Mother’s Day Garden on the 4th of July

For Mother’s Day this year Hub and Small Boy built me a garden, my first garden ever. On the recommendation of a friend we used Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew to plan the garden, and found it wonderfully simple. Here’s a picture of the garden about a week later:

Mother's Day Garden - one week in

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s the garden today, roughly seven weeks after planting:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I know! Holy kittens, right? Apparently when you plant seeds in good dirt and water them, they grow WILDLY. The biggest tomato:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beans and peas, ripening nicely:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gardening is much like writing. You start with empty earth that’s hopefully rich in nutrients like real life experiences, other books you’ve read or written, movies, music, your own inner world, and you do the basic stuff like water the garden and look after it every day, and things will grow. You’ll harvest some of what grows for the book you’re working on, while other fruit will get stored for the next project. The book I’m working on feels a little like this garden, wildly bountiful but a tad overgrown, a little out of control, but the smell of good earth and the joy of seeing something grow out of nearly nothing is such a reward.

Happy 4th of July to you and yours. May it be full of good things.

New website goes live!

And…I’m blogging again! Laurie Rauch at WPDivas updated the website with some neat new features, including the slider with book covers (love!), a News page (there’s news there now!) and a sleeker look (now if she could just work the same magic on my hips!)

Enough with the exclamation points. Have a look around.

TWELVE SHADES OF SURRENDER – UK version!

Hey, UK readers – great news! Harlequin UK bundled together twelve Spice Briefs working with a theme of surrender, and my hot, short story UNDER HIS HAND was chosen for the anthology. Here’s the new cover:

She broke a little promise…but he’s a man of his word.

 

Here’s the full lineup for TWELVE SHADES OF SURRENDER:

It’s an awesome lineup! Remember, so far these new covers are available only in the UK, and these are all previously published stories (so if you already own a copy of UNDER HIS HAND, don’t buy a new one unless you want the new cover). If you haven’t read these authors, I recommend them all!

WHAT SHE NEEDS and the Sizzling Summer Book Club

WHAT SHE NEEDS, now available from Spice Briefs, is the Smart Bitches Trashy Books/All Romance eBooks September Book Club Selection!

Now available from Spice Briefs
What would you do to get what you need?

Thanks to All Romance eBooks for giving a great discount on the book. It’s $1.50 after rebate…that’s a sweet price for a spicy hot, brief-yet-oh-so-satisfying story! I’ll be chatting with SB Sarah and readers on Sunday, September 26, 2010 starting at 9:30 CDT. The chat itself starts at 8:30 CDT (1 hour earlier) and you won’t want to miss it! Stop by the SBTB blog to sign into the chat for fun, drinks recipes, and a great discussion!

Want to know more? Visit the WHAT SHE NEEDS page for a blurb and an excerpt…

It’s Like Riding a Bike

My son turned six a few weeks ago. The kid’s always been big, like 98th percentile for height and weight from birth (which wasn’t easy, let me tell you) and inherited my awkwardness. Unlike many of his peers he’s very calculating when it comes to the pain/reward ratio. At swim lessons when the other kids were jumping into the pool regardless of the water depth, my son would gauge where he could get in and still touch the bottom of the pool with his head above water. He learned very quickly that falling over on a bike hurts, and therefore would do his absolute best not to fall over. He got pretty good at pedaling, okay at stopping without running into a stationary object – car, parental unit, curb – but could not get himself started from a full stop.

But this weekend we put our collective parental feet down and told him he had to learn how to start the bike in motion by himself, without a push from Dad. His other friends are riding their bikes with ease, and he knows this. Peer pressure motivated him to ask us to take him to the school parking lot to practice, but he struggled to learn how to push the top pedal forward and lift his other foot off the ground and keep pedaling, all which keeping his balance. I could see he was getting frustrated with each failed attempt. He wouldn’t look at us. A bit of angst crept across his little, sharp-chinned face. He stopped talking (a feat so rare it’s like a medical condition on House). So I said we should go home and try again another day.

What happened next might be the best moment I’ve experienced as a parent so far. He said, “No. I don’t want to go home. I can do it.”

This prompted completely out-of-proportion cheering from his dad and me. “Never give up!” we yelled. “Never surrender!” (We’re not ex-military. We’re Galaxy Quest fans, and total geeks.)

Shouting encouragement is all well and good, but I was standing in the parking lot of the elementary school across the street, shivering in shorts and a t-shirt because a cold front dropped the temp a good ten degrees while we were out there, and I felt fear. What if he couldn’t do it, couldn’t muster the physical coordination and balance and all the steps necessary to get the bike started? He runs like his legs don’t bend at the knees, and he occasionally crashes to the floor for no explicable reason whatsoever.

The next try the whole bike-kid unit fell over after two feet. We said nothing. He got up from his awkward scramble of bike and limbs.

“You have to commit,” my husband called to him. “Commit to going forward! You can do it!”

Come on, honey. Commit. Push the pedal forward, lift your other foot, and commit to motion.

What I said was, “Never give up, honey.”

More silence. His gaze was focused somewhere in the distance as he picked up the bike and straddled it, and I could see him thinking through how to do this, as if he knew there was more at stake than just getting the bike started on his own. His pride, his sense of self as an individual with some control over his world was at stake, and that’s a huge deal when you’re six. You control so little of your life when you’re six.

Left foot on the pedal. Right foot on the ground. He shimmied the top pedal forward, pushed off, lifted his right foot, and he was IN MOTION.

Cue the parental screaming. From our reaction you’d have thought he landed on the moon, and you could have driven a Mack truck through the grin on my son’s face. He stopped, all James Dean casual. He started again, this time riding in figure eights around the parking lot, cutting the turns a little close, but showing off a little, too. Another stop. Another start, and this time he looked at us, the parents still shouting like total morons, like “What’s the big fucking deal?”

The BFD, kiddo, isn’t that you can ride a bike. It’s that you didn’t quit. You said you was going to do it, you stuck it out through the failed attempts, and you did it. Today you’re my inspiration, little man, and inspiration for anyone out there who’s run into obstacles in pursuit of a dream.

NEVER GIVE UP! NEVER SURRENDER!

New Website Look!

Welcome to the new look for annecalhoun.com! I’m thrilled to have my site updated by Laurie of WordPress Divas. She did an amazing job (how about that header, folks, hmmm???? Awesome, no?) and I highly recommend her to anyone who needs a website done well and quickly. Have a look around! And stay tuned…I should soon have a cover and an excerpt for my first Spice Briefs release, WHAT SHE NEEDS, coming August 1!

A Trip to the Dark Side

Let me begin by saying that I am on vacation, and what I do on a stay-cation vacation is to have lunch with friends and buy books. Well, buying books is what I do on travel vacations, too. I am a big believer in supporting local, independently owned bookstores, and while I do have an Amazon Prime account, that’s more for instant gratification than anything else if I want something and can’t get it immediately. I buy probably 60% of my books locally and the rest from online venues, including epublishers.

Today, however, I am frustrated with one of the independent bookstores in my town. I stopped in a week ago Friday to browse; they didn’t have the books I wanted but promised to order them for me, as well as hold back a non-book item I wanted, all for pickup this Friday. I was told to return yesterday to pick up the items. They have my phone number and I didn’t receive a call telling me of any problems with the shipments. So I made the 25 minute trip to this store and breezed in, expecting my two books and my promised-to-hold item.

The item was gone, out at a convention. One book hadn’t been ordered (a “computer glitch”). The other didn’t arrive because of some payment fiasco on the part of the distributor.

This is the second time this has happened in the last six months.

The woman I speak with while I’m there is very, very friendly. Very nice. Very knowledgeable. But I am a voracious reader in possession of an Amazon Prime account. I waited a week to get the books I wanted, which was no hardship, but without a phone call saying, “Nothing’s going to be here – come on Wednesday and we’ll have everything you wanted” (which would have been FINE) I drove 25 minutes down there, waited 2 hrs for the UPS man to arrive in the hope of getting at least one of the items I ordered (he didn’t come – apparently the payment fiasco canceled the Friday shipment), and drove home again completely empty-handed.

At home I pulled up Amazon. A little after 4 p.m. yesterday I ordered the two books I wanted, both at a considerable discount ($5.10 off one book and $5.76 off the other). I added overnight shipping for $7.98. No tax. Even with the overnight shipping the total was still less than I would have paid at my local bookstore. The books were on my doorstep at 10 a.m. this morning, 18 hrs after I ordered them.

I love independent bookstores. I do! I do, I really, really do. I shop at them and look for them when I travel. I will continue to shop at this store (although perhaps not place special orders through them). But my advice to any independent retailer fighting the good fight against Giant Internet Retailers is to please, please do not give people a good, solid reason to shop at Amazon. This was a customer service #FAIL, something small stores simply cannot afford when the only selling point for less discriminating, locally focused buyers is the personal attention and customer service you get from a knowledgeable bookseller.

/end rant

So. One more week of stay-cation, including a 3 day silent retreat, then it’s back to business. I’ll spend a couple of weeks finishing up a contemporary romantic suspense (non-erotic) I hope will find a home somewhere, then plan to spend the rest of the year finishing up my next erotic novel. Thanks for stopping by – I hope you’re having a wonderful summer!