Friday, December 31, 2010


Good day fellow bloggers. Today I am going to inform you about the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards: affectionately known as the ABNA.

Last year I was introduced to this amazing writing contest by a friend. I had just finished what I thought was a polished manuscript. A 125,560 word Y/A fantasy. Needless to say I spend over a year to really polishing my novel. A WILLOW'S TALE is now at a slim 68,000 words.

Before I tell you about the contest itself. I would first like to tell you how this contest launched me into the writing world.

It began with the entry. After finding out I made it through the first/pitch round, I was flying high. I began to visit the threads, eventually commenting. At first my comments amounted to nothing. Many of the contestants knew each other from previous years and chatted back and forth with each other. While waiting for the second round announcements, I managed to be heard here and there. Even though I wasn't "in" the group, I still enjoyed being in the thick of things.

On one faithful day I had the courage to start a thread. I had just received my critiques from my excerpt. And asked the community for some feedback. I was upset because one of the reviewers called my writing amateur. In the thread someone commented that I didn't add to the conversation and then it happened.

Erica from erica and christy came to my rescue. Thank you Erica!  Kind, supportive, and boisterous, Erica told them what of .... that the reviewer never should have wrote that, and theoretically we were all amateurs until we were published.

Eventually she and a few other kind souls helped me with what later became a major edit and restructure. Months of twelve hour days it took to pull my novel together. So you see, this is where it all began.
Erica then joined Christy and created there wonderful blog erica and christy I began to follow the blog world and three months ago I created In Time ...

Now for the contest .....

As you might have guessed it is sponsored by Amazon and Penguin Group and Create a Space. This is their fourth year running it. There are two grand prizes, one for Adult Fiction the other for Young Adult Fiction. The winners receive a $15,000.00 dollar advance and a publishing contract with Penguin. The contest is open to unpublished novels. Yes, self published authors can enter.

Open submissions for manuscripts begin on January 24th, 2011 and run through February 6th, 2011.  They take the first 5000 received in each category. And you must register with Create a Space ... it costs nothing to register. Manuscripts can be from 50,000 to 150,000 words

What you need to submit is a pitch: max-300 words. An excerpt up to 5000 words. Personal information on entry form. And of course, the manuscript itself. There are specific and there are a lot of do's and don'ts. Expect to put in some time. It is well worth your effort. Here is the link to the rules.

After submission the waiting game begins. You wait to see if you make the first cut. Everyone's on the forums relieving their stress and anxieties. You will meet some fantastic people. Threads run like fire, so don't be intimidated. If you feel like participating do it! Eventually you will find your niche.

Here are the dates and phases in the contest.

Submission: Jan. 24- Feb. 6

First round: Feb.7 - Feb 22 ... They read the pitch and select the top 1000 entries in each category.

Second round: Feb. 24 - March 13 Reviewing and judging of excerpts.

On or about March 22nd excerpts are posted on Amazon for everyone, yes everyone ... your friends included, to read and score. Top 250 make the quarter finals. Not the easiest thing to do....

Quarter finals are judged between March 22nd and April 25th ... the full manuscript. Top 50 in each category advance to Semi finalists.

If you are lucky enough to make it this far you advance to Finalist. On or about May 16th you will be notified. Only 3 from each category. Finalist are flown to the host city and judged.

In June the winner is announced.

Well that's the Reader's Digest version everyone. I highly recommend it to all of you that have polished manuscript. It doesn't have to be perfect, but if you want to win, I suggest your perfect it.

This contest is excellent for getting your work seen by our community as well as the publishing community. So take advantage of this amazing opportunity.

Here is the main link ....

Good luck and please let me know if you plan on joining me in the contest! I hope to see you there.

Monday, December 27, 2010


I hope all my wonderful blog friends had a fantastic Christmas. Luckily we still have another week of festivities. I happen to love the week between Christmas and New Years. This is the time to share with friends we didn't have the chance to see during the rush of Christmas.

Now is the time to kick back, have that glass of wine, look at your tree, and catch up with your lives.

I decided to do a post today about Blogging vs. Writing. Over the past several months, since I began to post and read blogs, I have been warned by new blog friends that blogging will take over your life. BE CAREFUL. So many have warned me. IT WILL TAKE AWAY FROM YOUR WRITING! I can see it now in red neon flashing before my eyes.

YES! I have to admit it has taken away a lot of my writing time, BUT ... let's not focus on that, let's focus on what it has given to me.

How can I express to all of you how wonderful this experience has been. My blogging buddies have shared with me their experiences in life, in writing, and their quest for publication. They have shared with me their hopes and dreams, their resources, their knowledge on so many different subjects. I have learned from them how to become a better writer. How to use those resources to further my career as a writer, and how to share what I've learned with other aspiring writers.

HOW could this be a waste of time? It can't! Every word we read on a fellow blogger's post engrains in our mind and soul to use in our own writing whether we know it or not.

SO today, this day, December 27th, I would like to thank all of you, my fellow blogging friends for enriching my life.

Now with that said.... GET BACK TO WRITING! lol

At some point we do manage to balance our time between the two. It is different for everyone. Some of us like to blog after writing a while. It's a nice break. Others blog the first thing in the morning and then spend their day writing. Or you catch up on blogging before bedtime. And finally, if you are like me, you start the morning with your blogging buddies, then go to your WIP. Stop back after a few hours for your blog fix, and continue to write the remainder of the afternoon until you can't hold out any longer for your the next blog fix. I personally need at least three fixes a day....

Enjoy your day fellow bloggers and don't feel guilty spending time with your friends.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Twisted Fairytale entry. LITTLE RED RIDING ... UNHOODED

Francine at Romancing the Stone is hosting a fun blogfrest. Turn a fairytale into a twisted ending. It took me awhile to figure out something twisted enough to write. I hope you enjoy it. It is a bit risque so prepare yourself.

On her way to grandma's house, Red riding hood snagged her fishnet stockings on a bramble along side the path. The wolf stopped and watched.

"Damn! This is my only pair!" She looked down her long legs, raising her already short skirt.

Now that's a tasty looking drumstick, thought the wolf. His long, white teeth shiny from salivating.

"What do I do?' Red said as she frantically searched through her basket. "None of this will help." She set it down. Deep in thought, Red muttered to herself.

The wolf lunged just as Red bent over to pick up her basket. He flew over her, crashing into a solid oak tree.

"Oh, my! What on earth?"She stared at the wolf. Her eyes washed over his fine chiseled features. A mass of thick, wavy, light-brown hair crowned his head. Fine hair covered his ripped, muscular chest, arms, and legs. A narrow sash of royal blue fabric hung low on his hips barely covering his privates. His oversized hands and feet almost looked human.

Stepping closer to the beast, her breathing grew heavy and her full breast heaved.

A low guttural moan escaped from the wolf.

Red moved in closer. She caressed the side of his face and then planted a big juicy one on him. His eyes blinked open. "What are you doing?" he growled.

She laughed, licking her lips. "You're hot, Wolfie! Let's have another!" Red threw her arms around his neck, moving in for the kill.

He pushed her away. "Are you nuts, girl? I want to eat you!"

"Oooo, I would love that." She stood up and lowered her skirt, revealing black lace panties underneath the garters.

The wolf furrowed his furry brow and shook his head. "Are you kidding me?"

Running her hand along her thigh, Red moaned. "I am so turned on." With her other hand, she grabbed the back of his head.

"You're frickin' crazy lady!" The wolf sprang up and ran into the forest.

"WAIT! I thought you were going to eat me!" Red took off after him.

The wolf careened through the forest and saw a little cabin. "I need to hide. That dame's dangerous," he muttered.

He made it to the entrance and opened the door. All seemed quiet. He scoped the living room, looking for a place to hide. Nothing. He heard a soft snore in the bedroom. Hmmmm. Perhaps I'll have lunch after all. He padded into the room. Not much meat on this one, but I do like to eat light for lunch. 

The front door slammed. "Granny, it me, Red riding hood."

It's that freak! Hide! The wolf dove under the bed, just as Granny stirred.

Red stepped into the bedroom and gave her granny a hug. "I brought you a nice lunch, Granny."

"Thank you, sweetie. I am a bit hungry.

During lunch Red told Granny about the hunky wolf in the forest. Granny raised an eyebrow.

"That beast didn't even service you? The nerve. You're the hottest tart in the village."

"I know. I just don't get it."

Underneath the bed, the wolf shook his head. Are these two broads for real?

"Damn. I Really wanted him, too. I didn't even get the chance to peek under his sash. I bet he was fully packed."

"Oh, honey. I had a wolfman once. It was about fifty years ago. Hmmm, Hmmm. I wasn't disappointed." She smiled. "Maybe he was gay. It would explain it."

"That must have been it. No hetero would pass this up." Red stroked her legs.

GAY! ME! I'LL SHOW THEM. In a flash he sprung out from under the bed, growling.

"Look, Granny! That's him. Isn't he gorgeous."

"Well dear, let's get him for you."

Before he knew what hit him, they tied him to the bed spread eagled and gagged. He couldn't believe that and old lady could have so much strength or Red's agility.

"Well dear, have fun." Before she left,  Granny stepped over to the wolf and lifted the blue sash.

Is she kidding. Leave me with some dignity please!

"Oh, yes. I remember so well." A grin crossed her lips. "Yes indeedy."

The wolf couldn't help but snicker and feel proud. Yeah, I'm the wolf!

Red escorted Granny into the living room. "Later, Granny."

Red returned with a gleam in her eye.

I'm in big trouble now....

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Good Morning All,

I just wanted to share with my blog friends that I made it as a finalist in OPEN CITY magazine's short story contest. I submitted THROUGH SHADES OF GRAY in early October. I hadn't heard anything until this afternoon. They had already picked the winner. It would have been much more exciting if they had informed the finalists first and then announced the winner. At least I didn't have to sweat it out and be disappointed.

This was my first favorable acknowledgement from a publication in almost a year. So I am thrilled.

Here is the first 500 of my 5000 word entry.

Through Shades of Gray
Leaving the cold, dank winter behind, I start my car and begin to drive down the skeletal tree-lined street. Turning left at the edge of the park, I motor toward the highway, ready for my escape. The sunlight so present in the south has abandoned the north for what seems like years. Gray skies persist, day after day, and month after month. It has taken its toll on me. 

I have only one thought as I continue the long drive from Chicago to Florida: the sun. How much I took it for granted when I moved to Chicago four years ago from the very place I’m so desperate to return. Then, I could’t wait to move back north. I had missed the four seasons. Little did I know how much the north has changed. No longer did the bright summer days last forever. Overcast skies dominated, covering the little light that broke through the mass of clouds. When the green summer leaves turned brown, I ached for the crisp, sunny days I remembered from long ago.

This year disappointed me just like the others had. The winds turned icy as the trees in the park withered. I looked forward to the first snow. The white powder clinging to the branches and edging the windowsills of buildings, frosted the city with an iridescent glimmer. 

Snow began to fall by late November. The magic was over before it began. The sun hadn’t shone for weeks. One day melted into another. What day is it? I kept asking myself. Is it Christmas yet? Not yet, but soon.

I recall how I couldn’t wait for the holidays to be over. For most, it’s a joyous time. It had been for me too, once, but lately Christmas seemed too much of a hassle. Honestly, I don’t know how I lived through it. New Year’s Eve culminated the end of yet another uneventful year.

Traffic halts as several Mack trucks enter from the on ramp. I change lanes, avoiding the caravan. Despite the congestion, I’m glad to leave the gloominess of winter.

The email I had received from Gabrielle a month ago surprised me. She would be working overseas for the next four months and wondered if I’d house sit for her. We were tight once, but that was in college. She split after graduation. She had heard of my dismal prospects from a mutual friend and thought a change of scenery might be good for me. Hmm, a townhouse on the beach; I’d be a fool to refuse. 

“You can really use a tan. You look like a vampire,” she so subtly pointed out after viewing pics of me on Facebook.  

It’s been years since I’ve had one. The veins in my biceps read like a roadmap running down my arms. And my mass of dark hair and pitch-black eyes do contrast too heavily with my stark, white skin. So here I am, weaving in and out of traffic on my way to the sun and sea.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


I am sad to say that today is my last day visiting Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I must admit that the rides held very little interest for me, but I still had to experience them. My favorite by far was the Forbidden Journey, pictured above. After winding through the greenhouses in back of the castle, you climb your way into Hogwarts Castle. As you have seen from many of my former pics, the details are insanely real and beautiful. The pictures speak. Slytherin in particular is unhappy by the "muggle" invasion. Winding through the castle, you visit Dumbledore's office and have a meet with Harry, Ron, and Hermione. As you approach the final corridor and the sorting hat greets you with ride-safety warnings in rhyme.

Next you slip into your comfy bench, the students bring down your safety device and you hold on for DEAR LIFE! Actually it is a very exciting ride and experience. You spin, twist, jerk, and maneuver your way through high action meetings with, spiders, dragons, the whomping willow. and quidditch with Draco Malfoy.  Harry leads you through all these dangerous obstacles. Definitely don't eat a thing before this ride, you are bumped around a lot.

Flight of the Hippogriff is a charming family-friendly roller coaster. As you follow the queue around the grounds, you get see Hagrid's hut and pumpkin patches. The sounds of the munching bowtuckles and Fang barking adds to the charm. Eventually you board the wicker replica of Buckbeak and you're treated with a "bird's eye" view of the castle and surrounding grounds.

For those of you with nerves of steel you will enjoy the Dragon Challenge. Twin Dragon coasters race each other looping, spinning, and cork-screwing. I sat this one out, but I was told it to be one of the most thrilling rides in the park.

Well my fellow HP fanatics, I hope you enjoyed your tour of Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It was a thrill a minute and I hope you all can make it there soon. Perhaps we can all meet sometime in the future year!

Don't forget to sign up for my HP BLOGFEST! Prizes are coming from Wizarding World .... You will not be disappointed.

On Saturday I venture back to snow covered Chicago.... Wish me luck this will be one hell of a ride home.

See you soon,


Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Greetings from another sunny day in Hogmeade. In today's post I am going to show you the skyline views and wonderful architectural details many fans will miss unless they really look for them .... like your faithful tour guide.

We begin with our lovely entrance into Hogsmeade. We spot the wonderful Hogsmeade cut out metal plaque. The skyline view is enhanced by a warthog running underneath. Notice the beautiful stepped stone arch. The sunlight streams onto each and every stone, kissing it with drop of light. Through it, one glimpses the snow-covered pitched roofs with dozens of chimneys piecing the deep blue sky.

Next to the Hogwarts Express we see the cedar and stone shingled second and third story of a charming residential home. Note the three large gables and two smaller ones. So much charm and detail just on this one structure.

Just look at the stonework on the train depot! The Hogwarts express jets out from the tunnel. That's the only disappointment for me. The Express should be animated and rolling into Hogsmeade, but all the fantastic details more than make up for it.

Inside the station are charming lockers to store your purchases or whatever, if you don't want to lug them around with you. The ceiling is fascinating, all wood beamed trusses hold up all the heavy stonework. The gateway is ready for the next semester of students in September.

Here's a wonderful close-up view of the lockers. Look at the fantastic sepia-toned illustration and the wood-paneled details.

As I walk back toward the castle, this skyline has to be one of my favorites. Those bent chimneys slay me! Such incredible imagination went into these structures. Notice the gables on the right almost facing each other. The snow looks so real glistening in the sunlight. You really feel like you're in an enchanted

What could a guide say when facing such incredible awesomeness ... but you know I will give it a try. Look at the proud warthog gargoyle guarding his treasured Hogwarts. Sitting high on the hill, each exquisitely placed stone draws the eye upward to the crowning peak: the tower.

Well fellow HP fanatics, this concludes out tour for today. Hopefully we will have another perfect day to spend in Hogsmeade tomorrow. I still haven't had a bite at The Three Broomsticks or did any of the exciting rides. Stayed tuned for that exciting post.

Monday, November 29, 2010


After a full morning and partial afternoon of seeing Hogwarts Castle, having a sweet and creamy butterbeer, and strolling (Ha!) through Hogsmeade, I finally get close enough to concentrate on the amazing store windows! Owl Post's windows are true works of art ... just look at every detail.

Owl Post's windows are packed with fun and unusual items.

We even have a few of the locals hanging in front, getting ready to send off that beautiful snowy, white owl with a urgent message.

"Oh, this is perfect! I could use a few new quills and parchment, and Scrivenshafts is the best place to buy them."

"Potages Cauldrons ... Oh, I really like that cooper one. I hope it's on sale, I've spent so much money already!

After thinking a while about that copper cauldron, I decided to look for a new wand. Olivanders is just down the street. I face one of the longest lines of the day. I couldn't not visit Mr. Olivander!

Peeking through the windows, I see some pretty exciting wands.

After an hour and a half, I finally make it through the door. There are at least twenty people ahead of me. 

Mr. Olivander is choosing a wand for an eleven-year-old girl, starting at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in September.

Spending so much time at Olivanders', the sun set and I still haven't finished my shopping. One last stop to Dogweed and Deathclaw for my much needed mandrake. Peering into the side window I see some extremely unusual plants. 

As I round the building, I hear the mandrakes howling in the storefront window.

I pass by Dominic Maestro's as I head for the gates of Hogsmeade with many packages in tow.

One last look at the Owl post as I say goodbye to Hogsmeade.

A cheery Harry Potter snowman and Hedwig smile at me as I leave through the gate.

I hope you enjoyed our little shopping spree through Hogsmeade. Tomorrow's post will be an added surprise ... until then have a wonderful day mes amis.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Greetings from Wizarding World! If you haven't seen Saturday's post please scroll down and start the WW experience from the beginning. If you are visiting for more pics, welcome back and I hope you enjoy them!

By far this is one of the most magnificent views of Hogwarts Castle. The two winged warthog gargoyles flanking the entrance to the multi-spired castle, does take one's breath away.

After yet another endless line, I took a sip on my first butterbeer. YUMMMMMY! This tastes like a liquid cream-sickle. This is totally worth the wait!

I weave through the crowd around the castle to find the end of the line for the entrance into the castle. I walk through the arch into Jurassic Park and continue until I find the end of the line. I roll my eyes, take a deep breath and try not to feel the intense sun beating down on me. I look ahead ..... "Damn!

Am I this far away fro the gates of Hogsmeade!" The woman in front of me turns around and laughs.
With each step closer to the castle, I became friends with the people around me.

 I occasionally look up and get a marvelous glimpse of the castle yet to come.

A half an hour later I come up to the gates of Hogsmeade. The arch and Welcome to Hogsmeade metal sign greet me as I approach.

With my butterbeer long gone, the sweat begins to pour down my face. How much longer could it be? Excitement begins to overtake me as I start my climb up the hill toward the castle.

Seeing the winged warthogs up close is incredible. I can't believe how much thought they put into every detail.

Fifteen minutes later, I arrive in the Great Hall. It's a perfect replica on a small scale. The marble staircase only traveled up a few flights, but as I climb to the second level many of the paintings did talk to me.

As I walk through the corridor glimpses of  Dumbeldore's hologram speaks to me and the other fans as we enter his office.

Arriving on the third floor, I watch the brave get ready to partake in the newest ride: the forbidden journey. A moment later, I exit the castle. The sun blinds me as I work my way back down into the storefronts of Hogsmeade village; it's time to do some much needed shopping....

Look forward to the shops of Hogsmeade tour tomorrow. Until then, always your humble tour guide,


Saturday, November 27, 2010


I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

I am sorry for the delay on the pics, but with the holiday and running around central Florida, I hadn't had the time to sort through and post these AMAZING scenes from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, Florida.

I left off the story as I am searching for parking. I finally make it to the final lag of my journey. On the top of the parking garage, a few spaces remained.

I pull into the first spot of the last row. Behind me the next twenty-five or so lucky visitors follow and take the last spaces available.

I had never seen people move so fast, it was like a blur of colors in my peripheral  vision.

The intense sun beat down upon me. I rummage through my backpack, pull out the sun screen and slather it onto my exposed shoulders, arms, and face. With my pale northern skin, I burn way to easily.
Throwing the sunscreen back into the bag, I search for my camera. I take a deep breath, wipe the sweat from my brow and off I go!

I can't begin to tell you the masses of people ahead of me as I trek through the garage on my way to WW. Down escalators, stepping onto the people movers, trying to get ahead. As I cross over into the park itself I look up and there it is .... HOGWARTS CASTLE! My heart beats faster. I stop. Gazing across the bay I see all the exquisite details piercing the sky. I searched for the little boats. Where are they? Can't we cross the lake like Harry and his friends? I sigh. Alas no boats.

Rushing with the masses, I search in a frenzy for the entrance into WW. You could imagine my disappointment when there is no Hogwards train waiting to take me into the Hogsmeade. One has to pass through the colorful world of Dr. Seuss' Seuss Landing first. The vibrant colors slap you into the world of the Cat in the hat and the Grinch who stole Christmas.

After several minutes weaving my way through, I come to another section of Islands of Adventure: the lost continent. I begin to hyperventilate. Between the 85 degree heat, the thousands ... yes, I mean thousands of people, I still can't find WW.

I decide to follow everyone else and I come to a roped off section with four of five lines of people. In the distance I see the gates of Hogsmeade. My heart skips a beat. I wait for several minutes. I notice the masses handing a white slip of paper. What now? What's this all about?

I hear, "You need to have a entry ticket. You must go back into the voyages of Sinbad."

At this point I mumble a few choice words and I join the conga line back into the Lost Continent. Following another line back, I am handed the white slip of paper that enables me to finally enter.

A moment later, I arrive back to the entry. Slowly, ever so slowly I get my second glimpse into this amazing world....

With the sun blazing through through the gate, I approach. Me and hundreds of others. The first stop is to try and get to the Hogwarts express. With the smoke billowing through air and sunlight streaked across the engine, you can see the incredible detail of the Hogwarts' Express and the surrounding snow-capped cottages and storefronts of Hogsmeade Village.

The incredible details jump out at you! I must impress upon you fellow HP fanatics that you must be very patient. One has to be with the amounts of fellow fans meeting you at every turn. As thrilled as I am to be here, it is very difficult to get a pic without some HP fan jumping into the scene ... each and every step is another fabulous pic. 

Oh, look! ZONKOS! Look at those adorable Pigmy Puffs in the window! It looks like they combined Diagon Alley to Hogemeade.... Where's Gringotts?

OOOOOoooooo, shall we get something sweet at Honeydukes. Oh, my God, that line wraps all the way around the building .... I'm not that desperate for a sweet. I'm thirsty, so I look down the street and see what I want....

Where's the end of this line? I get distracted by the unbelievable roofline. This is AWESOME! 

Well friends, I leave you here now. I must get that delicious looking butterbeer. Who knows how long that will take? 

Until Tomorrow.....

Thursday, November 25, 2010


I would just like to wish all my friends in the blog world a happy and healthy Thanksgiving. As we spend the day with our loved ones, take a moment to think about all we have. We live in a country that is free. We have the choice to make our own decisions. We live in a place where our children are safe.

I know America is far from perfect, but it is our home and we should be thankful for our peace of mind. There is so much unrest in this turbulent world we live in.

As we pray before out meal, give an extra prayer for our brave men and women over seas in the military. Without them we wouldn't be at peace in our homes.

I would just like to let my friends out in the blogger world that I am very thankful for you! You have given me your laughter, tears, sympathy, and most of all your time and support. Without all of you my life would be far less meaningful. I am truly grateful.

On a lighter and more fun note, I know that all of you are waiting for my story and pics of Wizarding World and as soon as I find a usb chord that will fit my camera, I will post them. Yesterday was an unforgettable day for so many reasons and I can't wait to share it with all of you. I should have them up within the next few days.

Thank you all and HAPPY THANKSGIVING .....

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


After a restless night of pondering on Hogwarts coming to life right before my eyes, the time had come. Putting in the last few pieces of luggage into my car, I jump into the driver's seat, close the door, strap myself in, and start the engine.

It's already 70 degrees and the sun is shielded by the usual white puffy clouds. I have always admired this natural phenomenon. A forget-me-not blue sky with huge white cotton-ball-like clouds looming over head. 

I follow the signs to I 4  east. The Orlando traffic is somewhat heavy. It' s nearly nine o'clock and the last minute commuters are rushing to work ... I am rushing to Hogwarts. Could you imagine what a thrill the first glimpse of that Hogwarts castle will be? I'll feel just like Harry, Ron, and Hermione! 

It took several minutes to enter the ramp of I 4. One by one each car in front of me inches it way onto the interstate. Now it's my turn.

Motoring towards exit 75A, I get caught in several traffic jams. I only have eight exits to go, yet it seems like I'm moving backwards.

Twenty-five torturous minutes later, I see the sign for exit 75A. My heart starts to beat a little faster as I finally make it to the exit ramp. In another ten minutes or so I should see the signs for Islands of Adventure.

After taking about five or six deep breaths, I see the sign. "All right! I made it!"

Now the fun begins ... finding parking.  

Gotta concentrate on getting a spot. It looks like a fricken car dealership! Later!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


After a grueling two day road trip and 1200 miles from Chicago to Orlando Florida, I arrived today at 3:30 in the afternoon. Exhausted, I checked into my hotel in the Disney resort. Plan to spend a few days here before actually going to Wizarding World. I booked a hotel walking distance to Islands Adventure in Universal Studio's, home of WW. I want to be relaxed and ready to spend most of the week there, experiencing every nuance of this exciting attraction!

Plan to see many pics and hopefully some footage (if I figure out how to on my camera) of WW. The weather is a perfect 80 balmy degrees so I will not melt.... Leaving the cold, damp north, was one of the many pluses coming down to Florida.

I don't have much to tell yet, but believe me I will have plenty after Wednesday.... so don't forget to stop back.

If I have the time and energy to do a fun Disney post tomorrow, I will try to do so. Please be patient with me, I have so much to do in so little vacation time.

Until then, have a GREAT day and thanks to all my fantastic blogger friends who follow me.

Don't forget to sigh up for my blogfest in a few weeks. It is HP themed, the winners will be getting unique HP gifts from WW, so don't forget to sign up on the linky. Press the banner and it will bring you directly there.

To all of you who have read my entry for Liz's blog. I will have a follow up to that story soon. Many have asked for details.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

My first gift story for Liz Fichera's Blog Hop

We met in New York  and had only been dating for about three months. And then the bomb dropped. "I'm moving back to Florida."

Nice guy that I am, I had offered to fly down and help unpack all the boxes and set the furniture after the movers arrived. I had such mixed feelings. A fantastic new relationship and the anger of having my potential soul mate leave me and move 1500 miles away.

We got even closer the week I had stayed. Such a romantic setting. Moonlight, swaying palm trees, the ocean gently kissing the white sandy shores. How could you not fall in love? Well it happened to both of us, but my career centered around the glitz and glamor of the NY's fashion scene. I traveled a lot between Europe and NYC. I couldn't leave. Miami's fashion scene made some noise, but not enough for me to move to Florida.

After a choked up goodbye, I found a slip of paper in my pocket as I emptied my wallet, etc. for security.

You'll be traveling with a companion. Don't forget to take it out of your suitcase the minute you get home.

"Don't tell me there's something alive in my luggage," I mumbled to myself.

For two of the longest hours I was on pins and needles, wondering what could possibly be wrapped between my shirts and pants.

We landed and I rushed to baggage claim. It took me every ounce of strength I could muster not to rip my bag open the moment I rescued it from the carousel.

I hopped in a cab. Twenty minutes later I arrived at my apartment. I flung the suitcase on the bed and opened it.

I let out a howl of laughter. Sitting on top of my stack of t-shirts, a kelly green stuffed alligator smiled up at me. Between the white jagged teeth, a bright red forked tongue hung out of the side of its mouth.

I picked up the phone immediately.

This alligator is still one of my favorite gifts in a long line of other wonderful gifts ... but this one was the first.

Friday, November 19, 2010


I know there are many HP fanatics went to the Midnight or after showing! I didn't, but wanted to go. I'm not going until the 6:00 pm showing. 

TELL ME! TELL ME! TELL ME! IF you LOVED it .... IF you HATED it! or Somewhere in between.

As we all know this is ONLY the FIRST part. So we do have the second half to look forward to next summer. ANOTHER SIX MONTHS! That's all Warner Bros. and JK Rowling ever do ... MAKE US WAIT!

I read this book in two days.... I was bleary-eyed when I finished. After I found out what happened, I immediately we back to re-read it at a slower pace.

As we see Harry bumbling his way through the English countryside to find each and every horcrux, JK Rowling weaves in this incredible sub-plot which I really enjoyed: the Hallows. What a fantastic idea introducing Beatle the Bard.

The invisibility cloak: it was introduced to us in Sorcerer's Stone. A gift from Harry's father. The first Hallow.

Tom Riddle's ring: another family heirloom, which happens to be another Hallow.

The Death Stick: our final Hallow. Giving the wand its own history .... another thread in this tapestry Rowling wove for us.

This involved story within a story gives this edition that extra something we all expected from the climax of Harry Potter.

Designer tip of the week will be posted tomorrow. Harry Potter takes precedence this week.


Thursday, November 18, 2010


Featured today- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

What can we say about Severus Snape? For starters he has made Harry's life miserable for the past five years at Hogwarts. And year six isn't any better. To Harry's shock his least favorite teacher is now teaching his favorite subject: Defense against the Dark Arts. 

Snape begins on the first day to insist his NEWT students cast spells silently. As we know only one student can do that, our favorite top of the year student, Hermione.

Harry's on the defensive again. Annoyed Snape took over the class Harry excelled in, Harry is now faced with taking his least favorite class by surprise. Potions is now part of his curriculum. His future career as a Auror counts on it.

Harry and Ron rush to potions fully unprepared. Slughorn offers them copies of year six potions. Harry's copy has comments written all over it. He decides to follow the scribble and ends producing the perfect Draught of Living Death. For the first time ever, Harry received top marks in POTIONS! Not only that he won the coveted Felix Felisus potion that gives the drinker instant luck.

Harry becomes more and more dependent on the book and discovers new spells which the previous owner of the book created himself ... The Half-blood prince. This wonderful book ends up getting Harry into major trouble when he uses a spell on Malfoy that nearly kills him. If it wasn't for Snape, Malfoy would have died.

Snape is now on the hunt to catch Harry red-handed with the book. Harry hides it in the room of requirement. He could never let Snape get his hands on it. In that book was all of Harry's success as a potions genius. And Snape was highly suspicious why Harry all of a sudden had this new talent.

As we weave through the story we find out Malfoy has a mission and Harry is obsessed with finding out what it is. 

Katie Bell is attacked. Ron is poisoned. Deatheaters enter Hogwarts ... and ... Dumbledore is killed by non other that  Snape! 

Talk about shocking!

Harry witnesses this travesty and chases after Snape. On the grassy slopes of Hogwarts, Harry catches up to Snape and uses the deadly Sectum Sempra spell on him. 

At this moment we find out Snape is the Half-blood prince and created the the spells Harry used good and bad.

What a climax! We are left shocked! We are speechless! We are gasping for breath! And if this wasn't enough we had to live through Dumbledore's funeral. 

How many tears stained your copy?

We hate Snape. How could he do this? Killing Dumbledore! A then we waited. 

Two plus years to find out if Harry would survive Lord Voldemort's wrath. 

We were not disappointed. But that is tomorrow's post.

TELL me what you LOVE or HATE about SEVERUS SNAPE! Leave a Snapelicious comment.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010



Since Saturday I have been posting HP trivia questions from each book. After four trivia challenges I have decided to talk about HP and the Order of the Phoenix instead. But before I do, for my diehard trivia bloggers, I will post the answers to Monday's and Tuesday's trivia questions. 

Prisoner of Azkaban:

1. What did Harry receive for his birthday? From Ron- a pocket sneakoscope. Hermione- a broomstick        servicing kit. Hagrid- Monster book of Monsters.
2. What did Mr. Weasley win?  700 Galleons from the Daily Profit drawing.
3. Who or what was Binky? Lavender Brown's pet rabbit.
4. Why did Professor McGonagall reprimand Lee Jordan during the Quidditch match? Commenting too much on the Firebolt.
5. Who was Percy writing to all summer? Penelope Clearwater- Ravenclaw prefect.
6. What specific memory  produced Harry's first patronis? Finding out he was a wizard and leaving the Dursleys.
7. What did Parvati see when it was her turn with the boggart? A blood-stained mummy.
8. What happened to Ron during his final in Defense against the Dark Arts class? He was confused by a hinkypunk and sunk waist deep in a quagmire.
9. What was the first creature Hagrid showed in his first class. Its color, name, and nickname. A gray hippogriff named Buckbeak or Beaky.
10. Who takes care of Aunt Marge's dog's when out of town? Colonel Fubster.

Goblet of Fire:

1. At the Quidditch World Cup, what covered the tents of the spectators? Irish- shamrocks ... Bulgaria- blinking posters of Victor Krum
2. What ended the match? Krum caught the snitch, ending the game 150 to 160 Ireland won.
3. Who wouldn't put on pants and why? Archie, because he liked his privates airy.
4. What was the name of the referee? Hassan Mustafa.
5. What was the name of Ireland's seeker?  Lynch.
6. Which team chaser scored first? Ireland-Troy.
7. Who wasn't invited to the feast and why? Peeves the poltergeist, because he makes trouble all the time.
8. What happened to the Daily Profit reporter? Rita Skeeter- Hermione captures her in a glass vial when she was a beetle.
9. What item did the Gryffindor students avoid and why? Canary Creams- anyone who would eat one would burst into feathers.
10. What was the password Harry used to enter Dumbledore's office? Cockroach Clusters.

Thanks to those who participated and made this trivia challenge so much fun!

Of all the Harry Potter books I honestly think this one was the most anticipated, at least for me. I say this because I remember how long I waited for this edition to come out in 2003. I ran to Borders after midnight to get my copy. This was the first time I did this. When I discovered Harry Potter in 2001 when the film came out, I had no idea this was a book series. Could you believe it? A year later and Chamber of Secrets movie hit the theaters. It was a few weeks after I had seen that film, I realized this was a book series written by JK Rowling. You can imagine my excitement. I read all four books within a month and then I was left hanging for a year for the next one to come out. Torture ...  sheer torture. I think this time seemed harder for me because I needed my fix. As you all can understand.

In Order of the Phoenix, Harry is growing up. He has to prove himself against two dementors to save the life of his cousin and his own. He is reprimanded by the Ministry of Magic and is suspended and has to go to the wizard court. He is in the dark, not given any information about Voldemort.  

Poor Harry. Forced to stay with the Dursleys and being scolded like a naughty child.

After a month he is finally freed from the Dursley's and learns about the Order of Phoenix: an anti-Voldemort organization created by Dumbledore fighting against Voldemort and his Deatheaters.

Now back at Hogwart's, Harry faces something far worse than the dementors or even Lord Voldermort: the new Defense against the Dark Arts teacher, Dolores Umbridge.

Can we dish on Umbridge? Let's ... leave your favorite "Umbridge moment" in the comments today. Let's really have a good time dishing her! I'll start ... My favorite Umbridge moment is when Fred and George set off the fireworks and she has to stop all the calamity by herself! Oh how I laughed when Professor Flitwick slammed the door in her snarling face. 

I am so looking forward to your responses. The humor, so incredible in the book was cut from the movie. Yes, they had the fireworks scene, but not even close to the book's.

These are the finer points. Of course, tons of other things happen. This edition ... over 800 pages. 

Enjoy the rest of your HP day. ONLY TWO MORE DAYS!
Many of my blogging friends are having Potter-themed posts. Haunt Jen at unedited @ Jen and her friends have incredible posts. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


What happened to all my HP fanatics yesterday? I spent quite some time trying to give you questions challenging enough for your HP knowledge. Were they too hard? Not for you guys! I'm not going to list the answers today just in cast you were too busy to stop by yesterday. Life happens. I totally understand. Please give a try today.

As you know we only have three more days to the big event ... Yah!

Now for the questions. Book four is Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

1. At the Quidditch World Cup, what covered the tents of the fans? Be specific.
2. What ended the match? Details. I want details....
3. Who wouldn't put on pants and why?
4. What was the name of the referee?
5. What was the name of Ireland's seeker?
6. Which team chaser scored first? Name and team.
7.Who wasn't invited to the feast and why?
8. What happened to the Daily Prophet reporter? Be specific.
9. What item did the Gryffindor students avoid and why?
10. What was the password Harry used to enter Dumbledore's office?