Life has been simpler since I have accepted certain things about myself. I know, for instance, that I will never understand how the electricity comes out of the walls, nor will I ever know exactly why it takes TWO REMOTES to run my television set, and why it is that even then you have to press a series of buttons in rapid succession and if you make a mistake and miss one, then someone (not me–oh God not me) has to get out the manual again and reprogram the whole thing from scratch. But there are certain things I CAN do, even things with technology. I know how to work my iPod most of the time, and I can operate my cell phone and write emails! Almost 100% of the time they actually go through.

Okay. So I have this book coming out. I may have mentioned this. KISSING GAMES OF THE WORLD. Comes out on Election Day.

I decided that I should use my skills to write to my family members about this book. I have a far-flung family–lots and lots of cousins I hardly ever see, an uncle or two, and an aunt–and I decided that I should, you know, TELL them about the book.

So they could, you know, BUY IT.

I made up my mind to write them an email, a humble, informative–okay, BEGGING email. In it, I pointed out that I have hardly ever whined about a book coming out before, but that I had chosen to whine to them now because the economy has gone to hell and these days people hardly have two $10 bills to rub together…but if they DID have two $10 bills, I said, maybe they would like to pre-order my book on Amazon. You know, in the name of family love and values. I even humbly mentioned that Publishers Weekly had said the book was an "absolute treat, filled with realistic twists, complex characters, and a moving conclusion."

And then came the whining. I said that according to the publicist for the book (who would, I’m sure, have me go stand in Times Square in my underwear if it would sell even one more book!), pre-orders are very important to the life of a book these days! Could be the difference between a book that is gingerly tended to on life support and one that is tossed into the scrapheap of history, she said.

I gave the link to pre-order. It is here, if you are interested. And I signed it with love and hope that we would all see each other again soon.

Then I did something I never did before. I gathered all their email addresses and put them together in one file that I called "sandi shelton." I have always admired that other people send emails without everybody’s addresses showing all over the place. How elegant, I have thought. How technologically savvy such a person would be who did something like that!

I pressed the SEND button with no regrets.

But then, as always happens, there came the middle of the night. I was up late, blogging away about blonde chicken chili. To make the entry interesting, I decided to search the internets for a nice picture of a chili pepper and perhaps some spices. I found one and emailed it to myself and then I found a picture of spices on a spoon, and sent that to myself as well.

And then I realized what I had done. I had sent all my relatives (some who barely even know me as an adult) a begging email, followed by a wordless picture of a hot chili pepper, followed once again by a photo of spices on a spoon. Would they see this as a warning? A definitive sign that I have gone crazy?

Clearly, I had to say SOMETHING reassuring to them. So I wrote them another email, this one at 2 a.m., insisting on my own sanity. I tried to explain about the problems of emailing.

Readers of this blog, I have to report that mostly they have not answered me. Oh, my aunt wrote back and said simply, "fascinating." My mother’s brother said, "I was wondering where your mother’s genes had gotten to."

So now that I’m a known crazy person among my family members, I’m contemplating other, more daring, ventures. Perhaps I should start sending them pictures of different objects every few days or so: a bunny slipper, an eggplant that looks like Nixon, or maybe a Q-Tip. It might be a sort of ransom note: PRE-ORDER MY BOOK OR YOU WILL CONTINUE TO GET PHOTOGRAPHS IN EMAILS FROM ME!


Okay, it’s summer.
We aren’t supposed to be sitting at our laptops blogging all the time, are we?
We’re supposed to be out laughing and eating pie and riding in the car with the top down singing at the tops of our lungs.

So, if you’re in need of a laugh–watch this. Just be warned: do NOT have liquid or food anywhere near your mouth when you watch it. (And you might want to empty your bladder first.) Just sayin’.

It is just disgusting how some people never get around to writing on their blogs. I have so much to say and yet somehow, as my children remind me, I never seem to write any of it down. Why? Why? WHY?

Well, it’s because I am working on my new novel…and I’m now teaching two writing workshops (both of which are a lot of fun, but take up a lot of my brain power)…and blah blah blah….I’m also sneezing a lot, which is my body’s way of celebrating springtime. And then there is the ever-fascinating election to follow the nuances of.

But just because I do think of you out there in the Land of Real Life, I am always on the alert for things you might enjoy, my precious darlings. I recently got sent this in the email, and it made me laugh out loud!


Next Life by Woody Allen
In my next life I want to live my life backwards.
You start out dead and get that out of the way. Then you wake up in an old people’s home feeling better every day. You get kicked out for being too
healthy, go collect your pension, and then when you start work, you get a gold watch and a party on your first day. You work for 40 years until you’re young enough to enjoy your retirement. You party, drink
alcohol, and are generally promiscuous, then you are ready for high school. You then go to primary school, you become a kid, you play. You have no
responsibilities, you become a baby until you are born. And then you spend your last 9 months floating in luxurious spa-like conditions with central heating and room service on tap, larger quarters every day and
then.. Voila! You finish off as an orgasm!
I rest my case.

One of the most fun things about writing a blog is checking the statistics page and figuring out how people find me. It’s great to see what people type into their google searches that lands them right smack on my blog. Mystifying how that google works, actually. 

For instance, here are a just a few recent ones…

Say come to crazy

I have never, as far as I know, said come to crazy. But I’m thrilled that google sends people to me who are interested in ordering around crazy.

Do psychic reading tell the truth

Hmmm. I have often wondered this myself.  

Explanation subprime mortgage humor funny

We’re all looking for a little humor funny lately over the subprime mortage explanations.

Ultrasound pictures of baby picking nose

See? I didn’t even know there were such things!

Ivory snow detergent and dinosaurs

You could go a long time without linking these two objects in any kind of coherent way.

What funny things people say when they are having a colonoscopy

You mean like, “When is this going to be over, and is my insurance really going to pay for this?”

Belief that inanimate objects are out to get us

Well, sure.

Is the word fixin to really a word?

Well, yeah. Where I come from, “fixin” is one of the main words you need to get through the day. It means something that hasn’t quite happened yet, it’s “fixin” to.

Banging a unicorn

Some things you don’t even want to think about…

Man woman this life is short wake up one day on a day everything wish for gone just like people get old and situations changing feelings for you look right now gone just like that

This is obviously a person who doesn’t know that with google searches, you don’t have to type in every word you’ve ever heard of. But how did this lead anybody to ME?

Solid lump under dog’s tail.


Show me a saltfish head

Okay, I haven’t wanted to talk about the saltfish thing, because–well, I don’t exactly know what a saltfish IS. But at least 20 percent of the people who want to find salftish pictures end up coming to And why? And why do scores of people every day want these photos?

The love of a good colonoscopy

Ah, yes. It used to be we desired the love of a good man or woman. But once you’re over 50, all anyone craves is the love of a good colonoscopy.

I have never had a guest blogger before. I felt like I should clean up the joint a little bit, maybe do some dusting and vacuuming before she arrived, put out the fresh hand towels. At least get the internet connection to behave itself.

But of course everything went wrong–and after fighting with the internet for the better part of the morning, I’m pleased to introduce DIANA HOLQUIST, whom I met when she hosted me on HER blog last May. (Her blog was very spiffy, with plenty of clean hand towels, I might add.)

Diana is on a virtual blog tour with her new book, THE SEXIEST MAN ALIVE, published by Warner this month…and I would just like to say that it is a genuinely funny book, waaaaay above what you might be thinking just from the title alone. Lots of good, strong, solid characters and true situations and dilemmas. It combines the best of both worlds: it’s a fun book to escape your troubles with, while you loll in the bathtub with candles and a glass of wine (yeah, right)…and something you want to read because you love good characters.

And it’s so funny! (Nice cover, too!)  ;-0

I am so pleased to turn over my blog to Diana today. Just step over all the dog hair, if you don’t mind. We’re trying to train our golden retriever not to shed, but so far he’s not getting the idea.
Hi, Diana! Welcome to my blog.
Your book is hysterically funny and really elevates romantic comedy to a whole new level of fun. Do you have any secrets to getting humor down on the page? Does it usually come in the first draft, or do you have to inject it later on, with special Humor Infusers? And…well, do you have to be in the right mood to write funny, or does it just happen easily for you?


Thanks for having me, Sandi. It’s great to be here. Secrets to writing funny? I’ve got one word for you: beer. No, not really. Well, sometimes. Anyway, I never try to write funny; I think that’s the trick. Most of the time, my characters are being completely serious, but they see the world in such unique ways, it turns out funny. Here’s the biggest secret to writing funny that an amazing critique partner once told me: no character may EVER react to humor on the page. If you type, “He smiled” or “he laughed” you’re dead in the water. Watch old classic movies and you’ll see, the humor is NEVER acknowledged. I think that’s the best advice I’ve ever gotten as to writing funny.


I love to hear how other authors get themselves organized to write their books. You’re a mom. Are you writing books between soccer games and ballet lessons, or between 2:30 and 4:30 a.m…or is your whole family trained to let you write every day, whenever you need to?


My kids are super old now (8 and 10), so they’re pretty independent. They trot out the door at 8:30 and don’t reappear until 4:00. It’s magical and lovely. I am carpool mom all afternoon, but to tell you the truth, I’m spent by then anyway, and I need the break. I spend at least half my day writing ad copy for various freelance clients. Then another few hours doing promo for myself: MySpace, blogs, videos, whatever. I maybe write two hours a day if I’m lucky. But when I have a deadline, I can up that to six or seven hours a day by cutting back on other stuff. Honestly, I do that maybe two months out of the year. But don’t listen to me. I’m considered a VERY slow romance writer, only turning in a book every nine months. I feel quite lazy compared to other romance writers, where two to three books a year is average.


Also, your videos–the headless sexy guy and headless author, and the one about your publisher not letting your husband be the model for the sexiest guy alive, made me laugh so hard I spit tea all over my keyboard. Now that my keyboard has shorted out and I can’t write anymore—no, no, never mind that. It was worth it for that kind of laugh, believe me. What I want to know, what all writers want to know is: Are those kinds of videos hard to do, and do you notice that they bring in readers?


Ah, video. Since my background is advertising, I find video very easy. Much easier than, say, writing a book. I maybe spend two hours on each one. But I don’t think that’s the norm. I do think that every writer has got to learn how to concept, write, and edit video. It’s the future of book promotion; I’m sure of it. My videos have been watched thousands of times all over the web. That has to make a difference—although as we say in adland, half of advertising is effective, we just don’t know which half. That’s why you’ve got to do it all. Sorry about your keyboard…You can watch my newest video, “Conversations with the Sexiest Man Alive” at


What kinds of book promotion are you doing for your book, and what seems to be working the best for you?


I think MySpace is the single most effective tool out there. I spend about an hour a day on MySpace, wishing “friends” happy birthday and blogging and such. I do a few romance-specific website promotions, but they’re hit and miss. I love video, and I’m starting to really push that by including other writers in my videos to spread the word (see Interactive is the key, I think. I always try to engage readers. Of course, I read all of Dorothy Thompson’s blogs religiously—I’ve learned SO much from her about the web and how to promote. And yes, I only do the web. It’s where the readers are.


Hey, what’s the deal with psychics? Any clues into that world? Was it fun to write the character of Amy, or did she show up and try to boss you around and take over the whole plot? She is such a dynamic character–I’m sure it was hard to make her stay in her place.


Yeah, Amy is a piece of work. I had to “rehabilitate” her for my next book, Hungry for More, and it wasn’t easy. I don’t believe in psychics except as a metaphor for empathy and understanding. I see Amy’s psychic power as emotional insight, and her struggle with her power as a struggle with herself. I loved your book, Sandi, What Comes After Crazy, by the way. Another psychic character who won’t stay in her place. They steal the scenes, and it’s tough to keep them balanced with other characters, especially in a romance, where the hero has to play an equal role.


Thanks so much for coming! And I beg all of you reading this: do go to her you-tube links. But make sure you aren’t drinking anything near your keyboard when you watch them. Go to her blog at to see even more of her videos.

It’s fall, and I don’t know anybody who’s feeling really GREAT right now, between the nose-sucking virus that is going around (I still have not recovered sufficiently from that), and the fact that oil prices have skyrocketed to the point where we all are going to have to start burning our junk mail to heat our homes this winter, AND it’s sinking in that the television is just going to be filled up with even MORE reality television shows while deserving writers have to go out on strike.

The war in Iraq costs $1.6 trillion, the sub-prime mortgage thing has gotten worse, and…for how long am I going to have to hear the news from people other than Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert?

So then comes into my spam-infested inbox a letter from my friend Mary Rose–and, well, despite the fact that it made me spit tea on my keyboard not once, twice, or three times but FOUR TIMES (enough to possibly short out my spam filter for good)…well, I needed the laugh.

And in case you do, too, I’m printing it pretty much in its entirety:


Thus said the Lord, Mary Rose’s family is not cutting the mustard in some way and I need to get their attention so there will be drought and they will have to take showers at the parish house and do laundry all over the town and fill up their water storage tank with 5 gallon jugs several times a day to flush toilets.  (Our well failed to produce water  and we have thus been without it for over three weeks now…we are contracted to have a new well drilled to the tune of eight thousand dollars….which we have to borrow from the bank.)

But apparently, Mary Rose, with her chin-up, optimistic pioneer spirit needed to pay even more attention, so came to her family a pirate who proposed an easement on 10 percent of the front of their property which is only 33 feet to begin with and the family had to spend much time with lawyers and planners and there was much sleep lost and much wailing and gnashing of teeth until they just told the pirate from Century 21 that they were sorry their lack of agreement put into jeopardy a project that took two years to plan, but that was just the way it was.

And Lo, when the pirates had gone, the Lord thus wanted more attention and as Mary Rose made her way with water to the basement tank, she noticed a plague of milkweed bugs on the cellar door.  There were so many and they swarmed as she entered the basement and she just at this point nodded her head and said to herself, ‘Well, now we have plague….that is just very fitting. (As I am typing this I was eating a little Milky Way bar and I thought a piece had dropped on my lap so I picked it up without looking and put it in my mouth and it did not taste like Milky Way….I took it out and it was one of the aforementioned bugs, still alive, that I pulled out of my mouth – NO LIE!)

It was on this same day that the lady bugs who were known to frequent the quiet corners inside the house during the winter grew in number so vast that they swarmed and took over the entire cellar. And alas the day which followed, the Internet for the family went out due to some problem with the router which has been a problem from the get go and there was a drought of cyber communication for several days.”  (Which is to be followed by the drought of money due to the well needing to be drilled as well as a field trip Danny’s class is taking for three days for which the cost is $280!!!   Are they kidding me?????)

Will it ever end????

So when the vultures arrived, you can see that I was not surprised.  Turns out they were going after something that had washed in on the stream water after a night of heavy rain which has done nothing for our well, nor have subsequent rain storms….despite the ending of the drought by flooding, we are still without flow of water!

I am now thinking we are into serious plagues here. And I keep asking “How many plagues are there? ” Because I am hoping we are done. Let’s see, I think there are 10 as we count them at Passover…we have drought of water, pirates, milkweed bugs, ladybugs, drought of Internet, drought of cash, and vultures…so that means we must have three more to go.

Then I was moving the computer and the phones in the rest of the house went out so I only have one phone that works.  I think that may be the eighth plague….drought of communication.

So then the next day a friend came to visit, and during dinner, he happened to mention that he had lice last month (thus explaining his hair cut).  But he thinks he got it from the youth hostel he had been at a few months ago which is…you guessed it , where he spent the night the night before he arrived at our house for dinner. OH MY!!!!

A plague of LICE. With my four little boys! 

So we are up to nine plagues, and I am sitting here trying to wait quietly. I know what comes next: I’m going to look out the window and see the raining down of frogs.

I’ve been writing about my mom’s cancer for so many days–and thinking about this just about every single second, too–that it is a pleasure to remember that there’s a lot of other things going on in the world.

Global warming, for instance.

And crazy people.

Today my friend Nancy sent me the text of a letter that was printed in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, on April 16, 2007. As Dave Barry would say, I am not making this up.

You may have noticed that March of this year was particularly hot. As a matter of fact, I understand that it was the hottest March since the beginning of the last century. The trees were fully leafed out and legions of bugs and snakes were crawling around during a time in Arkansas, when, on a normal year, we might see a snowflake or two.

This should come as no surprise to any reasonable person. As you know, Daylight Saving Time started almost a month early this year. You would think that members of Congress would have considered the warming effect that an extra hour of daylight would have on our climate. Or did they?

Perhaps this is another plot by a liberal Congress to make us believe that global warming is a real threat. Perhaps next time there should be serious studies performed before Congress passes laws with such far-reaching effects.



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Stephanie came home from college for 24 hours because she was sick. This is one of the advantages of living only a trainride from home–you can get a sore throat, a sinus headache, a stomach ache and a bump on your tongue, and you can come home for a good night’s sleep and a fried egg sandwich.

It was lovely. We sat out on the screened porch working side by side on our computers. I was doing–what else?–my novel, and she was working on a final paper for one of her classes.

We were enjoying the companionly silence of staring into space, trying to think of the next thing to type when I heard her say, “Hmm, I should check out how the bump on my tongue is doing.”

And then, to my astonishment, she stuck out her tongue at her computer, clicked a button–and voila! There was a close-up photograph of her tongue filling the entire screen.

“Oh,” she said. “It looks like it’s healing up nicely,” and went right back to work.

A lot of people have to get up and go look in the mirror to get that kind of information.

Just when it seemed we didn’t have enough procrastination possibilities, now scientists have come up with a whole new area of tests we need to take time out to administer. We need to study our dogs’ tail wags.

I know. It’s too much.But today the New York Times reported that there is a new study that says how your dog wags his tail shows how he feels about you.

Apparently, if he loves you and appreciates that you’ve been feeding him all these years and letting him sleep in your bed while you’re at work (oh, you didn’t know he did that?)–his tail will primarily wag to the right when he sees you.

If he’s not all that into you, he’s going to give you the left-direction tail wag.

Who knew that tails are like Ouija boards? But that’s what the scientists have discovered, and they ought to know.

Golden retrievers, of course, have no choice but to love us. It’s built into their molecular structure, and they are powerless not to try to do everything they can to express that great love by slobbering on us, lying down where we are trying to walk, and putting as much of their fur on our clothing as they can.

Even so, I needed to test this out. It’s important when you’re home writing a book to take time out for the Important Things in Life.

Jordie is nearly 12–which is about 5,198 in dog years–so he probably would have been just as happy to forego this kind of testing, but it had to be done. He got up and came over when I called him, wagging a straight-down-the-middle wag. Very non-committal, I thought.

“Come on!” I said to him. “You and I are better friends than that!”

He collapsed so he could think it over better, which is when I took his picture. This it not the picture of Dog Love, in my opinion. It is a dog saying, “Why did you wake me up to get me to wag my tail?”

So I sat down next to him and reminded him of all the lovely, yummy tissues he’s taken out of my trash can, and of the times I’ve let all 75 pounds of him sit in my lap when he’s needed to watch television, and of the times the two of us have hung out in the hallway in the middle of the night, during scary, nerve-rattling thunderstorms.

I got two wags, one sort of right-leaning, the other middle-of-the-road.

So then I had to bring up the big guns, his favorite food: carrots. I explained again how I’m the provider of carrots right out of the refrigerator, and how the Other Adult in the Household doesn’t think a dog should be rewarded with a carrot for, say, every little thing he does, like breathing and allowing himself to be petted behind the ears. And how I disagree with that and think that dogs should get carrots whenever they want them.

“Carrots!” I said. “CARROTS!”

His ears perked up and he gave me about 200 big wags to the right. BINGO! It was love.

The phone rang just then. It was Stephanie, calling between classes from New York to say hi. “What are you doing?” she said.

“Oh,” I said. “Actually, I’m running some tests on whether the dog loves me, based on his tail-wagging direction.”

There was a rather long silence. “Oh,” she said. “Well, as long as you’re keeping busy.”

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Marmaduke is asleep on the floor, having binged until he passed out. His owner-man explains to a suit-wearing houseguest and his jowls that this is Marmaduke’s version of photosynthesis.


I may be slowly losing my mind, but this site, called “Joe Mathlete Explains Today’s Marmaduke” always, always makes me laugh. Often we’re talking tea-out-of-the-nose laughing.

A guy named Joe Mathlete includes the day’s Marmaduke cartoon which he painstakingly dissects and analyzes in 500 words or less. While the cartoon itself has never once been funny, the explanation of it can make you lose muscle control for a time. 

That’s all. Back to work now.