As I write these words, sunshine is pouring through my window, creating an intricate mosaic of light and shadow across my desk. Outside, the treetops are perfectly still after weeks of tossing in the icy wind. The grass is green and free of frost. Even though I may be tempting fate by writing the words, I believe spring is finally here.

To me, spring has always signified new beginnings. Therefore, in the spirit of the season, I've embarked on two new projects. With the help of several friends and colleagues, I've launched a blog for readers and writers. Book Blather features book reviews, author and editor interviews, occasional random posts and, in case you want to munch while you read, recipes from cook book author Chef Jean Denham. We welcome your comments, opinions and reviews. Please follow us at

My other new beginning is, of course, a book. I've started writing book five, the last in the Unbidden Magic series. When I wrote the words, Chapter One, a strange thing happened. I became paralyzed by a tsunami of emotions. Disbelief: Is this really the end of Allie Emerson's journey? Sadness: Allie is as real to me as my own children. I will miss her. Anxiety: What if I'm not up to the challenge and disappoint readers?

Instead of diving into the book headfirst like I usually do, I took a self-imposed sabbatical. I even did some outlining, a task completely out of character for a seat-of-the-pants writer like myself. I'm happy to say it worked and I'm back on track. But first things first. Book four is finished and will soon be edited. It is due to be out in July. Book five will follow in 2012.

Here's what I've been reading recently:

In the Still of the Night by Ann Rule

Silver Moon by Rebecca Rogers

Rain Gods by James Lee Burke

Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris

Here's what some of you have been reading:

Bev Epp read The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein and Madame Tussaurd: A Novel of the French Revolution, by Michelle Moran

Judy Ozanich read Rain Water, by Sandra Brown and The Morning After by Lisa Jackson

Vickie Rollins read Sultana Behind the Veil, by Jean Sasson

A few of Jonelle Foutz's favorite middle grade books are: Holes by Louis Sachar, The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster and Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

News from the Muse

I love spring. While my muse duties were on hold, I had time to engage in one of my favorite activities: Rolling! Mauli rolling in sandRolling in the sand is good (see picture) but there's something even better. Each year, Marilee prepares her flower beds for planting by working great greasy gobs of steer manure into the soil. Think about it. Muddy earth. Steer manure. Me, rolling. Pure heaven! It not only feels wonderful but the essence lingers in my fur for days. Unfortunately, the people I own highly disapprove of this activity. Sometimes they even force me to bathe with lavender-scented human shampoo. In my humble opinion, totally unnatural!

At least I don't have to wear silly outfits like my little buddy, Kali Sugden, pictured below posing as a lion. Ooo, I'm so scared... not. Words of advice: Hey, Kali! Ditch the outfit and find some manure to roll in.

Kali dressed as a lion

Until next time, Mauli the Muse wishing you tasty treats and snore-filled naps...