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Friday, April 26, 2013

"Debbie" - first three pages




It’s Friday and that means you’re getting another installment of “Debbie”.
This time you’re getting page three. Not to worry, for those who came in late, page one and two are included, so nobody is missing out.

Hi there!
My name is Debbie, and I’m a ferret.
You know what a ferret is, right? Have you ever seen a picture of a ferret? Please don’t say that ferrets look like rats. I’m nothing like a rat, and I’ll take it as insult if you compare me to one!
For starters, rats are rodents, while ferrets are more highly evolved in the animal world.
Rats are very active creatures, always scurrying after something.
Ferrets have a much more relaxed lifestyle. We like to take things easy. Did you know that we sleep, on average, 17 to 20 hours a day?
Other than that, rats are not exactly the prettiest animals in the world, are they? But ferrets definitely are. I mean, look at my picture, am I cute or what?
Whenever humans looked at me and my friends, they stopped in their tracks, peered into our cage, and said, “Oh look at these adorable ferrets!” They would comment on our pretty little pink ears, tiny black beady eyes, pert little pink nose and short little legs.
 My fur is a mixture of the same sand color as that of my friends, but with touches of black. I even have a black stripe over my eyes. People would say that I look like a bandit. Hmm … perhaps that would be an appropriate name for me, as ferrets are thieves by nature. Well, not actually thieves, let’s just say that ferrets like to collect things and then hide them!
But that was not the case. As it turned out, when I was adopted, my new owner had a proper name ready for me  He picked me up, held me at eye level and said “Hello cutie, I’m Andrew. What shall I call you?” His eyes squinted a bit and he cocked his head to the side before he suggested, “How about Debbie?”
Fine by me, I liked the name Debbie. Aren’t there movie stars or celebrities named Debbie?
Andrew, a tall human with red hair and green eyes, bought me a handsome metal cage, wood curls to line the bottom, a flowery velvet hammock to sleep in, a bag of dry food pellets especially for ferrets, some toys, and a litter box for ... hmmm, well, you-know-what.
Home was a condo on the 15th floor. Through the holes in my box, I saw a large sunny room. Keep in mind that, small as I am, everything seemed a bit overwhelming to me.
My cage was placed in one of the rooms, and I saw Andrew taking my food into another room.
And then, gasp! I was taken out of the box.
Whoa, but the place was spacious! Being inside the box didn’t give me a true perspective on the size of the room. Once I was out of it, the room seemed enormous. Scared and intimidated, I cowered low to the ground.
“Welcome to your new home Debbie,” Andrew said, picking me up. “Shall I show you around? This is my bedroom. This is where I sleep at night.”
As Andrew started walking, I got the feeling that I was gliding through the air. He took me from room to room, complete with explanations. Let me see if I remember them all: there was a guest bedroom where visitors slept; a bathroom where Andrew washed himself; a kitchen where meals were prepared and the dishes were washed; and a living room which was, as Andrew said, for hanging out. “And that,” Andrew said, still holding me as we were back in the living room, “is the balcony. Want to see?”
Did I have a choice?
He opened a floor-to-ceiling sliding door and stepped outside.
Good grief! We must have been high up, because I could see for miles and miles!
“We’re on the 15th floor,” Andrew said, moving closer to the edge of the balcony. “Here, have a look.”




Thursday, April 25, 2013

Guest blogger of the day ... Robin


(Since Conny asked me to do my own intro here, I figured I’d give you the whole backstory. If I missed anything, just ask in the comments. I’ll probably answer…)


I was born… Oh, wait – that intro has already been used. Hmm. Okay, well, I WAS born. Almost, um, 50 years ago. Ugh, that sounds like my mother… Let me try again:

Obviously I WAS born. After that, I can pretty much divide my life into parts: childhood – pretty good, teens – had a blast, early adulthood – eh, and everything since – FANtastic! My husband and I have five kids between us, two of his, two of mine, and one of ours. And three grandkids, all extremely smart and incredibly cute. Of course.

I grew up in the St. Louis, Missouri area and gradually moved across the state, then to Colorado for not quite two years, and then Texas; we were down there for eight years. Back to St. Louis for an aborted attempt at law school, and then I got bored.
We opened our bookstore in October 2011, after a brainstorm in late July. My first book came out the following August – the inspiration of which was a really weird dream that came from eating salsa too late one night. While I was procrastinating on my second book a few months later, again in October, I thought, “Hey, I’ll start a publishing house!” So I did.

And here I am.


My friend, fellow author, and client Conny Manero mentioned that I could perhaps do a guest post on her blog about… bowling. Bowling? Well, I do enjoy the sport. And, yes, I could reminisce over a few interesting things that I’ve experienced in that realm. So, sure, why not?

When I was a kid, maybe 8 or 9, my parents were in a bowling league. I didn’t often get to go along, since it was their night out, so to speak, but they did take me sometimes on Saturdays. Had a lot of fun, and no, back then there were no bright pink kids’ balls and no bumpers – you either got gutter balls or a decent score, entirely dependent on your own efforts.

My mom’s co-leader for my Junior Girl Scout troop was a professional bowler and, since in those days there was no “bowling badge,” she helped our troop create one. I remember thinking it was way cool – we learned all about the game and how to keep score. And, like all good Girl Scouts in the 70s, we embroidered the badge ourselves!

The bowling alleys back then were smoky, mysterious places, with snack bars and actual bars; waitresses would bring your food and drink to your lane so you didn’t have to miss any of the action. There were all kinds of leagues: senior, adult, kid, and lessons and parties and special game nights. Going bowling was an event, not just a stopping place to hang out and maybe bowl a few lines. A lot of people had their own balls and shoes, and a lot of them wore team shirts – you know, those colorful polyester ones with the team name emblazoned on them. Hey, it was the 70s!


When I was fifteen, like many kids, I wanted to get a job. Guess what was just up the road? A brand new bowling alley! Perfect. I managed to get hired and I ran the snack bar. I worked after school, sometimes until 2:00 a.m. No pesky state laws to get me off work by 10:00 p.m. on school nights! I remember one night, after working there a week or so, I bolted upright out of a sound sleep and woke myself up saying, “That’ll be fifty-two cents, please!” That was the price of a large Pepsi, with tax.

And yes, a couple times when the bar was swamped and the bartender had to run to the restroom, I’d jump over there and pull beers. No one batted an eye. Besides the Pepsi and the beer, I made burgers, fries, onion rings, nachos, SteakUm sandwiches, and probably a few other things I’ve forgotten about. Then, after we closed, I’d clean everything, fryers and grill too. Still remember how to clean that grill: we had this big black block of… something, and had to screw in a heavy metal handle. That’s what we scrubbed it with, till it shone. Ick.

A bunch of guys from my high school worked there too – they’d unjam the pins, retrieve balls, and fix the automatic scorers. They taught me how to do that too, and there were plenty of times when I had to jump over the counter and help a group out with their machine.

As an older teen, my friends and I bowled a lot. I wasn’t working there anymore, but I still knew most of the people who did, so we’d hang out and bowl on Friday nights. Had a blast! And over the years, I’d still bowl occasionally, always remember how our Girl Scout leader taught us to pick up the ball, line up the pins, and maneuver just right to get that perfect strike.

Well, it worked sometimes!

Thank you Robin.  For me, as a bowler, that was a very interesting post.  



Tuesday, April 23, 2013

My guest blogger ... Debbie



Hello, I’m “Under the Toronto Sun’s” guest blogger today.  If I get lots of hits and possible comments, I might get a regular spot on this blog.

Let me introduce myself.

My name is Debbie and I’m a ferret.  Yes, you read that right, a ferret.

If you think humans are the only bloggers, think again.  Pets blog too, you could say they lead double lives.
When humans are around, they act like animals should: they meow, bark, they’re being cute or they make a nuisance of themselves.  But when their owners go to sleep or leave the house to go to work, to school, or out to dinner, everything changes.  When nobody’s watching, pets’ live get a lot more interesting.  They watch TV, play music, or read books and magazines

Personally, I’ve developed an interest in computers.  I’ve been doing a lot of research on ferrets and I’ve been blogging about them (and other animals) for the past three years.  I even wrote a little children’s book that I named after me … “Debbie”.


I thought it might be a good idea to write about how I got adopted, went to live in a condo and what happened after that.  There are many books available about cats and dogs and even rabbits, but not much is known about ferrets.

Ferrets are generally misunderstood.  Many people think we’re like rats, which is absolutely ridiculous.  I mean, look at the pictures below, one is of a rat, the other of a ferret.  Those who can’t see the difference need to get their eyes checked. 



We’re also a lot of fun, when we’re awake that is.  Yes, we sleep a lot (sometimes 20 hours a day), but during the time that we're awake we’re always up to something.  They don’t call certain species of ferrets “bandits” for nothing.  Which is something you can read about in “Debbie”. 

Okay, so that’s it for now.  If you want to read more of my hand (paw) let me know and I’ll get right on it.

By the way, my book “Debbie”, is available from Rocking Horse Publishing  and Amazon.com 


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Debbie - first two pages


Earlier this week I posted the first page of “Debbie” a children’s book.  Today I’m adding page two, with page one repeated for those who are just joining.


Hi there.
My name is Debbie and I’m a ferret.
You know what a ferret is, right?  Have you ever seen a picture of a ferret?  Please don’t say that ferrets look like rats. I’m nothing like a rat, and I’ll take it as insult if you compare me to one.
For starters, rats are rodents while ferrets are more highly evolved in the animal world.
Rats are very active creatures, always scurrying after something.
Ferrets have a much more relaxed lifestyle.  We like to take things easy.  Did you know that we sleep on average 17 to 20 hours a day?  
Other than that, rats are not exactly the prettiest animals in the world now, are they?  But ferrets definitely are.  I mean look at my picture, am I cute or what?
Whenever humans looked at me and my friends, they stopped in their tracks, peered into our cage and said, “Oh look at these adorable ferrets!”  They would comment on our pretty little pink ears; tiny black beady eyes; pert little pink nose and short little legs.  
 My fur is a mixture of the same sand color as that of my friends, but with touches of black.  I even have a black stripe over my eyes.  People would say that I look like a bandit.  Hmm…perhaps that would be an appropriate name for me, as ferrets are thieves by nature.  Well, not actually thieves, let’s just say that ferrets like to collect things and then hide them
But that was not the case.  As it turned out, when I was adopted, my new owner had a proper name ready for me  He picked me up, held me at eye level and said “Hello cutie, I’m Andrew and what shall I call you?  His eyes squinted a bit and cocked his head to the side before he suggested, “How about Debbie?”
Fine by me, I liked the name Debbie.  Aren’t there movie stars or celebrities named Debbie?
Andrew, a tall human with red hair and green eyes, bought me a handsome metal cage, wood curls to line the bottom, a flowery velvet 

(Page three to follow)


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Goodbye Kiki, hello Zippy



Recently I learned from a friend that she called her Beta fish JC (short for Jackie Chan).  Even though JC swims alone in an aquarium and thus has nobody to fight with, everyone knows that Beta fish are fighters and that Jackie Chan is a fighter, hence the name is appropriate.

Whenever we adopted a cat, finding a name was never a problem. 

Chanel was named after Coco Chanel, creator of the famous Chanel No. 5 perfume.  Since Chanel was our fifth cat, the name was perfect.

Charlotte had a mischievous grin on her face when we first met and she reminded me of an ex-colleague named Charlotte who was always up to something.

Mickey came to us with a name.  After mom died and dad decided to move to a retirement home, a home had to be found for Mick.  I knew right away that I was bringing Mickey to Canada because I didn’t trust strangers with him.

Gabriel looked angelic when I first saw him.  I was told that he was a fighter though.  Naming him after an archangel was the logical choice.

With our latest addition, we made a bit of a mistake.

When we adopted a four week old bunny, we named her Kiki because she kicked up a storm when held.  Today, barely four days later, we’ve decided that Kiki is not the best name for the creature and we renamed her Zippy.

If you were to see her move, you would understand why.  While most of the time she hops, if she gets playful she zips from here to there.  Quick as lightning she is and catching her (during her roaming free time) is near impossible.  The best thing to do is to wait until she gets tired and then make a move.

How do we know where Zippy is?  All we have to do is look for Mickey, he follows her around like a big brother.

Gabriel sniffs her and when she gets on his nerves, he swats her with his tail.  If she doesn’t get the message, he sits on her.  If she happens to be under his butt, so be it.

Charlotte is still a little wary of the newcomer and keeps her distance.  If Zippy crosses the line, she gets hissed at. 

As for Chanel … she’s scared of her own shadow, so when she first set eyes on Zippy she ran like a bat from hell.  Soon her curiosity got the better of her though and very carefully she had a closer look at Zippy.  Today they’re not really friends yet, but she lets Zippy sniff her tail.

I’m confident this will have a happy ending.

Meanwhile, here are some pictures of the little trouble maker.

 A shoulder can be quite comfortable

You heard of grumpy cat ... this is me, grumpy bunny

Smells like chicken 

                                                Mickey is inspecting Zippy's accommodation 
                                                  (can be extended when Zippy gets bigger)



Monday, April 15, 2013

Meet Kiki


Kiki

Easter has come and gone and with it a lot of bunnies are looking for a home.

It’s quite common for children to fall in love with these soft, adorable creatures and to beg their parents “Please can I have a bunny?”  When a couple of more ‘pleases’ follow the question, parents tend to give in, either to silence their child or because they fancy the pet too.

After a few days it’s a different story.  Providing food and water for bunny might be considered fun, but cleaning its cage is anything but.  Unlike cats and dogs, bunnies make a mess and to prevent the situation from getting out of hand, bunny’s living conditions need a lot of attention.

The result … kids are no longer interested in their cute pet and the parents get sick and tired of cleaning up after it.  Before long the parents decide that the bunny has to go. 

Where ones pet stores were crowded with bunnies, now animal shelters get flooded with them.

Fortunately, there are people who are willing to open up their heart and their home to these rejects.  Most of them have considered such adoption for some time, have researched a bunny’s requirements and know about the work involved.  When they feel they’re ready, they adopt from a shelter rather than buying at a pet store.

Kiki is one such a rejected bunny.  Wanted with Easter, no longer wanted a few days later.  Fortunately, we were at the right place at the right time and were able to rescue one little bunny from a life in a shelter or worse.

As Kiki grows up, I’ll keep you updated with stories and pictures.

 

  

"Debbie" - page 1



Looking for a cute children’s book?  You might be interested in “Debbie”.
“Debbie” is a children's book about a ferret who gets adopted by Andrew, goes to live in a condo and makes friends with Charlie the resident cat.  Together they have all kinds of adventures. 


Hi there!
My name is Debbie, and I’m a ferret.
You know what a ferret is, right? Have you ever seen a picture of a ferret? Please don’t say that ferrets look like rats. I’m nothing like a rat, and I’ll take it as insult if you compare me to one!
For starters, rats are rodents, while ferrets are more highly evolved in the animal world.
Rats are very active creatures, always scurrying after something.
Ferrets have a much more relaxed lifestyle. We like to take things easy. Did you know that we sleep, on average, 17 to 20 hours a day?
Other than that, rats are not exactly the prettiest animals in the world, are they? But ferrets definitely are. I mean, look at my picture, am I cute or what?
Whenever humans looked at me and my friends, they stopped in their tracks, peered into our cage, and said, “Oh look at these adorable ferrets!” They would comment on our pretty little pink ears, tiny black beady eyes, pert little pink nose and short little legs.

(To be continued)



Thursday, April 11, 2013

Need a laugh?



Susan Jasper shared a little something from Quotes Etc. this morning.  What I read made me laugh and shake my head in wonder. 

ONE

Recently, when I went to McDonald's I saw on the menu that you could have an order of 6, 9 or 12 Chicken McNuggets.
I asked for a half dozen nuggets.
'We don't have half dozen nuggets,' said the
teenager at the counter.
'You don't?' I replied.
'We only have six, nine, or twelve,' was the reply.
'So I can't order a half dozen nuggets, but I can order six?'
'That's right.'
So I shook my head and ordered six McNuggets
(Unbelievable but sadly true...)
(Must have been the same one I asked for sweetener,
and she said they didn't have any, only Splenda and sugar.)

TWO

I was checking out at the local Wal-Mart with just a few items and the lady behind me put her things on the belt close to mine. I picked up one of those 'dividers' that they keep by the cash register and placed it between our things so they wouldn't get mixed. 
After the girl had scanned all of my items, she picked up the
'divider', looking it all over for the bar code so she could scan it.
Not finding the bar code, she said to me, 'Do you know how much this is?'
I said to her 'I've changed my mind; I don't think I'll buy that today.'
She said 'OK,' and I paid her for the things and left.
She had no clue to what had just happened.

(But the lady behind me had a big smirk on her face as I left)

THREE

A woman at work was seen putting a credit card into her floppy drive and pulling it out very quickly.
When I inquired as to what she was doing, she said she was shopping on the Internet and they kept asking for a credit card number, so she was using the ATM 'thingy.'

(Keep shuddering!!)

FOUR

I recently saw a distraught young lady weeping beside her car. 'Do you need some help?' I asked. She replied, 'I knew I should have replaced the battery to this remote door unlocker. Now I can't get into my car. Do you think they (pointing to a distant convenience store) would have a battery to fit this?'
'Hmmm, I don't know. Do you have an alarm, too?' I asked.
'No, just this remote thingy,' she answered,
handing it and the car keys to me. As I
took the key and manually unlocked the door, I
replied, 'Why don't you drive over there and
check about the batteries. It's a long walk....'

PLEASE just lay down before you hurt yourself !!!

FIVE

Several years ago, we had an Intern who was none too swift. One day she was typing and turned to a secretary and said, 'I'm almost out of typing paper. What do I do?' 'Just use paper from the photocopier', the secretary told her. With that, the intern took her last remaining blank piece of paper, put it on the photocopier and proceeded to make five 'blank' copies.

Brunette, by the way!!

SIX

A mother calls 911 very worried asking the dispatcher if she needs to take her kid to the emergency room, the kid had eaten ants. The dispatcher tells her to give the kid some Benadryl and he should be fine, the mother says, 'I just gave him some ant killer......'
Dispatcher: 'Rush him in to emergency right away'

Life is tough. It's even tougher if you're Stupid!!!! 
Someone had to remind me, so I'm reminding you too.
Don't laugh....it is all true...

Friday, April 5, 2013

Interview with Charlotte



Under the Toronto Sun started out as yet another local blog to inform, to celebrate and occasionally vent.  Over the years, the reading audience grew and the blog is now read over the whole world.

Today I’m doing something different … I’m going to interview Charlotte Howard.  Charlotte recently published her first book “Seven Dirty Words” with Rocking Horse Publishing and she seems like such an interesting lady, I had to introduce her and her work to you.

Hi Charlotte, tell us a little about yourself. 



Where were you born, where did you grow up, where do you live now, that kind of info.

My Dad worked on oil rigs, so we traveled a fair bit when I was younger.  I was born in Oman, then we moved to Scotland, and eventually to England.  I grew up on the Nottingham / Lincoln border (home of Robin Hood!)from the age of 12 onwards.  Once I hit 18 I started moving around again.  I moved to Somerset to be with my (now) husband, and we lived in Jersey, Channel Islands for a couple of years, but now we’re back in Somerset.  Lots of moving around.  I get itchy feet after about 3 years, so am ready for a move now!

You recently published “Seven Dirty Words” what prompted you to write this book?

I’ve always been interested in crime / mystery novels, but after seeing it go viral, I read the Fifty Shades trilogy.  A couple of my family and friends asked if I’d tried writing romance.  I hadn’t but thought I’d give it a go.  I wrote one (which was rejected by lots of agents) and while I was waiting for that to find a home, I wrote Seven Dirty Words.

How do you find the time to write?

I keep asking if anyone has a few spare hours they could lend me, because to be honest – I don’t know.  I have two young children, and I help out with a couple of after-school clubs.  I tend to write on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays between 10 and 2 since that’s when I have the house completely to myself.

Some people write with pen and paper and type up their notes, others use a computer.  What do you use?

Computer.  But I also have a notepad in my handbag at all times, several jotters scattered around the house, my mobile phone and a tablet.  I probably look like a complete loony walking the dog, talking into my mobile phone to record any thoughts / notes I come up with!  Once a manuscript is finished, I print it out and get a red pen to edit, before moving back to the PC / laptop to finish it.

What do you do to bring “Seven Dirty Words” to the attention of the public?

I have several online accounts: Facebook, Twitter, Blog (choward2614.wordpress.com) and my website (www.charlottehowardauthor.co.uk) I think a lot of it has been done word-of-mouth though.  I had a phone call from a local radio station to do an interview after they’d seen a piece about me in the paper, and a few members of the writers group I go to have spread the word for me too.

What advice would you give about writing and marketing?

Keep a copy of the book in your bag at all times.  I managed to sell a copy at my sister’s baby shower after I got it out and used it to lean on when writing.  I gave copies away to my friends and family too – one is currently in my husband’s office, one is in a caravan club in Scotland, and there are several more dotted around the country, hopefully getting some attention!  Recently, I donated a signed copy to my local library as well.
I’ve also got a collection of postcards with all the details on that live in my handbag to give out to anyone, like booksellers, that I meet.
And, I keep an eye out for anyone who offers to review the book (for free – I wouldn’t pay for reviews), or blog tour requests.

Anything in the works now?

At the moment I’m finishing Four Letter Words, the sequel to Seven Dirty Words.  I have several more plots and storylines jotted down, and have considered trying my hand at crime-romance and paranormal-romance.

Thank you Charlotte.  Best of luck with “Seven Dirty Words” and any future works.

Monday, April 1, 2013

April fools day



Did you make an April fool of someone yesterday?  I did.

I programmed my cellphone’s alarm for 3:00, 3:15 and 3:30 a.m. and hid it in my son’s room.  Now don’t imagine this to be easy.

For starters, I didn’t know how to program the alarm on my phone, he had to show me.  At the time, he had no idea of course that I was planning to use this device to wake him up three times in a row.

Once the alarm was set I had to get the phone into his room, which was no picnic either.  Dieter was on his computer and stayed there.  He made a short trip to the kitchen to get something to eat and drink, but that didn’t take long enough for me to sneak into his room.  Didn’t he ever have to go to the bathroom?

Eventually I heard the bathroom door close and I sprang into action.  I grabbed the phone, sprinted to his room and briefly considered where to plant the phone.  I didn’t have much time, so I had to act quickly.

Hearing the toilet flush I shoved the phone under the cat blanked on the floor and then quick as lightning disappeared back into the living room.  Pfffh, that was close.

The trick worked like a charm (sort of) (or so I heard this morning).  The alarm went off at 3:00 and at 3:15 a.m. but didn’t get the chance to go off again at 3:30.  After being woken up a second time Dieter switched the alarm off.  Party pooper.

So I cooked up another trick.  I opened a gmail account under the name of Barbara and sent Dieter an email.  Just to clarify, Barbara is the president of the condo building where we live.  The email read:

Hi Dieter,

Your neighbors have seen a lot of pigeon activity on your balcony.
Did you know that YCC is offering FREE balcony fencing?
Contact Vajita at management office to choose your type of fencing any time before 3:00 p.m.

Barbara

Free?  Did someone say free?  Dieter put on his shoes and off he went to “choose” the free netting.

I guess everyone loves a bargain.