Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Fowl, Tale

Thunder crashed. The morning was gray and gloomy, and rain fell so hard it bounced off the windows.

"What're you going to talk about this morning?" He peered over her shoulder. Then, he scowled. The computer screen was blank. "I think they expect more than that, honey."

Sighing, she put her chin on her hand and stared at the world outside. "I know. But it's, it's just so foul out there I can't think of anything warm and cozy to talk about. I feel kind of..." Another sigh, bigger than the first. "...gloomy."

A snort. "I gathered. Hey, what about the Cider Mill? We were there just a couple of days ago, remember?"

"How could I forget? It was warm. Sunny. No thunder."

"That's right." He leaned down, put a fast kiss on her temple. "Write about the Mill. I'll go put the coffee on."

His footsteps grew faint on the stairs. She stared out the window. Rain at night was all right, but during the day? It just rubbed her the wrong way. She wanted to cut the lawn, pick beans and prune the roses. How was she supposed to do that when it was raining so hard?

"The Mill," she grumbled, turning her attention to the computer. "Now that was a day. Hot, just the way summer's supposed to be. And all those ducks looking for attention." Smiling, she scrolled through the photo file. "Yeah, everyone's got a story to tell. Even ducks..."

"Ooh! Look, a lady with a camera. Maybe she'll take my picture..."
"Hey--wait for me! I want to have my picture taken, too!"

"Not me. Uh uh, I don't want anyone taking my picture.
Might end up on one of those weird Internet sites.
Might end up in some duck porn flick.
I hear they can do crazy things with pictures now.
Nope, don't take my picture, Lady."

"Me, either. I don't like havin' my picture taken.
Don't wanna be in any dirty duck movie."

"Me, take me! Aren't I the prettiest one here?"

"Uh, sorry. No, you're not the prettiest.
That would be me, because I've got these little brown squiggly spots.
Hate to break it to you, but you don't have any spots.
Just white fluffy feathers.
What's the big deal in that? Huh?"

"But can you do this? Hmm?"

"Don't pay any attention to them.
They're all birdbrains."

"Hey! Who're you calling a birdbrain?"

"Yeah, yeah...birdbrain this."

Monday, July 28, 2008

Traveling Eyes & Alibis

Good Monday morning. I hope you've had a nice, relaxing summer weekend. Here we've enjoyed yet another quiet stretch of time. Yeah, summer is in full swing here.

We had a wild Saturday night. Really, we did. Loud. Exhilirating. Filled with heart-thudding moments. That's right, we had a thunderstorm. Lightning kept the mountains around us almost constantly illuminated and the thunder crashed so loudly we could feel the house shake. Don't you just love storms like that? I do. I really do.

Before the storm, I finished reading a book I picked up last week. It's on the paperback bestseller list and I've been looking forward to reading it. It's gotten some buzz and a bunch of great reviews so I was psyched. And no, I'm not going to tell you the title. I believe in the "if you can't say anything nice..." rule and since I'm going to make an observation that could be construed as less than complimentary I'm going to keep the name of the book to myself.

Anyhow, although I was sucked right into the story I was--over and over again--pulled right out of it by one small issue. It's one of my "peeves" about writing. Notice I didn't say "pet peeves" because I don't believe peeves should be pets. My pets? Pampered, encouraged to grow and flourish. Why nurture something that gets under your skin? Me, I definitely don't pet a peeve.

So, what was it that agitated me? Traveling eyes. On nearly every page one character or another had traveling eyes. As in "his eyes travelled the length of her body" or "she turned, her eyes travelling across the room." In this story eyes swept, trailed, moved, danced...well, you get the idea. When I see any phrase that has eyes leaving a body and moving about on their own I can't help but shudder. I envision eyes putting on shoes and grabbing passports, readying themselves for travel. Do they pack bags to take along when they go trailing? Snacks, to sustain them on the long trip? Or how about when they dance? Do they wear special dancing shoes or do they just hop up and down on their squishy, trailing optic nerves?


Yeah, it's one of my peeves. Eyes gaze. They stare. They blink. They do all manner of things but they definitely should not travel. At least mine don't. And they never will, if I have my way.

I hope I haven't offended anyone by airing my one little peeve. That was not my intention. We all have 'em, don't we? The phrases, situations, nuances that pull us from an otherwise fabulous story...yeah, I think we've all got one or two peeves.

Now that you know what mine is, will you speak up and tell us what one bugs you?

Oh! Right...the alibi. I think I'll keep that observation to myself for now. I fear I've already stirred up enough trouble for a Monday morning.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

First Review for Sniffing Sand!

Five Angels from Fallen Angel Reviews
for Sniffing Sand

"...Let me say I love Sarita Leone’s books. She would be what I would call a reader’s author.
Mrs. Leone knows just how to write a good story and keep her fans coming back for more.
You can tell Sarita loves what she does as it shows in her books and that’s what makes her special."

-Cheryl, Reviewer for Fallen Angel Reviews

Read the whole review here.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Friday Round-Up

Ah, what a week it's been here. I can hardly believe it's Friday, the days have gone so fast. Flown by, almost! So much has happened; my head is just about spinning. Are you wondering what's been going on here, at our little hideaway in the middle of nowhere? (Take it from me; we really do live in the sticks!) Well...

A couple of trees fell down. Just...fell over. We had so much rain this week that the ground became saturated and trees just fell. Kind of sad, really, to see big old trees here and there in the grass. We'll use them for firewood but that means we'll be sawing, dragging, clearing and stacking--ugh. But that's on next week's agenda so I'm not going to think about it now. (Very Scarlett O'Hara-ish of me, don't you think?)

Hubby has been watching my little page of edit notes grow. I don't know how other authors work but when I'm doing a final read-through of a book I end up with a scrawled page of notes to myself. Things like "Vern Runyon's cow"..."man's or men's?"..."Mike--brown. Will--brown too. Good? Or crap?" You get the idea. They are the niggling bits and pieces I want to be sure of before sending the manuscript off to my editor for the last time. Hubby can't understand how I make sense of the mess, but I do. So, I've been reading a novel for the final time, making notes and wondering, as I always do, if it's just right. I think it is. I hope it is. Hmm...I guess I'll find out, won't I?

Zucchini. Blueberries. Lettuce. Cukes. Pickles. Jam. Freezing. Zucchini lasagna. Zucchini muffins. Zucchini...yeah, the gardens are in full production mode. It's exhilirating. Exciting. Scary.

And I'm still trying to decide what to write next. I know, I know, that shouldn't be a big decision, should it? You wouldn't think so. You'd think I'd just sit down and write. But that's not it, not this time. No, this time I've got a plan. Or two. Yes, two. And before I write I've got to decide which plan is the best one for me. writing. Just thinking. And hey, thinking takes up lots of time, you know?

How did your week go? Anything about it you'd like to share? I'm all ears!!

Ach...I just remembered. Corn. The corn's coming. Soon.

Sheesh. Who said farming was fun, anyway? Oh. Right. That would be me. ;-) Have a nice weekend!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Yoga Practice

Slowly...lift back and exhale...picture a string going in the top of your head, through your body and down to your toes. Now, the string is getting tighter...tighter...tighter--

"What're you doing?"

Without breaking the concentration it took ten minutes to find, she answers, her voice quiet and controlled. Hopefully. "Yoga."

Crossing his arms, he stands and watches. From the corner of her eye she see his mustache twitch as he tries not to laugh. Remembering the imaginary string, she straightens her back. Almost.

Then, a positon change.
Slowly...move into the posture, feeling your muscles relax...slowly...concentrate...feel the--

"What's that one called?"

"Cat pose." Inhale. Exhale.

With a fast glance at the television screen, he says, "Her arms--"

"I know." Through gritted teeth, "My shoulder, remember?"

"Right. But her legs--"

"My knee." Inhale. Exhale. Concentrate on not killing husband, she silently adds.

He shifts his gaze back and forth between wife and instructor. He murmurs, "Doesn't look comfortable. But not so hard, really."

Now, jump to your feet and prepare for--

"Pretty easy, to tell the truth." His brings his legs together, stretches his arms out from his sides. She tries to ignore him, concentrating instead on her breathing and form.

Slowly...slowly...feel your body lengthen. Feel the muscles--

"What the...?" He raises his arms above his head, and lifts one foot.

A grunt, followed by a thud, brings a small grin. "Tree pose."

Monday, July 21, 2008

Here? There?

Hubby and I are pretty well settled but every once in a while I get the relocation bug. Does that happen to you? Ever feel like you'd like to live in a neighborhood other than your own? Hmm? Do you wonder how it would feel to be in a completely different environment, surrounded by new sights? Sounds? People?

We do.

Or, I guess you would say, I do.

Lately the "what if...?" craze has bitten me, leaving an impression almost as tangible as one left by a giant, sharp-toothed mosquito. I've been looking at houses on the beach. In the wilds of Montana. Of course, in the hills of Umbria and Tuscany. On Crete and Sicily. Yeah, I've got it bad.

Hubby smiles, shakes his head and asks, "So when are you going to start the next book?" He knows that once I begin to write I'll lose the wanderlust gnawing at me. Until then, though...

What do you think of Sacramento?

And, if you could choose a new place to live, where would you choose?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Once upon a Tuesday evening...

"Where'd you get that scar again?" She pointed to the long, wide line just above his left knee. A fence? A piece of barbed wire? So many years, so many scars...who could remember?

"This one?"

"Uh huh, this one." Trailing her fingers over the line, she nodded.

"Well," he said, settling back against the lawn chair and grinning, "that's a long story."

A firefly flitted near her face. Swatting it away, she said, "I've got time."

"Well, I was walking in the wilderness--"

"New Jersey?"

"No, the real wilderness. New York."


"And I came upon a dragon. And--"

"A big dragon? Or just a little, bitty pocket dragon?"

He scowled. "A big dragon, of course. Really big and--"

"What color was the dragon?"

"He was green, and he had shiny stuff on him. Silver, I think it was. A reddish green--"

"Reddish green?" Raising an eyebrow, she looked at him like she'd spotted a thousand dollar bill on a sidewalk. "Reddish green?"

"That's right. Dragons can be all kinds of colors," he insisted. "Now, do you want to hear the story or not?"

"I do. Continue, please..."

Covering her hand on his knee with his, he traced a lazy thumb across her fingertips. "All right. So, I was walking in the wilderness and came upon a dragon. A big, reddish green dragon." He paused, turned and gazed into her eyes. Evidently her demeanor satisfied him because he turned back to face the mountains. She grinned, just a small twitch of her lips, but the growing darkness hid her expression. "I startled it. It was sleeping, and when I walked into the clearing I scared it, I think."

The challenge came on its own. "You scared a dragon?"

"That's right, I scared a dragon. It didn't expect to see me but it did so when it opened its eyes it--"

"It what?"

He turned. Leaning close, he said, "It bit me." He stared into her eyes but her gaze didn't waver. Finally, she nodded. Of course it bit him. Who wouldn't? In that instant she saw a flash of the little boy he'd been, rather than the man he was. Sighing, he said, "So I did the only thing I could do. I pulled out my sword--"

"Weren't you afraid he'd bite that, too?" She snickered.

"No, of course not! I didn't want to hurt him, so I pulled out my sword and pushed him back a bit. Just a little. Just enough so I could pass. Then, before I left I--"

"You what?" With a giggle, she said, "Read him a bedtime story so he'd go back to sleep?"

Ignoring her, he continued, "I cut him on the leg, right above his left knee. So he'd remember me. With matching cuts, it's impossible for him to forget meeting me. Dragons live for three, four hundred years, you know."

"I'm sure they do."

"And that's the way I got the scar."

"Thanks for reminding me."

They sat quietly for long minutes. Stars appeared above them.

"That's a long time to remember someone. Think he still remembers? That dragon, think he still remembers me?"

She patted his knee. "I'm sure he does. How could anyone forget meeting you?"

Monday, July 14, 2008

List in the Making

Happy Monday! I hope you had a wonderful weekend. Here we had rain yesterday which really made all of us with crunchy grass and drooping gardens excited beyond words. When I was a kid and it rained on Sunday it was reason for a long face and lots of grumbling. Now, I see the first raindrops and lift my gaze to the sky, urging the fat, dark clouds to have at it. My, how things do change.

Change. That's right. It's what's on my mind this morning. No, nothing big. No life-altering, drastic changes. I'm just contemplating the difference a week can make, how much things can evolve in just a few days. I don't know if you recall but last Monday I was half-crazed, almost out of my mind, trying to juggle a boatload of stuff all at once. Edits. Finishing a book. Keeping the gardens alive. Blogging. Finding time to talk to Hubby. Remembering to brush my hair.

You get the idea.

Well I'm happy (ecstatic!) to say my to-do list is...well, done. I took the weekend to catch up on all I'd neglected around here, as well. Banished the (enormous) dust bunnies. Cleaned the (science experiments from the) fridge. Straightened out my (exploded) closet. Reacquainted myself with the pots and pans in the kitchen, and the stove and oven. (Hubby is very happy to have eaten food that required more than one pot to prepare.) Played with cat.

Yes, all is well at Casa Leone.

Except...well, except now I don't have a to-do list. Sure, we've got stuff going on this week, doctor and hair appointments and gardening, things like that. But an on-the-desk to-do list? Uh...don't have one. Nope; I've checked all over my newly polished desktop and the familiar scrap of paper isn't here.

Kind of unsettling, this listless week. Very weird. So, what to do? Any suggestions?

Of course I could apply myself to a half-finished manuscript, an installment in one of the series I've got going. But no, I don't feel like doing that. Not because the book is bugging me or anything. It's just that I've just finished up with those characters. Kind of like revisiting friends you just visited a few days ago, you know? Nah, I like 'em but I don't want to see them again so soon.

But there has been a small-ish story I've had hammering in my head for a while now. Something entirely different from anything I've written before. Something kind of dark and sensual...yeah, that's it. I'll begin that this week. Sure, it'll work. A few days to let my mind wander among otherworldly creatures...

Now that I've got something to put on a list I've just got to find a small piece of...hey, who cleaned my desk and put away the scrap paper pile? Hmm?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Bits and pieces

It's Friday already? It's hard to believe but I've just checked the calendar and it's true. It's Friday. Really, it is. But you already know that, don't you?

Me? A little slow on the uptake, apparently. Honestly, I feel like I just wrote the Monday post sharing all the stuff I had on this week's To-do list. The days have flown...

The good news is I've all but cleared up the list. I kid you not! The edits on the upcoming book are almost done. A couple hours from now they'll be off to my editor. And the book I was working on finishing? The new installment in a series I've got going? Finished! I wrote the last words on Wednesday, spell-checked yesterday and wil be sending that manuscript right out to the publisher as soon as I finish chatting with you. So although the days have sort of smashed into each other I've gotten heaps done.

And there's been lots of downtime, too. We've rowed on the pond, tried a couple of new recipes and have picked berries every day this week. It's all good here.

Oh! And I'm still overwhelmed by the news Sniffing Sand has been chosen for the August book with a small book club. I am flattered. Wish I could be a fly on the wall at their book group discussion. Fingers crossed they like it! I've realized there are so many things about being an author that are exhilirating but bring a wobble to my knees at the same time. The good part is that everyone has been so nice, and the stuff that's given me fluttery moments has all turned out fine. So I'm honored and thrilled, and hope Sniffing Sand is up to the challenge.

If you're at all curious about a common sight of summer here in Upstate New York, you might want to check out The Lark Journals. I've posted a few photos.

What about you? How's your week been? Have you got any weekend plans?

Me? The weekend? I haven't gotten that far...after all, I've just realized Friday's here! I'll probably do some gardening, try and convince Hubby that strawberry shortcake is a proper dinner and dive into my reading pile.

Who knows? Maybe I'll even jot a few items on next week's To-do list. :)

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

From the Farm

A warm breeze blew through the gazebo, lifting a length of embroidery floss and carrying it away like a strand of pink spun sugar. It twirled as it went, catching and hanging on the low branch of an ash tree.

"Do you need that?" He arched an eyebrow at the tree as he fanned his face with a magazine. "Want me to get it?"

She shook her head, pushing her hair off her brow with the back of her hand. The thundershowers forecast was an unfulfilled promise. Dry, dusty and stifling, the heat was oppressive.

Snipping a dangling thread, she considered getting up for a glass of lemonade. It would require a trek across the yard, something that seemed much too tedious. No, better to sweat.

"No, thanks. It was a spare, anyway." She unraveled another length of floss, doubled the strand and threaded her needle. Humming softly, she pushed the needle into the fabric.

"What is that, Here Comes Santa Claus?"

"Uh huh." She nodded. Hummed. Stitched.

A few minutes later, "It's July, and you're humming Christmas carols?"

"Yup." She bent her head to the task before her, hiding her grin.

Finally he dropped the magazine on the glass-top table and turned to face her. His curls had tightened in the heat and even with a sheen of perspiration on his brow he made her heart hammer. She waited, knowing full well what was coming.

He didn't disappoint. Leaning close, he asked, "What is it? What are you making?"

Holding up the partially stitched muslin, she said, "Snowmen."

"In July?"

"Of course. Is there a better time to make snowmen?" Poking the needle into the corner of the fabric, she placed it on the table and gathered up the snippets of thread scattered on her lap. The birds loved them for their nests so she tossed them to the grass. She stood. "Lemonade? Or iced tea?"

He picked up the fabric, examining it closely. His brow furrowed. "Lemonade, please."

"Be right back." She took two steps across the dry grass, then stopped when she heard his voice.

"Why snowmen?"

"Why not?"

"But in July?"

"No better time for it," she said, smiling.

"How do you figure?"

She shrugged. "Reminds me to enjoy the sweltering hot days of summer. Sooner than we want, snow will fall and it'll be cold. We'll wish for warm days, hot nights. We'll want sweat, even. But now? We've got it all. Great time for snowmen, don't you think?"

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Legal Tender Sneak Peek

Legal Tender releases in September 2008.

Lindy thinks she has it all. An exciting life in New York City. Career prospects. Men. And she does, too. That is, until Granny Walker is killed. Then, all bets are off.

To satisfy the terms of Granny’s will Lindy must step into her grandmother’s orthopedic shoes and assume her place on the family farm. She’ll have to uncover the mystery between a raging bull and a mustang, all while finding a husband and fighting off a nasty cousin.

Life on the farm makes a white sale at Bloomie’s look like child’s play!

Can a woman who’s more comfortable in stilettos than boots move from the city to the country and still have everything she’s always dreamed of? Maybe she can—with some luck and a lot of help from Granny Walker herself.

You see, the wise-cracking, advice-giving ghost isn’t quite ready to give up the old homestead. Not yet, anyway.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Monday After

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday weekend. July 4th is honestly one of my all-time favorite holidays. Why? Because it's in the summer, that's a plus. And it involves family, friends and fireworks, all things I love. But mostly, July 4th is big in my book because of all it stands for. Freedom, at all costs and against all odds. Hope, strength and promise...what could be better reasons for celebrating?

And did I mention there are fireworks?

I hope you'll forgive me for being brief this morning but I took the long holiday weekend to spend time with our family, enjoying all the abovementioned items. Of course, you didn't see any mention of "work" above, did you? So I'm going to be scurrying all week long to catch up on work but it was well worth it to spend the holiday celebrating.

This week? Edits on an upcoming release. Also, fine tuning and submitting a novel in a series that's already begun. No, no hints on which book it is!

Here are a few of the photos I took July 4th. You'll have to imagine the booming, but at least you'll get to share in the sight of our fireworks! Enjoy!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Big News!

Big news!

I got an email yesterday from a reader in Virginia. She said Sniffing Sand is going to be her book club's reading selection for the month of August! Can you imagine?

I'm honored and thrilled and...well, I'm a tad nervous. I really, really hope they enjoy the book. I had a blast writing it and so far it's gotten great early reader response but still, I've got a bit of a wobbly stomach over this news. I guess it's one thing to have a single reader reading, but it's a whole other deal to know a group of readers will be sitting around talking about plot, motivation, character--the whole shebang.

Deep breath in...deep breath need to give myself the willies, is there? I'm thrilled, and I hope the Virginia readers will be, too.

Happy Saturday! :)

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy Fourth of July!

Ev'ry heart beats true 'neath the Red, White and Blue
~George M. Cohan

Patriotism is easy to understand in America -
it means looking out for yourself by looking out for your country.
~Calvin Coolidge

We dare not forget that we are the heirs of that first revolution.
~John F. Kennedy

The American Revolution was a beginning, not a consummation.
~Woodrow Wilson

This nation will remain the land of the free only
so long as it is the home of the brave.
~Elmer Davis

God Bless America

While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,
Let us swear allegiance to a land that's free.
Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,
As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer:

God bless America, land that I love,
Stand beside her and guide her
Through the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans white with foam,
God bless America,
My home sweet home.
~Irving Berlin

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

After Midnight

The night was warm and sultry. Moist, from the cloudburst that swept through earlier. Now moonlight shimmered on the water's surface. Crickets chirped. Frogs sang, their haruumphing overlapping so it was a steady hum.

She slapped at a mosquito so hard the sting brought a tear to her eye.


"I didn't say anything," she whispered, rubbing her skin where it still tingled. She turned and scowled at him but he was too busy scanning the treeline to notice. Perched on a wooden picnic tabletop beneath the low-hanging branches of an enormous maple tree they were nearly obscure. Or so they hoped. "And don't 'shh!' me."

"Hush, then," he hissed. "It's almost time." He wrapped an arm around her shoulders, pulling her tight against his side. When he spoke his lips were so close she felt his warm breath on her cheek. "'ll be soon. I know it."

Her eyes had become accustomed to the night. She reluctantly pulled her attention from the sight of his rugged good looks and focused on the meadow. A trail ran up the hillside, across the clearing and into the forest. She doubted the success of their mission but the adventure was enough to keep her from slapping the pesky mosquito again. It had found the only patch of unprotected skin on her ankle and seemed hellbent on biting her. Oh well, one small bite...what can it hurt?

"How do you know?"

He chuckled, softly. "I know."

"You're sure?"

"Mmm hmm." His voice was so low it was hardly loud enough to be heard above the rustle of the leaves that sheltered them. She felt it, though. Every word, rumbling from his body to hers, sending shivers of anticipation up her spine. Oh yes, she heard him. Loud and clear. "Two nights in a row. I thought the first one was luck. The second, a fluke. And tonight will be--"

Movement at the far edge of the path halted conversation. They stared as a gray fox stepped out of the shadows. It stood, sniffed the air, then walked out onto the trail. Surrounded by tall grass it must have felt secure because its stroll was casual, unhurried. They sat, transfixed, as the wild creature crossed the large meadow. Finally, with a last wave of its bushy tail, the fox melted into the shadows.

Together they exhaled. Neither had been aware they held their breath.

"Did you see it?"

She nodded, shaking her head in amazement. For once, words failed her.

"I told you it would come." Grinning, he squeezed her shoulder. "Three nights in a row! It's--"

"Magic," she sighed.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Release Day!

Building the perfect house on idyllic Chincoteague Island is a dream come true—or so Nina thinks. But when her marriage ends just as the finishing touches are put on her beachfront home, Nina’s pleasure turns to pain. To further complicate things, a body washes up just outside her back door. Not just any body, either. Facedown and seaweed-covered, the corpse is her ex’s new lover. Now that presents its own share of problems!

Maxx Tallman, Chincoteague’s Chief of Police, is smart, handsome and fast on the trail of the murderer. He just might be the man to help Nina free herself from the web of intrigue that ensnares her. Who knows? He might be the one to help fill her lonely nights, too.

But first they’ve got to catch a killer. Fast—before the tide pushes any more bodies onto the sand.

Purchase here.