Monday, December 31, 2007

My Little Stalkers

For me anyway. Now tell me, how am I supposed to get any writing done? Isn't she cute?

I have two, a juvenile delinquent, not kidding. Gin Gin's been in cat time out more that I ever had to put my daughter when she was growing up. And she's such a bad influence on our older cat, Rufas. He used to be so calm and quiet, perfect actually. But now he copies everything Gin Gin does. It's like he's in his second cat hood or something!

If they weren't cute and we didn't love them to pieces I'd tell them to go play out in the street! They're indoor cats. And when they're playing they sound like elephants stomping through the house. They're into everything! If you open a door, better check to make sure one of them hasn't snuck in because more than once Gin Gin has been locked up in a closet or kitchen cupboard. It's not until we hear her faint cries, and have to find her, that she's released from her prison.

And sleeping! Well, I've been woken up many times because my bed is their play pen. And they don't care who gets in their way. At times I feel like I've been sucker punched because one of them will jump on my chest, belly and at times face as they're romping around. My legs have been used as scratching posts, which reminds me, Gin Gin gets declawed next month:)

We love the little devils. They amuse us, and love us back unconditionally. Right now as I type this Gin Gin is next to me on top of the shredder, don't worry, it has a cover on it. And Rufus is at my feet. Wherever I go, they follow. I call them my little stalkers.

They say having animals around for the elderly is comforting and I have to agree. I see a definite improvement in my hubby, with regard to his health and outlook in life. He's retired and at home all the time, so when I'm working they keep him company.

Of course, he won't clean out their litter box!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Year's End

It's hard to believe another year has come and nearly gone. Where did it go? Seems it moved so quickly, almost like the blink of an eye. Yet when I sit and think back on the last months, I realize there are so many memorable moments that it's clear the eye didn't blink as rapidly as first thought. Days fille with love... laughter...a smidgen of sadness... goals met and hopes friends...relationships strengthened amidst giggles and tears... Yes, it's been a good year.

I hope you and yours have also enjoyed a wonderful 2007. As we bid this year farewell, I hope your memories are more happy than sad and that it was, for you, a year filled with more high points than low ones.

Wishing you all a wonderful New Year! Happy 2008!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Now that it is over...

Now it is over what are we going to do? We girls have huffed and puffed, pushed gigantic trolleys, cooked and ate and then done it over again. How on earth are we going to fill in our time?

Well, as for me, I am looking forward to getting back to my novel. I have 6,000 words to the finishing line and my mind is blank, too filled with happy memories, plus a large helping of guilt over what I ate.

This morning I walked there and back to the gym (4 miles round trip) and had a work out, I still do not feel any less guilty. Today our nephew and his wife are coming to help celebrate John's 77th birthday.I shall be cooking again and that blank computer screen is winking and calling...hey girl, I need you...sorry, mate, you will have to wait for tomorrow.

Hope that all your Christmas dreams were fulfilled.

Have a happy new year - don't forget to shake hands for auld lang syne.


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

I know I'm a day early but this is my last chance to blog before tomorrow. LOL This is going to be short and sweet because I'm babysitting today and I hear Alivia waking even now as I write. Don't know how long she'll be content in her crib before letting me know, in a loud way, that she's up and wants out! You know I'm going to have a busy, fun filled day:)

I'm sitting here in my daughter's living room, which looks more like a giant play pen. Oh, there is a sofa and TV but I can clearly see who rules the roost here. My daughter is a clean freak, but the clutter of Alivia's little things everywhere doesn't bother her in the least. And speaking of the little angel, I hear her now:) I'll have to say goodbye for now.

I hope you and your families have a wonderful holiday tomorrow. Enjoy your time with friends and family members you haven't seen for a while. Enjoy the good food that helps you celebrate the day. And take lots of pictures so you can look back on your special day and smile.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

A gift from my husband...

...that I'm sharing with you. Isn't it pretty?

Now, not to kill it before next week...

Friday, December 21, 2007


Yes, I am speechless this morning, or very nearly so. It's an oddity, I assure you. I don't wonder if we shouldn't mark this speechless day on our calendars. Goodness knows it's an unlikely enough event! If I didn't feel fine I'd check my temperature...surely, such speechlessness could indicate a medical issue, couldn't it? But not to worry--I feel fine. I think I may just be experiencing what a lot of others are going through at this point.

Oh? What is it that renders me speechless, you ask?

The calm before the storm.

You know the one. We've all felt it at one time or another. It shows up at many times, for any number of occasions. Weddings. Parties. Interviews. Barbeques. You name it. Almost every storm, even happy ones, have that lull just before the flurry of activity begins.

In this case, I've got the pre-holiday muteness I associate with being content to wait. I've cleaned from top to bottom, baked until my fingers are blistered (not very good about using oven mitts!), wrapped a la Martha Stewart, mailed, shopped till I've dropped, planned as if I'm a general heading off to battle and have rewritten the holiday menus countless times. Now, I'm in a holding pattern. Ready and waiting for the festivities to begin. My brain has turned to mush. All I plan to do now is listen to carols, stoke the fireplace, eat the cookies and reread A Christmas Carol.

And I want to send wishes, from our home to yours, that your holidays be safe and happy ones. Whatever you do, wherever you go and whomever you're surrounded by, I hope you feel the joy that comes to us at this special time of year. Maybe you'll be like I am now, speechless--if only for a moment so that you, too, enjoy the feeling of contentedness that comes before, during and after a very pleasurable storm!

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 20, 2007


We all know what coincidences are - they are the life blood for novelists. Where would we be without them? They help us drive our plots forward.

This week I was thinking about my own life and wonder whether there is not more than coincidence in some of the things that have happened. It is almost as if someone is putting out a guiding hand. I tell you, some of the things that have happened to me have to be more than coincidence. Spritual - spooky, take your pick.

Anyway, last week I mentioned Roger and he is part of a coincidence. John and I were going to the South of France to escape the winter. It was 1971, we were carefree and looking forward to an adventure. We travelled through France in our little post office van, eventually we came to a cross road. One sign read St Maxime and the other St Tropez. We were heading to St Maxime, that is where we thought we would stay. However, John wanted to go down into St Tropez. I was a bit apprehensive, Bridget Bardot lived there, it was the haunt of the very rich and very famous. How would it look, us arriving there in our little old van. However, John won the day. "We have to see it," he reasoned.

Seeing it was believing. It was so lovely. We parked up by the harbour and sighed with pleasure.On a cool November late afternoon the Meditteranean appeared so vivid a blue, and reflected in its clear depths, were the old white buildings clustered around. We stayed sometime, just gazing out on a wonderful fingers of scarlet from the setting sun turning the view into a blaze of colour.

Suddenly, there was a knocking on the driver's window. We both started up, I can tell you, and fully expected to meet the stern gaze of a Gendarme, demanding to know what we thought we were doing, spoiling the view! However, it was not - it was a man with a lovely smile. He spoke better English than we spoke French and said he noticed we had English number plates. He went onto explain that some boys had left him with a British Leyland van in the summer. He wanted to get it going and wondered where he could buy parts...could we help?

John gave him some advive and then he got to talking about what we were doing. After we had told him, he said we should meet him in the square in an hour, and he would take us up to his home where we could freshen up and have something to eat.

When he had gone, I told John no way were we going but of course I lost out. "He's okay," John says, " and if he wants my money he will have to kill me first!" Charming! Once John gets an idea in his head there is no moving him. He was going, he liked the man.

I was thinking serial killers, white slave trafficers...all kinds of horrid images flalshed into my imagination. However, we go to meet him and he tells us to follow him. Well, I got more and more scared, the road led out of town, up a winding hill, it was pitch black and there was nothing to be seen. I pictured a gang of men in striped jerseys and black berets, knives glittering in the moonlight...

We eventually turned into the driveway of a house that stood back from the road. The front door opened and a woman stood there. She was wearing a plain brown dress, over a pinafore. No one dressed like that, I thought, was into murder and mayhem.

The story ended happily. Our guardian angel had brought us to the right place at the right time. Roger, for this is who it was, was the local handyman for the town. He needed someone to help him with electrics next day. John an Electrician said he would be happy to do so. That led onto us staying in a chalet in Roger's ground, and John working for him in the morning and in the afternoon, getting work elsewhere. We had a wonderful time. Roger was an unbelievable character and one that I must include in a story one day. His wife Fernande was kind and good to be around.

Coincidence? Choosing that particular road where there were crossroads - it being that particular day that Roger had a job to do at that house by the harbour. Who knows, I am just grateful that it happened.

Now is the time to say it. HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Hope Floats

I'm one of those people that can't function in the absence of hope and can't write fiction that doesn't offer the reader hope And that has been a problem in placing my short stories in literary magazines. I've cracked most of the women's magazines including Good Housekeeping and Woman's World but acceptance in literary magazines has eluded me and I crave it. Even though I know their stories are frequently depressing -- as in woman finds long-lost brother and he kills her with a blunt instrument -- I still desire the prestige of appearing in one.

Over a year ago I heard Whiskey Creek Press was putting out an anthology of stories with Hope as the theme. Two of my stories were accepted and I was thrilled. Before I'd received contracts for them, I heard from a prestigious literary magazine that they wanted one of those stories. Now mind you, they had held that story (Mrs. Moody) for 22 months and never communicated they were considering it. I assumed they'd lost it when I submitted it to WCP. Though I hadn't yet gone to contract with Whiskey Creek, a deal is a deal. Still for a few days I felt like doing myself in with a blunt instrument.

But I got over my angst and was thrilled to work with three wonderful editors, Katherine Smith, Louise Bohmer and Giovanna Lagana. Giovanna also taught me the art to a great blurb which has benefited me ever since. And during this season of Hope, I learned the anthology finaled for an EPPIE. So am I ever glad to have let a certain magazine pass me by.

My New Year's resolution this year is going to be the same as always: place a story in a literary magazine. One of these days I'll make it and in the meantime I can say I was an EPPIE finalist.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Getting Older...

Isn't what it's cracked up to be. Does anyone really age gracefully? Most of my life I've heard references to "gravity". Well, I figured out what that meant at the age of thirteen when I had to start buying D-cup bras with the wide straps. It started there but one day I was looking in the mirror after my shower and to my dismay discovered my butt had fallen. No one told me that would happen!

As each year passes I notice more things "falling" on my body. My face has definitely changed as those lines of wisdom have pulled my mouth downward. For the first time in my life I have a double chin, which I suspect used to be part of my face. The flesh on my upper arms have fallen. My belly is in my lap. If the madness doesn't stop I won't be able to see my feet!

To add insult to injury I need glasses to find my glasses. Speaking of glasses, some of you can relate to this. I have a pair in my purse, a pair at my desk at work, a pair next to my computer and a pair next to my chair in the living room. I used to laugh at my hubby for that but now I see the wisdom of it.

I move slower, too, and seem to be a little less graceful. Just in the last couple of months I've fallen twice. Okay, it wasn't my fault I didn't see the hole when I stepped out of the car. It was covered with grass for goodness sake! The second time was because the side walk was uneven. Wouldn't you know I hurt the same darn foot twice!

This morning my hands are stiff and ache. Is that a sign of arthritis? I'm too young for that! Maybe it's the chill in the air. For the first time this winter season we're having some decent, winter temperatures. I opened the house up last night to enjoy the crisp cold air and nearly froze my butt off. But wait...nope! Unfortunately it's still there. Well, not where it used to be but if I hold it up a little I can still see it in the mirror.

All in all I'm enjoying life and have much to be thankful for. I'm really not that old, but I guess having a much older hubby makes me feel his age more than mine at times. I'll certainly be prepared when I reach his age:)

Don't feel sorry for us ageing folks. You'll be in the club some day, too.

Congratulations Ruth, you're a winner! Contact me to claim your books.

Friday, December 14, 2007

'Tis the season

...for thinking about the New Year. Yes, The New Year. It looms large and important, and only a few weeks away. I'm smiling as I write this because really, does the world feel any different on January 1 than it did on December 31? Maybe for some it does, but for me? Not a bit. Still, I love the idea of a fresh slate, even if only as a place for jotting new notes and goals.

Yes, goals. That's what I'm thinking about at this point in the season. You've already noticed I'm one of those type-A, cleaning-crazy people so I sincerely doubt you'll be at all surprised to learn that I set goals for myself at the beginning of every year. This year I'm keeping the goal setting to a minimum. Why? Because I've got a few novels coming out next year and I figure they'll keep me hopping. Why heap any extra pressure on myself? Besides, it's always all right to exceed one's goals, isn't it? This year's items, although few, are no less important to me than last year's list. I'm hopeful that I'll follow through on the goals I set for myself during this holiday season.

What are my goals? I won't bore you completely with the details but there are three: one is for personal growth, one is aimed at my career and the third has to do with making the world a better place, even if it's only in a small way. (I figure if we all do our small part, the world will eventually be a happy, healthy place for everyone. )

So 'tis the season for setting New Year's goals in our house. Next, 'tis the season for baking cookies!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A box on wheels?

John and I are not into cars, or so we have believed. I mean these kids with their fancy cars, spinning around the traffic island near my home, stereos blazing, imagining they are so cool, just a pain in the rear really. To us a car is a lump of metal with four wheels, it is for getting you from A to B and nothing else.

Now I am wondering if I really believe that. You see, last Friday our little blue car went to the graveyard for cars. It was old but well loved. It had been part of us for fifteen years, and before that had belonged only to my cousin's wife. Little blue car took us down to the south of France and over the border into Northern Spain. It brought us back again without any mishap. No I confess seeing the lump of metal on the back of a low loader brought a tear to my eye.

I look on the drive and see a newer, black car now but it is just something with wheels to get me from A to B, well for the moment it is, will it worm its way into my heart? Who knows.

It got me thinking about other cars we had had mainly vans. When I met John he had a little red van that he had bought from the Postal Service. If you ever see old English films, you might just spot one of these. It was a smashing little van and took me on my first ever camping trip, and I found camping so enjoyable. The little van also took us down to Saint Tropez where we spent almost six months one winter. We had a blissful time.

Little red passed away and we had "custard" a yellow post office van, and that did not go very far, just to Wales and back on a regular basis. It gave up the ghost in Wales and left us stuck on a field with all our camping equiment. Someone came to the rescue, a couple of fellow campers who were from Manchester, and they took us home. Bless them.

John said he would look for something else at the auctions. He phoned to tell me he had something and I was not to be too shocked. Shocked? What did he mean? Knowing John you can never be sure what will happen. A loud drumming had me running to the living room was HUGE, a Comer walk-thru, the kind of van I see in American movies and out of the back of which always comes the SWAT Team.

"What the blooming heck!" I screamed. But John was right. Big red turned into a camper and we had many enjoyable holidays and travelled through Europe for three months, ending up for eight weeks on the Bay of Biscay in the hot summer of '76. When big red decided it had had enough. John stripped it down. From the engine, various parts and the metal and one thing and another he got back the money he paid for it.

So there you have it...perhaps a car or van is more than a piece of metal on four wheels to get from A to B, it is a store of memories. Without big red we would not have met our German friends, or enjoyed those three months in France. Without little red, I doubt we would have ever have met Roger in Saint Tropez...ah but that is another story for another time...


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Out On a Date

One of my favorite books is Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way. Called chiropractic for the artist's soul, it offers tools to banish all the obstacles that keep you from creating. One of the most beneficial for me is the artist's date. According to Julia, you need to go out and do something fun and you need to do it alone.

"There are as many ways to evade this commitment as there are days of your life," she says. Still it is important because "your artist needs to be taken out, pampered and listened to."

It doesn't require money just soltitude and fun. Some of the things she suggests: a long country walk, a trip to the beach to watch the sunset, a visit to a church with a choir. Some of my favorites are morning jaunts to thrift stores, gift stores, coffee shops and museums. Soaking it all in primes my pump and I'm back to writing again.

Lets face it, this is a dangerous time a year for writers. The holiday demands can snuff your own projects out like a candle in a fierce wind. Don't let it happen. Plan your escapes and quiet time. It only requires two hours a week and your worth it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Happy Tuesday

Yeah, I know everyone else is decking the halls with balsam firs and poinsettias but remember how I said I'd "misplaced" 15,005 photos last week? This is one of them. I thought I'd share it with you because this morning as I look out my window and see my yard slicked in ice, I can't help but recall the warm, sultry breezes that swept my cheek as I took this photo.
Just thought I'd share a memory. Happy Tuesday!

Monday, December 10, 2007


Why do we use them? I write under DA Wallace for New Concepts Publishing, Debbie Wallace with Whiskey Creek Press and Tory Richards with Whiskey Creek Press Torrid. You can probably guess what Tory writes:)

I don't use a pen name because I'm ashamed of what I write. Let's face it, this day and age a few steamy sex scenes are in just about every romance novel. The difference in writing a torrid romance is that you throw in a couple "C" words. Sex sells and the romance readers of today don't always want the softer side of sex.

The reason for the pen name, from my stand point, is to protect me from any unpleasant situations that might arise at work. You see, most of us have full time jobs on top of writing. It's the real world. It takes time to build relationships with your readers but in the mean time, we still have to pay the bills and eat. I like eating most of all:)

I work for a huge family oriented company. I doubt they'd like to find out one of their employees is writing smut. Tasteful smut, though. My stories have great plots and suspense and aren't just sex with no meaning. After all, they're romance novels. Besides, writing is a private side of me that is my business and no one else. People at work know I write, some have read my books, but no one there knows my pen name.

My first novel, "IT'S ALL IN THE JEANS", under Tory Richards comes out in February. And I was just offered a contract for a new book, "WICKED DESIRE" this past weekend! I hope you won't let the fact that they're a little more spicy than the others keep you from reading them.

Friday, December 7, 2007


I'll let you in on a little secret. I'm a (sometimes) compulsively neat person. Yes, I lean a little more toward the Felix side of life than the Oscar side. The good thing is my husband is a bit Felix-y too so we go together like peas and ... well, peas. (I don't like carrots.) Anyway, our home is usually neat, the yard tidy and there are no cobwebs in the corners, not even in the garage.

Imagine my shock when I realized I've been harboring a garbage dump -- right here on my desk! Yes, my computer was akin to a wasteland, filled with rubbish piled so high it's a miracle I didn't drown in it.

This past week I've learned a lesson about computers that you probably all know but me, computer novice that I am, had no idea about. It is, however, a tidbit of information I shall never, ever forget again. The recycle bin needs to be emptied. Let me repeat my newfound nugget of wisdom, if only to reinforce it in my own mind: The recycle bin needs to be emptied. I feel like I should embroider it on a sampler and hang it above my desk.

I've spent this whole week sorting through old files, spreadsheets, edits, contracts, erratas, stories begun but never finished, stories finished but never submitted, the flotsam and jetsam of any ordinary writer's life. Ugh. I'm thinking of changing you think middleaged ballerinas get a lot of files in their recycle bins? What about oyster boat captains? Fat recycle bins? Oh, there's got to be something I can do that doesn't shelter a wastebin inches from my nose!

Oh, right. Maybe I should just empty the recycle bin more than every three years or so. Yes, you do have a point. Thanks. :) I could do that.

And now that I've spent days doing nothing but sorting, tossing out and shaping up, things are starting to look pretty good. Uncluttered, the way I like them best. And my computer is running well again. Not slow and sluggish, uncooperative or testy, the way it has been recently. Yes, maybe I will keep doing what I've been doing. After all, I don't drive boats really well and my knees won't support ballet lessons. Yes, I'll stay at my desk--especially since this silly black box has been thoroughly cleaned out.

I've been reminded of something important this week. Oh, no, it's not all about computers, although I have learned a fair bit about them in the past days. But I've gotten a gentle reminder that things aren't always as they appear. I can forget that sometimes.

But sometimes, often lurking beneath a placid exterior, is a wild world that I can't even begin to fathom. One that is shocking, surprising and can, when it wants to, consume 15,005 photograph files. Thankfully, it is a world that will, when coaxed, spit them back out.

Yes, I've had an interesting week. I hope you have, too. This weekend I'll work on catching up on all that's been neglected while I computer cleaned these last few days.

What's on the agenda for next week? One can only imagine...

Have a nice weekend!!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

That Certain Feeling!

Do you remember when you were young and foolish and first fell in love? There was no feeling quite like it. Ah, the exhilieration, the pitter patter of your heart, the blush on your cheeks when that certain some passed by. The hours of waiting for the telephone call, or the letter. The anxiety, the pleasure, all those wonderful adrenalin rushing feelings that are a blessing and a curse...if he turns you down, they definitely are the latter.

Ah well, all gone now. I am not likely to fall in love again like that - but I do go half way with the men in fiction. I love Harry Bosch (Michael Connolly's detective). I know I am the woman he is waiting for if only he knew. He chooses the most unsuitable women, I can see it going wrong before it even starts. Also I have a thing for Kathy Reich's Andrew Ryan, that Temp woman just does not deserve him. Always wondering whether she wants to be with him or not, stupid woman! Kathy O Connor's underwear modeling detective Sunny Cloud gives me goose bumps too, just the kind of guy I could really fall for. Look, Sunny I am waving at you, can't you see me?

Are the men in literature actually better than those in reality? Ha ha, I aint saying.

As to that certain thrill, well I get it sometimes, especially when I have written a book and it has been accepted, but the bigger thrill comes with receiving that book. Opening the first page, pressing it to my nose and smelling that unique and fresh, tantalizing scent. Bliss!


Wednesday, December 5, 2007


Angel is used in Hebrew to denote either a divine or human messenger.
For Christians angels are represented throughout the Bible as a body of spiritual beings intermediate between God and men: "You have made him (man) a little less than the angels" (Psalm 8:6).

I think about angels a lot this time of year. My wardrobe includes angel pajamas for when I'm sick. I have an angel key ring that keeps the rejections away. And three days after my mother's passing I won an angel bear. Might have been a coincidence but I didn't think so.

So this year I'm decorating with angels -- at the top of the tree, on the mantel and the nightstand. I think there are celestial beings guarding us but there are human angels too and I'm surronded by them. A neighbor just brought my garbage containers back up to the house after the truck came through and another went grocery shopping for me.

So on the second night of Chanukah I'm thinking about the Hebrew definition of angels -- a divine or human messenger.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The Three C's

Coffee, caffeine and chocolate! Which one are you?

Coffee and caffeine are not the same thing. Though some folks would argue that you get your caffeine from coffee. Only I can't seem to get started in the mornings without my decaf. And it has to be the good stuff. My all time favorite is Barnie's Santa's White Christmas. Hubby hates the flavored stuff though and says it's crap. That's because he likes the black, thick as tar brew that will put hair on your chest! Humm...if only it put hair on his head:)

Caffeine comes in the way of tea for me. I'm talking sweet tea. Anyone from the south knows I'm not talking about hot tea loaded down with sugar. I mean fresh brewed tea from tea bags, or even better, like my dad still makes it. He fills a pot with water, fills a tin tea ball with loose tea, and then brews it. While it's still hot he adds plenty of sugar, then pours it into a pitcher half filled with water and stirs it up good, then puts it in the fridge to chill. Yum, yum!

Chocolate...Is self explanatory. I keep a bag of York mint patties in the freezer. It's a low fat food. And it will satisfy me most of the time. But, when I want to binge on chocolate (due to stress or any other reason I can come up with at the moment) it has to be the good stuff. Sound familiar? Guess I'm spoiled. I like white chocolate too but you can't really binge on that because it's so darn sweet! Chocolate with nuts is the best!

Coffee, caffeine and chocolate at the same time? That's definitely an overdose of the three C's but oh but oh what a way to go!