Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Christmas Bargain

The cover for my October release with Avalon Books. Isn't it pretty?

Monday, March 01, 2010

An Announcement

By now I hope you know how much I enjoy chatting with you. Every time I sit in this chair to write a blog post, I smile. Really. What can I say? I enjoy these exchanges, these moments that come from my heart to your screen.

So it's with a stab of regret that I sit here this morning. No smile. I've decided to temporarily suspend my commitment to blogging. I am sorry, but it can't be helped.

We've got something going on here at Casa Leone that definitely takes priority over everything else, including blogging. It is my sincere hope that we will deal with this quickly, and that our lives will get back to some semblance of normal in the very near future.

While I'm gone, I hope all goes well in your world. Stay happy and healthy, and please be prepared to catch me up when I return. I will miss you more than I can say. Thank you for sharing part of your day with me. I sincerely hope we will be able to do so again very, very soon.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Just For Fun

I’m in a silly mood today, so don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Last night Hubby and I were giggling over some of the funny things that happened during our childhoods. It was good to reminisce, and we honestly laughed until our sides hurt. If we had been drinking milk, I’m sure it would have squirted out our noses! Yes, that’s one of the ridiculous things we giggled over during our walk down memory lane.

Do your childhood memories inspire nose-squirting laughter? Or were you of a more serious nature?

Me? I’m a bunny hopper from way back. Maybe someday I’ll share the story of a slumber party turned middle-of-the-street midnight bunny hop parade—but only if you promise not to snort milk from your nose!

See? I told you I’m in a wacky mood. Hope you have a nice day!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

February Garden News

I know it sounds nutty to talk gardens in the middle of winter, but my thoughts are definitely on this year’s vegetable and flower gardens. It might be snowing and blowing outside, but in here things are warm, sunny and blooming—at least in my mind!

The Burpee seed order has arrived, and I am psyched to get this gardening show on the road. In another week or so I’ll trek out to the greenhouse and retrieve a stack or two of black plastic six-pack planting cells as well as the trays and covers that go with them. I bought little rounds of growing material which, when dropped into the planting cells and watered, expand to fill each cell with planting medium. I’ll start some seeds (peppers, eggplants and tomatoes) in the family room beside the wood stove, just so they get an extra boost from the heat. By March they’ll be out in the greenhouse and by April I’ll be planting seeds that don’t take long from germination to seedling (annual flowers, cukes, winter squash, melons and a few others) right out in the greenhouse. The racks in my little house will be full, and every ray of sunshine will go to good use.

I love this time of year! We grow most of our own produce—and I mean for year-round use. I can and freeze what we don’t use fresh during the summer months, and we eat homegrown fruits and veggies even during the cold winter months. What’s not to love about that?

Last night we had salmon (not homegrown), roasted broccoli, garlic mashed potatoes and grilled zucchini. All the veggies came from last summer’s gardens. For dessert we had gingerbread with berry sorbet. The gingerbread was not homegrown, obviously, although it was homemade. The berry sorbet used berries from our own backyard, and tasted so sweet it wasn’t hard to remember the warm, sultry days of summer.

So, what about you? Any gardening plans? If you’ve got any gardening questions, shoot me an email and I’ll be happy to lend a hand, if I can. I love the idea of growing our own food, and I’d love to see others get into the groove of gardening.

Just a thought…When I hold a potato grown in our backyard, I never wonder who handled it last or what kinds of pesticides and fertilizers were used in its production. That’s something I don’t know when I stroll through the grocery’s produce aisle.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Small Pleasures

Last winter I had just suffered my first migraine so we were gung-ho on eliminating any factors which might bring another of the horrible bouts on. One of the things the doctor suggested cutting from my diet was chocolate. If you know me well, you’ll know I love chocolate. Really, I love it. But since I’m no t a fan of having a monstrous headache, I gave up chocolate.

Sad. Very sad, when I realized hot chocolate was out of the question for chilly evenings! Ahh! No cocoa? How would I survive?

I did survive, but I was not thrilled to be limited to non-chocolate beverages.

The good news? Chocolate is not one of my migraine triggers!

The very good news? This year I’ve been sipping hot chocolate with my honey, looking out at the falling snow and feeling very, very content. It doesn’t take much, does it, to make one happy?

Small pleasures sometimes make the biggest impact.

What about you? Any simple pleasures you most enjoy?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Change of Heart

When you’re on a roll, I think you should try not to deviate from the rolling streak. That is, of course, if the rolling is positive.

Me? I’m on a roll, thanks to JaNoWriMo, so I’m keeping on track. On the first of the month I began working on book three in a series I’m writing. I wrote book two in January, so the setting, characters and feel of the project is fresh. Hubby asked if I was going to take some time away from the series, but I figure I’m on a roll so I should keep at it.

The new book, called Change of Heart, is going well. The characters are developing nicely, and each have quirks and issues which make them unique. They support each other and for the most part get along pretty well. Still, one American in a sea of Londoners is going to find that there’s more than societal issues to separate a cowboy from a peer. I have a feeling he’s going to overcome his “disadvantages” and find his way to his lady’s heart—but who can tell? Maybe this’ll be the novel where no one ends up together! HA! You know I wouldn’t do that!

Anyhow, back to my roll—ah, manuscript. I hope you’re having a nice month. Anything rolling along in your world?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Question About Reading

I promise, I’m not trying to be nit-picky here, but something’s bothering me. It’s nothing earth-shattering so don’t let your palms grow clammy. I just wondered if this bothers you, too. Who knows? Maybe it’s just me who gets shaken (not stirred!) when this happens.

I’ll cut to the chase. Recently I bought a book by an author whose last book I adored. I couldn’t wait to read this new book, but I put it aside for a time when I could really enjoy it, rather than reading it on the fly. Then, February’s resolution (exercise!) came along, and with it the perfect opportunity to dive into the book. My thirty minutes of stationary peddling provides the best chance for uninterrupted reading, so on the first I eagerly opened the book and began to read.

Mid-way through the first chapter I put the book down. I don’t think I’ll ever finish it. And I doubt I’ll buy anything else in this series. Why? The heroine is ill. Not just sniffly ill, but seriously ill. I don’t expect she will pass away, but I do know that if the author is true to the disease and its circumstances, things are going to be tough for the character for a while, if not for the rest of her life.

I can’t do it. I just can’t read the book, knowing the possibility of “watching” her suffer—even to live!—will appear in the coming chapters.

How do you feel about this issue?

I’m not trying to stir up controversy, be mean or disrespectful. I’m just saying that I can’t “escape” into a story filled with heartache, even if the ending is positive (which I sincerely hope it is!) for the heroine.

So there you have it, my reading question. Any thoughts?

Just so you know, I began reading a Regency romance instead, and have kept to my thirty-minute exercise resolution. Reading something interesting makes the time fly, and I’ve noticed that some days I’ve spent an extra ten minutes or so pedaling just so I might finish a chapter. All good, I think.

Friday, February 12, 2010


Yesterday I received a note from a reader about my first book, Snowdance. She just finished reading it for the second time. Her note said she enjoyed it even more with the second reading, although she was kind enough to assure me the first time around had been pleasant, as well.

If she only knew how she brightened my day. Don't you just love it when unexpected kindnesses bring sunshine?

Hope you have a wonderful Friday!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Hunker Down

Here in the middle of nowhere, about this time of year we hunker down and really—I do mean really!—settle in for what feels like the longest haul. Last week we had sub-zero temps; this week the thermometer has at least crawled into the teens but still, it feels icy.

Fortunately we who are crazy enough to live in what neighboring towns call “The Snowbelt” come equipped with a vast repertoire of interests with which to while away the bleak hours. Hubby carves. I write. We both read, play chess and cards. We have marathon Monopoly games. Winter is the time we fiddle in the kitchen, creating new dishes with unlikely ingredients.

We snuggle. Yeah, snuggling’s big here.

So while the wind howls and winter’s icy fingertips rake down the windowpanes, we hunker down and know that sooner or later, spring will find us. Until then, it’s hot chocolate, roaring fireplaces, snuggling and classic movie marathons.

What about you? How’s winter going in your neck of the woods? And please, if you live in a place that’s warm and sunny right now, don’t tell me about it! (This means you, Judy!!) I don’t mean to be rude, but if you get me drooling over sunny skies, barefoot sand walking or grilling, I might start to drool. Believe me, in these temps drooling could be a very tricky endeavor, one of those “don’t try this at home” things!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Really Big Here

I guess every family has favorite recipes, old standbys that can practically be made by heart at the drop of a...chili? Anyhow, this is one of our faves. I pulled it together last night, long after dinner was over but way before bedtime. It was warm, yummy and actually went well with hot chocolate. Go figure!

Hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Jalapeño Cornbread

1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
1 cup milk
½ t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1 cup corn niblets
1 cup cream-style corn
1/4 cup Oil
4 Jalapeño peppers, chopped
2 eggs
½ cup finely chopped onion
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.

Pour batter into a buttered, hot, cast-iron skillet or into a buttered 8x8-inch square baking pan.

Place in preheated 350-degree oven and bake for 55 minutes

Monday, February 08, 2010

Pass It On

If you’re reading this blog you’re most likely a lover of books. Yeah, we bibliophiles tend to stick together, don’t we? And if you love books as much as I do, you’ve probably got a glut of novels you’ve read and won’t ever reread. I know I do. At least, I did.

We spend a good deal of time in a medical facility. I wish we didn’t, but we do. And don’t get me wrong, I’m from-the-bottom-of-my-heart grateful that the facility and its amazing staff are here to help us. I thank God every day that they’re here!

Still, long hours, day after day, in a medical setting can be tedious—unless you’ve always got a book tucked in your bag. I’ve gotten into the habit of bringing along not only the book I’m currently reading, but a few others I’ve read, enjoyed and probably will never read again. I leave them in the facility’s small bookcase or on the table in the room we’ve occupied.

Nurses, patients and cleaning staff have all told me how much they appreciate finding a good book—instead of an outdated magazine!—here and there. Many patients spend all day long in some of those rooms, and the thought that maybe my spare reading material might help pass the long, often painful, hours really makes me feel great. It is a small thing, but at least I feel like I’m making a tiny difference.

So, the next time you’re wondering what in the world you’re going to do with the books falling out of your bookshelves, why not consider donating them to your local hospital, cardiac wing or cancer center? Your old favorites might bring joy to someone struggling to get well. An added benefit is knowing you’re making a difference in someone else’s life. The way I see it, it’s a win-win situation.

Hope you have a great day!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Berry Overload

Our freezer is still full of last season's berries. We had bumper crops of blueberries, blackberries and raspberries, so I'm still trying to use them all up. I hate wasting food, and I know we'll have more berries coming before long so...I'm getting pretty creative.

Made this yesterday afternoon, and it was a hit. I should've taken a picture of it (before Hubby dug in!) because it was really very attractive--in a warm bubbling berry sort of way.

Any ideas on how to use the gallons of berries we've still got lurking in the deep freeze? All suggestions are appreciated!

What about you? Anything taking up space in your freezer? Hey, I'm still feeling very creative here...

Bang-Up Berries

2¼ cups flour
½ cup butter
1 t. salt
2 t. baking powder
½ cup milk
3 cups blueberries
1 cup granulated sugar

Combine berries, sugar and ¼ cup flour in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until mixture bubbles. Remove pan from heat and pour berry mixture onto a buttered baking dish. Set aside.

Combine reserved flour, butter, salt, baking powder and milk in a large bowl. Stir all ingredients until a soft dough forms. On a lightly floured surface roll dough until it is the same size as the baking dish.

Place dough over berries in dish.

Place baking dish in a preheated 350-degree oven.

Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Serve warm.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Brownies for Lovers

Happy Almost-Valentine's Day!

Brownies for Lovers

3/4 cups melted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cups flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease a 13x9-inch pan.

Combine butter, eggs, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add cocoa, baking powder, salt and flour and stir until mixed. Then add chocolate chips.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 25 minutes.


Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Butt on Fire

You read it right. Lately I’ve been feeling like I’m writing like my butt’s on fire.

Why? I’ve gone from one book to the next without stopping to “smell the roses” for months now. The good thing is that I’m getting a lot of writing done. The bad thing? I’m not sure there is a downside, unless you count the fact that I always seem to be on a self-imposed writing deadline. Even that is positive, I think. At least that’s what I keep telling myself!

So, the butt on fire writing does have a sort of end in sight. I’ve got plans for February and March. April is going to be the time for sitting back and reading—other people’s books, that is!—to my heart’s content. The hope is that by May I’ll want to plant my behind back in the chair and begin writing again. We’ll see…

What about you? Do you ever do something you love to such an extent that you feel like you’re on fire? Hmm?

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Got Beans?

Last night we were hungry, but not really hungry. You know the feeling, don't you? We'd eaten a late lunch, so by the time dinnertime arrived neither of us had an appetite. We waited, and by nine o'clock we were beginning to feel kind of empty. But the dilemma--eating a large meal that late, just a few hours before bedtime?

Seemed not a good idea, so I pulled together a fast soup. I added the leftover half of a loaf of bread I'd made on Sunday and we had a meal. Easy, tasty and available on a moment's notice. All good, right? I thought I'd share the recipe, just in case you find yourself in the same sort of mood sometime. I hope you enjoy it!

Fast Bean Soup

1/4 cup chopped onion
2 cloves minced garlic
1 T. butter
1 T. olive oil
3 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup uncooked small pasta
1 can cannellini beans
2 diced tomatoes
1/2 cup spinach
1/4 t. salt
Parmesan cheese

Saute onion and garlic in butter and oil. Add broth, bring to a boil, and then add the pasta, beans, tomatoes, spinach and salt. Simmer until heated through. Sprinkle with cheese and serve with hot, crusty bread.

Monday, February 01, 2010

A New Resolution

Oh, how on earth did February arrive so quickly? Why, it seems like just yesterday that we toasted the New Year, doesn’t it? I guess that whole “time flies” adage is true!

My resolution for January was to forego cookies. Now, anyone who knows me will assure you that I do love my cookies, so this was a big thing for me. I’m happy to report that once I made my mind up, I didn’t have a hard time sticking to the resolution. I haven’t had a cookie since 2009 and am truly pleased with myself. It’s a small thing, but sometimes small things matter.

I’ve been asked a number of times if I’m going to keep up the no-cookie rule. Now that I’ve broken the daily cookie habit I’d hate to fall back into the trap but I’d also miss sampling some of my favorite treats. Besides, around here we bake heart-shaped sugar cookies near Valentine’s Day and that’s one tradition I have no intention of giving up so I guess the answer is that I’m going to resolve to practice moderation in the cookie arena of my life. Like I said, I’m out of the habit so I don’t see myself gobbling cookies any time in the near future.

So, what’s it going to be for February? I thought you’d never ask!

Exercise. Yep, that’s the resolution for the second month of the year. I’m going to force myself to get on my exercise bike every single day this month and pedal for thirty minutes.

I’ve fallen out of the habit of “formal” exercise these past months, so I think I should make a conscious effort to get back into the practice. Lately I’ve let myself off the exercise hook. I’ve convinced myself that hauling firewood, tilling gardens, clearing snow and stacking wood pellets should exempt me from an exercise regimen. That’s hogwash—my chores aren’t a substitute for aerobic activity so, for February at least, you can be sure I’ll have my butt on the bicycle seat for a half-hour a day.

Let’s hope this goes as easily as the cookie resolution did. I’ll keep you posted.

So, what about you? Did you make New Year’s resolutions? If you did, how are you doing with them?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

"Get onto the train..."

“…I’m going to drive you all off a cliff!”

Relax! I’m only kidding—well, I’m half-kidding. I just finished One Grand Season, the second book in a series I’m writing. I am so glad to be done with the book!

Honestly, by the time I get to the last two chapters I feel like ushering every character (including the parrot!) onto a train so I can send them careening around corners, swooping past rockslides and finally out into the wild blue yonder, the wheels leaving the track in one smooth whoosh!, taking each and every one of those annoying characters on a ride they’ll never forget.

Once I write the last page I generally like my characters again (okay; maybe I don’t like them right away but after a bowl or two of ice cream they’re usually allowed to leave the train intact) but just leading up to the end I’m sick to death of them. I suspect they share my sentiments, so I make a rule never to board a train while working toward the last chapter. Hey, you never know what might happen!

I’m off to whip up an ice cream sundae—with all the trimmings! Then, I’ll take a day or two before I begin writing the third book in the series. I’m on a roll, and with no cliff in sight the characters should be safe for a few weeks at least.

Hope you’re enjoying January!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Resolution Report

Ah, the revolving resolution scheme. It’s January, and that means I’m foregoing cookies. Now, cookies don’t seem to be a big deal, and in the Grand Scheme of Things they aren’t but I will say that in my ordinary, ho-hum life cookies are a Big Deal.

My mother raised me with the cookie-for-each-hand motto, and I’ll admit I’ve faithfully adhered to her way of thinking. It’s a credo that’s served me well, one I never thought to relinquish but…

Dare I say it? Aloud? Here and now, in the presence of witnesses?

Oh, I hope I don’t regret this—

I’m getting used to not eating cookies every day. There, I’ve said it. Miraculously, the sky didn’t fall and the earth didn’t shake. Who knew I could say such a thing and not suffer dire consequences?

Live and learn…

Oh, right. The cookie resolution. I’ll admit, at first it was tough not eating cookies. I’m nearly (but not quite, mind you!) embarrassed to say this but I even dreamed about cookies the first week of the month. That’s right; I dreamed I was in a bakery, facing a wall of the most incredible cookies which were—inconveniently!—behind glass. What do you think Freud would say about that honey of a nightmare?

Anyhow, the cookie dreams have stopped. My jeans are looser in the posterior region. I’m satisfied that I’ve made a healthy change. All good, right?

So, I’d say this resolution-a-month plan is working. So far.

Now, if I could only think of something for February I’d be set. Any suggestions?

And how are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions? All good, I hope. If you’ve slipped, remember there’s always the first of February, which seems like as good a day as any to jump back onto the resolution wagon.

Have a nice day!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Thinking Back

January is definitely a point in the year when I focus on what lies ahead, but at the same time I can’t help but remember the year we’ve just closed out. What a year it was!

Yes, I’ve been somewhat reflective these past few days, remembering all we were going through—and all we’d yet to encounter—this time last year. This week in ’09, Hubby had recently been released from the hospital. I was totally relieved to have him home, even though I knew he would be readmitted for surgery in February. It’s hard to believe we sailed through that, and so much more.

I’ll admit, my knees get a bit wobbly when I recall the whirlwind year, so I don’t spend much time doing so. For some reason, though, I can’t help but think about it—maybe now that it’s January I’m finally allowing myself to consider the scares of the past. A bit of distance—that might be what I’ve needed to reflect on it all.

I am so grateful we survived 2009! I’m just as thankful for the kindness, support and love of family and friends that we’ve been showered with this past year. Everything would have been so much more difficult had it not been for the amazing people who surrounded us when we most needed to be enfolded. They are still supporting us, and we will be forever grateful. Sometimes life takes a sharp turn when it’s least expected, but it’s a blessing that there are those who run toward the chaos instead of from it.

All right, I’m done reflecting. For now, at least.

Hmm…I wonder if cookie deprivation could have any effect on a person’s capacity for reminiscence indulgences? You never know…

What about you? Is January turning your gaze forward? Backward? Sideways—no, just kidding about that one! Or are you like me, looking in both directions at once?

Any forward, backward or even sideways thoughts you’d care to share on this wintry morning? Hmm?

Monday, January 25, 2010


I can’t say anything about anyone else’s mother, so maybe I should have titled this post “Mother” instead of “Mothers” but it’s too late now to change it so we’ll just have to move along. Anyhow, this morning I’m thinking of one very special lady. She’s my mother, and today’s her birthday.

Now, we all (hopefully!) love our mothers. Me? I think I’ve got the best mother in the world. Why? Oh, there are so many reasons it would take forever to list them all. Let’s just say I think she’s the best and leave it at that.

While I love it that she’s having a birthday, it also gives me a slight case of the collywobbles. How so? Because while it’d be a dream come true to have my mother be one of those wrinkled faces on the side of one of Willard Scott’s Smucker’s jars, most of us don’t make the 100-year mark. As much as we’d love to, and as much as we might deserve to do so, we just don’t get there. A sad, but true, fact.

So, as my fabulous mother marks another year with what we hope will be a spectacular birthday, I am reminded that life is short and those we most love won’t be with us forever. For my part, I’m going to hug my mother tight, tell her I love her and make sure all the candles on this year’s birthday cake shine brightly for her. I’m going to thank her for being my mother, and remind her I’m thrilled to be her daughter. And I’m going to say a silent prayer to the Big Guy above, and ask that He give us many more years and lots more birthday candles.

What about you? When was the last time you hugged your mom? And if your mom’s not available for hugging, have you considered telling someone else that they’re important to you and that you hope they have a wonderful day?

You know, you’re not doing anything now besides reading this blog post which, I promise you, is less important than whomever you’re thinking of this very minute. Why not pick up the phone and call someone you love? What have you got to lose? And could there be a better way to spend the next few minutes than sharing them with someone important? Hmm?

Happy birthday, Mom! You're the best!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Slow and Easy...

That’s how the last few days went. No muss, no fuss…just Hubby and I kicking back before the roaring fire, sipping tea and hot chocolate (minus the cookies! Ahh!) and whiling away the hours in quiet companionship.

Don’t you just love days like that?

We had no place to go. Nothing that needed immediate attention. There wasn’t even a sock to wash or a meal to plan, thanks to some strategic planning last week.

So…relaxation here. What about you? How did your week unfold?

Whatever you did, I hope it was pleasant. And I wish you a fabulous weekend!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Hideaway in the Hills

Don't you wish you could own a place like this? I sure do!
We don't own it but plan on taking a mini-vacation here in the next few months. Surrounded by hills, trees and hiking trails, this is the perfect spot to just relax and pretend all of life's annoyances just don't exist.
Looks like a good place to write, don't you think?
Hope you have a great Monday!

Friday, January 15, 2010


Wintertime in the northeast can be pretty chilly. We eat a lot of homemade soup around here. Often I pull together a loaf of bread and toss it into the oven to bake while the soup simmers. It’s a fast, hearty, tummy-friendly meal that doesn’t take a great deal of thought or endless preparation. I mean, we all have lots to do these days, so standing over the stove is fine for some nights but not-so-great for others, right?

Last night we had black bean soup—with a loaf of no-knead, fast-rising bread. It hit the spot here, so I figured it might be a crowd-pleaser at your house, too. Hope you enjoy it!

Black Bean Soup

1 onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
splash olive oil
3 cups cooked black beans
1 chopped tomato
3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water
2 t. ground cumin
2 t. red pepper flakes
½ cup chopped green chilies
1 T. lemon juice
salt and pepper

Heat oil, then sauté garlic and onion until tender. Add remaining ingredients, turn the heat to low and simmer for a bit. There’s nothing fancy about this recipe, and it doesn’t take a lot of skill. Just toss everything in the pot, let it bubble away for a while—and that’s it! Enjoy!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Release News!

Yesterday afternoon I got a call from my editor at Avalon Books. It's official. The Christmas Bargain releases in October 2010!

I had a hard time not screaming in her ear.

So, good news in a crazy week. We can all use some of that now and again, don't you think? Ah, I meant the good news, not the crazy week...but you probably already figured that out.

I've got to dash. Tell me, have you gotten any good news lately? I sure hope you have. Me? I'm still grinning from ear to ear!

Have a nice day!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


My darling husband knows me well. Too well, sometimes, but that’s another story! Anyhow, one of my Christmas gifts was Stephen King’s new book, Under the Dome. I was thrilled, as Hubby knew I would be!

From the first page, I’ve been hooked. I could easily—and happily!—inhale the huge volume but I’m making myself take it slowly. I’m savoring the story, enjoying each layer of intrigue and becoming more fully invested in the lives of the folks trapped beneath the dome in western Maine with each turn of the page. I have laughed aloud, swallowed tears and kept screams at bay—barely!—by holding my hand over my lips. No one tells a story like Stephen King, and I must admit I love every minute of every wild journey he takes readers on.

I’m going to hate to see Under the Dome end, but that’s no surprise. I’ve felt that way about every one of Mr. King’s books I’ve read, and I’ve read them all at least once.

What about you? What are you reading? And will you be happy to see the end of the book or will you wish, as I know I will, that it could just go on and on?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Missing Piglet

Monday, January 11, 2010

Good Thoughts, Please

I hope this Monday is a happy and healthy one for you and yours. We will be busy embarking on what we pray will be an exceptional adventure. Any good thoughts or kind prayers sent our way will be greatly appreciated! Thank you, and have a great day!

Friday, January 08, 2010


Last year Marianne gathered a group of writing friends together to embark on JaNoWriMo. It is a January version of National Novel Writing Month, an event that takes place each November. I always participate in NaNo so I loved the idea of doing it again in January!

Of course, I gladly participated in Marianne’s January adventure last year. It is a bit fuzzy in my mind, the whole beginning-of-year period and since it brings back some vivid images I’m going to let the time slip into the wispiness of memory.

This year I’m playing along again, and having a blast. Thanks, Marianne!

In November, during NaNo, I wrote a Regency romance called In Name Only. It mostly takes place at Willowbrook Manor, so I called it the first Willowbrook Manor Romance. Now I’m working on the second book in the WM romance series, One Grand Season. I am enjoying the opportunity to return to the place and most of the characters from the first story. I feel like I’m visiting with old friends! Just for fun, I’ve introduced new faces to the group, and the plot is unfolding just as I’d hoped it would.

What a wonderful way to begin the new year! I have plans to write more Willowbrook Manor romances—how could I not when I’ve fallen in love with the charming old manor and its unusual inhabitants?

All I can say is that I hope Marianne makes JaNoWriMo an annual event. In fact, I could go for FebNoWriMo. Then, MarNoWriMo. And, actually ApNoWriMo sounds like a good thing…

Yoo hoo? Marianne…?

Wednesday, January 06, 2010


One of my personal New Year’s promises involves needles and string. Well, not string, precisely…it just feels like string since I’ve got the present length miserably tangled. Yarn—it’s yarn but I assure you it feels like a hank of boat rope as I try to mimic the motions in the knitting books Santa left beneath our tree. You see, I’ve always wanted to knit socks. I know, it sounds deceptively simple but I assure you it’s harder than it looks. Either that, or I’m hopelessly inept at sock-building.

I know the rudimentary stitches, and can whip up a respectable scarf in no time flat. But socks? That’s a whole other story!

A sad, tangled, frustrating story.

One of my Christmas gifts was the basic sock stuff: books, needles and yarn. Unfortunately the yarn isn’t “sock yarn”—which, if I may add, the book says I can get at my local “yarn shop”—so it’s fine for practicing stitches but it won’t work for making actual socks. And the “yarn shop” the book refers to so blithely? Ridiculous! We live in the middle of nowhere—I could search high and low and would be more likely to find an Agway or Quick Mart before stumbling upon a yarn shop.


So here I am, knitting needles in hand and determination stiffening my spine as I ponder the best way to purchase sock yarn on line. I’d love to be able to feel the yarn, but since that’s not an option I suppose I’ll just have to wing it and take my chances. I may either have the softest or bulkiest socks this side of the Mississippi, but one way or another I’m going to have handmade knit socks.

I should hold book on how many toes and heels these socks are going to have. You know they’re going to be pretty funky, don’t you? I mean, it took me…well, I won’t say exactly how long it took me to learn to knit a rectangular scarf. Let’s just say the first try didn’t turn out perfectly. Or the second…or the…well, you get the idea.

Do you knit? Any sock-making hints you’d care to share?

Monday, January 04, 2010

Good News!

I am pleased to announce that my Regency romance The Christmas Bargain has been sold to Avalon Books! It will release later this year and I couldn’t be happier about it!

I have long been an avid reader of Avalon romances. I love the way their character-driven stories are wholesome enough for teens as well as grannies. It thrills me to know that my book will take its place beside others I’ve read and enjoyed. I’m completely jazzed to know that The Christmas Bargain will hit not only bookstore shelves but library shelves, as well. I don’t recall one day of my life when I didn’t love the library, so knowing my book will end up in libraries makes my heart sing.

So, good news to begin the new year!

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year!

Welcome 2010!

Don’t you just love New Year’s Day? So much optimism. So many high hopes. A wealth of promise, and a face toward the future.

It’s all good, isn’t it?

I hope you had a wonderful New Year’s Eve, and that 2010 brings you and yours only the best of everything.