Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Olivia, forever seventeen

My catsitting charge/officemate/cuddlebuddy, Olivia, went to Rainbow Bridge last night. She went as quietly as only she could, in her carrier on my lap in the vet's office, with her humom, Linda beside us.

It's been a hard year, and Olivia helped me get through a lot of the ick that year had to offer. She was herself right up until a couple of days before the end, and the decline on her last day was quick. We will miss her, but are forever grateful for the years we had together. Happy trails and fair winds, baby girl.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Christmas Romances

Those who know me well know I am a fool for Christmas. I insist on putting up the first decorations immediately after Thanksgiving dinner is over, and one less holiday minded friend insists I put up her tree because it's fun to watch me get that into it. All this, I admit freely. I also admit that I can be a very cranky kitty when a reading slump hits. When the two collide, and they do, I can stomp about and fume about needing a good book now, but other times, happily, there are other cures.

One night last week, I found myself awake at an unacceptable hour and chanced upon a copy of the A Stockingful of Joy anthology. Faster than a stray spark can ignite a carpet, my Christmas romance monster awoke. Must. Have. More. Next, the all-Mary Balogh Under the Mistletoe anthology, and Harlequin Historicals' Christmas Wedding Belles (Christmas stories themed around the high seas? Be still my heart.) by Nicola Cornick, Margaret McPhee and Miranda Jarrett (oh how I would love, love, love more colonials by her. Please? One more Sparhawk? Surely there has to be at least one more? Or a Fairbourne? Pleasepleaseplease?) Signet's Regency Christmas Wishes (all right, I admit it, Christmas is the one time of year that I won't complain about an abundance of Regency settings, and I do grumble about Signet ceasing with the anthologies. They can't get us hooked and then cut us off. Perhaps expanding the time frame? I know there was at least one Victorian anthology, and how about Tudor, Medieval or boldly going into the early 20th century?) and Michelle Styles' novel, A Christmas Wedding Wager waiting their turn. Jo Beverley's Forbidden Magic is also calling me.

After that? I do have a sizeable TBR pile, and a bunch of new/current titles, but for me, the Christmas bug lasts clear to January sixth at the very least, so I may need to go digging in the attic for books from years past. I know I have the Christmas Revels anthology that contains Mary Jo Putney's classic "Black Beast of Belleterre," which I am positively hungry to reread in the very near future. I'm also in earnest search of Time Travel Christmas, which is around here somewhere, and it's probably cozying up to Flora Speer's Christmas Carol. I'll hunt them down, never fear.

Then while not exactly Christmas themed books themselves, there are wonderful Christmas scenes in many books by favorite authors. Bertrice Small's Skye O'Malley series has some memorable holiday scenes and how could I possibly not mention the vast array of inspirational romances that shine light on the spiritual side of the season? I even remember a few Hannukah, New Year and Kwanzaa stories over the years, so it really is the season. If I pace myself, I can make the Christmas books last until Valentine's Day, my next holiday fix.

What about the rest of you? Christmas or other holiday romances, good, bad, or meh? What titles have I missed or not mentioned here that are must reads? What do you like to see in such books? Come sit by the fire, grab a hot chocolate and dish.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy day before turkey day.

I am very much looking forward to this holiday season. True, it's going to be bittersweet, since we will be missing two family members and a beloved friend who all passed this year, but it's time for some light and celebration. It's okay to feel relieved that the stress has decreased and look forward to some downtime where the only pressing decision is apple or pumpkin pie. Btw, the correct answer is "both."

For the last two days, I've settled in with one of my longhand notebooks and things flowed. I love when that happens. Of course today that means I need to transcribe that stuff, maybe beat my head on the desk a couple of times and see how everything jibes with the outline, but I think it's going to go fairly smoothly.

Had a lovely surprise today while checking to see if my books are availiable in Kindle format on Amazon (all three are; go here) -- a five star review for My Outcast Heart. Which is here. Oh yes. Whatever else happens today, the day is now unspoilably good. I have my cell phone off to ensure that. My mama didn't raise no fools. Would not mind a Kindle for myself either, but it needs to get in line behind a new laptop and more memory/graphics card for the husband's desktop.

Still, five stars, baby. Yeah. This day is good.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Old school top fifty?

I have to admit I did consider voting in this year's top one hundred romances poll at All About Romance but didn't. The reason? I had a strong feeling most of my favorites are from another age, and that got me to thinking. What about ranking the old school books, the ones that newer readers to romance may not have had a chance to read? May not, for that matter, have heard of, in some cases.

This is not to say that I don't enjoy books published today, or that I do not fall like a slavering wildebeest on new historical romances by authors such as Diana Groe, Blythe Gifford, Lyn Randal, Pamela Clare, Tracy MacNish, and other new kids on the block. Far from it. But it's the old school stuff that got me started, and always has a strong tug on my creative subconscious. So in a burst of caffiene inspired enterprise, I began to list. I made myself stop at fifty, because I could easily have gone to a hundred. Books by the same author (and there are many authors who grab a good deal of the space; give me a good voice and I'm pretty much there for life) that are grouped together are related, as I read them as one big book. Not all favorite books by a particular author made the list, and again, these are not ranked.

The following isn't neccessarily in order, but was the first fifty old school books that came to mind, and came quickly indeed.

Skye O’Malley – Bertrice Small
Redeeming Love – Francine Rivers
The Kadin – Bertrice Small
Love Wild and Fair – Bertrice Small
Lovesong – Valerie Sherwood
Windsong – Valerie Sherwood
Nightsong – Valerie Sherwood
Wild Bells to the Wild Sky – Laurie McBain
A Love So Bold – Annelise Kamada
A Banner Red and Gold – Annelise Kamada
Daughters of the Southwind – Aola Vandergriff
The Pride of Lions – Marsha Canham
The Taming – Aleen Malcolm
Ride Out the Storm – Aleen Malcolm
Ann of Cambray – Mary Lide
Gifts of the Queen – Mary Lide
Lady of Fire – Anita Mills
Heart of the West – Penelope Williamson
Bold Breathless Love – Valerie Sherwood
Rash Reckless Love – Valerie Sherwood
Wild Willful Love – Valerie Sherwood
Rich Radiant Love – Valerie Sherwood
Upon a Moon Dark Moor – Rebecca Brandewyne
The King’s Brat – Constance Gluyas
My Lady Benbrook – Constance Gluyas
Lovely Lying Lips – Valerie Sherwood
Love Cherish Me – Rebecca Brandewyne
A Rose in Winter – Kathleen Woodiwiss
Lisbon – Valerie Sherwood
Ashes in the Wind – Kathleen Woodiwiss
The Wolf and the Dove – Kathleen Woodiwiss
The Flame and the Flower – Kathleen Woodiwiss
The Wind and the Sea – Marsha Canham
These Golden Pleasures – Valerie Sherwood
Rapture – Rosamund Royal
Adora – Bertrice Small
Moonstruck Madness – Laurie McBain
Rose of Rapture – Rebecca Brandewyne
Velvet Promise – Jude Deveraux
Highland Velvet – Jude Deveraux
Velvet Song – Jude Deveraux
Velvet Angel – Jude Deveraux
Born to Love – Valerie Sherwood
Beloved – Bertrice Small
This Towering Passion – Valerie Sherwood
Her Shining Splendor – Valerie Sherwood
The Bargain – Veronica Sattler
Angel in Scarlet – Jennifer Wilde
Winter Fire – Johanna Lindsey
Love Only Once – Johanna Lindsey

Friday, November 09, 2007

Good review #2 from Dear Author!

Sail on over here and see what Jayne has to say about "Queen of the Ocean." Read the review and leave your own comment if you feel so moved.

Also visit my entry at Unusual Historicals this month for a look at some of the fashions of prior eras --some may be funny looking to us, but it was hot stuff for them. Add your own fashion foibles from any era, or defend any favorites others have pooh-poohed. There's also a gorgeous streaming banner of the Unusual Historicals writers' book covers that alone is worth a look.

Currently crawling out from the bug that swept our family, but devouring Monica McCarty's debut Highlander trilogy as I do, so I'm welcoming the reading time.

Also getting ready to celebrate another writer buddy's success. My friend and longtime critique partner, M.P. Barker's debut YA historical novel, A Difficult Boy, is availiable for preorder at Woo and hoo! Really really good book, really really good author, and amazing friend. Can't wait to celebrate her success.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Okay, there's a bug

Le sigh. If I needed any more reminders that this is a Monday, I have them. Didn't mean to arrange for *all* the Unusual Historicals blog entries to end up on my page, only mine. Working on fixing that now. Wish I could take credit for all the interesting things on the UH site, but alas, no, only my own.

Other than that, I'm spending today climbing out of a funk. I'm not depressed, I'm in a funk. That's a temporary thing and I can tell where it's coming from. I'm a people person, and spent the last week in the company of felines, coming home when the DH is snoozy, and there were days where the most human contact I'd get (aside from the Internet) was the clerk at the convenience store where I'd snag my Cherry Coke Zero. Plus there was the book that contained an element that would have caused me to pass on the book had I known, but I didn't, so there I go, happily reading until whambang. No thanks. UBS bag. Someone else will enjoy in the future.

Having the right input to defunk is crucial. Reading is high up there. I do know some romance novelists who can't read in genre while writing, but that's never been my problem. Okay, my tastes aren't in current vogue, but that doesn't bother me. There are still gems to be mined, and all things go in cycles. Picked up Shannon Drake's The Queen's Lady this morning, and things look promising so far. Good historical atmosphere, and while the real life historical figures are on stage, this does look like the h/h's story, and I love starting the book with a prologue from the middle (does that make sense?) and then going back to the beginning. Valerie Sherwood (whose books I sorely miss) did that a lot once upon a time, and I always found it a way to get sucked into the story in no time flat.

May indulge myself in a little Hugh Grant movie therapy after I mae a few baby steps in the work direction. Possibly Music and Lyrics, though a nibble of Love Actually never fails.

In the midst of decluttering two out of the three abodes , I'm gathering older copies of Romantic Times and Romance Writers Report (the RWA monthly magazine) which are always good for a shot of encouragement. This does, however, mean I'll have to organize them (oh darn -- heheh...I love organizing books and magazines) which serves as a rather useful timeline of how the genre has grown and where it might be headed next. I definetly plan on being along for the ride.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Trying something new

The wee hours of the morning on the last day of a two-catsitting-gig week is probably not the best time to start fiddling around with new webthingies, but I'm giving this a shot, as my friend Kady (hi, Puds) told me about So far I've managed to upload pictures of the furry members of my family, including Vlad the bat, and somehow managed to post some of my Unusual Historicals blog entries here, but not the personal ones. Still working on that.

Not a lot of actual writing work in the last couple of weeks, as we've dealt with the passing of my Aunt Lola, my dad's sister, and that throws a new wrinkle into estate stuff. We're getting through it, though, and I'm looking forward to my RWA chapter's Book in Six Weeks program again this year. Also looking at some interesting promotional opportunities, so things are coming along.

Fall always seems to give me an extra burst of energy, which is especially helpful when organizing the office -- yikes, am I really writing on all these projects? Umm, yes, I am. Which is a very good thing. Writing is still the best job in the world.

Friday, October 12, 2007


New/used laptop arrived last night; we're calling him Harvey (full name Harvey the Wonder Hamster, which was my dad's "code name" during his last year.) Harvey is a reconditioned senior gent of a laptop, a Dell Latitude, going all retro with his Windows Millenium. (extra points for anyone else who now has the Robbie Wiliams song stuck in their heads) Still trying to figure out how his internet card works and if there really is an A drive like the puter says there is, but it has Word, which is my one essential-essential, so I theoretically can take my act on the road when needed/wanted. Huzzah.

Which may have to happen, as real life has smacked me another one. Another elderly relative in hospital, sent from nursing home, so we're putting in a good deal of hospital time in the evenings until thing settle. Hopefully in the good direction.

Monday, September 24, 2007

I would cross my fingers, but that would make typing difficult

Awe-Struck has asked for a full ms on Orphans in the Storm, my English Civil War historical romance. Getting that spiffed up to send in and hope for good news soon.

In the meantime, I'm still running off fumes from getting to see the So You Think You Can Dance tour last night. Beautiful, stunning, inspiring, fun and amazing are not enough words to describe the experience. I can honestly say that seeing Hok and Jaimie's "Chairman's Waltz" hummingbird and flower dance live is one of the most gorgeous things I have ever seen. If I can get that kind of passion and beauty and art on the page, I will be extremely satisfied.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Totally Made My Day

Good reviews are equal to chocolate covered gummi bears in putting that sparkle in my eye, and to get one from Dear Author? It makes us writer types feel like this kitty here:


Review is here:

Stop by to read, and if so moved, leave a comment to spread the love.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Eep, it's been a while, hasn't it? Will post on the morrow, as family is talking behind me and my brain is pooped.

Suffice it to say, recovering from total system failure of puter that took many files with it. Le sigh.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Let's go Dutch

I'm over at Unusual Historicals today, blathering about one of my niche interests, namely Dutch stuff in romance. Go see.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Back in the saddle again.

Yesterday was several hours of sorting through random boxes of stuff at my Dad's house which is now my aunt's house. Stuff that needs doing. Today is the first real day of being back at the work of writing. Which is also stuff that needs doing. Writers write.

Last night, I sprawled on the bed with the notebook for one of my WIPs, reacquainting myself with the whos and whats and whens, and today was the same thing with a blank book for another project. It's an interesting sort of homecoming, going over stuff that's at once strange and familiar. There are the "I forgot about that" moments, the "hey, this is pretty good" moments and the "I can't believe I never patched *that* hole" moments. There are the moments when a turn of the page is the most perfect time machine ever created, and I'm swept from the present day into sixteenth century Amsterdam or seventeenth century England, the high seas, what have you.

The weather today has been cool (seventies) and off and on rainy -- good writing weather. True, all today's writing has been in the letter variety, but a letter to a writer friend I'll be collaborating with in the fall, so it counts. It feels natural to fall back into the rhythm of storytelling.

Also on the agenda is the big scary thing for us writer types. Submission. Completed manuscripts cannot be allowed to lounge around like an old college buddy who's been crashing on the couch for several years, leaving Cheeto crumbs between the cushions and never putting the lid back on the Diet Coke. Nope, stories, get out there and work for me; you have to finance the ones that are coming now that I have my mojo back.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Remember when Queen Elizabeth II gave her speech about her "Annus Horribilus?" The year life went down the loo, to be blunt? Our family's was this year, and much of it centered in the past month.

During one week, my husband and I visited the ER three times for his severe asthma attacks, the first one nearly fatal. To say scary is understating things by a ton. He's home now, he's doing fine, on good meds, and most importantly now a nonsmoker.

At the same time, my father went into hospital (a different hospital, in a different state, actually) for a minor procedure regarding his dialysis access. He'd had that procedure before, but this one went differently. The surgeon wanted to take out this access and put the old kind back in, and that seemed to be one thing more than my dad's body could take. He fought several conditions very hard for the past few years, but there comes a time when the body can't fight anymore, and the spirit is ready to go. Two weeks ago, it was my dad's time.

It wasn't quick, or easy, which was in keeping with him, but he wasn't in pain when he passed, and I do believe that even though he wasn't conscious, he knew when family and friends came by to tell him we loved him and that it was okay to go if he wanted to. He did, peacefully and with no pain, on June 27th. On June 26th of last year, we'd had the bad news that the doctor gave him a year at most. Dad beat him by one day. Very much in character. We love him and we will miss him, but (spirituality warning here) we do beleive we'll see him again in Heaven, so he's not as much "gone" as "away."

From there, it's been all the things that happen after a death in the family, and of course it had to happen during the hot and humid season. Somewhere in the middle of all that, I had heat exhaustion more than once, likely one time climbing into heat stroke, but the weather seems to have shifted, so looks like that's not a problem for a while yet.

What the family has now is the finding of the new normal. We have his house to clean out and sell, need to find a new place for my Aunt Lola, who I am proud to call as much a friend as a relative, and get her closer to us. Rheuben and I are also looking at possibly finding a different apartment, so start saving those cardboard boxes, everyone. Looks like we're going to get a crash course in downsizing, moving more than one household and all the stuff that goes along with that.

I haven't felt much like blogging lately, though I have been doing lots and lots of reading, and getting the writing in where I can. I'm looking forward to getting back to a regular writing schedule, and hopefully that will include a return to more regular blogging.

In the meantime, hop over to and meet my alter ego. I'm letting her handle the time travel writing. She also apparently does more reading than I do, or at least is better at keeping track of it.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Another month, another entry...

I really don't mean to be this quiet, but the current projects are eating me whole, I'm off to the Long Island Romance Writer's Luncheon this coming Friday (not tomorrow, the next week) and if anyone out there knows how to use playlists on an RCA Pearl mp3 player, I will lurve you forever and ever and think of you fondly in my dotage, which should be arriving any minute now.

I'm a little on the stompy side lately. DH finally got his week's vacation, and got smacked with exhaustion, gout and a cold. Yep, all at once. He's edging on feeling human, and it's near the end of the week. Hopefully he'll be up to the daytrip we've planned for Saturday.

Also stompy is the fact that I had to take a couple of days to refill the creative well. Those of you who know me well know that I want to work all the time, and taking time out to read, play Sims2, fiddle with playlists (see above) or watch TV, which do fill the creative well and are good and needed, annoy me because I want to be doing something. Doing something meaning output.

The past year was hectic and beyond with real life stuff and the last month or so, I finally, finally got back on track with production, ideas sprouting left and right, and it felt good. I mean goooood. Really good. So when I gave an extra big creativity push, feuled by stress of basically being the only family member not on vacation this week, of course things are going to hit a wall. It's temporary, and I'll be raring to go again in a day or so, grumbling about having to step away from the computer for things like food, hygiene, worship, family, the house being on fire, etc.

That said, five random things I haven't said in response to message board threads:

  1. What on earth is wrong with romances having a happy ending? Isn't that like having cops in police procedurals?
  2. Do I get stoned if I say I like my romance heroines young and beautiful?
  3. Age differences in romance don't bother me. Really. Maybe it's because I have friends with successful marriages who have age differences, sometimes big ones, or maybe it's because it's historically plausible, or maybe it's because I don't, all right? ::passes out free Godivas::
  4. Xnay with the egencyray for a while, please. I like it better when it isn't the only choice out there.
  5. I want Marsha Canham back, too, but if she's busy, I'll step in. Really. Publishers, I have manuscripts.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

My Brain is Full

I came to an important conclusion sometime today. My brain is full. After pumping a critique partner's brain for specialized job information last night, then having critique group at which I had to talk about process, and carry that over to a day spent researching facts I need to know for a current project, I hit my limit.

For those who know me, when I tell you that all of the facts I had to find had numbers in them, you will know what those horrible sounds coming from my office were. Especially when I have to see if the numbers will play nice with each other and find a way to explain why things have to happen even if the numbers normally would not get along. Did I ever mention that in college, I failed the supereasy math class twice? Yes, I was trying. I do not have a number center in my brain. I traded it in for more story space. This is why I can memorize shipping routes in the 16th century, all of Henry VIII's wives, in order, with the reason he was no longer married to each one of them, and carry long lists of song lyrics in my head but cannot remember street names in the town where I live.

I've been listening to a new playlist while writing this week (because it took me this long to figure out how to access the subscription feature on Yahoo Jukebox) and only today have I been able to remind myself that the weird sound at the end of "One Week" by Barenaked Ladies is not the cat throwing up. The cat is very glad I have figured this out.

This morning when checking the weather forecast, my brain somehow read "65" as "85" so of course I dressed for near ninety degree weather, and soon regretted that. We are not going to go into why I have an old pajama top festooned with doggy faces where I catsit, but I was glad it was there this morning. Also very glad the puter I use does not have a webcam.

In an email exchange with my friend, Kara, I referenced the Trek convention many years ago when a friend asked me to hold her infant and watch her dealer table while she and her husband took a much needed break. No problems with watching the table or the baby, who snoozed the whole time, even though the table was next to a mockup of the Enterprise-D bridge, complete with red alert alarm that went off at irregular intervals. Every single time it went off, my first thought was "must get baby to nursery and respond." This, boys and girls, is when one knows it is time to get out of a fandom. Or at the very least take a break once in a while.

The afternoon I had is another one of those "hey, doofus, take a break" moments. While the research I did today was needed and I got the information I wanted, and that will help shape the story, the focus for me is always on the growing love relationship between the h/h. Time to crack open one of the nice big historicals in my growing TBR pile and read in the glow of my real life hero's puter screen as he plays solitaire. Even though I have a hard time stopping to refuel, it's better than bottoming out.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


1. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
2. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
3. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
4. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

1. Though I only met my sister, Sally, when we were both adults, we are eerily alike in a scary amount of ways. Finally, proof that each one of us is not the only one in the world with certain traits.
2. I've only just discovered the UK band, Travis, more proof that I live under a rock. I am currently addicted to "Driftwood," as well as "Why Does it Always Rain on Me" and "Flowers in the Window." Informed husband we must buy their CDs. Now.
3. Family members have given me electronic items purely for the entertainment value of listening to me trying to make them work, and the creative way I can scream at the poor items.
4. I take regular chair dancing breaks during my writing time. Okay, sometimes I get up, but I don't like being that far away from my legal pad while I'm in the zone.
5. After years of struggling with not doing it, I'm making soundtracks for my WIPs again, and darned if that doesn't help the whole process right along.
6. Though I can't keep polish on my fingernails to save my life (I'm too rough on my fingers) I am very girly about doing my toenails. White polish is my favorite for summer; other seasons, anything goes.
7. I cannot pass anything within a store and not straighten it up (recounting my experiences in retail as I do so) -- this was in Camilla's list, but it's true for me too. Mumblecough years of retail and retail management have encoded this in my DNA.
8. I like to torment my friend, Linda, (whose birthday it is -- Happy birthday, Linda) by putting pictures of actors she finds especially, ah, manly, in unexpected places. I am seeding her apartment with such today.



and because I'm funny that way,

and because it's early, my brain is being dragged along by the story monster, I will say either three imaginary friends or random readers who would like to toss in their two pence.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Sometimes I think I should change the name of this blog to "I'm still here, really." I am trying to be better about blogging here, seriously.

Currently far under the weather with an icky cold. As in have grossed out the husband at least once when I only managed to grab a small piece of tissue before a monster sneeze that slimed things. I count the minutes until the next Sudafed (hey, it's about time, yippee!) and my blood type would show as Ricola if a sample were taken at this exact moment.

Thankfully, I have a very understanding husband who knows that yes, buying a new historical romance novel is part of absolutely neccessary cold supplies. Because though I could build a small house (or at least a comfortably roomy tool shed, which I would use to store more books) from my tbr pile, it is not that book and the reading is always about the "that book."

Right now, that book is Claiming the Courtesan by newcomer Anna Campbell. No, not me, but yes, it is somewhat of a vicarious thrill to see the same first name as mine on a cover. I can put my thumb over the "ampbell" and pretend they managed to squeeze the rest of my name in there. If that sounds weird, I blame the Sudafed.

That's not the only reason, though. At the conference a couple of weeks ago, editors and agents all raved about this book, citing the return of the big historical (oh be still my heart, please please please) and one of my target editors even regretted passing on it. This of course has me intrigued.

My other toy getting me through this is Pearl, my new mp3 player. She's an RCA Pearl (hence the name) and after a couple of hiccups, I think I have her figured out. At the moment, she has a rather eclectic playlist, including James Blunt, Alanis Morissette, Elton John (and selections from his Aida) Mary Chapin Carpenter, and the Bee Gees, among others. I have not yet begun to fill her, though I am still trying to figure out how to get the two songs I downloaded from Yahoo Jukebox into her. I am going bananas without having Evanescence's "My Immortal" and Charlie Robison's "El Cerrito Place" availiable to me at all times.

A conference recap should go here, but my brain is too befuddled, so I will save that for a new post and crawl back under a blankey with a good book.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Death of a Laptop...

Rest in peace, Petunia. Know that I don't blame you at all for leaving on your own terms one week before I head off for the conference. You probably saw the flood of productivity that always comes from these things and knew it wasn't in you any longer. You were well loved, first by your original owner, Vicki, and now by me. Between the two of us, we pounded your keys, ran your mouse and toted you near and far. You served us well.

I'm not saying I won't miss you at the conference, though Melva probably will be glad there aren't any keys for me to tap in the wee hours of the morning. I wonder if she'll be able to hear pen scratching on paper. Either way, it won't be the same.

You were a good laptop. You let me play Sims1 again when I needed it most, and I appreciate your trying to run Sims2 both for myself and for Vicki, and we understand that it was beyond your time.

Looking back, that should have been a sign; you were trying to tell me something. I shrugged it off when the A drive shut down. After all, who uses floppies anymore? I thought you were trying to be more current for my sake. When the modem pooped out, well, no worries. I can still get online from the desktop, and you were mainly for writing anyway. The black screen of death, however, there's no mistaking that.

I appreciate that you let me see my desktop wallpaper one last time. You must have known it would ease the transition. I have to admit that the future without you looks a bit scary, and yes, it does mean that any key pounding must be done with the desktop.

Most likely, it won't come as a surprise that I'll be looking for another laptop soon. You'd want it that way, I'm sure. It won't be the same, though. Oh sure, there'll be a better video card, and there may be wi-fi, but whoever the new laptop is, and whenever they join the family, there will never be another Petunia. You live on in memory and the data recovery disk. Rest in peace.

Friday, March 16, 2007

They say you never forget the first time...

I don't remember how old I was, or exactly where we were, but I do remember it was a town-hall kind of building and my mother did volunteer work with the League of Women Voters. I couldn't have been more than six, because I think it was a weekday. To this day, I can't remember what Mom was doing there, but I do remember watching with rapt fascination as oodles of pages rolled out of a machine...and those pages...were...not...white. Green! Blue! Yellow! Purple! Pink! Actual typewritten words churned out of those clunky, noisy machines, and all of those words went on colored paper. That, dear readers, was the day I fell in love with printables.

Don't ask me what those papers were for. It was probably some sort of manual or directory and I really don't want to spoil the illusion. All I knew was that I had a desperate hunger deep down in my soul for them. I wanted at least one printed page on each color. What would I do with it? Dunno. Need it.

Which is still my gut reaction when confronted with a new pretty paper today. Or when I have something of import to print on it. As it was this week when I printed the first new batches of business cards and bookmarks sent to me by my graphic designer, Kathleen. I have a nagging urge to run out into the street and hand them out to passersby. Though considering the storm we're currently having here in CT, that would probably be a vain and cold proposition. Plus the printables would get soggy.

I will try and stick images up on Photobucket later, but for now I'll settle for squealing like a 60's teenager at a Beatles concert over how totally awesome it is to see my face with "author of..." and two new covers under my first one. Yeah. Respect! Now to go make the submission rounds so I can get yet more.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Big errandy weekend, so today had to be something of very little brain; office decluttering. In which Anna uncovers scads of old notebooks (and by scads I mean seven if we can count one made up of graph paper and one that is actually a legal pad)with only some of the pages written on.

I heeded the call of adventure, sorted through the pages that had ink on them and figured out what I wanted to keep (which got either transcribed or filed) and rip out, shred and dispose of what I didn't. There is this dark reddish fuzzy thing on the floor that they tell me is called "carpet." Does everyone have this "carpet" stuff under their notebook stacks? The cat seems to like to sharpen her claws in it.

Some of the stuff I found in the old notebooks was surprisingly good, some surprisingly not, some flat out weird, but it was a good journey on the whole. Plus now I have seven (six if I don't count the graph paper one, but then again I need it for Sims house planning) newish notebooks in which to doodle, vent, freewrite or whatever strikes my fancy at the moment. They are all in a pile where I can grab them when I need a blank notebook.

Which is different from a blank book. I will spend money on beautiful blank books and those I hoard with fierce protective instincts, for years if I have to, until I get exactly the right idea to go in exactly the right book. So don't be surprised if, when gifted with a gorgeous blank book, I shower it with profuse thanks and then stick it directly in the blank book bookcase. The spiral notebooks/legal pads, though, I can grab anytime.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Genre-lly Speaking

I've been madly in love with historical romance since I read my first one, The Kadin, by Bertrice Small, when I was eleven years old. The story of the Scottish noblewoman betrayed and sold into slavery in the Ottoman Empire, and managed to triumph over all -- and find the love of a lifetime to boot, yeah, that was it. I was hooked. Okay, I was a bit young, but it was the drama and the history that kept me filching books from my mother's stash, and I knew that was what I wanted to write for the rest of my life.

Looking back now, I remember the big bags of books my Aunt Lucy (mom's sister) brought my mom on every visit. Lots of seminal (no pun intended) books of the genre passed through my innocent hands, and while I admired the beautiful covers by artists such as Elaine Gignilliat, Robert McGinnis and my all time favorite, Elaine Duillo and even made up my own story ideas to go with them, it wasn't until I read The Kadin that I actually cracked a cover. Early Rogers, Deveraux, Woodiwiss and more would have to wait a while for me to discover them, but they would come in time.

Fast forward to college. Karen, another gal in my dorm, once tracked me down with Valerie Sherwood's Lovesong and in the most serious tone I'd ever heard her use, told me I had to read this. As with The Kadin, I think that was an appointment. Fast forward a few more years and I am standing in the chill wind of a not yet spring day, pay phone glued to my ear because I will wait however long it takes for the owner of the local independent bookstore to search her shelves and see if there is a copy of Francine Rivers' Redeeming Love because I had to have it right then. Okay, I couldn't actually pick it up for a few more days but if I knew it was waiting behind the counter for me, I could sleep easy.

I used to comb the weekly flea market at a local mall for new treasures, big, thick historicals by old favorites or new discoveries, set in any number of places and times. I'm a big advocate of buying new, whenever I can, but at that point in my life, flea market was what I could do. As long as there was a dashing hero with chinks in his alpha-armor, and a strong, intelligent, beautiful heroine who was his ultimate match, I was --and am-- a happy camper. US Civil War? Okay. Sixteenth century Spain? By all means. Medieval France? You got it. Australia back when it was New South Wales? Got that covered. Tudor court intrigue? Vikings? Pirates? Crusaders? Yes, yes, yes, yes.

Most books weren't in a series then. Sure, there were the occasional second go-rounds for an exceptional couple or a particularly outstanding couple's daughter or son would have a story, but it wasn't the norm as it is now. I find I enjoyed connected books more then than I do now, maybe because they were the exception rather than the rule.

Even with all these variations, there was one thing above all that kept me coming back for more, kept me thinking that someday I would have my name on one of those covers -- the central love story. The one hero and one heroine who were each other's match, a love worthy of legend.

Fittingly enough, I have Melissa Etheridge's "I'm The Only One" playing as I write this entry, and I think that fits why I love the historical romance genre as much as I do.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

I had one of those author firsts on this past Friday night -- I was the guest author at a friend's book club. Not a romance book club. Not an e-book book club (are there any of those?) but a regular book club. A room full of people who actually bought and read my book, which is one of the ultimate scary things for a first time novelist.

While I did ask for whom this was a first e-book (everybody) I did not ask if My Outcast Heart was anybody's first romance novel (Though several members did speak of enjoying Nora Roberts/JD Robb and Diana Gabaldon, and I know one gal is a big romance reader.) The method of reading was pretty much evenly distributed between printing out to read hardcopy (often in bed) and reading from the computer screen. One person did ask where to find more e-books, so that was fun. Another asked if MOH would ever be in print. I said someday; I like both formats.

Lots of really good questions abounded when we got to the Q&A portion of the evening. Nobody uttered a phrase that rhymes with "cod is dripper" which made me very happy, and everyone who was offered a promotional postcard for my upcoming
novel byte, "Never Too Late," gladly accepted (and if you were there and didn't get one, drop me an email and I'll send one out.) A few even asked for recommendations of other reads, which I was happy to give.

All in all, a lovely evening of extremely minor celebrity (but I could very easily get used to it) and a wonderful reminder that readers are magnificent people. I would most definetly do this again.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Not really reading anything at the moment, which always irks me. Unless reading the closed captioning on DVDs counts. That's one of my weirdnesses; I have to have the closed captioning for the hearing imparired on when I watch a DVD, if it has it. I'm not hearing imparied myself, but if I can't see the words on the screen, I get irked. Even more irked if they don't explain the incidental noises, like ::dog growling:: or ::car backfires:: or ::salsa music:: -- things like that. Yes, I can hear them, but I want it written out. Anyone who can explain why gets, ah, my undying gratitude.

I've been kind of carrying around a few different books in Hannah Howell's Highland vampire series -- bought the first one (that I read, not the first in the series) because I needed something quick to read, I'd liked all the straight Howell historicals I'd read, and surely wouldn't that outweigh the vampire stuff? I'm not much of a vampire sort of gal. (Sorry, Hannah, it's not you, it's me.) Also, I wanted to see how she handled sharing her "universe" with Lyndsay Sands -- plus I don't think the other stories by other authors are in that universe, but are still in the same anthology.

Wuh-oh, lost my train of thought for a minute there. Let's see if I can get back on. Read the first Howell story in the first HV book I bought that wasn't the first book in the series (now thumping myself for assumming that anthology pieces were not connected to each other) and feeling lost not knowing the rules of the world and such. Enjoyed the writing and characters, but who's this and what's that and why is this other thing important? Ohhhhhhhhhh, need the other books first.

'Kay, I can do that. Get another one. Nope, still too far down the line. Get what I thought was the first one in the series, but it turns out to be the second. Normally when I read a series out of order, mountains fall, puppies die, and (insert favorite actor or male model here) wakes up ugly. I'll give the puppies a dispensation on this one because now it's gotten personal. I will find out how this whole thing started if I have to scour every UBS in the area, special order online and interview the author(s) myself. Besides, I think I'll be okay with the background information here, and it seems to be the first mention of what was confusing me the most.

Then there's the bright idea I had of getting all my Howells in one place and numbering them so I can read all the Highland books (the straight historicals rather than the vamps) in order. Reread, in several cases. Found out I have a few gaps, and two copies of Highland Bride. I know the author's website says the books do not have to be read in order, that the characters are merely of the same lineage. Hannah, I do believe you, and thank you, but for me, it's like the closed captioning in the DVDs. I have to read in order, same way the only acceptable way to eat a pack of Chuckles (candy) is: orange, yellow, green, red, black. (That's from worst to best flavor, in case you take note of these things.) I need to read a series from earliest to latest, chronologically. I treat it as one long-running story, especially if multigenerational.

Hmm, although by my list here, it looks like a couple of the titles I have might possibly be one-offs (another weirdnes -- the term "standalone" gives me the willies. No idea why, so I say one-off, which is perfectly fine for me. Again, no idea why.) Maybe it's time to dive into one of those, because it's defintely comfort read time.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Me again.

At least it's within the same month, so I should get points for that. Work progresses on my Book in Seven Weeks project, though I'd like to be a bit more productive in that one.

The upside of it is that I know without a doubt that my family's Anna Is Writing Alarm works perfectly. The second I open a file or notebook with fiction in mind, a family member (two or four legged) is immediately dispatched to require my complete and undivided attention. What astounds me about this is that we do not have children.

Really. The DH and I check regularly. We open our wallets, call out "allowance time" and if nobody shows up within sixty seconds (small apartment) we figure we're safe. Which still does not rule out phone calls from various sources, a kitty who demands to lead any non-sleeping humans on a walking tour of the entire apartment because clearly that is the only way she can communicate her need for a lap from the person she was sitting inches away from a minute before, or my much-beloved spouse returning home early.

I'll admit, sometimes I stretch the boundaries to slack, but more and more, I hear my characters' voices inviting (or more realistically, ordering)me back into their worlds. It's a process at times, and sometimes the process, the application of behind to chair and fingers to keys, can be the whole point of a writing session. It's perfectly okay to spend a couple of hours on complete nonsense. Even if it doesn't go in the book, it still needs to be written.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Me again! I am alive, really. I am also alive at Unusual Historicals

My introduction went up on January 12th and I'll start with actual posts soon. I already feel right at home there.

First review for "Never Too Late" is in at The Romance Studio, and they like me, they really like me!

I have an early morning date with my laptop to make up for no writing on the weekend, but we did get to interview potential caregivers for my dad. If all goes according to plan, we may be able to get him back in his home as early as February.

Still no snow, but a good review can distract me from that, no problem.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Kara wanted a photo of Olivia kitty, so here it is. I think Olivia's choice of reading material is appropriate, since I've discovered a fabulous new blog today:

Exactly my kind of place. I'll admit my heart did a little skip when I saw Morag McKendrick Pippin as one of the bloggers.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Francesca, one of my cat-sitting charges. This photo, taken by her mum, Marilyn, reminds me of a Mucha image. No idea why. Gotta love the expression. It ties in with the Bad Cat calendar I'm using this year for my day-by-day, so I figured she was appropriate to post here today.

Again, a whole month gone by. Yikes. Can't believe it's another year already. Though I have to admit, having all these neat new Blogger toys will likely entice me to post with my former frequency. Hopefully, there will be lots to report.

This was a good New Year's weekend. Slept through the actual midnight moment, then spent the afternoon of the first at my friend Michele's house at her annual potluck/book swap thing. Very relaxing, except for the moment of white hot panic when I remembered that I will be speaking at Michele's book club next month. Erp. Room full of people who read my book. Another guest, who is a romance reader, mentioned that she's probably the only regular romance reader in the group. Guess that means My Outcast Heart is the very first romance novel most of them have read. I'm going to consider it an honor. Maybe some will want to read more, maybe some won't, but at least they'll have been exposed.