Sunday, November 30, 2008

November Round-Up

November has been such a good month, hasn't it? I'm sure you've realized by now that it's one of my favorite times of the year. But honestly, there isn't a month I don't enjoy so I don't know how much stock I'd put in my November appreciation! *G*

Still, I love the whole NaNo challenge. I enjoy working with others, even from a distance. I am tickled that I've got two first drafts completed and while they both need work the stories are essentially told. No complaints about that. I've loved mentoring my newbies, and plan to do so again next year with a new set of NaNo newcomers. And I have enjoyed encouraging fellow authors, and watching many of them experience the joy of a successful NaNo. All in all, a great month writing-wise.

The weekly contests have been fun for me, too. I've given away a bunch of books which I hope will make for interesting winter reading for a few kind visitors. I plan to continue a weekly contest through December, so keep commenting if you'd like to be entered.

Everyone loves Thanksgiving, so I won't go on about that. We had a joyful, peaceful holiday filled with family and friends. It was a delightful way to "launch" the winter holiday season.

Now as I look forward to December, I smile because these past weeks have been such good ones. I hope they have been for you, too.

What's on your December agenda? Anything you'd care to share?


Well, I plan to begin writing a new novel tomorrow. I hope to get the first draft done in a few weeks. That way I'll have plenty of downtime before beginning JaNoWriMo. The December book is pretty much in my mind and I've already got a plan for its submission so hopefully it'll be an easy write. Fingers crossed!

Oh! Sandswept, the second in the Chincoteague Island Mystery Series, releases in December! I'm so excited that this book is coming out. It's a darker sort of story, and I hope readers will enjoy it.

Speaking of books, I've recently gotten requests for signed books that will find homes beneath Christmas trees. How much fun is that? I am tickled readers are giving my novels as gifts! There's plenty of time to get signed books from me to you so if you'd like any as gifts, please just drop me an email. I'll gladly sign them to your Aunt Bertha, Uncle Bob or anyone else!

Besides that? I'm just going to relax. Listen to holiday music. Bake. Wrap packages. Take long walks in the snow with Hubby. Enjoy the peace and blessings of the season.

I hope you do the same. Thanks for spending November with me. I hope you'll come back next month!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Now What?

Now that the eating is behind us, and the shopping (for those of you who were brave enough to go out on Black Friday!), what better entertainment could we find than to settle in with a good read? Or two? Or three? That's what I'm doing this weekend. No work. No cooking. Nothing but settling in with a good book (or two or three!) and a cup of tea.

Why not join me?

Names, Week 4 Winners!

The randomly chosen winners of the fourth November contest are...

(drum roll please!)

Linda Banche and Wendy!


Linda and Wendy, please email me with your choice of any of my backlist.

Thanks to everyone who visited this week. I appreciate all of you very much.

These November contests have been fun for me, and I hope they have been for you, too. I've got plans for a December contest wave to celebrate the release of Sandswept. Stay tuned; details to follow soon!

Have a great Saturday!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Nutritious...but delicious?

All that remained of the Thanksgiving feast was dessert. Anticipation sent a tremor up her spine as she cut two thick slices of pumpkin pound cake and placed them on antique china plates. With a smile, she brought them to the table.

"Looks good," he said, sniffing appreciatively. "Smells like cinnamon. Isn't this your new recipe?"

"It is. I hope you like it."

She watched as he took the first bite. The furrow that appeared between his brows told her something was wrong. Horribly wrong.

"What is it? What's wrong?"

"Is it supposed to taste like this?"

Uh-oh. Not a good sign.

Quickly she broke off a corner of the slice that looked oh-so perfect on her plate and put it in her mouth. Instantly she knew why he'd chased his with a mouthful of tea.

"Don't eat that," she said, grabbing his plate.

"It tastes it doesn't have any sugar in it."

When he picked up his fork and looked ready to take another bite, she rose and put the dishes on the counter. Thank goodness she had baked an apple pie and fig cookies yesterday! Swallowing a giggle, she reached for fresh plates and forks.

"That's because it doesn't."

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Near and Far

To all our family and friends, near and far,
we wish you a
happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Not Homemade

“Why don’t you let me make you a pie tonight?” They stood at the bakery counter, he eyeing the pies while she inhaled the sweet aroma of the place. “It won’t take long. I’ve got everything in the house already. And it won’t cost—” She glanced at the price board hanging behind the glass display case. “Eight ninety-five.”

He shook his head. “No. You’ve got too much to do already. The fig cookies and apple pies. And you’ve got to post an extra blog for Thanksgiving, don’t you? In case there’s no time in the morning?”

“No biggie. I’ve got time to do it all. No sweat. Come on, I’ll bake you a pie tonight.”

“Uh uh. I’m not going to add to your to-do list,” he insisted. He smiled at the tired-looking woman behind the counter. “A pumpkin pie, please.”

After dinner they turned to an old movie station and settled in to watch Cary Grant, a beautiful woman and several children in an old, leaky boat. Halfway through the movie he headed toward the kitchen. “Want anything?”

Her gaze stayed on Cary. “Nope, thanks.”

When the credits rolled she glanced down at his empty plate and fork. “How was your pie?”

With a scowl, he shrugged.

She knew that scowl. That shrug. “How was your pie?”

“Not so great,” he admitted. Disappointment shone clear in his deep, chocolate-brown eyes. “Pretty bad, actually. It tasted like…”

“Like what?”



“Yeah. That is the worst pumpkin pie I’ve ever had. Damn thing tastes like Ivory soap!”

She laughed. Leaning close and patting his hand, she met his stormy gaze and asked, “Want me to bake you a pie tomorrow?”

“You mind?”

“No, I don’t mind, darling.”

And she didn’t. Not one bit.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


It's that time of year, isn't it? The time for looking both ways...back to holidays past and forward to...well, just forward. While we'd like to think we know what's in our future, I don't believe we do. We can make all the plans we want but sometimes those plans don't materialize quite the way we envision. But this isn't a post about planning or the future so I'll leave all that for another time.

The past few days have seen a definite wave of nostalgia in our house. We've pored over old photo albums, laughed about things we haven't thought of in years and told stories we've heard a thousand times but never tire of hearing. And while the holidays usually bring memories, this year's wave is a far bigger one than most. Why the monster wave? It began with a meeting...

Last week we had one of those delightful accidental encounters that warms hearts. The woman we bumped into is someone we knew when she was a child. Knew very well, actually. In fact, we held her the day she was born. Does it get any better than that? I think not. While she has always had a special place in our hearts, and I'm sure this has happened to you, we lost touch over the years. Life gets busy, people get swept up by this and that, and even though people care about each other there are instances where circumstances separate them. Physically, at least. The heart? That's another story.

Anyhow, this wonderful young woman (who shall remain nameless for privacy reasons) is no longer a little girl. She is, in fact, expecting her own child in a few months. We are overjoyed for her, thankful she has found happiness and is experiencing all the wonderful things life can offer.

Our meeting was brief but an exchange of email addresses will hopefully bring us back in touch. (Fingers crossed!)

The funny thing, and my husband and I both agree about this, is that while we saw a woman standing before us there was still the delightful gleam in her eye that had been there when she was just a little thing. Lurking behind her poised exterior was the mischievous, laughing, loving, always-ready-for-adventure child we knew and loved. I pray those traits will be passed on to her baby. I suspect they will be.

Anyhow, we've spent hours smiling over old photos these past days. We've laughed. We've swallowed around lumps in our throats, thinking of those who aren't with us now. We've grinned, looking at hairstyles and fashions that now seem ridiculously silly.

And we've noticed that while we may basically feel the same as we did all those years ago, we've changed too. Not just gray hair, expanding waistlines or fashion changes but deeper shifts as well. We're the same...but we're different. Get my meaning? The person we met, her changes are obvious because she's gone from child to woman. Us? More subtle, I think.

So, a time for reflection. Laughter. Gratitude.

Yes, a definite nostalgic wave is warming this house. Which is good--because Mother Nature is showing that winter is nearly upon us. Me? I'll take the warm, comforting waters of reminiscence over cold, uncertain breezes any day.

What about you? Is the holiday week working its magic on you?

Monday, November 24, 2008


Meowy happy Monday morning.

It's me, Piglet. I've absconded--uh, comandeered--um, hijacked--no, that's not it, either. I've graciously agreed to write today's blog post. Only shh! Don't tell Sarita. She's still in bed with the guy who brings my food. I think she said he's a pain in her neck or something. No, that's not right, I don't think. I've known them for a lot of years and I've never heard her say he's a pain in her anything. So I'm not exactly sure what the deal is but hey, who cares? All I know is I've got the keyboard...the world is at my pawtips.

Listen, if you're here hoping for one of those sappy Wednesday stories or a post about the whole NaNoNutjobWriting thing you're out of luck. Just move along now, find another writer who's blogging about that stuff today. I don't do sap. And, for obvious reasons, I don't write so I don't have any word counts, plot twists or characters to share. And my upcoming releases? Heh heh heh...I'm pretty sure you don't want to hear about that, do you?

So what am I going to chat about this cloudy, gray morning? Nothing. Nada. Niente. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Nossir, not a thing. No chat.

This is my blog post so I'm going to show you some stuff. Let's see if your as observant as I think you are. I'm hoping you'll be able to solve a mystery for me. I asked Sarita, and I think she knows what's up, but she's not talking. So it's all in your hands...

Yesterday I took a walk around the farm. There are loads of interesting spots out here in the middle of nowhere, and I think I checked out most of them. I was searching, you see. And a search? Well, it's not a really good search unless you poke into lots of spots. I'll show you what I looked for...


I looked in all the usual places

but I couldn't find even one of pink things.

Where'd they all go?

Okay, now I know there were a whole bunch

of these flying, chirpy things.

They lived in those houses the food guy built.


Couldn't find one of them.

Not even a feather.

I gotta tell you, I really like these.

A lot.

Looked high and low,

but they're all gone.

How could they leave without telling me?

These things don't ever move.

They're always in the same spot.

Year after year, I know where to find them


All gone. Every single one of them.


I tell you, it's a mystery.

I was pretty bummed about these

being gone, too.

I like to lick them when no one's looking.

But that's just between us, you hear?

Someone must have stolen all of these.

I can't figure out who would do it, though.

These are prickly as all get-out

but they smell real good.

Must've been a thief with cement fingers.

Who took all of the little flying things?

The yard is empty.

No fluttering.

No flapping.

No fun.

So sad.

How could all of this just vanish?

What about these?

Where are they?

Where is it all?

I ask you, where did everything go?




And how am I supposed to do this...

in this?

Sunday, November 23, 2008


It's a guilty pleasure. One I've kept to myself for a while. Hidden. Secret. Completely under wraps.

Yeah, it's been my own little time-stealer, pulling me away from what I should be doing to claim my attention.

I can't take it any more, having this skeleton cracking a finger from the closet beside my desk. So I'm going to come clean, confess and let you in on the secret. Are you ready?

Noodling. I've been noodling around with an old (almost ancient!) manuscript. I wrote the book a long time ago but never really gave it the attention it deserved. I tucked it away, thinking that someday I'd mess around with it.

"Someday" arrived a few months ago and I've got to confess, I'm pretty much hooked. It's so much easier to see what the story needs now that I've been away from it for so long. The spots where it needs more tension jump out. Characters who deserve extra "quirkiness" get it. And loopholes and inconsistencies are so blaringly obvious they make me laugh. All easy fixes.

I'm having fun with this old book, tightening and rewriting it. It's a blast but oh-so seductive. It calls to me, urging me to come play, while my NaNo clock is ticking fast and furious. I want to be good, really I do, but the book, it calls...

What about you? Any noodles wrapped around your neck?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

New Review!

Sniffing Sand has a new review!

It's also up for LASR's Book of the Week award. I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't mind taking a peek and voting for the book that most interests you. A lot of great books this week, so there are a lot of good choices!

The link is here .

Part of what LASR had to say about Sniffing Sand:

"Sniffing Sand is a romantic suspense of the cozy mystery variety. It's not a fast paced thriller but more like something Agatha Christie might have written and just as fascinating."

Hope you're all having a wonderful weekend!

Neck Revolt

My neck is revolting.

It's true. My neck is staging its own I'm-tired-of-holding-your-head-in-one-position revolt. I want to tell it that, excluding my fingers, wrists and hands, the rest of my body is on this side of the line my neck has drawn in the sand. I want to tell the neck that I'm in charge of this show. I'm the one who says when--or if!--a body part gets to stage a coup. I want to say--

Oh, who am I kidding? The neck is winning!

Please excuse the short, whining nature of this post. The NaNo neck made me do it.

Any plans for this cold, snowy Saturday? Me? I'm going to listen to my neck and lay off writing for a day. Maybe I'll eat, sleep, watch movies... Those are my plans, but I'll have to check with my neck before I'll truly know what's going on today.

Yeah, the neck's running the show here. For now, anyhow. But shh! Keep it to yourself, please! I don't want the other body parts to know how simple it is to take charge.

Name, Week 3 Winner!

The randomly chosen winner of the third November contest is...

(drum roll please!)

Nan J!


Nan, please email me with your choice of any of my backlist.

Thanks to everyone who visited this week. I appreciate all of you very much.

The new contest begins today, so please, tell your friends and comment till the cows come home! Er...or at least until next Saturday, when we'll announce the next winner.

Have a great Saturday!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Narrowing the Gap

Ah, November. Don't you just love this month? The air is crisp, snow flurries fall and it seems like anything is possible. The world nestles in, prepares for a long, cold slumber. It's a month filled with family...friends...good food...and NaNo.

Yes, there are those among us who push the limit of an otherwise-peaceful month. We're not content to simply indulge in the flurries, family or food.

Some call the National Novel Writing Month journey an adventure. Others, a challenge. Still others speak of it with reverence, as if the whole write-a-novel-in-a-month gig is a spiritual cleansing ritual.

Call it what you may. Whatever suits your needs. Call it anything, as long as it helps you get through the month.

Me? I know the truth. November? It's the month when I prove to myself something I've long suspected. I must be nuts.

No, I'm not kidding here. I really must be nuts. Or, more precisely, I am Must Be Nuts.

I finished A Morning Glory Christmas a couple of days ago. Two, I think, although days and word counts are blurry at this point. I'm happy with the story, already have a sequel in mind and am hopeful that it will clean up nicely. All good.

What I kept mostly to myself these past weeks is that I've been working on another NaNo novel, using the Must Be Nuts name. Crazy, I know. But true.

You see, I figured out a couple of NaNos ago that in order to complete two 50,000-word novels one would have to write just over 3,000 words each day. I tossed the idea around in my head and thought Why not?

So now I'm hoping to get A Blue Moon Romance done before the end of the month. Yesterday I got several hours of uninterrupted behind-in-chair time so I knocked just over 7,000 words off the gap between me and the finish line. Today looks like a snowy, cold day so I'll probably give it another push closer.

I'd hoped to finish both books before Thanksgiving but now I'm not so sure that will happen. There are only a few days left before the holiday and I've got all the usual pre-feast stuff to take care of--shopping, housecleaning, know the drill. I'm sure you're doing a fair bit of all that in your house, too.

Still, I'm hopeful that the last chapter of A Blue Moon Romance might emerge before we all sit down to the big dinner. After all, it is November and that is the month when just about anything can happen, right?

You know what I've got planned for today. What about you? Anything going on in your world that you'd like to share? I'm all ears!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

No-mess Nut Cookies

I've been making these since my husband and I were first married and they've always been a favorite in our house. There's only one problem with these cookies: they never last long enough. As fast as I make 'em, we eat 'em.

Pignoli Cookies

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

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

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

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Cut the dough log crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices. Transfer the cookies to the baking sheets.

Press the pine nuts into the tops of the cookies.

Bake about 15 minutes, until lightly golden.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Nowhere to Run

He whistled as he stirred the marinara sauce bubbling in the pot on the stove. Her stomach rumbled as the aroma of fresh garlic mingled with tomatoes and basil.

“How’s that eggplant coming? Should I heat the oil yet?” He sounded as hungry as she felt.

“Not yet. I’m almost done slicing them but—hey, who’s that in the driveway?”

They peered out the window. The car was unfamiliar, a dark blue sedan they hadn’t seen before. They watched as a tall, thin man dressed in a suit emerged from the driver’s seat. He paused, straightening his tie, before he retrieved a briefcase and, closing the door with his hip, turned to walk toward the back door.

Blurp—blurp blurp. Blurp!

“The sauce!” A large splatter hit the tiled backsplash as he grabbed a wooden spoon and began to stir.

“Here, stir this. I’ll go see who it is,” he said. The doorbell chimed but she didn’t take the spoon from him.

“No, you stir. I’ll be right back.”

The man smiled as she opened the back door. Then, his smile faltered.

“Yes? Can I help you?”

She watched him swallow, his Adam’s apple moving just behind his tie knot.

“I…I’m Bill Daniels. I’m new to the area and wondered if I might have a minute of your…” He glanced down and annoyance shot through her like lightning. Whatever was he staring at? He regained his momentum but his words held a wobble. “A minute of your time to discuss the policy options my company offers. Would that be…uh, would that work for you?”

She shook her head, waving her hands as she spoke. “No, thanks. We’ve already got all the coverage we need.”

As if chased by all the demons in hell, he turned and hurried away. Over his shoulder he called, “Oh! Okay then. Sorry to have—” He reached his car, opened the door and threw his case inside. “Bothered you. Good day, then.”

They watched him back down the driveway, his tires squealing when they met the paved roadway.

“That was odd.” She returned to the cutting board where the eggplant waited. “He practically ran out of here. I wonder why?”

He chuckled as he crossed the room. Planting a kiss on her temple, he said, “It might have something to do with that huge knife you waved at him. Maybe next time you answer the door you should leave the cutlery behind.”

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Not Focused

Everyone has them. You know, the days when you just can’t seem to focus on any one thing? The day seems to meander, pulling your attention in every direction except the one you know you should be giving it to.


Yesterday was one of those days. I had planned to really give my NaNo novel what for, just to completely pull myself close to finishing the story. But…I just didn’t do it. I found all sorts of other, more interesting, things to do.

What did I do? Oh, lots of stuff…I read a magazine from beginning to end. Every single page—even the advertisement pages. I worked on my holiday embroidery. Yeah, those snowmen really needed to have their eyes and noses put on yesterday. I did laundry—not exciting but necessary. What else did I do? Let’s see…oh, right! I began making out Christmas cards. And I played with Piglet. Looked in the greenhouse. Walked down to the pond.

All valid endeavors but none designed to push my word count higher.

Tomorrow I’m going to have to make sure my brain understands I want it to produce words that will tie up A Morning Glory Christmas. Today is going to be filled with errands but tomorrow? That’s the day I close the gap between “almost done” and “an inch from done.”

I hope.

What about you? Do you ever have days like mine, where you know you should be doing one thing but where you disregard the “shoulds” in favor of the “wants”? Please say you do.

Hope you have a great Tuesday.

Monday, November 17, 2008

NaNo Newbie Update

As I’ve mentioned before, I have adopted a couple of newbie authors to mentor during the NaNo experience. Newbies are first-time NaNo novelists, and when I realized I could offer my mentoring services to a few of these new novelists I jumped at the chance. I want everyone to succeed all the time at whatever they’re attempting but I especially want everyone to do well during NaNo. So of course I was thrilled to think I might be able to help these novelists finish their challenges.

I’ve got to tell you, my new friends are all doing really, really well. They’re telling some great stories, some with plot points and characters I never, ever could have dreamed up. They’ve each committed to fitting novel writing into their schedules and are all moving steadily toward reaching their goals. I am honored to be part of their first-NaNo experiences.

Honestly, I thought my new noveling friends would need me more than they have. I’ve had nice chats with them, have encouraged, nudged and prodded a bit but more than that? Nope. They’re all working well on their own. And actually I’ve learned—or relearned—just how fabulously exhilarating the first NaNo can be. I feel like I’ve gone back to my first NaNo through their shared experiences and enthusiasm.

My newbies are halfway through November and I’m so pleased for them! I’ve got a feeling they’re all going to look back on this first challenge and smile. At least I hope they will.

Mentoring continues to be a joy for me. Next year I plan to offer my services again with new first-time novelists. I hope others will consider doing the same. This year there were more who asked for help than there were those able to assist. I don’t know why that was; the only thing I can think is that prospective mentors feared helping would be a time drain. I can attest that it hasn’t been. My investment has been small, my satisfaction enormous.

Helping someone else achieve their dream? Priceless.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Norwegian Nut Danish

It's Sunday and you know what that means...I'll be baking this afternoon.

This recipe comes from my B is for Breakfast cookbook. It's one I make often. If you try it I hope you enjoy it.

So, what's going on in your neighborhood today? Anything you care to share?

Hope you have a wonderful day!

Norwegian Nut Danish

2 cups flour
2 eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
15 oz. undrained crushed pineapple
2 t. baking soda
1 ½ cups chopped walnuts
½ t. salt
8 oz. softened cream cheese
6 T. butter
1 t. vanilla
1 2/3 cups confectioner’s sugar

In a large mixing bowl whisk eggs until fluffy. Add granulated sugar and whisk until incorporated. Add flour, pineapple, baking soda and salt and beat until batter forms. Add half of the walnuts.

Pour batter into a 13"x9" baking dish.

Place baking dish in a pre-heated 350-degree oven and bake for 50 minutes. Cool cake before spreading frosting over top of cake.

While cake is baking, assemble frosting. Combine cream cheese, butter and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add the confectioner’s sugar and beat well. Add remaining nuts and stir. May be used to frost this cake or any other cake that calls for a plain nut frosting.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

NaNo Update

I know I promised not to go on and on and on about my NaNo novel so this is just a quick update.

As we hit the halfway point in the noveling month, I'm more than half done with my novel so that's good news. And I really like the way the story is unfolding. The heroine, burned by love in the past, is uber-resistant to opening herself up to romance. The hero is so down-to-earth and understanding. He sees she's closed herself off, but he also believes she may, with the right amount of kindness, open up--at least a little bit. All is going well until she finds herself in hot water. With nowhere else to turn for help, will she accept that all men are not the same and the one who's eager to win her heart may just be what she needs when she needs it most?

Hmmph. Well, we'll see if she does or she doesn't.

All I know is I'm having a blast with this book. Being part of NaNo truly ratchets up the excitement surrounding writing. I love seeing how everyone else is doing with their novels. I am thrilled to be able to encourage and congratulate those around me. And, maybe my favorite part of the adventure this year, I love watching the newbies I'm mentoring flourish. I do so want them to be successful with their first NaNo. If it's possible I'm more engrossed in their writing than I am in my own!

So, off to work on A Morning Glory Christmas before it's time to rustle up breakfast.

I hope you have a peaceful Saturday. Any plans?

Names, Week 2 Winners!

The randomly chosen winners of the second November contest are...

(drum roll please!)

Miss Mae, Annette and Skhye!

Yes, three winners this week! Congratulations!

Ladies, please email me with your choice of any of my backlist.

Thanks to everyone who visited this week. I appreciate all of you very much.

The new contest begins today, so please, tell your friends and comment till the cows come home! Er...or at least until next Saturday, when we'll announce the next winner.

Have a great Saturday!

Friday, November 14, 2008

New Interview!

Exciting news this morning! Today I'm the featured author at Diane Craver's blog!

All week long Diane has interviewed some very talented women. Her guests have been Cindy Green, Debra Parmley, Jennifer Shirk and Anne Whitfield.

If you haven't had a chance to read their interviews I suggest you peek in. I'm always amazed to hear how other writers work, and to learn what inspires them. All four women are smart and witty and reading their interviews was a pleasure. I think you'll enjoy what they had to say. I know I did.

Today's my day! I'm thrilled to be included in Diane's Author Week.

I hope you'll come by and leave a comment. Everyone who comments on Diane's blog today will get an extra entry in my drawing this week.

I'm giving away three books this week so comment here and there and increase your chances of having your name pulled from the hat! And tell your friends. Your neighbors. Strangers on the street. The more the merrier!

And Author Week has prizes up for grabs, too. So be sure to comment and get your name in the pot for that, too.

I can't thank Diane enough for inviting me to join the party. Such an honor, and a fun way to tie up what's been a great week.

Hope you have a wonderful Friday!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Not much time until...

Thanksgiving. Fourteen days, or thereabouts.

Have you welcomed the spirit of the holiday into your home yet? Hmm? Got your turkey decorations out? Your gourds...cornucopia...hmm? No pressure; just asking.

We do. And yesterday afternoon we baked sugar cookies--in the shape of turkeys. So much fun, and let me tell you they made for a great dinner. Yeah, we had cookies for dinner. But don't tell anyone, all right? It's one of those little secrets I'll share with all of you but would rather didn't get out know, public.

One of the short stories I've got published with The Wild Rose Press has a Thanksgiving theme. I kid you not! If you're interested, the details about Proclamations can be found here. I hope you'll take a moment to check it out.

So, what have you got planned for this rainy fall Thursday? Me? I'm going to get some writing done. You know, the writing that I should have been doing yesterday afternoon when I was busy making--and eating--turkey cookies!

Hope you have a lovely day!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Next Year

Icy rain clattered against the windows. The day was dark and dreary but the roaring fire kept any chilliness from creeping into the room. In fact, it bordered on sweltering and she considered removing her socks. Why did he insist on building such a big fire? A small one would have done just as well.

Temperature was forgotten when she got to the bottom of the box and saw what she had been searching for. Delight made her grin. She snatched it and held her treasure up to the light. So intent on examining the small rectangle, she missed hearing him walk up behind her.

"Where should I put this?"

A grin played at the corner of her lips and she felt temptation call her but she resisted. Barely. Instead she turned and, with a nod of thanks, took the mug he offered. She sipped. Then, a grimace as it hit her taste buds. White chocolate cocoa. An oxymoron, that. The idea was a good one but the actual taste? Not as great. She took a second, tentative, sip. There. It went down easier.

Must be an acquired taste, she thought as she looked longingly at his mug of real hot chocolate.

"What's all this? Isn't that the little box you got out of the greenhouse yesterday?" He tapped a fingertip on the small, clear plastic shoebox that was now empty.

"Uh huh." Slow sips, that was the ticket. If she had imagination enough to write book, then surely she could imagine the cup of hot white stuff into rich, satisfying cocoa, couldn't she?

"All of this," he waved his arm over the tidy stacks of seed packets that covered the table. "Came from that?"

"Uh huh." No. It was impossible. No amount of imagination was going to turn the foamy white mess into coca. She used an empty packet as a coaster, placing the half-empty mug far enough from her that she wouldn't be stupid enough to take another sip. "They're this year's seeds. Or what's left of them, anyway."

"What're all these little piles?"

She pointed, ignoring the steam coming from the mug. "Those are empties that I'm going to order again. They're empties that we weren't too crazy about. These are the ones that we loved."

"So...what's the deal with the empty packets? And those--aren't they still full?" He picked up a packet of Roma tomato seeds and gave it a squeeze. It crackled between his fingers. "We didn't plant these?"

A fast head shake was his answer as she snatched the seeds from him and placed the packet back where it belonged. "The empties are to remind me next year what we planted this year. That way I'll know we didn't like," she chose a packet at random from the not-so-crazy-about pile. "Lima beans."

"I could've told you that, even without an empty seed envelope."

She ignored him. "But I'll remember the walking stick kale was fun. And that we really liked those yellow tomatoes and the hot, round peppers. I'll know the white pumpkins grew well but the--"

His hand shot up. "I get it. So what you're telling me is that, even though we just tilled the last vegetable bed two days ago and it's getting set to snow, you're planning next spring's gardens. Is that it?"

"That's it." She picked up her pen and turned to the seed list in front of her. It was easier to pretend she didn't see the eye roll that she knew accompanied his long, tortured sigh.

A fast kiss on the top of her head made her smile. They might not always understand each other but that was a detail quickly overlooked.

"You don't want this white cocoa, do you?"


"But the doctor said no caffeine so that means no chocolate." He brought the mug closer. "What do you say?"

"Let the doctor drink it." She gently pushed his hand aside.

"All right. I'm going to get an apple. Want one?"

"No, thanks." She jotted a few notes, then called over her shoulder. He was halfway to the kitchen already but his footsteps halted so she knew he heard her. "But could you bring some ice cream?"

"Ice cream? But it's snowing outside!"

A wide grin spread across her face as she looked down at the shapes, colors and varieties spread before her. So many options... Her heart warmed. "That's all right," she called. "Old Man Winter can snow all he wants. In here, spring's just around the corner!"

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Never Forget

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

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

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.
~John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Happy Veteran's Day!

We take Veteran's Day seriously around here. My husband is a veteran but even if he wasn't we would still wholeheartedly observe this day. Old Glory waves here, and I hope it does at your house, too.

Formerly known as Armistice Day, Veteran's Day is the day we set aside to celebrate the bravery and sacrifice of all U.S. veterans. They are the men and women who risk their lives to preserve what we hold most dear. They protect and serve and for that we are truly indebted.

There is no way to adequately thank someone for giving so freely but we try, not only today but everyday . We remember that the man in the grocery store wearing a USMC T-shirt is making more than a fashion statement. He is proclaiming the commitment he's made to keeping Americans safe. We nod our thanks and hope he knows what's in our hearts. We realize there are children who are separated from their parents, not because they want to be but because one or possibly both are serving our country. We pray they know how much we appreciate their sacrifice. And we reach out to those in uniform with a handshake, hug or a few quiet words. The moments are small, the thanks inadequate, but we acknowledge their service and are grateful.

When I reflect on our country's veterans my thoughts also go to those who have made it their mission to honor those who have served. I marvel at their unflagging dedication, their tireless, often thankless, toil. For those unsung patriots, I am also grateful. And when I think of organizations like the VFW my thoughts linger on one very special woman. If you don't mind, I'm going to tell you a little bit about her now.

Our Aunt Shirley has worked at her local VFW Post for as long as I can remember. I'm sure she served there before I was even born. She is still incredibly active in the day-to-day affairs of the place. I don't know what they would ever do without her.

The mission of the VFW is to "honor the dead by helping the living" through veterans' service, community service, national security and a strong national defense. Aunt Shirley does all that with grace and flair. No sacrifice, commitment or inconvenience is too great for her to bear. She puts her all into promoting patriotism and helping veterans and their families.

Our Aunt Shirley? She's a tribute to the spirit that makes this country great. She gives freely of her time and energy. She gives often, with enthusiasm and pride. She gives with her heart and soul--not only sometimes, but all the time. She lives what she believes and she's not afraid to show it. And she does it every minute of every day.

Every minute. Of every day.

I have been fortunate. I've never had to wonder what service is. Or patriotism. Or commitment. Or determination, fortitude, love or honor. I've had a living testament to those things. All my life I've had an inspiration in our Aunt Shirley.

Today I join our nation in honoring our veterans. I am eternally grateful that they sacrificed to protect the freedoms and rights we have. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Also I thank the countless men and women who, like our Aunt Shirley, have made it their life's work to honor our veterans daily. They've never forgotten, and I hope and pray I never do, either.

Thank you, Aunt Shirley, for teaching me that patriotism and honor are important--not only on special days but every minute of every day.

To learn more about the VFW and what Veteran's Day stands for, there is an editorial by VFW National Commander Glen Gardner here.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Notes for a Monday

Good morning! I hope you had a peaceful, relaxing weekend.

Here on the farm we had one of those kick-back-and-chill weekends. Saturday's rain kept us indoors but yesterday we braved the cloudy day to take a long hike in the forest.

Now that the leaves are off the trees more light filters through to the forest floor. Even with its stark pre-winter bareness, the forest is alive and there are so many things to see and enjoy. Patches of irridescent green moss. An owl peering down at us from a Tamarac branch. The hint of movement near the stone outcroppings. A fox? Turkey? Maybe a deer? Walking in the forest is an adventure I always enjoy--even on gloomy, overcast days!

Today I plan to work on my NaNo novel, bake cookies (I know I baked cookies yesterday but Hubby requested fig cookies so I'll bake a batch for him this morning.), do laundry and watch the snow fall. Probably in that order, too. A pretty quiet day here at our house.

Before I begin writing, though, I wanted to share a few thoughts with you. It'll only take a moment, I promise. Well, maybe two moments...

First, I want to thank Amy for kindly awarding me an "I Love Your Blog" award. What a great way to start the week! The truth is, Amy's is one of the blogs I begin my day with. Her posts about her sons really are heartwarming. She's smart, funny and I feel like I'm visiting with a neighbor when I make my daily stop. I know the rules of the award state that I'm supposed to pass it on but since I passed it on last week I'll leave it at that. Amy, you've made my day! Thanks so much!

Just wanted to remind you that my short story, Press Pass Corfu, is available for free all month long from Whiskey Creek Press. Have you downloaded your copy yet? If you haven't, please do! Find it here.

Finally, I wanted to let you know that I posted a short excerpt from my NaNo novel, A Morning Glory Christmas. I hope you'll take a peek. My NaNo page is right here.

I think that's it. See? I told you I'd only take a few moments of your time this morning. :)

So what about you? How was your weekend? How's your Monday shaping up? Anything you'd care to share?

Whatever you do, wherever you go, I hope the day is a good one for you.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Nut Drops

I like to bake every day, but especially on Sundays. It just seems like a relaxing thing to do. Today I'm going to bake Nut Drops. The recipe is one we use often. It's included in my cookbook, Tea Time.

(If you're interested, the cookbooks are available through the link at the top of this page. Or contact me if you'd like any signed copy. Thanks!)

But today, as we bake these yummy treats, I'd be thrilled if you, too, had the chance to try them. If you give the recipe a test drive, please let me know what you think about them. I love comparing recipes and chatting about food, so feel free to email me!

What are your plans for this beautiful fall day?

Nut Drops

1 cup granulated sugar
8 T. butter
1 t. almond extract
1 egg
2 cups flour
1 t. baking powder
½ t. baking soda
1 cup mashed strawberries
½ cup chopped nuts
½ cup confectioner’s sugar

In a large bowl cream butter,
almond extract and granulated sugar until creamy.
Add egg and mix.
Add flour, baking powder and
baking soda and mix well.
Fold strawberries and nuts into batter.

Drop batter by spoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet.

Place baking sheet in a 375-degree oven
and bake for 14-16 minutes.

Dust with confectioner’s sugar before serving.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Name, Week 1 Winner!

The randomly chosen winner of the first November contest is...

(drum roll please!)

Anne Carrole!

She won with her comment on Thursday's Notes From the Farm post. Anne, please email me with your choice of any of my backlist. I'll get it in the mail to you this coming week.

Thanks to everyone who visited this week. I appreciate all of you very much.

The new contest begins today, so please, tell your friends and comment till the cows come home! Er...or at least until next Saturday, when we'll announce the next winner.

Have a great Saturday!

Nimble Fingers

Thursday afternoon I got my hair cut. Not just a little, make-it-look-presentable-again trim but a major cut.

I have worn my hair long and short and have been pleased with it both ways. Recently it reached halfway down my back. While I like being able to style it in lots of ways the truth is that most of the time I pulled it back, either with a favorite silver clip or into a ponytail. I suspect the pulled-back style is one favored by authors. It keeps hair from falling into the eyes, something that can be annoying and distracting when you're trying to focus on writing.

Anyhow, I needed a change. Boy oh boy, did I get one! Kristin, my hairdresser, has magic fingers. Without batting an eye she set to work with flying hands and snapping scissors. She cut off so much hair that when it was swept into a pile it looked like an animal had curled up for a nap beside her beauty chair. A good-sized animal, at that!

I feel like a new woman. Well...all right, not exactly a new woman but one whose head feels considerably lighter. I woke this morning without feeling like I had been strangled by rogue seaweed or steroidal pasta. And that, my friends, is a very good thing.

What about you? Does a hairstyle change rev you up?

I've got to admit, I am feeling energized. Who knows what can happen to a woman whose head has shed enough hair to build a pet? Anythng's possible!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Nice way to...

end the week!

Yesterday I learned I'd received an "I Love Your Blog" award from author Diane Craver. I was tickled, and went to sleep with a wide grin on my face.

This morning I learned I'd received another "I Love Your Blog" award. This time I've been honored by Dru, a fellow reader and sewing companion.

It's rare that I'm without words but in this instance I am.


Thank you very much, Dru and Diane. Your kindness overwhelms me. I'm so glad you enjoy spending time with me here.

The award comes with a couple of rules. They are:

1) Add the logo of the award to your blog

2) Add a link to the person who awarded it to you

3) Nominate at least 7 other blogs

4) Add links to those blogs on your blog

5) Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs

I noticed Diane and Dru read a lot of the same blogs I do, and have already awarded blogs I would have chosen. So, in order to spread the happiness around, I'm purposely not choosing any of the blogs these ladies have awarded.

So, in no particular order, some of the blogs I enjoy...

1. Rubber Slippers in Italy. Beautiful photos, fun posts. Rowena makes me smile...and I like to smile.

2. Nicole McCaffrey. Nicole's posts about home, family and writing are heartwarming. I read The Model Man when it first came out and loved it. If you like hunky heroes and lots of romance, I'd suggest giving this one a look.

3. Orchard Hill Highlights. The blog home of Kara Lynn Russell, author of the Orchard Hill Romance Series. I've read most of the Orchard Hill stories and can easily suggest them.

4. Panini Girl. Breathtaking photos and great recipes makes this blog a favorite.

5. Chickens in the Road. Author Suzanne McMinn never fails to amuse, teach or amaze me. Her door is wide open, and she encourages readers to come in and visit for a while each day. I like the way she makes strangers feel like friends.

6. Elizabeth Boyle. This bestselling author shares tips on writing and insights into her life.

7. Lucy's Kitchen Notebook. Take a look and you'll know why I enjoy visiting this blog. But be warned: the photos may make you hungry.

8. Viaggi & Sappori. Ever thought about making pumpkin gnocchi? You might, after you take a peek at this site. But don't go unless you've got time to spare...poking around at old posts is addicting!

There you have it. A couple of my favorite blogs. you have any favorites? Ones you visit regularly just because...well, just because?

Again, thanks so much for making my week end on such a high note, Dru and Diane. I sincerely appreciate your kindness. :)

Hope you have a wonderful Friday!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Notes From the Farm

In the summer my greenhouse looks like this.
Small, cozy. The hub of my gardening adventures.

Flowers grow all around it in untidy masses.
They completely ramble out of the flower beds.
I encourage their misbehavior.

Piglet also sanctions lots of rambling and overgrowth.

But now, with Old Man Winter lurking nearby,
we have to wrap some of the rose bushes.
Check all the grapevines.

Prepare them for this.

So that's what I'll be doing today.
Tying up the few loose ends around here.
Maybe I'll get Piglet to help me.

Then again, maybe not.

What about you? What have you got planned for this chilly Thursday?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Nose to the Grindstone

She ignores the sound of footsteps on the stairs.

It does no good. He's found her.


"Hmm?" Her fingers fly as she tries to block out the familiar voice.

"I know you're writing but I wondered if you'd like to... Are you listening to me?"

"Mmm hmm..." One paragraph left. That's all.

"I know that sound." Now he's right behind her, leaning over her shoulder. She doesn't need to see his face to know he is reading the words as they appear on the laptop screen. He's not wearing his reading glasses. She can feel his squint. "It's the sound of--hey, is this the new book?"

"Uh huh." Down to the last sentence. It has to be perfect, to complete the chapter and draw the reader back again. The words are in her head. Getting them to her fingers; now that's the rub.

"Interesting. Is that--hey, is that what I think it is? Is she really going to--"

She presses save. Done for the day.

Flashing a satisfied grin, she turns to face him. "You betcha. Now, what did you come to ask? Did I want to...?"

He looks from the computer, its screen now dark, to her. Confusion is stamped so clearly on his handsome face she has to stifle a giggle.

"Well?" She pokes his shoulder with an fingertip. "What was it that brought you up here? Did I want to what?"

His fingers plow through his curly black hair. He shrugs. "I forgot. But...what happens next? In the book, I mean?"

She stands, takes his hand and heads for the stairs.

"I'll tell you tomorrow. Maybe. And only if you tell me you came to ask if I wanted a slice--a big slice--of that apple pie I smell baking."

New Review for Legal Tender

I've got to admit I love getting a good review. Who doesn't? I finally got a chance to check my emails this morning and was jazzed to learn Legal Tender has been reviewed and given Five Angels by Fallen Angel Reviews.

What a way to start a Wednesday!

Here's part of what reviewer Cheryl had to say:

"Legal Tender is the third book I have read by Sarita Leone. I enjoy her as a writer. She makes all her stories fun to read in addition to being easy flowing from page to page. I never have to worry about having a hard time finishing a book that Sarita Leone has written, which is a good thing. I can’t wait to see what Mrs. Leone comes up with next."

Thank you Cheryl! The whole review is here.

Legal Tender is available from Whiskey Creek Press.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Not-so-subtle Reminder

Hey, in case it's slipped your's Election Day! I don't discuss matters like politics here, and I'm not going to do so now. I just don't want anyone to forget they have the right to make their opinion heard today. So if you're planning on voting, today's the day!

The week is settling into one where the routine is easy and the pleasure sweet. We've been walking in the meadow and forest a lot lately and it's been wonderfully relaxing. Hubby and I hold hands as we walk. Sometimes we chat but other times we just walk together. The silent times let me contemplate the book I'm writing, as well as enjoy the quiet companionship of my dearest friend. Not exactly newsworthy but very satisfying.

We did get the big barn straightened out...a bit. There's lots more to do in the space but it will wait until spring. For now, we can at least walk between tractors, tillers and lawn furniture. In the not-too-distant future we're going to have to decide what our plans are for the big barn. It was built in 1805 and has been sorely neglected through the centuries. When we bought the farm we patched it up but eventually it's going to need some major repairs. So we've got some serious pondering to do on that front.

But today? Just going to enjoy the day. Planning to bake cookies this afternoon. A new recipe, but if it comes out well I'll share it with you. Just give me time to, um...test the cookies for you. That's right; it's a test. Wouldn't want you to bake any bad cookies, now would I? ;-)

Monday, November 03, 2008

New Free Whiskey!

That got your attention, didn't it?

I am tickled to tell you that my Press Pass Corfu is the Free Whiskey short story for the month of November at Whiskey Creek Press. It's true; a free read! I hope you'll head over there and download it. I hope, too, you enjoy reading this short romance.

Find it here.

November is still young but it's shaping up to be a great month. What about you? Are you enjoying November so far?

Today I'm going to work on the new novel for a while. Then Hubby and I are going to shift some stuff around in the big barn. There's so much summer lawn furniture, statuary and garden equipment in there now it's hard to get around. I can't have the mess lurking in there all winter; it'll bug me for certain. So we'll make order of chaos and we'll all sleep easier this winter.

What kind of day do you have planned?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Newbies and Hiking Boots

I'm not going to bore you with daily NaNo details. My author page at NaNo is here. I'd love it if you visited now and again! I'm going to post the first excerpt in the next day or two so that's the spot to see how my November novel is coming along.

What's especially exciting for me this year is that I've "adopted" a couple of Newbies. Newbies, or first-time NaNo participants, have a forum where they post a bit about themselves, their novels and their desired qualifications in a mentor. I volunteered to mentor a few very interesting, highly motivated and soon-to-be-successful novel writers. Yes, we're thinking very positively here!

It was easy to become emotionally invested in these aspiring novelists. I remember how I felt during my first NaNo, so sharing the joy that comes with this first attempt is like reliving my own first National Novel Writing Month. I want these writers to succeed, so anything I can do to facilitate that is well worth the time and effort. Who knows? Maybe one of my adopted novelists will write the next great literary novel. Anything can happen, can't it, with enough determination and perserverance? So, I'm nudging my new friends along this month, something that is, so far, giving me great joy.

Not much else is new this bright, crisp Sunday morning. I'm preparing to write for a little while. Then I'm going to make waffles. After that I think I may coax Hubby into taking a nice, long walk in the forest. Soon we'll need snowshoes to walk but now we're still able to get by with hiking boots. Yeah, that sounds like a plan. So now that you know what we'll be doing today...what about you? Any plans?

Hope you have a great Sunday!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

November. I think.

Happy November!

Yesterday was a whirlwind. I had a to-do list that was nearly as long as a small book. All right, maybe it was only a short story but it sure felt like a small book. The day was glorious, a clear, crisp fall day so we really had a nice time running here and there.

Funny (in hindsight) story...

My "Duh?" moment came yesterday when I actually drove forty-some miles to buy a book. In and of itself, not so silly since we do live in the middle of nowhere. The truly dumb thing is that I went to four stores looking for the book. None of them had it. The reason? Yesterday, as every other person knew, was the 31st. The book I was searching for? Comes out on the 1st. Yes, I had it in my (empty, apparently!) head that yesterday was November 1st. Duh!!

Don't you hate it when you do something like that? Or perhaps you're not prone to having these moments. I'm not generally; I think I just had too much on my mind, what with the mile-long list and all. Anyhow, that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

Oh? The book? Melissa McClone's Rescued By the Magic of Christmas. I think it comes out today, but don't quote me on that. I'm not sure about anything, except that I'll be venturing out again to find this one. I love holiday stories and this one looks like it's going to be really good! Don't you just love that cover? So cozy and romantic.

Rescued by the Magic of Christmas

I don't know how I forgot the date since today is the Big Day. Yes, National Novel Writing Month has officially begun. No, I haven't started my new novel yet. I'm off to do that as soon as I finish chatting with you. It's exhilirating to begin a new novel anytime but I especially love doing it during November. I just get a kick out of so many people working toward a common, yet personal, goal. Makes me smile.

To celebrate November I've decided to have a small contest here at From the Heart. I'm keeping the rules easy. Every Saturday of the month (starting next Saturday) I'll randomly choose a winner from the previous week's entries. How to enter? Couldn't be easier! Just comment here on the blog. Every comment is one entry. Every Saturday the contest begins anew. So today's comments count toward next Saturday's pool of entries.

Oh? The prize? Choice of title from my backlist. There are four in print and I've got copies of each so it's the winner's choice. Please tell your friends! The more the merrier, I always say! :)

So what's on your agenda for this first day of November? Anything you'd like to share? Me? First, I'm going to get my NaNo novel started. Then I've got a recipe for apple cake I'm going to try out. After that? Just going to take the day as it comes, and enjoy every moment of it. I hope you have a lovely Saturday!