Monday, February 28, 2011

The Strange Things I Saw On My Vacation

Hey all, I haven't done one of my cultural things in a while and I think we're due.  And since on vacation I found a few fun things to share, I hope today's blog will give us all a bit of a chuckle.  Enjoy!

We saw this sign as we were wandering around the island of Coloane.  We laughed ourselves sick.  I mean, is the Chinese more subtle?  Or is it just as blunt?

 Still on Coloane and this is one of those Mr. Safety things.  It's a ladder, built of bamboo and zip ties.  As you can see it looks pretty rickety.  I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want to climb it.

 One of the things that gets me the most over here is the way they order you to do the most obvious things.  I've seen signs that tell how to pee and even how not to breathe.  This sign Jeramiah loved.  Not just because of the cute penguin, but because it exhorted you to hold on to a handrail that wasn't even there.  LOL

 Jeramiah couldn't believe this.  Stitch bouquets.  That's right.  Can't afford roses?  No problem.  Just get your girl a bouquet of nasty little creatures.  She'll know it's love.  

 I know this looks erotic, but it's not doing it doggy style.  At least I hope not.  It's in a family park here in Macau.  Actually it's supposed to be how to do a specific exercise by bending at the waist.  I'm thinking they might want to re-work their instructions.  Or send this to Hustler Magazine.

Is this a sign up in the states?  I'd never seen one before.  But I cracked up when I read it.  --And then we lock them... *snort*

This is a booth where you can pay for Wi-Fi.  But the thing is smaller than a phone booth and there isn't a shelf for a computer.  I guess it's for a Wi-Fi enabled phone when you want a little privacy.  Sorry, a little unnecessary as far as I'm concerned.

This sign was stretched out on a busy street in Hong Kong.  It tells us all about certain conspiracies that are going on in the US government.  There were several of them and the accusations were quite creative.  We walked back down the same road later and the cops had torn them down.  Guess no one wanted to know how Americans are taking over the world.

You have to take a closer look at this.  Click on the picture.  These are found at Hong Kong's (Kowloon's) Night Market.  There were about twenty booths with these in them.  But no matter how I tried I couldn't get Jonathon to put one on.  LOL  Personally I was torn between the parrot and the elephant.

Jeramiah and I saw this and grabbed our cameras.  It cracked us up.  We wondered if they knew "cum" and "recycling" together conjured up all kinds of bizarre and slighty disgusting thoughts.

Seriously?  Feral pigeons?  I know you can have wild birds but doesn't the word feral make you think of ravenging wolves and stalking tigers?  At the very least wild cats and pigs.  But pigeons?  I can't get all freaked out or scared about a feral pigeon.  What's it going to do?  Coo me to death?

Anyway, hope you enjoyed these little bits of weirdness.  They are all around me and I can't help but document them.  I'm sure I'll come up with more for you all another time.  Meanwhile, I'll be back on Wednesday with a blog about what's coming up in my writing world.

CJ England

Follow Your Dreams

Friday, February 25, 2011

Too Wild and Weird To Be Real

Hey all,

Another Friday, another wonderful guest blogger.  This time we have an author I've known almost as long as I've been publishing.  Brynneth Colvin is one of the first authors I met when I started.  She writes for Love You Divine and Whiskey Creek Press and also does graphic novels for Copper Age.  Today's she's got a great blog about how sometimes our lives can be so much stranger than the fiction we write.  But before we read about that, let's get to know Bryn a little better.

Born in Gloucestershire England, Brynneth grew up not far from the River Severn, in Dursley - the place JK Rowling named the horrible Dursley family for. She learned music, read folklore, fell in love with the landscape, and discovered she was an unconventional soul deeply driven to follow her own path. She studied English Literature at the University of Gloucestershire in Cheltenham. She spent about a decade living in the West Midlands, where she enjoyed running a folk club. Now, she's returned to the place of her birth, living with her son and a rather eccentric cat.

So now that you've peeked behind the curtain, let's see what she has to say about her weird and wonderful life.  Welcome, Brynneth!

I couldn’t make it up
My life, that is. Which is definitely stranger than fiction. Actually, I wouldn’t have made it up because I’m not keen on authors as characters in novels. Sometimes it works, but it’s so easy to get all self indulgent (and with the editing hat on... I have seen a few!). I can remember cringing over erotica stories in which the author turns out to have a fan who is the man of her dreams and all that. So I’d never have written my life in a book.

I fell in love with his artwork, he fell in love with my writing. But with me in the UK and him in the USA – score one for the ‘keeping your lovers apart’ plot device – not much doing. I visited, I got out of my previous marriage, and it took a year from when we first met to get my soul mate here. A year. I like to torture characters as much as the next author, but I don’t think I’d have put my people through that.

Plenty of romance stories go for a dash of action – the evil ex is a popular way of introducing it. He’s a domestic abuser, stalker, psychopath, drug dealer, hit man, crime boss... undead, insane, politician.  You name it, the evil ex does it. He only married her for the money, or he’s got her involved in some dire plan and he has to have her back for his evil scheme for world domination to work. I don’t think I can write about that part of the ‘how my life turned into a novel plot’ yet. But I got that bit too. With more twists, turns, unexpected revelations and the such than I care to contemplate.

And all those hurdles authors make their characters jump through? All those endless challenges to test your love and devotion? I wonder, sometimes, why more characters in romance fiction don’t end up total jabbering wrecks. How do you survive all that and not end up with nervous ticks and a Valium habit? (Or in my case, raging insomnia and gnawing anxiety issues). Life with a plot in it is not good for your sanity, let me tell you!

Then you get to that point in the book where you can see no way out for the lead couple. Everything is stacked against them. The last shreds of hope are floating away on a breeze. They are clearly doomed. Life is not going to let love survive. It’s a moment that comes up in other genres too – thrillers, murder mysteries even, when all seems grim and hopeless. The moment of doom. And this is where real life can learn a trick or two from fiction. When real life brings you one of those, it’s so tempting to give up, to roll into a ball and say “I can’t do this anymore.” Characters in books do not do this. It’s what makes them the heroes and heroines they are. And, not giving up is absolutely critical to not being beaten. Once you’ve thrown in the towel, then hope is truly gone. The defeat in your head is the only one that can prove absolute. No matter how bad it gets, the hero who does not give up, will have another go. Sometimes it works. Giving up never results in a win.

I’ve read plenty of book blurbs that seemed far-fetched to me. I’m probably not alone. Finding I’m living inside one of those books, with a life that seems impossible, insane and unreal, is pretty weird. I am inside the plot of a book. I guess the good news is, we know how romance fiction ends. The Happily Ever After payoff. I’m waiting for it to turn up, along with the poetic justice the genre favours. How about a dash of rags to riches along the way? Wouldn’t this be the perfect moment to be ‘discovered’? If this was fiction, I’d survive all the trials to be rewarded not only with the most fabulous bloke I’ve ever met, but a publisher contract of epic proportions, and maybe three movie deals thrown in for luck.

I’d love to know who’s writing the plot for my life right now. I can say with absolute confidence it isn’t me. I’ll do any amount of magic, supernatural, undead and otherwise speculative... but this is too wild and weird!

I have to say this was one of the best blog installments I've had.  I so understand what Brynneth is talking about.  Life is weird and when someone snatches control out of our hands and we wind up in a story we'd NEVER write ourselves, it gets even weirder.  Been in one yourself?  Let her know in the comments below.

The good news is I believe, like a real romance, the HEA will come.  I will live happily ever after because just as Brynneth said, refusing to give up is the only way to win the day.  And when you've found that perfect someone to complete you, there is no way on the planet you'll give up that dream.

Want to know more about Brynneth and her world?  Check out her website at  You can also see her work at Love You Divine, Whiskey Creek Press and Whiskey Creek Torrid.

I'll be back on Monday with a blog about some of the weirdest things I saw on my vacation. Think signs and oddities all around.  LOL

Hugs to all,
CJ England

Follow Your Dreams

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Chinese New Year Visits and Vacation

Hey all,

I hope you enjoyed the pics on Monday.  It was fun going through and choosing which to use.  And I have some more to share with you today.  These are of some of the other places we took Jeramiah while he was here.

As you know, Jonathon and I love traveling and so we had already been to a few of these places.  But seeing them through Jeramiah's eyes made them special all over again.  And we were able to visit a few places we haven't had a chance to do yet.  

Enjoy the pics and the comments.  I had a blast putting it together for you all!  And if you want a better look at one, just click on it for a bigger  picture.  

Jeramiah looks into China from the island of Coloane.  The mudflats in front of him are farmed by fisherman who trap mudskippers in little baskets.

New arrivals to Macau.  Kai Kai and Xin Xin.  These pandas were sent from China as a breeding pair and the locals built a huge park to accommodate them.  They are quite active.  (The only pandas I've ever seen  just laid around and slept.) We only got to watch them for about 10 minutes, and they rolled and played and nibbled on each other.  Just loved it and will be going back.  They only charge about a dollar (American) to go in and see them.

Jeramiah gets his first look at a street food vendor.  And knowing now how the meat is left out exposed, it was his last try at tasting anything.  LOL

 Jeramiah discovered this underground tunnel system up at the Guia Lighthouse.  We had a blast exploring it.  It went on for miles and we wound up on the other side of the mountain from where we started.  (Jonathon got sooooo bored waiting for us.)  It was totally awesome, and we got this great Blair Witch type video he's putting together.

The traditional kiss at the Guia Lighthouse.  We were waiting for Jeramiah to come to visit for the first time and it was lovely.  A short ride up on a gondola and a beautiful park at the top, complete with exercise paths, a small zoo and botanical garden.  We can't wait to go again.

Jonathon and Jeramiah check out the view from uptop the mountain at the Guia Lighthouse.  You can see in all directions and the mix of old and new is amazing.

Having a cup of coffee at Fisherman's Wharf.  The Chinese Lanterns will stay up through the spring festivals.  It was the busiest I've ever seen this area of Macau.

The dusk view from atop the Macau Tower.  We hadn't been there yet but when Jeramiah came we found out you could go up for free during the Chinese New Year.  We saw it both at night and during the day.  And we'll go back again on a clear day.

Did I say FREE?  Well...kind of.  What we didn't see in the advertisement--and could have been in Chinese somewhere--was the fine print that said it was a walk for charity.  Not a problem...we walk a lot.  But this walk was up the tower stairs!!!  Bloody hell!!!!  But, they were kind.  You could walk the whole 65 stories or you could do only half of that...start at the 31st floor.  *groan*  We made it, but treated ourselves to a bucket of beer and snacks as we watched the sun drop from the sky.  It was actally a blast and an afternoon we won't ever forget.

This is the famous Ah Ma Temple, the oldest structure on the whole island.  Because it was Chinese's New Year it was BUSY!!!  The faithful and tourists alike were everywhere.  Firecrackers were lit by tossing them into one of the incense ovens and were sooooo loud, our ears rang for hours afterwards.  But the carnival atmosphere was bright and festive and so much fun.

 Okay.  Now this is a great picture.  Over here they have these drinks.  They are really delicious, but at the bottom they put these slimy little balls in them.  I call them snot balls, slugs or lugies.  LOL  But in reality they are tapioca pellets.  But they are so slimy they make me gag.  We got one for Jeramiah and didn't tell him what was in it.  He was expecting milk tea, which he got, but then he got a surprise at the end.  And you can see by his expression it wasn't a pleasant one.  *snerk*

This pic was taken at the top of Monte Fort near Senado Square.  In the background is the famous Lisboa Casino.  At night it is all lit up and quite beautiful.  (see the tower pic of the sunset above)

 Hong Kong Disney.  And some new friends.  Because we are Americans it's like we're celebrities over here.  Everyone wants their picture taken with us.  LOL  These kids took our photo and then we had them jump in with us.

Minnie and Mickey celebrate the new year.  They are topiaries completely made of flowers.  The small bushes with oranges beneath them are for luck.  The gold medallion has rabbits on it for the year of the rabbit.

 We did Buzz Lightyear and had a blast.  I didn't shoot anything but my camera, but the boys got down and crazy doing it.  They fought it out until the last moment, but I think Jeramiah snuck by with a winning score.  I told Jonathon I'd give him a consolation prize later.  *giggle* for those who've seen Harry Potter...doesn't this narrow bus remind you of the Night Bus in the movie?  It did us.  And when you ride in it you really feel it.  Only one seat on either side and the skinniest little spiral staircase you've ever seen.

The Hong Kong Skyline seen from The Peak.  This is an interesting place.  You can see the whole of Hong Kong, the harbor and the Kowloon peninsula.  Plus there is enough shopping to keep you busy for months.  We took Jeramiah to visit the doctor fish.  The video we got of him feeling them nibble for the first time was beyond hilarious.  LOL

Jeramiah and I at the Kowloon Harbor.  The Hong Kong cityscape is behind us.  I've seen a lot of skylines--San Francisco, New York and even Paris--but this was one of the prettiest.  The lights dancing on the buildings were elegant and eye catching.  If you ever have a chance to see it, do!

So, I hope you enjoyed this brief journey through my vacation.  Let me know what you think in the comments below.  There were so many other pictures and memories I wish I had time to share with you, but I don't have the space.  Just know having my son here visiting was a wonderful time for all of us.  And though Jeramiah said he wouldn't want to live in Asia--too much weird stuff--I believe this trip is something he'll never, ever forget!!! 

On Friday I'll be back with another great guest blogger, Deborah Brown, who has a wonderful blog about this and that!  LOL  Have a great ending to your week and don't forget to hug your family.  Next time you want to, they may be half way around the world.  *sigh*

CJ England

Follow Your Dreams

Monday, February 21, 2011

Chinese New Year and Family

Before we get started on today's topic, I wanted to give a big shout out to Tess MacKall and her Three Wicked Writers Plus Two blog for nominating CJ's Living Dreams for the Stylish Blogger Award.  I'm am beyond honored and will pass the torch to others as well.

For those who have been nominated, there are few criteria to meet:

1. Thank and link back to the person who nominated you, only do not re-nominate them.
2. Share 7 things about yourself
3. Pass along this nomination to 10 recently discovered stylish and cool bloggers.
4. Contact them and tell them about their nomination.

Without further ado and in no particular order, here are my Stylish Blog nominees:

01.  Denysé Bridger /
02.  Desree Holt /
03.  Elizabeth Silver /
04.  Linda Mooney /
05.  Viki Lyn /
06.  Z.A. Maxfield /
07.  Myla Jackson /
08.  Missy Jane /
09.  RaeLynn Blue /
10.  Virna DePaul /

And those things about myself...

1.  I have two tattoos.
2.  My favorite sound is the music the wind makes as it moves amongst the trees.
3.  If I could live on anything foodwise all by itself, it would have to be chocolate.  And artichoke hearts.  I wonder if they'd go good together?  *scribbles note to self to find out*
4.  I've been to all the continents but Antarctica and Africa.  They're next on my bucket list.
5.  My favorite author is Nora Roberts and my favorite series is her In Death series.  I want to be La Nora when I grow up.  :-P
6.  When I'm not reading, I love to watch movies, hike in the woods and swim in the ocean.
7.  And finally, I've been married almost 27 years to the same hottie who makes me laugh, cry and is my bestest friend.


So, now that's all done, how about some pics of Chinese New Year???  I'll just put up a bunch of them and then on Wednesday I'll do some more sharing overall.  Enjoy!!!!

 2011...the Year of the RABBIT

Jeramiah arrives for Chinese New Year.  My baby boy is home!!!!

Senado Square Lights and Decorations

 The famous Dragon Dance.  This dragon was huge.  You can see it snaking back and forth across the steps  of St. Paul's.  The thing was over 300 yards long!!!!  If you click on the pic you can see it better.

Some of the decorations around town.  The statues are the Chinese Gods of Fortune.

 The Lion Dance being done at the Venician Casino.  This was the first time Jeramiah had seen it.

These Chinese Gods stand at attention in the middle of the roundabout near our apartment.

A performance at the MGM Casino. Lion dancers and drummers.  Absolutely Awesome!!!

One of the things they do during the New Year is have these great wind mobiles EVERYWHERE!!!  All kinds, of every shape and size.  I loved this one so Jeramiah carried it for me.  He's so bloody tall--he's 6'3"--everyone kept staring up at him and the wind mobile.  We got a great laugh out of it!  LOL

Another one of the many beautiful decorations.  We were having a cuppa and resting our poor tired feet.

Something not seen in the good old US of A.  Firecrackers.  Loud and Long!  It was GREAT!!!!!  Several times many of these would go off at a time and it was deafening.  And the smell of the sulfur was something I won't soon forget.

 I hope you enjoyed the pics.  Drop a comment and tell me which was your favorite and why!!!  I'll be back on Wednesday with another round of photos from the rest of the time my son was visiting.  Disney and Pandas and Lighthouses...OH MY!!!!


CJ England

Follow Your Dreams

Saturday, February 19, 2011


Hey everyone!

The Truly Madly Deeply Romance Authors invite you to enjoy their newest FREE READ. Written by Linda Mooney, Fly Me to the Moon is definitely a story that will make your heart soar. Check this superduper urban fantasy out at

And don't forget to take a look at the contests we have going on. Find out all the information HERE. And be sure to comment! We love to hear what you think!!!

Hugs to all,

CJ England

Follow Your Dreams