Posts tagged with: fun

Put a Little Love in St. Valentine’s Day


As writers of romance, some might think that we have St. Valentine’s Day all planned out and perfected. Rose petals and candles, sentimental handmade cards exchanged while we listen to memory-filled songs from a specially created playlist. Sexy lingerie and of course steamy ruby-colored stilettos. After all, we have “written the book” (or many books) on love and romance so Valentine’s Day must be a sultry breeze for us.



As you may have learned from other Ruby posts, we are as real as everyone else, struggling in the very unromantic world around us. Tantrum-perfected toddlers, drama-filled tweens, unrepentant teens, tired spouses, deadlines, dirty houses, mini-vans with strange stains and odd odors, dogs with way too much gas, spouses with way too much gas… It goes on and on. The majority of life is NOT romantic.

However, it is vital for your mental well-being to appreciate life and those who are special to you. If you have beings (spouse, kids, friends, pets) in your life whom you care about, use St. Valentine’s Day as an excuse to remind them how special they are to you. Making others feel appreciated and loved can fill your own well too.

So how to do that…

Keep in mind that what might be appreciated by one person may not be appreciated by another. The key to a fabulous Valentine’s gesture is to make it personal. Here are a couple of ideas.

  1. Find five items that represent qualities you love about the person and wrap them (don’t buy them, find them in the house). Examples: a hammer if your hubby is Mr. Fix It, picture of the kids if he’s a great dad, a feather if your partner is creative in bed.

Then for five days leading up to Valentine’s Day, place one wrapped item on the mantel or where he/she will see it. When asked about the gifts, just smile. Then on the big day have them open each and explain how it reflects something you love about them. This doesn’t cost anything but really makes the person feel appreciated. This can also be done for kids, although they might be disappointed that the gifts are things they already own.

  1. Cut out a bunch of paper hearts. Write something you love about he/she on each one (I do different colors for each of my three kids). The night before Valentine’s Day, after they are asleep, scatter them around their bed or hide them in fun places. In the morning they hunt for and read them. Smiles all around. My teenager has kept his from years ago. I mail an envelope to my college-aged daughter with instructions on the front telling her to scatter them around her room, so she still gets her paper hearts. Her friend told her “Wow, your parents really love you.” Why yes, we do!

  1. If the temperature is above freezing – Take your partner out to a field away from the town lights. Bring hot chocolate in a thermos, a waterproof picnic blanket, and a cuddly blanket for on top. Drink, snuggle, watch the stars, and keep each other warm. Ladies, might I suggest wearing a skirt ; )

  1. Write out different kinds of kisses on paper hearts and put them in a cute box or bag. Examples: passionate, sweet, French, on a ticklish spot, movie kiss, etc. Have fun with coming up with silly or very specific ones. Present it to your partner and have he/she pull out at least one kiss a day.

  1. Have a group of friends to celebrate with? Throw a St. Valentine’s Day Party where they come in PJs to watch favorite romantic movies all day. Let each person bring their favorite. You can shoot for 2/16, the Saturday after Valentines day. Make mimosas and snacks like Candy Heart cookies or do fondue. Buy a big box of Valentines chocolate to share.


These are just a few ideas to start you off. What romantic, sweet, or sexy ideas do you have to make those in your life know that you appreciate and love them?



Green Sparkly Magic

Do you know what is special about tomorrow? It’s a day of magic! Leprechaun magic! Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day.


And although this holiday is anchored in Ireland, many people off the green isle celebrate the magic of this fun day. Even though I have reddish hair and some freckles, and my dad looks like a Leprechaun (sorry Dad, but it’s true), I’m not Irish. But ever since I was a wee little lassie, I’ve been very fortunate to have the Leprechaun come to my house every St. Patrick’s Day.Leprechaun face

Some years he would turn the milk in the carton green, or leave green pancake batter ready for my parents to cook. I wrote him a letter once, and he answered all my questions (my Leprechaun was named Paddy). Each St. Patrick’s Day I would dress in green from my dilly-boppers down to my shamrock covered shoes (compliments of that mischievous fairy).


As I grew up, the Leprechaun didn’t play as many tricks, but there were always shamrocks left to remind me of the magic. I think this magic, and the fun I associate with it, helped lead me to writing. In a way, Paddy was my muse, and I defended him to all those kids that said he wasn’t real. He was real to me.

Now that I have three spirited kids of my own, the Leprechaun once again invades our home every year. He leaves notes, changes the milk green, stacks the kitchen chairs on the table and turns all the pictures in the house upside down. He even pees in the toilet and forgets to flush!leprechaun-potty-trick

My kids build Leprechaun traps, trying to trick him with fake gold. But all they’ve been able to catch is a tiny shoe and a tiny hat. My youngest is nine-years-old and is excited to see what her trap will catch this year. Maybe a jacket or a pair of shamrock undies. By the time she grows up, there will be a naked Leprechaun running around our house!

Leprechaun trap

The winter is long, and spring is finally almost here. With flowers starting to bloom, it’s like magic fills the air (achoo! And pollen!). St. Patrick’s Day is another opportunity to embrace the magic in our everyday worlds.

Whether it just makes someone giggle and smile or it inspires them to embrace the idea of fairies and magic to later write a story – invite the Leprechaun into your house this St. Patrick’s Day.


LeprechaunLeprechaun tricks:

Add green food coloring to milk, pudding or batter (when adding to batter, add a good amount so the color will show up after it’s cooked).

Add food coloring to the toilet water.leprechaun-milk-560x373

Make “footprints” on the toilet seat with washable paint (side of your hand or fingerprints).

Covering shoes and book bags with shamrock stickers.

Hang green streamers like a waterfall through doorways.

Leave shamrock stickers as tracks leading to a small treasure of chocolate coins or small shamrock plant.

Open all the cabinets and drawers in the kitchen.Leprechaun mess

Run green yarn through the house to make a big tangle.


Has the Leprechaun ever visited your house? What did that rascal do?


A Visit From My Muse

Dirty_dishes‘Twas the night before deadline, and all through the place
The dust bunnies were mating and taking up space.
The dishes were stacked in the kitchen in piles,
While crumpled up notes filled the circular file.

My lovers were nestled all snug in the bed,
With nary a conflict to mess with their heads.
And the villain in his wisdom, had gone to the coast
For a nice long vacation and a good Christmas roast.

My outline was there on my Scrivener screen
While my eyes were wide open, high on caffeine.
With Kitty in her basket, and I in my sweats
Was just thinking about having my last cigarette.

simbadeskSmallWhen there on my laptop appeared a strange sight
That at first I mistook for a bad megabyte.
“Windows I hate you”, I said in a wail
“Why did you wait for my deadline to fail?”

But the blue on the screen of my Sony Vaio
Gave the feeling that failure was certain, you know?
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature goddess in a gown oh-so-sheer,

Made of fine silky fabric, in sparkly bright hues,
I knew in a moment it must be my muse.
More comely than starlets in movies was she
But she snorted and grimaced and pointed at me.

Calliope, Muse of Epic Poetry

Calliope, Muse of Epic Poetry

And then, in a twinkling, I heard in my head
The voice of my muse as she whispered and said,
“Your villain’s a wimp, he’s a really big goof,
And, honestly, honey your hero’s aloof.”

“Your heroine’s almost too stupid to live,
And your plot is so holey it looks like a sieve.
But I’ve got some ideas that might get you on track,
If you’d feed me some coffee and a chocolaty snack.”

So up from my desk I sprang with like a flash,
Pulled open my drawer for my M&M stash.
And I fed her a snack that was wickedly sweet.
And she gobbled it up. She was not even neat.

She spoke no more words, but went straight to her work,
And filled all my plot holes, then turned with a smirk.
And smiling a smile that was full of good cheer,
She nodded her head and then disappeared.

I ran to my story, and gave a big whistle.
All my problems had flown like the down of a thistle.
So I wrapped it all up, mailed it far out of sight.
“Happy deadline to me, and at last a good-night!”

* * * * * * * *

Leave a comment in haiku, rhyme, or some other poetic form to be eligible to win an autographed copy of A Christmas to Remember.  Christmas Carol parodies would be most welcome.

And to all the readers of the Ruby blog, I wish you the brightest and merriest of Christmases.  And a prosperous and happy New Year.A Christmas to Remember cover

Zombies, Snow White, and Gypsies Oh My!

I’m a dresser-upper. Not in sophisticated jackets with heels and a stylish clutch. I’m talking about costumes. Since I was a little kid I’ve donned the clothes of characters. From a pilgrim on Thanksgiving to a decked out green kid going to school on St. Patrick’s Day, I dressed up whenever I could get away with it.

High school spirit week was the best. I dressed in a toga, painted my face, and wore my dad’s clothes on different days. The costumes made the mundane fun. I joined the Drama club where I could play around with different roles and costumes without standing out as bizarre. Although my friends knew that my yen for flare went beyond the theater department.

I trick-or-treated through college. My future husband took me around as his little sister our junior year (and he still married me). I dressed as Pippi Longstocking. I may have garnered some strange looks, but since I’d made the effort, I got the candy. No, I’m not addicted to bite-sized confections and candy corn. I just love the fun of escaping into a different personality, trying on someone else’s exciting world, and reveling in it.

Hmmm…sounds a lot like creating characters and worlds for my books. Interesting.

Beermaid and Zombie

Beer Hall Maid and Zombie Hubby

My husband and I carried on my love of dressing up into our married life with…Halloween parties (this is rated PG so I’ll stay out of the bedroom in this post ; ). Once again I could be whomever I wanted to be for the night. Zombie bride, gypsy fortune teller, German beer hall girl, vampire, black widow spider (when 7 months pregnant), flapper (I can do the Charleston), wood elf, fairy… I attended a Star Trek convention as one of the ill-fated extras in red and Renaissance fairs as a fairy queen.

As my three children grew up I reveled in helping them choose costumes, helping them with their hair and make-up. My favorites include, zombie race car driver (with cardboard car), Medusa (with plastic snake heads on the ends of her hair), and a fairy/unicorn/witch (5yo’s have a hard time deciding on one costume). And of course I still dressed up to hand out candy.


Zombie Racecar Driver


Puppy, Ghoul and Medusa with Teal Warrior Heather


Creepy China Doll

Creepy China Doll






The year I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, I happened to find an adult sized complete Snow White costume second hand. The black bobbed wig fit my bald head perfectly. I dressed up and presented a dramatic retelling of the story to my daughter’s pre-school class. They loved it! And for fifteen minutes I wasn’t a cancer patient lugging around a pain-filled, swollen body. I wasn’t a mom putting on a brave face over the terror that I might die and leave my little kids. For fifteen minutes I was the lovely Snow White handing out apples and making a room full of little kids smile.

It’s been three years and I’m cancer free (although the docs check me every three months – ugh!). I still put on the Snow White dress at Halloween. The wig doesn’t fit as well with all my hair, but I don’t mind. I still go into my daughter’s classroom to perform and the kids still love seeing Snow White swoon when I bite the apple.

Puppy & Snow White

Puppy & Snow White

I know that not all authors dress up like I do. But it certainly would make sense if they did. We create characters, writing them to act out glorious scenes on the page. It isn’t much of a stretch to make those characters come to life by dressing up in Victorian dresses, steampunk cogs and goggles, sex-kitten spandex and handcuffs, and Lara Croft braids with strapped-on faux handguns. And with Halloween closing in, we can do so without anyone questioning our sanity. Although one might argue the sanity of being a writer anyway– LOL!

Tips for working fun dress-up into your life:

  1. It’s Halloween. Wow your family by putting together a costume this year. Either buy one or fashion a gypsy costume with a skirt, hoop earrings, eye liner, and scarves. Hold a Magic Eight Ball for fortune telling effect.
  2. Fashion a head wreath of faux fall leaves and berries to wear to fall events. Have fun with it! Hats, wreaths and scarves are great ways to start small in dressing up your everyday life.
  3. Wear funny hats while driving and watch someone smile when they see you at a stop light. You just made their day! I like to bite into an apple while wearing the Snow White wig and make-up.
  4. Wear a tiara around the house one day. See if your kids notice. Feel free to wear it to the grocery store : )
  5. Wear a short skirt one night to bed. Bring on the pom-poms and your significant other will be ready to run his best touch down yet.
  6. Opt to dress up to attend one of the themed parties at a writer’s conference this year. The Romantic Times Convention is famous for them. You’ll be the odd ball if you don’t dress up.
  7. Volunteer to read to kids in school or hospitals while wearing a fairy or princess costume. Feel free to keep the costume on all day afterwards.
  8. If your monthly supper club or bunko game has a theme, dress to match. Hearts for Valentines, beer hall maid for Oktoberfest, an eye patch for Talk Like a Pirate Day (it’s in September). If your meetings, dinners, and clubs don’t have themes, suggest them.
  9. Declare one day a month as dress-up day, informing every member of your household that they must dress up if they want to be fed (a little hunger usually gets everyone to play along). Let them take turns choosing a theme: PJ day, favorite movie day, zombie family day…
  10. Choose one of your favorite characters from a book (your books or a book you love) and make or purchase the costume. Wear it whenever you want and if someone remarks on your odd dress, just inform them of the character you are portraying with your head held high. After all you are being “literary”!

Do you dress up for Halloween or any other time of the year? What’s your favorite costume?

A Heretic Tweets: Tweeting for Fun, Not Profit!


I’ve always likened Twitter to a global, virtual cocktail party. Depending on who you follow, you can participate in, or overhear, some of the most interesting conversations. But…don’t you sometimes, even while recognizing its importance, get bored to tears with the sheer volume of author promo appearing in your Twitter stream?  With seeing upteen retweets of the same promo tweets you scrolled past yesterday? For me, there comes a point where it all just turns into hissing static.

Don’t you sometimes want to go to a different corner of the cocktail party, hang with a different crowd? Use Twitter for PLAY, instead of for WORK? I know I do.

Heresy!!!! BAD AUTHOR!!!  I can see agents, editors, and publishers chasing me with flaming torches and pitchforks right about now. But…honestly. Sometimes I desperately need a palate cleanser. Something different, something fresh.

With Twitter, it’s really easy to drop in on those other conversations. You can follow whoever you want, and search for anything you want. Do I have a few minutes between day job meetings?  Fire up HootSuite, and see what’s happening in the world. Any breaking news? Who’s been hacked today? Where’s my Science Porn? WHERE ARE MY EMERGENCY KITTENS?!  In the reading/writing world, which books are people talking about – not just mindlessly retweeting? What are they saying? Who’s kicking off a #1k1h writing challenge as I dial into my fourth meeting of the morning? #sojealous

My Twitter use kicked into higher gear when I bought a Kindle Fire HD late last year. For better or for worse, I can now tweet from my living room couch in the evenings, and not just from my desktop computer, my laptop, or my smartphone.

Some things I’ve had fun with on Twitter recently:

  • I exchanged quips about the TV show #Hoarders with writer Amanda Hocking and comic Michael Ian Black. We deemed the episode we were watching “Extra roachy.”
  • Book blogger Limecello and I occasionally snark on #Bones and #SYTYCD together – but we snark out of love.
  • I had way too many raunchy #candyheartrejects suggestions on Valentine’s Day. It’s better that some of those tweets never again see the light of day, but the next morning I woke up to 35 new followers.  😉
  • I’m thrilled that I’ve received several friendly and innocuous (damn it) direct messages from an athlete/writer/LGBT ally who not too long ago elbowed Johnny Depp off my “Top Ten To Do” list. Minnesota recently became the 12th state in the nation to allow same-sex marriage, and IMO, former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe‘s smart, incisive, and hilariously profane advocacy had a lot to do with it. Damn, can this guy write. And he reads! Books! And tweets about them! And how cool is it that Kluwe’s wife asked him to do beefcake shots for his recent feature in Out magazine? Let me throttle back on the fan-girling long enough to pimp his upcoming book: “Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies: On Myths, Morons, Free Speech, Football, and Assorted Absurdities,” his first collection of essays, is coming out end of June 2013. (Here’s a partial index to give you a feel for its content. Language NSFW.)

Does anyone else get a completely over-sized thrill when someone whose work you respect responds to a tweet, retweets or Favorites something you’ve written, or follows you? Thank you, Wil Wheaton, Mindy Kaling, John Taylor, Foo Fighters, Amanda Palmer, and (gulp) the hacker collective Anonymous – not that I’m keeping track or anything. 😉 Foodie and fellow Minnesotan Andrew Zimmern recently followed me after I tweeted “GET IN MY BELLEH!” in response to a picture he posted of some yummy-looking fried chicken. /shrug/ Go figure.

I don’t have a huge list of followers – it’s growing slowly, steadily, and organically – and being I write so slowly, most of them have NO clue I’m a writer…but I guess they’ll find out when they see a very judicious amount of promo in their Twitter streams when I release my next book.  (Novella cover reveal below!!)

Whether it’s via Twitter or Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram or Pinterest, who do you think has an interesting or entertaining social media presence? Tell us about a time when an RT, DM, Like or Follow gave you a tingle. 

Follow me!  Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

TOUCH ME, an Underbelly Chronicles novella, is releasing later this summer.

TamaraHogan_TouchMe_200pxAward-winning author Tamara Hogan loathes cold and snow, but nonetheless lives near Minneapolis with her partner Mark and two naughty cats.  When she’s not telecommuting to Silicon Valley, she writes paranormal romance with a sci-fi twist. A feral reader with an unapologetic television addiction, Tammy is forever on the lookout for the perfect black boots. 

Her debut, TASTE ME, won a Daphne du Maurier Award for Mystery and Suspense, was nominated for the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart Award®, and won Prism Awards for Best Dark Paranormal, Best First Book, and Best of the Best.

“Heresy” comic by Esther Wheaton via Obohemia (Ren) / CC BY-NC-SA 2.5

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