Posted by Susan Sey Jun 12 2013, 12:15 am in great lakes, Lake Superior, Susan Sey, travel, vacation
Some people are lucky enough to be born where they belong. Some people have to look for their place for years & years.
Some people get to live in that place that fills up their soul. Most of us just have to visit it from time to time.
Some of us get lots of places that feel like home. Some of us get only one.
Finding this place is like meeting your spouse. You see it, there’s this electric click & you think, “Mine.” ”Here.” ”This one.”
For me, that place is the north shore of Lake Superior.
I was well into my twenties when I discovered the north shore. This is ironic because I grew up in Michigan. The Great Lake State. I know my way around the HOMES. (That’s Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie & Superior, for those of you who didn’t grow up in or around the mitten.) And yet, I never saw Superior until I was an adult.
To be fair, Superior is up there. Way up there. A solid six hours or so from where I grew up. But one summer I got a wild hair to take a job at an outdoor and environmental education program in Minnesota’s arrow-head region–that little triangle of land wedged between Lake Superior and Canada.
I’ll never forget driving into Duluth, cresting that last hill & finding the lake waiting for me. It was vast and forbidding, and it sparkled like broken glass, the kind you know will cut you if you touch it but you just can’t help yourself. It was that exquisite combination of beautiful and dangerous that we all love so much when we spot it in a hero.
I fell in love with it like I fell in love with Mr. Sey. He took my hand on our first date, something inside me clicked & I thought, “Yep. This one.” I saw Lake Superior, something inside me clicked & I thought, “Yes. Here. Mine.” I’ve been back at least twice a year ever since. (On a semi-related note, I’ve also been happily married thirteen years this summer.)
It was a rainy fifty degrees as I packed up for our first camping trip of the year on Friday. We hit the campsite in the dark, set up our tent in the damp, and crashed out.
We woke up to this. A glorious, perfect, temperate, sunshiney Saturday, full of hiking and reading and digging and scrambling. Now I probably spent more time packing than I spent camping. And I know I spent more time doing laundry and unpacking afterwards. But I wouldn’t trade that glorious Saturday for anything. And why? Because when I left home I was tired. Cheerless. Weary. Empty. When I came home, I was full. It was enough. And sometimes enough is everything.
How about you? Is there some place that you return to again & again? A place that fills you up when you’re empty? Tell us about it!
Posted by Susan Sey May 27 2013, 12:14 am in cabin, Holidays, language, Memorial Day, Susan Sey
Happy Memorial Day, everybody!
Like many of you, I’m at the cottage this weekend. Excuse me, I mean the cabin. Not my cabin, let me be clear. This is a friend’s cabin. We’re lucky enough to have wonderful friends who own a cabin, and they invited us to spend the holiday weekend with them. So here we are enjoying the lake in the north woods. This is us above. We’re watching the kids catch frogs & the men catch fish while we open a bottle of wine & discuss, well, everything.
We’re having a grand time. And that was what I intended to write about when I sat down.
Then I tried to title this post & got hung up.
Because here’s the thing: we live in Minnesota, and the woods/lake we’re currently enjoying are in northern Wisconsin. Therefore this structure I’m inside? It’s a CABIN.
Now I grew up in Michigan, where if you said “cabin” you were talking about Laura Ingalls Wilder stuff–a historical, pioneery thing build out of trees stacked up like Lincoln logs. The little houses on northern lakes that we flee to when it gets too hot in the city? Those are COTTAGES.
Also, we Michiganders ice fish out of shanties, not fish houses or ice houses like they do here MN/WI.
And when a Michigander says ROOF or ROOT, she’ll pronounce the OO like you would in ALOOF or HOOT. Minnesotans/Wisconsinites would pronounce the OOs like you would in GOOD or SOOT.
Now I actually like this for the most part. This is the upper midwest–we don’t actually have a discernible accent, & I’ve always wanted one. So I kind of cherish these little regional difference in language. Every now & then, if you’re really lucky, you’ll hear somebody refer to a drinking fountain as a “bubbler.” I find this delightful.
But the other day my kid came home from school and told me she’d been given “rut beer” at school for a special treat. And I realized that she was growing up with a Minnesota accent. And I didn’t know how I felt about this.
On one hand, how fun! An accent in the family (however tiny.) Wheee!
On the other, my kid & I now look at the same word and think different things. And that strikes me as…unsettling. We’re family. We’re blood. We should speak the same language. And mostly, we do. Except for this tiny little point where we don’t. And I just don’t know how I feel about that.
So tell me about where you live. Does it come with an accent, or regionally-specific terminology? Does your spouse/partner/kid have an accent that’s different from yours? How do you handle the differences? Are they invisible? Amusing? Cause for argument? Share!
stockphotos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Posted by Susan Sey May 18 2013, 12:11 am in disney, Susan Sey, vacation
Well, that’s that. Disney came, Disney went, and we’re back to reality around here.
Those of you following along at home will be delighted to know that Team Wicked Awesome successfully completed our Disney Race. On the left here is a photo of me & my running buddy/trip planner extraordinaire Sarah just before embarking on the Expedition Everest 5k at Disney’s Animal Kingdom last weekend. We’re dressed up as our favorite Disney villains, of course: Sarah as Cruella DeVille from 101 Dalmations, me as Ursula the Sea Witch from the Little Mermaid. I obviously couldn’t make my long, dark hair do Ursula’s bleached blonde spikes, so I settled for slapping on a light-up octopus fascinator & calling it day.
In addition to being adorable, however, we were also fast! We managed to place 6th out of over 500 women’s teams. On the right down there is me and my victory fist crossing the finish line.
But I’m not here today to talk about my race. No,I came home from this vacation with three key learnings. Three vacation practices that have revolutionized my ability to take a vacation with my family & actually enjoy it. And I’m going to share them with you.
This sounds ridiculous, I know. I mean, who takes a vacation without planning it? But you’d be amazed at the amount of blow-back you can get from family members (who shall in this post remain nameless) who believe that trip planning kills spontaneity & therefore enjoyment. They resist any effort to create plans, budgets, agendas, bullet points. It is suggested–subtly–that any commitment beyond hotel reservations or airline tickets is over-thinking things.
Ignore these people. They are trouble. Plan the heck out of your trip. Don’t even bother attempting to get familial buy-in. Pore over your guide books. Buy attraction tickets and make dinner reservations six months in advance. Make day-by-day agendas! Wheeee! You will not be sorry. Trust me.
However. (You knew there was a however, didn’t you? There’s ALWAYS a however.) Please see #2 below.
2) BE FLEXIBLE.
The key to all this planning? You can’t get attached to your lovely plan. When you vacation with family–and I was at Disney with my kids, my husband AND my parents, so we’re talking three generations–you have to be prepared to flex. Everybody’s not going to want to do the same thing at the same time. There are different levels of energy, ambition, interest. Plus, what seemed totally do-able six months ago in the dead of winter when it was just you & your guide book might not be entirely feasible after three days of going hard in the summer heat.
So when you’re building your lovely plans, make sure to build in escape hatches & loop holes. Alternate agendas for the tired & the wired. Opt-out clauses for golfers. (This was key with my parents. We bought them three day park passes as compared to our four-day passes & they went golfing mid-week rather than doing Hollywood Studios.) Pay attention to the mood of your brood, & offer options accordingly.
Which brings me to the all-important lesson #3:
3) VACATION IS NOT A DEMOCRACY.
Somebody has to be in charge of vacation. If you sit around the breakfast table every day trying to achieve consensus on what we’re going to do today, you’ll likely still be sitting there at lunch, embroiled in inertia. I know this because I am the third of four kids, & now that we all have spouses & children & dogs & such, our holiday gatherings aren’t family get-togethers so much as a week-long effort to mobilize the troops.
Successful vacationing requires a leader. It requires somebody who’s willing to slap an agenda on the breakfast table & say, “Here’s today’s plan.” When/if objections arise, you then offer up your opt-out escape hatch alternatives. But because you planned so well and so beautifully, you have those lovely dinner reservations or tickets bought in advance. This gives your day some structure, a guidepost of sorts. It’s very stabilizing to know that something is happening at a certain place & time, so everybody can meet back up for the day’s peak experience.
Now I had the impression (likely from those same family members who are remaining anonymous for the duration of this post) that this sort of dictatorship was frowned upon by vacationers, but it is actually received with much gratitude. People make decisions so much faster & more effectively when they’re presented with three distinct options rather than a whole buffet of choices. So let them sneer at your six-months-out dinner reservation. When the day comes, you can take your satisfaction in watching your vacation unfold like clockwork.
So there you have it. Susan’s Simple Rules for Taking your Family on Vacation. And all it took was 40 years & about as many vacations punctuated with melt-downs, shouting-matches & endless discussions regarding where we should eat.
So how about you? What are your tips & tricks for a great vacation? I would love to add to my body of knowledge!
Posted by Susan Sey Apr 27 2013, 12:47 am in disney, fanny packs, purses, running, Susan Sey
So! My Disney trip is coming right up!
Did you know I’m going to Disney? I am! I may have mentioned it earlier this month. I may, in fact, have devoted an entire blog to it. It’s possible. I’m a little obsessed.
But for those of you who missed the memo, I’m off to Disney in a week! This time my excuse is exercise. Seriously. My Disney-loving friend Sarah & I are doing the Expedition Everest run on May 4, a nighttime 5k around Disney’s Animal Kingdom. We do like a good work out you know. Dressing up in costumes and riding roller coasters after hours is merely a bonus.
Our team name is WICKED AWESOME, so named because a) we’re awesome and b) we love Disney villains. Sarah will be Cruella DeVille from 101 Dalmations, while I will be Ursula the Sea Witch from the Little Mermaid. I made myself an octopus fascinator recently (glue guns are wicked awesome!), & I spent last evening sewing myself a sparkly purple running tutu. It’s adorable. I tried it on for my husband and said, “Hey, look! I’m Ursula the Sea Witch! What do you think?”
He said, “I think you’re about 200 pounds short of the mark, but I like the tutu.”
He’s a card, Mr. Sey.
So I think I have my costume in order, & I’m prepared to rip off a few sub-eight-minute miles. Training-wise, costume-wise, I’m ready.
Family-vacation-wise, I’m similarly prepared. I have the Unofficial Guide to Disney for families, I’ve downloaded the Lines app, I made my dining reservations ages ago & have my tickets waiting for pickup. There’s only one problem.
Seriously. I’m having a purse crisis.
Because no matter what you do, no matter how cute it is, your purse is a liability at an amusement park.
First of all, you have to carry it. And it’s hot and heavy. And other people want to put their stuff in it, which makes it hotter and heavier. Ick.
Second, you have to figure out what to do with it on rides–how to protect it from water, spinning, speed and the occasionally up-ending. (I do lover roller coasters. Did I mention?) The whole idea of purses is that you keep your important stuff in there, right? You don’t want all that important stuff shooting out of the spinning teacups like buckshot or marinading in a couple inches of water after the Khali River Rapids.
Third, you’re inevitably going to set it down somewhere–restaurant, bathroom, etc.–and try to walk away from it. Especially when your hands are full of kids and their stuff. This is especially likely for me as I have girl children, and therefore have solo responsibility for bathroom breaks while my husband snoozes in the shade outside. Disney bathrooms, as you might guess, are about the size of shopping malls, with about as many entrances & exits. Getting everybody bathroomed, sanitized & back out the same door we came in is a herculean feat. Hanging onto my purse–however precious it may be–is low on my list of priorities in such situations.
Now I know I’m not the only person to struggle with this issue. The Disney guides I’ve read address it explicitly. Their advice?
Wear a fanny pack.
It’s convertible. Wear it on your fanny when you’re walking around. Turn it around to the front when you’re on a ride or in a restaurant. It’s small so it’s not hot or heavy. Plus you can’t pack it with other people’s stuff. It’s just big enough for yours.
It’s easy to protect from ride damage. Line it with a ziploc for those wet rides, or put it inside your shirt. It zips fully closed and is attached securely to your person. It’s ideal.
The argument I personally found most persuasive? Get one for each kid. Make her carry her own sunscreen, waterbottle, camera, autograph book, etc. This spoke straight to my heart. (And my weary purse arm.) My kids are way old enough to carry their own gear. And they will.
But for me? I’m struggling.
Because I hate fanny packs. It’s nothing personal. I didn’t have a traumatic fanny pack-related experience once upon a time or anything. I just hate how they look on me. I’m already short & my bottom is the curviest part of me. It doesn’t match the pipe-cleaner splendor of my arms, anyway. That’s for sure. So, yeah, this is totally a personal phobia, but I dislike drawing attention to my already pronounced bottom with…well, another lump.
Oh, Susan thy name is vanity!
A fanny pack is totally the right solution here. I know this. The question is, can I put aside my vanity long enough to embrace it? Surely if Rihanna can do it (see photo), I can?
And if I can’t….what are my alternatives? Because I refuse to bring my big ol’ purse and Sherpa around the entire family’s gear.
Posted by Susan Sey Apr 12 2013, 12:56 am in disney, Kids, running, Susan Sey, vacation
Hey, so guess what? I’m going to Disney World!
Get out your mouse ears, ladies, because I’m totally tuned to the Disney channel these days. I am excited about this trip!
But why? It’s not like I haven’t been to Disney lately. I have. Kind of a lot, actually.
Just last year the RWA conference was in Anaheim, remember? So of course I blew off like two full days of (expensive) educational opportunity to go play. First I dragged our own Bandita Joanie to the parks where she patiently indulged my desire to try on hats with dwarf beards all day.
Later, I dragged our beloved Inara Scott on over so she could patiently indulge my desire to take silly selfies all day and suck down astonishing amounts of Diet Coke. (It was hot. She was impressed. She later live-tweeted my each and every bathroom break. Ah, friendship.)
And just two years before, of course, the RWA conference ended up in Orlando when Nashville found itself unexpectedly underwater. It was like a sign from God. GO TO DISNEY. Who was I to argue with God? I went to Disney, and again dragged Inara & Joanie along with me.
Okay, so to recap: Disney Land, July 2012. Disney World, July 2010. And–I’m just going to admit this–right in between? In May 2012? There was Disney World again.
Yeah, those last two were just a few months apart. But it wasn’t my fault!
See I have this friend, Sarah. And Sarah’s fervent & passionate love for all things Disney throws mine in the shade. And she talked me into running the Expedition Everest 5k.
This is essentially a 3 mile run through Disney’s Animal Kingdom after hours, pausing every mile or so for an obstacle. (Think hay bales, cargo nets, etc.) Then there’s a scavenger hunt, capped off by a late-night party complete with roller coasters. You can do the race solo, but it’s more fun when you sign up as a team. And run in costume. And I do love costumes & teamwork (& roller coasters!), so…
But here’s the thing: Who goes all the way to Disney for one day of park fun? We felt honor-bound to make a long-weekend/mommy vacation out of it.
I won’t lie to you. It was awesome. (It helps that Sarah’s an honest-to-goodness Disney-endorsed trip planner. First there was the running & our own personal roller coaster rides. Then there were massages. At some point there was a private segueway tour of Epcot & creme brulee. I’m not kidding you. Email me here and I will pass along her contact info. You’re welcome.)
But are you spotting the trend here? I have been to Disney three times over the last three years without my children.
And my children have informed me that this is a miscarriage of justice. A perversion of the natural order of things. And more importantly, it cannot continue. The next time I go to Disney, I am contractually obligated to take the kiddos.
And I am going back to Disney.
Because my friend & I? Our little team of Moms Who Run? We placed 14th out of like 800+ teams. And we hadn’t trained, nor did we run very hard. The instant we saw our results we were like, “We are coming back here next year, in shape, and we are winning this thing.” We made a solemn vow.
So the first weekend in May, we’re in it to win it. We’re heading back to Orlando, families in tow this time, and winning that damn race. Or coming as close as we can. And then I’m taking the next week off & doing the parks. With my family.
So, all that is a very long build up to today’s burning question. How do I make this park experience incredible for the family? We will have one day at each of the four WDW parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, & Hollywood Studios.) I will have with me: 1 husband (age 44), 2 children (ages 6 & 9), and 2 parents (mine, ages undisclosed but think early 70s.) Varying levels of fitness & interest. I have consulted with Sarah. I have the Unofficial Guide to Disney with Kids downloaded, along with touring plans & the LINES app. I think I am prepared, but I want to hear from you!
Have you been to Disney with kids recently? What are the top three things you’d recommend for kids at Disney? Real peak experiences? What can you share?
But most importantly, do you love my dwarf beard?
Posted by Susan Sey Mar 29 2013, 12:28 am in cooking, Easter, peeps, Susan Sey
Sound advice, probably. Don’t make a peep. I’m blowing it off, though. I’m making a peep.
Three dozen of them, in fact.
Yes, indeedy, our local paper just published a recipe for making Peeps at home, & I’m totally going for it.
Why? Hell if I know. I don’t even like Peeps.
You know Peeps, right? Those weird, rubbery marshmallow chicks that turn up in Easter baskets every year to inspire either fervent devotion or horrified cringing in the lucky recipient? The ones with the kind of cult following that inspires people to re-enact famous scenes from history using them, or to recreate famous works of art?
Yeah, those. I’m going to make those. Again, you ask, why?
I honestly don’t know.
I don’t want to recreate the Mona Lisa with them, or make a diorama of George Washington crossing the Delaware.
I’m not a big marshmallow fan, either.
But my kids like them, we’re actually having Easter at home this year, & the recipe told me how to make colored sugar.
Sometimes this just happens to me. Sometimes a recipe just grabs me & I have to try it. Even if I don’t particularly want to eat the results. Which, in this case, I don’t. I love sweets but since I turned 40 & the ol’ metabolism took a dive, I have to be choosy about indulging. I don’t want to waste my precious junk calories on anything that doesn’t make me swoon.
But look at the pretty sugar I made!
So, yes. I am wading into this battle. I am going to make Peeps, even though the recipes calls for a pastry bag and a candy thermometer.
You might want to pray for me. I’ll post pictures.
So how about you? Do you ever make recipes you don’t want to eat? Do you buy cookbooks just to read them? (I’ll confess, I totally do this.) What do you do with the results of your culinary endeavors if you don’t want to eat them? And–most importantly–are you a Peeps person?
Posted by Susan Sey Mar 12 2013, 12:01 am in movies, sisters, Susan Sey
I love the movies. Love them with a burning passion.
Part of that is my birthright. I’m from a long line of movie lovers. My parents go to the movies every single Friday night without fail. I want to know what’s playing & how it’s being reviewed by the semi-retired set? I call my folks. There’s nothing they haven’t seen.
Another part of that is being Irish. We Irish folk appreciate a good story well told, never mind the medium. (We particularly like those new theatres where you can have a beer with your movie, but that’s a different post.)
But I think the biggest part of my love affair with the movies is being a child of the 80s. I was in middle school when we got our first VHS, & it came with a REMOTE CONTROL. Good god, the luxury. Who cared that it had a cord & plugged into the VHS? It was a REMOTE. We could now watch movies with homemade popcorn from the comfort of our couch without bankrupting our parents. (There were four of us kids, & taking us to the movies had recently become prohibitively expensive.) Heaven!
As for myself, I was a fan of the romances. (Surprise!) The PRINCESS BRIDE, the CUTTING EDGE, Jane Austen’s EMMA (the Gwyneth Paltrow version)? That’s some solid entertainment right there.
My little sister, however? She was into horror movies. The scarier, the bloodier, the better as far as she was concerned. And since we were children of the 80s–did I mention?–this meant Friday the 13th, Children of the Corn, and Nightmare on Elm Street. Urgh.
As you might imagine, choosing the nightly feature in my childhood home regularly involved fisticuffs and coin tosses. Winning was always preferred, of course, but there was something to be said for losing, too. Yeah, the movie blows but there is nothing like providing some scathing color commentary on a movie that your annoying younger sister is trying to enjoy. That’s entertainment gold, right there.
So I have watched a lot of horror movies. And this is what I have learned:
Beware the previews.
Seriously. It’s the previews. The movies themselves were never that scary. Gross, yes. Truly scary? Not usually. But the previews? Holy crap.
See, at some point in every movie, they have to drag the monster out from under the bed. And once they do, there goes the terror. But previews? Whoa. Those are nothing but an all-you-can-eat buffet of terrifying suggestions, an invitation for your imagination to run wild.
And you know what? I have a fantastic imagination.
There was this one preview–I think it was for Children of the Corn #47 or something. It was about three seconds of film time, nothing fast or fancy. It was a shot of an open bedroom door & the darkened bedroom beyond it. That’s it.
Then suddenly a little boy staggers across the doorjamb in silhouette, just his shadow. No detail. But I understood immediately that something was wrong with this boy. My conscious brain took another beat to catch up, to put together what exactly was wrong.
The top half of the figure was a boy. The bottom half was…what? I’ve never been sure. A goat? A donkey? Some kind of farm animal, assuredly. I surmised from the staggering that this unnatural stitching together had just happened, & all concerned parties were struggling to come to terms with the new normal.
Okay, I have the heeby-jeebies just writing that. It’s an image I see in my worst dreams even now.
I suspect that if I just figured out which movie this was & watched it, it would neutralize the terror. (See theory above re: dragging the monster out from under the bed.) But I can’t bring myself to do it. I’m just too afraid. I’m messed up for life regarding the Frankensteining of little boys & farm animals, & you know what?
I blame my sister.
So what about you? Have you been permanently scarred by movie or a book? A TV show? Something you saw that you wish you’d never seen? Is your sister to blame, or did you do it to yourself? Share!
All images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net. Mouse over for artist attribution.
Posted by Caren Crane Mar 3 2013, 12:21 am in Alice in Wonderland, book recommendations, books we love, Caren Crane, current reads, Elle Lothlorien, Erin Morgenstern, Kiss the Girl, Married By Christmas, Muriel Barbery, Scarlett Bailey, Sleeping Beauty Wakes Up, Susan Sey, Taste For Trouble, The Elegance Of the Hedgehog, The Frog Prince, The Night Circus, what are you reading
It’s been a while since we just had a big old gossip about all the very cool books we’re reading. I know I have my favorite authors, but most of the new stuff I read comes to me via recommendations from people I know and trust. People like you!
I’ll get the conversation started by telling you what I’ve been reading lately. It’s a decidedly assorted mix, so pay close attention:
1. The Elegance Of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery – This book is one I would never have picked up on my own. For one thing, it is a translation of a French book and for another, it is literary fiction. It was a selection for a book club I am in at my day job. I have great respect for the members of my book club, who generally pick wonderful books which, for the most part, I would never pick up in a million years. I’m not finished with this one, but it is hysterically funny and incredibly intelligent both at the same time. It is about a hyper-intelligent concierge and a hyper-intelligent 12-year year girl who inhabit the same apartment building in Paris. Both strive, for different reasons, to pretend they are less intelligent than they are. Both are obsessed with books, movies, art and the beauties of the world. The story of how they come to know each who the other really is and how they learn to deal with the realities of who they are and the decidedly uninspiring world they live in is a wonderful tale. A treat of a book for the autodidact.
2. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – I have blogged about this book before, but I read it again recently. I decided when it is my turn to pick a book club selection again, this is my choice. Which gave me a perfect reason to re-read it. Sneaky, eh? This is the tale of a game played by two very old magicians involving their respective protegees. It is also the tale of the very real magic the protegees use to create a The Night Circus – a place like no other, a world unto itself. It will make you long to live in that world, where the smells are better, the food tastier, the world more beautiful and the magic more real. The book is also set in the late 1800s and early 1900s, so it has a very appealing sensibility and old-fashioned values and manners, which I found incredibly lovely and added to the magic. After reading, you may take to wearing black and white with a splash of red. Be warned.
3. Taste For Trouble by Susan Sey – I have read ALL of Susan Sey’s books and each one is better than the last. I read Kiss the Girl and thought Susan had reached some summit of romantic comedy goodness. Then I read Taste For Trouble and realized we have only begun to see how great a writer she is. Her Blake Brothers start out as a pack of charming reprobates badly in need of saving from themselves, especially soccer star James Blake who is about to ruin his career. They get a lot more than they bargain for when they sort-of-unintentionally wreck the wedding of the ultra-organized Belinda (Bel) West. When Bel and James are forced to work together to salvage both their jobs and their dreams, the sparks start flying. This book, like all of Susan’s, has a ton of heart and characters you will want to adore or adopt. Susan also has a blurb for Taste For Trouble posted in the Lair Library. Be sure to check it out!
4. Sleeping Beauty Wakes Up by Elle Lothlorien – Confession time: In the past few months, I have read three novels by Elle Lothlorien. First, The Frog Prince, then Alice In Wonderland and last Sleeping Beauty Wakes Up. Now, I’ve seen rave reviews and snarky smackdown reviews posted for all these books. I figure it’s a sign of strong writing when you inspire both love and hate in readers. Personally, I loved all three of these books. Although her stories are quite fairy-tale in nature (concerning things like princes, international poker tournaments and Hollywood films), they are incredibly funny and full of three-dimensional characters. I think they are definitely fodder for anyone who loves romantic comedy with, again, lots of heart and soul. Also, there was an earlier version of the book pictured called simply Sleeping Beauty, but apparently many readers hated the ending. So Lothlorien wrote an alternate ending that seemed to please LOTS more readers. That is the one I read. Snaps to her for listening to her readership and being responsive to their concerns. If only the Downton Abbey people were so concerned about our opinions!
5. Married By Christmas by Scarlett Bailey – I’m pretty sure I raved on this one before, too, here in the Lair. Scarlett Bailey is British, which immediately makes any romantic comedy funnier. Her characters are sympathetic, well-motivated and people I’d love to invite over for a party. The romance was, in my opinion, just about perfect. The subplot was equally as good. And the realtionship between the heroine and her best friend (who reminded me in ways of our own Anna Sugden) was incredibly well done. This woman gets what makes friendships tick and where all the boundaries and lines to never cross are. That is sometimes missing in romance. I’ve been really spoiled with great romantic comedies lately, so having a great romantic Christmas comedy was a special treat. I hope Bailey is incredibly prolific and starts publishing books here in the United States. I haven’t been able to get my hands on her backlist, because it’s not available here. It makes me very sad!
So, what are YOU reading these days? Anything new, different or exciting? Have you found a great new author we need to hear about? We’re all avid readers, so we want to know what the other atuodidacts here are consuming. Please share!
Posted by Susan Sey Feb 19 2013, 12:53 am in anthology, Kiss the Girl, lakes, midwest, rwa chapter, Susan Sey
So you all know I’m from up north, right?
Now, when I say “up north” I’m talking about that hardy, chilly stretch of the north-central U.S. bordering Canada. Let’s say roughly Wyoming through Michigan.
Up north is where it snows October through March, & we take it in stride.
Up north is where we have mosquitoes the size of bread plates, and people insult you by saying simply, “Well, that’s different.”
Up north, we’re at the very top of what folks on either coast refer to as “fly-over country.” Because they prefer to just fly over it. Nobody in their right mind would go there. Because–did I mention?–snow. Plus large mosquitoes and deadly subtle insults.
Me? I love it here. But I didn’t always.
Now I was born and raised up north. In Michigan, to be precise. (The mitten state!) But I knew I wasn’t made for winter. My senior year in college cemented this conviction. I remember the day itself–April 1, 1994. I had just walked to class through a blinding snow storm, the kind with such fierce winds that you have to empty your pockets of snow upon arriving at your destination. And as I was scooping snow from my coat pockets (I am not making this up), I said to myself, “That’s it. I’m getting out of here.”
I graduated one month later & took the first job south of the Mason/Dixon line that came my way. (Thank you, Houston Independent School District, for the opportunity. I quite enjoyed Texas.)
That said? I lasted three years before I moved back up north. To Minnesota this time. And I haven’t budged since.
At this point, you may be questioning my sanity. (Because, to recap: snow, mosquitoes, insults.)
But here’s the thing. In exchange for snow, mosquitoes and “that’s different,” I got heat, bigger mosquitoes (!) and “bless your heart.” Even exchange, that. But I also got snakes (the large, poisonous kind) and alligators. (Alligators!)
In exchange for wind chill factors, fall colors and spring flowers, I got a rainy season. And I discovered that I will happily take a few weeks of -50 windchill over three months of 37 degree rain any old time.
But it was the water that finally did it.
I missed the lakes.
I might’ve mentioned that I grew up in Michigan, also known as the Great Lakes State. Fun fact? You can’t go more than six miles in any direction in Michigan without hitting a body of water. You’re never more than 85 miles from a Great Lake, either. As a result, we Michiganders view time in & on the water as our birthright.
I spent my childhood summers at the family cottage, right near the tip of the mitten. (I’m the little one in the photo, if you’re wondering.) Days at the cottage were all about fishing, swimming & water skiing ourselves into exhaustion, then baking ourselves dry on hot wooden docks. Nights were all about bonfires on beaches, storytelling under the stars, then bunking down in rickety screened-in porches where we slathered our peeling backs with Noxema and listened to loons laughing on the lake.
Now, it must be said: they do have lakes in Texas. Of course they do. But when we say “lake” up north, we mean deep, clear, cold water you can swim in. When they say “lake” down south, they mean warm, shallow, muddy water full of crazy things I don’t want to swim with. (Alligator gar, anybody? See photo. See also: yikes.)
So I realized–finally–that up north is simply who I am. It’s in my blood. It was no mistake that I wound up making my forever home in Minnesota, the Land of 10,000 Lakes. For me, home is always going to be the place where the trees are tall, the winters are white & the lakes are so clear you can see straight to the bottom.
So when my local RWA chapter decided to put together an anthology centered around falling in love in the Land of Lakes, I couldn’t resist. I don’t often write short–it’s crazy painful for a long-winded girl like me–but if you read my summer release KISS THE GIRL, you know that my heroine Nixie is saddled with…let’s call it a difficult family situation. Specifically her aging sex-pot of a movie star mom. Ah, Sloan. The villainess everybody loves to hate. Now Sloan ended up with a happy ending of her own, but because it happened largely off stage, even I didn’t know quite how Sloan bagged her man. And I was curious.
So I wrote it.
If you’d like to know exactly how that played out, check out UNWRAPPED, my contribution to LOVE IN THE LAND OF LAKES which is–of course–set proudly on the shores of Lake Superior.
Click here for more, or just check out Susan’s website!
So tell me, is there a place in the world that particularly speaks to you? Do you live there, or just yearn for it? What says home to you like nothing else? Did you always know that, or did you have to move somewhere that didn’t have it before you realized how important it was?
One lucky commenter will win her own e-copy of LOVE IN THE LAND OF LAKES, so don’t be shy! Share!
Images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net. Mouse over for artist attribution.
Posted by Susan Sey Jan 5 2013, 12:43 am in disasters, Kids, skiing, Susan Sey, winter sports
So I did something last weekend I haven’t done in probably ten years.
I pulled out my cross country skis.
As many of you know, I live in the frozen northland known as the great state of Minnesota. As a result, I spend a chunk of every year up to my knees in snow. At least I hope to. I figure if it’s going to be cold it might as well be snowy. At least you can play in the snow. Last year was sort of stingy with the precipitation but this year is proving fabulous.
Which is why I pulled out my skis. Cross country skiing is an awesome winter sport for the budget-minded snow bunny. No lift tickets necessary, not a ton of skill involved, very little risk of massive head trauma. In other words, right up this ‘fraidy-cat’s alley.
Kids, however, were a complicating factor when it came to pursuing my chosen winter recreation. Unless you’re a lot more dedicated to the sport than I am–or you’re perhaps an 18th century fur trader–you don’t ski with an infant strapped to your person. I shoveled the driveway one desperate morning with a baby in a sling inside my winter coat & that was plenty of pioneering for this girl.
But this winter my kids are 9 & 6, & they’re big enough to ski. So Mr. Sey & I hauled out our fifteen year old skis and boots, drove to the nearest golf course that rents kiddie skis & got this party started.
The 9 year old took to it like a duck to water. Mr. Sey spent a hilarious two hours chasing her up & down gentle slopes, laughing and shouting and racing.
The 6 year old had a blast for 45 minutes, then cried and fell down for an hour. Guess which parent got that kid?
But fate wasn’t satisfied sticking me with the sobbing kindergartner. I also broke my ski boot. Actually broke it. I fell down three minutes into the adventure and snapped the sole right off my left boot. Now the sole–in case your’e unfamiliar with this type of ski/binding/boot set up–is sort of crucial. It’s what attaches you to your skis. Skiing doesn’t actually work unless you’re somehow attached to the skis, you know? This was a problem. A big one.
But did I give up? Hell, no. We’d bundled up the kids (a serious time investment), driven to the ski center (another time investment), & rented kiddie skis (a monetary investment). I was in it to win it.
So I trotted up to the ski shop to see if they’d lend me a roll of duct tape to temporarily reattach me to my ski. (What could go wrong?) They refused. (I have to assume they saw a lawsuit looming.) But I was determined so I trudged down to the van & rustled up whatever I could find that might put a sole back on a shoe.
Ten minutes later, I was back on skis, my boot MacGyver-ed to its sole with a length of tennis racquet grip & some dental floss. (Kid you not. Dental floss.) I heroically inched along behind my sobbing, snuffling daughter while my toes slowly turned to ice. I bellowed encouragement when she flung herself repeatedly to the ground & insisted she couldn’t get up. (She sprang up handily when the ski team threatened to stampede us, however.) I lavished her with praise when she stayed vertical for thirty seconds or more. I patiently demonstrated how to pop off your skis when you become hopelessly tangled after a fall.
But finally even I’d had enough. I handed her off to her father and clomped off to the van to stew in my fury. All I wanted was to enjoy a beautiful day outdoors with my family & what did I get? A broken boot, an ungrateful child & absolutely no exercise at all. Unless you counted taking my temper for a spin. What a disaster.
Or so I thought. Guess who’s begging to go skiing again this weekend?
And guess what gullible fool is going to take her?
How about you? Have you ever planned a lovely family outing only to have disaster take the wheel? Make me feel better. Share!