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Monday, December 31, 2007

Let's Chat Contest

Let's Chat!

To encourage you, dear readers, to leave comments and "Talk to me, please!" I 'm running a contest throughout the month of January. Here's the deal...

Every comment posted will count as one entry in the contest. Doesn't get any easier than that, does it?On February 1st I'll choose one entry completely at random. The winner will receive an autographed copy of my new novel, Vineyard Mambo, which releases on March 1st. I'll send the winner their copy of Vineyard Mambo from my first shipment of books, which will hopefully arrive just a few weeks after the contest ends. If the winner lives outside the U.S. the prize will be the download version of the book.

So, what do you say? Will you chat with me in January?

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Nominated for "Best Romance of 2007"


Finally, This Season

has been nominated for

"The Best Romance of 2007"

in the short ebook category by

The Long and the Short of It.

Voting begins January 1st.

Cast your vote here.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Come out, come out, wherever you are...

I know you're out there. You give yourselves away. You see, every month or so I stop blogging for a few days. Then, I wait. It doesn't take long before the emails begin to arrive. The "Where have you been?" emails. You know the ones. You write them.

Why do I do it? The no-blog days? Because sometimes I feel like I'm talking to myself here. Admittedly, talking to myself is something I'm...well, familiar with. Let's just leave it at that and move on, though, since my holding conversations with myself (outside of this blog, I mean) is not the topic we're discussing right now. No, the topic is you, and your reading this blog (for which I'm eternally grateful!) but not commenting. That's right, I know you're reading because my random no-blog days clue me right in to that fact. If you weren't reading, you wouldn't know I'm not blogging. See?

Tricky, aren't I?

Anyhow, the point of this random blog-reading experiment has been to see how many of you are actually reading. Quite a few, it turns out, which is something I find amazing but that, too, is the topic for another post.

Now that I know you're out there, I want to encourage you to interact with the rest of us. It's painless, I promise. Simply leave a comment. That's it. Just speak to us, partly so I know I'm not here talking to myself but mostly so others can hear your thoughts. I know you've got great things to say and I'd love it if you began to comment here.

Oh, and for those of you who comment regularly, I send huge cyberhugs. Thank you so much! It's rewarding to hear your thoughts, and I've met quite a few interesting people just through reader/writer interaction. Now, the rest of you need to speak up. I know you're there...you know I'm here...what are you waiting for?

A new year is nearly upon us. January 1st I've got a contest beginning right here on my blog. You'll have a daily chance to enter this contest. How? I'll tell you on Tuesday. But it will be a painless process, I promise. :)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Big Sigh

Of relief. I can hear it. Can't you? A great big whoosh of air, a collective groan, a settling back into the normalcy of everyday life after the frantic holiday madness.

A welcome sound, don't you think?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Buon Natale


Buon natale.
Augurandovi tutti gli amore,
laughter e blessings della stagione,
dalla nostra sede ad il vostro.

Merry Christmas.
Wishing you all the love,
laughter and blessings of the season,
from our home to yours.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Feliz Navidad

Guess what I'm doing today? Gotta have something for the Big Man to munch on when he visits, don't I?


Sugar Cookies

3 cups sifted flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
2. Combine flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.
3. Cut in butter and blend with a pastry blender until mixture is crumbly. Stir in lightly beaten egg, vanilla and cream.
4. On a floured surface, roll out dough. Cut into shapes. Place on ungreased baking sheet.
5. Bake 7 minutes, or until lightly brown

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Holiday Songs

I love music. Love most holiday songs, even the Chipmunks. Not crazy about country western, but won't turn the radio off if one of those cry-in-the-cowboy's-beer songs comes on. Well, not most of the time, I won't.

But there's one song that bugs me. Always has. I suspect it always will. It's playing constantly, and every time I hear it I cringe. What is it? Santa Claus is Coming to Town.

Yeah, I know. I can hear you all screeching, slamming your fists and pulling out your hair. I know, everyone likes that song. But not me. I don't like it. It creeps me out. Has since I was a kid. Sorry to disappoint everyone, but it's the plain unvarnished truth.

Oh. Why don't I like it?

He sees you when you're sleeping. He knows when you're awake.

Now come on, doesn't that seem creepy to anyone else? Ugh, just thinking of it gives me the shudders.

I don't like it. And don't even get me started on the one holiday movie I absolutely cannot stand. We'll be here for an hour if I even begin to talk about that.

Happy Sunday, everyone. :)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Buying Books by the Boatload

Say that five times fast.

Yesterday I ran out to pick up some books. A bunch of books. From two lines, all the new titles from each of the two lines. It's research, which any writer will understand. I'm figuring out what makes each of these titles appropriate for these lines. Then, I'm going to make sure what I'm submitting falls into the publishers' criteria for publishing. Just research. To make a long story short, I had a pile of books when I got to the cashier who was a young man. His brows lifted. He looked at me, then the books, then back at me. He smiled, and began to scan.

"Like to read, huh?"

"I do."

"Huh. Never got into that, really. Is this what you read? Romance stuff?"

"Uh huh." I reached for my wallet, swallowing a snort of laughter. "It is."

The guy began to bag the books. "Huh. Wonder who writes this stuff, anyway?" He glanced at the register, which had finally stopped beeping. "That'll be $**."

I handed him the cash, smiling. "I do."

You know, the kid was speechless when he handed me my change. I know it was mean, but I smiled, hefted my bag and walked away, wondering how to adequately describe the wonderful, glowing shade of red he'd turned.

Fire engine? Candly apple? Tongue swallowing crimson? Santa's bloomers scarlet?

Still not giving in

to dismal, gray winter photos.

Feels like spring here to me...


Friday, December 21, 2007

Tying Up

Ha! Got your attention with that title, didn't I? I wonder what you all were thinking I planned to tie up? Hmm?

It's the year end loose ends tie up around here. I'm getting spreadsheets ready for the accountant, filing contracts and making sure my computer files are sorted properly. I'm making room for new work while dealing with the old stuff. Writing is a business, and like any other business I've got lots of threads to tie up if I expect my business to run smoothly. So, instead of writing, I've been busy tying thing up. It's satisfying, if tedious, work that I know will make my New Year begin on a higher note.

Not wonderfully exciting, but that's what I'm doing today. Happy Friday!

Pignoli Cookies

Last year at Thanksgivingtime I shared a recipe for Pignoli Cookies. I've been making these since my husband and I were first married and they've always been a favorite in our house. Recently I've gotten a couple of emails asking if I'd share the recipe again, so here it is. :)

Pignoli Cookies

1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup plus 3tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup pine nuts

Beat the butter, sugar, vanilla and salt in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add the egg. Add the flour and mix just until blended.

Transfer the dough to a sheet of plastic wrap. Shape the dough into an 8-inch-long log. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Cut the dough log crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices. Transfer the cookies to the baking sheets. Press the pine nuts into the tops of the cookies. Bake about 15 minutes, until lightly golden.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Book Utopia's Favorite Heroine of 2007...

...is Elinor Montoya, the character from my debut novel, Snowdance!

Reading that Elinor has been chosen as the heroine who was this reviewer's favorite was a heart-stopping moment for me. Really, truly, an almost fall-off-my-seat moment!

You see, I peek in at Book Utopia every morning. Yesterday (apparently before the Best Heroines of 2007 List was posted) I saw the beautiful covers that had been chosen for the Best Covers of 2007 List. I was pleased for everyone involved in those covers and books, and thought it was great they had been chosen.

This morning when I saw the list focused on heroines, I smiled. I never thought my book would be on the list. I just smiled because I was pleased for those who were chosen and honestly, curious to see who had been picked.

I saw Annie Dean's name, and thought I'd probably want to read that one. No doubt. Then, Karen Welss. I'm not familiar with her work but the cover and what was said about it makes me think I'll want to read that one, too. Then, as I scrolled down to First Runner-Up, I smiled again, thinking about how great it must feel to be on a list like this one. Someday, I thought. Maybe someday one of my books will make a list like this. Then I saw Friday Maxwell in Shadow Vision by Samantha Storm. What a great title! I knew I had to read this one, too, if only to see the spunky heroine for myself and read what comes after a title like that.

And then I scrolled all the way down. And my heart stopped. I swear, I think it did. Really, truly, it stopped, if only for a second.

This is what I saw:



And my favorite heroine of the books I reviewed this year is:


Elinor Montoya
in Snowdance by Sarita Leone
SNOWDANCE by Sarita Leone


Elinor has a slight advantage over other heroines I read this year. I was treated to reading about her entire life, and thus, got to know her far better than I did any other female character I read. I’m okay with the fact that maybe the dialogue wasn’t the most natural-sounding. I was in her head enough, and I got to see so many pivotal moments of her life, that she’s an old friend regardless. Thinking of her simply makes me smile.


Yes, it was a heart-stopping moment! I'm still shaking, but at least I can think again. Almost. I never, ever thought this would happen. Honestly, I'm still overwhelmed by the reader response, reviews and reactions Snowdance is getting. It's all good, and I love it that Elinor is touching the hearts and minds of readers. As a writer, that's all I ever hope to do--touch readers, one word at a time.

Thank you for this honor, Book Utopia. I am overwhelmed, completely thrilled.

Congratulations too, Annie, Karen and Samantha! I look forward to reading these books, and meeting their heroines! It feels great to be in such talented company!

The full post can be found here.

I'm going to see if I can try and make my hands stop shaking. Maybe I'll be able to eventually wipe the grin from my face. Maybe not.

If you see me today, I'll be the scarfless, grinning one. :)

Christmas Round Robin

I got a lovely surprise when I read my email this morning. Marianne, from Long and Short Reviews, wrote to let me know my submission to their December Round Robin story has been selected as this week's installment! How much fun is that?

The first three parts of the story are here. The last installment will come next week, so check back to see how it all ends!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Scarves, and the average-sized neck

From The Free Dictionary:

scarf 1 (skärf)
n. pl. scarfs (skärfs) or scarves (skärvz)
1. A long piece of cloth worn about the head, neck, or shoulders.
2. A decorative cloth for covering the top of a piece of furniture; a runner.
3. A sash indicating military rank.
tr.v. scarfed, scarf·ing, scarfs
1. To dress, cover, or decorate with or as if with a scarf.
2. To wrap (an outer garment) around one like a scarf.


There are other meanings, some very surprising (at least to me! Who knew scarf could have a sexual connotation? Live and learn...) and others more ordinary. I won't elaborate further here, but you can follow the link if you're interested. Me, this is the definition I need, the scarf I'm currently contending with. At odds over, actually.

You see, it's cold here in the northeast. We're fully into coat, hat, glove and scarf season. But I confess, I have a problem. My neck isn't long enough to comfortably accomodate a scarf. Now don't get the wrong impression! I assure you, I have an average-sized neck. It's these scarves! Has anyone noticed just how fat they are? How on earth am I supposed to wrap one of these gigantic things around my neck without feeling smothered?

I'm not. I refuse to be consumed by a length of fabric. I must be the only one rebelling against the wide scarf issue, or WSI as I like to call it, because everywhere I go I see people wrapped, bundled, swathed (and probably half-strangled!) by scarves of every color. I can't do it. I just can't do it, I tell you. It'll be a cold day in, well, you know where, before I allow an article of clothing to separate my head from my body or smother me while I walk from house to car. Nope, I can't do it.

If you're in my neck of the woods, I hope you take a moment to say hi. I'll be the one with the frozen, unwrapped neck.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Reading

I think writers are some of the most voracious readers around. At least, I know I am. I practically inhale books, especially when I'm taking a little break from my own writing, like I am now. Too, we've had perfect winter reading weather: ice, followed by snow, then some more ice, a wee bit of wet, rainy yuck, then snow again. And now we've got wind. Big, loud, howling wind that blows the snow around and obscures any hope of seeing what's in front of you. Yeah, it's a great time for staying indoors, curling up beside the fireplace and reading. And that's exactly what I've been doing.

What am I reading? Well, the Christmas books, of course. A Christmas Carol, the stack of romantic holiday books I keep stashed in my bedside table, The Autobiography of Santa Claus and How Mrs. Claus Saved Christmas, both by Jeff Guinn and a few others that I reread every season. I love holiday stories, even though they're all essentially the same. I mean, really, the Grinch is always saved, isn't he? Still, I like 'em.

Today, after we clear the new snow from our drive (only to watch it thrown back in by the wind, I'm sure) I'm going to deviate from the holiday reading schedule and dive into In Her Bed by Deborah MacGillivray. I was lucky enough to win an autographed copy a while ago and I've been keeping it in my desk drawer. Looks like today will be the perfect sort of day for reading warm, sultry romance. It might be cold outside but I've got a feeling this afternoon will be very warm here, LOL!

Like I said, writers, they love to read. Especially this one.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Just stubborn





I know everyone else is talking about the snowstorm in the northeast. They're posting snow pix and the buzzword is blizzard.

Me? I guess I'm just stubborn.
This morning I'm posting photos, too. Hope you enjoy them!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

So many words, so little time

I have been taking a short break from writing. Since I finished my NaNo novel I've just been sort of coasting. I did write a short story and I did put the finishing touches on a novella but aside from those little bits, I've avoided writing. Why? Because I know that if I don't steer clear of the keyboard I just may begin working on something new. Something big. Something that requires a commitment of at least a few weeks. Something like, um, another novel. And really, I don't want to do that. No new novels before the end of the year.


No new novels before the end of the year. No new...


My plan is to begin the New Year with an empty plate. Then I'm going to sit back, think long and hard and decide what I'm going to write next. I know, it's not like me to think before I jump but this time that's what I'm going to do. I think. I hope. Um...maybe.


Anyhow, I'm loving this down time. Have been doing oodles of pleasure reading. Very relaxing, with Christmas carols playing, the scent of freshly baked cookies wafting through the air and snow falling outside my window. You know, I think I could get used to this whole avoid-the-computer thing. For a while at least. Like, until January 1st. Then, all bets are off.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

First there was ice

Now there's snow. In a big way. The latest round of wild weather in upstate New York began about an hour ago and we easily have an inch on the roads already. It is gorgeous and makes me feel even more festive that I already feel (which, believe me, is very festive indeed!)

Gotta love winter. My hubby and I are hoping there will be enough snow for us to go nighttime snowshoeing later on. Until then, we're going to be busy setting up the Christmas tree. It's the third tree we're putting up this year, by the way. Yeah, really festive here! :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Can't help but wonder


where this little guy is now? Our world is slicked with ice and I just wonder, what happens to the Jiminy Crickets? Anyone know?

Monday, December 10, 2007

The times, they are...

a-changin'.

I remember one time when I was six or seven, I came home from school and asked my mother, "Mom, what does *** mean?"

Her eyes widened. Swallowing a grin, she said, "Where did you hear that word?"

"School. What does *** mean?" Yes, I was brash enough to say it twice, even though I knew it was naughty.

"It's not a very nice word. We'll discuss it another time. Just don't say it, and especially not in front of your father."

Well, the two hours between this conversation and dinnertime gave me plenty of time to ponder *** and its implications.

Dinnertime was going smoothly, until I opened my big mouth.

"We had a spelling quiz today."

"How did you do?" Father asked.

"Good. I got 'em all right. *** wasn't on the quiz, though."

Choking down his meatloaf, my father looked at my mother and sputtered, "Did you hear what she said?"

My mother nodded. Then, they both tried to keep straight faces. Finally, my father said, "Don't say that. It's not a nice word."

That was then. This is now.

Yesterday morning I nearly choked during my morning phone conversation with my mother.

"Honey, what does *** mean?"

Struggling not to spew coffee from my nose, I asked, "Where did you hear that word?"

"Shopping. I know its regular meaning, but I think there may be another one. So, what does *** mean?" Yes, she was brash enough to say it twice.

I explained, as delicately as I could, what ***'s slang meaning meant. Then, I said, "It's not a very nice word. I don't think you should say that, and especially not in front of, um, anyone. Just don't say it, Mom."

The times, they are a-changin'.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

What have I been reading?

I've just finished Nora Roberts' Blood Brothers. Yowza! Now that is a side of NR I hadn't seen before. I've got to be honest--I loved it. This book is the first in a trilogy and I can't wait for the second one to come out. Yeah, it was that good.

Now to begin A Christmas Carol. Uh huh...it's the season. :)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Daydreaming

I don't know if this happens to other authors or not. I only know it happens to me.

When I finish a big project (like the November NaNo novel) or a couple of shorter things written back-to-back (like the two short stories I wrote and subbed last week) I have an interval directly following that we call the daydreaming phase. It's like my head shuts down. I walk around daydreaming, almost like I'm recharging. No writing, just daydreaming. Random pieces of plots, wisps of new characters, snippets of dialogue...they float in random waves through my head.

Do you think this happens to everyone? Or...um, maybe I'm just strange.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Big sigh, it's December...

...one of my favorite months. Oh, who am I kidding? I like 'em all! But December, with its holiday craziness, baking, snow, music and Christmas Carol really makes my heart sing. Yes, I'm reading A Christmas Carol now, and loving it, as always. That Ebeneezer really makes me laugh!

It feels great to have my NaNo novel behind me. I did it, again. No disputing the satisfaction that comes with having accomplished that. But I'm a trifle saddened, as well. No more NaNo novel? Not until next November? Yeah, that's a little sad--but I'll get over it!

Planning on taking some time off from writing until after the holidays. Stop it! Stop it! Right now! I can hear you all laughing! I mean it this time, I'm taking some time off. You'll see.

Happy December. This morning we have ice and snow. I love it. :)

Friday, November 30, 2007

NaNo Humor

This cracked me up this morning.
I hate to see National Novel Writing Month come to an end.
One more look at my NaNo page.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

White rabbits

Ever feel like the White Rabbit? You know, the one in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland? While I'm not running around checking my waistcoat pocketwatch and muttering, "Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!" I do feel rather frenzied.

The White Rabbit, as seen in Lewis Carroll's book "Alice in Wonderland


Why? Because we're heading full-tilt for the end of the month and, as usual, I've got a ton of stuff on my November list that hasn't yet been crossed off. While I've finished my NaNo novel, and put "The End" on one or two other things as well, I've still got stuff on my list that needs to be dealt with. Stuff that has a December 1st deadline.
Ugh. I'm thinking I may have to re-evaluate this whole list thing.
What do you think? How do you do what you do?
List? Or no list?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

One more thing...

Have you all been paying attention to th Brava Novella Contest? They've just posted finalist numbers 5 and 6. The entries are all well written and wonderfully intriguing. Why not head over to the forum and take a peek?

357 entries, 20 finalists. One talented writer will be offered a contract with Kensington. Doesn't get much better than that!

Anyhow, the forum is here if you're interested.

Lucky again!

I'm still shocked over my winning Allie Boniface's new book, Lost in Paradise. Imagine my surprise when I realize I've won a copy of Cami Checkett's The Broken Path. Thanks, ladies! Now I know what I'll be doing this weekend...especially since I've finished writing Seaside Shimmy.

I love the feeling that comes with writing "The End"... because, believe me, I always allow myself the pleasure of writing those two words at the end of a first draft. It feels fabulous!

Thanks again, Cami and Allie! You've both made my week more special! :)

I did it.

Winner Icon

Monday, November 26, 2007

Monday News

I did it.

That's all.

If you know what I've been doing, you don't need to ask. And if you don't, well...you'll just have to wait a day or so to find out. For now, I'm being selfish and savoring the moment. All I can say is...

I did it.

:)

Lucky Monday

Just tickled to find an email from Allie Boniface this morning, telling me I've won her weekend trivia contest. The prize? A copy of her new book, Lost in Paradise from The Wild Rose Press. I've been waiting for this to come out, looking forward to reading it. I read Allie's first book, One Night in Boston, and it was super. I know this one will rock, too.

What a way to start the week! Thanks, Allie!

I honestly never expect to win contests. I just like to play. It always seems to be the polite thing to do. I mean, if no one plays it's sort of like someone throwing a party that no one attended. Too sad, even thinking of it! So, I always try and play along. Right now, I'm really glad I do. :)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

What's for breakfast?

I love baking. On a chilly, snow-kissed morning like this I like to have something warm and yummy for breakfast. This morning? Applesauce Muffins.

Applesauce Muffins

Muffin ingredients:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 tbaking soda
1 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg
1/4 t salt
2 eggs
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup chopped nuts

Topping ingredients:

2 T granulated sugar
1/4 t cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease muffin pan.

Combine flour, powder, soda, spices and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine eggs and brown sugar. Then add butter a little at a time, whisking until mixture is creamy. Add applesauce. Add flour mixture and nuts and stir. Divide batter among muffin cups.

Combine topping ingredients, then sprinkle over batter.

Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes. Serve warm.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Real life calls

I'm still basking in the glow of a quieter, gentler holiday. My husband and I spent the day at home, something that, although unexpected, was a true pleasure. We watched the Macy's parade, cooked while we giggled over silly things, ate until we could hardly move, then danced in the kitchen while we waited for the apple pie crust to turn the perfect shade of brown. Until the wee hours we held hands before a roaring fire, watching scary movies and eating chocolate cake. Does it get any better than that? I think not.

But today, real life calls. My NaNo novel isn't writing itself. It's going well, but I've got to put in a few hours of writing time. I've got to get that body from point a to point b! Get my suspects scrambling! Build tension and point fingers!

Yeah, real life calls. :)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

I can't resist. I just can't.

This cracked me right up. :)

Thanksgiving turkey.  Funny but clean picture

Gobble Gobble!

Happy Thanksgiving!
I love this holiday! Friends and family, food and fun. Does it get any better than that? I think not.
I hope you all have a wonderful day filled with everything you love most.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Paperwork

Paperwork. Seems like it would be part of the job of being an author, right? I mean, books are written on paper so working with paper just seems logical, doesn't it? But really, until I get a print test copy I don't see my words on paper, just on the screen.

There's no escaping it--paperwork is what I'll be dealing with on this rainy, gloomy day. Tons and tons of it, it looks like. Yeah, I've got stacks of the stuff. Contracts, review files, tax purpose bits and pieces. Ugh. I've got to admit that paperwork is one of those things (like cleaning the basement) I put off. Just love it, can't you tell?

Hmmph! Paperwork, blasted blankety-blank paperw--hey? Wait a minute! Paperwork? Rainy day? Hey, that means that tea and Oreos should be the snack of choice, right?

This day just got a lot less gloomy. And the stack of stuff beside my desk doesn't look nearly as daunting--or irritating--as it did a few seconds ago. Yes, this day is definitely looking up. :)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Chasing Dreams

We all have dreams. We wish for happiness, personal satisfaction, health for ourselves, family and friends. Some people dream of wealth, fame, success. The list is endless. Individual dreams are no more countable than the grains of sand on a beach. Each person's aspirations are as valid as the next's.

And whether or not we're willing to admit it, the fact still remains: we're all chasing dreams. Each one of us. All the time. From birth to death, at any given moment we're on our own personal quest to fulfillment. There are times when that journey is apparent, when it seems to consume us. Other times it is so delicate, subtle and unspoken we may have a hard time recognizing the dream being chased--even if it's one of our own.

This past weekend I got a chance to get a bird's-eye view of dream chasing at its best. My husband and I were spectators at a soccer game! At the Soccer Hall of Fame, even. The big time, the "show", the whole enchilada in soccer world, I think. I imagine that simply playing there at all would be the realization of a dream.

I realize there are a gazillion "soccer moms" (and dads!) out there but I'd never before seen a soccer game. Not on television, and certainly not from the stands. I had, of course, a general idea of the game and how it's played. A big grass rectangle, men in soccer uniforms running around with a ball. Lots of kicking and ball rolling, stuff like that. Right? I'm not so sports challenged that I couldn't figure it out ... or so I thought. Live and learn, huh? My idea of soccer was just a hint at what an actual game is like.

To say it was an exciting event would be an understatement. The roar of the crowd, vibration of the stands and almost-tangible thud of hearts as players ran across the field pursuing a speeding blot of white ... it was all almost too much to take in. I forgot the chill in the air as soon as my bottom hit the frozen seat, the warmth brought in the hearts of family and friends watching enough to make me forget my behind. My husband and I were both instantly caught up in the excitement, and amazed by the talent of the players.

Of course we were there to cheer on one player and his team but as I watched I knew every player deserved applause for his effort, both individually and as a member of his team. I was proud of all of them, and although I wanted Patrick's team to win I didn't want the other team to fail. A definite Catch-22, don't you think? Not easy to watch one team's dream elude their grasp while another clutches it firmly to heart.

So many things go into chasing a dream. Commitment, determination, ambition and hope, just to name a few. I saw all that, and more, on the soccer field this past weekend. My husband and I loved the experience and between you and I, I wouldn't be at all surprised if soccer games find their way into our television programming. I'll just have to figure out when "soccer season" begins.

Honestly, I don't think it much matters who won or lost-- I know, I know, you're all screeching about winners and losers right now. Going on about the object of any game, or chasing any dream, being success. I hear you, and I understand that point. Really, I do.

But I believe that every guy on the field won. Did you hear me? Every guy. Each and every one of them. Why? Because success can be measured in as many ways as dreams can be chased. There is no more definitive measure of success than there is absolute certainty of the weight of a cloud or the number of grains on that beach we spoke of earlier. They all won. They had the guts, drive, ambition and glimmer of hope that let them chase their dreams. They worked hard, played well and warmed the hearts of everyone lucky enough to watch them play.

I loved my first soccer game. Can you tell? The experience gave me memories that will make me smile for a long, long time. My husband and I have been reliving the game for nearly two days now and the excitement is still as fresh as it was when we were on the frozen stands. Doesn't get much better than that, does it?

Chasing dreams is something we all do. Getting invited to watch dreams being chased is a privilege.

Our weekend was incredible. I hope yours was, too.

The Lark Journals

Fast question... Are you all reading The Lark Journals?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Friday Fun

You Should Be a Romance Novelist

You see the world as it should be, and this goes double for all matters of the heart.
You can find the romance in any situation, and you would make a talented romance story writer...
And while you may be a traditional romantic, you're just as likely to be drawn to quirky or dark love stories.
As long as it deals with infatuation, heartbreak, and soulmates - you could write it.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Days of the Week Panties

I don't know if you had them, but when I was a little girl I had Days of the Week panties. Big deal, that. Made me feel wonderfully adult since I reasoned that beneath every smart, savvy woman's hiphuggers lurked a pair of Days of the Week panties. Well they did, didn't they?

The most appealing part of the Days of the Week panties was, naturally, the way they made me feel. Ah, isn't it amazing that sophistication can come so easily to the young? Sigh... Oh, and the other fab part of wearing these panties in their proper order was that I always knew what day it was. Monday? Pink panties. Wednesday? Lavender. Every day had its own color, with the day embroidered across the hip in contrasting thread. Lose track of the day halfway through? A quick trip to the restroom and I'd know whether it was Monday or Tuesday. Easy as pie, and perfectly logical.

Now that I'm an adult I often long for those Days of the Week panties. Honestly, I hardly ever know what day it is. I just don't. Between us, I'm generally surprised by whatever day it turns out to be. Like now. Here I sit, wondering how on earth it could be Monday when it feels like Friday just started. Where did the weekend go? I'm gobsmacked that it's Monday morning already. Wouldn't have known it if I hadn't read the morning's headlines and saw the date--and day of the week.

But if I'd been wearing those Days of the Weeks panties, there would have been some warning. I'd have taken note of the weekend passing, be ready for Monday instead of sitting here puzzling over days that sped by as if on wings.

Just can't beat a trusty pair of panties, can you?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sue Grafton's NaNo pep talk letter

By now you know I'm working on a NaNo novel. We're on day twelve of writing the 30-day novel. The NaNo organizers, in their infinite wisdom, realize any writer's enthusiasm can flag during this wild and crazy month. So they've got wonderful pep talk letters written by some very talented, and well known, people that have been arriving in our mailboxes periodically. I love getting these letters. Even though I'm not feeling angst over the writing frenzy, I love reading these encouraging letters. They make me smile. :)

The latest is from Sue Grafton. I'm sure she won't mind my sharing a bit of it:

"...Literary quality is in the eye of the beholder and who's to say your novel won't be right up there among the greats? All you have to do is work. All you have to do is push. Focus on the job at hand. Ignore the urge to second-guess yourself. This is not the time for introspection; it's a time for charging on. Believe in yourself. Be determined to keep the promises you made when you first began. Your commitment to do th is will see you through, even over rough ground.

So. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and write. You said you would do this so nod your head and say, "I will do this. I will do this. I will do this." And then do this."

Sue Grafton

Writing a novel is a rush. These letters make the experience even more fun.

Friday, November 09, 2007

A new diversion

I've discovered another diversion that I'll have to put on my list. You know the list, the one I keep in my mind and peruse during those moments when whatever I'm writing has me stymied--even for an instant. What's on that list? The usual stuff...Free Cell, blog-hopping, cruising the internet in search of "research." Research! *snort* That's the neverending list of useless information I've tucked away in my mind to be used someday in a story. Or a book. Or to compile the grocery list.

Anyhow, I have a new diversion. Hmm? What is it? I've been enthralled. Really, truly, enthralled. Pulled under the spell of the NaNo excerpts. I can't stop reading the damn things. Some of them are so well written it's amazing. Others, funnier than fuzzy slippers on an elephant. I've read a few that made me gag, but I won't tell you why. You'll have to read for yourself. And still others that leave me breathless.

Yep, my new diversion is, at least, an entertaining one. More entertaining than that stupid Spider Solitare game that lurks in this computer, just waiting for the right moment to entice me into its time-stealing web.

I challenge you to read some of the story excerpts. You, too, just may fall under the spell of my latest diversion.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Numbers

Thinking numbers this morning. Not words, but numbers.

9,125 -- The number of words I've got written on my NaNo novel, Seaside Shimmy.

8 -- It's day number eight of National Novel Writing Month.

5 -- Snowdance is number five this morning on the Whiskey Creek Press Hot Titles list.

3 2/3 -- Number of months before my second novel, Vineyard Mambo, releases.

And the number of times I've felt my heart jump since I saw my name at the top of someone's NaNo profile Favorite Authors list? Countless. And, undoubtedly, I'll get countless more joyful moments from that one. Thank you, Vickie. :)

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Fat fingers, tired fanny

That's what I'll have by the end of today, fat, swollen fingers and a tired, aching fanny. Ah yeah, the life of a writer is sooooo glamourous! My husband will be out all day today--without me, that is. It's an unusual occurance at our house, so I'm taking full advantage of the seven or eight hours he's gone to--you guessed it--write. I think I'll work on Sandswept, really give it hell and see how quickly the story moves along.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Must Be Nuts emerges

Yesterday afternoon I spent an hour or so on my NaNo novel, Seaside Shimmy. I've got the first chapter first-draft done and am ready to jump into chapter two. Just poking along, but I did work on Sandswept for a few hours and am closing in on writing "The End" on that one. Once Sandswept is put to bed I'll be able to really concentrate on the NaNo novel. I hope.

Anyhow, I got the chance to poke around the NaNo site--finally. Each year I forget how much fun it is, with its forums and lounges, author pages and the rest of it. I get such a kick out of seeing what others are writing. What they've written. I especially love the young NaNo-ers, the kids who attempt to devote themselves to writing during the November flurry. I silently cheer them on, hoping each and every one of them completes what they've started so they, too, can know the satisfaction that comes with telling a story.

I posted the first unedited bit of Seaside Shimmy, the second Anna Romeo mystery. It can be found here. But please remember this is a seat-of-your-pants writing frenzy. No polish yet.

While you're there, check in on my writing buddies, Marianne and Wendy. Cheer them on! We all need all the help we can get. Right, ladies? :)

Monday, November 05, 2007

Website

I did it. Too stubborn to hire anyone to design my website, I did it myself. I won't even tell you how long this whole thing took me, how many times I swore (in several languages!) or just how close I came one afternoon in October to pitching my computer out the window. I'm going to take a deep breath, sit back and listen to the angels singing (and my husband sighing) and tell you it's done. For now, at least.

Want to check it out?

My website, Saritaleone.com is open!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Must Be Nuts lollygagging

Sigh...I admit it. I'm lollygagging on my NaNo novel. It's already day four and I should have nearly 8,000 words complete but I've got ... ugh, loads less than that. What I've got came easily but I've been working on Sandswept these past days, too. One novel is lots easier to write than two.

So Must Be Nuts is letting Seaside Shimmy lag behind, for now. Tomorrow morning I'll give it hell but today...well, today's one of those lavender sky, looks-like-snow sort of days. Perfect for playing chess beside a roaring fire. Yep, that's the thing.

Tomorrow I'll get Must Be Nuts in gear. Today, I'll let her coast...

Decisions, decisions, decisions


How to choose just one?
We considered.
We studied.
We rolled,
tapped,
poked.
Only one?
Can't do it.
Can we?
No, we couldn't.
Two seemed just about right.
One tall and thin.
One short and squatty.
Just right.
But...
Only two?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Must Be Nuts

That's it. My NaNo author's name. Must Be Nuts. I know, most people choose their own name and try to promo whatever they're working on while they're writing but when faced with the blank sign-in line my fingers took over. Evidently my subconscious answered the question Author's Name?

Must Be Nuts.

My NaNo profile is here. For those of you who haven't already realized this, the moniker is a good fit. Um, just saying...

Happy Halloween!


NaNo No No?

Tomorrow is the beginning of NaNo, National Novel Writer's Month. Info can be found here. Basically it's a 30 day challenge. Write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. Sounds crazy, doesn't it? I've done it a few times and always had a blast. It does add a new stress level to my already busy life, but hey, who doesn't enjoy an extra jolt of stress now and again?

I still haven't signed up for this year's madness. Still mulling over the idea of finishing one novel while writing another and polishing a third. Sounds nuts, doesn't it?

Right now, I'm thinking I'll sign on. What have I got to lose? Besides my sanity, that is? Really, if we don't challenge ourselves from time to time life gets dull as dirt, doesn't it? Yeah, I'm doing it. Just decided. I'm in.

What about you? Have you got a story to tell? Why not take 30 days and tell it?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The small vineyard


This is the first year we harvested enough grapes to do more than serve after dinner. Actually, we ended up with enough grapes to make jam. The fruit ripened to a beautiful deep shade of purple. Sweet and juicy, when cooked they released an aroma that was almost intoxicating. We are tickled by the pint jars of jam! They taste heavenly, better than anything Welch's or Smuckers makes.
We're hoping next year's harvest will yield enough to make wine. We're dreaming of vin santo, a table wine whose origin in humble but filled with love. Ah, the things dreams are made of...
But this year we're thankful for our grape jam. We have no doubt that smeared on toast during the long winter months it will remind us that hidden beneath the snow are the vines. Yes, the vines whose roots are buried not in soil, but in optimism.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Pumpkin Madness

I should be writing. Instead I'm carving a pumpkin. Try it. But I warn you, it's addictive!

Pumpkin Carving Madness.

In the air today...

The northeast has a special kind of beauty in the fall. The sound of crunching underfoot, blindingly clear blue skies and the faint scent of woodsmoke wafting in the air. As trees find brilliant burst of color and leaves rain to the ground the world seems magical, as if it knows a secret it's yet to reveal. And with spooky ghosts tumbling from trees and scarecrows on every corner, I feel the lure of the unknown beckoning me. Pumpkins gain personalities all their own and even the most ordinary winter squash looks festive when propped beside a bundle of cornstalks.

Yes, I love fall.But hey, I'm a sucker for any season! It's true. I love 'em all. Each one brings a different slant to my writer's mind. Each season encourages its own sort of story.

Winter makes me want to write cozy, snuggle-in-and-hibernate, contemplative stories. Spring, of course, brings tales of renewal. Maybe an adventure, or even two, with optimistic, outgoing characters. Summer? Hot, romantic love stories come to mind, and my fingers itch to create characters who live in the warm, passionate moment. And then there's fall...

Mysterious and alluring, fall naturally encourages me to write stories magic, the unknown, ghosts, goblins and things that go bump in the night. Too, I yearn to write about endings, followed by beginnings. Doesn't seem logical, does it? Most people think the end follows the beginning, but I feel it's the other way around. Why? Because although the last leaf is about to drop, the first snowflake is waiting to flutter to earth. A new beginning, seamlessly following the last ending.

I've got to admit, my writing is greatly influenced by the seasons. I'm beginning to flesh out the plot of a new novel in these fabulous fall days. It is a tale of murder and intrigue, one whose last chapters will be more about what's found rather than what's been lost. An opening of sorts, at the close.

I just hope those last few leaves hold to the maple branches outside my window long enough for me to become engrossed in writing this one. If not, I may end up with a novel whose ending is somewhat wintery!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Mona Lisa's...brows?

Hey, what about the smile? Isn't that what we're all supposed to be obsessed with?Ah, I see... It's time to focus on a different part of the lady's face. *sigh* Isn't that typical? Just when interest over one body part settles down, a new issue comes under scrutiny? Who can tell how long it's going to take before we all stop staring at her eyebrows? The smile thing took five hundred years so two brows and two sets of lashes? That could take forever.

Yesterday's revelation by a French engineer, Pascal Cotte, that Leonardo da Vinci originally painted his masterpiece with brows and lashes was well received. A collective sigh of relief, one heard round the world, followed. Apparently many have speculated about the elusive brows for some time, spawning as many theories about her lack of facial hair as there are stars in the sky. Who knew? I have to admit I've never given them a single, solitary thought. Never. Sorry, Mona. My apologies, Leonardo.

And while I find this interest in art and the beautiful lady heartwarming, I still wonder about that enigmatic smile she wears. I can't help myself. I see the set of her lips, the way her cheeks have a faint blush and the knowing stare she fixes on me and my pulse quickens. My mind races. So many questions unanswered...possibilities to be explored...scenarios that may explain her smile. Has she witnessed a crime? Scorned a rival? Sought satisfaction for an ancient vendetta? Made love with the most wonderful man?

Let others focus on Mona Lisa's brows. Let's face it; I'm just not ready to get past the smile.

To read, or not to read

Doesn't it seem like everyone's got a blog now? Aunt Mildred. The Avon lady. The kid who delivers the newspaper. Celebrities. Politicians. The local historical society. Everyone, everywhere, seems to have a blog to call their own. A place to share thoughts, ideas, recipes, photographs, reviews, rants--whatever comes to mind.

And we, being a curious bunch, read these blogs. Why not? That's what they're there for, isn't it? To read? So we read. I've said it before and I'll say it again--I love reading other people's blogs. I love seeing what so-and-so has to say about such-and-such. It's a fast, easy way to get inside someone's mind, at least to the part they're willing to share.

Some people share incredibly intimate things in their blogs. I've got to admit, that creeps me out. A lot. I don't want to know about anyone's boils, bunions or broken heart. I don't want to hear they're despondent, down on their luck or determined to seek revenge. I just don't want to know. But that's what the mouse and the little red X at the top right corner are for, right? To decide to read...or not to read?

Me? I'll keep reading. I enjoy it too much. And you? I hope you'll keep reading, too. :)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Joy of Sex

*giggling*

Got your attention, didn't I?

Don't worry, I'm not going to talk about the joy of sex. At least, not here. Not now. Hey, my mother reads this blog!

What I had in mind when my fingers hit the keyboard was The Joy of Writing. Figured that wouldn't grab your attention, make your heart shudder or your pulse race, so I gave in to the giggles and wrote the other, um, more interesting title.

Anyhow, it's the joy of writing that's got my attention these days. Working on Hope Mountain and Sandswept in tandem and they're both doing well. It's satisfying to see a story grow, to watch the plot develop and characters evolve. Hoping to have both finished by the end of the month, but the month seems to be sliding by quickly.

Hmm... I guess I should get back to writing, shouldn't I?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Reading, Writing and Rankings

Every author yearns for readers to read what he or she has written. It's part of the deal, a part that can bring laughter or tears. After all, writers write hoping that someone reads. And that the reader appreciates what's been written.

Aside from reviews, authors consider how their books are ranked. Everyone wants to be on the bestseller list, even if the list is a small one kept by a publisher.

This morning I saw that Finally, This Season is in the number two spot on the bestseller list at The Wild Rose Press. And a quick glance at the historical American line showed that Proclamations is in their number one spot. Yippee!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Sleuth

Last night my husband and I watched Sleuth on the Turner Classic Movie channel.

It's a film from 1972, starring Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine. If you've never seen it, I suggest you do because it's really amusing. A mystery novelist, played by Olivier, plots revenge on his wife's lover.

What a wonderful movie! We laughed in so many spots, especially since the often convoluted stream of consciousness "out-loud writing" the author does is ...well, recognizable! My poor husband often hears my "what if"s and "then he said"s, including my theories about murder weapons, for my mysteries. It was a hoot to see someone else doing what is, for us, an everyday occurance!

See the film if you can. You won't be sorry!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Happy Birthday Eileen!

One of the best things about having a blog is being able to say whatever's on your mind. Yep, I like that. A lot.

Today my post is a fast, happy one. I'm hoping you'll join me in sending big happy birthday thoughts to my cousin. Happy Birthday, Eileen! Enjoy your celebration luncheon--wish I could be there to help you blow out the candles! We're thinking of you!

See, Dad? I told you the blog works! Sending big hugs and much love your way, too. :)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Doris Lessing

I am thrilled that 87-year-old Doris Lessing has been awarded the 2007 Nobel Prize for Literature. She is truly a gifted author and deserves the recognition. I read The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four and Five, The Golden Notebook and The Grass is Singing when I was in college and loved them. Such insightful prose, with a wonderful rhythmic quality. A perfect choice for the award!

I love it that she was out shopping when the call came that she'd won. Now that's my kind of lady. ;-)

Feeding my addiction

Yes, I, too, have an addiction. Doesn't everyone?

The object of my craving, my must-have-or-I'll-scream lust is Oreos. Yes, the cookie. I love 'em.

Trolling for recipes to mentally feed the craving at 4 am a few days ago, I found the following. I tweaked it a bit, gave it a true Oreo-lover's stamp of approval and am sharing it with you now. One word of warning, though. These balls may bring on an addiction in your life, too. They're that good. Enjoy!

Oreo Balls

1 package OREO cookies
8 oz. package of softened cream cheese
melted chocolate--chips, semi-sweet, dark, white--your choice. Hey, it's your addiction. :)

Crush the cookies into fine crumbs. Add cheese and mix.

Roll mixture into balls. Chill balls on baking sheet for 30 minutes.

Dip balls in melted chocolate. Chill until firm.

Store any leftover balls in fridge. *

* I just put that in for the purposes of recipe maintenance, not because I actually believe you'll have leftover balls. And if you do? Have leftover balls? Well, then maybe you should rethink your personal addiction, because it'll mean that Oreos definitely aren't your top lust item.

Kit Kats, anyone? Or Goobers--now there's an addiction-worthy item...

Dashing Time Theory

Ah, the month is nearly half over, isn't it? Ever wonder how that happens? I mean, I know how it happens, minutes turn into hours, hours to days...months, years, the whole shebang--I get that part. But did you ever notice that there are points in life when time seems to speed up--just a tad? As if the minutes are running instead of walking? Hmm...maybe I should put that on my to-do list for November..."Investigate Dashing Time Theory."

What? Oh, right. What was I saying? Oh, it's just that this month seems to be speeding by but I'll let you in on a little secret: my to-do list is getting done. Things are being crossed off and I am tickled, although the list itself is beginning to look like a scrawly mess. *sigh* I guess I can't have everything, can I? :)

Writing, too, is humming along at a fast, easy clip. The pre-NaNo Blitz, while not exactly blitzful, is working out. Hope Mountain is growing steadily and I'm satisfied with the story as a whole. The hero is a bit pricklier than I'd first imagined him but he's going to make a great turn-around character!

So life is good here. Hope it is with you, too.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Just a reminder...

that I'm in the Author Spotlight at The Long and The Short of It this week. You can find me here.

And the answer to today's quiz question is Buzzard! Email them to enter the free book contest. Who knows? You may win a free book just by answering "Buzzard"--how easy is that?

What about this one?

Isn't it sweet? Pointed toward the sky...side by side...so romantic.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

For no reason...



other than I love it.




Monday, October 08, 2007

Finally, This Season reviewed by LASR!

The Long and The Short of It reviews has given Finally, This Season a 5-Book Review! Woo Hoo! The entire review can be read here.

From The Long and The Short of It:

"Finally, This Season will beguile romance fans from the very first line. This short, historic romance is an absolute delight.

The old world sense combines with that hint of formality that marked the life of the gentry of old. We follow this story from Central Park to ballroom. Yet, comfortably familiar though the setting is, the unexpected spontaneity of the story bubbles through.

The tone of the dialogue enhances this, by offering a certain level of lightheartedness. The dialogue even gives a hint of history, through word choice and sentence structure. I can do no better than to offer a short excerpt:

"For you it seems a small payment, but for me...ah, it is a most treasured gift." He turned toward the path and held out his arm. "Shall we?"

The quality of the main characters is undeniable, the conflict realistic, the lovely Miss Alexandra Parkington, practical. This is the classic romance.

Five books to Ms. Leone and a thank-you for this most engaging of reads."

October Writing Blitz

Week two of the October Writing Blitz has begun. I have to admit that last week my word count didn't grow as much as I'd planned. Blame Mother Nature for that, at least that's what I'm doing. Yep, passing it off to Mother Nature. After all, she's the one who sent teal blue skies, breezes as warm as a lover's caress and temperatures so hot I've been living in shorts and tees.
Yes, it's all her fault. I mean, doesn't she know it's October? Where are the blustery days, nose-chilling temps and frosty mornings? Hmm? Where, I ask you?!

Ahhh, right. That's true...my word count isn't growing but I'm loving this little lull before the real autumnal weather begins. So maybe the blitz will be a mini-blitz? Or an end-of-month frenzy? Because sooner or later, autumn's got to return.

But today, the sky is blue and I'm out of here!

In the Spotlight this week!

I'm so excited! This week I'm in the Author Spotlight at The Long and Short of It. I hope you'll stop by and check it out! I'm just thrilled to be there.

And they're conducting two contests this week, so why not enter? Who knows? You just may win! :)

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Just saying...


Yeah, I did it. I was keeping it quiet but who can keep something like that to themselves? The 5th Annual Brava Novella Contest has just been closed to entries. The twenty finalists will be announced mid-November.

Do I think I stand a chance? Sure, everyone has a chance. I've got a chance, the same as everyone else who entered. The only way not to have a shot at something is to be "Too" to go for it. "Too"...? Oh, you know, the usual "too"s people have...too old, too young, too busy, too tall, too short, too ambivalent, too shy, too whatever. Mostly, too afraid to fail. I honestly believe that's one of the biggest reasons people don't reach for their dreams. They're just too afraid of failure. Personally I don't understand that concept. I mean, really, what's the big deal. You try for something and you don't get it? Isn't it better to have tried than not?

Me? Writing's not a sissy sport. I put on my big girl panties and took the plunge. I thought, I wrote, I entered.

Now, I wait. But believe me, I don't sit around chewing my nails, wringing my hands and wondering if I'll final. No, I forget about this entry. I write other things. I move on.

357. Hmm? Oh, that's the number of entries. Just saying.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Between Bulbs and Blurbs

I'm writing like crazy these days. The words are coming fast and easy, and the novel I'm working on is growing at a satisfying rate. Between writing, my husband and I are planting spring bulb gardens. So I'm blending blurbs, bulbs, writing and gardening--and loving every minute of it! Hope you're enjoying the warm autumn weather, too!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

William Faulkner & The Buzzard

"If I were reincarnated, I’d want to come back a buzzard. Nothing hates him or envies him or wants him or needs him. He is never bothered or in danger, and he can eat anything." — William Faulkner

I've always been a fan of William Faulkner. Loved classes devoted to his work in college, often reading the entire required reading list before the third week of classes. Faulkner, with his rambling stream-of-consciousness style, appealed to me then and it still does. I especially like As I Lay Dying and Light In August. I can't say why I like them more than others, just that I do. I guess that's the way it is...some things appeal just because they do.

Love the thought on buzzards and reincarnation. Makes me smile every time I think of it. Reminds me that even "serious" writers can have a warped sense of humor. Shows, too, that we all have a place in this world--even buzzards.

Saw one yesterday, flying in the distance. No, not a writer. A buzzard. I saw a buzzard. Hmm...do you think? Reincarnated, maybe? Maybe...nah, it couldn't have been. Could it?

Monday, October 01, 2007

October Pre-NaNo Writing Blitz

Hmm...a new month. A clean calendar page. Unlimited possibilities, right?

National Novel Writing Month is November. For the last few years I've written a NaNo novel. One year I even wrote two during the 30 day frenzy. I'm planning to participate in NaNo again this year. But first, the pre-NaNo writing blitz.

I've banded with a group of writing friends (because there's safety--sanity, even--in numbers, right?) to participate in an October writing blitz. My word tracker is in place, and I'm ready to start this morning. Hopefully by the end of the month I'll have a newly completed novel in my hands. Who knows? Maybe I'll have a novella, as well. Yep, I'm an optimistic woman.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Lark Journals

I'm part of a new group blog, The Lark Journals. Four Whiskey Creek Press authors, varied interests and writing voices, coming together to chat about life, writing and anything else that catches their fancies. Should be fun and interesting.

The other authors are Margaret Blake, Debbie Wallace and Kathleen O'Connor. Oh, and me, too. We're beginning this week. I'm very excited about this new adventure!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Snowdance review

I saw this last night. I'm flabbergasted--and happy. :)

"Every aspect of this book is first rate. This is a story where the characters are so real they enter the reader's heart. Turning the pages, I wanted to know what would happen next, and why. In short, I cared. A lot. So many books don't encourage that kind of connection or interaction. It is refreshing to see it here. The plot moves along steadily, pulling the reader deeper into Elinor's memories. In part of this book, old letters are used to tell the story. This plot device is fitting to this story and worked very well. I could see Elinor reading letters from the battlefield, and could hear the cries of war, as well. This book ends with a twist-one that is bittersweet and perfect for the story. I can't think of one solitary thing I didn't love about this book. Snowdance consumed me from the very first page. I couldn't put it down and read the whole book one sitting, just because I couldn't get my fill for knowing more about Elinor's life satisfied quickly enough. Who would have guessed an old woman's story could be so charming? It is, I promise you that. I laughed and cried, and just honestly loved every page. Sarita Leone is a talented writer, one who has gained a fan in this reviewer. Snowdance is her debut novel. I can't wait to see what comes next! Whatever it is, it's sure to be entertaining. Snowdance is a definite keeper!" - Rating: 5 out of 5 Reviewed by Amy, Gottawritenetwork.com

The entire review can be seen here. Thank you Amy!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Happy Friday!

A thought from one of my heroes, a guy who doesn't care that he has no pants...

"This writing business. Pencils and whatnot. Overrated, if you ask me." — Winnie the Pooh

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Buttoned up or Flashing?

Recently I "listened in"--that is, lurked without commenting--on a discussion about marketing, blogging and revealing the "real person" behind the author to readers. Apparently there are a bunch of folks who believe readers like to know as much as they can about the authors whose books they read. As much as they can? Of course I've been giving this a lot of thought...

All right, I can understand wanting to hear about how an author writes (in jammies or tuxedo?), news of past and upcoming releases, reviews, and the other assorted publishing bits and pieces, as well as some personal stuff. Some. But, um, nothing too personal. It's not like it bothers me to hear about other's real life author details. I'm just not comfortable discussing too much of my own "stuff" in such a public forum. Maybe that's it--I'm just a pretty private person, not as free with details as some.

But hey, if other authors want to reveal tidbits about themselves, I'm willing to listen. Why not?I'd love to know whether or not Stephen King writes in his jammies or not. Diana Gabaldon's breakfast preferences? Yeah, let me in on that one, too. What radio station, if any, J.K. Rowling tunes into for inspiration? Absolutely! Bring on stuff like that!

But me, open up about jammies and the rest of it? I don't know if I can do it. I mean, you already know I'm a compulsive list-making, book-inhaling gardener who's addicted to Oreos. Do you really need to know anything else?

I thought not. Have a great day!

Er, um...BTW...jammies. Sometimes I write in my jammies. But that's as much of a confession as I'm willing to make! :)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

End-of-month frenzy

Has anyone else noticed that September is nearly shot in the--well, it's nearly over, for this year at least. How did that happen? I'm astounded, because although I've accomplished much in the past few weeks, I still have tons left on my September To Do List. Yes, I do have a September To Do List. Doesn't everyone?

Oh. Well. Um...well. Anyhow, I've got stuff to do before I can kiss the month good-bye and write up my Octob--um, before I can move on. So the past few days have been filled with frenzied moments. Today will be no exception. I've got more to do than there are hours in which to do it. Too, I'm completely pulled into the plot of my new book, and have been writing like a woman possessed for the past week or so. Too crazed to read as much as I'd like to be reading which is frustrating.

With all that in mind, I wanted to draw your attention to this list. Did you have any idea that the American Library Association kept a list of the top 100 "banned" books?

I've read a lot of those books. I hope you have, too. :)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Free advice--

--it's sometimes worth taking. I've read this, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Authors from The Irene Goodman Literary Agency, so many times I've paraphrased it in my mind for quick retrieval and almost mantra-like use.

Hmm? How does it sound between my ears? Oh, like this...

The Seven Staples
1. Same time, every day.
Show up, do the work--no excuses.

2. Don't give up.
Successful authors don't say, "I quit writing. It was just too hard, so I gave up, Oprah."

3. Pay attention to comments.
Even crappy ones. They're all useful.

4. Readers--give 'em what they want.

5. Figure out what you want, then get it.

6. Have a life.

7. Open the door.
When opportunity knocks, open the door!

I may not say it as succinctly as Irene Goodman but I've taken the words to heart. And really, isn't that the purpose of advice? To have an effect on the one advised?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Reader comments

I love getting comments from readers. Love, love, love hearing what they think of what I've written.

A few days ago I heard from a reader who'd just read For the Love of Grace which is one of my Wild Rose Press short stories. She enjoyed it, saying that it gave her a view of a place she's always dreamed of visiting.

*I hope you get to see the Pyramids for yourself, Kathy! Thanks so much for your note! :)

An excerpt from For the Love of Grace, available at TWRP:

Settling back against the butter-soft leather
banquette she opened the heavy menu and perused the
selections. A waiter, dressed in traditional Egyptian
costume, left a dry martini on a cocktail napkin in front of
her and departed on slipper-covered feet. It wasn’t until
she heard the discreet throat clearing that she looked up
from the menu.

She didn’t see the waiter when she removed her
reading glasses. What she did see was something that,
somehow, didn’t surprise her.

His head didn’t look as sunburned as she’d
remembered it and without the scent of camel dung or a
layer of red dust clinging to his clothing, he was really an
attractive man. For an older man, that is. Wearing a
tweed blazer with brown leather elbow patches and brown
corduroy trousers, he looked more like a professor than
ever.

“Mr. Phillips,” Grace said warmly. “What a surprise.”

“A pleasant one, I hope,” he answered. “And it’s
Justin, remember? Why, we’re old friends by now. I say,
we did nearly share a kebab, didn’t we?” He winked at
her and her heart flipped alarmingly in her chest.

A twitch, that’s what it is. He’s got a nervous tic—he
couldn’t possibly have winked at me, could he? Goodness, I
don’t think anyone’s winked at me in…well, in a long time,
at least.

“Yes, a pleasant surprise,” she allowed. “It is nice to
see you again.” Grace perched her glasses on her nose and
prepared to reopen the menu.

“Ahem, well…I was wondering, Grace. That is, if you
wouldn’t mind terribly sharing your lovely, private table
with an old Englishman.”

“Share a table?”

“Yes. You see, they’re apparently quite crowded and
the wait is lengthy,” he said, shrugging his shoulders.

“And, well, to be quite brutally honest, I have medication
I need to take on a full stomach—”

“Nothing serious, I hope?” asked Grace, her voice
filled with concern.

“No, no, nothing serious. Just your usual middle-age
health concerns—a bit more concern-provoking now that
I’m well past middle age, I’m afraid,” Justin said, smiling.

“Aside from that, though, if you would consent to share
your accommodations with me, a retired English
barrister, I would be delighted. It would, you see, give me
the opportunity to dine with a very beautiful, intriguing
woman. So, what do you say?”

What could she say?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

What am I reading?

It's a question I get time and again. Today, I'm reading The Parting by Beverly Lewis. It's the first novel I've read by this author. It's also the first book in a series, and the writing is so engaging I'm sure I'll want to read the rest of this series.

The story takes place in an Amish community, a tale of loss and renwal beneath the watchful eyes of a tight-knit community. Very interesting and well written. Yeah, I'm going to be spending a few hours this afternoon finishing this book!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Stuck in the Groove

There are times when I just don't feel like talking about writing, reviews, upcoming releases, promo, edits or any of the other wonderful things that are part of my author's life. Sometimes, like this morning, I have other things on my mind. Usually I make myself push the "other" stuff to the back while I blog, but this morning...well, it's not working.

So what's so pressing I can't get it out of my mind?

Oreos.

You know, the cookie. Oreos. I'm sitting here in the darkness, working while others sleep and the word that keeps playing over and over in my mind like a turntable needle stuck in a groove is Oreos. Oreos. Oreos. Can you hear it? It's driving me nuts.

Worse yet, there aren't any Oreos in the house! Doesn't that just take the cake?

I searched Nabisco's website and found the following recipes. Although they don't satisfy my immediate craving, they do at least give me a reason to buy Oreos when we go grocery shopping this week! There are tons of interesting recipes at Nabisco, so if you need an excuse to feed your junk food habit, take a peek.

Oh, and an interesting tidbit...According to Nabisco, If every Oreo cookie ever made were stacked on top of each other, the pile would reach to the moon and back more than six times.

Wouldn't you like to see that pile of cookies? With a glass and a nice, cold gallon of milk, perhaps? Hmm?...


Oreo Cheesecake

1 pkg. (1 lb. 2 oz.) OREO Chocolate Sandwich Cookies, divided
1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
3 pkg. (8 oz. each) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup BREAKSTONE'S or KNUDSEN Sour Cream
1 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs

Preparation:

PREHEAT oven to 350°F if using a 9-inch silver springform pan (or to 325°F if using a dark nonstick 9-inch springform pan). Finely crush 30 of the cookies. Coarsely chop remaining 15 cookies; set aside. Mix crushed cookies with butter. Press firmly onto bottom and 2 inches up side of pan; set aside.

BEAT cream cheese and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add sour cream and vanilla; mix well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each addition just until blended. Gently stir in chopped cookies. Spread into prepared crust.

BAKE 55 minutes to 1 hour or until set. (If necessary to prevent top from overbrowning, tent with foil during last 15 to 20 minutes of baking time.) Cool completely on wire rack.
REFRIGERATE at least 4 hours. Run knife or metal spatula around side of pan to loosen cake; remove side of pan before serving.

Oreo Crunch Bars

34 OREO Chocolate Sandwich Cookies, divided
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine, melted
1 jar (7 oz.) JET-PUFFED Marshmallow Creme
3 squares BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup chopped PLANTERS Walnuts

Preparation:

PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Coarsely chop 8 of the cookies; set aside. Finely crush remaining 26 cookies; mix with butter. Press crumb mixture firmly onto bottom of greased 9-inch square baking pan.

TOP crust evenly with dollops of marshmallow creme, leaving 1/2-inch border around all sides. Sprinkle with chopped chocolate, walnuts and chopped cookies; press lightly into crust.

BAKE 15 minutes or until marshmallow creme just begins to brown. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into 20 bars.

Hocus Pocus Cake

13 OREO Chocolate Sandwich Cookies, finely crushed (about 1 cup)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. CALUMET Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup water
1 square BAKER'S Unsweetened Baking Chocolate, melted
1 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs, separated
3 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups ice cream (any flavor), softened
1-1/2 cups thawed COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, divided
2 strawberries, sliced

Preparation:

PREHEAT oven to 375°F. Line 15x10x1-inch baking pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides of pan. Grease foil; set aside. Mix cookie crumbs, sugar, flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. Mix water, melted chocolate and vanilla; set aside. Beat egg yolks in large bowl with electric mixer on high speed 5 min. or until thick and lemon colored. Gradually add flour mixture alternately with the chocolate mixture, beating until well blended after each addition. Beat egg whites with electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form; gently stir into batter. Spread into prepared pan.

BAKE 10 to 12 min. or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Lift cake from pan, using foil handles. Invert cake onto clean cloth towel sprinkled with cocoa; remove foil. Cut cake crosswise into thirds; place 2 of the cake pieces on wire racks to cool. Roll up the remaining cake piece along with the towel, starting at one of the short ends of cake; cool completely.

UNROLL cake and remove towel; spread cake with 1 cup of the ice cream. Re-roll cake; place, seam side down, in center of serving plate. Spread 1 cup of the remaining ice cream onto each of the remaining 2 cake pieces. Wrap 1 of the pieces around the cake roll on the serving plate, with the ice cream layer facing the center cake roll. Repeat with the remaining cake roll, wrapping it around the other side of the center cake roll. Frost side of cake with 1 cup of the whipped topping. Freeze 4 hours or until firm. Remove cake from freezer about 5 minutes before serving to soften slightly. Top with the remaining 1/2 cup whipped topping and strawberries just before serving. Store leftover dessert in freezer.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Just a thought this morning...

...one that's not even mine. Since it made me think, I thought I'd share it with you. Then, I'm off to work on Sandswept. It's calling me...

"None of us will ever accomplish anything excellent or commanding except when he listens to this whisper which is heard by him alone." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

God, I hope he was right...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Squashing it all in

A full life is a good life, I think.

Busy, I like to be busy. Challenged to learn and grow rather than settle back and become complacent. Believe me, in this house dust doesn't have a chance to settle. Someday, maybe. But not now.

In other words, I squash it all in. Today I'm going to do a real job of squashing, pressing so much into the day that it almost seems ridiculous. Laughable. Hysterical, almost.

So, if you'll excuse me. First I'm going to squash myself into my painting jeans, then I'm going to head outdoors and begin to squash everything else into the next twelve hours or so.

Hope life in your neck of the woods is keeping a smile on your face! :)

Nugget

"I always like to look on the optimistic side of life, but I am realistic enough to know that life is a complex matter." - Walt Disney

Monday, September 17, 2007

Knuckle-Down Monday

All right, the time for lollygagging is over. It's time to knuckle down and get back to the business of writing. I've got a partiallly finished manuscript, Sandswept, that needs to be finished. I've decided that it'll be done by the end of this month. So, no more goofing off. I've got to get back to work! Really. Really, I do.

Right after we meet my mom and stepdad for breakfast.

Really. That is, if I'm not too stuffed. :)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Just a thought for a Sunday morning

Isn't this pretty?

"Love is not looking in each other's eyes, but looking together in the same direction."
-Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Saturday morning excerpt

A few days ago I reread all of the stories in The Wild Rose Press' Celtic Brooch series. My story, Freedom's Touch, is the second one in the series. They're an interesting group of stories, all so different yet with the celtic brooch passing through the lives of each of the heroines in the series. I love it that I was asked to participate in this series. I love, too, waiting for each new installment. I can't help but wonder where the brooch will go next...

Thought I'd post a small bit of my story this morning. Freedom's Touch takes place during the Civil War, when women fought to keep the homefires burning while their men decided the fate of our young country. Hope you enjoy!

From Freedom's Touch:

Weary, that’s what I am. Plain weary. This whole
affair has gone on for so long, with so much heartbreak.
Even when I try and do all I can to further our cause there
always seems to be a blockade to go around…or over…or
under. Why oh why can’t everyone see this slavery issue for
what it is? Why can’t we simply let people live as they were
intended to live without having to go through all of this
misery? Damn, I’m so tired of it all! Just so…

At the sound of the approaching horse, Kay turned
and opened the door. Had Captain Conrad forgotten to
tell her something? Surely not another maudlin
warning…

Stepping out onto the porch, she noticed, as she had
earlier, the scent of a few early rose blooms that wafted
upward on the night air and surrounded her with their
sweet fragrance. A distant grandmother’s transplant, the
roses grew in abundance beside the front porch and along
the back wall of the garden, in the side cutting garden
and near the barn. Their fragrance masked the odor of the
privy, as well. Apparently a snippet of a rose bush grew in
profusion when planted in rich, sweet soil!

Crossing her arms over her bosom, she waited for the
men to make themselves known to her a second time. She
saw only one large black mass in the darkness and
thought Mr. Parker must wait at the end of the lane,
assumed that the Captain had one last word or two to
exchange with her.

The voice that came to her from the gloom wasn’t the
one she expected. It was, instead, the voice she heard
night after night in her dreams.

“Why, you’d think it was an ordinary occasion for you
to receive visitors after dark, the way you’re standing
there in your night dress.”

“Marsh—is that really you?”

The figure swung off his mount, secured the animal
to the hitching post and took the steps two at a time.

“Of course it’s me, Katy-did. Did you expect someone
else?” His teasing tone made her heart skip a beat, as did
the familiar nickname—no one else called her Katy-did
but Marsh. The sound of it on his lips stole her breath
away.

Throwing her arms around him, she lifted her face to
his and smiled. He felt solid in her arms, the living
embodiment of her endless imaginings. Pressing herself to
him, she opened her mouth to speak but didn’t manage to
utter a sound. Marsh’s mouth met hers with a hunger
that took them both by surprise. Their lips touched, their
tongues explored and their bodies heated as all the
repressed desires rose to the surface in the beat of their
hearts. Kay met his touch without restraint, her tongue
swirling around his in the age-old dance of love that
required no lessons.

The thin cotton nightdress provided no buffer
between her body and the regulation uniform Marsh was
wearing. His arousal was evident, insistent against her
body as her hips ground into his.

I don’t know what you’re doing here, my darling man,
but I’m not going to let you go until we’ve dropped these
barriers between us. So often I wonder if I’ll ever see you
again. Why waste what precious time we have on social
protocol? It’s ridiculous, and I won’t stand for it, not
another second. In this world, a second may have to
sustain us for a lifetime. And more importantly, you feel so
completely enchanting…

Friday, September 14, 2007

What goes up...

must come down? I guess, although I've got to admit my heart fell a little bit, too, when I saw this morning that Snowdance has slipped from the number 2 position on their "Hot Titles" list to--gasp!-- number 6.

Snowdance spent the first four weeks of its release in the number 1 spot. Then its spent another two weeks at number 2. I guess I can't complain but it looks like the wild ride at the top of the list is over.

Or is it? Who knows? That's one of the most interesting things about being an author, not knowing from minute to minute what your book is doing, who is reading it or what any given reader is thinking about it. It's sort of like walking on styrofoam blocks. At any instant the floor could squash a little bit or the next step could be on something that feels fairly solid. You just never know...

There isn't anything I'd rather be doing! I love the thrill of it all. And the view from the number 6 spot is still pretty darn good! :)

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

No writing today...well, not much

Saying I'm not writing is like saying "I won't be breathing today." Ridiculous. Every day I write at least a few pages. If I do nothing else, I do that. Sort of like exercise for my brain. Now, if I could just commit to exercising my butt...



Have a great day. Me? I'll be writing, then canning tomatoes. Then, maybe I'll have a date with the treadmill. Then again, maybe not!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Wednesday, the laid-back day of the week

It is, isn't it?

Over the mad rush of Monday, past the get-it-done mentality of Tuesday, Wednesday always seems to be a laid-back sort of day. I mean, you've got the first bit of the work week behind you and the best parts, tie-loose-ends Thursday and getaway Friday, ahead.

So really,what's not to like about laid-back Wednesday?

On this sunshine-filled, yet cool, Wednesday morning I'm just stopping in to say hi before I get back to the latest wip. * Work in progress, Mom. Because I know you're going to ask! :) *

Oh, and share this. I've been peeking in at this daily, loving the opportunity to get a glimpse inside this writer's writing world.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Six years

September 11, 2001.

It's been six years since that horrible day, the day when our world changed forever. The days pass, but we do not forget. We will never forget, the world can be assured of that. Never.

TIME has some photos posted here. I hope everyone takes a moment to take a look, and remember those who were stolen from us.