Sunday, July 28, 2013

After the Parade Has Gone : Disney's Magic Kingdom Part 2

I confess I didn't get much stimulation when I was growing up. The highlight of the year was when a ragged band of fair folk set up their fun fair on the field about half a mile away from our home.

We'd trudge over there in the hope of winning a gold fish that would be dead by the time we got home or for a quick candy floss high.

The haunted house was the highlight. It wasn't actually a haunted house but the trailer of a truck manned by a grubby handed individual who would grunt at you when you handed him your change and leer at the girl's tops. Then we'd walk down a nondescript passageway adorned with a few plastic spiders until we got to the very end when a man dressed as a werewolf would come running to the bars of a cage roaring and frightening the heebie jeebies out of us.

One year the highlight was a chair we would sit in that would zap enough electric current through our veins to fry a mid sized rodent.

Like I said I didn't get much fun as a kid. I needed a fun factory nearby, but all we had was the fish and chip shop.

I guess American kids had the Magic Kingdom if they were lucky enough to get there. It was a bit more high tech than the fun fair and at least the staff pretend to like kids at Disney; except for the people who check your bags.

When we arrived at the Magic Kingdom the rather artificial looking main street was being cleared for the parade. I breathed a sigh of relief because it meant a brief respite from the over priced stores.

What can I say about the parade? It was everything you expect from Disney and some of the people there really did seem to want the time of their life, although I just wanted a Newcastle Brown. Instead of describing the thing you can watch the video instead. We are living in a culture where people no longer talk about it but post to YouTube. We want an instant visual high. One day maybe therapists won't bother to get their patients on the couch - they'll just post their consultation on YouTube.

Disney's also a high octane visual stimulation thing; it's a sugar overload but you wake up the next day feeling drained.

The star of this video (even though I didn't notice her at the time) is the middle aged Asian woman who puts the T into the word tourist. But she seems to be having such fun. I am almost envious. And I swear a man pumps his first after the parade has passed, as if the sight of Goofy has got him all riled up for the day.

Other than that our day at Magic Kingdom went a bit squiffy - we went on It's a Small World which is cutsey ah and well done, lined up for Peter Pan's Flight, gave up on Peter Pan's Flight due to a nice combo of humidity, long waits and the body swear of fellow liners uppers.

I got almost as pumped up as scary parade man when I secured a fast pass for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, only for the heavens to open and the roller coaster ride to be postponed "indefinitely," although I'm assumed it has opened by now.

So we trudged back in torrential rain and thunder, soaked to the skin in the one Disney kingdom where no alcohol is served, sober up in the knowledge we had only seen half of the park and gone on one ride.

To be grudgingly continued...

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

By George - the Little Prince of Cambridge Has a Lot to Live Down To

Although I had a fleeting hope Kate and Wills would name the Royal baby personage something like Duane, Wayne, Zac or Swiper, I knew it was more likely to be a traditional name. Indeed George was the first name that came to mind before I saw it was the bookmakers' favorite.

For some reason members of the Royal Family whose offspring may aspire to the lofty heights of the throne of England at some time, traditionally use names of former monarchs. This cuts down the name pool but at least there are a few antiquated monikers doing the rounds out there.

George I

On the subject of the lofty heights of the monarchy, my colleagues interrogated me today about what role the Monarch has in the running of the country. Does she get to make laws etc. I informed them from my perspective all she does is cut ribbons at garden parties wearing a bit hat and a face that looks like one of her corgis is biting her rear quarters.

But her annual income was apparently recently frozen to a mere 50 million Great British pounds a year, so you have to understand she's putting a brave face on the job.

Anyhow before I return to my Disney ruminations I think it would only be fair to provide a quick guide to His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge's, not so auspicious Royal namesakes.

George 1 (1660 - 1727)

George was born in Hanover, Germany. He married his cousin Sophia but accused her of sleeping around, divorced her and imprisoned her in a castle where she later died. He arrived on the throne of England due to the Act of Settlement which ensured any obscure German was a better bet than a Catholic.

George 1 remained unpopular due to his love of foul smelling sausages, his unwillingness to learn a word of English and his greedy mistresses.

George II (1683 - 1760)

George I's son was the last British monarch to be born in some other place, Germany again. George II had 9 kids and numerous mistresses. When his wife Carolina urged him to remarry on his death bed he replied: "No. I shall have mistresses." He was unpopular due to his short temper and boorishness, but some historians are reevaluating his role as Britain managed to grab large chucks of India and Canada during his reign.

George III (1738-1820)

George III is best known for losing America and going bonkers. Although the madness of King George is often blamed on family tensions and losing America, there was the small matter of having 15 kids.

George IV (1762 - 1830)

George IV struck a Byronic pose and was known for his lavish spending and fine clothes. In 1795 he married Princess Caroline of Brunswick in exchange for Parliament paying off his debts for his fancy pants. He hated her so much he forbade her to attend his Coronation in 1820 and introduced the Pains and Penalties Bill in an unsuccessful attempt to divorce her. In the end the population found him a pain but at least he was successful in getting Brighton Pavilion built.

George V (1865 - 1936)

George V and Queen Mary

George V married his older brother's fiance Princess Mary, after he died. A chain smoker who enjoyed stamp collecting George V, succeeded in winning popular affection in a way that eluded previous monarchs who bore the name George. He was known for his lack of imagination and once wrote on his return from the opera: "Went to Covent Garden and saw Fidelio and damned dull it was."

George VI (1895 - 1952)

George VI, the present's Queen's father, is now best known for his stammer due to the movie The King's Speech. George endeared himself to the British people by hanging out at Buckingham Palace during World War Two as it was bombed six times, not a bad achievement for a man described as: "Easily frightened and prone to tears," characteristics Wills and Kate may well identify in the Little Prince.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Dreams and Disappointment at Disney's Magic Kingdom

It's difficult to describe Disney in one blog post. It's probably like asking someone who lived in a closed cult for two decades to jot down their feelings on the back of a stamp.

Still, like most visitors to Disney we headed first to the Magic Kingdom. You can be as cynical as you like - and few people are more cynical than me - but it's hard to contain a childlike jolt of excitement the first time you see Cinderella's Castle across the lake.

If you grew up in the Seventies when there were three channels on your TV, the wallpaper was a disgusting brown print and pasta was a luxury item, you were seduced by that castle with the fireworks exploding overhead before a Disney movie. It represented a far off and exotic place. Little did we know then that most kids in America were growing up on Twinkie bars and being creeped out on a daily basis by Mr. Rogers.

The Magic Kingdom is the first of Disney's theme parks in Florida. It was built in 1971 and the castle is based on the one in the 1950 movie Cinderella.

The tagline for the Magic Kingdom is "The Most Magical Place On Earth." This can be somewhat hard to appreciate when you are stuck in the third line of the morning as the temperatures soar into the low 90s and a woman from Ohio's love handles are caressing your sweaty back. All of this is before you have even taken the faux paddle steamer to get to the Magic Kingdom which is also the most visited theme park on earth.

My sister and her husband had stayed up late into the previous night poring over guides and maps and drawing small charts to map out their battle plan at the Magic Kingdom - which is also the most difficult Disney park to get to. They highlighted a ride they would sprint to to pick up a 'fast pass' - although technically Disney disapproves of running. You have to walk fast.

They also adhered strictly to the advice from the guide of getting to the park half an hour before it opens. The directive was to get to the clubhouse of our development early to beat the line for tickets.

I was at the clubhouse by 8.30 a.m. I walked straight up to the counter because nobody else was there and stood there with tears parting down my face as I waved a sad goodbye to more dollars than I cared to shake a magic wand at.

These thoughts and many others went through my mind as I backed away from the heavy love handles. Just behind me two heavily made up little girls beamed into the sunshine, happy that they would be meeting the handsome prince in some airy chamber at the back of Cinderella's Castle.

We smiled back until we met a dark look from their mother who raised a heavily tattoo bound arm as she threatened to slap one of them unless she calmed down. I suddenly had a vague vision of a trailer park in the middle or nowhere, an absent father sporting a rat tail and the two girls dreaming of their Prince Charming in his Chevy Camaro with oversize wheels. And a cloud drifted over the streaming banners and high turrets of the castle in the sun.

To be Continued...

Friday, July 19, 2013

Guest Blog #6 - Snapshots by Patricia Lynne

Guest blogging month faltered somewhat due to the small matter of the guest blog well running dry after a week and my vacation in Florida. My laptop was doing all sorts of alarming things, ushering in the prospect of another expensive visit from Alan the technology guy, so I left it at home.

A week away from the blogisphere and the virtual world in general is rather refreshing for the soul but the nagging realization I was meant to post a snapshot of Snapshots by the incomparable "art and band geek" Patricia Lynne would hit me in the pool and cause an anxiety atttack that would lead me to swallow gallons of pool water, thus resembling a Sea World exhibit. So after some laptop blagging and without further ado...

Speculative Fiction: What was I thinking?

I am a vampire junkie. I love me some bloodsuckers. Werewolves are cool too. And witches. Or demons. Pretty much anything that fits into paranormal or urban fantasy. I devour those stories and love learning about the creatures in them.

So, naturally, I write a Sci-Fi novel - or more appropriately, Speculative Fiction. When I first heard that term, I had no idea what it meant. I know now though.

*Ahem* Speculative fiction addresses fiction that includes Weird Tales, Amazing Stories, and Fantastic Fiction. It also may include other genres, such as Mysteries, Alternate Histories, and Historical Fiction. Speculative fiction can be a collective term to describe works of science fiction, fantasy, and horror and also addresses works that are not science fiction, fantasy, or horror, yet don't rightly belong to the other genres. - source.

What have I gotten myself into? Writing Snapshots was a blast, and I am in love with Cyc. But OMG the pressure of writing a genre I’m not familiar with. Does the sci-fi elements make sense? Am I explaining everything properly? Can I really call it Sci-Fi or Speculative Fiction? After all, it doesn’t get very sci-fi until the end. The day before publishing, I lost a lot of sleep.

That didn’t stop me from publishing Snapshots. I believed in the story and thought others would enjoy it. Will I write another Sci-Fi or Speculative Fiction story? No idea. Although, I would like to go back to Cyc’s world. There is potential there for more stories.


My name is Cyclop Blaine and I am a real person.

    “You are mine.”

I am a real person: heedless of a childhood spent under the supervision of an old man I only know as Master.

    “You belong to me.”

I am a real person: regardless of my teenage years bound by violence as the adoptive son of the Victory Street Gang's leader.

    “You will obey me.”

I am a real person: despite the visions I see in others' eyes. Snapshots of their futures.

    “You will cower before me.”

I am a real person: my life will be my own. I belong to no one.

    “You. Are. MINE.”


Available at:



Patricia Lynne never set out to become a writer. In fact, she never considered it an option during high school and college. She was more of an art and band geek. Some stories are meant to be told and now she can't stop writing. Patricia lives with her husband in Michigan, hopes one day to have what will resemble a small petting zoo and has a fondness for dying her hair the colors of the rainbow.





Thursday, July 11, 2013

Hoping Florida Isn't Too Mickey Mouse

I am interrupting Guest Blogging Month with a public service announcement to the effect that I'm going away on vacation. It won't interrupt Guest Blogging Month much because I have almost run out of guest bloggers; I do have Patricia Lynne on the schedule for some time next week but other than that the rest of guest blogging month is looking like the inside of Kim Kardashian's s skull.

I'm not too concerned because I was starting to lose my identity with all these guest posts, while I'm over the moon with those of you who did chuck me something. So today I felt obliged to swerve across the highway to take this shot, almost bouncing off a cop car and breezily hoping Virginia's new primary law enforcement on texting thing doesn't apply to pictures.

Just in case I get thrown in the cells tomorrow I should point out that was a bit of a lie. Now I'm wondering if it's possible to tell a bit of a lie. Well I did take a picture.

Anyhow today was generally miserable. I had to attend sleep clinic to be told I had spent the whole of last Friday night being wired up under my PJs by a grunting male nurse who then watched me on a screen for six hours, only to find out my sleep machine was indeed set at the correct setting.

"Are you still feeling tired?" asked the doctor who was too thin and young for my liking and was wearing white sports socks under a business suit, always a sign of a congenital personality disorder.

"Uh uh," I muttered as he intruded on my dream that I had been made the next Pope and was going to hold a massive piss up at St. Peter's.

By the time I emerged after grudgingly paying a $35 co-pay for 5 minutes with Dr. Whitey Socks, I was alarmed to see it was still raining. I went to get my hair cut, only to be confronted with the perplexing question "Just a haircut?" by the hairdresser.

"Well um. I actually came here to purchase a couple of Red Siamese Fighting Fish because I thought it would be entertaining to see them fight in a Siamese fishy kind of way - like Thai kick boxers without feet - but maybe we should settle for a hair cut, as this is Super Cuts and all."

Oh and the point of this post. I'm going away on vacation but while I'd really like to say it's Costa Rica or Peru it's actually Orlando, which means I'll be surrounded by more Brits than I could find in your typical London street and they'll all be getting excited about sunshine and humidity and Mickey Bleeding Mouse.

But hey tickets for Disney are not quite $100 per person. I'm just thankful to the nice girl in the British press office who has sent me some free ones as I'll be writing about Disney in a British newspaper and not using the term "Mickey Bleeding Mouse" once.

But seriously folks there are some things I like about Florida. The colors are different down there and they have nice shells. My first glimpse of America didn't take place until I was over 30 and it was an Art Deco hotel on South Beach. Models were floating around on Rollerblades and beautiful old Cadillacs were parked outside in pastel colors.

The sad thing about Miami being my first glimpse of America is the rest has failed to match it. I just can't get excited about sleep clinics and rain drenched shopping malls.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Guest Post #5 - Jo Jo @ Tahoma Beadworks & Photography

I am pleased to feature Jo Jo at Tahoma Beadworks and Photography. Jo Jo's blog features her creations and pics. It does exactly what it says on the tin and makes me jealous I can't do more with my hands. Gawd some days writing is enough, so you wouldn't catch me gluing sprinkles omto mirrors any time soon. I've never actually tried geocaching. I do have an annoying Facebook friend who is always posting updates on her geocaching exploits - "Memo to me : Defriend."

I Suck at Geocaching
So there I was last Wednesday, standing in Waterwheel Park in Chemainus BC at about 9:00 a.m., GPS Unit in one hand, waypoint and clue info in the other, pockets full of trinkets for trading. I was psyched. The info I got off the internet showed that both terrain and difficulty were at "1", which is "easiest".

I read the first clue: "If H.R. MacMillan could take his brassy stare of the tour buses and look to the left, he would see the hiding place." I easily found the statue of H.R. MacMillan and looked to its left, towards a small wooded hillside. Nothing major. I figure, "oh this will be easy!"

I decoded the next clue, "If the cougar on the tree could do a long backflip, he would abridge the cache." And there was the carved cougar on the tree, with his back to a small wooden bridge. "Abridge the cache"! Hey, I was banging on all cylinders now!! My heart beat excitedly as I walked over to the bridge. The waypoints on my GPS Unit were spot on. I could see H.R. MacMillan and the cougar, so I started to search under the bridge first. Nothing. I felt around under and over all of the supporting wood planks under it. Nothing.

OK, there are a few trees in front of the bridge on the hill, so maybe the cache is hidden in the ivy which covered the hillside. I went to the first tree and narrowly missed putting my entire face and head right through a large spiderweb with a spider in the center. Anyone who knows me, knows what my "spider shriek" sounds like. Fortunately I managed to keep it down to a quiet'ish squeak as I grabbed a stick and decimated the web. I resumed searching for the cache box around the tree. Nothing.

Now I can feel my frustration level rising. "OK, Jo, calm down....check the waypoints on the GPS again, and start from the beginning." So I tramp back up to the bridge and start over. I am supposedly on top of the damn thing. I start poking around under the bridge again....what did I miss? The sun is beating on this hillside & I'm getting really hot under the collar about this seemingly easy cache. I can feel sweat running down my back. Still nothing. So I start checking around ALL the trees on the hill. A slippery hill full of ivy. Nearly losing my balance and slipping on my kiester about 6 times, I was grabbing wildly at the tree branches to help steady me. Remember, when you geocache, you are trying to be discreet and quiet....neither of which are my strongest qualities.

All I got for my efforts geocaching in that alleged "easy" spot was 2 twisted ankles, major low back pain and sweat-soaked clothes. I was lumbering around that hillside like a crazed T-Rex. I didn't care how much effing noise I was making either. People are riding by on bikes down below, looking up at this weirdo chick with 10,000 cameras slung around her neck, rooting through the ivy around all the trees, rivers of sweat pouring down her face, glasses all fogged up, muttering copious quantities of four letter words and other swear-combo's that I usually reserve for traffic situations and people who piss me off.

I was so angry that I was really, really close to pitching the GPS Unit into the Strait of Georgia. I stomped back to my car, angrily tossed the geocaching crap into the back seat and continued on with my day. When I got back to the hotel, I pitched a major hissy fit, stomped my foot like a 2 year old, whined "I QUIT!" and threw out all the geocaching info for other places I was going to try on Vancouver Island.

I was keeping the hope alive that maybe the Chemainus cache had been "muggled" and was, therefore, missing. Yeah, that has to be it, right? Those hopes were dashed when I logged on to the website yesterday and saw that two separate people located the cache on Sunday, a mere 4 days after I was there.

Since I got the GPS unit in May, I have been out a few times around Bonney Lake and Sumner, and have only found one cache, so clearly it's me.

Brian's offered to come with me, once the weather cools off and the trees and underbrush start dying this fall, help me try to find the caches and, hopefully, figure out what I'm doing wrong.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Guest Post #4 - Robyn Alana Engel @ Life by Chocolate

I am pleased to feature Robyn in today's guest blog. I have known Robyn for ever and her hilarious posts about dating, chocolate and dating and chocolate, constantly serve to remind me that the male of the species is habitually sex obsessed and generally grammatically incorrect. Wot cud she possibly be talking about? Anyhow without further ado...drumroll...

BTW just a week into guest blogging week the post pantry is looking a bit empty. Send me your scintillating new insights or old recycled posts to - there are no rules other than the requirement to flatter my megalomaniac ego...

Hopefully, you aren’t dropping by for the eloquent, prolific writing that you’ve come to expect here. Instead, I’m serving up a dose of snarky humor. Let me back-up to say that David and I have been cyber friends for several years. He’s very kind, and his rules were so loose with this guest post gig that I offered to assist. Thus, I’m sharing the story of one of my worst dates ever. Mr. Ribald is particularly memorable because he stood me up during the date. I hope this entertains and offers renewed appreciation for your relationship status, whatever that may be.


xoRobyn at Life by Chocolate,

On Why I Choose Celibacy Reason #167: Mr. Ribald's Epistle

It’s less common but more annoying than morons who can’t spell “I”: people who typically use words most folks have never heard before. Yep, I dated this one too, a couple weeks ago. 

 He “favorited” me on a popular Internet dating site. His profile boasts a “ribald” and “trenchant” humor. [Both words are synonymous with “obscene.”] Still, I thought, “He’s not a moron. How refreshing.” I sent a brief, friendly “hello.” Note to self: dumb move.

Mr. Ribald responded: “What an unalloyed pleasure to receive your epistle.” Epistle? I didn’t know I had one to give. [Epistle means letter.] Slightly intrigued, I agreed to a phone chat. Epistle to self: dumber move.

The phone conversation was irritating, as I didn’t have a dictionary or the Internet within reach. Still, I thought it might be nice to have a walking Roget by my side. I thus agreed to what he enthusiastically termed a “meet and greet.” Epistle to self: dumbest move.

We met at T. Fusion, my favorite café, and he paid for my Chocolate Chai Tea Frost. Mr. Ribald is decent looking and outgoing, but his attempts to impress involved crude jokes. 

I sat in bored irritation watching his lips move, sipping my Frost, until he finally delivered a punch-line with the word “balls.”

“That’s not funny,” I responded.

Mr. Ribald tried again, offering jokes with different creatures that walk into a bar.

“Nope, not funny.”… “Not funny either…” “I’m still not laughing.”

 “Well you tell me a joke,” he insisted.

“I don’t do one-liners. It’s not my kind of humor. ”

 Exasperated, he declared, “I think you don’t have a sense of humor, so this isn’t going to work. I wouldn’t have anything to say on our second date...I feel judged.” Mr. Ribald abruptly and dramatically stood up and began walking out. As the people at the next table subtly eyed me with compassion, I casually took time to consume the last of my Frost, found a napkin on the floor that needed discarding, and began strolling out behind him.

 Mr. Ribald stopped and turned around to apologize. I’d apparently pushed his unalloyed ribald buttons or epistle-like trenchant nerves by failing to appreciate crude jokes.“It was entirely my fault,” he admitted.

 We shook hands and wished each other well.

 I’m left wondering if Mr. Ribald’s large, trenchant vocabulary serves as compensation for a small epistle he keeps hidden..? I’ll never know, and that’s a good thing. So is celibacy.


Friday, July 5, 2013

Guest Blog #3 - Dee at Deecoded

As anyone who has endured it knows, there is one truism in life - you meet all of the best people from the A to Z Challenge. So it's a great privilege to showcase Dee from DeeCoded who  made me realize an important thing this week; I am indeed not a single, childless 30 something Asian woman. So without further ado...

Hi there! I will be guest posting today. This is my first guest blog, so I... err... I don't really know what I'm supposed to do. I guess I need to make an intro or something. My name is Dee, and I'm a Filipina who lives in Singapore. How on earth did I meet David, then? Well we both joined the A-Z blogging challenge back in April and I found his blog on the linky list. I blog over at Deecoded about, well, anything that strikes my fancy, really, but mostly I document my life so that if I had amnesia someday, people won't have a hard time reminding me who I was, they just need to say: just go to your blog, you'll get all the information you need there. :P

When David opened up his blog for guest posts, I was the first to go:

But now that the moment is upon me, I'm thinking, what was I thinking??? I don't know what to write about. I mean, I'm a single childless Asian thirty-year-old female, everything David is not. David is best known for his hilarious blogs (or at least I think he is, that's why I love his blog, anyway) but while I am funny in person (I swear I am, I even have the Friendster testimonials to prove it), that never translates to my blogs, I don't know why. So what on earth could I possibly have to say on his blog that would appeal to his readers?

Then I realized that maybe that is the point - a fresh take. I don't have to be like David at all, I just need to be myself. David even said that we could recycle old posts, and since I'm behind on my own blog, I'll gladly take that option.

After scrolling through my archives, I decided that the story I wanted to share is the story of how I came to be. If this hadn't happened, I wouldn't be here and you wouldn't be reading this blog, you know? So kids, let me tell you a great story. The story of how my mother met my father.

My mom always starts off the story in her college years. She wanted to be a nurse, to go abroad. Her mother had different ideas and forced her to become an engineer. She was bad at Math but managed to pass the board exams. How, I don't know. She eventually found a job in her hometown, Bukidnon, but due to a reshuffling of items (or something to that effect), her position became redundant and she lost her job. She found out from an old friend that there was an open position but at a place far away - Zamboanga City. Faced with no choice, she packed up and transferred.

Six months later, her boss asked her to attend a seminar. She didn't want to go, but her boss told her: "Go! Who knows, you might meet your future husband there!" So she went. And met a young chap with a good sense of humor. She thought he was too good looking and too young to be interested in her. He liked older women and found her incessant chatter to be charming. They got married three months later. She was 37 years old then.

"If I had become a nurse and gone abroad, or if I hadn't lost my job and stayed in Bukidnon, then I wouldn't have met your father," she always tells me and my brother. "Then I wouldn't have had you."

I've heard the story so many times that I've become immune to it but my friends tell me: "Wow that's so inspiring! It gives me hope!"

And I realize that I always turn to romance novels and movies and other people's stories for inspiration, not realizing that the only inspiration I need is right under my nose. Right inside me, actually. The fact that I exist.

Someday I'll meet the guy who will make me see how all the different pieces of my life fall into place. The one who will make me feel like I'm reading Harry Potter book 7, the one who will make me go, "Oh that's why that happened!"

So the moral of my mom's story? (1) Age or looks don't matter. Nor do any other traits. (2) Catastrophes can be blessings in disguise. And most importantly - (3) GO. Just go. Who knows, you might meet your future husband there.

The ripple effect of my mom's story - my family

Story originally posted here.

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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Guest Post #2 - Yolanda Renee and Murder, Madness & Love

In today's guest post I am happy to feature author Yolanda Renee who writes about sinister goings on in Seattle. I'm thinking all that rain drives one to distraction and bad deeds....


How do you follow the rule to Write What You Know and then write a murder mystery? It's not as if I have firsthand knowledge of murder, honest, I've never committed one. What I have done is study the motives, the methods, and the psychology of murder. My resources include:

Book of Poisons by Serita Stevens and Anne Bannon

Police Procedure & Investigation by Lee Lofland

Scene of the Crime by Anne Wingate

Forensics for Dummies by D. P. Lyle

As soon as I was old enough to have a library card, I've enjoyed mysteries, Nancy Drew, Judy Bolton, Hardy Brothers, Agatha Christie, Sherlock Holmes, Mary Higgins-Clark, and J. D. Robb, and my newest favorites Jennifer Hillier, K. J. Larsen, and Dana Stabenow.

Therefore, I definitely felt qualified to write a mystery. Murder, Madness & Love, the first book in my suspenseful / romantic trilogy is set in Anchorage, Alaska and Washington State. It features a Detective who not only loves his job, he is determined to have the white picket fence—wife and kids. The only problem he keeps falling for the wrong women, and then when he meets the right one, she's accused of murder.

Exactly what do I know about murder, romance, and Alaska? Well, without giving away too many secrets, I have been in love, I have lived in Alaska and Washington State, and as I said, I have studied murder. When I created my antagonist, I chose a person or combination of people from my life experiences. I have met some true characters—some very scary people and while none of them have murdered anyone, with the help of my resources I molded them into characters that do.

While no one will be able to read my book and say, "Hey, that's me," I did use family names for most all of my characters, except of course the most dastardly. Although I molded my characters from real people, they are combinations of several, no one is an exact copy, but one – and that will always be my secret. Many of the scenes in my book are from incidents in my own life, but which, you will just have to guess.

Therefore, to the best of my ability, I wrote a murder mystery with more than a touch of romance and while you may find it hard to believe, I wrote it based on what I know!

Murder, Madness & Love by Yolanda Renée

To be Re-released - August 19, 2013




After a gritty detective becomes involved with a beautiful widow suspected of murder, slander and obsession obstruct his quest for justice.




A killer plays cat and mouse with a young widow against the snowy backdrop of an Alaskan winter. Branded a black widow after the suspicious death of her millionaire husband, Sarah Palmer flees Seattle for Anchorage. But the peace and quiet she hoped to enjoy in her hometown is soon shattered. The killer is murdering Sarah look-alikes on the 14th of each month, taunting Sarah with a valentine of evidence.

 After her experiences in Seattle, Sarah is slow to go to the police. When she finally does, she finds Detective Steven Quaid. Called on to protect the beautiful widow from a stalker intent on her destruction, Steven is convinced he can solve Michael Palmer's murder and arrest the stalker. However, crime is never simple, and before long Sarah has Steven wound up tighter than barbed wire. Is Sarah a victim or a very skilled manipulator? With a killer on the loose and a climbing body count, Steven cannot afford to hedge his bets-or his life.

Thank you, David, for allowing me to share a few of my secrets.

Murder, Madness & Love the first book in the trilogy was self-published in 2008, but is scheduled for re-release by Curiosity Quills Press on August 5, 2013.

Curiosity Quills Press has scheduled the second book in the trilogy, Memories of Murder for release on September 5, 2013.

You can learn more about Renée on her webpage/blog Defending the Pen at

Monday, July 1, 2013

Guest Post #1 - Mina Lobo. That Gray Area of the Paranormal

I was over the moon (naturally) when my good bloggy pal Mina Lobo at Some Dark Romantic agreed to kick off Guest Blogging Month. So without further adoooooo....

When my good friend David put out a call for guest posts for his blog, I was happy to volunteer a post (so long as I could recycle an old one because, as all my friends and relations know, I’m lazy). I asked David if he had any particular theme in mind (so I could quickly sift through all my old posts because, actually, I’m super lazy), and he expressed an interest in something “…where the normal moves into that gray area of paranormal.”

I’m all about the abnormal. Uh, I mean, paranormal. Well, supernatural is my preferred term, but you catch my drift. So I thought I’d dredge up something I’d already recycled but, hey, I really dig this one and it’s got an adorable pic of me from when I was a baby, so win-win!

Thus, here’s a snippet from an older blog post of mine titled Shooting at the Devil. (You can see how this would be about me as a baby, naturally.) I opened the post referencing Penelope Crowe's post about possession (a thoroughly creepy, and terribly sad, read), then segued into my Great Uncle, Tio Nuno (TEE-oo NOO-noo)* who was rumored to be a witch/mystic/alcoholic (may God rest him and hold him close), who proposed a curious cure for whatever ailed me when my parents took my baby-self on a visit to their homeland, Portugal. If you'd like to read the full (long!) post, you can check it out here.

Mom and Pop brought me over from the States when I was a wee one so the family could meet their first born. Apparently, I gave them a bit of trouble - I stayed up crying the first nights they were in Portugal, growing cold and clammy from getting so worked up. Nothing they tried soothed me. I hadn't been colicky or anything up till then, so there was no reason they could discern for my fussing. They took me to a local doc who assured them that I was medically fine. So my Mom put it down to me feeling out of sorts from being in an unfamiliar environment. Or, you know, the evil eye (I dig that she didn't rule anything out). Shortly after the doc visit, Tio Nuno stopped by my paternal grandmother's house and my Avó told him about my peculiar spells. Because my Grandma's husband had recently passed away, she wondered if he might somehow be "visiting" me and generally freaking me out. Tio Nuno thought there might be a larger problem and asked her if any of my clothes or belongings were lying around. She found something of mine and brought it to him, which he examined carefully. After a while he told her that someone in the family wished me ill, but he wouldn't specify who (the big tease). He gave her the following instructions to pass on to my parents:

  1. Make the baby a wreath of garlic and sprinkle her with holy water.
  2. Make a bonfire and toss into it some rosemary, rue, and eucalyptus.
  3. Pass the baby through the smoke of this fire and pray to some saints (which specific ones is lost in the mists of time).

When my Mom heard all this from my Grandma she nodded politely but privately thought there was no friggin' way she was going to pass me over a bonfire (the Portuguese equivalent of this thought, obviously). Instead, when she went to put me to sleep that night, she laid me on my back and prayed the Apostles Creed over me three times, all the while making the Sign of the Cross over me, asking God to liberate me from whatever ailed me. And, according to her, from then on, I did get better.

I have to admit, I'm disappointed that she didn't try the bonfire thing. Also, I think I'd look pretty smashing in a garlic wreath (kickin' it old-school!). But seriously, I'm proud of my Mom for turning to her faith during this peculiar phase in our lives...I hope I'll always turn to God, in good times and in bad. Still, I'd love to know who hit me with the bad juju, so I could avenge myself (and my parents) by TPing her house.

*Nuno was not his real name, but it is a common - and unique - Portuguese name, for an uncommon man!


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