Blog Archives

Mousie Me

20130201-062114.jpg

This is the last photo for the January photo a day challenge. Me again. Here’s the girl and I as we headed out to Disney’s Magic Kingdom. I should have posted it last night but it had been a LONG day. LOL

A couple quick tips for anyone going to magic kingdom: avoid Stitch’s Great Escape. It’s a terrible “ride”. And if you feel you must do it, sit in the back row. Ten minutes of smoke blown directly into your face is more than anyone should be strapped in and forced to endure. It’s a special kind of torture. Tip two: bring tissue. Seriously. I cried through the first half of the fireworks show. LMAO

TJ Bown, Summerset Abbey, and Water.

In the brief teaser I tacked onto yesterdays blog post I let you know there would be a special interview today, and I’m not going to disappoint!  I had the chance to ask author TJ Brown a few questions in regards to her new release Summerset Abbey and the series it kicks off.  So, let’s jump right in!

TD:  Was there a certain event or idea that inspired the book?

TJ:  I have always loved the Edwardian period, but after Downton Abbey aired, I really wanted to write something in that period. I told my agent, we should pitch an Edwardian and she asked me what I had in mind. 5 weeks later I had a contract for a three book Edwardian series!

TD:  I know this is your first foray into historical fiction, did this pose any particular challenges or did you find it was a natural fit for you?

TJ:  It actually isn’t my first foray into historical fiction. Six months prior to getting the Summerset Abbey contract, I got a contract for a young adult series set in the 1920’s. So even though it won’t be out until June (Born of Illusion, June 15th!), I wrote it before the Summerset Series.

I honestly never thought I would be a historical writer, even though I love history and reading historicals. I just thought I had a more modern voice and the research intimidated me. But I had this idea that wouldn’t go away and once I wrote Born of Illusion I was hooked. Of course, Summerset is in a different time period, but before I started writing it, I figured that I had done so much research for the twenties, surely ten years prior couldn’t be that big of a difference could it? Was I ever wrong. 1914 England was a whole different world than 1924 New York. I had to start the research all over again! And I love it!

TD:  Can you tell me a little about your process?

TJ:  Usually, I start with a concept for a plot. Just a sketchy idea. Then the characters’ come. It’s rather like putting together a puzzle. And then my plot constantly changes and develops as I write. I’m not quite a seat of my pants writer, but the Summerset books have been unusually organic for me.

TD:  How many books do you foresee in this series?

TJ:  I am contracted for three but I have an idea for a fourth that my editor likes. Nothing is set in stone yet, and it may not happen, but I do have a fourth Summerset book in mind. We’ll see! But four for sure.

TD:  Do you have a favourite character or is there one who resonates more with you than the others?

TJ:  Victoria. In all of my books I have at least one over the top character and in Summerset Abbey, Victoria is the one. She is smart and imaginative and she says almost everything that comes into her mind. I adore her. Even though all girls are featured, Bloom in Winter is her book, and I had such an awesome time working on it!

So there you have it folks!  TJ Brown on her new book, Summerset Abbey, her process, and on writing historical fiction.  Now all that’s left is to drop a few details.  😉

Summerset Abbey is available at:

Book Blurb:

  • Summerset Abbey
    1913: In a sprawling manor on the outskirts of London, three young women
    seek to fulfill their destinies and desires amidst the unspoken rules of
    society and the distant rumblings of war. . . .
    Rowena Buxton
    Sir Philip Buxton raised three girls into beautiful and capable young women
    in a bohemian household that defied Edwardian tradition. Eldest sister
    Rowena was taught to value people, not wealth or status. But everything she
    believes will be tested when Sir Philip dies, and the girls must live under
    their uncle's guardianship at the vast family estate, Summerset Abbey.
    Standing up for a beloved family member sequestered to the "under class" in
    this privileged new world, and drawn into the Cunning Coterie, an exclusive
    social circle of aristocratic "rebels," Rowena must decide where her true
    passions-and loyalties-lie.
    Victoria Buxton
    Frail in body but filled with an audacious spirit, Victoria secretly dreams
    of attending university to become a botanist like her father. But this most
    unladylike wish is not her only secret. Now, Victoria has stumbled upon a
    family scandal that, if revealed, has the potential to change lives forever.
    Prudence Tate
    Prudence was lovingly brought up alongside Victoria and Rowena, and their
    bond is as strong as blood. But by birth she is a governess's daughter, and
    to the lord of Summerset Abbey, that makes her a commoner who must take her
    true place in society-as ladies maid to her beloved "sisters." But Pru
    doesn't belong in the downstairs world of the household staff any more than
    she belongs upstairs with the Buxton girls.  And when a young lord catches
    her eye, she begins to wonder if she'll ever truly carve out a place for
    herself at Summerset Abbey.

For more check out TJ at http://tjbrownbooks.com/

TJ Brown, author headshot

Author TJ Brown – Hooray for MomWriters!


Now, as if that alone doesn’t make one heck of a blog post, I still have more for you!  That’s right… we’re still in the middle of the January Photo Challenge – and I’m not one to give up on a challenge.  So here we are.  😉

The challenge today was to photograph water.  Easy peasy, right?  Yep.  Here’s the girl, immersed in the stuff:

kid in the bathtub

My little bathing beauty.

Let’s hope tomorrow is a LITTLE more of an actual challenge…

photo a day challenge for january

Something I’ve bought?  Well…  I guess there’s at least a little bit of thought to go into that one.  😉

 

Pandora strikes Lily-Ann mute!

Okay, so y’all are probably getting sick of me mentioning the Goddess Girls series…  well…  too bad!  LOL  Today the challenge was to photograph something that I’m reading, and that’s what I’m reading.  Book nine:  Pandora the Curious.

Our copy of Pandora the Curious by Suzanne Williams and Joan Holub.

Our copy of Pandora the Curious by Suzanne Williams and Joan Holub.

Usually we’ve been inside the heads of the popular girls, but the last couple of books have taken us inside a couple of secondary characters (the girl and I ADORED Medusa the Mean).  Pandora, along with Medusa and Pheme are the anti-heroines to the cool clique of Artemis, Athena, Aphrodite and Persephone.  So it’s kinda fun to get to see inside their lives.

This book, in particular, is awfully special to Lily-Ann.  The first time she saw it she was actually rendered speechless for the first time in her five and a half years…  well…  since she uttered her first word (which happened to be “woof”) at three months of age anyway.  😉  What exactly caused her awestruck silence?  Take a peek:

There she is, the first name on the third line...  Lily-Ann S.

There she is, the first name on the third line… Lily-Ann S.

Kid kid managed to keep her wits about her when she saw that it was an autographed copy (she has a couple other autographed books too)…  but seeing her name actually inside the book?  Her jaw dropped and her eyes nearly bugged out of her head.  She just stood there and stared at it for several seconds, completely mute.  It was pretty amazing.

Lily-Ann LOVED the little heart.  :)

Lily-Ann LOVED the little heart. 🙂

So, that’s what we’re reading right now.  And I imagine we’ll keep on reading the Goddess Girls books for as long as Joan and Suzanne keep writing them.  I do have to admit…  I really look forward to the day that kid kid goes back on her own to read #1 all by herself.

You can keep up with Joan and Suzanne at the following addresses:  www.joanholub.com   www.suzannewilliams.com

Lily-Ann (hat hair and all) proudly showing off her Goddess Girls books.

Lily-Ann (hat hair and all) proudly showing off her Goddess Girls books.

 

Suzanne and Joan thank you so much!  You’ve given the girl and I many wonderful memories and are helping to build a love of books in a new generation – and that is something that deserves much appreciation.

Join me tomorrow as I share a little “happiness”:

photo a day challenge for january

My bag, a glimpse into my life.

Rogers, who we are registering as Aes Sidhe Captain America, left us to go live with his forever family.  Of course, they have a thirty day trial period to ensure things work out first, but I’m confident in this placement.  I really do think he’s a perfect fit for them…  and the picture they sent me earlier this evening – of him all snuggled in for a snooze under his new Daddy’s chin, the two of them laying together on the couch – just further cemented it.

It’s always a weird few days after someone leaves.  Whether it’s a puppy going to their forever home, or a client dog who is returning home after being a part of our pack for several months…  when someone leaves the entire dynamic of the house shifts.  And that’s happening here now.

So…  onto today’s challenge:  “in your bag”.

My bag used to be a purse.  Because I used to be a girl.  Now I’m a mom, and more fierce than any girl…  Grrrl, gurl, or Woman works for me.  And my bag is not a purse…  it really is a bag.  And instead of a compact, lip colour, and moisturizer I carry a spare pair of pajamas for the kid, snacks, reusable bags, cloth pads, and cute princess and fairy bandages.

A person’s bag (if they carry one) can reveal a lot about that person.  You really do get a real quick glimpse into their life and the things that are important to them.  Amidst the papers and bits of “stuff” one just naturally accumulates (that needs to be cleared out every so often) are bits of treasure and parts of a life well lived, or wasted, depending on your point of view.

pjs, strawberry bags, dog paw wallet, treats, cloth pads in a plastic baggy... all the momcentials.

…all the essentials in one place.

Tomorrow?  “Something you’re reading”.  After that?  “Happiness”.  Something that having all the right things in your bag can help ensure… at least when you have a little one about.  😉

photo a day challenge for january

Sharing something you love…

I thought of a few things I could take pictures of today; “something you adore” is a pretty broad challenge.  What I ended up choosing is this:

something you adore

I know I’ve said it here many times before, and it’s likely to be said many times in the future too, but there really is NOTHING like sharing something you love with someone you love.  And for me?  That something is My Little Pony and that someone is my daughter.  I adore seeing her filled with the same joy and creative enthusiasm that filled me as a child playing with my little plastic horses.  Sure, My Little Ponies have changed a lot over the years, but that delight they bring?  It hasn’t changed one iota.  And the idea that I can give that to kid kid?  It’s pretty freakin’ awesome.  So yeah…  While there were a lot of things I could have picked for today’s photo, this won out.

photo a day challenge for january

Breakfast; the most important meal of the day

I know, just as you do, how important a good hearty breakfast is.  It really can make all the difference to your day.  I know the days when I take a little extra time to have a half waffle with berries, OJ, and a sausage link are often some of my best.

A good breakfast gives fuels your day.  It keeps you energized and helps your creative juices flow.  It helps you feel your best and helps you be your best, thusly spreading to those around you too.

However…

Is it odd that while I was typing the “…” I was saying, in my head of course, “dun, dun, dun” slowly stepping down from note to note in a ominous minor key?  😉  Nah, I didn’t think so.

…we don’t always have time to set aside for this all important meal.  So sue me.  It just doesn’t happen.  Heck yeah I love days where I can lounge about leisurely in the morning until I begin to feel sunshiny.  At which point I can saunter into the kitchen and pull out all the many implements required to make said fabulous breakfast.  Then bake, fry, and slice up my very favourite morning foods.  Afterwards savoring every succulent satisfying bite.

Great.  Now I’m craving maple syrup drenched bacon and buttermilk pancakes slathered in butter with a pulpy fresh orange juice.  Nice.

Today though, like most.  Just wasn’t one of those days.  So I hopped in the shower (thankfully Damon was home today so he fed the kid while I washed my greasy mess of hair), grabbed a banana, the girl, and my bag and jumped in the car with my Mom and sister for a trip to the Warman thrift shop.

Ta da!  My breakfast:

a banana

…and yes, I am still on the lookout for some pretty pink placemats.

Want to join in on the photo a day challenge for January?  Here’s the shot list:

photo a day challenge for january

Looking Back

There are times when everything is so chaotic in our lives that it can be easy to idealize the way things used to be.  Of course, the truth is people’s lives were full back then too…  but it is nice to envision a fairy tale simplicity; the not-quite-accurate bygone days.  There are times though, when you stand still long enough to realize our lives really aren’t that much different.  Our values are the same, as are our priorities.  Okay, so that may not be true for all people, but it is for us.  Family comes first.  And we do everything we can to give Kid Kid as amazing and rich a childhood as we can.  The holidays just tend to put the focus there, even for those who normally are too busy living to really notice.

an aged black and white photograph, digitally enhanced to appear so, of the girl with Santa.

A quiet moment with Santa.

The Avengers – Two Weeks Old

They were two weeks old yesterday, but I took their pictures for their two week update today.  It’s just the way things worked out.  And I’ll admit, I got a little carried away.  They are just SOOO adorable.  And they are getting cuter by the minute.  Less like little guinea pigs, more like puppies…  🙂  It’s so nice seeing them grow and change, they are doing so in leaps and bounds.  And while yes, they are just camera phone pictures, they’re better than my very first digital camera could take WAY back when.  😛

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Finding Princess Primrose

These days it’s pretty rare for us to find a G1 My Little Pony during one of our thrift store trips.  G3s have become a dime a dozen, and most thrift stores will have at least three or four of them.  But a G1?  The original MLP toys from the 80s, when I was a kid?  We just don’t come across them like we used to.  Which makes today’s find at least 20% cooler.  😉

We were out hunting down some dress pants for the Daddy, so I figured I’d check the toy section while he was trying things on.  There, staring at me through a plastic bag, with $1.99 written on it, was Princess Primrose.

Princess Primrose is hardly a rare find.  She’s probably the most common of all the Princess Ponies…  but she’s also the one my daughter has always liked the most.  I have her in my collection, and Lily-Ann has always admired her.

Her hair is cut, and her tinsel is a little frizzy…  but otherwise?  She’s in pretty good shape for her age.  She’s got a little symbol wear, but that’s to be expected.  She still has her blush, and only one of her eyes has even the slightest rub.  Her haircut is rather unfortunate, but the girl doesn’t love her any less because of it.

When we picked Kid-kid up from my parents (we moved her usual Friday night sleepover to Thursday this week to help make sure she’s well rested for the wedding we’re attending tomorrow) I told her we had a surprise for her in the car.  She couldn’t have been more excited ripping into that little plastic bag.  She just thrilled to find Princess Primrose and gushed over her as if I’d found some rare, invaluable, gem.  And perhaps that’s exactly what I found.

Lily-Ann, right after getting Princess Primrose out of the baggie.

Easy DIY Father’s Day Plaque

I’m in a pensive mood tonight, and realize it would be quite easy to ramble on about any number of topics.  So I turned to my iPhone for inspiration.  I began scrolling through all the photos and videos stored within my happy little device (yes, I imagine it’s a happy device, it’s well loved and frequently held, I believe it would feel cared for and treasured much like the old rocking horse or velveteen rabbit).  That’s when I realized, I never did share the Father’s Day project we came up with for Pop Pop.  I suppose it’s about time I gave up a few details on that one.  🙂

My Dad is a squirrel nut (pun intended, obviously).  He feeds them at the lake, and collects pictures, stories and the like.  I’m not really sure how his collection started – it’s really only as old as the girl is… so it’s not a long standing one.  One day we just kinda all seemed to agree that we should give him squirrel related gifts, and thus a collection was born.  I have to say, it’s a better idea than the Xena Warrior Princess figurine my husband and I jokingly gave him a decade or so ago – gotta love a scantily clad warrior princess, right?  LMAO

So I had this idea, that the girl and I should create a squirrel crossing sign for him, you know… for at the lake.  Problem was, I couldn’t find the materials I needed.  What I did come across though, was this cool tree round with the bark still on.  I bought it, not quite sure what it would become, but I loved it and knew I’d figure something out.  By the time we got home?  I knew it would be the perfect canvas for a squirrel picture.

Now, I’m not a cartoonist.  Impressionism I can do – in fact, I spent a number of years working as an impressionist painter and illustrator (sold quite a few pieces too) before I traded in my brushes for a camera.  So I’m not lacking in some skill, but cartooning has never been my strength.  I even tried my hand at some basic folk art, gave the results to my siblings (who were still wee things at the time)…  I see them all the time at my parents place and… well…  yeah…  cartooning/folk art?  Was not my strength even back then.  So clearly I would not be freehanding anything.

While the girl was occupied, I did some looking online for a “squirrel colouring page”.   Thanks to Bing (yes, I bing rather than google stuff) I found a few super cute little doods.  I asked kid kid which was her favourite, and we had our inspiration.  I downloaded it, resized it, and printed it out.

Now, like I said… I’m not a cartoonist – but I do have a pretty good eye.  So what I did was to hold the print out in place over the wood, and using the back of a paint brush (no, I didn’t trade them ALL in), I traced/etched a few lines to help with the proportions.  I etched six or seven little notches, but I imagine you could actually do the entire drawing if you can’t freehand at all.  Personally?  I have no patience for things like that – but if you can’t draw?  I think it would work just fine.  Then I took out one of my paint pens (just a plain black one) and sketched the line drawing out.  If you did etch the whole thing, you could then just trace over your etching to give you the black outline.  That gave me this:

A squirrel for pop pop

If you look closely at the paper, you can see where I’ve etched/traced a line here and there.  And comparing the two you can easily see the differences too.  LOL  But it’s not about creating an exact replica, it’s about having something that gives the impression of what you are creating.  Clearly, that doesn’t look like a REAL squirrel…  but you see it, and you know that’s what it is.  So whatever you create, the idea is for it to give the impression of the thing.  If you can tell what it is?  You’ve succeeded.  🙂  And for us, this particular squirrel holding a strawberry is significant.  I’ve called Lily-Ann “my strawberry” since the day she was born.  So finding a colouring page illustration of a squirrel holding one?  Pretty cool….  and I think that’s what swayed the girl to this particular free use image.

After the black ink was dry, I just let the girl have at it.  She painted it.  And to be honest?  I was actually downright shocked at how well she did.  She was only four at the time!  At one point she even had me stumped:

“Momma?”  she asked.

“Yes Lily-Ann.”

“Can I have the white paint again?”

“What do you need white for?”

“The strawberry.”

“Oh…  you don’t need white on the strawberry, do you?”

“Yes Momma, I do.”

So I dug out the white paint again (totally thinking she was going to make a mess of the very pretty berry she’d already created).  You can imagine my surprise when my girl, who doesn’t do anything gingerly or daintily, ever so carefully touched the very tip of her brush into the paint and dabbed a tiny highlight on the strawberry.  I shouldn’t have doubted her, or questioned her vision, but she showed me.  LOL  She knew exactly what she was doing.  And here’s the result:

The finished plaque - a pretty painting for Father's Day of a delightful little red and brown squirrel.

After it dried it just needed a couple of coats of sealant (which I did without the girl, don’t need her breathing in that scary stuff) and it was ready for Father’s Day.  All in all, a very cool project.  We had fun doing it, it turned out fabulously – and was well received.  A successful project to store in the memory bank.  🙂

%d bloggers like this: