Hey look! Thanks to the fabulous Frauke of Croco Designs (sorry, no hyperlink because I’m blogging from the weird WordPress app on the iPad) I have a new look here on the site. Look around and tell me what you think and if you see any glitchy stuff that’s not working. She updated both my home page and my banner, while still using my brand image–isn’t it fabulous?

Not only do we have a new template and a new banner, but she also added a Recipes page at the top. So now, every time I add a new recipe, it will show up in the list on that page, which is alphabetized. I’m going to go through and update all of the recipe posts with actual recipe titles, to make browsing the alphabetized list.

Also in the Land of Angie, I went to see Reba in concert this weekend with my friends Trish and Mindy, thus the cowgirl pictures. I loved having an excuse to pull out this cowboy hat, since it’s a little more fancy than the one I usually wear out and about. And it’s been a few months since the cowboy boots came out thanks to summer. I LOVE my boots, so glad it’s almost that time of year when I can wear them daily again. This was my third time seeing Reba in the past 2 decades and she remains as fabulous as always. Opening for her was Melissa Peterman, who played Barbara Jean on Reba. She was funny and it was so good to revisit the show. I had a great time with my girls, and I loved being able to see Reba again.

Currently, I’m visiting Casa Wendell (aka Sarah Wendell from Smart Bitches and her family) for a few days. The first thing to greet me as I came in the door was a fantastic “Kindle” welcome sign. And the adorable dogs (pictured).

But the really big news? My baby lost her first tooth last night! I was afraid she was going to lose it while I was gone, but she wiggled it around until it was just barely hanging on yesterday, and then Josh yanked it out. The tooth fairy visited this morning and left her $5 in exchange for that first tooth. She has an adorable little gap-toothed smile now. When did she get old enough to start losing teeth? And to start kindergarten? Next week. That was another first for us this weekend–on Sunday B and I went shopping for school supplies. The first time I’ve ever had to shop for school supplies for her. Waaah!

Ask an editor: What do you love?

I think it’s only fair to follow the “what do you hate” post from earlier in the week with a post of the three things that are just about guaranteed to grab me when I’m reading

1) Injure the heroine: Yes, I’m a bit sick in the head, but I love it when the heroine is in mortal danger, and it makes the hero realize he can’t live without her and loves her. I love it when the heroine is shot, stabbed, traumatically injured in some way (not rape, ha!) and it creates a moment of loss for the hero so horrible, he can’t believe how bleak and colorless life will be without her (but you can do it without the melodrama of my description, lol).

2) Grovel: I love love love a good grovel. If the hero or heroine have wrongly accused their love interest of something, if they’ve thought they did something heinous, and treated them accordingly, and then find out…oh noes! they were wrong, then I love a good grovel. And I mean make it good. Make the person delivering the grovel mean it, and work for it. I don’t want easy forgiveness, I want them to crawl on their knees with the grovel. But this is a fine line, because I also don’t want the other person to drag on granting forgiveness for too long. And I don’t want the hero/heroine to lose their strength while groveling. I want them to grovel because of the strength of their personality, to make them seem even stronger. I also don’t want a grovel just because the other person feels wronged (and they really weren’t).

3) Insurmountable odds: I adore a book that creates a conflict so strong, so wrenching, that I have no idea how the hero/heroine are going to overcome it. The caveat here is that I need to also know and believe that they ARE going to overcome it (ie, have some sort of happy ending). I don’t want to be taken through the wringer and not get some sort of positive payoff in the end. This is why I love romance. I know the positive payoff is there. It’s also the reason I sometimes peek at the end of non-romance books, so I know if I should invest my emotional energy in the book and characters, or walk away.

Your turn. What things in a book will instantly grab you?

Not-So-Wordless Wednesday: PreK BBQ

I was going to do a contest today, but was already overwhelmed by the sheer amount of Twitter and FB messages I got for my birthday, so I’m going to delay the contest a few days.

Last weekend, we attended a PreK graduation BBQ hosted by the parents of one of B’s classmates. Several of B’s teachers showed up, as did several of the other children who are moving from preK to kindergarten in the next few weeks. In conversation with the director, we realized that Brianna has been going there for four years and is one of two children who’ve been there the longest. They opened their doors in August 2006 and Brianna started going in November 2006, just after her 2nd birthday. I think we’re all going to miss that facility.

Here are a few pictures from that evening. I don’t like to post other people’s children so I chose a few of just B and Josh.

Brianna spent a ton of time riding this scooter (many of the adults also took a turn on it. Here’s a hint: they don’t mix with beer).

This is Ms. Rosemary, who’s been Brianna’s teacher for the past three years. We’re going to miss her.

Proof that my husband is just a big kid.

Further proof.

Ask the editor: What do you hate?

I am so fortunate. Today I said on Twitter and Facebook,A? “Do you have a burning question for an editor? I need a blog topic.” I got a tremendous response of some really great, amazing questions. Not all of them about editing, either! So I’m going to be using my blog, and the Carina Press blog, to answer the “ask the editor” questions in the coming weeks. If you’re not on Twitter (or Facebook), and you have a question, feel free to leave it in the comments!

Today, @romancinkatrina asked: Three things that make you hurl a book across the room faster than seeing a spider on the wall.

This seems like it should be such an easy question, right? But I really had to think about it, because I couldn’t immediately think of the huge hot button issues that I always know won’t work for me. But I did finally come up with a few things I came up with that are issues for me in reading:

1) Rape: no, not the use of rape in a book in general, but when the main character (usually the heroine but sometimes it’s a hero) is shown as having been raped recently, especially within the book’s timeframe, but seems to suffer no emotional or psychological trauma, and just merrily goes on their way. Rape is a horrible act, and using it as a plot device or a character device, simply to add conflict to the book, and then disregarding all the consequences of that conflict makes me insane, and it strikes me as disrespectful of all the people who’ve suffered this. Don’t show the heroine (or hero) as jumping into bed with their romantic lead soon after the event, don’t ignore that the tragedy of having this happen has the potential to change how they act and react, and who they are. Don’t make it just a convenience. Don’t just use it because you want something horrible to happen to your characters to show you’re not afraid to torture them. (for the record, I remain impressed with how Patricia Briggs handles this in the Mercy Thompson series)

2) Big Misunderstandings: I’m not a fan of this plot device, so it can pretty often make me want to kick someone’s characters in the head. The problem, for me, with the Big Mis, is that it’s just so often the result of two people who are too stubborn and stupid to just say “Why did you do this” and instead play these passive-aggressive games that keep them apart. Passive-aggression doesn’t make ANYONE likeable, and when the only conflict keeping two people apart is stubborness and stupidity, I figure they don’t deserve to be happy anyway!

3) Unclean sex: Oh, just ew here. I apologize to anyone who’s easily embarrassed, but this one’s going to be a little more graphic (Dad, stop reading). There’s a few things in erotic romances that bother me in regards to “unclean” sex. I’m no prude but I draw the line at books that portray the hero going from the back hole to the front with no sanitary clean up in between. Do you have any IDEA of the kind of bacteria and illness that can introduce to women’s bodies? Say it with me, “ewwwww!” Also, if you’re going to show your hero/heroine in a masturbation scene, and something happens immediately after where they have to go answer the phone/door, etc., can they PLEASE wash their hands somehow. Because again…ew. That makes me want to run for the hand sanitizer and bathe in it.

Bonus: I’m not entirely sure “hint of tuna” while kissing would make me stop reading, but if a book becomes too gross as far as bodily functions and “reality”, I will toss the book. I’d like some mystery in the relationship, please.

I also won’t continue a book if I can’t connect with the characters or if I don’t understand their motivation. Sure, I might not agree with their motivation, but I need to know why they’re doing something. Unlikeable characters I don’t understand can be a deal breaker for me in a book I’m reading.

Okay, you got mine. Your turn. What will make you throw a book (or wish you could throw it if you’re reading digitally) faster than seeing a spider on the wall across the room?

Winner of Josh’s Birthday contest

Thanks to all of you who wished Josh a happy birthday. It created some heavy sighing and eyerolling in my direction. Exactly what I was going for! Love you, honey!

Thanks to RowFeeder, all of the Twitter entries were fed directly into a spreadsheet. I added all of the comments from the birthday post, and used to draw a random integer.

The winner of Josh’s birthday contest is…

Trish, who was the first commenter on Josh’s birthday post.

Congrats, Trish. I have your email address so I’ll arrange to get your prize to you 😉

In the meantime, if you didn’t win, don’t despair. There’s another contest tomorrow!

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