Tuesday, March 29, 2011


As I sat watching the boob tube this evening, a song I heard kept repeating over and over in my mind - "May you stay forever young." When you ponder that statement for a while, it soon becomes evident to a Baby Boomer like me that perhaps that isn't such a good idea in all aspects of life. For example,

it's super to stay young at heart, but it's not such a great idea to stay the same in the way you looked when you were young. To prove my point, I went hunting for some old photographs of Sandy and me when we were young. Don't you just love our bird legs?

As I was perusing the photos that I found, one that also caught my eye was of us with our hair wrapped around those large brush rollers that I wrote about in an earlier post. I think we were decorating the car for a football game in the photo at the top of this blog entry. Wow! Were we glamorous or what? I think these pictures might convince you that it is sometimes better to age.

~ Miss Pickles (alias Sandra)

Monday, March 28, 2011


"Paradise" can be a small Bavarian Village named Leavenworth, Washington. It must be an excellent setting for novels, because it has put in an appearance in several that I have read.

It is quaint, unique, and colorful. I love it!

~ Miss Pickles (alias Sandra)

Friday, March 25, 2011


Of all the places I have visited, the town of Estes Park, Colorado has my heart. Paradise couldn't be much better. The Rocky Mountains create a breathtaking vista of beauty as far as the eye can see. Every time I hear John Denver sing "Rocky Mountain High", I know exactly what he is singing about. I'd live there if I could.

This photo is looking down on the town, and the other was taken on a bridge in this picturesque little burg. Hope you enjoy the photo of my daughter and I enjoying a little "sunshine" on our shoulders.
~ Miss Pickles (alias Sandra)


Hey there! It's me again, the blind hog who is still looking for that "blogger" acorn. You'd think that I would have this blogging thing down pat by now, but alas, that is simply not the case. For example, it took me about twelve tries to post FOR THE YOUNG & YOUNG AT HEART. Twelve! *#@%^*&$*!!! Pardon my French, but it was sooooo annoying! Let's just say I screwed things up royally before I finally figured it out. You may remember that I told you I border on being computer illiterate, and that's sometimes not far from the truth.

I wanted to post some photos of places I have been to that make me think of my personal idea of "Paradise", but I could NOT get the photos to go into the body of this post. Therefore, I am going to post each set of photos in separate posts. I really do apologize for my ineptitude with this dad-gum machine! Dang-nab-it!
~ Miss Pickles (alias Sandra)

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Did you ever wonder why an author chooses a particular setting for a book? Perhaps the author has been there before or has always loved a certain place and longed to go there. Travel becomes possible, not to mention easy and cheap, through the pages of a book. With a little research, traveling to the bottom of the ocean or to the top of the highest mountain peak is entirely possible. An author can take her characters wherever she chooses. The trick, in my opinion, is to write it in such a way that someone who has been there recognizes the place and feels right at home. But that same setting also has to lure others who have never traveled down that road and make them realize the beauty of a setting they may never experience in real life. Perhaps the author's descriptions will even encourage someone to travel to that special spot in the future.
The photo above was taken in Mt. Rainier National Park in Washington State. Notice the hiking trail that curves steadily upward. Hiding behind all those clouds is the majestic peak of Mt. Rainier in all its snow covered glory. Unfortunately, it chose not to show its face on the day this photo was taken.
If you've read our book you know that Peggy and Mark have a hiking adventure in Mt. Rainier National Park on the Paradise Trails. It is a glorious, breathtaking vista worthy of any traveler's dreams. Because Sandy and I had actually seen this special place with our own eyes, we chose to use it in our book. We hiked on the trails of Paradise, so we at least had some first hand experiences to use for our fictional account.
We still researched out the kazoo to verify our memories, and we also investigated other places and settings that we chose to use as well. One that sticks out in my mind is the highly evolved investigative technique we used to solidify our descriptions for the Oklahoma countryside when Kiki and Dan were driving through it. You see, one time when Sandy came to Texas for a visit during the time we were writing the book, I drove to Dallas to pick her up and bring her back to North Texas where I live. It was dark by then, and we were merrily yakking away as I drove northward. Suddenly we saw the bright neon lights of a gigantic casino off to the right of the highway. I had driven across the Oklahoma border without even noticing! Needless to say, we had to turn around and backtrack.
The next day - in the sunshine - we once again drove across the Red River into Oklahoma, but this time it was intentional. We were on a fact-finding mission to explore the countryside for our setting and plot. As I drove, Sandy made notes as we passed the flat landscape and small towns. All those notes turned into the descriptions we used in our book. So research comes in all shapes and sizes.
"Paradise" can be any place, at any time. It is in the eye of the author who chooses the settings for her book and in the eye of the reader who sees through the author's eyes.
~ Miss Pickles (alias Sandra)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


If you are a female under the age of forty, when you read I.O.U. Sex you will be looking into what it was like when your mom was a teenager and young woman. The world was radically different back then. Throughout our book you will see glimpses of those times. For Baby Boomers like us, it is a reminder of what we lived through, and for young people, it is a portal to view the past.

Having said this, I thought perhaps you might like to see some photos of the authors during this time period. My photo is on the left, and Sandy Ruth's is on the right. Try not to laugh at our puffy hairdos!

These photos were taken around 1964-1965, and I am sure Sandy and I spent a lot of time preparing for our photo sessions. For example, we probably washed our hair the night before. Then we would have used lots of hair gel and rolled it up on juice-can-size brush rollers which we secured with pins, picks, and clips. Over that went a decorative hairnet to hold it all in place.
Then we sat under a hooded portable hair dryer that blew up like a gigantic balloon, or we went to bed with a wet head. Either way, we had small brushes poking into our scalps all night long.

Yikes! How did we ever manage to suffer through such torture in the name of beauty? In that respect, the times have sure changed for the better with blow dryers and curling irons! Oh, and did I mention the ratting and spraying? We did that too.

Now move your thinking forward about forty-seven years. In the photo at the top of this post you will see Sandy and I having a classic Edwardian Afternoon Tea at The Empress Hotel in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. I think we've aged pretty darn well for two old broads!

Our friendship began in the 8th grade in 1960 and has endured for over fifty years. OMG! Has it really been that long? How is that possible? Now that I think about it, I still feel like that girl with the puffy hair. In spite of the years and the life experiences and the memories, I still feel about eighteen in my head and in my heart. Don't you?

~ Miss Pickles (alias Sandra)

Monday, March 21, 2011


Ever wonder how two writers managed to co-author a book? My essay "Co-Writing a Novel on Kindle" is featured today on the Mysteries and Histories blog.

THANK YOU, J. Gunnar Grey, for including me in your "In Their Own Words" column. (Click on "Mysteries and Histories" above to check it out!)

Saturday, March 19, 2011


We're so thrilled with the kind review written by Ing on her blog, As the Pages Turn.  This is especially delightful to us because Ing is a young woman, yet she enjoyed the Baby Boomer characters in I.O.U. SEX and related to their stories. That's just exactly what we hoped to achieve! 

My Photo

We're grateful for her thoughtful, generous review and appreciate the positive feedback we've received from all of our readers.

Here's a big THANK YOU!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


I just found Teaser Tuesday, hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading and I decided to play!

My teaser is from Mercy by Jodi Picoult

Page 266 - She wanted what this woman had. She wanted to be able to take Cam's exits and entries so easily that her heart would not beat at the back of her throat and her palms would not itch with anticipation.

Here's how Teaser Tuesday works:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away! You don't want to ruin the book for others.)
  • Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers.

Monday, March 14, 2011


Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. 
- Thomas Alva Edison

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Anyone who thinks water aerobics is for wimps has never taken a class. Last week I spent an evening at a nearby medical center fitness facility with my daughter-in-law. She's expecting our first grandchild in late April (a girl), and the class is designed specifically for expectant mothers. I thought it would be easy. Ha! My DIL left me in the dust (er, well, you know what I mean!)

The instructor had us walk around the perimeter of the pool once, then go  around again -  backwards. That's harder than it sounds. We used Styrofoam weights and "noodles" against the resistance of the water, pushing and pulling until my biceps quivered with exhaustion. We scissored our legs back and forth. We lunged and lifted and loped. By the time I pulled myself up the pool's steps an hour later, my legs felt like wet bags of sand. I staggered to the whirlpool hot tub and collapsed.

The next morning every muscle I possessed reminded me of the night before. Water aerobics may be low impact, but I can testify that it isn't low energy. And it's definitely not as easy as it looks, especially if you're 64 years old and NOT pregnant.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


I just have to post the latest, nicest, exciting-est thing that happened today. I.O.U. SEX received the following endorsement on the Ladies Home Journal Blog:

Sandy I finished your book and have to say ....... I loved it!  I loved the characters and how the story progressed.  The little twist at the very end had me laughing out loud!  I probably should have known the outcome of the "investigation"  but loved that I was surprised.  LOL 

Annie gives I.O.U. Sex - two thumbs up!

These are exciting times to be an indie author.


Some photos just don't need any explanation.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


1.     What is your favorite way to eat potatoes?

A baked potato with everything on it – cheese, bacon bits, chives, 
butter, sour cream. I shudder to even think of how many calories that would be.

2.  What was the last package that was delivered to your house?
A box from Amazon with a new hot pink cover for my Kindle. I love it!

3.  What is your favorite scent that you love to smell?

4.  Do you smoke?
No. I tried it as a young adult, thinking I was “cool.” Thank heavens that phase didn’t last!

5.  Are your parents married or divorced?
Unfortunately, my parents are no longer alive, but they were married for 50+ years. 

Saturday, March 5, 2011


What a week this has been! I.O.U. SEX is featured on three different websites. Woohoo!


(In the "Casting Call - Part Four" column)

Ladies Home Journal

Friday, March 4, 2011


Ta-da! Meet Miss Pickles the HOG, all 415 pounds of her. Yes, my sweet little pink spotted piggy (who weighed only 20 lbs. when I bought her) grew to be 415 pounds when she finally went to market. She lived with us for about two years, and she even had seven little piggies of her own along the way. Miss Pickles made for a lot of fun stories, but she developed a massive appetite, monumental waste products, and a snout that could dig to China if left unattended. Therefore, she eventually went to the auction barn and brought us a pretty penny instead of costing us one.

One of my favorite stories about Miss Pickles occurred when a grass fire erupted on our property during a very dry summer. It burned everything for miles and was heading straight for our house. In the country, folks help other folks in emergencies, and our neighbors all appeared out of the smoky landscape and helped us wet down our house and lawn. Just before I jumped in our car to escape, out of the smoke charged Miss Pickles (all 400+ pounds of her!), snorting and squealing as she ran straight for me - and the men who were helping. They were terrified, and I had to assure them she was my pet and wouldn't harm them before I vamoosed. Miss Pickles proceeded to take cover underneath a shady tree near the house. She knew it was safe, I guess, and she survived the fire (as did our house!).

I can tell you that Miss Pickles, although she proved to be a sweet "pet", was not as smart as a dog. Johnny's claims did not prove to be true in my experience.

I work hard at not being as big as Miss Pickles grew to be! I count my calories and exercise by taking 1.8 mile walks in my neighborhood (check our "Author" tab above for a photo). I try hard not to wallow in the mud too often, I don't eat garbage, and I try not to snort. But I still have fond memories of my pet pig, and to honor her, I chose to use Miss Pickles as my blog name.
~ Miss Pickles (alias Sandra)

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Today I took a walk down Memory Lane. Geez, Louise, I walked a long way, back some thirty odd years. Where was I going? Hunting. Above you can see the seven little piggies I was hunting for. One of them was my pet pig. Her name? Miss Pickles. Please bear with me. There is a method to my madness.

Back in the day, the last thing I used to do before I went to bed every night was watch The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. He always did jokes about how pigs were smarter than dogs, so when we moved to the country and lived on ten acres of land, the first thing I wanted to buy (for a pet) was a pig. I wanted to try out Johnny's theory.

I saved my money - okay, that is a slight exaggeration since the pig only cost $25.00 - and we headed for a pig farm to make my illustrious pet purchase. The smell led us to the farm where there were lots of big mama pigs with their babies. I marveled at my numerous choices, but I finally settled on a little pink spotted piggy - weight 20 lbs. (she's the muddy little pink one in the front on the right side of the photo above). In spite of the squealing and wiggling, she went into a dog carrier in the back of the pickup and came home with us.

Her new abode was a fenced dog pen near our humongous country garden. There was a nice dog house and plenty of room for her to run around (and root up all the grass!). Thus began my campaign to domesticate my new pet and teach her some tricks. Every day I'd go out to "pet & talk" to her. I'd feed her slices of peaches from our peach trees, as well as gigantic cucumbers from our garden. This little piggy seemed to prefer the cucumbers, and she soon became a great garbage disposal for all the overgrown vegetables I'd forgotten to pick in our garden. Note to self: Gardens produce daily. Pick daily or suffer the consequences.

Anyway, I happened to be canning some dill pickles about the time my little piggy arrived on the scene, and that somehow morphed into the "perfect" name for my pet pig - Miss Pickles.

When I wrote the line in our book for Peggy to say - "Even a blind hog can find an acorn once in a while." - which is an old Texas saying and not my original creation, by the way, the line just stuck in my feeble brain. It still puts in an appearance every now and then in my vocabulary. Hence, the "blind hog" saying in yesterday's post reminded me of my pet hog, and my new blogger name was born!

OMG! I just realized that name may give you the impression I am the size of a hog or that I have the personality of a pig! LOL! Are you wondering about that, or whether I ever taught my pet any tricks? I guess I'll have to continue this story in another post tomorrow to answer those questions - ha!
~ Miss Pickles (alias Sandra)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


This entry is coming to you from the other half of this blog - Sandra (Hood) Allen, otherwise known as "Sandra" (as opposed to my co-author & best friend, Sandy Ruth). Wait! I think I'll call myself "Miss Pickles" instead (explanation below). Perhaps you've wondered why I haven't written much in this format. I guess you could say I am somewhat related to one of the characters in our book - Peggy. The poor dear is technologically challenged, as I tend to be at times, but as Peg says, "Even a blind hog can find an acorn once in a while." Thus, my blogging debut.

Actually, today I was reading some other blogs and came upon one that inspired me. The blogger talked about how some people are braver behind a computer screen than in front of one, saying you can hide behind a screen. That's not the case for me. I hesitated to add to our blog because of my past history with this confounded machine!

Here are a few examples of my oft-times computer ineptitude:

1) I once typed my daughter's entire term paper (& it was a l-o-n-g sucker!) the night before it was due, and with the punch of one button (Okay, so I clicked the wrong key & I don't even know which one.).....it disappeared, never to be seen alive again.

2) Sandy Ruth convinced me I could do Facebook a while back. We got on our cell phones, and she directed me through the myriad of maze-like steps. In a matter of only 24 hours I had punched/clicked so many wrong keys that I totally screwed up my entire email address book. I also saw my college daughter's Facebook page and very nearly expired on the spot! Needless to say, I got off Facebook lickity-split!

3) Just a couple of days ago, I looked at some furniture online. It was a well known store's site, and I clicked on a chair to make the fabric sample larger. I swear to you, that's all I did, honest! Suddenly my computer screen went blank and some "viral alert" thingy appeared. Now, I must tell you that I have learned from past experience not to click on things like this. The last time I gave my poor computer a virus that took forever to cure, even with flu medication! So this time I yelled at my computer guru husband, and he came to click this and that and fixed my computer right up. Crisis averted!

See what I mean? I can assure you these are merely three examples of why I haven't been brave enough to blog. But in the future I promise to try harder to find an acorn!

~ Miss Pickles (You'll have to read my blog post tomorrow to find out why I chose to use this blogger screen name - ha!)