Dear Readers,

The tree's down, the presents are stored and the wrapping's recycled. The foot of snow we got the day before Christmas has already melted in this most El Nino of winters. The Christmas cookies are just about gone (yep, John managed to make them after all, despite the fact that he broke the cookie press and had to patch it up with duct tape). And as for those two boxes of chocolate that we meant to ration over the next several months, well ... the less said about those good intentions, the better.

Sound like January to you?

Maybe that's why someone invented New Year's Resolutions. They're a good way to get through the sense of anticlimax that follows Christmas. Resolutions don't cost a dime, give you something to focus on, and may change your life. Remember Ted Baxter's famous speech in that old episode of Mary Tyler Moore? Instead of getting up in the morning, going to work, and doing the job--get UP in the morning, GO to work, and DO the job!!!!! (Okay, I'm paraphrasing here, but you get the idea.)

So that's my resolution for 1998: enthusiasm. It's the opposite of procrastination, whining, and pessimism which (ask anyone) I tend to give in to. I confess, though, that I've built an escape clause into my resolution. (Hint: watch for characters who are procrastinators, whiners, and pessimists in the book I'm working on now.)
Four authors(16K) Incidentally, Santa gave us a scanner for Christmas, so you can expect to see photos in this space from now on. If you don't have the time or space for them, just suppress the graphics. Here are the first two shots, taken of some of your favorite writers who came over to my place for brunch in early December: In the first shot, from left to write (oops, right) are Peggy Nicholson, Dee Holmes, Kristine Rolofson and Antoinette Stockenberg (I mean, me).

If you look carefully, you'll notice that the window is open in the picture. Now, El Nino may be giving us in the Northeast a warm winter, but it's not THAT warm. No, the fact is, while I was busy taking photos of us in the dining room. an English muffin was busy wedging itself permanently in the narrow slots of my ulta-cool 1940's toaster. The billowing, black smoke that followed set off an alarm I couldn't reach, sent the new cat into deep hiding, and made me think seriously about installing oxygen masks in the ceiling over the table.

The second photo catches Peg and Patricia Coughlin in a happier moment (i.e., when we could still breathe).

Cat Tales: We've discovered that our new cat Tommy can read. (Yay! Another customer!) My sister's cat sent him a Christmas present, which I dutifully put under the tree with all of ours. First morning: Tommy dragged his present out to the middle of the rug and was pulling on the ribbon when I walked in. Second morning: ditto. Naturally we assumed that there was catnip inside. But on Christmas morning when we helped him open it, we found no catdrugs, only a pretty glass ornament of two little cats. (I take the whole episode as proof conclusive that cats are smarter than people, dogs or ferrets.)

Two authors(16K)
Two cats(16K) Here's a shot of Tiki, our adopted cat, on the left and Tommy, our Mensa cat, on the right. Tiki's about four years old and Tommy, seven months. He'll probably run for office as soon as he's old enough to vote.

Antoinette Stockenberg

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