I can hardly believe it's the last day of the month. August 1st, the day Snowdance released, seems just minutes ago. A month? Hardly believable! Yet, the calendar says it's so.
Just took a peek at the Whiskey Creek Press site. Snowdance is still Number 1 on the 'Hot Titles' list! What a rush that is!
A snippet from the latest review, from Annick at Euro-Reviews...
"...While reading Snowdance, I often found myself to be smiling. This book made me relax. Elinor is a woman that I would have loved to meet in real life, she is very nice and the sort of woman I admire. Sarita Leone knows how to write, she touches you straight in the heart with this story." - Rating- 4 1/2 out of 5
Hope you all have a wonderful, safe holiday weekend. We're spending it with family and friends. Then, next week I'll have to get back to work.
Um, probably. :)
Friday, August 31, 2007
I can hardly believe it's the last day of the month. August 1st, the day Snowdance released, seems just minutes ago. A month? Hardly believable! Yet, the calendar says it's so.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Do you make lists? I do, lots of 'em. Lists to remind me to buy ketchup or cereal, lists to prompt me to stop at the bank, library or card store, looong lists designed to keep correspondence under control and dog-eared lists reminding me of upcoming birthdays and anniversaries. The point is, I think I'd flounder without an array of lists. How on earth would I know what to do next? Where to go? What to buy? I can see myself just stolling aimlessly through the grocery store, my cart empty and a puzzled expression on my face. Not a pretty sight.
So, I make lists. They keep me on track--mostly.
As the month ends, I'm struggling to cross off the items left on my August to-do list. The blasted thing seems to have grown--either that, or I'm getting senile. Who put all this stuff on my list? Canning tomatoes, rewrites, new book, birthdays...hmm...do you think anyone would notice if I started deleting list items? :)
Tell me, do you have a list? Or are you one of those winging-it folks?
And if you're a winger, could you teach me how to do that, too?!
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
"Can I be blunt on this subject? If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that. Reading is the creative center of a writer's life."~Stephen King
Need I say more? I'm grinning as I write this. Leave it to Stephen King to cut right to the heart of it.
Oh? What am I reading? Niccolo Rising by Dorothy Dunnett. It is a gift from my godmother and, as usual, she's sent a winner. I love historical fiction, and this book is outstanding.
Ack. That's it, just ack. The sound catching in my throat like a hairball as I contemplate the necessity of manufacturing a website. Yes, manufacturing, because really, it's not like I can whip one up as easily as I do a loaf of bread or a tray of lasagna. This whole website dilemma makes me sweat, I tell you. I've put it off for a long, long time, this author's site, but I know the time has come to finally take the plunge.
No. I really don't want to do it. I know it's going to be a royal pain in the posterior. HTMLs...codes...rolling text...scrolling..uploading..positioning...deleting...adding--ACK!
Why'd I ever agree to this writing gig? If I'd have known it involved an author website I may have kept my pen in my pocket.
Deep breathing, that's the ticket. Right? Lots of deep, soothing breaths. I've got the url, have had it for eons now. (Makes me want to hurl, the whole idea of it.) The url? Oh, it's www.saritaleone.com, of course. But don't bother clicking that, it won't take you anywhere except to an "Under Construction" sign. Under construction! Ha! The only construction going on with this dotcom thingy is the massive wall of "Oh no!"-edness growing in my mind.
Hmm? Why not hire someone to do this, the way normal, rational people do?
Stubborness. Pure and simple. I'm too stubborn to hire someone to manufacture, construct, build--or whatever else you want to call it--my website.
Someday soon, I'll have to do it. I know that. Soon...
But right now, I think I have a lasagna to construct. Maybe a cake to manufacture. Then, who knows? I may just have to build a cup or two of cappucino.
Websites will wait. Foam on dark coffee, however, isn't all that patient.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
The Mega Lotto pool is in excess of $250 million dollars right now. Give or take a few mil, I guess.
The last drawing was on Friday night, with the pool around $201 million. I took a chance. Hey, I had a dollar and a dream, just like the next Hopeful Harriet in line. So yeah, I put my greenback down and smiled when the machine spit out a little ticket. Saturday, I checked my numbers. I didn't win.
Tonight the pool is, as I said above, ridiculous. Will I take a chance? Probably. Do I expect to win? Um, do I need to answer that? Of course I don't expect to win! I think the whole buying-a-ticket-and-checking-the-numbers gig is more a game than anything else. It's fun, pure and simple. A mini adreneline rush. But do I expect to win? Egads, no! Never, not me. Uh uh. Well...
You never know, do you?
The point is, the whole mega bucks lotto week has spawned conversations that I'm sure are taking place everywhere there's hope of holding the one Willy Wonka type winning ticket. You know the conversation, don't you? The "What would you do if you win?" musing?
So many choices with unlimited funds...so many treats...temptations...dreams to be fulfilled, bills to be paid, desires to be quenched.
Me? I'm no fool. I'd travel. Invest most of it. Pay bills. Maybe buy a house at the beach. Nothing fancy, just a place where sand meets surf and lying in a hammock gives a bird's-eye view of the whole shebang.
But really, the things I truly yearn for can't be bought. So how much would the mega winnings change my life? I'd like to think things would change very little.
How about you? What would you do if you won? Would your life change, or are you content enough to want things to stay basically as they are? Think about it for a bit. I think you may be surprised by your honest, don't-tell-anyone answers.
Oh, tonight's drawing? Sure, I'll buy a ticket. One ticket. I'll grin, feel an extra bump of my heart as I clutch the tiny scrap of paper.
Expect to win? Nope. I'll leave that for someone else. Me, I've got all I need, thanks. :)
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Ah, that got your atttention, didn't it? You're reading quickly, wondering what sort of sordid details I'm going to divulge, aren't you? I wonder...are you hoping I've got a terrible, ugly secret to confess? Or are you fearful that's exactly the case? Hmm...
I hope I don't disappoint, but actually, my confession is quite tame. Okay, I'm taking a deep, steadying breath. Here goes, the big unveil...
I read blogs. Really, I do. I know that probably seems silly given the fact that you're doing exactly the same thing right this very minute, but for me it's a guilty little pleasure I indulge in when I should be working. Yep, I'm slacking off while I peruse author blogs in the dead of night. Or the early morning hours--do they count as "nocturnal deadness"? And really, what exactly is the "dead" of night, anyway? Does anyone know?
OH! Oops! One of those tangent moments again...
Back to my confession. Typically, I rise early and work. Recently, though, I've been squeezing in a chunk of time nearly every morning to read author's blogs. Debbie Macomber, Alison Kent, a bunch of others. They're interesting. They're often funny. And I'm addicted, I think. I love reading about what they're doing. New releases, reviews, works in progress. Ordinary stuff, too. Photos of grandbabies, tales of sick dogs, baseball games watched and hot dogs eaten. Really, those are recent posts I've read--and loved.
I don't know if I'll be able to quell this recent addiction. The lure of peeking into others' lives is too great. Too entertaining. Too much a wonderful reminder that even gifted writers like Debbie Macomber and Alison Kent do "normal" things like the rest of us.
Hmm..I wonder if either of them has a good recipe for zucchini bread? God knows we're overrun by them. Maybe Stephen King's got one...he looks like he'd be a kitchen whiz...
Friday, August 24, 2007
Hi all. Just enjoying life here. :)
I've got to admit I'm still jazzed about the first review for Snowdance. I feel like I'm walking on a little cloud. The past few weeks have been amazing. It is hard for me to wrap my mind around the idea that my book is still number one on the "Hot Titles" list. I never, ever, ever expected it to be so well received. To all of you who have sent emails, letters, cards, notes, called or done any of the other wonderful things you've done (you know who you are!) --thank you very much. This experience has been incredibly positive and I'm thrilled you're all sharing it with me.
Soon, though, I'm going to have to get back to writing.
But for now, I'm just enjoying life. I hope you are, as well.
Have a great weekend!
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Recently I saw this review for Snowdance. A bit for you to see if you don't want to read the whole review:
"From the very first chapter of this book, there is a distinct nostalgia that crooks a finger at the reader and beckons them to indulge. The descriptions of the central character’s home and the storm that rages outside are simple yet evocative, painting pictures with words that put me in the middle of that house, in the middle of that storm, watching and wondering over each individual pattern of snowflake falling outside the window. This isn’t a book to read when you’re looking for an adrenaline rush. The heroine is nearly a hundred years old, and the pace of the entire novel reflects both her experience and the simple, unadorned lifestyle she has had her entire life. But it still sucked me in, wrapping me up and making me smile, even when I wasn’t in the mood for it....I fell for this simple story head over heels. It’s more than a romance. It’s a story of a life. And how love shapes and forms everything that we are." - Book Utopia
Yes, this review made my day!
Monday, August 20, 2007
Over and over, time and again, until the words are etched onto the inside of a beginning writer's skull, the mantra is repeated.
A basic truth designed to get those with a desire to write to actually sit down and put words to paper. In a lot of cases, it works. For some, though, no measure of admonition or encoragement will bring forth a writer where there isn't one or where the commitment required to write simply doesn't exist.
I read this article this morning. It's not as if I needed to be reminded she's a real writer, it's just that I'm loving it that even the brilliant, world-famous writers do what we beginners strive to do. And it all goes back to those two words. Writers write.
Works for J.K. Rowling, doesn't it?
I don't know about you, but I can't wait to see what she does with crime!
Now, back to writing...
Sunday, August 19, 2007
...as I look at that big ole box of books sitting on our coffee table...
What a rush! :)
Have a great Sunday!!
Saturday, August 18, 2007
No post about writing today. Nothing about books or reading. Just plain, ordinary summer living...
It's that time of year, the time when the sun is hot, the living is easy and the zucchinis are threatening to conquer kitchens everywhere. Got your attention, didn't I? A lot of you, I'm sure, are trying to figure out just what to do with that beautiful green veggie. And you're wondering why the heck you planted so many of them in the spring. And you're making a mental note not to do that again next year! Trust me, you'll forget about the zucchini glut by next spring. You'll plant five or six, or if you're like me, eight or ten mounds of the prolific plant again next spring. Trust me, you'll do it.
Fortunately, I love zucchini. Really, I love it. (No fooling!) In our house we eat a lot of zucchini, so I'm pretty inventive about how it's served. Lots of recipes...lots of 'em.
I love zucchini. And I love chocolate. Soooo...
Just sharing a summer recipe today. See? I told you, nothing about books or writing. Hope you enjoy!
Chocolate Zucchini Bread
1 1/2 c. sugar
3 c. grated zucchini
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 c. olive oil
3 1/2 c. flour
1/4 c. dry cocoa
1/4 tsp. salt
3 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ginger
1 c. chopped nuts
1 c. chocolate chips
Combine eggs, sugar, vanilla and oil in a large bowl. Add zucchini and mix.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, cocoa, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and ginger. Add to zucchini mixture and mix well. Add the nuts and chocolate chips.
Pour batter into buttered loaf pan. Place pan in a pre-heated 325-degree oven and bake for 75 minutes.
Friday, August 17, 2007
Applause. Kisses. Squeals of delight. All over a box of books.
Oh, not just any old book. My book! The first shipment of Snowdance arrived and I am thrilled!
Now, it's a reality. I'm a published author. My book is out there. People are reading it. Reviewing it. Hopefully enjoying it. But to rave reviews or pans, my book has been published.
Does it get any better than this? :)
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Watched the Pliedes meteor shower from our back porch.
Swung lazily in a hammock.
Went swimming in a lake.
Ate so much zucchini I felt green. Then, I ate some more.
Read three romances, one right after the other.
Let ice cream drip down my wrist from a chocolate cone.
Walked barefoot in the grass.
Watched butterflies dance.
Excuse me? What kind of blog post is this? A summertime blog post, of course. Or really, it's a list of some of the things I've done this past week.
What have you been up to? Have you done any of the things I've done? Or have you been enjoying other summertime "stuff"? I'm curious. I want to know.
You see, I love summer, and all the laid-back summertime activities that come with the sultry, steamy days and nights of the season. Just thought I'd take a minute and share what I've been doing with you. And did you notice, the list doesn't have "wrote..." on it? Yeah, I've been slacking!
But yesterday I saw two Indigo Buntings! And a couple of hummingbirds! And I ate strawberries hot from the strawberry patch. Writing will keep. The birds and berries won't.
Hope you're enjoying the summer, too. Remember, soon the flowers will be covered by snow and snow just doesn't smell as lovely as lilies...
Friday, August 10, 2007
Happy Friday. Don't you just love Fridays? I know I do. The weekend stretches ahead, options open and beckoning... Yep, I love Friday. Especially when it's raining, like it is this very minute. I know, I know...I could get skewered for professing to love rain, especially on get-away day. But hey, we're parched here and rain is very, very welcome. I hate to see dry, rocky creekbeds. Bring on the rain!
Have been working on revamping Vineyard Mambo. Not really working hard, just a few hours each morning, but I figure it'll save me from the big, bad, mind-numbing edit just before the book is published. It's going well; I'm sewing up a few plot holes and, most likely, creating a couple that weren't there to begin with! Ha! I'll leave those for my wonderful editor to find. *Which she will, believe me. Nothing gets past that woman, thank goodness!*
Hmm...well, I just checked the Whiskey Creek Press "Hot Titles" list again. I know, it's a compulsion at this point. I just have to look when I log on. I just have to. Really.
Oh? Um, well, yes, Snowdance is still on the list. :)
Snowdance is in the top spot on the Hot Titles list!! Number One!!
Told you it was all good! Have a nice weekend!
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Yes, we've got rain. Granted, it's been falling in fits and starts, but it's real, live, honest-to-goodness moisture falling from the sky. Rain. Yay!! I know in some spots rain isn't cause for celebration, but here, in our parched corner of the world, I am doing the happy dance.
Aside from the rain, this is a no-news Wednesday. It's been exactly a week since Snowdance released, a week filled with fun and laughter, but now I think it might just be time for me to buckle down and get back to work. I'm not writing anything new at the moment, just rewriting bits of the next novel that will be released.
Vineyard Mambo is a mystery, very different from Snowdance. I wrote it a few years back and I'm just now re-reading it and it's interesting to see the story unfold. I keep smacking myself on the forehead and muttering, "Why? Why did she do that?" or "Oh, yeah...that's right. I'd forgotten that part." It's like reading something for the first time, except that it's something I wrote! Very strange.
Back to the rain and writing. Hope you have a wonderful Wednesday!
Monday, August 06, 2007
This is my hundreth post, which is fun and exciting.
And I'm here to share a bit of news that's got me flummoxed.
This past weekend Snowdance held constant at the number four spot on the Whiskey Creek Press "Hot Titles" list, which has been a thrill!
I just saw that it's moved, though.
Snowdance is Number Two!!
I'm out of my mind over the news!
Friday, August 03, 2007
No, it doesn't have to do with pickles.
Snowdance is Number 8 on the top ten list at Whiskey Creek Press!! Woo Hoo!!
Just thought I'd share.
Yesterday someone asked, "What's next? You've had your first novel published, so now what?"
Hey, I thought I could settle back for a bit, enjoy the feeling of supreme happiness that swept over me on August 1st.
All right, I'll spill it. The "next" thing on my list, the most pressing thing in my mind, is pickles.
Yesterday we made 14 pints of bread-and-butter pickles. This weekend? Dill spears. I'm not sure that's what everyone does when they've just published their first novel, but in our house the "next" thing is pickles.
Who knows what we'll do after my second book comes out? But now, pickles.
Oh, and although I haven't tried doing this yet, I've got a recipe for fried pickles. Oh? You'd like to see that? Sure, here it is:
Fried Dill Pickles
1 cup flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup ice water
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons dill pickle juice
3 cups drained dill pickle slices, 1/4-inch thick
vegetable oil for frying
Combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Add wet ingredients and whisk together until batter is smooth. Cover bowl and chill for 45 minutes.
Heat at least 2 inches of oil in a deep pan or fryer. Dip pickle slices in batter, coating evenly, then fry in hot oil. Drain pickles on paper toweling. Serve immediately.
Thursday, August 02, 2007
Well, it's finally happened. My first novel has been published. Snowdance became available yesterday! What an amazing feeling!
I'm lucky to have wonderfully supportive family and friends. For the cards, gorgeous flowers and fun emails, I thank you all. You helped make my big day truly memorable. My darling husband took me out for a day of adventure, and we had a fabulous time. I will never forget the beautiful sunny August day that my first novel was released. Never.
Now? Now back to writing. I've just begun reworking the novel that comes out in March, called Vineyard Mambo. This one is very different from Snowdance. It's a murder mystery and not nearly as introspective. I'm enjoying fine-tuning it, although I've just started so who knows how I'll feel when I hit chapter 30?! Anyhow, now that Snowdance is out I'll have to get back to work. I'm also writing a new novel, so life is never dull!
Thanks for sharing my big moment with me. :)
P.S. - Wendy, thanks so much for being so supportive. Your cheerful emails have done so much to calm any pre-release jitters! You are a great friend!!