Adore those Animal Antics

Welcome to this week’s Margarita Moment! If you enjoy this post and my little island life inspired blog, please sign up for your free, weekly escape. (Look on the right sidebar.) It will sail to your inbox on Mondays. Thanks for visiting!

Animal lover? I thought so. Most of us are, and that love isn’t usually limited to cats and dogs. We humans seems to get a kick out of the antics of all kinds of creatures. In the cat vs. dog debate, however, I personally lean toward the feline persuasion, having blogged “Keep Your Valium, Doctor, I Have My Cat!” and sharing oodles of adorable pics of my cuddly companion on Facebook and Twitter.

Viral Videos

Our fascination with adorable non-human creatures is demonstrated by the endless stream of animal video clips that go viral on the internet. If you search “animal video” on YouTube, almost 20 million choices pop up. If you narrow your search to “funny animal videos for children,” you still have approximately 4 million clips. Personally, I love animal videos and baby videos, but the babies with animals make me nervous. I understand most pets would never harm a child, but they are animals and as such I think they can be unpredictable. Here’s a cute cat video compilation. I especially like the cat falling asleep at 1:15, the cat boxing with the TV at 2:38, and the cat giving the another cat a massage at 6:08.

If you don’t care to watch a longer video, here’s an adorable one for a minute of your time.

Animals in Books

My faithful writing buddy

My faithful writing buddy

Animals also play a role in literature. My favorite book as a child featured an animal. FOLLOW MY LEADER  by James Garfield is about a boy’s life after he’s blinded by a firecracker over the Fourth of July holiday. Jimmy eventually gets a guide dog, Leader, who becomes his eyes and connection to the sighted world. That story, to me, was as much about Leader as it was Jimmy. I read that book in 1976 and still remember it as if I read it yesterday. That’s the power of a great story. You haven’t heard of that title? Another of my favorites is BLACK BEAUTY by Anna Sewell, the classic tale about a girl’s love for a horse.

As a contemporary romance writer, I include animals in the story when it makes sense for my characters. In ONE MORE SUNSET (Entangled, Late Fall 2014), heroine Abby Stone is on the run from her ex-boyfriend. She isn’t in a situation where she can care for an animal. Yet when creating my hero, Ben, for A LIGHT IN THE WINDOW (Tule Publishing, Nov 2014) I immediately envisioned him with a large, well-mannered dog. Sadie is a sweet Golden Retriever who appears in most scenes with Ben. She even has a career as a therapy dog at the town’s local senior center.

Of course, I’m not the first author to feature an animal in a contemporary romance, Kristin Higgins is well-known for including dogs in her books. In fact, when I searched on Amazon for her titles, ten of her book covers included a canine with the couple. My close friend and talented author Jeannie Moon gave her cat, Mo Kitty, a part in her Forever Love novel, THE TEMPORARY WIFE.

Animals in Daily Life

This inclusion and love of animals makes sense to me as a reader and writer of contemporary fiction because the reality is, whether we have pets or not…animals are part of most people’s daily lives. Generations of squirrels have cohabitated with my family on our quiet tree-lined street, entertaining us with their playfulness. We lamented their fates after Hurricane Irene hit and knocked over one of our large oak trees in the front yard, forcing us to make the difficult decision to cut the others to avoid future home damage, which in turn left some of those furry creatures temporarily homeless. We have taught our children about the many species of birds that fly onto our property and have built bird houses and fed the winged creatures through the more than two decades. In fact, a friendly baby bird inspired this post–tapping on my front screen door and hopping around (so cute!) on our front step.

Baby Bird Knocked at My Door!

Baby Bird Knocked at My Door!

 

What are your favorite stories featuring animals? What role do animals play in your daily life? Have a favorite animal video to share?

 

 

 

Who’s Up For Spring Break 2014?

Duval Street, Key West

Duval Street, Key West

Among the top Spring Break destinations in the United States for America’s young adults are:

  • Key West, Florida
  • New Orleans, Louisiana
  • South Padre, Texas
  • Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Daytona Beach, Florida
  • Lake Havasu, Arizona
  • Panama City, Florida
Family Lunch at EPCOT's Rose & Crown

Family Lunch at EPCOT’s Rose & Crown

Among the top five Spring Break destinations for families this year are:

  • Orlando, Florida
  • Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
  • Bahamas
  • San Diego, California
  • Captiva, Florida

Five Spring Break tunes for college-age kids (or young at heart):

Five Spring Break songs for the over-40 crowd:

I never experienced Spring Break as a college student, but have enjoyed many as an adult, usually with the family in Orlando. Happy times! For all of us unable to travel this season, how about we pour ourselves a glass of our favorite beverage, turn on our personal Spring Break playlist, and relax.

x0x0~Jolyse

Are you traveling for Spring Break? Any Spring Break moments–good or bad–to share?

 

 

 

 

Saving Mr. Banks, Miss Potter, and Magical News

Castle at Disney World

Castle at Disney World

Saving Mr. Banks

One of my favorite Disney movies is Mary Poppins. I’ve often joked with children in my care that I’m “practically perfect in every way.” I’ve seen the play on Broadway three times (once without any kids) and of course, know all the songs. I thought I already knew everything about the classic movie the night my honey and I decided to see Saving Mr. Banks.

I was wrong.

P. L. Travers:

  • grew up in Australia, not England. (She moved there later in life.)
  • idolized her father, who died quite young due to alcoholism.
  • based Mary Poppins on her stern aunt rather than her mother
  • originally declined Walt Disney’s repeated offers to buy the rights to her story because she didn’t feel a musical set the correct tone
  • eventually agreed to the musical when she fell in love with some of the songs
  • disapproved of the animated portions of the Disney movie
  • created Mary Poppins was her way of “saving” her father in fiction since she hadn’t been able to save him from himself in reality

Illustration from The Tale of Benjamin Bunny

Illustration from The Tale of Benjamin Bunny

Miss Potter

As a kid, I memorized Green Eggs and Ham, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, and Peter Rabbit. When I became a mother to a baby boy, I decorated his bedroom with Peter Rabbit and other Beatrix Potter characters. I read all her stories to my children and own the video adaptations on VHS. When I came across Miss Potter on Amazon Prime a few weeks ago, I figured I knew most everything there was to know about the author.

Once again, I was wrong.

Beatrix Potter:

Illustration from Peter Rabbit

Illustration from Peter Rabbit

  • was from a wealthy family
  • was secretly engaged to her publisher but he died before they could marry
  • was very particular about the final appearance of her illustrations
  • insisted on limiting the cost of her books so more people could afford them
  • eventually married later in life to the realtor who sold her a country estate

I also recently watched Magic Beyond Words: An Unauthorized Biography of J. K. Rowling, but too many reviewers of that movie question its authenticity for me to feel comfortable sharing my comments.

Why the recent interest in author movies?

A typical summer day writing on the patio

A typical summer day writing on the patio

Perhaps it’s because…

I sold!

I’m a bona fide, sold-my-first-book author. (See, all those late nights, early mornings, and weekends tapping away at a keyboard eventually pay off.) Entangled Publishing has bought the rights to One More Sunset, my romantic suspense/magic novel set between two of my favorite places–New York City and Key West. Entangled is a wonderful, quality company and I’m thrilled to join their team. The book’s release is estimated for late fall/early winter 2014 and will be part of Entangled’s category suspense line, Ignite.

Until next time, enjoy the Moments. Springtime, here we come!!!

Jolyse xoxo

Universal Studios

Universal Studios

Scenes From a Country Road

It’s often said that you cannot truly appreciate the beauty of a place until you leave it behind. No truer words were ever spoken. Here are a few of my favorite moments en route to our family reunion in the Adirondacks, where we shared a few stories, a few laughs, and lots of food, drink, and hugs.

My fictional town of Starling is inspired by the land I knew as a child and teen in beautiful upstate New York and the way of life I observe when visiting loved ones far from my current home on Long Island.

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How did you enjoy this last unofficial weekend of summer? What was your favorite moment of the season?

You Are My Sunshine

A few weeks ago, one of my blogger buddies bestowed upon me an unexpected but very pleasant gift: The Sunshine Award. Lord David Prosser is a witty gentleman from across the pond, and his blog, The Barsetshire Diaries , exemplifies courage and humor. I wish him many fond memories of his lovely Julia, and a future filled with love and happiness as his daughter blesses him with a grandchild this year.

Now, for my part in accepting this award…

What inspired me to start blogging? I started blogging after taking an incredible online course by Kristen Lamb about branding. Blogging was part of building my writer platform, but now it’s a delight in itself. I love connecting with people through this venue.

How did I come up with the name of my blog? As a romance writer, I wanted my blog posts to generally be an escape from everyday life. Sipping margaritas by the pool are about as escapist as I can imagine in my daily life and I’m a fan of alliteration.
What is my favorite blog I like to read? Wow, that’s a difficult question. I read and enjoy so many different blogs for different reasons. However, a few constants in my life are and blog.

Tell about my dream job. That’s easy. Writing and living in Key West.

Is my glass half full or half empty? Half full.
If I could go anywhere on a week’s vacation, where would I go? I’d rent a house on Sunset Key off the island of Key West.

What food can I absolutely not eat? I have many food intolerances and some allergies, but I won’t bore you all with that. As far as a food I could eat but choose not to…hands down that would be liver. Yuck! Even the smell of it makes me wretch.

Dark chocolate or milk chocolate?
Neither. Allergic. Sigh….

How much time do I spend blogging – in other words, am I one of those lucky people who can dash off a blog post in no time, or take forever on one post to get it just right?
I spend six hours per post, which is why I write only one per week. As you may know, I’ve had difficulty even getting that done with recent issues. Oh, and my obsessive novel writing tends to eat up a lot of hours. But that’s okay, right? I did start the blog to complement my writing, not replace it.

What shows do I like? I enjoy Once Upon a Time, NCIS, and Food Network shows such as Chopped! and Cupcake Wars. Those are the shows I’ll admit to watching. My guilty pleasure shows are my business…

There are three blogs in particular that warm my heart with their words in 2013, and thus deserve my nomination for the esteemed SUNSHINE AWARD:

Julie Glover’s  Threading the Labyrinth

Janet MuffintopMommy

Jess Witkin’s Happiness Project

Congrats! To accept this award, simply link your post to my blog, answer these simple questions, and nominate those bloggers who bring sunshine to your day.

And now, for a moment of natural bliss….

Happy Spring, everyone!

DSCN5825

DSCN5819

Hundredth Post Humor and Dreamy Key West Homes

The Bone Fish Restaurant  in Dockyard, Bermuda

The Bone Fish Restaurant in Dockyard, Bermuda

Cheers! Today we toast the 100th post at Margarita Moments. Took a while to get here–hope it was worth the wait.

First, here’s an advertisement we came across in our wanderings last summer in beautiful Bermuda. Hey, who wouldn’t want to check that place out? Looks like more than mojitos are available.

If that kind of humor is up your alley, you may enjoy this one, too:

Courtesy of leightmoore WANA Commons

Okay, enough of the silly stuff. Onto today’s escape.

You had a glimpse at Old Town architecture in Key West Stylin’  a while back, but today we peek inside a smattering of beautiful Key West properties–courtesy one of my favorite real estate blogs by Gary Thomas. I’m not a realtor, nor am I in the market for a new home, but it’s fun to browse properties and dream…especially when it’s snowing in my backyard on the second day of Spring.

The first property was built in the 1800’s, a Bahamian-style home. This is the kind of house one sees all through Old Town, with its white picket fence, clapboard siding, large hurricane shutters and wrap-around balconies. My favorite part of this home is its outdoor living space. Gotta love the lap pool and guest cottage.

Not your style? Don’t worry, I’ve chosen four more for your viewing pleasure.

This next property is modern as the last was old, a penthouse condo in a gated community outside Old Town. The living and dining rooms may be a bit formal for some, but if you scroll down further you’ll find the most incredible loft area and balcony overlooking the sparkling waters. Don’t you agree?

Onto the top three:

If you like the outdoors to meet the in, and charm is your middle name, this Solares Hill Cottage is worth a peek. It’s cozy and filled with all the little Conch details. The only change I’d make would be to move the desk downstairs. This writer enjoys being surrounded by action while at the laptop. What’s your opinion?

Two is yet another style:

What could be better than a home in the Key West Writer’s Compound? Quiet, yet close to Historic Seaport and world-famous Duval, where creative types can gather for brainstorming, support each other through the manuscript rejections, and celebrate success with a margarita by the pool. Readers would love this place, too. Think of the all quiet, cozy places to read to your heart’s content and the opportunity for impromptu book talks.

A Primo KW Property:

If you prefer simplicity, your chi may be drawn to this mission-style home located in the Casa Marina section of Old Town. What wonderful curb appeal, high ceilings, and space for all your island guests. The pool and greenery are sheer perfection. Love, love, love this one!

Funny signs? What’s your dreamy Key West style? 

Please Forgive Me

I’m having one of those weeks…will post soon.

xoxo
Jolyse

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