Good timing--a nice trip before having shoulder surgery. I loved Old San Juan. The forts were just amazing--massive walls and such interesting structures, overlooking the ocean on a windy promontory.

That day there were hundreds of local families having picnics on the grounds and flying kites. Many of the kites were so high that you could barely see them. Beautiful kites in all shapes and sizes--red planes, intricate origami shapes, brilliantly colored butterflies, dragons.

The historic town was fun to visit, but the creatures on the island were interesting, too. :) I loved the giant iguanas...one of which dropped from a high tree overhanging the hotel swimming pool, and landed with a huge belly flop amongst the swimmers. It was about four feet long from stem to stern, and f it had landed ON someone, it could have done some serious damage! It happily paddled around the pool for a while, then climbed out to sun itself amongst the sunbathers.

The beaches were beautiful...though the repercussions of enjoying them weren't quite as lovely, as you can see! I love walking on beaches and wading in the waves. I was truly careful about watching out for trouble, but missed seeing a jellyfish in the waves. Above, you can see a photo of my lumpy, swollen feet five days later. Ouch! Jellyfish are now one of my least favorite creatures!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Another author visitor--Ruth Axtell Morren!

Ruth is offering a FREE copy of her newest book---the winner will be drawn from the names of those who post a comment here!

Our local paper usually has an ad in the classified section for the animal shelter. Each week there's a photo and write-up of one of their dogs or cats. I had resolved not to have any pets for a long while. We'd recently moved back to the U.S. from the Netherlands, and our two cats stayed behind where they enjoyed a good life.

But suddenly, I saw a photo of a cat whose doleful eyes just stared out at me, saying "Adopt me!" Creighton was a cream-point Siamese mix who'd been dropped off at the shelter along with his 4 brothers, due to the "uncertain economy."

I tore out the ad and put it on my desk, deciding to do nothing rash. A few days later I showed it to my 15 yr-old daughter. She immediately said, "We've got to go visit the shelter."
When we arrived there, there were so many cats that we no longer knew which one to choose. Creighton and his brothers were beautiful, with their creamy colored fur and their pale blue eyes. But there were other lovable cats who also needed a home and had been at the shelter a lot longer. One was named "Alley Anna," a small 6 yr. old who'd been at the shelter the longest of all, about three years. She didn't stand out from the other, more assertive or friendlier cats, but the staff assured me she was a dear cat.

We finally decided we had to take both her and Creighton home. They were both quite shy the first few days, hiding under my bed or in my walk-in closet. Little by little, they have ventured out. Alley Anna is the sweetest cat, and I feel bad how easily an animal can be overlooked at a shelter because its personality doesn't shine in the few minutes one is there. Creighton, who's only 1 1/2, and had never seen Alley Anna before we brought them home, since they were in different rooms at the shelter, immediately bonded with her. Wherever she found a hiding spot, he'd tag along after her, as if she was his mother.
Here they are on a shelf in my closet.

www.Ruth Axtell Morren.com
The Making of a Gentleman, Steeple Hill.,Aug.'08
A Bride of Honor, May '09

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

We have a visitor--Author Missy Tippens!!

Author Missy Tippens is joining us today as a guest! And here she is...


I just love my four-legged babies. And they are literally like my children. When we got our first puppy, a chocolate lab, nearly nine years ago, she was 8 weeks old. And she missed her mother. The first night, we closed Libby in our bathroom with lots of newspaper, and she cried and cried. I couldn’t bear it. So I went in the bathroom and lay with her on the floor. She was perfectly happy to snuggle in with me and went right off to sleep.

Well, I wasn’t so young anymore, and sleeping on Linoleum didn’t feel too great! So the next night (and basically the next month), I slept on the couch with Libby on my chest. Each time she would start to wiggle, I would take her out to potty. And in about a month, she would sleep through the night.

Sounds kind of like a baby, doesn’t it? :)

Well, three years later, I headed to Petsmart with my three kids (mistake number one) to get a guinea pig. And we went on a Saturday (mistake number 2), adoption day. So along came Duke! Instead of a guinea pig, we went home with a new puppy. He’s a spotted mix (a rescue dog, so we have no idea what he is). This time I skipped the bathroom floor and started out on the couch with him on my chest. And again, in about a month, we had a dog well trained and sleeping through the night.

These days, Libby sleeps on the floor all around the house (snoring very loudly!), moving from one bedroom to another, and Duke sleeps on a pillow near our bed. They’re all grown up now, well past the puppy stage, and I’m so glad! I can’t imagine starting out with another “baby”. But then again, someday, I’ll walk back into Petsmart on pet adoption day…

Missy Tippens
Newly released! His Forever Love from Steeple Hill Love Inspired
ISBN: 0373875347


Her Unlikely Family, Steeple Hill Love Inspired, Still available!
His Forever Love, SHLI, June 2009
A Forever Christmas, SHLI, November 2009