Monday, March 31, 2008

Riding Shotgun After Midnight

Happy Monday morning. So glad to see you.

I've been awake for hours, something I hadn't planned on but which has definitely been a productive move. I've gotten lots of catch-up work done and the sun hasn't even peeked over the horizon yet.

And what do I have to thank for this glut of pre-dawn work time? None other than my subconscious, who in its infinite wisdom chose to grace me with a terror-inducing nightmare at 4 am. Yes, 4 am. Exactly.

How am I so sure it was precisely 4 am? Because about twenty seconds after I sat straight up in the bed, the grandfather clock began to toll. I didn't even need to count the chimes, although I did, from force of habit I suppose. No, I knew how many times the chimes would sound.

How did I know? Because at least once a week my darling, overactive subconscious sees fit to wake me with a nightmare. At exactly 4 am. Apparently 4 am is the nightmare hour, at least for me. 4 am. Ugh. I just want to know why 7 or even 8 can't be my magical nighmare number? Huh? What's up with that, anyway?

It would figure that one of this morning's news headlines is about a Bullet-Proof "Safe" Bed that has its own toilet, microwave and can stop a .357 slug. I want to know who goes to sleep expecting they may be shot at while they're wearing their jammies? Me, I wouldn't go to sleep --ever-- if I figured my flowered flannels would be full of holes by morning. I could never sleep in the "safe" bed, anyway. It looks like a coffin and I'm going to save my coffin-dwelling time for when I really need it, like when I'm in eternal slumber mode. And while I know an in-bed toilet would please some people, it's something I, personally, never hope to see. Don't even get me started on the whys of that because hey, it's early and I've got a lot of time on my hands and I might just tell you what I think of sleeping and, well, doing other things in the same space. Uh uh. Not for me, thank you very much.

The full "safe" bed article is here. In case you're, you know, interested in that sort of thing.

And I doubt even a microwave in my bed could prevent the 4 am nightmares. I don't use the kitchen microwave for anything other than heating water for tea and doing so would stimulate a need to use the facilities. I've already made my position on that one clear.

Sigmund Freud said that dreams are a "safety valve" for unconscious desires. Huh. I wonder what that says about my 4 am escapades?

I checked out the nighmare page at Psychology Today. Their basic take on the situation? Most nightmares may be a normal reaction to stress, and some clinicians believe they aid people in working through traumatic events.

Okay, then. I wasn't ever worried about my 4 am nightmares, especially since I use the extra waking hours to get stuff done at the computer. And since the great minds of psychology feel my vivid dreams are nothing more than a safety valve for subliminal urges and are helping me deal with real or imagined stress or trauma, it's all good. I mean, how could it not be?

Now I know for sure that if I'm ever on a pilotless plane flying through the vortex of a thunderstorm/hurricane/tsunami in a first class cabin filled with flesh-eating aliens and no olives for the martinis, I'll do just fine. Just. Fine.

What about you? Do you have nightmares, or are all your dream trips the warm, fuzzy kind?

I'm sure I saw an empty seat or two on the plane, if you're interested. They were in coach, mind you, but I'll bet the view is just as thrilling. Maybe more so, even. Who knows? The aliens back there might be more into discussing books and movies than eating your face. Or, maybe not.

I guess that's part of the fun of the 4 am nightmare ride. You just never know when it's going to begin. Or how it's going to end.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

A Note of Thanks

As I attempt to step back into my "normal" life, I can't begin to simply get on with things without taking a moment to thank everyone who's been so fabulously supportive these past months. You know who you are. You emailed, sent cards and phoned. Close family and friends did all that and much, much more besides. We can never adequately thank everyone who helped us but I hope you all know we will be forever grateful for everything you've done -- and continue to do. When we count our blessings and say our prayers, you're all included. So thank you, sincerely.

The plan for today? Nothing writerly or even exciting, really. I'm going to clean house. These past weeks have given the dust bunnies the run of the place. Although some bunnies are cute, these sneeze-inducing ones arent and I'm ready to send them packing. So, a clean house is the first order of business here. I'm so looking forward to it. :)

Have a great weekend!

Friday, March 28, 2008

A Little Bit of Mambo

One of the best moments for an author is the delivery of the first box of books. I nearly fainted when the first carton filled with copies of Snowdance was delivered. This morning, when the first wave of Vineyard Mambo arrived, I once again came close to swooning. Not really, since I'm not the swooning type, but I definitely did feel a huge wave of butterflies in my tummy! It's just such an exciting, satisfying, invigorating moment. As the box passed from hand to hand and I felt its weight a grin split my face. My heart swelled, and maybe I did feel the hint of a swoon. Just a hint, mind you.

Today's a red-letter day in our house and I had to share it with all of you. It's a good day in other respects, as well. My hubby is regaining his health, which is by far the best news I could ask for. I'm hopeful that he'll continue to improve, and that we'll soon be able to reclaim our lives and get back to the ho-hum, everyday life that we enjoy so much.

Until then, I'm going to sit here and grin. :)

Have a great weekend!

By the way...

Vineyard Mambo is currently 15% off at Whiskey Creek Press. The link is here, if you're interested.

Have a great weekend! I've got to get back to grinning at the box of books. :)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Wanna bet?

Normalcy returned to our home for a few hours last night and it was sweet. We sat before a roaring fire, held hands and watched an old movie on the classics station. Sometimes it hardly matters what's on the screen; the important thing is the hand you're holding.

King Solomon's Mines, the 1950 version that won two Oscars, was playing. Have you seen the film? Read the book?

I've read King Solomon's Mines a few times and although the movie is good it doesn't hold a candle to the written story. Maybe that's because this is one of my favorite books for more than just the story itself. I love it for the story behind the story, too.

H. Rider Haggard wrote King Solomon's Mines in early 1885, the result of a wager he made with his brother. He thought he could write a decent tale, one at least half as good as Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island. His brother? He told him to pony up, put his money where his mouth was and put pen to paper. So H. Rider Haggard did just that. King Solomon's Mines was the result and although it wasn't published right away, it remains one of the most significant adventure novels of the time.

Don't you just love it? Sibling rivalry at its best, I think.

If you haven't read the book I urge you to sit down with it someday. Me? I love reading it on rainy afternoons or snow days, when an excursion into the African jungle is a welcome respite. Someday I'd love to go on safari, but until that time I'll quench my thirst for jungle adventure with this book. And, when it's playing on television, the film.

If you're interested, King Solomon's Mines is part of Project Guttenburg. You can download it for free here. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Life, Interrupted

I've missed my daily chat with all of you. It feels so good to be here, but a bit strange, too. It's hard to become disconnected from one's own life, but that's exactly how I feel right about now. As if I've been away, which I suppose I have been. Huh. Anyhow, it's great to be here again. I hope you've all been well. :)

This will be a short post because life is still topsy-turvy in our world but I wanted to give you a glimpse into what's kept me away. Most of you know I'm married to a wonderful man, one who makes my heart sing and brings joy to my life in countless ways. He's a gift, and we are happy.

About four weeks ago my darling husband got sick, and we assumed (incorrectly) he'd gotten the flu. You know the one. It's been in headlines and on CNN time and again these past weeks. Apparently there's an epidemic that's sweeping the nation. A miserable, lousy strain of the flu that somehow got past the shot most of us had in the fall. Anyhow, we thought he had the flu. When two weeks passed and his symptoms grew more intense instead of subsiding, we knew something was up. Something that wasn't the flu.

Unfortunately we were right and these past weeks, especially, the past ten days or so, have been a sometimes terrifying journey toward finding out just what ails my darling man. Too, we're searching for a way to restore his health. There have been tests and some preliminary results but we're still waiting on an actual diagnosis. Hopefully this last round of testing will confirm what the doctor suspects, and we'll be able to move forward. In the meantime we've finally been given a reprieve in the form of a drug that relieves most of the symptoms and much of the pain, so things are looking up.

We are hopeful, and have faith we'll find a way to put this health glitch behind us. Until that happens, I ask for patience. It's impossible to deal with ordinary things when days are measured by the hours between medication doses and nights are sleepless. I'm sure that the next week or so will give us the answers we seek and that we'll soon be back to normal life.

Boy, I never thought I'd wish for mundane, ho-hum or ordinary, but that's just what I'm doing! Then, you'll once again be stuck with me every morning, chatting about the silly things that make life what it is. Between us, I much prefer silly to the stuff we've been dealing with, and I'm looking forward to once again chatting about books, writing, life, gardening, sewing and...well, you know the rest.

Thanks to all who've expressed concern about my absence. I sincerely appreciate your reaching out. I never would have believed that a keystroke and kind words could feel so much like a real life hug, but that's exactly how all the wonderful emails I've gotten have felt. Thank you.

Hope you all have a great weekend. And please know I'll be back to visit as soon as humanly possible. I miss "normal" life and all of you.

Oh, and if you or someone you love has what you think is the flu and isn't getting better, please phone your doctor. It might be something more serious than you think it is. I hope it's not, but this is definitely one of those better-safe-than-sorry things. I wouldn't want any of you to experience what we're going through. Take good care, and stay healthy. :)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Lance Mackey Wins Iditarod!

"They're the best dogs, hands-down," Mackey said.

Don't you love it when someone has the grace to share the credit for doing something truly remarkable?

Lance Mackey, a 37-year-old throat cancer survivor, also won last year's race. His father and brother have both won Iditarods so I guess you could say it's a family tradition in the Mackey household. Some tradition, eh?

In the coming days I'm sure there will be many tales told about life on the 2008 trail. Me? I'll listen to as many as I can and picture it all, saving and savoring the details. The race to commemorate a 1925 run by sled dogs to deliver lifesaving diphtheria serum to Nome is an event that intrigues me. Maybe someday I'll get to see part of the route up close. Until then, I listen and dream.

A full story is here.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Robin watch

You know how most mornings the first thought you have before your eyes open is...well, completely unplanned? Since you're still probably half-asleep, your subconscious has an instant to have a voice that you "hear" and the first thought of the day is unscripted, uncensored and sometimes surprising.

My first thought this morning? Before my eyes opened and my mind knew it was waking?

The robins will be back soon.

Yeah, even my subconscious has a hankering for spring.

Did you know that the first robin you see in your yard is probably a male robin? It's true. In robinworld, males lead the way. They find a comfy spot for raising a nestful of babies. They're territorial, and once the male's chosen a spot for his new family, he defends the area by singing. Female robins arrive shortly after their men. They set up a nest, produce eggs and the rest, as they say, is history.

Attract robins to your yard in a variety of ways. Robins prefer bugs and fruit to seeds, so place grapes, strawberries and orange slices near your bird feeders. Hopefully your lawn will provide the bugs! Also, a birdbath will bring robins, and other birds, to the space. Then, all you've got to do is sit back and wait. If my subconscious is to be believed, the robins will be back soon.

That is, if it ever stops snowing!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Pink. Orange. Purple. Of course, purple!

Green. Lots of green.

Yellow, and some magenta. After all, how would it be if we didn't have a whole swath of magenta? Goodness, I shudder at the thought!

Fuschia, definitely. Not too much -- you know it can get hard on the eyes if there's too much fuschia.

Oh! How could I forget? Lavender! Loads and loads of it, so much it makes your eyes water, just heaps and heaps, waves and waves of laven--


Me? Oh, nothing much. Just planning flower beds.

Got piles of seed catalogs scattered on the table, an order pad and a pencil. Just made a pot of coffee and there's a fresh bag of Oreos in the pantry. Yes, I'm ready for gardening. Doesn't matter that it's fifteen degrees outside. In here it's hot and sultry, and I'm surrounded by color.

Later, I'll get on to that pesky book that's waiting for the final few chapters. But now? Gardening. :)

An addition...

to the From the Kitchen page. Easter Bread! Thought I'd share the recipe, and spread the news it's available. I love this bread. Easy to make, looks great and tastes yummy. :)

Monday, March 10, 2008


If you read this blog regularly you know I read a lot. No, really. A. Lot. My reading tastes are eclectic. No book snob here, I'll read anything from the classics to a cereal box. I don't ever remember a time when reading hasn't been a consumate pleasure.

With the high volume of books I inhale it says a lot when I reread one. And believe me, there are lots of favorites I read time and again. Yesterday I reopened a favorite. Want to know what I'm reading? Actually, what I'm rereading?

Do I even need to tell you who wrote it? Can you guess? I mean, he's such a favorite I call him He Who Need Not Be Named. That's right, it's a Stephen King novel. :)

Lisey's Story. I've recracked the spine on Lisey's Story. For those who haven't read it, Lisey's Story is about a writer's widow. At first glance it seems to be all about Lisey but as the reader is sucked into the story it's easy to see that the dead writer is still very much in the picture, and at the center of Lisey's life. I think the psychologically gripping points of this tale are a big part of what draws me to read it more than once. Too, there are references to earlier Stephen King works interspersed throughout this novel, and I get a kick out of playing a writerly sort of connect-the-dots.

So I'm currently experiencing a literary do-over, reading Lisey's Story by Stephen King. I loved it the first time I read it, and the second time, too. The third time it's still a charm.

What are you reading? And are you enjoying it?

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Day 8

It's Day 8 of the Iditarod. Run between Nome, on the western Bering Sea coast, and Anchorage, in south central Alaska, the 1150-mile course has been called the "Last Great Race on Earth."

I would have liked to try this. Instead, I watch the video clips and read the news reports. There are also updates from the trail, posted by family members, which are especially interesting.

A real point of interest in this year's race is that DeeDee Jonrowe is the winner of the GCI Dorothy Page Halfway award. The prize comes with $3,000 in gold nuggets. I don't think it's surprising that a woman won the award. What I find interesting is that she had no idea she was in the lead, no clue that she was going to win the award.

Her response when she learned she'd won? She was, understandably, happy and said she hadn't yet bought her husband a birthday gift. She thought gold nuggets might do.

Gold nuggets for a birthday? Nothing to sneeze about, that.

If you've got any interest at all in the race the site to check out is The Official Site of the Iditarod. There are some amazing pictures, first-hand accounts of previous races and all the facts and figures anyone could ask for.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Friday Fun

I'm blogging over at The Larks today. I hope you'll stop in and say hi, maybe share a giggle or two.

Yeah, it's Friday. I'm feeling like a kid at recess. In high school did you ever cut classes on Friday, head to the beach or shopping mall with your friends? C'mon, be honest. We're all friends here. you do know how I feel today, then. I thought you might.

I think the most taxing thing I'm going to do today is make a lasagne. Maybe. We could always have waffles and ice cream for dinner, I guess. I mean, two nights in a row wouldn't be so terrible, would it? Yeah...this feeling-like-Friday began on Thursday. Go figure.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

I hear the roar

In like a lion, out like a lamb.

The lion has a mighty roar this March.

Yesterday we were powerless, compliments of the lion's frigid breath. The ice storm was beautiful but all those coated limbs and power lines had no chance when the wind began to howl. So we sat by the woodstove, periodically ran the generator to keep the freezers cold and enjoyed the lion's roar.

After all, rumor has it that there's a lamb following somewhere and I'm a sucker for small, cuddly animals!

I guest blogged at Marianne Arkins' Reading, Writing and Stuff blog yesterday. Now that the power's on I finally got a chance to see it. I am tickled! If you get a chance, why not take a peek? A few words From the Vineyard might just be enough to chase away the lion in your neighborhood!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Summertime flash

I know this should go on the From the Kitchen page but I don't want anyone to miss it. It's that good!

A few years ago we planted a couple of strawberry patches in our yard. I love strawberries, and so does my husband. At the time it seemed like one patch just wouldn’t produce enough berries for our needs (desires!), so we tilled and planted in a number of different areas. Am I glad we did! Now summertime means strawberries in abundance! We pick enough sweet red berries to eat as many as we can possibly eat, and then some. The excess we use for jam. What’s left over after the jam, we freeze.

This morning I plan to pull out some frozen strawberries and make this cobbler recipe. It’s a simple recipe and it doesn’t matter a whit whether the berries are fresh or frozen.

Just one bite of this cobbler reminds me of long, hot summer days…fireflies and dandelions…reading in a hammock strung beneath two towering pines…

Summertime, when the living is easy…

Strawberry Cobbler

4 cups sliced strawberries
1 T. lemon juice
1 cup granulated sugar
1 T. cornstarch
2 cups biscuit mix
3 T. melted butter
½ cup milk
2 t. vanilla
½ t. cinnamon

In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine strawberries, lemon juice, sugar and cornstarch . Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and cook until mixture thickens. Pour hot strawberry mixture into an 8 or 9-inch square baking pan. Set aside.

In a large bowl combine biscuit mix, butter, milk , vanilla and cinnamon. Drop batter by spoonfuls over strawberry mixture.

Place baking pan in a pre-heated 400-degree oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Snowless Monday?

Oh my gosh. Is it real? A Monday morning without snow falling from the sky? I don't remember how long it's been since I've experienced such a phenomenon. Could it be? Dare I hope? Do you think? Is it a sign of spring? Or did Old Man Winter oversleep?

Whatever this weather glitch is, I'm taking it. No complaints here! I'm going to get myself outside, take a nice, long walk and enjoy the day. Then I'm going to work on ending a novel that's had me stumped for a while. Finally, though, I think I know how it's going to end so I'm going to get straight at it.

What've you got planned for this gorgeous, snowless Monday? Whatever it is, I hope it's enjoyable!

By the way...

there are new posts in From the Kitchen (Yummy!) and From the Garden. Have you peeked in lately? You just might be surprised by what you find there. :)

One more thing

This week I'm the guest moderator at The Wild Rose Press reader's loop. If you've got a moment I'd love it if you'd come on over and visit with us. A friendly group, those Wild Rose authors! We always have room for a new reader in the garden. :)

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Vineyard Mambo taps its foot!

As the emails I'm already getting indicate, some of you have noticed Vineyard Mambo is not being released today. I know, I know -- I've spent the past weeks promoting today's release. By now you're all probably pretty darn tired of hearing about it, too. But, alas, today is not the day.


Obviously I had no idea Vineyard Mambo was being pushed back to a mid-month release. I mean, just yesterday I was chatting about the book coming out today. Funny, now that I think of it. I've got to laugh, because although this is disappointing it really isn't such a big deal. Definitely not the end of the world. And in the grand scheme of things, as far as this being a "bad" thing in my life, it's hardly a blip. There are so so so many other things that can happen that are really, truly unfortunate. This isn't one of them.

So what happened? Some of you are aware that Whiskey Creek Press is celebrating its Fifth Anniversary this month. Congratulations to them on doing such a great job! :) As part of their birthday celebration they're making a few changes. One of their changes is moving toward a staggered release policy. Most publishers already do this, and honestly I think it's a great idea for WCP to stagger releases, too. There are many reasons publishers release books in rotation. The main one, I believe, is simply because it's good business. Good business practices for a publisher translate into better earnings for authors, and I wholeheartedly support that notion. I'm thrilled to be associated with a company who has its eye on the future.

Apparently my book is part of the first "staggered wave" and will be released on March 15th.

I've had to do a lot of scrambling in the past hours. I thank everyone who has been gracious enough to accomodate this change in plans. I especially thank the bookseller who has been wonderfully cheerful about my making extra work for him. He's offered to change the date on my promo materials himself and even assured me the publisher was saving "the best for last" and that is the reason we'll all have to wait an extra two weeks for Vineyard Mambo. God bless him, that's exactly what I needed to hear! Even if he was only trying to make me feel better, it was balm enough to soothe my disappointment.

So I hope you'll all be kind enough to wait with me for a few extra days to experience Vineyard Mambo. The book is complete, i's dotted and t's crossed, waiting along with us for the 15th. It' s just a couple more days, really. Right? That's all, just a few days. And what're a few days between friends?

Tonight the champagne will flow and we'll dance, and celebrate the impending release of Vineyard Mambo, rather than the actual release. It will give us something to laugh about, shake our heads over and toast to. I know that this little shift will be fodder for discussion for a long time to come with our family and friends. We'll say, "Do you remember?..." and "We didn't find out until the credit card was in our hand..." and "Hey, but do you remember the party? Now that was the best celebration of a book's postponement I've ever seen!"

Yes, we'll celebrate tonight. And we'll celebrate on the 15th, too. Because you know what? Any day is a good day for a book to release.

Thank you for sharing this day, and experience, with me. When given the choice between laughter and tears, I always choose laughter. I'm smiling now, and I hope you are, too.

If you're in the mood for a great weekend read, why not check out the new releases at Whiskey Creek? Or the old ones? There are lots of wonderful stories, and authors, over there just waiting to entertain you. There's something for everyone at Whiskey Creek Press, and I'm sure you can find something to satisfy your reading hunger.

Only don't satisfy yourself too fully, okay? I hear there's a book coming on March 15th that's just waiting to be read. Really, it's just tapping its bookish toe, waiting to be held and, hopefully, enjoyed. Now what was that book called? Hmm...let me see... Vineyard Mambo, that's it! ;-)

Have a great weekend!