Blogs, Books, and Blithering

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images-2Spring is beginning to show its tender shoots, and walking with the canine triad is becoming more enjoyable, especially  with the impressive amount of ballet and aerobics. (you are missing quite a sight.)

I just got back from a walk and it made me think about springtime as a child. Where I grew up, there was a vacant lot between our house and our grandparents. We called it images“no mans land.” Closer to the street hung an incredibly long tire swing. Some local tree surgeons hung it on the high branch of an oak tree—at least 25 feet. You can imagine how far that tire would swing. It was strong enough that two of us could ride it. Many hours were spent out there playing, exploring, or making up games.

imgresBetween that and the garages at the back, lay a large wild flower bed. There were a couple of trees, a few bushes and scads of flowers. We had lily-of-the-valley, violets, and a trillium. We spent hours playing out there in the summer, and to this day I remember the smell the flowers. Dad got us an army surplus hammock with a tent cover. Perfect!

Life was so very different back then. It sometimes makes me nostalgic thinking about the simplicity and slower pace. We rode bikes everywhere and images-1had our own skate-keys. Alas, I have no moral to this trip down memory lane. Just remembering.

What I really wanted to write about was my fourth book in the Damaged series. It’s taken a few years for me to get Zeke and Anne through the trials of Scylla and Charybdis.

Throughout, it has been a challenge and a pleasure writing about two women I’ve grown very fond of. The road has been rocky for all of us. But the takeaway lessons have been worth it. I’ve both resisted and embraced the many facets of post dramatic stress disorder, but learned a great deal in the process.

From the very start, in an unpublished story, Zeke has been a very complex character. Anne was much more linear. Because of those differences, they adapted to problems in very unique ways, which added to the fabric of the story. It was a challenge for me to switch POV’s (point of view) during some of the challenges they faced. I needed to jump from Anne’s linear, emotion-laced logic to Zeke’s compartmentalized rigidity. So when I got to book 4, I was able to discover and reveal what Zeke was like before the trauma that started with the serial killings in Chicago.

I won’t give it away, but I’m very pleased by the direction these two women chose. I think you will be too. I know there are many readers reluctant to start a series until all the books are published. For those special people– you won’t have to wait long. The book is finished and in the hands of my beta readers. As soon as I finish their reviewing their notes, it will be off to the editor. In the meantime I do have a brand spanking new cover to reveal. Once again Ann McMan and Tree House Studio have put the icing on the cake.

deliverusfromevil_lg Many thanks to all of you who have followed the series providing me with inspiration and support.

The next project is forming out of the mist and I’ve begun the research.

Stay tuned and have a happy spring.

Friends are Family with Festivity

WP_20131224_002Here we are at the end of December already. Looking back I realize it’s been almost a month since my last blog. I had every intention of writing a long melodramatic saga about my trip to North Carolina… and my six days without luggage. Alas, most of the drama has leaked out of me. (Fortunately for you.)

The Cliffs Note version was simply that, the freakish winter storm that hit Dallas-Fort Worth on December 5th created a domino effect of transportation nightmares for thousands of people. In spite of missing my connecting flight because of  “deicing,” I was still able to board the last flight out of Dallas to Atlanta. More drama, but I finally got a flight to North Carolina, which got me in at 11:30 p.m.

The most wonderful friends (and brilliant writers) in the world Ann McMan and Salem West warmly greeted me, even at that hour. Then there was the tragic news that my suitcase had not arrived with me. Being too tired and weak to do more than whine, I submitted to gentle reassurances and… the comfort of the 15-year-old single malt waiting for me at their home. sigh –a balm to my ravaged soul. And, the first look at the print version of my book!

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The following week was filled with extraordinary meals (both women are gifted gourmet cooks), laughter, hugs, puppy kisses, and cat-whispering. I enjoyed a tour and lecture at Total Wine from Salem who is also a consummate oenophile.WP_20131210_007 (1)

In addition, when we briefly ventured out, we enjoyed a home-style breakfast at IHOP, a fine Italian meal with Ann’s family,

then…we luxuriated in a holiday feast at Ryan’s WP_20131211_022Restaurant. It was an experience I will never forget.

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On Friday morning, while Ann worked, Salem took me to the local Walmart to get a few items to tide me over. The frustration might have been intolerable were I not with friends. They were kind and gracious about my limited wardrobe. In fact, truth be told, even with limited choices I think Salem preferred the Eeyore pajamas. WP_20131211_011      (They are quite fetching and comfortable.)  Wearing my jammies for half the day is something I never do at home because I have to take the dogs out. So that was a nice bonus.

WP_20131208_010   When the three of us were not actually working on manuscript deadlines, we kicked back, sipped good wine, laughed too much, listened to Christmas music, and watched Ann create culinary magic as Salem shifted between her tasks with the surgical precision of a sous chef and her Cesar Milan pet wrangling.

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… tree decorating!

My luggage arrived late Tuesday afternoon much to my relief. And it afforded me the opportunity to put on my one nice outfit to go out for dinner on Wednesday night.WP_20131211_025    and Paula!               WP_20131211_024

Thursday morning at o-dark:30,  my beloved Friends packed me a lunch and ferried me off to the airport. Best early Christmas ever! Love you guys!        WP_20131209_010

Now from the sublime to the mundane. We both finished our projects. Ann and Salem released  “Hoosier Daddy” shortly after “Balefire” two weeks earlier. During my visit, I finished the final revisions for “Flights of Fancy” a holiday Novella; Ann finished and submitted her holiday release of  “Three.”  1538884_470903026354718_1126446255_n

[Note: Dear publisher—we were not goofing off the whole time]Flights of Fancy_2 (1)

I arrived home safe and sound. My sweet dogs were well cared for and thrilled to see me. Once I had unpacked—my mostly clean clothes,  I got down to the business of Christmas and end of the year tasks.  One that I had been considering for sometime was whether or not to trade in my car. After a lot of number crunching and phone calling, I went looking for a new Forester. The selection was very small because the dealer couldn’t keep them on the lot. Then the bad news. In addition to being completely redesigned inside and out, the new model was approximately 6 inches longer, which I feared— Justifiably—would not fit in my garage.

WP_20131220_005I called the salesman after I went back online and happily discovered that the new Subaru Crosstrek was actually 2 inches shorter than my original car, .and he told me they had several choices available. More research, more number crunching, and I bought me a new car! I have to say I’m really enjoying every excuse I have to get out and drive it. It’s sits a little higher, it’s quieter, zippier, and has an electronic System that’s mind-boggling. CD, Radio, Bluetooth, phone, and backup camera.

I am ready for a road trip. But first, I need to get this formatted and posted for the patient people who may want to read it.

Thanks to one and all who have read and supported my work. Balefire Balefire_lightis enjoying a very successful run and “Flights of Fancy” will be released soon.

My wish for 2014 is an abundance of love for everyone and peace on our planet.

Turkey, Thanksgiving, and Chocolate Silk Pie…oh my

from my house to yours…

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It’s hard to believe November’s over, well nearly. October was so busy with traveling, and the first part of November finishing up Balefire, while simultaneously doing a NaNoWriMo novella.

Happily, Balefire is available and doing well. The novella is finished and will hopefully be unavailable around Christmas—fingers crossed. The story for the novella stems from a comment Kirin makes at the end of the book and a suggestion by my editor. Essentially, the novella picks up several months after the story ends. It essentially finds the two protagonists joyfully working in the tropical splendor of Belize. Their three months sabbatical is coming to a close and it’s time for them to make some decisions about their lives.

Silke has a plan and Kirin has a problem. Both will be resolved by the time the story ends.

This was a fun little exercise for me. I had no plans to continue the story, but as I said there was one line that begged for embellishment. Ergo, a story was born. The switchbacks and plot points that popped up were complete surprise, and a couple of times I wasn’t sure how to get out of them. But I trust the process, and they worked out.

Since Nano is 50K words, and the novella was only about 44,000 words, I’ve been cobbling together the pre story for Zeke Cabot. If you recall in our last two episodes, the intrepid Zeke Cabot continues to struggle with the nefarious effects of her PTSD—which continues to be the elephant in the room. Of course, I am privy to the fact that she will, whether she likes it or not, be receiving treatment in book four. And I hadn’t given that much thought until recently, when I realized that I have been working with Zeke as a character for almost 15 years. But I know very little about her life prior to her time in Chicago. In order for her to get better, I had to know what “better” is for her. So I have taken her back to one year after Quantico when she is a fresh faced, enthusiastic, and patriotic young special agent. Young, single and living the high life in Washington, DC.

It’s a fun ride.

I’m going to take a break next week and visit friends for a few days of R & R—Rest and Ribaldry, and perhaps an adult beverage or two. When I return refreshed, I will jump into the revisions for book three of the damaged series, Dispatched with Intent. In which, murder and mayhem will commence.

I will also be offering free copies of Balefire on a Goodreads giveaway. Stay tuned.

And I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has bought, commented, reviewed, or promoted my work. You have made my dream job all the better for your support.

nope, it isn’t always easy

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(okay, this is not really my desk. My office has a health department warning right now. This is where I write since the Dell tech left.)

Today is the last day of September. There always seems to be a never-ending list of things to do when fall comes. Shut down the cooler, start of the furnace, dogs to the vet, doctors appointment, event and travel planning. And, like my buddy, Lynn Ames,[Rainbow Awards Finalist-2013] (courtesy nod) I had to rummage through piles of receipts and payment records so I could meet with my NEW accountant. Yes, I filed for an extension a minute ago or was that April?

I filled out  the form online and dutifully paid my patriotic taxes so that my elected officials at could continue their frat party in Washington and get nothing done. But God help me if I don’t file my tax returns, you can bet I will end up in prison. (I’m not gonna go there, I’m not gonna go there, deep breath.)

Normally, I would be writing, revising, or staring intently at my computer screen with thoughts of sugarplums and new stories swirling around in my brain. But all that swirling is a list of things I need to get done. It’s apparent that I suffer from Fulminating Overload Paralysis—FOP. The more I have to do the less to get done.

Anecdote: Many years ago, I was preparing a move from a small house in Albuquerque to a new place in the high desert. Long story short there were problems with the people cleaning and packing, a mix-up with the movers, and an 11th hour melt down by me. All of which precipitated my chronic FOP.

I screwed up my courage and called a good friend to ask for…help. If you know me at all, you will understand how difficult this was. Nevertheless, she came over as I stood and the middle of my kitchen crying, pointing, shaking my head, and saying, “I don’t know what to do.”

She surveyed the room and gently replied, “Okay, let’s start with this corner.”

In an amazingly short time, the boxes were filled, stacked, and organized. The kitchen was clean, and we were enjoying a drink.

Yeah, it is funny in retrospect, and it was just that simple. But when I’m in the eye of the storm, I can’t see any way out. Some of you may know what I’m talking about, and most of you will throw up your hands and say ‘what’s the big deal, just Do It’.

It probably does seem illogical since I worked the majority of my life as a well-trained and extremely capable nurse. I spent the first seven years of my career in the emergency department where I lived on adrenaline and devoured problem solving for breakfast. Ironic, that at this stage in my life, I’m unable to apply the same principles of triage.

WP_20130930_002Alas,times change but the rewards I’ve reaped the past few years– as a writer have also been tempered by a lack of spontaneity and flexibility. In order for my mind to wander, I’ve restricted my extracurricular activities and flexibility. Routine has become much more vital to my happiness and productivity.

Make no mistake; much of this is simply the joy of aging. My energy and enthusiasm are no longer limitless. I weigh my decisions more carefully and pragmatically. I know this sounds a little negative or self-pitying. It’s not. The trade-off  provides me with insight and wisdom I’d never anticipated. The 10,000 foot view has given me greater perspective about the things I value in life. It’s a good place to be, well, except for that old FOP business. Wisdom and perspective doesn’t translate into perfection.

However, the taxes are done. The remaining obligations are on the calendar. Best of all, the mini maids are coming on Thursday  <g>.

This isn’t at all what I planned to blog about; so you can thank Lynn Ames for prying open this can of worms. And since I recorded the final episode of Breaking Bad*, I just may go watch it.

WP_20130927_004…I guess it won’t be sitting on the couch.

* the final was really excellent.

…and today, October 1st, 2013,  the government is shut down by selfish, shortsighted, spoiled frat boys. Sigh. “of the people, by the people, and FOR the people.”       harumph.

Extra! Friday funnies

Friday Blog

This is an unplanned bonus!

For those of you who have dogs, you know there’s a difference between the bark for announcement: “mom,there might be a strange dog running through the front yard” and “uh oh, something in the driveway I don’t recognize”. Since my office is at the far end of the house, I rarely jump up every time one of the dogs barks. This morning I thought I recognized the second type of bark and went out to find two cars (one is a rarity) coming up the driveway. Much to my surprise and consternation, it was the police. The county police and the town police. Gulp.

“Busted”

Within a nanosecond, I remembered why—the panic button. Whoops. Let me back up. Several weeks ago, I had a rather freaky accident that scared the bejesus out of me. When my breathing return to normal and my brain was fully oxygenated, I decided to spend some money on one of those “help I’ve fallen and I can’t get up buttons”. I hoped it would be a little bit like carrying an umbrella—if you have it you’ll never need it.

I’ve been pretty good about wearing it around my neck or sticking it in my pocket and today the inevitable happened. I was leaning against the sink fixing coffee and heard a voice. Evidently, I had pushed the button and from my jacket pocket of voice was saying “hello… hello… hello”. Naturally, I panicked and started pushing buttons to make it stop. “Well that’s embarrassing,” I thought.

10 minutes later, the dog barking ensued. And I was mortified. Busted! I scurried outside apoplectic and apologetic. “I’ll bet I’m in big trouble,” said I.

“Are you all right?” two female officers asked in tandem. “It’s no problem as long as you’re okay.”

A brief repentant conversation continued. I explained the situation and promised that should I ever do that again I will simply talk to the operator instead of hanging up. They were very nice and after I went and the house stayed in the driveway yakking for another 10 minutes. Perhaps they didn’t know each other and were just gossiping or they stayed long enough to burn the vision of two patrol cars into my retinas.

Good news is the button works and actual people will respond even if I can’t talk. The bad news was I’d rather not meet my local police officers looking like a complete Duffus.

In local news: the bright sunny fall weather has been interrupted for the last couple of days by large ribbons of smoke blowing from the North West. When the wind died this morning, the smell of smoke was in the air once again.

When I checked,  there were fires burning in the Jemez Mountains, about 75 miles northwest of here. It turns out to be a prescribed burn west of the Valles Caldera and Los Alamos. So far, it’s under control.

That’s all the news for this week folks. Enjoy your weekend!