Sunday, July 31, 2011

Playing the Waiting Game

I haven't posted much here for a while because my new website and blog page are being created. Yay! I can't wait. I've never been good at waiting. : )

Anyway, I got a sneak peek at the end of the week. Just a few minor tweaks and I think we'll be ready to roll. Now I have to think of something interesting to honor the new blog's entry into cyberspace. And I have to find out how to remove my own photo from my followers...I mean, of course I'm following my own blog...but, really?

Monday, July 18, 2011


It has been a while since I posted, sorry. A quick update. The leg is healing slowly but still swells if I sit at the computer for too long. I'm sure in another week or so I'll be back to normal.

In the meantime I've been working on updating my website and blog. I'll have a new WordPress site soon, a new internet home, all sparkly and clean and pretty. I believe it's user friendly too, so I'm looking forward to that.

I'm loving my purchase of a Kindle and it became my go to medication when I could barely hobble around. I've read a ton of books these past two weeks. Top of the list so far has been, Dreams of Joy, by Lisa See, and Lucien's Fall, by Barbara Samuel. Both great stories that left me wanting more at the end. You can't ask for better than that in a book.

My latest manuscript is coming along well. I'm enjoying the process and the way my characters are showing themselves on the page. Plus, I've gotten a few submissions out for the last book, entered a few contests, and pitched to a couple of editors and agents. It's all good.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Heeding My Advice.

I'm really good at giving advice, excellent in fact. ; )I've always advised my mother and mother-in-law to never rush to pick up the phone, because they might fall, trip on something, have wet feet from the garden, or the shower, or be bleary eyed from grabbing an afternoon snooze. I always say, if a call is important the person will call back. Excellent advice for the elderly, right?

On Sunday I changed my routine because of an excessive heat warning, and took the dog out early for a walk. We usually go out after my nine am phone call that comes in regular as clock work every Sunday morning. So I got back home and had an hour to go before the call and decided to exercise. I was on the Spinner bike, reading a book and pedaling to my heart's content, when the phone rang and startled me. I jumped off the bike to get to the phone and forgot to slow down first. The pedal whacked me in the shin, the serated edge tearing out a couple of chunks of flesh, and leaving skid marks that looked like a car had run over me. I faked good health with my 99 year old caller not daring to look at the damage, or the blood oozing down to my sneaker, and ended the call.

Now, remember this was Fourth of July weekend, in the Cali desert where temperatures reached 118 degrees on the Saturday, and anyone in their right mind had left town for the nearest beach. I was a wreck and knew I had to go to the E.R. So, I stopped the bleeding, covered the wound with gauze squares, wrapped it and strapped on an ice bag and drove myself.

After they patched me up and steri-stripped me, gave me a Tetanus shot, and dressed and bandaged the wound, I was sent home with discharge papers, hugely grateful that no bone was broken. The instructions mentioned keeping the wound dry, so no daily swim, a quick shower with the leg in a plastic bag was okay, and they advised against any activity that caused sweating. Did I say that it was 118 freakin degrees on Saturday? Okay, I'm weird, but that really made me laugh. Anyway, I've now done the RICE, rest, ice, compression, and elevation for two days, and I'm bored to tears. Today the bandage was changed, the wounds redressed, and I can get around okay but it's going to be a while until I heal.

I keep mentally admonishing myself for being such a klutz. I remember the oft quoted words of my mother's Irish father (a grandparent who passed when I was quite young)and they are: "If you can hear me, then bloody well heed me." I'd heard my own words, said over and over, for years and years, but did I heed them? Nope.

Some things are gonna have to change around here. : )

Monday, June 27, 2011

Great Beginnings

Have you ever wondered what it is about a novel that keeps you spellbound from page one? It’s not magic. It has to be that you, the reader, connects on a deep inner level with the main character, and you’re living the story as it unfolds, right?

As a writer, how do you capture your reader’s imagination in that way, and so immediately? How do you give readers enough information to titillate the senses, and leave enough enticing tidbits to lead them through the story until their appetites are fully sated at the end? How do you achieve that awesome comment from a reader when he/she tells you they stayed up until 3am to finish your book?

Multi-published romance author, Lynn Kerstan, is here to share her insights into the art of, Great Beginnings:

Robena: You speak, and teach, about introducing irresistible characters. Can you explain?
Lynn: I believe first impressions count. They endure throughout the story. How you first present your main characters is far more important than the opening “event.”
There are six main points:
1. Choose the qualities you most want the reader to perceive in your main characters on the first acquaintance. You can’t show them all up front, nor do you want to.
2. Find the opening scene action that will allow you to show the specifically chosen aspects of your main characters.
3. Recognize the personal qualities most relevant to your character’s story arc.
4. Plan specific ways to “unpeel the onion” and reveal the hidden depths and unexpected (even contradictory) aspects of your character’s nature.
5. Foreshadow character traits in the early scenes.
6. Create irresistible hooks that make readers want to stick with a character they’ve just met and find out what happens to him/her.
Robena: Excellent. I think those six points will be typed, printed, and taped to my computer. Do you have any other words of wisdom that relate to great beginnings?
Lynn: I teach an online class and go into greater depth with the points made above. In Part B, I discuss three more topics:
1. The Inciting Incident
2. The Story Question
3. Other Essential Stuff.
Robena: I like that, “Other Essential Stuff”. Would you care to explain some of that “stuff” today?
Lynn: What Not to Write; False Starts; Prologues; Backstory Blunders; TMI—Too Much Information. I’m always adding material and changing material based on questions from class members. They teach me a lot about what they need and want.
Robena: TMI. Yes, I have been guilty of that, or at least my adult children tell me so. Ha ha. How long does the course run? Also, when will you be teaching the next class on beginnings? Or are you teaching a different topic?
Lynn: Three or four weeks, depending on the sponsoring RWA Chapter or other writerly venue. The next “Great Beginnings” class runs 01August-28August, offered by the Futuristic, Fantasy, and Paranormal Chapter of RWA.
More information and registration available at:
Robena: Tell us a little about yourself.
Lynn: I’m a former college professor, folksinger, professional bridge player, and nun, the author of nine Regency romances, seven historical romances, and several novellas. I’m also a five-time RITA Finalist, with one win, and I’m currently developing a paranormal series.
Robena: Wow! That’s an impressive bio. I’m sure you’ve tapped into that life experience for your novels. And did I hear you say you were once a nun?
Lynn: Yep.
Robena: Care to elaborate? I had two great aunts who were nuns. They were really funny characters, and they had a fabulous outlook on life.
Lynn: Well, I think I’m funny. Others beg to differ. Spent only 2 ½ years in the convent, though, at Mount St. Mary’s in Los Angeles. It was a wonderful experience. I’m glad I went in, and I’m glad I came out.
Robena: Thanks for sharing about yourself, and your incredible writing knowledge. I know that I learned a lot from this interview, and I’m sure my chapter mates will also. I’m going back to the work in progress to take another look at the beginning, and I think my focus will be on your first point.

To learn more about Lynn, or for information on her online classes, please visit her at

(This interview first posted in the LARA Confidential, June 2011.)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Thank you Whirlpool.

How often do you get blog subject matter from your washing machine?
Do any of you remember Cathy from the comic strip? It was based on Cathy Guisewite’s life, and dealt with the four basic guilt trips women have: food, love, mother, and work. I used to enjoy Cathy’s take on things and for the most part could relate. She poked fun at the foibles of modern women, but in a nice way, and I always read that strip in my daily newspaper.
Anyway a lot of years ago I had bought a Cathy doll. She’s quite tall, maybe eighteen or so inches. She’s totally made of fabric and pleasantly plump. Her skin is pale pink, with brown wool hair, a drawn on cartoon face with kind of an “oops” smile, and she wears a blue outfit. I didn’t know until yesterday that the dress is fixed with Velcro to her body and it’s covered by a long sleeved matching blue jacket. She wears fabric blue shoes and they are fixed in place. Velcro’d to her hands is a brown briefcase also made from fabric, and printed on it are the words: Take Life One Disaster at a Time.
I liked those words and thought they were good ones to live by, and I tried hard to follow that advice. Although some days when my kids were teenagers it was more like too many disasters to deal with, and how can I juggle all of them? I’d look at Cathy, who always sat on the spare chair in my office and was only removed if someone wanted to sit there—except for my son who used to just sit right on top of her—and I’d roll my eyes and say, “Okay, Cathy, speak to me.” Over the years Cathy was relegated to different places as my home space got smaller and the kids went off in pursuit of whatever it is that kids pursue. Yesterday I found her again. She was looking a little the worse for wear: dusty, crumpled, and her hair was tangled. I threw her into the washing machine, not realizing her clothes could be removed, tossed in the detergent, started up the machine, and went back to work on my latest WIP. Then, as writers are apt to do, I got deeply involved in my work and forgot all about Cathy.
This morning I decided to wash towels and opened the top of the washing machine. There was Cathy, totally naked, and totally dry. She was smiling up at me, her pink body smooth as a baby’s bottom, her clothes lying in disarray on the bottom of the machine, and her briefcase torn from her little hands. She looked happy, like she’d had a really good night of it. I burst out laughing. Then I took her out and dressed her. She didn’t even need a spin in the dryer, but her hair? Let me tell you whatever she did in that machine, she sure had fun. That brown wool hair was too tangled to comb out, so I did the best I could and braided it, tying it off with a rubber band. Then I reattached her briefcase, like she was heading back to the office.
She’s as good as new, if not better, and she seems quite content sitting on a stool behind me. I’m not sure about her smug smile though, maybe it’s satisfaction after her little spin?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Fruitless Loop

I recently read in my horoscope that I must beware falling into a fruitless loop. I love the term. I rolled it around on my tongue like it was a mouthful of rare and expensive wine and my job was to define all of its subtle nuances. Then the phrase began to play tricks with my mind. It was like an earworm. A tape track playing over and over and over until I couldn’t shake it loose.

Soon my thoughts centered on cereal. Quite a jump, but you catch my drift…Fruit Loops…no, they must be fruitless loops, like in plain Cheerios. I love Cheerios. Cheerios with sliced banana or blueberries, skim milk, and a couple of cups of coffee. That gets me going in the morning. Cheerios at night while watching TV and sipping a nice smooth Pinot Noir. Cheerios, you ask, with wine? Sure. Toss them in with some trail mix and you have quite a healthy snack...especially if you buy the whole grain instead of the plain. But, back to the fruitless loop, what does that mean?

I suppose it’s like taking the freeway home, and then looping from one interchange to another, going through the motions, driving on automatic pilot…but then again you would have a destination or goal in that scenario. You’d be on a freeway loop but there’d be fruit at the end because you’d arrive home. How about walking on the treadmill yet going nowhere? But wait a minute, that would also bear fruit, wouldn’t it? You would at least lose some weight or firm and tone your legs, stop your butt from sagging. So that could be considered fruit, the fruits of your labors. What about the hamster racking up miles on the wheel? He’s going around and around and getting nowhere fast. Or is he? Maybe that workout aids his digestion so he gets to eat more fruit. Think about it.

Seriously, I think the fruitless loop is about human emotion. It’s about being locked into one way of thinking that shows little or no progress. Or the replaying of negative messages, thoughts without end, without purpose, and that bear nothing positive. No fruit for the effort. I think that’s it. It’s a mind thing, the games we play with our thoughts, the endless analyzing.

A fruitless loop, I love it. Have you ever been on one, and how did you jump off?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Midnight in Paris

Right off the bat I'm going to say I LOVE THIS MOVIE. Woody Allen has captured something beautiful, magical, whimsical, in his study of human relationships set against the backdrop of Paris. Paris by day, by night, in the rain...but especially at midnight. Go to the theater and let yourself be swept up and away in nostalgia in this gorgeous film, Midnight in Paris.

I won't give away any spoilers here but will say that for any artist in search of his or her own creative authenticity, this movie will put you on the right track. It isn't your standard Woody Allen movie. It isn't your standard romantic comedy. In fact the comedy aspect is so subtle, so sophisitcated, I was surprised to see it fit into the rom-com genre. And I want to see the movie again to capture those lines of dialogue that made me sit forward in my seat and gasp or smile.

The way Allen directs his cast, the way he nurtures those subtleties of character, those nuances that come from a wide-eyed gaze, to a flick of an eyebrow that can say so much, is pure genius. I think this might be Owen Wilson's "moment" in his career. I understood his character was in essence a portrayal of Allen's own self, but the tender way Owen played the role of Gil was gorgeous, and he didn't show any of the cynical side that often comes through in Allen's movies. Instead he was awestruck.

Gil was totally blown apart with excitement to be stepping back in time and hobnobbing with the artists of a bygone era. The way he discovered himself through discovering those artists was captivating. Haven't we all thought at some time that we'd missed the boat, or been born into the wrong era, or that the so called Golden Era was long gone and would never be repeated? That lure for the past, that longing for what was comes because we can't see into the future, all we have is today. Somehow today looks so ordinary. So lackluster. Not so, this film.

Thursday, June 09, 2011


I was recently acknowledged on a friend's dedication page in her novel. It made me smile, and I must admit I was quite chuffed.

Melissa and I met about ten years ago when we joined LARA, the Los Angeles chapter of Romance Writers of America. We joined a large critique group and met after the monthly meeting to exchange chapters, comment upon, and generally try to learn from each other's writing attempts the best way to write a romance. Those were fun days.

We were an eclectic group and all have remarkably stayed friends some ten years later. What surprised me most was Melissa and Gina (my current critique partner) were young women, not much older than my own daughter. Melissa was recently married with no children, Gina was single. They were so modern and contemporary, and I was this old lady who was single, didn't even date, and had no idea how to write a romance for today's reader. They loosened me up. ; )

Over the years we broke away from the larger group to find smaller numbers to critique with. My group of five went on to produce three successful authors. Then those authors were deluged with contracts and marketing and building a brand, and we split again. Melissa and I critiqued for a while and then life got in the way for her as she was working, had a baby, and so on, but we've always been there to support each other in times of need. Gina and I still critique and we seem to do just fine.

Melissa wrote a wonderful story that was a historical time travel. It got so close to being published in several of the big houses, she garnered an agent with that story, and life started to look promising. Then things went topsy turvy as they often do in life, and the agent changed vocation. Publishing was beginning to change, and not for the good for new writers. Melissa never gave up on her story. She knew it deserved to be published. Me, on the other hand, I'd write a story submit it five or six times, get a rejection and move on to the next story. Ah, I think there's a lesson here, somewhere. ; )

Melissa's first novel, Past Her Time, came out in e-book and is available at Bookstrand Publishers this week. It should be available at Amazon in a week or so, and it will be published in print in October 2011.

Check it out, you won't be sorry.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Short memory.

I have an "everything that needs attending to list" on my computer, and as soon as something is completed it's deleted from the list, kissed goodbye, sent on its way, whatever. Being organized has always been something I've needed in my life. I'm a list maker. I love routine. And I don't like clutter. But I swear that I have the shortest memory of anyone I know. I've given away stuff, donated stuff, and then within a year or so bought a similar item.

When I moved to this home six years ago, I bought a treadmill. This is a small home, so there isn't any place you can hide a monstrous piece of equipment. After two years I donated it to a charitable organization because aesthetically the machine did not appeal to me. Every time I saw it it jarred my nerves, even though I loved working out. My motto is, if it isn't pretty it has to go. I swore there would be no more gym equipment in my house. Ever. Two years later I bought a spinner bike. But at least it's small and not offensive, and I do use it a few times a week. ; )

A few months ago I started getting the desire to workout on a treadmill again. I'm not kidding. A real desire, but not one that required being in a place with other people sweating and huffing. Of course then I started thinking about buying a machine, even though there is a small HOA gym in the development I live in. That would be too simple, right?

So, forgetting all past experiences with home gym equipment, I made many trips to many stores. I took measurements. I compared prices. I rearranged furniture in order to accommodate said machine. I weighed and balanced the lower price with having to put the thing together myself. Have you ever tried to move one of those suckers in Costco or WalMart? I realized I wouldn't be able to bring it home in my car. I'd have to hire someone to do that, plus get it into the house, plus put it together. So, if I was indeed getting another treadmill it would have to be higher priced and from a store that could do all of the heavy lifting. But that was an added expense I did not want. I had the Aussie trip to make. Oh, and the annual taxes. So I shelved the idea and took the trip, and paid Uncle Sam, and totally disregarded the jiggle of my hips.

Last week, I was going over my "list" and spotted the word treadmill, and it wasn't crossed off. Oh no! That invoked a pressing desire, all over again, to buy a treadmill and have the convenience of working out on my own time, in my underwear, and not have to talk to anyone. Did I mention already that I have a short memory? Well, this time I caught myself in mid-action. I tried a new tactic and decided to give the gym a chance. I'm now working out and loving it. And I've chosen a time of day when nobody else is there...lunchtime. Crafty, huh? I still have to wear clothes, but heck, it's almost as good as having the machine in my house.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

I'm finished with Mick

Ha ha. Don't Mess with Mick was my latest story. A romantic suspense. It is now finished, and off to my critique partner for a final read through.

I'll do a little polish, and then send it off to a couple of Beta readers. With any luck it will be ready to submit to contests in late July. I'm not able to go to RWA National Conference this year, this will be the first time I've missed it since 2003, and it seems awfully strange. so there will be no post conference submissions to agents and editors. Just a big old silence. That might send me slightly batty. However, my sweet dog is approaching twelve years of age, and for her breed that is elderly, and I can see the changes in her on almost a daily basis. I know our time together is diminishing, and I can't put her through the anxiety and stress of me leaving, even if it is only for five days. There will be time for trips later.

My critique partner and I used to refer to my latest work as "Mick's story" but it was really the heroine's story, her journey, her loyalty to her family, her desire to find her missing grandfather...but Mick? Well, Mick just got in the way. Not really, he was in pursuit of a criminal and somehow grandpa got in the way, and that caused the hero and heroine to cross paths and draw swords. : ) And of course, the criminal had to try to bump them both off, oh yeah, and the hero and heroine eventually fell in love.

I really enjoyed writing this story, but it took me longer than I'd anticipated. I kept putting it aside to work on other things, and then I'd come back, putter around some more, and so on. Finally, I forced myself to finish it, didn't like it, put it aside to simmer for a few months and then went back to do a rewrite. That was when it suddenly became real to me. I could see the story as a whole. As if I were at a distance, looking down upon it, and seeing all of the inner workings, the gears, everything operating as it should. It was a strange experience, and one I haven't had before. I'm not sure what that means. Maybe it means it's the best story of written so far. I can only hope. : )

I'm already doing research on my next project. This time I'm switching genre. I think my voice is better suited to women's fiction, and that is what I started out writing. No, it won't be one of those divorce tales. And it won't be about recovering from, or going through, a devasting illness. It will be a young woman's journey of discovery. An enlightening journey. And I don't care how long it takes me to finish it. I've removed myself from the rat race. That's all I'm saying for now. But I'm liking what I'm researching, and if all goes well, I may just visit the country of the setting in Spring 2012. Got to save my pennies. But it would be fabulous, and I love to write from location. There's nothing like soaking up the ambience, the sights, the smells, and the local mannerisms, and then trickling them through the story.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Give Peace a Chance.

Did anyone else have a difficult April? Don't worry, it's almost over. Already I can feel the tension easing as May approaches.

My writing, or at least my desire to write, is coming back. I'm putting in a few hours every day, revising in the mornings, and rewriting in the afternoons. I've never worked on a manuscript so hard, not ever before. I always imagined I had, but nah! Not even close. The thing is, with publishing being all in a tizz, and multi-published writers being in a tizz, and agents and editors being in a tizz, it's hard to know which way to turn. I do know editors are strapped for time, a lot of agents are closing up shop, the tried and true are getting the contracts, and for a nobody like me to break in I must have a story that is not only amazing, but a manuscript that has been closely edited. There's no such thing as learning on the job anymore. The stakes are high. The pressure to perform could blow the top off your head.

Many friends think it's too hard to even try to get published. There are naysayers everywhere. There are a gazillion blogs that speak about the negative side of the publishing industry, that promote the e-publishing industry, that throw around statistics about the death of the print book. It's wearing on the nerves to say the least. I came to the conclusion a couple of weeks ago that there is way too much chatter in my life, and very little of it is of a positive nature. I decided to "go quiet". Have you ever done that?

I now visit only a handful of blogs, those I trust implicitly, and I don't comment or engage unless the subject is important to me. I don't tweet, I don't facebook, I watch less TV, and instead choose more movies that suit my mood. Or I read. Or I lose myself in my own creativity, and write my own stories. I get out into nature. I swim, or take long walks with my dog. Even my choice in music is instrumental only.

In getting quiet, I've discovered that writing is a big part of me, of my life, but being published or not, doesn't define me. I'm not giving up writing. If I never get published that's all right. I can live with that, just me, my nimble fingers, my crazy mind, a computer, and some peace and quiet.

Give peace a try. You never know what you'll discover about you.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Back from Australia

I took a trip to the land downunder, to visit with family. My adult children joined me, and they had a great time. They hadn't seen some of their relatives in over ten years. Of course, I'd been back every two years, but college and work always prevented the three of us from travelling together.

It was a good trip, although tough on my nerves at times. Sharing a house again with my children had its moments, but only because we all have different agendas all the time. I hate being the decision maker, because I know someone is going to be cheesed off. : ) Plus, I don't do well with large crowds. It's something to do with absorbing other people's energy, and getting overwhelmed. In recent years, I've lived alone. It seems the older I get the more I require my peace and quiet. But that too could be a writer thing, you know, living in your head, making up stories, inventing characters and making them do what you want them to do. Writers can be weird.

The trip was short, but sweet. Mom is looking good, and still very active. All of the sibs showed up, and they looked wonderful. Many had a grown-up child or two with them, and some of those had children of their own. My children basked in the glory of extended family. Their USA family is tiny. I enjoyed meeting the youngsters I'd never met, touching base with those who had grown like weeds since last trip, and holding the two babies born this year.

We did a lot of talking. A ton of talking, laughing, drinking, and eating...and more talking. There was a luncheon, a Bar-B-Que, a dinner out, a picnic lunch, and a pizza night, and all attended by more numbers than I cared to count. How I didn't gain any weight with all the chowing down is beyond my comprehension. We stayed for the most part in the Hunter Valley, and the weather was gorgeous. My brother and his wife and family came down from Townsville, and he said they'd had constant rain since last October. Their home is on a bit of a hill so they didn't get flood damage, but I think they were totally soaking up the sun. We visited the vineyards, stayed in a villa on a golf course, played tennis, walked at sunrise, rented a car and managed to drive successfully on the other side of the road, visited a zoo where my guys could feed the kangaroos and pet the koalas, and we even managed a day and night in Sydney.

When I arrived home it was to be greeted by a burst hot water pipe, a huge clean up and repair job, then the pressure of turning off the main water line had popped two valves on the sprinkler system (which was getting a bit ancient)so that required another water clean up and new installation. Then the home owners association said I needed to derust parts of my wrought iron fencing. (Due to excessive watering of the green belt behind my house where the HOA landscapers turn the sprinklers onto the fence.) But am I complaining. : ) Not yet, but I will next week.

So, there I was with dollars growing wings and flying out the windows, a huge case of jetlag, and my sandpaper strips in hand and grumpily sanding the rust spots. Tomorrow, I do the rustoleum treatment. Then I paint. This is not a small fence, by the way. It will probably take the better part of next week.

So, even though I had a less than stellar welcome home, I refuse to let it get to me. I'm going to be like my kids and bask in the family love as I sand the wrought iron. And I'll sing. Really, really, loud. And off key. Or maybe I'll brainstorm a new story. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Writer's world.

My writing world has been interesting this month. I finished the work in progress (in the rough draft) and put it aside to gel. That's an important aspect of revision. A story needs time away from it so you can come back with fresh eyes, not only to find grammatical errors due to flying fingers as you type the story in all of your innocent eagerness, but to look at the deeper aspects. The characters. The conflict. The subplots. The Theme.

I had the good fortune of being in an online book club to discuss Barbara O'Neal's latest book, How To Bake a Perfect Life. We were talking about voice, and I have always stood in awe of Barbara's storytelling voice, and she commented that her first draft is always sparse. I was flabbergasted. I'd imagined the words and phrases in her narrative flew from brain to fingertips like the pouring of syrup on my morning pancakes. Not so. She claims that when she revises, she goes back into the story to "plump it up". She said, imagine a room that you have painted, carpeted, and put furniture into. Stand back and take it all in. Then add in all the special touches that tie it all together. Put pillows here, a vase of flowers there, a picture frame or two. Bring it to life.

Of course, the way my mind works, I immediately thought of the TV ad for Foster Farms chickens. The chickens trying to be passed off as FF chickens are "plumped up" with salt water. Then they explode. Ha ha. So even though I love Barbara's expression, I'm also aware that this "plumping" must be tasteful, and it might be better for me to keep a light hand. I'm currently working on a manuscript that I finished at the end of last year. This will be the final go round. It will either be good, or it will explode.


Sunday, March 06, 2011

A fun time

Yesterday, I went to a bridal shower. I must admit I haven't been to such an event in over thirty years. Baby showers yep, by the gazillion, but bridal, nope. I recently went to the wedding of a friend of my son. Does this mean I'm entering a new phase of my life? Hmmmm? Maybe so.

Anyway, the shower was fun. Loads of fun. The bride-to-be looked ecstatic. You know that bridal blush look, it kind of goes along with the glow of pregnancy, not that the bride is pregnant or anything, just glowing with happiness not hormones. ; ) It was fun to sit around with a bunch of women in my own age group, women who have long surpassed the bridal blush, and giggle about men, marriage, and sex. We played games, won prizes, drank champagne at noon (although I was driving so I chose diet coke), and we had a delicious catered lunch in the early spring sunshine at poolside, followed by coffee and chocolate dipped strawberries. Yum!

The bride-to-be received many lingerie items. A cream bra, with Swarovski (sp)crystals on the straps and a neat little bow in the center, was about as decadent as the strawberries. There were traditional peignoir's, silk and satin nighties, and various assorted non-lingerie gifts. I gave her a black silk pyjama set that had cropped legs on the pants, and a built in bra on the top and hot pink shoe-string straps. It was scattered with hot pink cherries. I thought it was cute and original, and can you believe it? so did one of the other guests. Ah well, great minds think alike. At least I left the tags on so she could do an exchange.

If it hadn't been for the horrendous traffic, which meant a three hour drive to and from the location, I'd have called it a perfect day. On the drive home I couldn't stop thinking about the champagne I'd missed out on, oh, and that wonderful sounding Zinfandel from Paso Robles. I stopped off and bought a bottle of my favorite Pinot noir. After two glasses, and a good movie on the tube, I forgot all about traffic, and by the time I went to bed I was feeling all young again. And I'm sure I had a good blush going too.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Slow down. You move too fast...

It seems everything I touch these days either breaks, has a problem, or causes some kind of negative reaction. And the funny thing is, I'm doing things thinking I'm somehow improving my life, or my health, and it gets screwed up. What's that about?

I'd decided to stop with the cookies, or the handful of chocolate kisses, or the bowl of ice cream, while watching TV. I bought 100 calorie popcorn. I love popcorn. So I chomped away on the stuff, even though at that calorie count it tasted more like styrofoam chips than popcorn. But I was happy because it gave my hands and my mouth something to do. Do not go there. I'm warning you. Anyway, after a few nights of popcorn snacks I ended up with a tooth problem. I made an appointment with the dentist, thinking I'd cracked a crown or something. Turned out, to remove those little bits of popcorn that get stuck, I'd over cleaned my teeth and gouged my gums with one of those little brush thingys. A dental bill for x-rays, a couple of softer toothbrushes, some Sensodyne and some mouth wash later, I'm all good again.

So, I decided on increasing my exercise to lose weight. I bought new sneakers. I added extra walking. I planned on curves three times a week, instead of two. I ended up hurting my knee again.

Next plan, I chose to take the week off from exercise and just write like hell. I was too depressed about my weight to write, so decided on beauty treatments. I had a haircut. That went well. Charged with that positive change, I had a manicure and a pedicure. The guy asked if I wanted the sea salt treatment. I decided, why not? He scrubbed and rubbed and practically sandblasted those feet. That evening I felt a little soreness in two spots on my left foot. He'd abraded the skin on my big toe, and one spot on my heel. Now I couldn't even wear my new sneakers, and I had to go buy a new tube of Neosporin. I couldn't exercise, because I couldn't wear anything but sandals. So I've been getting down on the floor and doing some abs and stretches. I've no idea what that action might cause.

Anyway, if you see that I've put on a few pounds, do not ask. And on the plus side I'm enjoying some movies, an online writing class, and I've read several wonderful books. Do you think this could be the universe saying slow down?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Susan Elizabeth Phillips

We seldom get famous romance/women's fiction authors doing book tours that include our desert communities. This week we got lucky. Susan Elizabeth Phillips, or SEP to those of us who are die hard fans, spoke at the Rancho Mirage Public Library as part of her book tour promoting her latest work, Call Me Irresistible.

It was a great night, and she had an amazing turnout, not just women either. But what really impressed me was the age range of the audience. SEP attracts readers from the late teens to senior citizens. One of the ladies in our group is in her eighties and she said she really got a kick out of the book.

Our La Quinta bookclub chose SEP's book for our February read. February being the month of love, right? Also, we thought it would be a treat to hear the author speak and see if her natural voice shows through in her written work. Of course, I knew that it did. (I've had the pleasure of hearing SEP talk at the Romance Writers of America National Conference.) I've never had the chance to speak to her before, because at RWA she is at a whole different level to little old me. An author pal, Lynne Marshall, who writes medical romance, came to visit and she joined me and four members of our bookclub at the library event.

SEP was a delight. She has a natural approach to public speaking and makes her audience feel like they are conversing with an old friend. She has a bubbly personality and her humor comes through with ease just as it does in her books. She seems very comfortable with herself, is approachable, kind, and always gracious...even when fans rolled up to her signing table with a cartload of older books of hers that required an autograph. And the amount of photographs she posed for was amazing. She must be exhausted at the end of each one of these events. I figured it's like being an actor in a public venue and feeling you must be "on" and presenting your best self at all times. Or maybe not, maybe she was just born that way. ; )

Seriously, if you have never read her books. Go get one. You don't have to read them in order. Some characters from prior books pop in for a visit in some of the newer ones, but each book stands alone. One of my personal favorites is, Natural Born Charmer. But they're all good.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Catching up.

I have been so negligent about blogging this month. Bad me. Bad because I don't even have a good excuse, I just plain and simple...forgot.

I promise I'll do better. Twice a month, at least. In fact, a friend and I were talking a week or so ago about if and when I'll turn my comments back on. I know the odd passerby must think I'm weird in that I have closed comments. But, back in the day when I first started these ramblings, I was getting comments. Not many, maybe 3-4a day. And then I began to get a half dozen spammers. Always the same ones, and the same messages. I hated that worse than no comments from readers and fellow writers.

In 2006, I turned off the comments and decided to make this a letter for family and friends. Anyone who drops by and doesn't leave spam, I consider a friend. So if I do re-open my comments, don't be shy.

My blog is not so much for writers, as they have far better, smarter, more interesting blogs of their own. And they have dozens, and sometimes hundreds, of followers. And I have nothing to promote. Besides that, I don't offer insights into writing or publishing because I consider myself a perpetual student. There are many intelligent author, industry, and agent blogs around, and their teachings are of more value to a new writer than my weird ass way of looking at the writer's life.

My favorite author sites are:
My favorite agent blogs are: (Nathan is no longer an agent but he has a fabulous blog and much industry news to pass along).

I figure, who needs a blog that only provides more random ramblings in their life? Not many.(See, I'm still procrastinating about opening the darn comments.) Why did I close them again? I decided it would serve me and my people to write a newsletter, if they wanted to comment they could send me an email. Simple, yes? My people are spread wide, everywhere across the USA, and Australia, and a few in the U.K. To keep up with everyone is hard to do. This keeps them aware of what is going on in my life, on a fairly superficial basis (the really good stuff just gets told in private email or by phone, ha ha) and I don't have to spend a lot of time updating everyone individually. And that frees up my time for writing.

Speaking of which, I am writing up a storm at the moment. I'm coming into the last quarter of the rough draft of my third romantic suspense. The books are linked through one minor character, a redneck cop, the Southern California desert setting, and the fictitious town of Rancho Almagro. I'm now about to write the big final blowout scene and it's very exciting. Yesterday I began to write my resolution (in my head) as I drove back from Los Angeles. The ending, I think is going to be great because it reflects the beginning I've already written and really like, and it causes the reader (I hope) to stop and contemplate the deeper meaning to the story. So while it might seem to be cops and robbers, and drugs and shootouts, there is an underlying theme. I promise you.

I love to brainstorm as I drive, and yesterday on that two and a half hour trip, I wasn't even thinking about my ending, it just popped into my head. Today, I knew I had to come up with a big scene where my undercover agent fights the big fight and takes down the bad guy, but I didn't want it to be anything like the first and second books. I was out of ideas that were different, yet exciting. I knew the romance part, but not the blowout scene.

Tonight I walked the dog for an hour and tried to think things through, but wouldn't you know it, every man and his dog stopped us for a chat. I came home exhausted; even the dog was tired. I started to cook dinner and all of a sudden the scene was there, playing out in my mind like a mini movie. It is soooooo awesome. I just have to say that. It is really, really, good. I hope that I can put those pictures into words and have it all make sense. Darn, I wish I was a more accomplished writer.

Tonight I will sleep and let it stew. Maybe I'll have some good dreams.

Tomorrow I will write.