Friday, January 29, 2010

Sunny Memory

This is one of my favorite fields. It is nearby, and late every summer it is brilliant and beautiful.

On this chilly winter morning, I have good memories of this day last summer. The sky was blue, the flowers glowed and we were happy. Nothing to complain about, and something to remember. Just wanted to share a happy memory with you.

Hope you have a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

On Sale

Fictionwise is having a terrific sale. Most of the romances are 45% off. I'm about to go shopping.

Monday, January 25, 2010


I'm drinking coffee in my new, cool Phantom of the Opera mug. It has a mask on it that turns white when you're drinking something hot.

My daughter, niece and I went to see it Friday night. It was girls night out and we met early for dinner and the show. What a great evening it turned out to be. Just like old times! Affectionately called "The Golden Girls" by my son-in-law, (more like the three stooges) we always have a fun time together and I probably act closer to their age than they mine. So what! It keeps me young.

The talent in Phantom of the Opera was exceptional! Not sure if a musical play is for me, though. There were times when I couldn't make out what they were saying. The last play I went to, some 20 (could have been 30) plus years ago, was Camelot, with Richard Harris. I loved that play! There was some singing in it but there was also a lot of talking. Phantom of the Opera was all singing.

As for getting all dressed up. I saw women there in jeans! Granted, no one was wearing peddle pushers, but I could have worn jeans...if I had a pair:)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Mental Stimulation

One of Hubby’s Christmas gifts was a wooden Sudoku board. He loves those puzzles, so when I saw the square board with its number tiles in a catalog, I grabbed my charge card and dialed. Turns out it’s one of his favorite gifts!

I love it that he does puzzles—any kind of puzzles. Everyone knows that mental stimulation is good for the brain, so I’d like his brain to be stimulated as often and as well as possible. I mean, it’s in my own best interest to keep what lurks in his cranium in shape, don’t you think?

Anyhow, the Sudoku is a hit so I’m tickled. I’ve played with it a couple of times and while I’ll admit there is some charm in moving the tiles from one spot to another I don’t think it’ll ever be my puzzle of choice. Why not? Too many numbers, and not nearly enough words!

Oh. Right. There are no words in Sudoku, unless you count the ones in my head when I fill in a line and realize I’ve got two sevens but no three. Then, there are words—but none fit to print, I’m afraid.

Hmm? My favorite puzzle? I thought you’d never ask…

I’m one of those old-school crossword-puzzlers. Lots of words, hardly any numbers and loads of scribbling in the margin with a pencil. What more could I ask for? Sometimes, if I’m feeling especially lucky, I even use a pen to fill in the spaces. Not often, but now and again. And you know what? Even when I realize that thirty-seven down isn’t clashing but crashing, I never mind—not even when it’s written in black ink. Now that’s something that would drive my darling number-moving husband to distraction, but not me. I just mentally change the word and move along to thirty-eight down’s clue.

I suppose that’s why there are so many varieties of puzzles to choose from. Sort of like a furniture store, isn’t it? A chair for every bottom, don’t you think?

What about you? Are you a puzzler? If so, what kind best suits your…er…well, what type of puzzle is the perfect fit for you?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

You're never too old to Learn

This is something I have come to terms with only in the last couple of years. When you're young you do tend to be a bit "know it all" I know I did. I wish I had listened more when people gave me advice - especially older people. But kids will be kids, I suppose, and you just can't put old heads on young shoulders.

Now I ask, if I don't know anything I am not frightened to ask just about anybody.I read and take advice, I want to know how to do just about everything. I am just like that darned cat as curious as heck. You know I just want to fill my mind with knowledge. Perhaps that has to do with ageing. You want to fill your time with interesting facts and figures. After all you don't have that much time, LOL, well I don't!

Years ago I would never show anyone what I was writing. Not anymore, now I ask my friends "I'm a bit stuck here with this, what do you think?" And you know what the advice is always well valued.

One thing I learned last week from Kathy O Connor's interview at Heroes and Heroines, was how to chase away writer's block. One thing Kathy had had recommended to her was to write three pages, even if you really are stuck. You know I was stuck and I did just that and it worked. So there you go as I said "learning all the time!"

One thing though and would be grateful to know - how can we get rid of those annonymous "bozoes" who keep placing - and very rudely intruding on our time - their dull, boring unwanted advertising. Flaming cheek. Now I can I get rid of them???


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Our Guest Author is Ginger Simpson

Author, Ginger Simpson lives in TN with her husband, Kelly, and devotes as much time as she can to writing. Since retiring from the University of California in 2003, she's had eight full-length novels published along with five novellas. Her short story, Impounded Love, was just featured in the Nov/Dec issue of the New Love Romance Magazine. In an attempt to garner more interest in e-books, Ginger has recently signed on to and writes a column which features the review of her favorite ebooks. Her secret to staying happy: Find something humorous to laugh about every single day. She welcomes visitors at her blog at and invites you to peruse her website:


Grace Cummings' father looks for gold with tons of other miners in the Black Hills of Dakota. Fifteen year-old Grace and her mother sleep in the wagon while he and his son share a makeshift tent. While sharing breakfast, their camp is attacked by a small war party of Lakota Sioux, and everyone but Grace is killed. She's taken hostage and dragged back to the Sioux encampment,frightened, confused, and wondering why she was spared. Her captor's mother believes having a white woman in their midst is a bad sign, so Grace is given to another brave, Little Elk. He's much kinder and patient, and the beatings she received in the other lodge cease. She becomes friends with another white woman in camp, but is shocked to learn that Green Eyes came there of her own free will. Grace vows to never forget her hatred for those who killed her family, and she's determined to hang onto her grief. However, when the Cavalry rides into camp, discovers and presumes to rescue her, Grace must decide where her heart really lies, and when delivered to the nearest fort has a hard time adjusting to life among those who were once her people.


Brightness invaded the wagon’s interior and woke Grace. She crawled to the small opening in the canvas and peered out. The rising sun crept over the mountain and spread fingers of light to dry the dew left by the cool evening air. She stretched and yawned, dreading yet another boring day ahead.

The aroma of bacon filled the air. Grace glanced over at her mother’s empty pallet and felt a tinge of guilt. Mama had always been an early riser, and a very good cook. The smell of her breakfast wafting just outside the wagon made Grace’s mouth water.

She hurried and dressed, but pushed her uncomfortable boots aside. She’d put them on later. Going barefoot was her preference, and she wore shoes only out of necessity despite Mama’s objection that ladies didn’t go unshod. She reached behind to tie the bow on her dress then hoisted herself over the tailgate to the ground. Her mother hunkered next to the campfire, turning the sizzling pieces of pork.

Grace walked up behind her. “Mornin’ Mama.”

Her mother’s head jerked around with eyes wide as a frightened pony. “Lordy, girl, you just took ten years off my life. You scared me to death walking up on those silent feet of yorn.”

Grace dug her toes into the powdery dirt and chuckled. “Sorry, I didn’t try to.”

“I guess I was just too engrossed in my cookin’ to hear you, but it’d help if you wore shoes like everyone else. You’re not a child anymore, Grace. You’re nigh on to sixteen, and you best act it.”

“That bacon sure smells good.” Grace changed the subject. She noticed the tin pot still on the wagon sideboard. “Want me to get the coffee ready for brewing?”

“That would be nice. Afterwards, go roust your father and brother.”

Grace filled the pot with water from their precious supply, dumped fresh grounds in the basket, and carried it to her mother. At the tent where Papa and Kevin slept, she pushed aside the blanket that served as a door and peered inside. “Hey, you two! You gonna sleep all day? Mama says it’s time to get up. Breakfast is cookin’.”

She wrinkled her nose at the smell of manly sweat and dirty feet inside the canvas. Her father and brother were hard workers, but water was too precious to waste on bathing, although in her opinion, the two men sorely needed a good scrubbin'.

Kevin’s cough caused his cover to drop to his waist. His well-developed chest caught Grace’s attention. When had he sprouted the hair that covered it? She couldn’t help staring. It had been a long time since she’d seen him shirtless, and evidently she had paid scant attention to how much he’d developed in the past couple of years.

He sat up. “If you don’t want an eyeful, you’d better leave. I slept in my birthday suit last night.” His warning jolted her back to the moment. She averted her eyes and stepped out, dropping the blanket back in place. Warmth crept up her neck into her face, although she wasn’t sure why. For goodness sake, he was her brother.

Kevin came out of the tent buckling his pants and laughing. “Scared you, didn’t I?”

“No! I just didn’t want to see your ugly butt.”

Her mother glared in their direction. “I don’t want to hear that kind of talk out of you, young lady, and Kevin, you’ll put on a shirt or you’ll get no breakfast.”

As he crawled back inside his makeshift bedroom, Papa ducked out, his boots not laced and his hair flattened from sleep. He tweaked Grace’s cheek as he passed. “Mornin’, Sassy.”

Sassy. He always had a pet name for everyone, and she loved hers. She was sassy, and quite frequently the trait got her in trouble. Mama called her actions sassy, but Grace considered herself inquisitive. She moved to the fire and sat on the grass. Papa pulled up an empty bucket, turned it over, and sat, waiting for the coffee to finish perking. He laced and tied his boots then plopped his over-sized hat onto his head.

Beneath the dust-covered brim, Grace studied Papa’s sun-tanned face, his drooping moustache, and his big hands. She always loved how the size of them made her feel safe and protected. He might be gruff and bullheaded, but she loved him nonetheless.


Papa scraped the last speck of egg from his plate and set it aside. “I s’pect Kev and me’ll find gold any day now. People are discoverin’ it all around us. When we make our strike, we can find some land and build a real house. It’s sure to happen soon… afore summer is past and the weather turns cold. In fact, Sassy, you and yer ma might want to start gatherin’ fair-sized stones and rocks for our fireplace.”

He pointed to the lean-to, still in progress. “In the meantime, Kev and I will finish our temporary shelter, so we can spread out a bit.

No more climbing in and out of a wagon to sleep. Grace clapped. “Oh, Papa, that sounds so good.”

She sobered and flashed the look that always won him over…the half-pout, wistful gaze. “When we finally settle in our real house, it will be near a town, won’t it? Otherwise, how do you expect me to be courted out here in the middle of no where?”

“I’m not so sure I want you to be cour...” He jerked around and looked over his shoulder. “Do you hear that?”

“Hear what?” Kevin asked.

“I hear it, Papa,” Grace chimed in. “Sounds like yelling.”

Her father stood and scanned the horizon. He pointed. “Look. There!”

A group of riders emerged from a dust cloud in the distance. The yelling grew louder as they came closer.

The furrows in her father’s brow frightened Grace. “What is it, Papa?”

He darted for the wagon. “It’s Injuns! Hurry! You two women get inside and keep low. Kevin, get yer rifle!”

Monday, January 18, 2010

Off to the Mall I go...

I think I've mentioned before that I don't like shopping. Any kind. But once in a while I need things. Stuff you can't get in a grocery store, unless you're at Walmart. However, I don't like to buy my clothes and shoes there so this past Friday, off to the mall I went.

I timed it just right. Arrived there just as they were opening. If the parking lot didn't give it away once I began walking the mall in my quest for a few items, it became obviously clear the place was dead. I me D.E.A.D.! I really enjoyed myself because that's one of the main reasons I don't like to shop. The crowds.

Then I began to feel bad for the merchants. But that didn't last when I saw all the deals out there. I managed to purchase 2 pairs of pants, a pair of dress shoes, and a dressy blouse at Dillard's all for under $100...and I did it all under an hour. The weird thing? I made 3 purchases at 3 different registers and each purchase came out to the same exact amount...$32 and some change. I left the mall thinking, maybe I should play the lotto or something.

The reason I had to go shopping? This Friday the girls and I go to see Phantom of the Opera. Apparently you can't wear sneakers and peddle pushers to the theatre:)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Exciting News!

This week I got a call from my editor at Avalon Books letting me know The Christmas Bargain, my Regency romance, will be released in October 2010. I am so thrilled!

All the books I've written are special to me in one way or another but I've got to admit this one holds a dear spot in my heart. Maybe it's because this book was written amidst emotional chaos; several times I thought of closing my laptop and walking away because there was so much else going on here but I didn't do it. I couldn't leave the heroine with her predicament unsolved, so I pressed on. And now? The book will be available in bookstores and on library shelves by Christmastime!

So that's some of our good news this week. Anything exciting happening in your neck of the woods?

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Dangerous Enchantment

My new romantic historical suspense is published next month. I have just seen the cover by Kendra so thought I would share it with you. Isn't it good? Rather intriguing I think.I like this kind of cover, I know many writers like their characters to be shown but sometimes that can spoil how you view your character, for me at any rate, and we are not all the same, thank goodness.

This historical romantic suspense is sset in the l480's just before the battle of Bosworth Field, where King Richard the Third was killed. Henry Tudor who was claiming the throne of England did not take part in the battle - he sat watching it. Great fellow eh?

Many of you know that I like King Richard - I think there will be some surprises for you in this novel!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Blog Tour

I'll be at Suspense by Anne tomorrow and on Friday I'm with Pauline Wainwright

Please stop by and leave a comment.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Forty Years of Marriage

A married couple in their early 60s was celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary in a quiet, romantic little restaurant.

Suddenly, a tiny yet beautiful fairy appeared on their table. She said, 'For being such an exemplary married couple and for being loving to each other for all this time, I will grant you each a wish.'

The wife answered, 'Oh, I want to travel around the world with my darling husband.

The fairy waved her magic wand and - poof! - two tickets for the Queen Mary II appeared in her hands.

The husband thought for a moment: 'Well, this is all very romantic, but an opportunity like this will never come again.

I'm sorry my love, but my wish is to have a wife 30 years younger than me.'

The wife, and the fairy, were deeply disappointed, but a wish is a wish.

So the fairy waved her magic wand and poof!...the husband became 92 years old.

...guess he got what he deserved!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Home Cooking

We have a friend who’s laid up with a new knee. That’s right, he’s had a knee replacement and is learning to get around on the improved limb.

This past year, when my husband was so ill, this friend brought numerous warm meals to our door. He was so wonderful to do so, and the gesture was greatly appreciated. I haven’t forgotten his kindness. Now, it’s my turn to take good care of him, the way he did for us.

It’s hard to try to figure out what might please someone else’s palate but I’m having fun cooking for him. I know he likes spicy foods, so eggplant parm, black bean soup and a spicy shrimp pasta dish that my husband loves are all on the menu. And vegetable soup, that’s a biggie around here so he’ll get that this weekend.

Desserts are always interesting. Our friend bakes a fabulous blueberry pie so I’ll stay away from pie but everyone loves cookies, don’t they? And banana bread. Oh, I could bake brownies—they’re good for mending knees, aren’t they? And…

Can you tell I’m having fun cooking for an extra table? I hate it that he’s going through this but I know it will be good for him in the long run. And in the meantime, I am enjoying showering him with the same kind of love he’s shown us.

Get well soon, Bill. We love you!

Happy Weekend, everyone!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Hello and a big Welcome, Paula Martin.

Paula Martin had early success with 4 books published by Mills and Boon/Harlequin and Robert Hale in the 1960’s and 70’s. Then real life got in the way. Bringing up two young daughters on her own at the same time as working as a high school history teacher filled all her time and energy.
Now retired from teaching, she returned to writing about 3 years ago when she started to write fan-fiction stories based on ‘The West Wing’. A chance meeting with a Harlequin writer in 2008 encouraged her to start writing novels again. With two romance novels completed and one ‘work in progress’, she is now looking for renewed success in the publishing world.

Visit Paula at her website

And at her group blog (with 2 other aspiring writers):


l) When you received your first acceptance how did you feel?
Actually the most exciting moment wasn’t the acceptance, but the first letter I got from Mills and Boon (signed by Alan Boon himself). I’d sent my novel to them about six weeks earlier and when the letter arrived, I expected it to be a rejection. Instead I think I gasped in shock. He wrote that he liked my writing and my story, but there were a couple of things he wanted changing. If I was prepared to revise along the lines he suggested, they would be prepared to consider my novel. If I was prepared?? I sat down there and then to start the revision! I had to type the whole MS out again and then submitted it. The acceptance came within a week and I think my main feeling was one of relief that my revision had met with their approval!

2) Do you notice any change in the type of novels that Harlequin publish to those original Mills and Boon romances?
A lot! In the 60’s, the Mills and Boon strap line was ‘Pleasant Books’. They were sweet romances (definitely NO sex or any suggestion of it – a chaste kiss was all that was allowed) and they were also about ‘ordinary’ people. My first hero and heroine were both teachers. All this changed in the 70’s when Harlequin took over. Sheiks, Greek millionaires and Latin Lotharios abounded. All arrogant, brooding, domineering males and wimpy females who finally (and happily! – what?) ‘submitted’ to them. Explicit sex became the order of the day too, almost rape in many cases. By the 90’s the heroines were allowed to become more independent and less wimpy, but most of the heroes are still larger-than-life alpha-males.

3) How do you go about plotting your novels? Some writers work on a long synopsis, or make copious notes, what do you do?I start with a basic idea and see where the two main characters take me! I don’t plot in advance. I know they’re going to be together at the end, despite the conflicts I throw at them, and I enjoy the journey with them. Part of the joy of writing is the realization that suddenly your characters are doing something or going somewhere (together or apart) that you haven’t really thought about in advance. And then you find yourself thinking, almost in surprise, ‘Yes that works.’

4) What is essential to a romantic novel?A rollercoaster of emotions and a happy ending. A hero you can fall in love with, strong – yes, but ultimately loving and supportive. A heroine you can empathize with, a friend with whom you can laugh or cry.

5) I know you were an historian, have you ever thought of writing an historical novel, and if not why not?
My favourite historical novelist is Sharon Penman and I’m in awe of the amount of research she does for her novels. I fear my own efforts would fall very far short of that. I started a story about a lady-in-waiting to Anne of Bohemia, the wife of Richard II but it came to a grinding halt when I wanted French ships to appear in Calais harbour. Nowhere could I find what flag the French would have been flying in the 14th century (that would probably be easy now but this was in pre-internet days). I’m a stickler for getting facts right, and getting all the facts right for an historical novel would be a daunting task. But – never say never!

6) What type of novel would you not consider writing?Paranormal, fantasy, sci-fi – I have no interest in these whatsoever. I’ve never read any and don’t really want to. I think I’d also draw the line at erotica. I can write sex scenes, but want them to be part of a loving relationship, not graphic sex simply to titillate the reader.

7) You had a long break from writing, how easy do you find it getting back into the swing? Do you find the new technology a help or a hindrance. What method did you use previously?Computers are wonderful! How much easier now to write, to change things as you go along and to edit. Originally I wrote everything in longhand. Masses of crossing out, insertions, extra paragraphs stapled to a page – however did we manage? Then came the laborious job of typing out the MS on an old upright Remington. One mistype and, if the correction paper wouldn’t hide it, the paper was ripped from the typewriter and you had to start the page all over again. When I first started using a word-processor, I still wrote in longhand, but very soon learned to ‘think’ into the keyboard. Now I couldn’t do it any other way.

8) If you could set a novel anywhere in the world – and could go and visit the actual country – where would that be? Money would be no object.
Ooh, interesting question! I love America and have been several times. But if money was no object, I think maybe a world cruise would fit the bill, and then I could take my pick of many different locations. Having said that, an extended stay in my beloved Ireland would make me just as happy.

9) I love the West Wing and you have been involved very much with a website where you can write about the West Wing – so really you had not given up writing altogether. How different is it writing about established characters from writing about your own?With fan fiction writing, the main characters are already there for you. You can see their faces and expressions in your mind’s eye, you can hear their voices in your head – and when it’s Martin Sheen’s voice in my head, I have no complaints! But you’re also very aware that you have to keep them ‘in character’ otherwise the fans who read your story will soon complain! This is one of the challenges of fanfic writing. Several of my stories were based around West Wing episodes where I ‘filled in the gaps’ and provided the scenes that we didn’t see on the screen. That was fun to do, but another of my stories took place after the end of the show itself. I still had to keep Jed and Abbey in character, but I also brought my own characters into this story. Those characters became as ‘real’ to me as the screen characters.

Paula - Thank you so much for visiting with us and for giving us such indepth answers. I am sure we all wish you the very best of luck with your new projects.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Best Book of 2009

Did you have a favorite book of 2009? For me it was The Help by Kathryn Stocket. I loved that book. I wanted to know those ladies and have them as friends and neighbors.

I apologize for the short post but have shoulder bursitis so I'm doing a lot of reading and searching for my favorite book of 2010.

Monday, January 4, 2010

See this picture? Of course you do! It was taken of us when we were in St. Augustine. We were walking through the little town center where vendors were set up selling their wares. My daughter was in the process of taking a picture of me, Alivia and my niece when a homeless man walked up to us and asked if we would like him to take a picture of all of us. My daughter didn't hesitate to hand him her brand new digital camera, which she had just won from an office party at work.

So, with smiling faces we eagerly posed for him, glad for a change that we would all be in the picture together. A rare occurrence. As the man brought the camera up to his eye he took one step back, and then another, and I couldn't help thinking, he's going to take off running. Later my daughter confessed she thought the same thing when he began to move backwards, there goes my new camera.

The man took the picture and brought the camera back to us. And I immediately felt ashamed for what I'd been thinking. I gave him a few dollars, he thanked us and rejoined the group of his friends.

Why do you suppose when strangers do something nice for us that we begin to question why they're doing it? What do they want? I know I'm not the only one who thinks that way. I don't usually, but the moment he took that first step away from us toward the street, the thought popped into my head that he was going to run with it.

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year's Resolutions...

Do you make ‘em? More to the point, have you made any for this new year?

I’m a big resolution maker. I usually make a few, and generally I keep them. Well, most of them. All right…so I never keep the resolution to cut my chocolate intake! The rest of them, though, usually are kept.

This year I haven’t made any big resolutions. Honestly, there’s a lot going on at our house right now, and it looks like it’s going to be a continuing situation so resolutions aren’t real high on my list this year. Who knows? Maybe I’ll make a couple later on in the year.

I did make one, and it’s not a do-or-die pledge, so if I don’t keep it the world won’t end. At least, I hope it won’t! Pardon? Oh, what resolution did I make? I’ll tell you but you’ve got to promise not to laugh. Promise?

Socks. I want to learn to knit socks. See, I told you it wasn’t an earth-shattering declaration. The truth is, I’m a novice knitter. By that I mean that I can make basic stitches and am a whiz at knitting scarves. But really, how many scarves can anyone make? I’ve gotten to the point where scarves are like summer zucchinis…family, friends and neighbors see me coming and run because they’re pretty sure I’m carrying one or the other—and will try to foist it off on them!

But socks…now that’s something new, don’t you think? A definite step up from scarves, and with so many possibilities I’m sure to have fun. So there you have it, my New Year’s resolution: I want to learn to knit socks this winter. Hopefully, life will provide enough calm moments that I’ll have time to master the skill. If not…there’s always next year, right?

What about you? Make any resolutions you’re willing to share?

Have a nice weekend!