Saturday, December 3, 2016
In honor of the season, I'd like to introduce you to Chance Fowler and Marcie Roper and tell you a bit about their Christmas story.
Good morning Chance and Marcie. I appreciate you taking the time to talk with me today.
Chance: Thank you, Shawna. It was nice of you to invite us. So…what would you like to know?
My first question is for whichever of you wants to answer it. How did the two of you meet?
Chance: (Winks at Marcie) Do you want to take that one?
Marcie: My pleasure. I was minding my own business, doing a little window shopping on my way back to my car from the book store, when he came along and accosted me in broad daylight. He grabbed me against my will then proceeded to kiss me. I was truly shocked and also a little frightened. I had no idea who he was or why he had forced himself on me.
Chance: Wait a minute…in my defense that wasn't quite the way it happened.
Marcie: (grins) My way sounds more mysterious…and more interesting.
Did he literally grab you on the street, a total stranger, and kiss you for no reason?
Marcie: Oh, yes…that's exactly what he did.
Chance: Well…not really…not like that.
Ah, ha! What's the true story?
Chance: I was being followed by another one of those tabloid photographers who were always trying to get candid pictures of me that they could exploit…things taken out of context and blown up into something it wasn't.
As sole heir to the Fowler Industries fortune, an eligible bachelor leading a very high profile life including yacht racing and making the rounds of the club scene always with a beautiful woman on your arm, I can see where there would be an interest in your activities.
Chance: Since I was on my way to one of my special projects, I had to lose the guy following me. I was looking for a place to duck away from him…hide in plain sight, so to speak. As soon as I rounded a corner and was out of his sight for a few seconds, I turned my reversible jacket inside out to a different color, but there wasn't any place for me to hide. My intention was to put my arm around her shoulder so it would look like we were a couple window shopping together, but for some strange reason she objected. So I did what I had to do. The photographer ran on down the street without paying any attention to a couple kissing in front of a store window. I tried to apologize, explain to her, but she ran off without giving me an opportunity.
Marcie: It was later that I discovered who he was…Take-A-Chance Fowler, as the media referred to him. Major playboy, always being photographed with different women, yacht racing, seen at all the trendy clubs. In other words, a spoiled rich guy living off the family wealth who had never done an honest day's work in his life.
Chance: Definitely not a very flattering assessment of someone she didn't even know. I was determined to set her straight and change that erroneous assumption.
Take-A-Chance? Where did that come from?
Chance: One of those stupid tags the press pinned on me. "Always willing to take a chance on some wild stunt."
Marcie: I can't begin to tell you how embarrassed I was when he told me Chance was his legal first name, not some cute little nickname. It was his mother's maiden name. And the more I found out about the real person behind all those tabloid headlines, the more impressed I was and the more I liked him.
You mentioned your special projects. What did you mean by that?
Chance: I have several projects I finance and am actively, hand's on involved with, things I don't want the media to know about. I don't want the other people involved to find their pictures and names on the front page of some tabloid newspaper.
What type of projects?
Chance: (flashes a sly grin) You can find out all about them in the book.
Marcie, did you encounter any unusual problems when you began dating someone of Chance's…uh…notoriety?
Marcie: (furrows her brow in a moment of concentration) Well, there were some uncomfortable moments with his family, such as the Christmas dinner at his father's house—
Chance: (laughs) Merely uncomfortable? That's an understatement!
Is there more to the family story than you're saying?
Marcie: You mean other than his father being responsible for driving a wedge between us that nearly destroyed our relationship?
Chance: My family is synonymous with the word dysfunctional. They're the personification of that old joke…look up the word dysfunctional in the dictionary and you find their picture. You'll find out all about them when you read the book.
I'd ask you to explain, but I already know what you're going to say.
Marcie: (laughs) You have to read the book!
Thank you, Marcie and Chance.
ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS…
When millionaire Chance Fowler first kissed the pretty stranger in his arms, he'd only meant to dodge the photographers who'd tailed him. Then she ran off—but he couldn't forget her tempting taste on his lips. So he sought out the tantalizing woman who'd ignited his long-dormant desire….
Lovely Marcie Roper was the first woman to close her eyes to Chance's fortune. And though she'd captivated the jaded tycoon, Marcie yearned for what his wealth couldn't buy—a man who would say "I do" and mean it forever. Could Marcie convince Chance that love—for the right woman—would last a lifetime?
Inside Front Cover Excerpt:
She was certainly different from the type of women he usually encountered. Her eyes sparked with the fire of emotion and her stance declared a very appealing independence. Yes, indeed. Marcie Roper was quite different—a breath of fresh air. He recalled the way she felt in his arms, the taste of her delicious mouth. He fought the almost overwhelming desire to pull her into his arms and kiss her again.
He watched her walk away from him—for the second time since he first encountered her. She had turned out to be a very intriguing woman. He already knew about the golden flecks in her hazel eyes, her soft pliable lips, her addictive taste and how good she felt in his arms. And now he knew she was certainly a challenge—and Chance had never been one to back down from a challenge.
Harlequin has reissued 17 of my backlist titles. THE MILLIONAIRE'S CHRISTMAS WISH was originally released by Harlequin in print and is currently available in ebook.
THE MILLIONAIRE'S CHRISTMAS WISH, a Silhouette Desire by Shawna Delacorte reissued by Harlequin in ebook and available at http://ebooks.eharlequin.com. Also available from Amazon for Kindle, Barnes & Noble for Nook, and other online retailers. Additional information and excerpts available on my website www.shawnadelacorte.com Information and excerpts from my other books also available on my website.
Saturday, November 26, 2016
I forgot to write my blog for today. Well, not exactly. Obviously I wrote one because here it is. The problem is that I didn't write it ahead of time as I usually do. I try to get my blog posted by noon (or shortly after) each Saturday. Right now it's Saturday at 11:15AM Central time and I'm just starting to write without having anything firmly in my mind beyond a general concept.
How did this happen? That's a good question. And the answer is—Long Holiday Weekend. Instead of having extra time available due to a holiday, I have confusion due to the fact that today is the third Sunday this week and there's still one more Sunday to go before things return to normal (or as normal as things get for a writer).
Last Wednesday seemed like Saturday because it was preparation for the next day's Thanksgiving holiday—out-of-town relatives visiting, grocery shopping the day before Thanksgiving (talk about a major mistake I always swear will never happen again!), preparing my assigned dish to take to my brother's house for the large gathering and feast. Which, of course, made the next day seem like Sunday even though it was only Thursday. Then yesterday, the day after Thanksgiving and in reality only Friday, naturally seemed like Sunday. And since today isn't Monday, it must be Sunday…again. Are you noticing a pattern here? :)
And there's still tomorrow, the fourth Sunday this week—the real Sunday—before things finally return to normal on Monday.
If you are the one who had all the friends and family to your house for Thanksgiving turkey with all the traditional trimmings, you've probably been eating leftovers for two days and by now you don't want to see another turkey sandwich for a while.
Saturday, November 19, 2016
We all know that the bald eagle is America's National Symbol…a proud and majestic bird. And turkey is what we serve every year at Thanksgiving dinner…a tasty bird made all the more appetizing when accompanied by dressing, cranberries, mashed potatoes and gravy.
But did you know that if Benjamin Franklin had gotten his way, the turkey would have been our national symbol?
In 1776, right after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the Continental Congress appointed a special committee to select a design for an official national seal. This committee consisted of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin. They each had their own ideas, none of which included the bald eagle. They finally came to agreement on a drawing of a woman holding a shield to represent the states. However, the design did nothing to inspire the members of Congress.
So Congress consulted a Philadelphia artist named William Barton who created a new design that included a golden eagle. At the time we were still at war with England and the fierce looking bird was deemed an appropriate symbol…with one small change. The golden eagle also flew over Europe so the federal lawmakers declared that the bird in the seal had to be an American bald eagle.
On June 20, 1782, they approved the design that we recognize today.
From the start, the eagle had been a controversial choice. Benjamin Franklin was quite vocal in his objection to the selection of the eagle. He considered it a bird of "bad moral character." A year after the Treaty of Paris officially ended the war with Great Britain, Franklin argued that the turkey would have been a more appropriate symbol. "A much more respected bird and a true native of America."
Unfortunately for Franklin, Congress was not convinced and the bald eagle remained our national symbol.
Whereas both the bald eagle and the turkey are native to America, we can't lay exclusive claim to either species since both traditionally ranged in Canada and Mexico as well as the U.S.
Saturday, November 5, 2016
There are almost 200 countries in the world. Even if you are a knowledgeable global citizen, I'll bet there are some items on this list that will be new to you. There are two countries that made it on the list twice (does not include honorable mentions, which are not listed here)—Canada for #6 and #19, and Russia at #3 and #17.
My disclaimer—this list was sent to me in an email and is a couple of years old. I have not personally checked out these facts or updated the list.
25) Covers The Most Time Zones:
This honor goes to France, covering 12 time zones (when you include all their overseas territories). The United States is next with 11 time zones, then Russia with 9 time zones.
24) Most Likely To Disappear Beneath The Waves:
With global warming and rising sea levels, the residents of the Maldives will be the first to suffer this fate. Their nation is the lowest on earth with an average altitude of only 1.8 meters (approx. 5.85 feet) above sea level.
23) Most Overweight Population:
More than 95% of the population of the small island nation of Nauru is overweight. This is primarily attributed to the importation of western fast food.
22) Roads Made Of Coral:
Guam doesn't have any natural sand, therefore, the island nation makes its asphalt using a mix of ground up coral and oil rather than importing sand.
21) 350 Sheep For Every Person:
The Falkland Islands' population is about 3000 people and half a million sheep. Needless to say, the major export is wool.
20) Oldest Sovereign State:
Depending on your definition of sovereign state (first acquisition of sovereignty) then Egypt is the winner based on the formation of the first dynasty in 3100 BC.
19) Most Lakes In The World:
Canada can claim this honor with over 3 million lakes (9% of the country) being fresh water and over 60% of all the lakes in the world within its borders.
18) Least Likely Place To Meet Your Neighbor:
With a population of only 4 people per square mile, Mongolia is the least populated country on Earth. The Mong Kok district of Hong Kong has the highest population density in the world with 340,000 people per square mile.
17) Largest Number Of Military Tanks:
Russia has the most tanks of any army in the world (21,000). However, most of these are outdated. The United States has an inventory of 16,000 tanks but they are much more advanced.
16) The Land With No Rivers:
You would think that a country as big as Saudi Arabia would have some sort of flowing water. Well, you'd be wrong. Most of their fresh water comes from desalinization plants or underground reservoirs.
15) Youngest Population:
This is calculated by determining the portion of the population that is younger than 15 years old. The current holder of this distinction is Niger with 49% of its population meeting this criteria.
14) Most Diverse Country:
Culturally, economically, climatically, racially, linguistically, ethnically, and religiously…the winner seems to be India.
13) Fastest Disappearing:
With a decrease in population of .8% annually, between now and the year 2050 the Ukraine is expected to lose approximately 30% of its population.
12) Most Of Its Citizens Live Abroad:
Rough economic times combined with an increased birth rate resulted in large numbers of people leaving Malta so that now there are more Maltese living abroad than within the country.
11) Smaller Than Central Park In New York City:
Although Vatican City is smaller in land size (.17 square mile) than Monaco (.8 square mile), it doesn't have any permanent residents which makes Monaco the smallest permanently inhabited nation in the world.
10) Almost Entirely Covered In Jungle:
Suriname has 91% of its land covered in jungle. Half a million residents live primarily along the coast near the capital with only 5% of the population living inland.
9) Almost Entirely Treeless:
On the opposite end of the scale from Suriname is Haiti. The country has been so badly deforested that you can actually see where the border is between Haiti and the Dominican Republic in a satellite image.
8) Largest Country With No Farms:
There are a number of small nations in the world that have no hint of an agriculture based economy (such as Vatican City), Singapore is the largest of these urban city-states.
7) Most Languages Spoken:
English is its official language, but only 1-2% of the population of Papua New Guinea actually speak it. It's the most linguistically diverse country in the world with over 820 languages (12% of the world's total) spoken there.
6) Most Educated People:
Canada easily has the most educated population in the world with 50% of its people having been educated at the post secondary level. Israel is next with 45% followed by Japan at 44%.
5) The "Country Desert":
99% of Libya is covered in desert and is one of the most arid places in the world. Some regions of the country can go decades without a single drop of rain.
4) Least Peaceful Nation:
Although for the last 3 years Iraq has been ranked as the least peaceful country, the Global Peace Index has declared that in this year Somalia moved up to the top spot. [as I said, I have not checked or updated, but it seems to me that Afghanistan should be up there toward the top]
3) Produces Most Of The World's Oxygen:
Approximately 25% of the world's forests are in Siberia spanning an area larger than the continental United States which makes Russia the largest converter of carbon dioxide into breathable air.
2) Largest Opium Producer:
Afghanistan produces a whopping 95% of the world's opium. Not even years of occupation by American forces has been able to slow down this industry.
1) Most People Behind Bars:
This dubious honor belongs to the United States. We have 2.2 million people behind bars. We have 5% of the world's population but 25% of the world's incarcerated population. [Do we literally have more than our share of criminals or are we more efficient at capturing and prosecuting them?]
Saturday, October 29, 2016
I'd like to offer one last Halloween fright before we turn our attention to the next of the holiday season holidays—Thanksgiving. And what is that one last fright? It's all that Halloween candy!
Halloween aftermath usually means two things—putting the witch and goblin decorations away and fighting the battle of all that candy in the house. First, there's the leftover candy from what you bought to hand out to trick-or-treaters. There's two schools of thought about what type of candy to buy. One theory says buy what you like so you can enjoy the leftovers. The other theory says buy what you don't like so you won't be tempted. And the second thing is all the candy the kids collected on their trick or treat rounds. Sacks full of candy. Enough potential sugar overdose and tooth decay material to last until next Halloween.
And what kind of candy is it that we now have in abundance? It seems that all the candy manufacturers, in addition to their regular size candy bars, make the little fun size candy—the mini candy bars or individual pieces. Those little bite size morsels that give us just a taste. Unfortunately, it's usually a taste for more. :)
These little tidbits aren't as harmless as you'd like to believe. Many of the small treats are worse for you than eating a normal size candy bar. But that can't be, you tell yourself, because you're only going to eat one of those little things and that's certainly not the same as a regular size candy bar. What's that you said? Eat just one? Well, you and I both know that's a lie! :) Remember that old Lay's Potato Chip commercial from many years ago? Bet you can't eat just one. That applies to those tasty little bite size morsels of candy as well.
I recently saw a list of the ten worse choices of these mini candy snacks and I'd like to share it with you.
1) Reese's Peanut Butter Pumpkins (1 piece): You convince yourself that you're getting lots of protein from the peanut butter. Think again. One pumpkin has 180 calories, 11 grams of fat, and 17 grams of sugar.
2) Dove Milk Chocolate Promises (5 pieces): Chocolate is marvelous stuff, full of antioxidants that help decrease the risk of heart disease. Think again. It's DARK chocolate that has the antioxidants, not milk chocolate. You're eating 220 calories, 13 grams of fat, and 22 grams of sugar.
3) Twix Miniatures (3 pieces): Like the Reese's Peanut Butter Pumpkins, another choice that might not seem so bad for you. This gooey caramel and cookie crunch treat has 150 calories, 8 grams of fat, and 15 grams of sugar.
4) Almond Joy Snack-Size Bars (3 pieces): Coconut milk and coconut water might be popular in healthy eating circles, but that doesn't mean it's ok to cover it with chocolate and still consider it healthy. With these, you're eating 200 calories, 11 grams of fat, and 19 grams of sugar.
5) Reese's Peanut Butter Cups Miniature (5 pieces): Remember the comments about Reese's Peanut Butter Pumpkins? Well, the same rules apply here only this time it's 220 calories, 13 grams of fat, and 23 grams of sugar.
6) Hershey's Miniatures (5 pieces): These are staples every year at Halloween time. The mixed bag of treats begs you to try at least one of each kind. You'll be consuming 200 calories, 11 grams of fat, and 19 grams of sugar.
7) Hershey's Kisses Caramel-Filled (9 pieces): These seem safe, but don't be fooled. You're looking at 190 calories, 9 grams of fat, and 24 grams of sugar.
8) York Dark Chocolate-Covered Peppermint Patties (3 pieces): The cool minty chocolate that melts in your mouth gives you 150 calories, 3 grams of fat, and 27 grams of sugar.
9) Snickers Fun Size (2 bars): The commercials say, "Hungry? Grab a Snickers." If you do, you'll be grabbing 144 calories, 7.4 grams of fat, and 14 grams of sugar.
10) Kit Kat Snack Size (3 bars, 2 pieces each): These little beauties are worth 210 calories, 11 grams of fat, and 24 grams of sugar.
Perhaps the scariest thing about Halloween is the number of calories, grams of fat, and grams of sugar we consume under the guise of it's little, it won't hurt me.
And strictly for adults…having a glass of wine with our Halloween candy. What type of wine could possibly go with Candy Corn?
Master Sommelier and Director of Wines at Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants has put together some pairings of Halloween candy and wine for your pleasure.
Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bars go nicely with a fruity, low-alcohol wine like Brachetto d'Aqui from Northern Italy. It's bright pink and tastes like raspberries and roses.
Hot Tamales candy are intensely spicy and sweet. That demands a high acid wine with low alcohol to cut the spice and high sugar content, something like a German Riesling.
Tootsie Rolls go very well with a Tawny Port. A twenty year old Tawny Port will taste like nuts and orange peel.
Reese's Pieces go perfectly with Vin Santo from Italy. This wine has a nutty flavor, a great match with the peanut buttery candy.
And finally…what wine goes with Candy Corn? According to the expert, this super sugary candy pairs well with a very floral wine like Muscat de Beaumes de Venise which is a fortified Muscat from the South of France with a rich orange blossom flavor.
Saturday, October 22, 2016
What has happened to the scary horror movies from the past that traded on the atmosphere of fear rather than the visual of spurting blood and flying body parts? The tingling sensation that made the hair stand on the back of our necks and goose bumps on our arms as our imaginations ran wild. The spooky ground fog that slithered over and around the tombstones, cloaking the cemetery in an eerie silence and spectral glow.
I'm talking about the traditional horror classics from decades gone by such as Frankenstein from 1931 with Boris Karloff's brilliant performance as the monster. Also from 1931, Dracula with Bela Lugosi's portrayal of the vampire as both elegant and mesmerizing which left the horror to the imagination of the viewer. The next year gave us 1932's The Mummy with Boris Karloff once again turning in a stellar performance, this time as the two thousand year old mummy in search of the reincarnation of his mate. Then came 1941's The Wolf Man with Lon Chaney, Jr., as the stricken and cursed Larry Talbot.
True to Hollywood tradition, these classic horror movies spawned numerous sequels—Bride of Frankenstein, House of Frankenstein, Ghost of Frankenstein, Dracula's Daughter. And as long as Hollywood was on a roll, they added to the profit factor by capitalizing on the popularity of the characters by having them co-star in such movies as Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man. Then there were the myriad remakes that came over the ensuing years, some serious attempts and others totally ludicrous. Each one pushed the envelope in its own way in order to hopefully make it better (as in more box office dollars) than its predecessor.
And the award for the most remakes over the years goes to Dracula. Some were serious films and others were more on the ridiculous side with titles such as Dracula's Dog.
With all four of the above mentioned original movies, the remakes never really captured the essence of the originals…in my humble opinion.
But these classic horror movies have done more than provide us with entertainment. They have given us some valuable lessons for handling real life as well as those evil things lurking in the shadows.
Here are 9 important lessons Halloween season horror movies have taught us.
9) When it appears that you have killed the monster, NEVER check to see if it's really dead.
8) If your companions suddenly begin to exhibit uncharacteristic behavior such as hissing, fascination with blood, glowing eyes, or increasing hairiness, get away from them as fast as possible.
7) Do not search the basement when the power has just gone out (especially if it was NOT knocked out as the result of a storm or if yours is the only house on the block without power).
6) If appliances start operating by themselves, move out.
5) Stay away from certain geographic locations such as: Amityville, Elm Street, Transylvania, Nilbog, the Bermuda Triangle…or any small town in Maine.
4) If your children speak to you in any language which they should not know or if they speak to you using a voice which is not their own, be afraid…be very afraid.
3) When you have the benefit of numbers, NEVER pair off or worse yet go it alone when searching the spooky old mansion for the source of the strange noises (are you listening to this advice Scooby Doo gang?).
2) As a general rule, don't solve puzzles that open portals to hell.
And last, but not least…
Saturday, October 15, 2016
Last week I talked about the history of haunted houses as staged events and ended with some Halloween facts. This week I'm talking about the big business of professional haunted house attractions.
In the U.S., there are approximately 4,500 professional haunted house attractions opened to the public during the Halloween season—300 theme parks that operate a seasonal haunted house venue, 1200 large-scale haunted houses, and 3000 such attractions operated by and/or for charity organizations as fund raisers. And, of course, Disneyland in California and Disney World in Florida have the year round Haunted Mansion ride.
What is America's oldest and largest Halloween haunt? That honor belongs to the Knott's Berry Farm theme park in Orange County, just south of Los Angeles, California. Or as it's known this time of year—Knott's Scary Farm. It's the world's first Halloween theme park event, the largest Halloween theme park event, and the largest special event in the amusement park industry. The park makes it clear that the event is not recommended for children under thirteen years old.
It should be no surprise that many of the professional haunted houses/scare attractions have an organization of their own. Many of the most famous haunted house attractions in the U.S. have formed America Haunts. They even hold a national convention every summer in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The attractions that belong to America Haunts are as diverse as the people who operate them. These attractions have been consistently reviewed and are rated as excellent by scores of media sources and considered safe, fun and an extremely scary show for horror and haunted house fans. These are amazingly detailed, cutting edge attractions that rival many Hollywood horror movie effects. Definitely not for the faint-hearted.
The many America Haunts attractions [located across the country from San Diego, California, on the Pacific coast, to Baltimore, Maryland, on the Atlantic coast], annually draw in millions of brave souls during the Halloween season. The haunted house industry, like most other industries, has their own tradeshows, experts, consultants, suppliers, magazines, associations, education seminars, gatherings and events. Haunted attraction owners annually spend millions of dollars with haunted house vendors for supplies such as fog machines, animatronic monsters, lighting equipment, and costumes and masks. In recent years, the overseas market has provided the biggest growth in business for the haunted house vendors of supplies.
The Otis Elevator Company estimates that 85% of the buildings with their elevators do not have a named 13th floor, with that actual floor being given the number 14. Some businesses don't want to be associated with the stigma attached to the number 13 as being unlucky. Some don't want to take a chance on losing customers/clients due to them having an aversion to the number 13. And that probably explains the basic reason for the name of one of the largest haunted house attractions in the U.S.—The 13th Floor Haunted House in Denver, Colorado.
Several of the large, professional attractions, such as The 13th Floor Haunted House, offer more than one venue as part of a specific location. Each of the venues has a different theme. And some of the attractions have both indoor and outdoor fright areas.
One such outdoor attraction is Hundred Acres Manor in Pittsburgh. The attraction boasts 6 haunted attractions for 1 price.
Another outside offering is The Haunted Trail in Balboa Park, in San Diego, California. It's a mile long trail through a twisted grove of pines and gnarled oaks. Last year they initiated a creepy stroll down New Orleans famous Bourbon Street complete with vampires and other creatures of the night. The Haunted Trail also offers the return of the 3500 sq. ft. maze
And this barely scratches the surface of what the large, professional Haunted House attractions have to offer those looking for the ultimate scare. So…have a happy, sane, and safe Halloween.