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,

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

“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?


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


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


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


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... 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! :)


"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

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

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.

Monday, September 10, 2007

"Why does anybody tell a story?"

“Why does anybody tell a story?” she once asked, even though she knew the answer.

“It does indeed have something to do with faith,” she said, “faith that the universe has meaning, that our little human lives are not irrelevant, that what we choose or say or do matters, matters cosmically.” --Madeleine L'Engle, 1918-2007

Madeleine L'Engle, an author whose magical words touched hearts the world over, died last Thursday in LItchfield, Connecticut. She was 88. Anyone who has read A Wrinkle in Time can attest to this author's brilliance. I've always found it particularly interesting that A Wrinkle in Time was rejected 26 times before it was published.

A wonderful account of her life can be found here.

Madeleine L'Engle is a woman who will be heard and loved for generations to come. Aren't we glad she took the time to tell a story?

Just in case

a four a.m. gardening enthusiast shows up. :)

Four A.M. Temptations

Ha! I got you with the post title, didn't I? You probably thought there'd be something racy here but alas, it's just me. Again.

Oh, the early morning temptations? Sure, I'll share.

A lot of you know I rise at the ridiculous hour of...I don't know, maybe three or four a.m. and begin writing. I write, promo, blog, whatever needs to be done, for a bunch of hours before my wonderful husband wakes up. Because after he's awake, I'm all his and writing waits. We've got too much to do for me to spend endless hours at the keyboard. So, I am generally awake by four a.m.

And sometimes I give in to temptation. Occasionally I'll eat a cookie or two, just something to hold me over until we have breakfast. So there, my first temptational confession.

Other times, like this morning, I give in to the lure of poking in to random blogs. You know, the ones that scroll past on the sign-in menu? Such intriguing names, so many undiscovered sites... I'll admit that I often regret checking these out and have seen some truly disgusting things but once in a while, like this morning, I find something that holds my attention. This morning's random blog kept me hostage for ten minutes while I nosed about in someone else's garden. Photos of spiders and cleome, an herb garden, a cascade of something frilly and pink on an ancient stone wall. Yeah, it was right up my alley.

Oh? The name of the random blog? Let's see, it, I, that wasn't it. Maybe it was--well, I've forgotten the name of this morning's four a.m. temptation blogsite. Guess you'll just have to poke around yourself sometime, see what you can dig up. If you find anything interesting, please let me know. After all, I'm sure I'll need to be tempted again sometime soon.

Hey, I wonder... Do you think I'm ever the object of someone's four a.m. temptation? I hope I am. Kind of fun to think of someone sitting in a dark office, munching a cookie, reading about my latest work in progress or upcoming release.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

What's in your backyard?

This is what I found in ours this morning. Isn't she a beauty?

Friday, September 07, 2007

Just a fun tidbit...

Since the 3rd of this month, Snowdance is back on the Whiskey Creek Press "Hot Titles" list. I'm so psyched; I honestly didn't expect it to be there for August and now it's back up again in September! Wow!

It's number 2, and has been for the past few days. My volume of short stories, Whiskey Shots Volume 6, is number 6 on the list. Just a great feeling to see my titles there! :)

What a way to head into another beautiful weekend. Got to enjoy these last lingering summertime days while we can, don't we? Here, it's going to be gardening, rowing and eating outdoors. Hope whatever you've got planned brings you pleasure.


What are you reading? Really, what book is open on your bedside table? Or desk? Or ebook reader? Because I've just finished reading a great book (for the second time, I'll admit) and am wondering what I'll begin reading next.

Oh? What did I like so much I actually went back and re-read it? The Saddlemaker's Wife, by Earlene Fowler. I'm a huge Earlene Fowler fan. I love all of her quilt books. Benni and Gabe are memorable characters and I am thrilled with each new quilt book release. This book has a very different feel to it than Fowler's other books. It is the story of one woman's journey to her husband's hometown. She goes with his ashes, hoping to put him to rest and move on. She finds she's drawn to the world he's kept hidden from her, and the people he didn't share with her. It is a heartwarming tale. Obviously I enjoyed it--I read it twice.

But the question is what shall I read next? Any suggestions?

For my part, I suggest reading The Saddlemaker's Wife. It pulled me in--twice!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Heaven's Gain

Opera is a big deal in our house. Huge, maybe. There isn't a day that goes by where at least one of the three greats hasn't been heard in our home or our hearts.




My husband is apt to have Caruso playing in his workshop as he builds. Enrico's Nessun Dorma compliments the buzz of the band saw or whine of his drill.

My desk is never without at least one or two Andrea Bocelli CDs on it. I play Andrea while I write, humming along to Sempre O Mai as my fingers move over the keyboard.

And Pavarotti? The great tenor is what we play while we cook, relax on the porch, read, carve, sew--in short, he's the background for our "normal" lives.

I am deeply saddened to learn this morning of Luciano Pavarotti's passing. Yet, I smiled as I read this story. My heart cries to know he has lost his battle with cancer, but it sings as I read about a life well lived.

I'm angered that we still have no cure for the damn disease that claims so many. I wonder how many more years will pass while we grieve, losing those we love to this insidious disease. There's got to be a cure, doesn't there? Somewhere, somehow? Someday soon?

Today our loss is Heaven's gain. Luciano is singing Ave Maria for the angels, while we remember a truly talented man's all-too-short but wonderfully productive life.

Ciao, Luciano. Li mancheremo.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Greener Grass?

I can't resist. My friend Judy in Australia sent this joke and I've been grinning ever since I read it. I don't know why, it's really not that funny but it pushes my buttons. Let's see if it pushes yours, too...

A man was sick and tired of going to work every day while his wife stayed home.

He wanted her to see what he went through so he prayed:

"Dear Lord, I go to work every day and put in 8 hours while my wife merely stays at home. I want her to know what I go through, so please allow her body to switch with mine for a day. Amen."

God, in his infinite wisdom, granted the man's wish.The next morning, sure enough, the man awoke as a woman, without any say about it...

He arose, cooked breakfast for his mate, awakened the kids, set out their school clothes, fed them breakfast, packed their lunches, drove them to school, came home and picked up the dry cleaning, took it to the cleaners and stopped at the bank to make a deposit, went grocery shopping, the n drove home to put away the groceries, paid the bills and balanced the check book.

He cleaned the cat's litter box and bathed the dog.

Then it was already 1 P.M. and he hurried to make the beds, do the laundry, vacuum, dust, and sweep and mop the kitchen floor.

Ran to the school to pick up the kids and got into an argument with them on the way home. Set out milk and cookies and got the kids organized to do their homework, then set up the ironing board and watched TV while he did the ironing.

At 4:30 he began peeling potatoes and washing vegetables for salad, breaded the pork chops and snapped fresh beans for supper.

After supper, he cleaned the kitchen, ran the dishwasher, folded laundry, bathed the kids, and put them to bed.

At 9 P.M. he was exhausted and, though his daily chores weren't finished, he went to bed where he was expected to make love, which he managed to get through without complaint.

The next morning, he awoke and immediately knelt by the bed and said, "Lord, I don't know what I was thinking. I was so wrong to envy my wife's being able to stay home all day. Please, oh please, let us trade back."

The Lord, in his infinite wisdom, replied,"My son, I feel you have learned your lesson and I will be happy to change things back to the way they were.

You'll just have to wait nine months, though. You got pregnant last night."

Thanks Jude! :)

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Morsus Diem

Often I am asked how I manage to squeeze so much into a day. Writing, canning, freezing, quilting, gardening...the list goes on and on. I've got tons of interests and, as we all know, there are only so many hours to each day.

"How do you do it?" people ask.

I smile and think, How could I not?

But I've got to admit I've got a little technique I use for squashing things into a day, a Latin-inspired trick.

I get up early. Sometimes very early. While the world sleeps, I write. That way, by the time the sun comes up I'm ready to move on to other adventures. This morning, for instance. It's still dark yet I've been up for two hours already. Working on reworking Vineyard Mambo. This afternoon I'll begin writing my next book, and I won't feel guilty for not working on tweaking VM. Not one bit.

You see, I'll have already put my time in on that manuscript. Get it? A Latin trick.

We all know that "Carpe diem" means "Seize the day." Wonderful credo to live by. Seize the day. Take advantage of every moment alloted to you. Do what you want to do today rather than tomorrow--for who knows how many tomorrows we really have? As I said, a great expression to keep in mind.

I have a few other Latin expressions I live by. Let me share them with you...

Tendo diem. Stretch the day. Well, really, that's what getting up before the rooster is all about. I have to stretch time somehow, don't I?

Basium diem. Kiss the day. And why not? Cherish each day, kiss it as if it were a lover. Who knows how many more times I'll feel the touch of this particular lover's lips on mine? Yeah, I'll kiss each day--hard.

Utor diem. Enjoy the day. Self-explanatory, that one.

Diligo diem. Love the day. Also needs no 'splainin'.

And lastly, two of my favorites. The first so telling of my character, I think.

Morsus diem. Bite the day. Don't let time pass without taking a taste of everything. It won't all be pleasing to my palate but at least I'll know I took a taste. Yeah, I bite the days. Try it, you just may find they're sweeter than you think.

And finally...

Exsisto gratias ago pro diem. Be thankful for the day. And I am. Thankful for every moment of every day.

Now, back to writing. Soon the sun will rise. I'll take a moment to see it peek over the horizon, glad that I've done my Latin stretching exercises and am ready to Saluto diem--Greet the day.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Still a holiday... I'm still playing hooky!

I've heard that there are parts of the country where gardens have flopped this summer. Understandable, given the extremes in weather we've had. Ours? Not flopping. In fact, the gardens have produced such bumper crops the plants are practically tossing veggies onto the lawn in an effort to divest themselves of the heavy loads they carry. We can't pick the stuff fast enough. Of course that means canning and freezing (as well as leaving bags of produce on unsuspecting neighbors' doorsteps!) so part of my holiday hooky day will be spent harvesting. I don't mind, especially not when the sky is that deep cerulean blue I love so much and butterflies waft past my nose on gentle breezes.

No, not a bad gig at all. :)

Hope you're spending your holiday doing something you enjoy!

Snowdance review

Snowdance is an all American gem. A delightfully honest account of one woman’s life from birth to her final days, this is a story that brings forth the full spectrum of emotions from joy to sorrow. The ending is completely unexpected and totally unforgettable.
The part that amazed me most was that this story completely takes place during the span of one day. Elinor Montoya is an elderly woman, home alone, watching a snowstorm from her window. She’s almost one hundred and it seems this may very well be her last day on earth. She sits beside the window, watching the snow fall, and contemplates her life. Using memories and a small box filled with precious letters, she tells the whole story of her existence. Her entire life has been lived in the house where she sits but she’s had a full, rich life. Even at the end, she’s not fearful of death but joyful over the experiences she’s had. Chronicling almost a century of change, Snowdance tells the tale of a life well lived in an ever changing world.
Snowdance needs no artifice, no extra window dressing to make it a knockout. The series of tales that carry the reader through Elinor’s birth to the day of the story are wonderful, endearing glimpses into an American life. Not all the memories this old woman has are happy. Some are painful and there are things in her life that are definite obstacles that she had overcome. Elinor’s fortitude and intelligence are commendable, and along with the love she so freely showers on those around her, make her a remarkable woman. She is a character that comes to life, and the reader is pulled right into her extraordinary world. Using vivid images, with a rhythm that is almost soothing in its steadiness, Ms. Leone weaves a tale of love, bravery and personal integrity that is compelling. Snowdance is an enchanting story. Bravo, Ms. Leone, for an outstanding read!
Reviewed by: Carly

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Inspiration in a...


Yep, that's right. A cornfield. Hey, it's Sunday. A holiday weekend--one of the last weekends of summer and I just don't feel like working. I'm having too much fun spending time with family and friends, enjoying the last warm breezes and taking time to smell the cornstalks. That's right, I'm spending lots of time in the garden these days. Everything is ripe and I just can't pick the crops quickly enough. We're bringing zucchini, tomatoes, squash, peppers and loads of other stuff in by bushels. Most of it we're canning or freezing for winter use, but we're eating tons of veggies now.

Getting real creative about how I'm cooking the neverending harvest. Finding inspiration, you might say.

Anyhow, I'm making corn chowder this week. Thought you might want to, too.

Simple Corn Chowder

2 T. butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small carrot, finely chopped
4 ears of sweet corn, kernels removed from the cobs
1 bay leaf
4 cups milk
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 red pepper, finely chopped
1 t. thyme
salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in large stockpot over medium heat. Add onion and carrot and saute until carrots are tender and onion is translucent. Lower heat, then add milk, bay leaf, potatoes, pepper and spices. Simmer until potatoes are tender. Add corn. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer again. Cook for 10-15 minutes. Adjust salt and pepper as necessary.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Egads! What a way to start a month!...

...With a smile on my face!

I just took a peek at the Whiskey Creek website and perused the new selections offered. A number of books that look really interesting there--I may just have to find some time to sit down and read a few, if not all, of them. (As if I could help induging in my passionate obsession--reading! Ha!)

While I was there I checked out the Top Sellers for August. You know, the little swirling banner thingy beneath the number one book at the top center of the page? Right, that twirling thingy. So anyway, I clicked on, curious to see who'd done particularly well last month and--I have to say this--I jumped up and down, screeching like a banshee!!

Snowdance is NUMBER THREE on the August Bestseller List!

Oh yeah, I'm smiling. My heart is pounding and I'm absolutely flabbergasted. I had no idea my book was selling so well.

But honestly? I'm tickled! Who wouldn't be?!