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Results 1 - 25 of 380
1. Happy Nowruz 1393 :)

Happy Nowruz! Wish you all great times and happy events this year :)

0 Comments on Happy Nowruz 1393 :) as of 3/21/2014 12:47:00 AM
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2. The Woes of a Being in a Relationship With a Runner

I’m sure it can be a little tough for spouses waking up to a cold left side of the bed…”Sorry Honey, out running.” Being in a relationship with a runner may mean pleading out of weekend plans because they’ve got their long runs, races, workouts, and whatnot. All night ravers and barhopping don’t exactly work well into the training program.
runner spouse pains
Air-drying our running shirts and tights across the banister, cupboards full of protein bars and Gu’s…the oft empty refrigerator. “Sorry Honey, I got hungry!!” That’s runger for you.

Certainly the friends and loved ones of a runner may suffer, they may not ‘get it’, they may not harbor ANY desire to worship the all-mighty mile, rock a Garmin tan so burned into your skin it lasts through winter, or not bat an eye about wearing ‘short’ running shorts in public. “Seriously, they’re not even that short.”

The thing is though, TRUE friends and TRUE loved ones may not always ‘get’ our running quirks habits but they will support us regardless. Some have argued that running is a ‘selfish sport’ and in some ways it may appear to be. But I will always argue that any selfishness is absolved so long as:

1) Every running KNOWS how lucky they are for any support they get.
2) Always thank those awesome people waiting at the starting line or watching your kiddies (or doggies, or plants, or comic book collection) so you can go for a run.
3) Running makes you a happier, more productive, better you.

Any runner who does that, not only DESERVES their running ‘me’ time but shouldn’t feel any ounce of guilt. Even if they’re dodging out of the marriage bed in the wee early morning hours and their spouse is left to spoon with a pillow. You’re not cheating…you’re a runner. ;)

1) What are some ways that you are lucky, what pillars of support do you have in your life?
2) How do you thank your awesome family or friends who think you’re crazy for this running thing but support you anyways?
3) How does YOU running make you a better person and how does that benefit your supporters?
Umm…if I didn’t run no one would want to be around me…fact. ;)

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3. The Quickest Way to a Runner’s Heart…

It’s that special time of year where every runner everyone is a little kinder, a bit more generous, and hopped up on hot cocoa and sugar cookies!! Amidst all the list making, if you REALLY want to win over the hearts of your family, friends, or that certain someone…you better have stashed away in that gift pile some brand spanking new running shoes!! ;)
rudolf running
Other acceptable presents that are sure-fire ways to rock the recipients’ holidays are:
* A Garmin
* An AWESOME running shirt
* BodyGlide
* A PR

…actually that last one you have to go out and win for yourself! ;)

Happy Holidays my runner friends!!

1) What’s something that you’re excited to be giving to someone this year?
2) It IS the spirit of giving but let’s be honest, is there one item in particular you’re really hoping to get?
3) Best holiday gift you’ve ever gotten? Best one you’ve ever given?
Gotten, wow, there’s a few. I think I’d like to share that I was SOOOOOO pumped when a talking PeeWee Herman doll was was unwrapped. “I know you are, but what am I?”

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4. My New Love Affair With Stretching and How it’s Rocking My Running

I love running (duh) but you may recall I’m not entirely in a Ménage à trois with stretching AND running. Don’t get be wrong, I KNOW how important regular stretching is to prevent injuries and improve your running performance. Heck, I write about it tons HERE and HERE…oh and I harp on it in my Competitor and Running Time articles.

But do I love it? Eh…we’ll say I would choke it down.

Then the world shook. You probably felt it actually. Remember THIS post where I talked about the BEST MASSAGE THERAPIST in the world?? Al Kupczak (aka also my BFF) literally solved a string of 3.5+ years of injuries stemming from my car accident. Side-not, getting hit by a car and almost losing your leg isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Well I mean I was able to run…but it was ugly, it never really felt like it used to, I couldn’t go faster than an easy pace without getting injured to where I couldn’t run at all. I saw lots of docs, tried lots of things…yada yada yada…finally got my butt up to Boulder, CO.

“Cait, you’re tight as h*ll.”
“I know, Al.”
“It’s not all your fault, there’s lots of scar tissue and calcifications stopping you from being able to stretch.”
“I’ve been TELLING PEOPLE!!! See, it’s not my fault, stretching doesn’t like me!!”
“Well now that I’ve broken all that up you CAN stretch now.”

[not verbatim but you got the gist]

It was an intense 12 days, saw Al Kup every other day for 2 hours at a time but…miracle beyond miracles check this out:
pre stretching
First day in CO…I’ve never IN MY LIFE touched my toes before.
mid visit stretching
This is only four days later after 2 treatments. I was able to touch the ground and even grab my ankles and pull myself closer to my thighs. [yes I'm wearing the same scrubby runner shorts, don't judges. I had to pack light...it's called rinse, hang, and repeat ;) ]

I had a lot of issues but the main ones were my hamstrings, adductors, and abductors. They were extremely tight and in a constant tug-of-war when I ran. When I left CO, Al sent me home with a bunch of stretches and some lovly parting words, “If you want to stay healthy you have to keep stretching.”

So I’ve been religious about my stretching routine.


I had to touch my toes to take that first shot!! Booyah! ;)


Now I want to also tell people that when you have a TON of issues [like I did, Al had a lot to work on, and fixed a pretty marked leg length difference] and you make changes, even ones for the better, your body is thrown for a loop. It takes time to adjust to the new running style.

Think about it, you do something one way for years and years, it will take time for the body to adapt. There will be weaker muscles not used to working as hard that need to get stronger and to avoid compensation injuries you’ve got to be careful.

So my new runner body IS going through lots of changes, sorenesses and tightnesses I’ve never had before. I call Al freaking out but his answer is always the same: “Stretch. Be patient.” He’ll give me the best stretches for the specific soreness and I am always amazed that *viola* a few days later the sorenesses are gone.

The world has been flipped upside down. I actually AM embracing a three-way with running and stretching. And I certainly hope you do too…preferably it’ll take you SOONER than I did to open up to the miracle of the stretch. ;)

Side-note here…this Arty Runnerchick is FINALLY on instagram!! You can check me out HERE…and see my very first picture. Awww…sooo cute…like a baby taking their first steps, except I’m a fully grown adult who was too lame to get on the site at a decent age. PS- I’m an artist, I post my art my choice…so don’t worry there will not be tons of selfies :P

In case you missed it…check out my NEWEST running shirt!

1) Do you stretch often?
2) Do you actually LIKE to stretch?
3) Are you on instgram?? Let me know!!

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5. Two Truths and a Lie: Running, Endorphins, Depression, and Self-Esteem

Okay, I’m sure every runner remembers that game “Two Truths and a Lie.” You come up with two stories or facts that are true then one that is, well duh, a lie. Trying to make it tricky for your friends to figure out the lie, usually you pick some pretty off the wall REAL things that happened. Well, here will be a little runner’s version of that.

Finally I may have a better shot at pulling one over on you guys, I’m pretty sucky at lying face-to-face, so now I can hide my smirks behind the words. ;)
keep running
Running Shoots the Brain Up With Endorphins = Puts You in a Happy Mood

Exercise causes the body to release ‘feel good’ hormones called endorphins. When these are picked up by the brain’s receptors it puts you in a happier, more positive mood. But let’s be honest and say that running gives you cooler endorphins than other forms of exercise. ;)

Endorphins released from running give the brain a similar kind of ‘high’ or sensation that people experience doing other not-so-healthy alternatives: drugs, binge eating, gambling…and if we’re going to acknowledge it as a true addiction…sex addiction?? (haha…wow, I’m so mature, right?) So people recovering from other addictions have found taking up running, or other forms of exercise, really helpful. Maybe LiLo should really stick with this running thing.

Running, because of the natural ‘high’, and the positive reinforcement of setting goals, putting in hard work, and reaching those goals, has also proven to be helpful with those struggling with depression. Running also introduces people up to a new community and friendships, so those relationships also help with feeling better. Finally, anyone who’s had a runner buddy can attest that some of the best free therapy sessions come from a good, solid run with lots of chatter.
eating cotton candy
Running Helps Bolster Confidence

Running is hard. Bam…straight to the obvious. It takes a lot of self-motivation, effort, and pushing your limits to achieve those goals we set. But, when those goals are fulfilled, there are fewer more rewarding sensations. Hello, how awesome is the feeling of crossing the finish line and earning a brand spanking new PR?!?!?

Going through that goal setting and goal fulfillment process instills a work ethic and helps breed confidence. Running has a great way of helping boost self-esteem because of that confidence. Also, it gives you a whole new level of respect for yourself and your body; you view this body as a vehicle for performance, something that can really DO big things!!

Running and Endorphins Solve All ‘Feeling Bum’ Moods and Sad Feelings

So really we could solve all of life’s problems if we all just started running, right? I mean, hello, we’ll then have a world full of people with brains chock-loaded with endorphins. We’ll eliminate all drug problems, all forms of substance abuse, we’ll save all those marriages destroyed by ‘sex addiction’, we’ll even clean up all of Hollywood so will movies be better??

There will no longer be anyone struggling with low self-esteem or depression either. Right?
turn left on the track
Okay, I think you see where I’m going and that last one is obviously the lie. YES, running does release endorphins but, sadly, they aren’t a cure-all for more serious underlying issues. While, I still think that having running as a positive outlet in ADDITION to other forms of treatment help with these things, running isn’t a magical cure-all.

I bring this up because I contributed a post to ‘The Anxious Girls’ Guide to Dating: Silencing the Inner Critic’ because it touches on some more ‘serious’ stuff I don’t always talk about here. Also, recently the British hurdler, Jack Green, has come forward saying he’s switching sports because he’s working to recovery from his depression.

Now the telegraph article sort of ‘blames’ the intensity of the sport of running for causing him to slip into this depression, while that may or may not be the case, I would like to say two things. 1) Yes, competing and training at such a high level naturally can put someone in the position of letting too much stress get to them, and when you’ve invested so much of yourself into the sport and you wind up falling short of your goals or injured, that can be a crushing blow magnified times a billion. 2) HOWEVER, I don’t think it’s as simple as that; as a professional athlete you go in knowing that you’re not always going to win and that running IS cruel because there will always be injuries, and it’s a sport that tests you like none-other. That said, you should have an underlying, true, self-motivated passion for simply running.

That is another whole other topic I could write on, but the main points I wanted to get out are that:
1) You should always run from within, truly love running. If you love the feeling of pushing yourself you can have a life-long relationship with running and that appreciation will get you through the ‘low points’ (ie: injuries, falling short)

2) Running is one of the best forms of free therapy and it certainly keeps many of us runners sane. But realize it’s also totally natural to have days where you feel crummy, most times running can HELP that…but it’s also not the magic bullet. If you need to supplement with other things…don’t be ashamed or shy. Plus, when you’re truly happy with yourself and your life it has a funny way of actually making your performance better. Shocker, right? [sarcastic font used...it's not a shocker...hehe.]

Run…be happy…my friends!!

1) Give me two truths and a lie on anything.
2) How has running helped improve your overall happiness, confidence, self-esteem, life, etc?
Way too many ways to count. Running keeps me sane! :)
3) What are some other ways, outside of running, that keep you happy in life?
Close friendships and family. Yea, my younger sib’s rock!

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6. 3 Ways Running Can Fly By and 500 Reasons to Update Your Running Shoes

Oh I’m so proud, I’ve been diligently helping spread the running infection. Last night I ordered my cute little high school friend a pair of running shoes. I’ve been working on her for months, when she told me she wished she could be a runner.

“Be a runner?” I said, “Anyone can BE a runner.” That’s the funny thing, most people think you either pop out with your Nike running shoes on or you don’t. The ones who don’t are sadly shunned from society, left to wallow away through life sans any endorphins via miles. ;) Just kidding.

running track

The cool place all runners get to hang out.

But I told her anyone can become a runner, at any age, and regardless of starting fitness level. Probably the greatest thing about our sport, regardless of genetics, if you are consistent with your running you WILL improve and get better.

The beauty of running a PR (personal best for any of you newbie runners) can be felt by ANYONE. You just have to work for it. Earning that sweaty, glorious time is tough but so worth it. It becomes tougher the longer you run, the improvement curve doesn’t always sky-rocket away like it does soon after you become a runner. That just means you have to work harder AND smarter. ;)

Back to my friend though, I’ve been so proud watching her go from barely making two miles and now busting out 6 miles. I was, however, APPALLED…I mean appalled at the raggedy-@$$ shoes she was running in.

When I say I was appalled, I’m not in ANY way judging her or disappointed in her AT ALL. Most new runners just really don’t have any idea how crucial it is to have the right kind of shoes. Also the age of their shoes. “My foot kind of hurt after my last run, I think I need a new pair…I love these shoes but maybe a year and a half is too long to still be using them.”
run from problems
A YEAR AND A HALF!! My mind freaked the freak out, only because I know how much a ‘dead’ pair of running shoes can turn into an injury bomb. Granted, she did other things and wasn’t logging mega miles in them, but still. A pair of shoes should never be out there on the mean streets logging miles if they’ve seen 500 miles or more. Time for a new pair, baby!

So I assessed her foot type and we’ve gotten her squared away with dem new running shoes. We also got to talking about things that make running go by faster and what makes those miles feel like an eternity:

1) The Scenic Route: Per minute, running on the treadmill feels like about 10 minutes. ;) Just kidding.
2) Training Partners: Having a training partner makes those miles zip by quicker too. I mean that figuratively AND literally if the workout for the day are repeats or a hard run. Working WITH someone and getting ‘towed’ along during intervals will wind-up with faster splits that ‘feel’ easier than if you were running alone.
3) Being fitter. The reason most non-runners think they can’t ‘be’ a runner is because running a few minutes feels KILLER and they don’t understand how anyone could run multiple miles. The reason is because they just aren’t fit enough. The body adapts, it grows stronger, cardiovascular fitness and endurance improves the more CONSISTENT you are with your running. Eventually you get to the point where 2 miles are easy because you’re comfortably able to run 4 miles, then 4 are easy because you’re regularly running 6 miles. You get the picture.

So now it’s your turn. Keep spreading this running thing across the lands…prove to the non-believers that ANYONE can ‘be’ a runner…they just have to try. :)

1) When did you start running? What caused you to try?
I sucked at all sports requiring an ounce of coordination. I can turn left.
2) Is there anyone you have inspired to become a runner?
3) What’s one thing that makes your running go by faster?

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7. Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library, by Chris Grabenstein

A bit ironic as I was trying to escape from Chicago's O'Hare airport when I started reading this one!  Honestly, I wasn't in the best frame of mind when I opened the cover.  I was delayed, then canceled.  Many hours and gate-changes later, I was delightfully immersed in this book written so clearly for book lovers!

Kyle Keeley comes from a family of gamers.  Not just video games, either...board games too.  And in Kyle's opinion, the king of the game makers is none other than Mr. Luigi Lemoncello of Lemoncello's Imagination Factory.  Too bad Kyle isn't as interested in school as he is in games!  His friend Akimi has to remind him on the school bus that he was supposed to write an essay on why he is excited about the new public library.  The old public library had been torn down 12 years ago, and now there is a contest asking the 12 year olds of the town to write about the new library.  The winners of the contest will be able to participate in a library lock in before the space is opened to the public.  Kyle furiously scribbles his half hearted essay on an extra piece of paper on the bus ride to school.

Kyle is soon kicking himself about his lack of effort on the essay as he soon finds out that Mr. Lemoncello himself is going to judge the essay contest since he is one of the new library's biggest benefactors.  But here's the thing about Kyle -- he's not a kid who gives up and he finds a way to write a better essay and he tries to get it to Mr. Lemoncello himself.

Imagine everyone's surprise when Kyle is one of the 12 chosen for the library lock-in.  

What follows is a wonderful ode to all things library.  Cool state of the art gadgets, crazy technology, and all kinds of clues will keep book lovers glued to the pages once the 12 12 year olds realize that this isn't any old library lock in.  Lemoncello is Wonka personified, and the title dropping is a hoot.  All of the ideas wouldn't work without Grabenstein's tightly written prose and vivid descriptions.  This is a great book that I cannot wait to get into the hands of my book lovers come the start of school.

3 Comments on Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library, by Chris Grabenstein, last added: 7/21/2013
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8. Imploding

The newest offering of the Defective Amish Detective is available now! You can get Vol 6: The Sausage Log Implosion on Kindle here: http://amz.to/11MckpP

I have to say this whole experience has been a lot of fun. When Giovanni approached me about this series, I was a little hesitant. I have always known him to have an outrageous sense of humor and I knew the Amish were handled with a great deal of respect. I did not know how we would blend the two.

What came out of it was a story with lots of heart and its own kind of zaniness. I think we manage to show the proper amount of respect to the Amish. Much of the slapstick falls on the Defective Detective, who is not Amish. What is he? Something of a repentant hitman. Both of our main characters have mysterious pasts that give them unique skills to handle the cozy mysteries we throw at them.

In the end, this series is about friendship and understanding. It is about two men coming from two different worlds and overcoming their differences to work together for the greater good. It is a pleasure to write and I hope you have as much fun reading it!

About The Sausage Log Implosion“Muck is Muck,” Eli the Blacksmith says.How does the Defective Detective go from having a near perfect day to one of the worst? Simple – someone stole his sausage log. Everyone has something in life that makes them happy. For G, it is the culinary delights of the Amish, including whoopie pies and sausage logs. When his favorite market is sold out, G wants to know why. The charming, but innocent, counter girl tells him that the butcher’s meat grinder has been stolen. When something goes awry in Amish Country, G can’t let it go. He joins his stalwart companion Eli and the two of them are on the case. They have two questions to answer. What happened to the meat grinder? And, how much muck is too much muck? This is one explosive implosion!

0 Comments on Imploding as of 6/30/2013 12:39:00 PM
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9. Best Summer Vacation or Bust

Summer is officially in swing, at least it is here in the South–and I guess it must be gearing up pretty soon in the rest of North America. Sorry Australia. As the weather warms up and my nephew collects spare change in his vacation jug, it puts me in mind of some of my best vacations. Actually it’s hard to choose a best. I’ve been pretty lucky.

Definitely one of the best vacations of my childhood would be the combined summers at Space Camp. I was technically a teenager, technically a middle-schooler, but I can be nerdy enough to admit that space absolutely turned me into an excited little kid and although it wasn’t really anything like the movie, Space Camp was an incredible adventure.

The first year was a whirl-wind. I didn’t know anyone, but it didn’t matter because everyone was a lot like me. I met Heidi right away, a girl who became a very dear, lifelong friend. Much from the two years actually blurs together now, in fact every time I think of a memory from the first year, I start to wonder if it was actually the second year. Which year did I get my head stuck between the bunkbeds? Which year did we build the rocket that was rather hideous and was named The Load Toad? Which year did we look at Jupiter in the giant telescope? Which year did we tour the training facility where astronauts practice weightless maneuvers in dive suits inside a ginormous tank?

I honestly can’t remember anymore. (My memory is terrible. Just ask D. He’s my official memory-keeper. As in, “Remind me to go to the bank. Remind me to eat dinner. Remind me what day it is.”)

What I do remember is that I had so much fun. Every moment was as thrilling as the breathless 4Gs of the Space Shot. Technically, it wasn’t Space Camp. Technically the first year was Space Academy (Level I) and the second year was Advanced Space Academy. Heidi and I were the only girls on the “pilot” track that year, but we hung tough with the boys and loved it. We trained hard and then executed 3 separate missions: We flew the shuttle, we performed experiments on the space station, and we assisted the other teams from the safety of Mission Control. I swear it was exactly like Apollo 13. Except without, you know, Gary Sinise. Or Ed Harris.

There were movies in the OmniMax and private tours of the museum. And So. Many. Dippin’ Dots. We even had our own turn in a big “weightless” metal water tank. Unfortunately I had allergies and was terrified of getting the benz (in 30 feet of water…), so I  snorkeled instead. Probably for the best because a tornado choose that moment to make an appearance, and we were unceremoniously hauled from the tank early and sent down to the safety of the basement museum, our wetsuits still dripping. I am, however, slightly haunted by my fear of scuba diving, and as I have never had a good snorkeling experience (stories to come, I’m sure), I hope some day to scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef.

One of the highlights of camp was meeting an actual astronaut, and somewhere there may still be photographic evidence. I wish I could say that Space Camp was where I learned not to lose my camera, but alas, remember what I said about my memory? If not, then perhaps your memory is worse than mine. That’s a scary thought.

I can’t speak for other programs, but my time at the Huntsville Space and Rocket Center was truly unparalleled, and I would encourage everyone to go–at least for the day. In fact, given what a good time he had at the Ren Faire, it might be time to haul the Star Wars obsessed E down to Alabama for the day.

What are some of your favorite vacation spots? Best memories? Feel free to share–I’m always looking for someplace new to go. As my dad always says, “You want to do everything.” Well maybe not everything–bungee jumping just doesn’t sound like something I should do.

Tagged: Astronauts, Being Brave, Dippin' Dots, friends, Middle School, snorkeling, Space Camp, Summer, Vacation

4 Comments on Best Summer Vacation or Bust, last added: 6/6/2013
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10. Casting Mayberry

When I was a child, I loved watching the Andy Griffith show. It was a sweet situation comedy about a small town sheriff keeping the peace in rural North Carolina. The setting was bucolic. The cast was full of benign well-meaning people occasionally beset by antagonists passing through or creating problems for each other.

Let’s take a look at the functions of the different characters. 

The protagonist was the widowed Sheriff Andy Taylor. He had a shrewd mind hidden behind a good-old-boy smile. That was his secret weapon. The antagonists always underestimated him. His role was that of caretaker to a town full of people too innocent to protect themselves. His weakness was that he was too nice, bordering on enabling.

This was apparent when dealing with his sidekick, Barney Fife. Bumbling Barney meant well, but was often more of a hindrance than a help. He occasionally redeemed himself by luck rather than skill.

Andy’s Aunt Bee acted as the sweet voice of reason, but she occasionally got it wrong and this offered mild interpersonal conflict.

Otis, the town drunk, was usually a hindrance or complication to solving the story problem.

Floyd, the Barber, was the town gossip with feathers for brains. His tidbits of information sometimes helped and sometimes hindered.

Opie was Andy’s son and often posed important thematic questions. He occasionally got into trouble.

Goober and Gomer Pyle were goofy gas station attendants who innocently interfered. Their station was the portal to the town.

Andy was occasionally given a love interest who offered interpersonal conflict based on the occasional jealous pang or misunderstanding.

The antagonists were a series of moonshiners and petty criminals passing through. Once in a while they dealt with a real criminal (bank robber).

The characters not only offered local color, they were the source of interpersonal conflict. They aided or impeded and sometimes brought trouble to their door.

Andy’s genuine love for them kept him motivated to save them from their own folly and the bad guys who passed through.

There were no special effects, no guns blazing, no brutal murders. Sheriff Taylor was a loving but firm disciplinarian with Opie (and the rest of the town). Mayberry was a sweet place to pass a summer’s evening full of genuine love and kindness.

I doubt storytelling will ever return to that level of innocence, but the world could use a little country comfort these days. 

0 Comments on Casting Mayberry as of 5/24/2013 9:57:00 AM
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11. Renaissance Means “Rebirth”

And so begins my blog anew, retooled and with a new focus on things that make you lose your breath. Moments that make you stop and say to yourself, “Yes–this is what life is for!” And all that mundane stuff in between.

Renaissance means starting over, refresh, reboot. So it’s only fitting that it’s that time of year again: Renaissance Faire time! I know, technically it’s always that time of year somewhere, but here it happens throughout May. Sadly there has been so much rain that we have not yet dragged my nephew off to the land of jousts and turkey legs and the king’s roasted nuts, but there’s time yet.

Gentle readers, in the spirit of the Faire, I ask you: have you ever attended? Participated? Do you think it’s ridiculous? Do you go every weekend?What is your favorite part?

I have two favorite Faire memories–from the first I ever attended and from the last.

The first was in Deerfield Beach, Florida, and it was magical. My friends are crazy, and they love to make costumes. I call this crazy because I cannot sew and would never deliberately make myself an outfit that involves boning in any way. But they are amazing, talented individuals, and they love to dress up, so we all put on their incredible handmade costumes and went to the Ren Faire. The weather was perfect, the dill pickles were icy cold, and we stayed until the sun set over the lake at the edge of the Faire grounds. And as we took emotive pictures together against the pink-orange sky, an old drunkard came up and attempted to urinate in the lake. (That isn’t my favorite memory, by the way, that is just the fittingly inappropriate end to a lovely day at the Faire.)

The very last time I went to the Faire, I went with a different group of friends, including D. Some dressed up, and some did not. Once again I found myself in borrowed bits and pieces, because I like to immerse myself. D showed off his axe-throwing skills, and attempted to climb this tricky rope bridge, and I swooned appropriately. Then he got dragged up to dance (because there are never enough willing gentlemen) so of course I had to join him, and we shared our first dance. It rained and it poured, because apparently May is the rainiest month of the year in Tennessee, and we got soaked to the bone and ditched our friends to change clothes and watch movies all afternoon.

I would love to hear about some other favorite Ren Faire locations and memories, so be sure to leave a comment! Tell me what takes your breath away?

Tagged: costumes, friends, memories, Renaissance Faires, starting over

2 Comments on Renaissance Means “Rebirth”, last added: 5/14/2013
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12. Join Me For A Cup?


There is nothing like a nice cup of steamy hot coffee with cream and conversation with friends.  Since all my friends are working or busy, I am having coffee with my other friends.  Today it is Toola.  … and no,  she is not sharing that second cup with me.  She likes two cups of coffee at one time.  It’s kind of hard to get her to sit down (obviously), but we must love our friends no matter what!!  It takes a lot of interesting people to make a world.    Enjoy your day!

~ Leslie Ann


Filed under: breakfast, morning, My Characters

3 Comments on Join Me For A Cup?, last added: 5/20/2013
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13. The Fourth Stall - Review

The Fourth Stall by Chris Rylander
Publication date: 08 Feb 2011 by Walden Pond Press
ISBN 10/13: 0061994960 | 9780061994968
Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Indiebound

Category: Middle Grade Mystery
Keywords: Middle grade, mystery, friendship, bullying, Mafia
Format: Hardcover, paperback, eBook
Source: Borrowed

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Chris Rylander delivers a funny Ferris Bueler-style middle grade novel with The Fourth Stall.

Do you need something? Mac can get it for you. It's what he does—he and his best friend and business manager, Vince. Their methods might sometimes run afoul of the law, or at least the school code of conduct, but if you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can pay him, Mac is on your side. His office is located in the East Wing boys' bathroom, fourth stall from the high window. And business is booming.

Or at least it was, until one particular Monday. It starts with a third grader in need of protection. And before this ordeal is over, it's going to involve a legendary high school crime boss named Staples, an intramural gambling ring, a graffiti ninja, the nine most dangerous bullies in school, and the first Chicago Cubs World Series game in almost seventy years. And that's just the beginning. Mac and Vince soon realize that the trouble with solving everyone else's problems is that there's no one left to solve yours.


The Fourth Stall is a hilarious play on The Godfather set in an elementary school. The Godfather
in question is Mac, short for MacGuyver because he’s the guy that can get you anything. And the
fourth stall is and empty bathroom stall where he conducts his business. The empire is run by a
small sixth grader and his best friend who loan out their services helping solve the problems of
their fellow classmates for a small fee. Their business is threatened when the mysterious
kingpin, Staples, starts a gambling ring at their school. Using tough high school kids and bully
tactics, Staples plans on taking Mac and his friends down. Loyalties are tested when Mac finds
out that there’s a mole in his organization. Can Mac hold the business together and flush out the
rat at the same time or is this the end of his career? And will the Cubs make it to the World
series this year?

Each person in Mac’s crew had a distinct personality and I loved reading the bios of the various
school bullies. I am partial to Kitten, the small and polite sociopath, who is ruthless and more
than a little scary. I definitely don’t want to get on his bad side. And it was cool to see Mac band
the bullies together in order to deal with Staples. I had some mixed feelings the violence in this
book. On one hand, it was pretty graphic (especially for the middle grade reader that I think this
book is aimed at) but on the other hand, I think there had to be real consequences to their
actions in order to make the story work. And though Mac ends up using strong arm tactics to aid
his own cause, he doesn't feel good about it. While the book doesn't glorify violence in the
schoolyard, it doesn't shy away from it either.

What drew me in though was the friendship between Mac and his best friend Vince. Their easy
rapport and camaraderie seemed genuine. They were a bit like an old married couple and I was
really worried when their friendship was threatened. Ultimately this is a story about friendship and
And though I am not a sports fan, I found their dedication and obsession with The Cubs to be funny and endearing. It almost made to me want to watch a baseball game. ;)

Visit the author online at www.chrisrylander.com and follow her on Twitter @chris_rylander

Please note that this post contains affiliate links. For more details, please see our full disclosure policy here

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14. Kate Bassett's WORDS AND THEIR MEANINGS sells to Flux!

I'm so excited to share my critique partner and dear friend's debut young adult novel, WORDS AND THEIR MEANINGS, has sold to Flux.

Congratulations, Kate!

Kate Bassett's WORDS AND THEIR MEANINGS, about a talented young writer who, one year after her beloved uncle's death, discovers the shocking truth about him, her family, and the importance of finding new words, a new love story, for her own life, to Brian Farrey-Latz at Flux, for publication in Summer 2014, by Sarah Davies at the Greenhouse Literary Agency (NA). Foreign:

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15. Friendship recharges our spirit.

Recharge your spirit by connecting with a dear friend. If you can't physically meet up, then pick up the phone or Skype with him/her.

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16. On the move

We are on the move...again...

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17. T-shirt & Mug :)


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18. Wise Words from Rudyard

Fellow 2k12 member AC Gaughen recently reminded our group of this poem and how well it applies to the writer's life. I pulled up my copy of "If", something I printed and framed for a student's bar mitzvah several years ago, and had a read through again.

The words are golden and so right on.


If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
     And stoop and build ‘em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
     And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
     To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
     Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run –
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

—Rudyard Kipling

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19. Best Reads from the Philippines at the 3rd Asian Festival of Children's Content

I am PaperTiger's guest blogger for the month of June! For my first PaperTigers post, I report on how the Philippines was the country focus of this year's Asian Festival of Children's Content (AFCC). Please click here to read my report!

A week after the AFCC ended, the Philippine delegates already missed each other (and the delegates from other countries!), so we decided to have a little reunion. Over Mexican food and drinks, Tahanan Books editor Frances Ong, author Russell Molina, blogger and illustrator Blooey Singson, author-illustrator Jomike Tejido, author Candy Gourlay (through FaceTime because she was in the UK!), and I reminisced on the AFCC and planned on hanging out together much more often. Adarna House marketing officer Vanessa Estares and illustrator Isabel Roxas were with us in spirit!

I am so proud of the success of the Philippine booth and the Philippine speakers at the AFCC! And I congratulate the organizers of the AFCC for the success of the entire event!

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20. Let's have an international book bloggers meetup!!!

For me, the best thing about blogging is the people - the community I am a part of. It's a joy interacting with other lovers of kidlit and YA lit, and I have some truly amazing friendships because of the kidlitosphere/YA blogosphere. I've been able to meet many book bloggers in the Philippines, and last month in Singapore, I met Liyana of Liyanaland. We were so happy to be spazzing over YA authors and K-pop together IN PERSON. We thought, why not do this with other kidlit and YA lit bloggers? Why not have an INTERNATIONAL book bloggers meetup? If you're interested in getting together with kidlit and YA lit bloggers from all over the world, please click here to fill out Liyana's survey. Help us plan this international meetup. I think we can really make this happen!

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21. Miscellany 7-2-2012

Links, links, links!

* Click here for a report on the very active Filipino reading community - it's my last post as the PaperTigers June guest blogger!

* Author Candy Gourlay was one of the first to blog about the 3rd Asian Festival of Children's Content (AFCC) in Singapore. Read her posts here.

* Little, Brown editorial director Alvina Ling blogged about the AFCC and Book Expo America (BEA) here. Meeting Alvina was one of the highlights of the AFCC for me! =D *major fangirl spazzing*

* Illustrator Blooey Singson summarizes the AFCC here.

* Here author Trevor Kew shares key points he took away from the festival.

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22. Tsumiki No Ie

Tsumiki No Ie from lennie small on Vimeo.

"Tsumiki No Ie" is the sad and beautiful winner of the 2009 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. I know, I'm very late. I didn't know about it until children's author Trevor Kew sent it to me yesterday. Thank you, Trevor!

And oh! This short film has a picture book adaptation published by Hakusensha, Inc. Must be gorgeous. Enjoy!

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23. Blogger Award

Recently my blogging buddy, Cecelia Lester, passed along to me and a few other bloggers the Liebster Award. I am such a forget ninny sometimes that I forgot the thank her for that. So, A BIG THANK YOU! to Cecelia for honoring me as one of her favorite bloggers. You can read Cecelia's beautiful, sincere devotionals at her blog, Following My King. Her heartfelt words often reach out across

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24. Blog Tour: Jamie Haden, Character Interview

Author Jamie Haden had the opportunity to interview some of the characters from her novel, Illuminate-Alive, She Cried.

Talisa Santiago's life is in grave danger. The tricksters from her past have found her and want her dead. Only one place can keep her safe—a remote Indian reservation deep within the Great Smokey Mountains. Talisa doesn't know what to expect. The only thing she clearly understands is that she must leave her island home, depart from her mother, and stay hidden from society for one year. Yet, she isn't afraid; her closest friends stand by her side and promise protection.
I'd like to welcome Talisa Santiago and her three friends—Jag, Dakota, and Miguel—to the blog this afternoon. It is clear you'll have a very special relationship. How long have you been friends?

The gang is on the couch together. Talisa sits between Jag and Dakota. Miguel relaxes on the arm of the sofa and taps his hand against his knee as if trying to catch a beat. 

Talisa looks at Dakota and smiles. "Seems like forever," she says. Dakota blushes. Jag takes her right hand and entwines her fingers with his.

Miguel clears his throat. "I grew up with Dakota and Jag, they're like my brothers. As for Talisa, we'd do anything for her. It's as if we've known her our whole lives."

Perhaps, but you haven't, when did you meet?

"I came to Silence Island last year," Talisa says. "And my life hasn't been the same since."


"My grandfather is a shaman, and I was born in the desert. My mother took me away when I was seven, I really don't remember my childhood."

Jag leans over and kisses her cheek. "That was then," he replies, "and this is now. The past is the past, baby."

Miguel interrupts. "As for me, I was born in Jamaica." Miguel is wearing a red and black crochet cap. He winks, rips it off, and releases a heap of knotty dreads.


"Nah, not really," Miguel says. I was at the reservation as a kid. I made some good friends there. In fact, I never said good-bye because I knew one day, I'd be back."


Miguel shrugs, shakes his head.


Why ruin the surprise. All I'm gonna say it will blow their freaking minds.


"Shoot," Miguel says.


Dakota answers first. "Doesn't exist."
"Talisa," Jag says. "She is perfect happiness."
"Girls," Miguel blurts out.
Talisa swallows hard. "Peace of mind," she responds.


"The one within," Dakota says.
Jag laughs. "Hell yeah."
"Same," Miguel agrees.
"Same," Talisa says.


"Been there and done that," Dakota replies.
Miguel nods. "Happened to me in Africa," he states.
"I drown when I was ten," Jag offers.
"Drowning would be a terrible way to die," Talisa says. "Silent."


Talisa looks at the boys. "My friends," she says. "They are all I have."
Dakota and Jag flash her a smile.
"Come on girl, we gotta get going," Miguel says. "We have a long road ahead." He jumps off the sofa and flashes the peace sign.

Jamie Haden
Wilmington, NC August 2012

Illuminate-Alive, She Cried,  a novel by Jamie Haden

Some say the concept of rebirth is simply a metaphor for living a better life, a holier life. For seventeen-year old Talisa Santiago, such a resurrection is anything but a metaphor. It is her reality.
Talisa knows she can communicate with the spiritual world. She is the granddaughter of a shaman and going between two different worldly dimensions is something she realizes she is destined to do. However, what she doesn’t count on is what fate has in store for her.
After surviving the first hurricane of the season on the island where she lives, Talisa learns that her life is in grave danger. She must leave immediately and retreat to live with a secretive clan of Indians on a remote reservation deep within the Great Smokey Mountains.
Her blood brothers, three shifters who have the desires of both man and animal surround her, promising everlasting friendship and protection. Now, Talisa will put her life in their hands, depart from her mother, and begin the journey of a lifetime. However, the majestic mountains hold many secrets and danger lurks in the night. There are evil tricksters everywhere that want her dead. As Talisa falls prey to the confusion of her own sexuality, she unleashes an untamed passion that may get them all killed.  
Jamie Leigh Haden is the author of Spirit Seeker, a young adult fantasy. Jamie lives and writes near the seashore in North Carolina. She has a Bachelor's degree in philosophy. Jamie is currently working on An Unimagined Life, the sequel to Illuminate-Alive, She Cried.

Get Illuminate-Alive, She Cried on Kindle here: http://goo.gl/g6qKF  or in paperback here: http://goo.gl/3V4Of

Jamie Haden www.jamiehaden.com



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25. Quote Yourself!

Quotes…They’re everywhere! You see them in magazines, art, motivational posters, greeting cards, knick knacks, movies, clothing… and anywhere else words can be stamped. Quotes have become trendy accessories for our social media personas and maybe even our identities. So what is it about these little nuggets of wisdom (or not) that are so intriguing?

These tiny little micro blurbs pack a big punch! They resonate with something inside of us that we can’t quite find the words for ourselves or have forgotten about.

Quotes give us a voice to express our true essence.Most of the time we like to borrow quotes from other people, but I wonder…have you ever quoted yourself?
You don’t have to be a movie star or historical figure to have a quote… just be YOU! Most quotes come from beliefs, insights and experiences. What are you passionate about? What do you strongly believe in? What message do you want to share with the world? Or with your peers?
Your quote is about you. It doesn’t have to be  motivational or all knowing – it just has to come from your authentic self. Turn your interests into words or stand up for something you believe in. Your quote can be simple, complex, funny, interesting, quirky or maybe it won’t make much sense at all. Get creative and have fun. That’s what it’s all about!
Is there a quote brewing inside of you? It may take a while for the right words to reveal themselves, but once you have that perfect combination – one that expresses your uber-awesome-self – be proud of it!
Share your masterpiece with friends. Stick in on Facebook under “favorite quotes” and encourage others to create their own quotes, too. There’s something really neat (and inspiring) about seeing your words between quotation marks and  a “~” before your name. Embrace your awesomeness! You never know who you might inspire with your words.
Happy “Quoting”!

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