Friday, October 31, 2008

Mark your calendars....

    Gooood Morning, November!!! (Sorry, couldn't help it. I had to put in one last Jack-O-Lantern!)

    So check it out, everyone! In addition to our usual lineup of witty, scintilatingly funny elfreda ica, we've got a whole host of fun and excitement in store for you.

    On Monday, November 3, we've got Bandita Anna Campbell bringing you the BATTLE OF THE HEROES. What, you may ask, is the Battle of the Heroes? Ahh, well, you'll just have to tune in and see, now won't you? :> I promise you, you won't be sorry if you start your Monday morning with the elfreda ica. You'll hopefully NEVER be sorry you started a Monday with us, but on November 3, you'll be overjoyed. Seriously. Promise.

    You don't believe me? Jeeeesh, tough crowd. Okay, so the four great historical authors, Nicola Cornick, Bronwyn Scott, Michelle Willingham and Amanda McCabe, who will launch Harlequin's sexy e-shorts series, UNDONE!, will be Anna's guests. They'll introduce the men in their stories while Anna Campbell tries to referee a battle of the heroes! It should be huge fun and one lucky commenter will win downloads of all FOUR stories.

    See? Happy now? It WILL be fun.

    Oh, and if the heroes aren't good enough (really, you ARE a demanding lot, aren't you?) :> Anna Campbell is offering a new contest through her website. Her November/December contest offers THREE lucky readers the chance to win a signed copy of her new Avon release TEMPT THE DEVIL. Call by her contest page for details:

    On November 5, Bandita Beth Andrews will be bringing you Silhouette Desire author Tessa Radley. She'll be talking about her Saxon Brides series and you won't want to miss it. Woooohooooo!

    On November 6 Bandita Aunty Cindy (Loucinda McGary) will be hosting her fellow Sourcebooks author, the effervescent Robin Kaye. She'll be joining us to talk about her forthcoming debut Sourcebooks release, Romeo, Romeo. This one's going to be a must read, I can tell you! First in a trilogy about domestic gods, you'll have to get in line to see what happens next...and who wins a copy!

    On November 7 Bandita Nancy Northcott will bring you the ever-popular Gina Robinson. She'll be guesting with us to discuss her forthcoming book Spy Candy, the story of a would-be Bond girl whose trip to a fantasy spy camp lands her in danger, intrigue, and love.

    On November 9, Bandita Nancy Northcott will bring us another fabulous guest, Debby Giusti. This wonderful Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense author will discuss the road to publication and her fourth release, the first in her Magnolia Medical series, Countdown to Death. Here's a taste: When five people in a small town contract a deadly disease, a medical researcher races the clock to find a cure, with the help of a handsome, possibly dangerous recluse.

    Check out Bandita Nancy's cool contest on her website,! This the first contest Nancy's offered and is open to her newsletter subscribers. The writer prize is a bundle of useful books--Stephen King's ON WRITING, Jane Yolen's TAKE JOY, Martin Brice's A CHRONICLE HISTORY OF FORTS AND FORTRESSES, and Daniel Pool's WHAT JANE AUSTEN ATE AND CHARLES DICKENS KNEW, along with a decorative bookmark.

    The reader prize is a blue stuffed dragon, half a dozen mass market novels in various genres (none by her personal friends because she finds picking among their books impossible), and two decorative bookmarks. Hie thee to Nancy's website and enter!!

    On November 12 Bandita Aunty Cindy (Loucinda McGary) will be drawing another wonderful new Sourcebooks author, Cheryl Brooks, into the Lair. The second book in her sci-fi-fantasy series, Warrior, is out in October. Check in on the twelfth for another giveaway!

    On November 17 Golden Leaf winning Bandita Christie Kelley will host an author with a split personality. B.H. Dark, a top Samhain author, will be with us. In case you're actually WORRIED about the split personality thing, don't. B.H.Dark is really the writing team of Kathy Love and Julie Cohen! Come make them both welcome.

    If you're one of our writer pals amongst the Bandita Buddies, make sure you've got the final polish going on your Golden Heart Entries. Intent to enter and fees for same are due into RWA in Houston on November 17. Whooo-hoooo! Go Banditas! Go Bandita Buddies!!

    Oh, and lest you worry that December cannot possibly hold a candle to the excitement we have in store in November, check out December 1! *Drum Roll Please!* We're thrilled to welcome back a Lair favourite, NYT best-selling author Eloisa James. Wooohoooo! Be sure to visit - we have a fun day in store for you all, as Eloisa celebrates the launch of her upcoming book in the Desperate Duchesses' series "When the Duke Returns." She'll be bringing Villier and as if that wasn't prize enough, there will be books galore!

    And so the Golden Heart-ers don't feel lonely, you potential Rita Candidates need to get your bums in gear too. Fees and intent to enter are due into RWA in Houston on December 1!Source URL:
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Have an adventurous weekend.

There will be blood....

Feeling Smitten...

Welcome, November Sponsors!

    I'm very happy to present Cup of Jo's November sponsors, which you can now see on the left. Please feel free to visit their lovely shops. xoxo

    P.S. A wonderful web programmer, Caroline, put up the new ads and widened my blog. If any of you are interested in that (or other blog/tech help), email me and I'll gladly pass along her info! xoSource URL:
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A mini ventriloquist's dummy

Where The Wild Things Are

Thursday, October 30, 2008

No Place Like Halloweeeeeeeeen....

    By Jeanne Adams

    The holiday season begins at my house on October first. Halloween is my absolute favorite holiday and always has been. Given that, I get to start in September these days, which is when I put up the Halloween decorations. Every room gets something, even the half-bath.

    For one month, I'm worse than those little old ladies you see with 4000 Santas out all year long.

    From September 30th on, I get to read Halloween books to my kids without any remorse (I do it all year long, by the way, I just get to do it guilt-free for the months of September and October) and we get at least one new one every year.

    We start planning the outdoor decorations in September and begin issuing the invites for the annual Ad(d)ams Family Halloween Party - a wickedly fun event where the adults get to dress up and say BOO! Of course, if you insist on coming sans costume, you have to bring something to eat. I get about half and half every year. Grins. We had a Cavalier, a Catholic Schoolgirl, an Elfin Warrior and a Karate Master this year along with assorted other characters. It was great fun!

    But back to the books...The favorite new book this year is one by Carl Reiner, you know him from all the way back on the Dick Van Dyke show and from his later work in Oceans Eleven. The book is called Tell Me a Scary Story...But Not Too Scary. It's marvelous! I've read it to my youngest about six times per night for the past four or five nights. We've even read it during the day sometimes too. Bwah-ha-ha!!!

    Past favorites have included The ABC's of Halloween, The Runaway Pumpkin, and A Very Brave Witch. You've never heard anything funnier than a four year old yelling, as you read, "RUNAWAY PUMPKIN!!"

    Then there's the costumes for the kids. We discuss this at length from Labor Day on. This year we have a Football Player (Miami Dolphins, for some unknowable reason) and IronMan.

    For the Halloween party, my darling hubby and I were Biker Trailer Trash. There were people who arrived at my door who did not recognize me. I guess I'm glad about that, since I pulled off the trailer trash thing pretty well!

    I put the picture down below. What do you think?

    And then there's the pumpkins. Gosh I love carving pumpkins. What is not to love about those fabulous orange canvases? There doesn't seem to be anything you can't carve into a pumpkin. From ghosts to vultures to bad-ass bikers, you can create a pumpkin tribute. One of my "Bucket List" items is to get to the famous Keene, NH Pumpkin Festival. It's one of the world's largest pumpkin festivals. This year's count was 22, 596 carved pumpkins. Check it out at

    The other fun thing is the Life Is Good Pumpkin Festivals. Wow are they delightful! Life is Good partners with a local charity to set up twelve festivals scattered in various parts of the country and the classic Life Is Good style t-shirts are in full swing.

    There's always a specially designed Festival shirt. Really cool! They also have cool Halloween gear if you want style without costume!

    And oh...the candy. Considering we've had our Halloween party already and there's still cake, pie, brownies and we're making cupcakes today (Halloween), I probably should be doing at least three hours on the exercise bike per day for the next ten weeks.

    Then again, I also bought five bags of candy. I'll give 'em out too. Really. I will. *VEG*

    I always buy the candy I like, don't you? This is just in case I don't give it all away to the mini-goblins then I'll have good stuff around. I hate to have leftovers of candy that I won't eat. *shudder* Now that's scary. Besides, it hurts my Scotch soul to throw anything away, especially candy!

    (By the way, the picture at the left is our pumpkin effort this year...)

    As to candy, my favorites are malted milk balls, tootsie roll pops and tootsie rolls. Jeez, they make me drool. I've got to stay away from the blinking things until tomorrow night. Cripes. It's like they call to me.

    ....Jeanne....we're heeeeeerrrrreeeeee....we're deliiiiiciousssssss....

    Scary. Verrrrry Scary.

    So, are you dressing up this Halloween? What about your kids, if you have any?

    When you shed that "normal" face of yours, whose face are you going to assume?

    What about candy? What's your favorite? Mars Bars? Snickers? Tootsie Rolls? What kind of candy do you despise?

    Last but not least, any good Halloween books to recommend?

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Home Inspiration: The Selby

Pumpkin Parfaits

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Trains, Planes, and Automobiles

    by Jo Robertson

    I recently took a train trip (see Amtrak Zephyr, left) to Chicago and South Bend, Indiana, home of Notre Dame. The ride took fifty-two hours and went through some interesting and beautiful country in Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, and Indiana.

    My husband was thrilled because we traveled through a small town called Helper, Utah, named after the small trains that “helped” the larger ones make it up the mountain. Helper Junior High, which Boyd attended decades ago, still sits on the hill with the same name blazoned across the front.

    To the right is the rock formation called Castle Gate, a mile from Helper.

    The trip wasn’t so wonderful to me, but I was game to try it, not having ridden on a train in ages. I’d forgotten how small the compartments are, how claustrophobic the sleeping bunk is, and how wobbly the ride is.

    I won’t be repeating the experience.

    When I was a girl, my mother traveled with us children through East Germany (under Communist control at the time) to meet my dad at his new army assignment in
    West Berlin. It was the middle of the night, and we’d made a temporary stop at a station in the Russian sector. My mom was a trickster and seldom obeyed the rules (one of the reasons I loved her), so even though we’d been warned repeatedly NOT to look out the windows, she peeked around the shade.

    Zoom, that vinyl shade shot up like a jackrabbit, clattering as loud as the guilty sounds of rogue rifle fire. Instantly alarms sounded, lights flashed, and frighteningly large men in Cossack uniforms brandished even larger rifles. My six-year-old psyche was scarred.
    Is it any wonder I don’t like train rides?

    When we travel
    ed to Egypt in the late 70’s, we took the Luxor train up the Nile from Cairo to Luxor and the temple of Karnak. I understand the Luxor train is much improved now, but then it was a nightmare.

    Riding the Luxor train was an experience out of the Eighteenth Century. The joints between the cars were mere open spaces about twelve to eighteen inches separating one car from the next. We looked down at the dizzying tracks while we bravely leapt from one car to another, hoping we wouldn't slip and lose a foot -- or two.

    The sleeping car had some kind of dusty debris that wafted down during the night to stick in my hair and the bed linen was disgusting. I didn’t dare change into sleeping clothes.

    In the dining car, we passed a waiter who was drying a glass with a cloth as black as onyx. The toilet? Well, everyone was dumping waste on the tracks in those days and the Luxor train was no different.

    But the next morning we woke up to the most amazing landscape. Ninety percent of Egypt’s population lives on five percent of the land around the fertile Nile River (see above). Men were harvesting crops with wooden ploughs like they did two thousand years ago. Lush, green, and gorgeous, the Nile area is a sharp contrast to the surrounding Sahara.

    We visited the Temple at Karnak (above right) and thrilled to the ancient antiquities (Ramses II, below right).

    This was an amazing train adventure, but not one I’d want to repeat, at least not the train part.

    Boyd's favorite mode of transportation is by car (it’s very hard to fit his large frame into a tiny train or airline seat). He likes to stop at every historical marker between northern California and Timbucktu and read the inscriptions.

    I love flying. I like the quiet, isolated feeling I have in the crowded company of strangers where I can read and sleep, my two favorite pastimes.

    What about you? Do you prefer to travel by train, plane, or automobile. Why? Any train experiences? Unusual road trips? Airplane nightmares?

    Tell us your stories. I’m dying to give a $15 Amazon gift certificate to one lucky random commenter.

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Yellow Wedding Shoes.

The World's Largest Beatles (Ferris Bueller) Sing-a-Long

Two different pretty ladies

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