Grandma Gertie always said there's not a savory dish that can't be made tastier by just a touch of tarragon.

Tsunami and Me

Tsunami and Me
too big to escape now....

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Lucky Dog!

NYMB Co-creators Nelson O. Ottenhausen and Terri Elders

F. Scott Fitzgerald once remarked that nothing is as obnoxious as other people's luck. I can't quite agree. Some people who bask in good luck are so exuberant in sharing their joy about it that you just want to shake your head in admiration and amazement. Nelson O. Ottenhausen is such a lucky fellow!

So next summer I'm hoping to stand in line to see Jugs and Bottles. Yes, Nelson, co-creator of the upcoming Not Your Mother's Book...On Military Life and contributor to the recently released Not Your Mother's Book...On Travel has provided an item for my well-worth-waiting-for list.

We met recently for lunch in Spokane, where he was visiting his daughter after addressing a number of writers' groups in Seattle on tips for getting published. He'd been keeping it a secret, he confided, but he'd just had a confirmation phone call and could now announce that one of his novels has been scheduled for production starting in January. Nelson believes the movie will be in theaters by next summer.

Here's the description of Jugs and Bottles from Nelson's website, 

Jami Unice Gamble, a woman deaf since birth, is targeted for murder after witnessing a Mafia style execution and then identifying the two hit men to the police.  She, along with her dog Bottles, become involved in a series of chaotic events as two brothers attempt to silence her with their comedic & bumbling ways.  Being deaf, Jami is oblivious to it all. 

Lt. Randall Casey is the only police officer within the police department who can communicate with their key witness.  He takes on the responsibility to protect Jami and soon begins a romance with her.  His twelve-year-old deaf son Joey befriends the woman and her dog, forming an immediate bond with both of them. JBTHUMB.JPG

Bottles, a mild and friendly dog, eventually must defend his master and friends in a powerful struggle to the death.

Nelson, a retired Army officer, who owns Patriot Media Publishing, indeed has been blessed by Lady Luck. His novel came to the attention of the film's producer purely by accident. Another book his company  has published, The Donkey, had been commissioned for filming. The producer had been intrigued by the cover of this novel. As he began to read it, he realized it, too, would make a great film.

Nelson, himself a lucky dog, does not know what furred star will be slotted to play the canine lead, but he knows who, when he drafted the book, he had in mind for the bungling brothers...Danny DeVito and Joe Pesci, both experienced in playing characters linked to the Mafia. As for the heroine, well, the producer has worked in the past with Drew Barrymore, and Nelson would be pleased indeed to see this actress cast as Jami.

You never know with Nelson...with Lady Luck's help he might get his dream cast. He certainly has proved he's a favorite of hers with his true story in NYMB...On Travel,"A Touch of Luck." In that story he relates how on a Caribbean cruise he won a series of so many seriolithographs at the ship's art auctions that he had elderly women lined up to tap his shoulder for good luck.

He's also submitted a story, "One Starry Night," that's going to be a contender for selection for Not Your Mother's Book...On Sharing Secrets. I can't share this secret quite yet...but can guarantee that it's out of this world!

Jugs and Bottles, and other novels by Nelson, can be purchased here:

To read Nelson's bio and his suggestions for stories for Not Your Mother's Book...On Military Life, which he will co-create with Ken McKowen, go here:

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Ready to Spill the Beans?

"And you can tell that to Terri for Not Your Mother's Book...On Sharing Secrets."
Dear Modest and Virtuous Readers:

Yes, you've complained that sharing a secret would be a breach of trust, a betrayal of significant others, or a violation of your elevated standards of ethics.

I appreciate your dedication to remaining pure in this tarnished world. And neither I nor Publishing Syndicate would expect you to broadcast all the lurid details of exactly how you cheated your boss...or the IRS. We want to avoid necktie parties and litigation. We don't even want to know about the night that you got tipped off by your friendly bartender just in time for you to slip out the back door of your neighborhood watering hole, Peyton Place Bar and Grill. Unless, of course, you really, really, really want to spill the beans! know in your heart of hearts that you've got some stories that shouldn't stay untold. You might not have an ear to whisper in, but you're a writer. Your fingers are itching to start tripping across the keys.

We haven't yet determined definite chapter headings for Not Your Mother's Book...On Sharing Secrets. But, together with the participants in the drawing for a free copy of Not Your Mother's Book...On Travel, I offer some possibilities:

I Love Your Hair...and Other Little White Lies
Once I Had a Secret Love
Peeking Under the Lid (Secret Recipes)
My Secret Garden
Skeletons in the Closet
Shotgun Weddings..or 9 lb. Preemies
Crimes and Misdemeanors
Your Cheatin' Heart...Or Mine
S-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g the Truth
My Secret Pal
Secret Santas
Whispers and Wishes
Water Cooler Rumors
I Crossed My Heart
My Life as a Rat Fink
Secret Treasures
The Secrets of My Success
It's a Sin to Tell a Lie
Once Upon a Midnight, Dearie
Closeminded But Openmouthed
Secret Agents
But, Officer!
Caught Red-Handed
Best Laid Plans (When Secrets Go Awry)
My Foolish Heart
Ask Me No Questions
Rites and Rituals

It's no secret that I'll be waiting to see what you divulge! You just know you've got some beans you really can't resist spilling.

More information on the Not Your Mother's Book series and guidelines for stories can be found here:

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Doggone It! We've Got a Winner!

It's Linda Lohman by a nose!

Since I took lexicographer Julia Cresswell's course in the history of the English language at Christ Church, Oxford, last month, I've been on the lookout for cliches. Julia, after all, is the author of The Cat's Pajamas, The Penguin Book of Cliches. Strangely, I couldn't find "let sleeping dogs lie" in her book. Perhaps it's still considered novel even though, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, it dates back to 1822. It's certainly a valid statement, apparently now during the dog days of August. Want proof? Here are my two canine companions in the entryway just a couple of hours ago.

I'd promised that I'd ask Tsunami to select a winner for the drawing for a free copy of Not Your Mother's Book...On Travel.  I offered this prize to entice Facebook friends and followers of A Touch of Tarragon to submit ideas and possible chapter headings for the upcoming Not Your Mother's Book...On Sharing Secrets.

A huge thanks to the people who took the time to brainstorm for me:
Kim Lehnhoff, Bobby Barbara Smith, Stacey Gustafson, Linda Lohman, Lola De Maci, Eve Gaal, Debra Ayers Brown, Terri Spilman, Barbara Carpenter and Kathy Baker.

I wrote their names on slips of paper which I spread facedown evenly over the bottom of my favorite travel suitcase, and then attempted to lure Tsunami over to do the job, as I'd described in my blog "Do You Want to Know a Secret?"

Here's another cliche for you: you can't teach an old dog new tricks. Julia says the use of the term "old dog" to mean somebody well versed in something dates back to the 16th century. It appears that Nami is well versed in sleeping away her afternoons. Get up and nose around a suitcase? Why bother?

Grab and gulp Natty, though, is a dog of a different color. Well, yes, he's a black mutt, while Tsunami, as all can plainly see, is a tri-color purebred Akita, to the manor born. (Julia points out this is a corruption of the older "to the manner born," meaning growing up accustomed to something, as used by Shakespeare, in Hamlet.)  So as Nami dozed on, I tossed a couple of dog biscuits into the suitcase. Natty can smell a biscuit a mile away. He awakened, yawned, stretched and then meandered over to nose around the suitcase. I tried to give him a hint about signaling out a slip of paper with his paw, but he preferred to use his nose.

And the name he turned over was that of Linda Lohman. Linda's work has appeared in Not Your Mother's Book: On Dogs, as well as in that other popular anthology series, Chicken Soup.

Tomorrow I'll post some of the tantalizing ideas people have given me for topics for On Sharing Secrets. Stay tuned...and you don't have to keep this under your hat...Linda won't. An active member of The Red Hat Society, here's Linda as she's featured on the website The Writer's Circle. I don't think it's any secret that this lady has a touch of zany in her blood...she's the bee's knees! (1920s, per Julia, along with the cat's pajamas and the cat's meow...all, of course, meaning "excellent".)

Linda Lohman

Monday, August 12, 2013

Wake Up Call!

Enzian Inn Alphorn Breakfast Concert

Sometimes I hunger for a road trip. It doesn't take a week of following old Route 66 alternates across the country to satisfy my itchy-footed soul. Once my late husband and I ventured no farther than Grand Forks for a fifth anniversary celebration, less than an hour and a half away, and felt satisfied that we were indeed in another country, as we sampled borst and piroshki. But the journey does need to take me to someplace that doesn't look like where I live.

This past week Leavenworth filled the bill. About a five-hour drive from my home south of Colville, this Bavarian village combines kitschy gift boxes, mustards, chapeaux...with three live summer theater productions and dozens of winery tasting rooms and eateries featuring wursts and schnitzels.

My friend Jane and I took in a lively production of Footloose. Even without Kevin Bacon, this play brought back all the exuberance of the original '80s film and included some performers with remarkable voices. Amazingly, the major actors on alternating nights perform as well in roles in the annual Leavenworth production of The Sound of Music and this year's other offering, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Coincidentally, I'd just seen the latter at the New Theatre in Oxford, England, and wondered why it wasn't in revivals more in the States. If we'd stayed an extra day or two I would have welcomed seeing it again in Leavenworth.

After a bountiful breakfast at the Enzian, which includes an alphorn concert at 8:15 and 9:15 each morning, courtesy of the hotel's owner, plus an omelette bar, we browsed the shops. One I particularly enjoyed...A Matter of Taste features an astonishing assortment of mustards, including dill and garlic varieties, plus apple butter and huckleberry honey. One of the virtues of a road trip versus flying anywhere is that you've got the trunk of your car to heap packages worrying about luggage weight limits.

Then we drove to Peshastin, a tiny town famous for terrific wineries, including Cascadia, where I sampled and purchased some award-winning apple wine and a lively Rousanne, and Icicle Ridge with the Log Cabin Tasting Room. Learn more about these boutique wineries here and here

We spent the second evening in Wenatchee and enjoyed some great views of the Columbia River during Happy Hour at the Coast Wenatchee Center Hotel, along with tasty tapas and economical well drinks.

Home, I feel refreshed. Mini-vacations can energize your spirit, scratch your itchy feet, and awaken dreams of seeing even more of the world, whether near or far.

Local sights in Leavenworth, courtesy of traveling companion and talented photographer Jane Conn.