Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Computers -- Making My Life Easier????

I'm sure that overall, that's an affirmative. However I've just spent the last three hours fighting my web browser to let me into a conferencing site for a board meeting tomorrow. I mean, if I can't get myself in there (I'm the secretary), then we have to change the meeting. Then my computer would be inconveniencing five other people who have arranged their schedules to accommodate this meeting. On the suggestion of a friend (whose time I also chewed up trying to figure out my problem), I downloaded another web browser. I now think I'm good to go for tomorrow's meeting. That's assuming it'll accept the three people it wouldn't let me add today. Grrrrrrr.

Although on-line shopping is a great tool for writers who keep odd hours and like to do their shopping at 3 am, I spent two hours last night trying to purchase something that HAD to be purchased. I browsed. I chose my item. Clicked the "add to cart" button. Chose additional options, and again added to cart. Went to check out ... "your shopping cart is empty." Seriously? I logged off. Brought the site up again. Went through the entire process. Same result -- empty cart. Well, I must be a real idiot not to be able to point and click my way to a purchase.

Rebooted my computer. Tried again. Again, empty cart. And you know, time's a tickin' toward the holiday when said gift needs to be at its destination.

Now I'm smart enough to know when to yell "Uncle." Well, maybe not, because I should have after the second failed attempt. So I take a giant leap back into the early nineties and call the 800 number to make a telephone purchase. First call disconnects as I'm waiting for a "service representative." Did I mention that I'm doing this after an afternoon of real live in person store shopping (so not my favorite sport)? Well, I'm invested now. There is no way I'm giving up until I have that item in my cart and on the way to its new home.

Second try on the 800 number does the trick. By now, I'm sweating and grinding my teeth. Oh, yeah, the person on the phone is using the same website to place my order, I can hear her clicking away, telling me as she makes each selection, all the way to purchase confirmed. Crikey.

You know, I think perhaps I need to come up with a murder mystery that has to do with computer frustration. We've all been there. It's a believable story line, right?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Been a Busy Day

I'm just about ready to surrender and not even try to write until after Christmas. Although I have all of these thoughts swirling around in my head about my current work in progress, it seems I can only grab a handful of minutes at a time. But it isn't as if I'm not working...

I started off my day with an Internet radio interview conducted by the gracious Cheryl, Dallas Book Diva. This woman really knows how to conduct an interview. It's difficult for me not to sound like a babbling idoit once I start chattering about one of my books. But she was so organized and did such a great job of asking just the right questions -- which tells me something very, very important about her. She read the book, really read it, not skimming and getting facts confused. She knew my characters probably as well as I do, and had some keen insights of her own.

Cheryl loved SLEEP NO MORE, she loved the plot, the characters, the family drama and the romance. I'm very flattered, because she gets dozens and dozens of books for review and only reviews and interviews eight per month. So here's a huge thank you to Cheryl!

After my interview, I had to take a break to wet the parched whistle. Then I worked for a while on a very personal Christmas gift I'm preparing for my mother. Then it was time for lunch, followed by a trip to the post office to mail off books to contest winners -- this is worth repeating ... I went to the post office in December. The line is killer in a non-holiday month.

After I brought my trembling hands and gritted teeth out of the post office, it was time to take my daughter to the airport. She's going to visit a lifetime friend who now lives on the west coast. They were born three weeks apart, grew up two doors from one another, went all through school (including college) together. They're going to have such a great time!

Now, after I dropped her at the airport curb, getting the stink-eye from the security agent who seemed to think we were taking too long to get the luggage out of the car, I hit rush hour traffic -- on a Friday. Grrrrrr.

On the way back home, I had to stop at my daughter's house and pick up our grandpup, Ellie, and all of her gear 'cause while her mommy is having fun on the west coast, she's staying with us. We have a dog too, a big dog, but our dog is just short of being a stuffed animal, you hardly know he's around, doesn't eat much, doesn't bark much, has his own bedroom and stays there a lot of the time. Ellie ... well, Ellie is the exact opposite, a bundle of muscle that wants to play (intensely) constantly. Lucky for her she's so cute. That's why she gets to stay with us and not
at the kennel -- those brown puppy eyes and cute floppy ears. Right now she's supervising the writing of this blog. This is her in her Colts jersey. She's a fan.

Once I had Ellie all settled in, it was time for the ritual Friday night at the movies. I can get my husband to go see just about any movie if I buy him popcorn. We saw Invictus. It was good. Morgan Freeman was phenominal, as always. Post movie, it was time to run a little energy out of Ellie (she's poking me right now with her nose, trying to get me to throw her stuffed squirrel). Wonder if she'll ever go to sleep tonight? Heaven knows, I'm ready to go to bed.

Maybe I'll get a paragraph written tomorrow.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Exercise is Fun

Actually, I detest exercising. And truthfully what I do barely qualifies as exercise – it certainly doesn't qualify as "working out."

I do like the way I feel after I'm cooled down and showered. I do like being less sluggish. But what I like the most is listening to my audio books while I walk outdoors or struggle to meet my (embarrassingly small) goal on the elliptical. And because of that, I only allow myself to listen to audio books while I'm exercising. And because of that it takes me a really long time to get through an unabridged edition, which is the only way I'll listen to them. I mean, really, what is the point of listening to an abridged book? Who decides what parts I'm not interested in? But I digress….

When I've spent all of the time I can tolerate sitting at the keyboard, when the novel I'm writing turns into white noise in my head, I take off for fresh air and my audio book break. I usually come back recharged, and listening to a good book really inspires me to write.

Right now I'm listening to an exceptional audio book, Kathryn Stockett's The Help. Oh my gosh, I can't even imagine reading this book because it's so well done in audio. I have actually walked an extra mile just so I don't have to stop listening. Each character point of view has its own voice actress, and every one of them is phenomenal. The only problem is as I am now into the third audio part, I don't want it to be over. Although I haven't finished this audio book, I fear that I'm going to feel like I've been taking daily walks with friends and they have been stripped from me. So be warned, if you listen to this one, be prepared to feel a little bereft after you've reached the last word.

I'll try to post again after I've finished the book. I feel I've only given half of a review here, but I've just been so enchanted with this one, I couldn't wait to share.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Promise or Peril?

This week there has been an uproar in the writer's world following the announcement by Harlequin Enterprises to team up with Author Solutions to form a new entity, Harlequin Horizons. Manuscripts already rejected by Harlequin can now be published in print -- via this new self-publishing arm. The key words here are self-publishing. Which means the author pays; footing the entire cost of printing, editing, etc.

I'm certainly not saying that self-publishing is bad. I just feel that, although not exactly misleading aspring writers, this is taking advantage of the vulnerability and desires of those writers. All form rejections coming from Harlequin will now have a short note offering Harlequin Horizons as a self publishing option for the author. The carrot they're dangling is the line stating that if a Harlequin Horizons self-published title does well, Harlequin might just then pick the manuscript up for mainstream publication.

Now I spent many years as an aspiring author, and I can tell you it's an emotional roller coaster. There were always those out there who would make promises, allude to possibilities ... and on and on until you feel that if you don't take this chance, don't outlay the cash, you'll be missing out on your shot at a major publisher. And it might work that way for a very few. Truly, the publishing business is a lot of being at the right place at the right time. I get that. I also know that if you've been rejected by your chosen publishers, there might be a reason. A person simply cannot assume their work is ready for publication. To be a good writer, you have to dedicate yourself to the craft, to always stretching and improving your skills. Having a sub-standard novel out there (believe me all of my first works were sub-standard in one way or another, even though I didn't know it at the time -- I pressed and learned) isn't going to do a thing to get a major publisher to look at your work. I feel money is better spent on classes, workshops, instructional books ... things that will give you better tools to use in your quest for publication.

Another word of caution. That carrot, the one that says if your self-published book does well you could be picked up by a major publisher, is more than a little misleading. For a print book to sell well, it has to be where readers can find it -- this is especially true for first time authors.
Without the backing of a publisher and distribution system, how are those books going to get out there? Print books do not fly into reader's hands by themselves.
You need to ask yourself these questions: Are you willing to spend full time marketing your book? Are you going to face even more rejection by knocking on bookstore doors trying to get them to let you in? Are you going to devote every day to selling books out of your garage? It's tough out there and it really burns my biscuits to see writers' dreams being manipulated for profit.

Harlequin has been the backbone of the romance industry for years. I understand the markets are changing, the world is changing. I know this is all new and it will be interesting to see how things shake out. All I have to say is the old addage "Buyer Beware." You CAN make your dreams come true. Just move ahead with your eyes open and your brain (not your heart) engaged.

Monday, November 9, 2009

An Interview with Terri DuLong

Please welcome Terri Du Long. She's here to tell us a little about what's going on in her world and her new release, Spinning Forward

1. Tell me about your book.

A New Englander born and bred, the last place Sydney Webster expects to find herself starting over is on an island off the west coast of Florida. Yet here she is in Cedar Key, trying to pull herself together after her husband's untimely death and the even more untimely revelation of his gambling addiction. Syd takes shelter at a college pal's bed and breakfast, leading her to discover her true identity and feminine soul. Her passion for spinning and knitting draws attention due to the unique composition of her wool and a door is opened. She finds herself in the embrace of a community rich with love, laughter, friendship . . . and secrets. A tale of new beginnings, old friends and lives forever bound.

2. What is your writing process and where do you write?

When I'm on deadline, I begin around ten in the morning and generally work six to eight hours a day. When we moved to Cedar Key, we had a writer's studio built for me, detached from our house but connected by a screened lanai. So this is where I work.

3. What is your favorite thing about writing? What is your least favorite thing?

I'd have to say my favorite thing about writing is all the feedback I get from my readers. Their comments on my characters, plot, how my story affected them, etc. Least favorite? Call me Pollyanna, but I really don't have one. I love writing and the feeling of accomplishment when I finish a story.

4. How do you fight writer's block?

I've never really had "writer's block." I've had episodes where I momentarily get stuck about where to go and what will work to take my plot forward, but when that happens I get away from the manuscript for a few days. Give it time to percolate a little. However, I'm constantly thinking about it the entire time and somehow I find my way back to where I want to go.

5. Please name the five movies and the five books you want with you if stranded on a desert island.
5 books would be: A Woman of Substance, To Kill a Mockingbird, The House at Riverton, The Shellseekers and The Thornbirds
5 movies would be: Casablanca, Pretty Woman, Saving Private Ryan, Ghost and Steel Magnolias

6. What is next for you?
My Christmas novella that I'm doing in the anthology with Fern Michaels headlining will be released November 2010 – An the same time that my second book in the Cedar Key series will be out.

Visit Terri's websites for more information:

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Yard Ate My Glasses

Seriously. Instead of staying inside and sitting at my computer like every good writer should, I couldn't resist a bright sunny, albeit brisk, Indiana day. There was so much to do. Leaves to rake. Frostbitten hostas to pull. Bulbs to plant. Decorative grasses to cut. I enlisted my son's help for a while. It's so much easier to cut those five-foot tall grasses with the hedge trimmers if someone has their arms wrapped around the wayward fronds.

Usually when I'm wielding the electric hedge trimmers for this activity I cut through the 100 foot extension cord. It's now more like 75 feet long and has had about five new plug ends put on. I was so proud. The grasses were down … and the cord intact. (Never mind the fact that Reid was actually doing the cutting this time. I still take full credit.) I was feeling good. I handled the hostas. I took care of the leaves and did a final cut on the lawn. What a sense of accomplishment!

At some point during the day I ventured inside to check my email. When I went back outside, I'd forgotten to take my glasses off. I hate, hate, hate wearing them outdoors. I can see fine, as long as I'm looking at least two feet away. I nearly turned around and went back inside to leave the glasses. But I'd gotten warm, bundled as I was in a sweatshirt and a fleece jacket, so I took off my jacket and laid it on the deck and set my glasses on top of my jacket. (I know what you're thinking, and you're so not right.) They were just fine. My daughter stopped by with her wild dog – and the glasses were still fine. She left. It was getting chilly. I put the jacket back on – and slipped my glasses in the front pouch pocket of my sweatshirt. (cue dramatic music here)

As I did this, I thought, "not a good idea." But I was just going to be picking up my rake, trimmers and less than 100 foot extension cord, so no big deal. I picked up the trimmers … and spied the infamous "one more thing." That groundcover was getting to raggy and too tall. I'll just trim it while I have everything out.

And I did. One snip led to another and an hour later, I'd really done some good. Except, my glasses were no long in my sweatshirt pocket.

By now it was growing dark. Did I mention this bed is on a ravine bank and leads to woods? Yeah.

I began my frantic search through the woody groundcover, now trimmed to only 10 inches tall. No luck. I call my neighbor to see if her hubby has a metal detector – a long shot I'll admit. He didn't. She did come over with a "deer light" – guaranteed to blind a deer and anyone else who looks at it directly (sorta like an eclipse). We searched with the light. No luck. I finally had to take my numb fingers inside for the night.

As I fell asleep, I kept thinking of how there was probably a farsighted squirrel out there reading the paper right now.

Next day, 8 am, I'm on my hands and knees going over this ground cover inch by inch, cutting it back until I could see the dirt. And truth be told, I spent the entire day doing this, with the exception of an hour-and-a-half when I went to meet my critique group (and they were all laughing as I came into the meeting, they'd read about my dilemma on facebook). Sun was setting again. No glasses. Unfortunately these are those expensive progressive lenses with all the goodies like anti-reflective coating – they cost too darned much to just let some squirrel have them.

Day three. Raking. Leaf blower. No glasses.

Today I get to go out and go through the leaf piles handful by handful.

Do you feel my pain?

Monday, November 2, 2009

An Interview with Deb Stover

This is a new segment to my blog. I'll be posting interviews with various Women's Fiction authors who are members of RWA-WF chapter, discussing their new releases. This should be a great way for everyone to discover new books as well as new authors.

Here's a little about Deb and her new book, The Gift:

1. Tell me about THE GIFT.

Certain members of the Dearborn Family are born with some variance of an empathic gift. Beth's "gift" manifests in a particularly frightening manner, by enabling her to experience the final moments of those who've died violently. As an adult, she chooses a career as a homicide detective, and--obviously--is very successful. However, the experience of being "murdered" repeatedly takes a terrible toll and she turns to alcohol for
solace. When she hits bottom and seeks treatment for her addiction, she is convinced the only way she can stay sober is to somehow suppress her
gift-turned-curse by avoiding places where the spirit of someone who died violently might contact her. She leaves her position and takes one as a
nomadic insurance investigator.

Her new career keeps her safe and sober for three years. Convinced her gift
has faded from lack of use, she finally accepts an assignment involving
possible life insurance fraud, which leads her to a small town in eastern

Ty Malone's wife, Lorilee, disappeared over seven years ago. Though the
town and his father-in-law remain convinced she ran away to pursue a career
as a painter in Europe, he has always maintained that the only thing that
could keep his wife away from her children is death. It's time to learn the
truth, so he petitions the court to have her declared legally dead. The
life insurance claim brings investigator Beth Dearborn into his life.

THE GIFT is part mystery, part ghost story, part suspense, part romance,
part thriller. The novel also touches on the issue of women and alcoholism
on various levels. Beth is a recovering alcoholic, and the reader will also
meet a character who is a practicing one.

Both Beth and Ty will be forced to face their greatest fears to learn the
truth, and to find happiness.

2. What pulled you into the story and made you think 'I have to write

A protagonist always pulls me into a new story. In this case, I "met" Ty's
wife, Lorilee, first. She introduced herself to my muse, and I wrote a
scene that appears very late in the book (it would be a spoiler if I told
you about it) as a prologue initially. Then I saved it and used it later.
From that scene, the entire story evolved. She is the catalyst who brings
about all the events.

3. When did you first begin writing?

I think I was about eight. My first publication was a letter to the editor
of the WICHITA EAGLE at age eleven. I majored in Journalism, then worked
for a newspaper. I wrote my first romance manuscript in 1984. It was a
monster of almost 200,000 words. I still need to burn it.... I dabbled for
a few more years, then joined RWA and got serious in 1991. I sold my first
book in December 1993. SHADES OF ROSE was published by Kensington in 19

4. Please name the five movies and the five books you want with you if
stranded on a desert island.

I hate this question. The thought of being stranded with only five books is
pure torture. I can live without movies, but not books. Can I trade five
movies for five extra books? No...? Okay, I'll try.
2. GONE WITH THE WIND by Margaret Mitchell
3. Gallaghers of Ardmore Trilogy by Nora Roberts (have them all in 1 book
club hardcover edition--is that cheating?)
4. Three Sisters Island Trilogy by Nora Roberts (same as #3)
5. Boatbuilding: a complete handbook of wooden boat construction
By Howard Irving Chapelle [ :-) ]

5. CASTAWAY (I couldn't find a movie about how to build a boat)

10. What is next for you?

I am currently at work on the sequel to THE GIFT--working title is THE
SECRET. When you read THE GIFT, you will meet Beth's cousin, Sam Dearborn.
His "gift" manifests in a different way. He jokingly refers to himself as a
"psychic errand boy."

Happy reading!


My thanks to Deb for sharing with us today. Watch for next week's new release, Therese Walsh's, The Last Will of Moira Leahy

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fan Girl

This past month, I've been busy attending conferences. And at these conferences, I was able to get my fan girl fix. Although I attended as a published author, I was just a fan girl for those authors whose work I adore.

For years before I ever dreamt that I could actually string together enough words coherently to write a book, I was a voracious reader (as most writers are). One of my favorites from way back is Tami Hoag. How many nights did she keep me up far past my bedtime? How many mornings did I awaken to the alarm clock with sleep deprived bloodshot eyes? And finally at a Novelists, Inc. conference, I was actually in the same room with her! It was all I could do to keep from embarrassing myself by jumping up and down. And the greatest thing is, she was as fascinating in person as her books are. Meeting her made my conference.

At Bouchercon I was in the midst of so many wonderful mystery and suspense authors ... well, it just boggled the mind. I can now say I've been privilaged to listen to greats like Harlan Coben, Michael Connelly, Joseph Finder, and Sue Grafton. Now if a person doesn't come home jazzed about writing after that, they don't have a writer's bone in their body. Needless to say, I'm jazzed and off to work on my next novel.

And for those of you out there who are writers seeking publication, next week I'm going to start posting and sharing some tools for the trade. Check back!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

New Respect for Romance?

This is something of a thorn in my side, so bear with me.

Popular culture is filled with romance. It's everywhere. Advertizing campaigns are centered around sex appeal. TV shows like Gray's Anatomy, Castle, and many more thrive on the romantic plot elements. We keep watching them, in part, for the sexual tension.

Music is emotion based -- and yes, most is centered on the romantic conflict.

Movies, whether billed as romances or not, often include a romantic element. Why? Because we like them. We can relate. And it's a good way to better understand ourselves.

And I rarely see someone roll their eyes in dismissive generality at music, or movies, or TV for that matter.

Why then is it that any book shelved in the romance section of a bookstore gets the social snub? Most often the people who criticize "those books" haven't read "those books". Just as with all genre fiction, there is a wide gamet of material out there. And I admit, there are books that are "all about sex." But those are pretty clear about that fact in the packaging and the title -- so if that's what you're looking for you can find it. Let's stop generalizing the romance genre. Let's view each book for it's own content and entertainment value.

I can't tell you how many people have said to me, "I never read a romance until [insert: event, received gift, urging from a friend, here]. I had no idea! Now I'm hooked."

There are hundreds of fabulous books, deep books, inspiring books, amazingly well-written books sitting on those romance shelves. Be brave and pick one up and give it a try.

But beware, romance novels can be addictive. And if you're allergic to an upbeat and fulfilling ending, you might just want to keep your nose in the air and walk right on past the romance aisle.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Wasp and The Slipper

All right, I know I'm tardy on posting this little tid-bit, but that'll make it that much sweeter when you read it. As I said in my last blog, I spent 4 days in the Tennessee mountains with fellow writers Karen White and Wendy Wax. We spent lots of time writing on the balcony of our fabulous cabin, drinking in this view.
While sitting in a lovely rocker, writing away on her next fabulous women's fiction novel, Karen had an ugly encounter with a Tennessee wasp -- which according to Karen is only outsized by the bugs she battled while living in South America as a child. Said Tennessee wasp somehow entered Karen's slipper (which is required writing attire for her). The result was startling for both Karen and the wasp. In her rapid reaction, Karen's slipper flew off her foot, through the slats in the balcony railing and landed some thirty feet below (that's it in the photo below, the forlorn white sole looking up at us longingly). This picture was taken with a zoom lens and it much farther away than it looks.

Now you have to understand the relationship between Karen and her fuzzy slippers -- as I said, they're integral to the writing process. She goes nowhere without them. She quickly donned her tennis shoes and headed out to retrieve her slipper -- only to discover it was a much steeper descent to where said slipper lay helpless against bears with cold feet and hawks that needed nesting materials. Also, the plantlife was in cahoots with the forest creatures, protecting what now rightfully belonged to the wilderness with stickers and nettles. She was defeated.

I believe Karen left the slipper's mate in the cabin, just in case some intrepid soul brought mountain climbing gear and could retrieve the poor abandonded footwear.

This is why I always write barefooted.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Nourishing the Writing Soul

Last week I spent several days hiding out from real life with a couple of wonderful and talented writers, Karen White (The Memory of Water and The House on Tradd Street) and Wendy Wax (The Accidental Bestseller). We rented a cabin in the fabulous mountains of eastern Tennessee (the one with the silver roof). Can you imagine how being immersed in this beauty and solitude, surrounded only by like-minded creative spirits can jump start the writing soul? All I can say is, Wow! Brainstorming, writing, talking character development and story arcs, laughing, walking in nature and okay, I admit, watching movies and drinking the occasional glass of wine. Heaven.

Our days began with laptops and coffee in rockers on the porch and progressed much the same (with various food and drink) throughout the day. We were all at different stages in our current works in progress, so it made for many different topics and certainly varied number of pages produced. Karen was in the middle of a book ... thus she gets the gold star for most pages. Wendy was polishing a proposal and first chapters to submit to her publisher for approval, so she came in second in the page race. And me, well I was just pitiful in page production. I'm in the very early stages of laying out a book, so there's lots more talking and thinking than producing. It was great to have such valuable resources as Wendy's and Karen's brains to pick, so I feel like I got the best end of this deal.

And speaking of resources ... soon after our arrival we discovered that this cabin had NO Internet access. I mean really, none. Not even dinosaur dial-up. Needless to say our research came to a screaming halt. Then we discovered that our cell phones only worked if we were outside standing in the middle of the road, or on the uppermost balcony ... if we stood in the right place and held our phones just right.

Which wouldn't have been so bad if there weren't people who actually needed to get in touch with us. There were frequent trips to the balcony to retrieve voice mails and return calls that, more often than not, cut out.

As for the lack of Internet (you just have to have seen Karen and Wendy and I together to really appreciate this) we drove into town and cruised hotel parking lots with a laptop searching for signals until we discovered a wireless connection. Really, we had few other options in the middle of the night in a very small town. But it was such a huge effort, we only did it once. The rest of the time we just sat around worrying that we were missing something.

All was well --until we had the incident of the wasp and the slipper. And just to be a real stinker, I'm going to save that blog for tomorrow. Y'all come back and get the scoop!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Book Covers

Here's a sneak peek at the cover for my upcoming romantic thriller, Sleep No More (January 2010). Just a little scary, just a little sexy -- just like the book.

For those of you who don't already know, as a general rule we authors get to see our covers when they're just about a done deal. Which I suppose is a smart idea. Writers write. Publishers and marketing departments sell. And that's the name of the game, after all -- sell that book! The sole purpose of the cover is to get you, the reader passing by in the retail store, to stop and pick up the book, read the back cover copy (which generally is also written by someone other than the writer of the novel).
We novelists sometimes have a problem with being concise when it comes to describing our stories. Back cover copy is an entirely different skill set. Of course, there are authors who possess both. I am not one of them. But I digress.

Back to covers. Although I was privilaged to have my publisher use an idea I offered for Sleep No More (the van partially submerged in the water, which was one of the most fun-to-write scenes in the book) I still did not see the cover until it was finished. Luckily, I was thrilled with the finished product.

Another fun fact about book covers, there are actually contests devoted to cover art. Two of my covers have been nominated for said awards: Back Roads and A Kiss in Winter

Truly beauty is in the eyes of the beholder ... but a beautiful cover can still fail to prompt the desired response ... a reader picking up the book. I have had people tell me they chose my book because of the cover. Which is wonderful. But I would urge folks to open up that cover and read the first page before dismissing a book because the cover does not appeal to you. The words inside could very well sing to your heart.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Planting Surprises

When you plant a blub in the ground in the spring, sometimes they result in wonderful surprises. I planted these dalhias because I loved the color. I alternated them with dark purple dalhias. The dark purple ones turned out just as I was expecting, beautiful and about 2-3 inches in diameter. But these pink ones! Imagine my surprise when the first one bloomed as was over 8 inches in diameter.
These flowers are gigantic! It's so cool when you get more than you were expecting. I guess it just goes to show that you should plant seeds in your life as often as you can, you never know what surprises they'll yield.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Don't Get the Wrong Idea ...

... about my obsession with food, but seriously, the Indiana State Fair has started and I can't wait to get there -- and the food is the reason.

Let's see, I'll start with a lemon shake-up, cause I'll be thirsty from the walk in ninety-degree heat from the car. Then I'll have to hit my very favorite food before I get too full to really enjoy it: elephant ear! Hot, fried, buttery with cinnamon sugar, what a way to consume about a thousand calories (I'm not really exaggerating here).

Then, just to walk a bit and make room for more fair food, I'll go watch the pig race and check out the piglets with the Grand Champion Sow. This is always a highlight. Those little piggies are sooooo cute. I mentally separate them completely from the pork products to follow.

No fair experience would be complete without a stop at the dairy concession. I could be a good girl and get a cold glass of milk, but I prefer soft-serve ice cream. I think they even have cheesecake on a stick this year!

Now, after walking and looking at some of the exhibits, I'll swing by the pork chop tent and get a real meal, which of course will only be completed when I add the mountain of curley fried potatoes. Mmmmmm.

There are a few items even I, the ever intrepid food junkie, will not be trying: Fried pizza -- why mess with perfection? A fried turkey leg -- seriously a girl has to draw the line somewhere and walking around with a giant drumstick in hand just does nothing for my feminine image. Waayyy too caveman. And believe it or not, those suckers have as many calories as one of my glorious elephant ears. I also won't be partaking in the newest craze: chocolate covered bacon. Yes, you read it correctly, bacon. Although I'm a fan of both bacon and chocoalte, some things just shoult NOT be mixed.

Of course, I'll be taking a stroll around to see what other culinary delights might be new to me, so this list could get much longer.

And on my way out I'll be stopping to take home a box of salt-water taffy and a three-foot-long bag of kettle corn. Oh make that two of each, because I need to share with, my mother.

Oh, and maybe I can think of a way to integrate this trip into a suspense novel....

Friday, August 7, 2009


Because this is my first blog on this site, I'll give a bit of a rundown on how I came to be here -- and how I ended up with this fabulous career as an author.

Unlike many writers, I didn't major in English Literature (I was a science major) and I didn't begin penning stories as soon as I learned to write. My path was much more convoluted and, yes, I'll admit it, serendipitious. Born with a love for words, and raised as an avid reader, it seems that the idea of becoming a writer really should have crossed my mind without prompting. Alas, it did not.

It wasn't until my younger sister, she of the avid imagination, came to me one day with a stack of track-feed (yes, it was that long ago) computer paper and admitted to "closet writing" that my adventure as a novelist began. Working with her on that manuscript I discovered that although I loved reading, I knew less than nothing about novel construction and even less than that about the publishing industry.

And here comes the most serendipitous even of all. I wrote a letter (real snail mail, mind you) to the author of one of my favorite books Outlander. Imagine my shock when I received an actual telephone call from Diana Gabaldon herself! She was amazing and kind. She pointed me in the direction of the two organizations that ended up changing my life: CompuServe's (again, it was a while ago) Writer's Forum and Romance Writers of America. Those two connections opened up a whole new world for me.

Now I have eight published novels (six women's fiction and two romantic suspense), the ninth, another romantic thriller, SLEEP NO MORE, is slated for January 2010. I've been honored with my very own RITA, as well as other awards that are so very precious to me. I might have gotten here without fate intervening, but it certainly gave me a big boost.

So, the lesson learned: persistence and patience, hard work and committment will someday deliver your dreams to your door. And sometimes it gets a little help along the way.