Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Sprig of Broom


I am happy to tell you that A Sprig of Broom is published today. Initially in e book form at www.whiskeycreekpress.com

I should be quaffing champagne or at the very least doing something really exciting, yet no, I am off to Pilates. I have to come back home later and do some cleaning, check if my laundry is dry enough to put away and, oh you know all those mundane tasks that we mortals have to do. I think I would rather be Cecily Hadfield, my heroine in A Sprig of Broom, she has the mercurial Lord of Llanaber to tame, or is it he that must tame her? To find the answer get hold of a copy of A Sprig of Broom, it will certainly while away a chilly December afternoon!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Guest Blogger Today - Welcome Pauline Holyoak





Award – Winning, Canadian Author Pauline Holyoak
Merryweathger Lodge – Malevolent Spirit. Book 2 . A trilogy inspired by the authors own experiences at a remote little cottage near Stonehenge.

“This author paints each page with fantasy, colorful characters, and haunting events that would light up a movie screen.”

Thank you for inviting me to your blog, Margaret.

I grew in Southeast England, in a coal mining village lovingly nicknamed, “The place that time forgot.” Go to my website, click on ‘Articles’ and find out why. I immigrated to Canada when I was 21 in search of adventure and a new life. I currently live in Alberta with my sports crazy husband, adorable sheltie dog and cantankerous ginger cat. I am the proud mother of two grown children.
The first book in my Merryweather Lodge trilogy Merryweather Lodge – Ancient Revenge, was the Readers Favorite 2011 Silver Award Winner for paranormal fiction. I have also written two children’s books and had twenty five articles published.
I often get asked. “What inspired you to write this trilogy?”…
Every summer, when I was a child, we would visit my aunt and uncle at their quaint little cottage on Salisbury Plain. It was called Scotland Lodge and was situated not far from the historical Stonehenge. My uncle worked as a farm hand for the local squire. My aunt tended the manor house. It was there as I roamed free, deep within the English countryside, that I experienced joy, enchantment and some very strange and frightening occurrences. It was like a fairytale kingdom with a sinister twist. The memories of my summers at Scotland Lodge stayed with me, as a sort of nagging unsolved mystery all my life. A few years ago I revisited my childhood wonderland (the old place still emanates a strange and eerie essence) and was lead by some mysterious force into concocting this story and writing this trilogy. It is from my mystifying experiences at Scotland Lodge that this story has emerged.

Blurb: It’s Christmastime at Merryweather Lodge. Emily has returned to the old cottage from her home in Canada; after the untimely death of someone she loved. Will she be able to celebrate a traditional English Christmas in her aunts enchanting little cottage or will she be tormented by the hideous creature, again? Was Emily’s attempt to banish her unearthly adversary successful? Will her aunt disclose the secrets she has been concealing for so many years? What will happen when Emily’s best friend comes to visit her? What secrets will she reveal? Will Emily ever get to make love to the man of her dreams? A chilling tale of love, passion, sorcery and sacrifice; laced with mystery and tied with humor.

Excerpt: I could hear the shrill sound of my mother’s disapproval as I closed my eyes, wrapped in the warm arms and sensual body of my very best friend.
Suddenly, I woke up to a strange sound, and darkness, total darkness. I listened intently, my gaze scouring the inky void, my heart picking up pace. It was a ghostly child’s voice, a repetitive menacing echo from far away. The voice came closer, its ominous words penetrating the darkness, ringing in my ears, pounding in my head; “Emily, Emily two by four. I saw you at the cellar door. I pushed you on the dirty floor and cut you with a chainsaw.” I recognized the unearthly voice.

Merryweather Lodge – A quaint little cottage, steeped in history, shrouded in secrets, its aura a paradoxical essence of heaven and hell. Come with me to the West Country in England and experience my protagonist’s strange and eerie journey there.
Merryweather Lodge – Ancient Revenge and Merryweather Lodge – Malevolent Spirit
Available at www.whiskeycreekpress.com – www.amazon.com – www.amazon.co.uk
Visit Pauline at her website www.paulineholyoak.com

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Introducing Cara Cooper







Welcome to Cara Cooper

Hi Cara, I remember when we first met at a pink castle in Scotland; both of us were attending a writing course. It proved to be a lot of fun, did you gain anything useful from it? That castle was SO romantic and the food delicious.

Hi I did gain lots from that course. As you recall it was about writing for Mills and Boon. Although I haven’t been successful with them yet, they really know how to give their readers what they want. Above all, that course explained to me how internal conflict which is the baggage that we carry around from our own personal histories helps to prevent us forming relationships sometimes with people who are perfect for us, our own personal heroes! Working through that baggage is the life blood of many romances.

Cara you explained internal conflict perfectly.
You write Pocket Novels, for those in the States who might not know what these are, could you tell us a little about them?

They are novellas, around half the size of a mainstream book so you can happily sit down and polish one in an afternoon over a cup of coffee and cake and get an instant romance fix. Some have elements of suspense – maybe a crime that has to be solved. Some are historical – the Regencies are very popular. They are sweet romances, stopping at the bedroom door but they still have passionate moments and the contemporary ones are about today’s women. In ‘Leaving Home,’ my heroine faced the challenge of planning a new life in New York but had to deal with the sudden arrival of her estranged sister’s baby as well as choose between two men vying for her affections. In ‘Tango at Midnight’, another heroine with her own cupcake company has a dark secret hidden for years which the hero threatens to uncover. Pocket novels are always feel good stories that give the reader an instant lift and which you could happily share with your mother, grandmother or teenage daughter. What’s more, they fit very nicely in a handbag for that long journey or morning at the beach. Many are now being published as e-books.

Writing Pocket Novels you have to be strict on the word count, do you plan your story within the time frame or do you have to cut, and then cut some more?

I think I’ve got it down to a fine art now having written six and with a seventh in the pipeline. I tend to be very strict with myself and keep the word count way down so that I can add if necessary. Adding I always find easier than taking elements away!

Funnily enough it is the reverse with me. I hate adding, much prefer taking away.
I know you sometimes write historical romance. Regency is very popular, why do you think that is? I write Medieval but the Regency period surpasses any other period in popularity.


You’re so right Margaret. I often visit relatives in Hampshire, very close to Jane Austen’s house. Even the buildings with their red brick and beautiful gardens ooze the charm of the Regency period. I think the popularity stems from the notion that it was a gentler time, a slower time but where people faced considerable challenges – women to make their mark in a male dominated world and men to fight for what they considered to be right. There is endless fascination too in thinking what a world would be like without cars, planes and computers – all the stresses and strains of the modern world can be lost in the fantasy of historical novels.

You are so right about stresses and strains. I find the mobile phone is something to struggle with in contemporary suspense novels. Makes it far harder than when writing an historical.
When did you first start to write – what was your inspiration to be a writer?

Gosh I don’t know, I just always have written. I think it really stems from a love of books and reading in general. I am never without a book in my handbag or a notebook to write down ideas, character traits or descriptions of settings. I was in St James’s Street the other day visiting the Carlton Club, a genuine gentleman’s club in the heart of London. The best bit though was the shops around it which were perfect for a historical setting. There was William Evans, ‘purveyors of country clothing, gun and rifle maker’ established in 1883, the club itself with its bootscraper at the door and even a man smoking a cigar on the pavement. I’d only have had to close my eyes and I would have been back in the past. I guess, to answer your question, London is a huge inspiration it’s so full of life and people there’s always something to write about.


You have such a busy life, a career, a husband and daughter, you are a prolific writer, how do you fit it all in?

I wait until they’ve all gone off to work and school and make sure I have nothing to do for an hour each day but write. Little and often is better than huge dollops of writing every now and then. You have to be disciplined and the writing muscle is one that has to be exercised regularly.


I do know that you met your husband while learning the tango. I think that SO romantic, was it really romantic? The Tango is the dance of love, meeting like this is straight out of a romantic novel, was it like that?

Amazingly, yes! Some of the music is wonderful and we have actually tango’d across St Mark’s Square in Venice in the rain - very badly, we’re not terribly good but the music was drifting out of a nearby hotel and we couldn’t resist it


How wonderful, that is real romance, Cara, you lucky lady.
I believe you are setting up a blog, perhaps you would like to give details here.

Yes, I have recently got together with other Pocket Novel writers to set up thepocketeers.blogspot.com we welcome all visitors and comments and have posted about anything from our favourite romantic heroes to where we get our ideas from.

What have you going at the moment?

At the moment I am busy with the third installment of a serial for the magazine People’s Friend set in Sorrento in Italy and am doing edits for a pocket novel with a desert island setting. It’s no surprise that it’s cold and rainy in London at the moment so I guess I am escaping to the sun! Thank you so much Margaret for the opportunity to appear here at the Lark Journals, it’s been a real privilege and I hope to welcome you to the Pocketeers blog soon.

Ah wonderful Sorrento, I went there too, such a romantic city. Thank you so much for being here today, have really enjoyed talking with you and wish you lots of luck with all your writing ventures.

www.caracoopers.blogspot.com

Friday, October 28, 2011

Charmed



Are you like me, charmed by clouds? I can't ever walk anywhere without looking toward the sky. I'll admit, I don't always "see something" but I look. My sweet husband could always find something interesting in the sky. Me? I usually see clouds. Occasionally something more, but that happens so infrequently I don't have any high expectations.

Yesterday I saw a heart. I don't need to tell you how thrilled I was by the sight of it overhead. I just made my day!

What about you? See anything interesting in the clouds?

Wishing you a peaceful weekend.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Sprig of Broom


I just received a copy of the cover of my next book - it isn't out until December, but I could not resist sharing it. So beautiful and more than appropriate.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Jazzed



Got an email last week from someone who read my latest short story available from The Wild Rose Press. Reservation Required is a short historical and I was tickled to hear this reader enjoyed it. I love hearing from readers, especially when they feel satisfied after reading something I have written.

Reservation Required is availablehere. I loved writing it, and I'm so glad it's getting a positive response!

Wishing you a peaceful weekend.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Romance...Everywhere



Love is all around us. Even in the M&M bag. Yes, it's true. And I've got the evidence!


I hope you have a lovely, loving day. And a peaceful weekend!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Inspiration













I was responding to an interview the other day. One of the questions asked whether any of my heroes was based on a famous person. Difficult

The only one I truly know is "Eden's Child" I did not actually knowingly base Nevis, my hero, on Hugh Jackman, but he shines through. If ever they did make a movie or tv drama he would be perfect.

Generally though my heroes live in my head. They are my perfect fantasy. They are never too good looking. I like my historical heroes to have flaws. Just as they have flaws in their personalities so they have flaws in their physical appearance. A tiny something just makes them less than perfect. Are there exceptions? Well yes two I can think of. One is Job Tepi in Breaking the Clouds, who is half Maori and terribly, breathtakingly handsome. The other is Ned, in my latest novel A Fatal Flaw. Ned is gorgeous. It would be very difficult to cast someone to play either to my entire satisfaction but I would take the money and run! (Well wouldn't you?).

















































Thursday, October 6, 2011

This is a picture of Glen Coe in Scotland. I guarantee that if you pass through this valley between these brooding hills you will feel something. No one can travel the Glen without experiencing a feeling of trepidation. Why? Of course it does have a beauty all its own but it is because of the tragedy that took place here. The ghosts of the victims still linger, even today.
I confess to having never been here till last week. I just thought I would find it incredibly sad, and I did. My great, great Grandmother was a MacDonald, why should that matter you ask, well let me tell you.

To reach Glen Coe you travel through the wilderness that is Rannoch Moor, beautiful but inhospitable. In 1692 the MacDonalds were lords of Glen Coe. In the aftermath of the "Glorious Revolution" when King William of Holland took the throne all Clansmen were ordered to take an oath of allegience to the new "foreign" king. MacDonald, unfortunately, was too late to take the oath.

Later a group of soldiers arrived at the Glen and were offered hospitality. On a snowy night they repaid the hospitality by slaughtering all they could. Men, women and children. Some fled only to die of exposure in the treacherous weather. Many blame the Clan Campbell and they were involved, but others were to. It is well worth googling The Massacre of Glen Coe to read all the details. I am sure you will be moved.

You experience, as you travel through the Glen this tremendous feeling of sadness.I can remember my Granny often telling me all about it. Now I have actually been there, I am not sure if I will go again...

Friday, September 30, 2011

From the Farm

The last hoorah. That's what's happening with trees and flowers here in the northeast. Everything is vibrant. Colorful. Gorgeous. They all know we're at the corner between warm and chilly. They're giving their all, putting on a show and giving one last magical display before they settle in for a rest.

I'm inspired by this party. It reminds me that seasons change. Things flourish. Then rest. Then, without a doubt, they flourish again. Yes, I'm inspired. And grateful.

I hope your weekend is peaceful. And inspiring. And touched by a lovely flourish.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Change for Change Sake




Do you notice how this happens. Facebook for instance has changed and everyone is up in arms about it, we were happy with what we had so why change it. I used to love my video, now that won't work because over here in England we have gone digital. It's supposed to work but it doesn't. Again change. And I am sorry but how efficient was video as opposed to dvd's where it's a devil of a job (for me anyway) to stop and get back to the place I was at before!




Some changes are good but only if they have a purpose. Take writing a book, you change quite a lot. You edit, you take out you put somewhere else. Like me you probably fell in love with someone and then decided you didn't like him at all! If you don't love him then you can't expect the reader to, that's my mantra. That's why I have a picture of A Saxon Tapestry, this was an old novel that I wrote years ago, it has been re-issued, there are some changes to update it but that's all. It was more tweaking than anything else. That to me is purposeful change, it's mucking about with stuff that is okay that really winds me up.



My washing machine has served me really well for more years than I care to remember. I dread it breaking down. I know I will have to get a new one, and friends tell me they just do not last like the old ones did. Gulp, replacing something after only five years (perhaps it's my age) but I hate that.



It's like favourite books, they go on forever don't they, they don't need changing, we want them just as we remember. I guess that's why I really liked the new Jane Eyre film. It fitted my imagine of the books. And don't get me started on the new Tinker, Tailor film because I could rave for weeks on how marvellous that is.



Change for change sake - that is the real problem. Are you listening you whizz kids at Facebook. Somehow I doubt it.












Friday, September 9, 2011

Visitor



I have a lovely Japanese student staying with me at the moment. It is such fun learning from someone from a different culture. It had me thinking I have never written a novel with a setting in an Asian country. New Zealand, Australia, USA, Spain, Cyprus and Italy, are as far as I have gone. Odd too that when we watched some tv the words my guest recognised were those of cars and hi-fi's, like Nissen and Mitabushi! Anyway, I am having a really good time showing my guest around Fleetwood. I have to confess she is settling in far better than I would ever settle in a country so different from mine.

Of course it is so easy in the Antipodes and the USA because we have a common language (you notice I don't say we speak the same language, ha ha, sometimes it is possible to cause offence with different meanings for some English words!). France and Italy are different of course, but with enough familiar things for me to feel at home. I can manage a wee bit of French and Italian, although it is impossible for me to have a conversation in either language. Yet here is my guest, knowing some English, managing to make herself understood and with a little change of words here and there understanding me. What can I say? Vive la difference? Or should that be le?






Friday, September 2, 2011

Need to Know



I'm going to admit something here. I'm one of those inquisitive people who, when confronted by something interesting but unknown, will research until I learn enough to satisfy my curiosity.

Every once in a while, though, I buck my instinctual trend. Every now and then...what, how and why don't matter. Not one bit.

See these amazing leaves? My sweet Vito planted a couple of these trees. I'm sure somewhere amongst his gardening notes, I'll find the name of the tree that produces such huge, beautiful leaves. But you know what? My usual inquisitiveness is hiding. For now, I'm just going to simply enjoy this beauty. I don't much care what it's called. How it grows. Why the leaves are so unusual. Forgive me, but I just don't give a fig.

Now, I'm enjoying. I thought you might, too.

Wishing you a peaceful weekend!


Friday, August 26, 2011

Tea with Irene



Here on the east coast, we're scrambling to get set to host hurricane Irene. I'm pretty much set, so I think I'll do some baking. Just in case we lose power, you know? We've got a generator here at the farm but I won't use it for cooking or baking, so I figured I'd get busy in the kitchen this morning. If the hurricane blows over, I'll eat well. And if she comes to visit, I'll eat well. All good, right?

So, what's on your Friday to-do list?

Me? Baking bread. And soup. And canning tomatoes. And, making applesauce. Yes, it's busy at the farm.

Wishing you a peaceful day!

Applesauce Walnut Bread

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup applesauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 egg whites
3 T. milk
2 cups flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
½ t. salt
½ t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
½ cup chopped walnuts

Lightly grease and flour a loaf pan. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together applesauce, sugar, vegetable oil, egg whites and milk. Mix until combined. Add remaining ingredients and mix, reserving the nuts for last. When the batter is thoroughly mixed, spread it evenly in the loaf pan.

Place pan in a pre-heated 350-degree oven and bake for 60-75 minutes. Toothpick inserted in center of loaf will come out clean when bread is done. Cool before cutting.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Eden's Child



Last week I was writing about my Florida novels. This week it's the turn of Australia.


Eden's Child is set in Queensland but you also get a chance to visit the South of France. These are two of my favourite places. Writing can be such fun, you can sit in your study and imagine you are there! Wonderful.

I still like Eden's Child, I remember being so excited because I had been inspired to write about one of my favourite countries. I also like Maddie, my heroine, and let's face it Nevis, my hero, is to die for!

Maddie has lost her memory, she was attacked in London. When her identity is discovered, she finds she is married to a man who loathes her. She just can't reconcile being the selfish, spiteful girl she was. Who is this loathsome girl? Why was she so horrid to her husband, Nevis, when all the time she was in love with him? Who is at fault?



Happy reading!

Eden's Child,

No. 1 best seller available at:


Whiskey Creek Press, available in print, e-book and on kindle.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Midnight Reading

Here on the farm, the days are jam-packed. Canning, freezing, harvesting, mowing, weeding, working on a new book... The hours fly by. Really. Jam-packed.

You'd think I'd fall into blissful, deep sleep at night, wouldn't you? It would be great if that was happening, but this journey I'm on has different plans for me. I twist. I turn. I'm aggravated by this new found insomnia.

Then, I rise. It's just past midnight, but rolling around alone in our bed just annoys me.

Insomnia has been my companion for months now. Every few nights I am just so bone-weary that I actually sleep. Until then, I've just got to deal with this.

But, the silver lining to last night's sleeplessness? It's got me smiling this morning, so rather than grump about tossing and turning, I'm going to share something lovely with you.

A few weeks ago, I was the lucky winner of a fabulous book at the Avalon authors blog. I left a comment and--lucky me!--won a copy of Sandra Carey Cody's new release, Left at Oz. I was tickled, and put the book on the coffee table in our family room.

Just past midnight, I picked it up. And, two cups of hot chocolate and a half-bag of cookies later, I closed the book. Just before sunrise. And, I'm still smiling because my sleepless night was a good one! Finally!

Left at Oz is part of Sandy's Jennie Connors Mystery Series. I haven't read any of the other books but it didn't matter at all that I hadn't "met" Jennie before. This book is so well written that it's great as a stand-alone.

I liked Jennie Connors from the first page. She amuses me because I can see myself doing some of the things she does! For instance, the book opens with a search for her stolen car. She's gotten a mysterious phone message and, like so many of us might do, she enlists the help of a good friend to follow the few clues she has. When her friend asks how Jennie's husband reacted to the news her car's missing, Jennie admits she didn't tell him. Don't you just love that? So real, because honestly, I'm not sure I'd be so quick to let on that my car turned up missing. You?

Left at Oz is a solid mystery, with enough clues to keep the reader turning the pages and such heart that it's almost impossible not to fall in love with the characters. I confess, I didn't solve the mystery. I had suspicions but when the truth came out I loved the twist. It, like the rest of the book, was a perfect fit.

So, my sleepless night turned out to be wonderfully entertaining. I hate it that I'm plagued by this insomnia, but I'm very grateful that there are authors who write books like Left at Oz--books that can capture my attention, soothe my heart and entertain me even in the long, dark hours when everyone else is soundly sleeping. Thanks, Sandy!

What about you? Have you read any fabulous books lately? I'm looking for a couple of new books to set on our coffee table. Any ideas?

Wishing you a peaceful weekend.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Why do you write about Florida? That's what someone asked me the other day. They went on to say that I didn't live there so therefore could not know that much about it. Why do you write about anywhere, they could ask that too, couldn't they? Write about what you know, that's the mantra. But what does it mean?

It doesn't mean you can't write about somewhere you have never lived, what it does mean is make sure you know about the place. I don't confess to knowing all about Florida, but I know quite a lot about the area I visit. (Gulf coast for interested observers).

I've been there every season, spring, summer, fall and winter, so there! That's good because I know it can be cold first thing on a crisp, Christmas morning but it can heat up later in the day. Not to the soaring temperatures of mid-summer but certainly a lot more pleasant than England in darkest December. I know the food available as well as the restaurants. The flora and fauna my daughter in law taught me all about. And, if that is not enough, well I just love it and I like to think that comes through in my writing.
So, Missy, with your question, spoken I might add in a rather bossy tone, that's why I write about Florida. I just love Florida. But of course I was a lot more polite than that, or was I? Oops have I lost a reader?

Friday, August 12, 2011




This week I have been oh so busy. Tuesday saw me go on a coach trip to the farthest reaches of the Yorkshire Dales, we visited a beautiful town called Bedale and went on a day trip to a stately home. Thorp Perrow. Doesn't the house look like it's stepped out of a Jane Austen novel. The delight was watching a Falconer at work, seeing Meerkats for the first time, and of course wandering in the beautiful grounds. The trees were magnificent, I wish I had taken more pictures.








Perhaps it was the day out but I was suddenly inspired to write a novel set in the North Country, I started with a tremulous heart but it's coming along nicely. I am not sure it will work out but I do hope it does. Meanwhile, I shall enjoy looking at the lovely house (it's not the one in my novel by the way) and gaining inspiration.

Wildness



Welcome, friends! I hope this week's been good to you.


It's been a wild week in the world, hasn't it? I don't ususally discuss what's going on in the news but this week it seems impossible to ignore the craziness. Market madness, fleeing fugitives, cities burning... What gives? It all makes my head spin. What about you?


All I know for sure is I'm glad to be tucked away in the middle of nowhere. Peaceful. Quiet. And, the only chaos is what I create in my books. I like it that way.


The new book? Currently our sweet heroine is whipping up a batch of yummy goodness while the go-to guy contemplates his past. Neither is going to be on their own much longer. In a few pages sticky fingers will do some walking and the past will be put aside, the present much more insistently deserving attention...


How are you? Is all well in your corner of the world? I hope it is. And I hope you have a peaceful weekend. Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Good News



Exciting news!

My Avalon Regency romance, The Christmas Bargain, is going to be released in large print by Thorndike Press. They're the world's leading publisher of large print books.

The large print volume has a different cover. I saw it for the first time yesterday. Honestly, I'm really thrilled by this turn of events. What a great surprise!

The link is here if you want to take a peek. So nice to get happy news.

Wishing you a peaceful day.

Friday, August 5, 2011

From the Garden

Good morning from the farm. Oh my goodness, I've got a full day.

The gardens are popping. I've got peaches and tomatoes to can, pepper relish and pickles to make and the blueberries and blackberries just keep coming. It's fun, but the bumper crops are keeping me very busy.

So, I'll leave you with a few garden shots. I'm off to the kitchen.

Hope you have a peaceful day!













Monday, August 1, 2011

Then Came You

Had my first outing yesterday in nearly ten weeks. After being sick for so long the energy envelope is slim so had to decide whether to go to the grocery or the library.

It was close but the need for food won out. But I happily discovered you can buy books at the grocery. Bought Jennifer Weiner's new book Then Came You. I generally get books from the library but this book was worth every penny -- a heart-warming book that spoke to our common humanity and expanded the sense of family.

Next I'm reading The Time Traveller's Wife. What's on your 'to be read' list?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Gardness Goodness

Oh my goodness...the crops are coming in here on the farm. There are blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, peaches, nectarines, potatoes, onions, peppers, tomatoes... You get the idea. A lot of picking and canning going on now!

We plant extra zucchini plants just so we can get the blossoms. They are abundant now. I've got great recipe to share, just in case they're available in your neighborhood (or backyard!) too.

Hope you enjoy the recipe. And have a peaceful Friday!

A favorite in our house!

Fried Zucchini Blossoms

zucchini blossoms
2 cups whole milk
4 Tablespoons
flour
An egg, lightly beaten
Salt
Olive oil for frying

Trim the stems of the zucchini blossoms, remove flower parts from inside the blossom and wash gently them gently. Pat them dry, using a delicate touch. Combine the milk, flour and egg.

Heat the oil in a deep pan.

Lightly salt the zucchini blossoms then dredge them in batter. Immediately drop them into the oil and fry them until golden. Drain on paper towels, then serve them hot.

Make more than you think you'll need. Believe me. Make more.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Introducing Beth Elliot







Today I am so happy to introduce you all to Beth Elliott. Beth writes for Robert Hale Limited, London, who has also published some of my novels. Beth writes wonderful Regency novels and these are quite unusual – as you will find out.

Hi Beth, welcome to Larks Journals blogspot, would you like to tell us a little about yourself

Hello Margaret and thank you for inviting me. I like reading Larks Journals blogspot and am delighted to be your guest today. I was always fascinated by languages [my mother's mother spoke Welsh as her first language ] and I became a teacher of French and Italian. Working in France, I met my Turkish husband [who also spoke French and Italian]. We lived in Turkey for some years, so that was another language I had to learn.
We both liked writing stories and completed a historical tale together. That one never got anywhere but I was determined to get published, and suddenly thought up a Regency set adventure story, The Wild Card.

Beth, I am so amazed, and very impressed. As someone who struggles with learning a new language I am in awe of someone who speaks three!
You have written Regency novels with a Turkish setting, how did you research these novels?

We lived in the east of Turkey for five years. Life was more traditional there and my husband explained all the customs I found strange. For example, when you are introduced to an older person, you must kiss their hand and then place it against your forehead. And when a female relative got married, you bought her a gold bracelet. I loved the jeweller's shop windows with their glittering displays. In fact I enjoyed living there and still go for long holidays each year. Turkey has leapt into the modern world, so many old customs are disappearing fast. But I'm glad to say they maintain their delicious cuisine.


That s fascinating. I have never been to Turkey but I have seen the pictures you post, it looks so beautiful.
Why do you choose to write about the Regency, what is so fascinating about this period of history?

I loved Jane Austen from the first time I opened Pride and Prejudice. I used to imagine being one of the Bennett sisters. Then I discovered Georgette Heyer and the Regency world seemed so glamorous and full of possibilities for adventures. It's wonderful to write my own tales set in that era. And after setting stories in London, Bath and Brighton, I set one in Constantinople [Istanbul] and London. I got the idea after reading that Lord Byron visited Constantinople in 1810.





When did you first start writing, Beth?

As soon as I learnt to write! And it was nearly always about the distant past. I suppose my first stories were more or less copies of books I'd enjoyed. But I always won the prizes for essay writing at school, so there must have been a few original ideas in there.

How did you find your publisher?

Thanks to the Romantic Novelists Association. To join, you must send in a novel within a year. I completed The Wild Card and sent it to them for a critique. It came back with a note to send it to Robert Hale. Mr Hale took it at once and I'm very happy to say he has just published my fourth Regency tale, The Rake's Challenge.

Would you like to write about a “real” historical person and if so who?

I like to put real people in my stories - the Prince Regent appears in The Rake's Challenge and Sir Stratford Canning and Lady Hester Stanhope have big roles in the novel I'm currently writing. It adds some weight to the story to bring in real people but at the same time it's a challenge to keep them authentic. It would mean a change of era but I would like to portray King Charles II in a tale. He had such a difficult life and he showed so much tolerance. I admire him for that.

I rather like Charles the Second too, he is a fascinating, many faceted character.
When you are not writing what do you like to do

I read a lot and I love travelling. I also do metallic embroidery - stitching threads and beads to create pictures, and sometimes I sketch.

You obviously are very artistic. If you could be paid to go to any part of the world to write a novel, where would this be

I would love to travel the Silk Road and I'm sure I could think up a historical adventure to write using that setting.

I’m sure you could write a really good novel about the Silk Road,.What is your latest novel and what are you working on now?

The Rake's Challenge, set in Brighton, is just out. This is about a rake who is forced to become guardian to a young lady running away from home. I plan a sequel to it, as there are four friends, all devoted to Lord Byron's poetry. They need their tales as well. But currently I'm working on another story set in Constantinople in 1811. It has to be that year because that's when Lady Hester Stanhope stayed there - and quarrelled bitterly with Sir Stratford Canning. My hero is a diplomat, related to the Sultan. My heroine has ruined herself in English society and the hero assumes she is his for the taking. But from a very stormy beginning, they gradually learn to understand and respect each other. There are plenty of exotic episodes in this novel.

Thank you so much for being with us, Beth. It has been such an interesting visit and I do wish you well with all your books. I am sure you have many ideas bubbling away.

You can buy Beth’s books at :
www.halebooks.com
www.amazon.co.uk
www.amazon.com
www.waterstones.com

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Never satisfied

I am looking out on a grey gloomy day. We have had rain since Saturday. It's been chilly too. This is July! Yet on Wednesday I was out with one of my walking groups and the weather was perfect. Sunny, pleasantly warm, indeed a perfect day.

Just under a month ago I was in Florida where the temperature was 93/95. It was far too hot. You couldn't venture out (or rather I couldn't) after about 11.00 a.m. The sun was too intense. I don't know how people work outside in that heat but they do. Yet it was perfect at the beach, I could lie beneath an umberella and when the mood took me, dive into the warm, loving waters of the Gulf. Now sitting in a fleece I am making do. I guess that's what we do, make the best of it.

All this then has had me wondering if I am a whinger, too chilly here, too hot in the Florida. But then perhaps I am a perfectionist, wanting everything to be the best. No, looking at the dust on my filing cabinet, I guess I am not that either.

However, I can escape - I can dive into my new book - it's set on an island in Greece in the Spring. Perfect. I think I will go there, smell the flowers, and wander in a perfect garden beneath a benign sun.

Catch you later.

Friday, July 15, 2011

From the Farm



Life here at Villa Leone is quiet. All about writing, reading, gardening, taking long walks, mowing, picking flowers, adjusting and staying connected with friends and family.


But there's something new going on, too. I'm cooking. Baking, too. Really. I'm starting to eat more than frozen dinners, which is a real big step forward.


When I was in Florida, my aunt (also a widow) gave me a few hints on cooking for one. She's a smart woman and I've taken her comments to heart. I think I needed someone to take me in their kitchen, fill me in on what works for her and what doesn't. She's been at this new lifestyle much longer than I have and, truly, she was a huge help.


Thanks, Aunt Maria!


I baked cookies last night. Not the ones above, because I dumped all of the cookies into the cookie jar (minus two--okay, four--"test" cookies) before taking a picture. So, they look like the cookies in the photo but they're not those. Confusing, I know, but very tasty!


Have I mentioned that there's a 20% off sale on everything in my Etsy shop? I'm starting to think about holiday stock so I'm trying to find new homes for what's there now. I hope you'll take a peek. Also, if you've got any holiday requests, please let me know. I've already got one order for Christmas ornaments, something that seems strange to contemplate while the weather is scorching. The order is welcome, for many reasons, but mostly because it helps keep my hands busy and my mind occupied. All good.


So, what's new with you? What's going on in your corner of the world?


I hope you have a peaceful weekend!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Welcome to Kathy Reinhart







Welcome Kathy, I am so happy you agreed to be here today, tell me when did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I don’t think I realized I ‘wanted’ to be a writer as much as one day I realized I ‘could’ be a writer. It was after reading a book by a very successful author whose style I don’t particularly care for. While reading it I remember thinking of the different ways I would have done it if I had been the one to write it. That doesn’t happen often, I usually enjoy a book as is, but that was how that particular book affected me. Shortly afterward I began submitting articles to Ezines and then wrote my first book, ‘Pretty Lies’, which I never submitted to anyone.


Your latest book sounds exciting where did you get the ideas?

Well, ‘Lily White Lies’ is about a woman of a certain age. She reaches a place in her life and suddenly finds herself looking back. She realizes that she’s been complacent in her life, afraid to ask questions when things around her didn’t seem right, ignoring the subtle signs of relationship in trouble and realizing that the only way to catch her dreams was to chase them. When I wrote it, I was in Meg’s shoes. I think I drew a lot from my own life experiences. Like Meg, I had to figure out if who I was, was who I wanted to be.

I think many women will identify with this theme. Your book Missouri in a Suitcase has a very different feel to it, you write about the relationship between a brother and a sister, how difficult was that?

Writing about the relationship between a brother and sister was different from what I have written in the past, but not necessarily difficult. What was challenging was the fact that ten-year-old Tommy doesn’t speak for three quarters of the book. Lizabeth, his sister, suddenly finds herself his legal guardian after tragedy strikes and reading the book takes you through her frustrations, the emotional ride that Tommy’s challenges take her on and ultimately, the bond between them that eventually brings him out of his hiding place. The interaction between them is quite emotional at times.

Do you do a lot of research?

I do now. I am going to admit a huge faux pas on my part and tell you that when I first began writing, it was mostly for online enthusiast publications, and mostly about horses and the like. That was how I got my feet wet and when I turned my hand over to novel writing, I paid little attention to the mechanics believing that all I had to do was put the story in my head on paper, spell it all correctly and make sure I used punctuation. That might be a little exaggerated, but at that time, I believed fiction covered ALL aspects of writing, not just the people, places and events. When I wrote ‘Missouri in a Suitcase’ I did not research the ‘police scenes’, the legal aspects of the story, relying more on what I had heard in the past or seen on t.v. Although people to this day tell me how much they love it, I think I could have made it better had I researched that area more. I don’t think it would have changed the overall feel of the story but it would have given a little more authenticity to that part, however small it was.

I think sometimes we can “over” research. I know I used to do that. If the story flows that is what is important, unless there is a silly mistake. If your readers believe it realistic then it is. What kind of things do you like to do when you are not wearing your writer’s hat?

Nick and I are big on day (long weekend) trips. We also have horses but due to the demands on our time recently, we don’t ride nearly as often as we once did. I love to cook, antique and relax by any body of water. There are a few big changes coming for us in the very near future so we’ll see where they take us.

Ah, you are going to keep us waiting to find out what those big changes are! You also advise writers – what was the best advice you had?

The advice I usually offer is to never stop learning. I don’t think it matters how successful you become, there is still room to learn. Trends change, reader’s expectations change and we all know how much the industry itself has changed and will continue to do so. I believe you have to stay ahead of it, know what is expected and what you can do to stay competitive in a very subjective market.


Kathy, you conduct a weekly interview blog called Ink Drop Interviews. What made you decide to do that and how has it been received?

I began Ink Drop Interviews about eight weeks ago. I guess my decision to do it was brought about by the ever-changing industry. There was a time when you wrote your book and once you signed your contract, the publisher did ‘most’ of the legwork -the marketing and promoting. Not to say that authors didn’t have obligation in it, but not the way they do now. To be a writer now is similar to a plate and stick-balancing act, spending time almost equally between writing and promoting, building a platform, networking and such. I know my blog only reaches a small audience, but it is my humble attempt to pay back what has been given to me. I discriminate against no one, I believe everyone has the right to be heard and that it is ultimately the reader who will decide whether they want to hear more from a particular author.

That sounds like a very useful blog. Thank you so much for being here; it’s been such a treat talking with you.

Lily White Lies on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Lily-White-Lies-Kathy-Reinhart/dp/0971327882/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1309893698&sr=1-1

Lily White Lies for eReader on Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/70125

Friday, July 1, 2011

Bossed

I've never been a big television person. Really, I'm just not into it. Give me a good book or sweet movie any day of the week. But television shows? Nope.

But...

Lately I've found an exception to my no-tv rule.

It's one of those things that call to me, drawing me close and reeling me in hook, line and sinker.

What is it, this television show that's got me so captivated? Cake Boss. Really, I'm charmed by a show where a guy bakes cakes. Go figure!

Have you seen it?

What show, if any, makes your must-watch list? I'm open for new ideas.

Hope you have a peaceful Friday. Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Progress

I hope you're having a peaceful week. Here at Casa Leone, there's lots going on. Mowing, weeding, wood stacking, writing and even--surprise!--cooking. I know, I know, cooking doesn't seem like a big deal but believe me, my getting back into the kitchen is a huge accomplishment. My husband and I cooked together all the time, and now that he's gone the kitchen is just a sad place.

But it seems that with each passing day, the sadness dims a bit. Which is really good, considering I've been living on frozen dinners for weeks!

So, I ventured in with the pots and pans yesterday. The result? A comfort food dish. Nothing extraordinary. Just plain, old mac and cheese.

It was great! Who knows? Eating from-scratch food just might grow on me.

What about you? Any fun in the kitchen you'd care to share? Recipes? I'm open to suggestions!

I hope you have a lovely weekend.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Bee-ing Busy


Sharing some summer sweetness with you. I put a jar in my Etsy shop today, just to see how it goes. Maybe I'll get a nibble. Get it? A nibble?

Sorry! Bad jokes aside, I hope you've had a peaceful Friday.

Me? Busy here on the farm. Weeds to pull, jam to preserve, laundry to fold. Nothing earth-shattering or newsworthy, but enough to keep me moving. I did linger in the orchard, watching the bees buzzing amongst the fruit trees. Amazing!

Now I'm off to find a bowl of ice cream. A big bowl. Really big. With sprinkles, maybe. And whipped cream, definitely.

Wishing you a happy evening!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sunny Florida

I am basking in the sun here in sunny Florida. Florida has inspired two of my novels and might yet inspire even more!
We writers do know that all writing is eighty percent perspiration and twenty inspiration - or do we? Sometimes its hard to write a single word but you press on. At least that is my experience.
Inspiration plays a large part though, especially a location. But do you have to know it? Well you have to know how things work, what the climate is like.
I have written a couple of novels set in Spain, I've never been to Spain. That's going to remedied this year. However, I am worried will real Spain (which is where I'm going rather than coastal Spain) be a step into reality too far? Will I be disappointed. It can happen. I am just a tad afraid that what I will see will spoil my romantic view, ah well we will see.
But back to Florida - coming here every year I am quite at home. I know and love the countryside. I love the wildness. Not wild you say? Well no, not if you are visiting Orlando, but slip onto a back road, you will see wildness aplenty. Deer, foxes, wonderful birds. Oh yes, they are all here just a step or two away. Even where my son lives the deer creep out of the woods at night and eat the sweet grass on his lawn. They drink from the lake too, watchful of the alligator that lives there...oh yes, Florida has an abundance of wildlife. I might not have known this had I not been given the opportunity to come many times. Perhaps Spain will throw up some surprises too - I hope so!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

From the Farm

Busy days here on the farm. Canning. Flower planting. Watering. Weeding. Mowing. Weed pulling.

Also, butterfly watching.

What about you? What's going on in your corner of the world?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Strawberry Dreaming

It's strawberry time here. The strawberry beds are filled with plump berries and I'm picking them faster than I can eat 'em.

I've decided to do what we have done in years past with this berry abundance. I'm going to make jam. My husband I and I always made jam together and while I know it won't be the same now I'm going to give it a go.

My feeling is the jam will be bittersweet this year. Still, I'm getting out my canning pots and sterilizing the jars. Move over berries, I'm coming in!

So, that's the plan for my Saturday. What about you? Anything up your sleeve?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Wecome to John Lindermuth

I visisted with my friend and fellow writer, John Lindermuth, and he has an exciting new book out at the moment. It is a book that is different from his normal excellent thriller/historicals so I invited him to tell us all about it.

As the 19th century winds to a close, Sheriff Sylvester Tilghman of the small Pennsylvania town of Arahpot ponders his biggest problems: finding a new deputy and convincing his true love, Lydia, to marry him. But an early autumn day finds Arahpot’s usual tranquility shaken when a stranger is fatally stabbed.

Upon seeing the victim, Tilghman recalls witnessing a strained encounter between him and Valentine Deibert, an obese man with a wife half his age who had recently moved to Arahpot. The sheriff questions Deibert who denies knowing the victim.

Tilghman is unconvinced, but lacks a connection until the widow arrives in Arahpot. Suddenly Sylvester is plunged into investigating two murders. As he works through an abundance of motivated suspects, Tilghman finds himself in danger. And worse -- Lydia is pushing her obnoxious cousin as a candidate for deputy.

Review: (Use as much or little as you see fit, but please credit Doug)
***** J. R. Lindermuth’s Best Book Yet. Highly Recommended. Review by Douglas Quinn, The Webb Sawyer Mysteries, The Ellis Family Thrillers, Cornelius The Orphan, Historical Fiction/Adventure, and Children’s Chapter Books.http://www.douglasquinn.com).“I was weaned on the great fin de siĆ©cle 19th century mysteries of Edgar Allan Poe and Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle. Then Caleb Carr gave me the moody and exciting The Alienist and its sequel Angel of Darkness. All of these (even accounting for Sherlock Holmes forays into the moors and English countryside) were urban based. In contrast to the frenetic time-is-of-the-essence rush by these author’s protagonists to solve the crime, in Fallen From Grace, Lindermuth offers up a delicious, slow-paced murder mystery set in a small, rural Pennsylvania town called Arahpot.

“When the sheriff declares that the telegraph is the greatest invention ever for a sheriff, this gives you an idea of the pacing of the story. But this is a good thing, because it allows Lindermuth to spend time developing all of the interesting characters in this interesting and intriguing tale. What I enjoy about Lindermuth’s writing style is that he feels no need to spend time with detailed physical descriptions. Instead, as the characters are introduced and progress through the story, I had a perfect image in my mind of their physical appearance, who they were and what they were all about. This is the mark of an expert writer and I applaud Lindermuth for this skill.

“Sylvester Tilghman, Syl to his friends, is a bachelor who doesn’t do so well in the cooking-for-himself department and is always on the lookout for an invitation to a meal, be it breakfast lunch or dinner. His favorite targets are his girlfriend, Lydia, and her parents, and his neighbors, Dr. Mariner and his family. “That brings me to the other thing I like about Lindermuth’s writing, that being all the little side stories and character interactions he weaves throughout the tale, the most interesting being the relationship between Sylvester and Lydia. Lydia, who Sylvester wants to marry, clearly cares for him. However, she has been putting off his request for some time. The reader is left to speculate her reasons and, at the end of the book, while other town romances resolve themselves, he isn’t able to solve his dilemma with Lydia. During it all, Lydia is foisting her annoying cousin, Cyrus, upon Sylvester to fill a deputy sheriff’s position. There are other distractions, some related to the crimes, some not, that occupy Sylvester’s attention. These diversions add richness to the setting, the characters and the story.”

Buy links:
http://www.oaktreebooks.com/Shop%20OTP.htm


http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/161009011X/ref=s9_simh_gw_p14_d0_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=0S00MQ9KF41Q6E6XHF25&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=470938631&pf_rd_i=507846

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Fallen-from-Grace/John-Lindermuth/e/9781610090117/?itm=3&USRI=lindermuth
-----------------------------------------------------------
Fallen From Grace (March 2011), Wild Oak
Being Someone Else (July 2010), Whiskey Creek Press
http://jrlindermuth.com

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Author Central

I've been procrastinating on creating an author page at Amazon. But finally I did it and it was embarassingly easy.

Just go to Amazon Author Central and log in. You can use your existing password and then select the books that are yours and add a profile. Bingo it's done. I have a name that's not distinctive so it was good to pull my books together. Once I spoke at a workshop and the gentleman who introduced me read off all the books he thought I'd written -- a book on economics, a biography of a German philosopher. All books by Kathleen O'Connor but they aren't mine.

Here is my page http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B001KCTKEO Have you created yours?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Sailing Away


Says a lot, doesn't it? And believe me, these boots have gotten a workout this past month. By this afternoon they'll be sloshing through the yard again.

But yesterday...oh, yesterday...

Gorgeous. Sunny. Warm. A day to get outdoors and tramp around the property. A day to mow. To weed. To brush mow. A day so fabulous the only reason to come indoors was for bathroom breaks and quick fridge raids.

I don't know about you, but the lousy, wet weather has a rotten effect on my mood. Day after day of dark, dank, rainy hours. Blech! I know we can't have a rainbow without rain, but there's got to be a break somewhere.

Yesterday we got the break and I am so very grateful. I feel somewhat comforted by the blue sky and warm breezes. Hope comes on warm breezes, I think. And while today is forecast for afternoon rain, with more to come for the next six days, that glimmer of warmth and hope still lifts me up.

What about you? Does the weather bring you down? And, please, tell me how you manage to overcome the feeling. I'm in for another stretch of showers and storms and open to any suggestions for weathering the storm.

Hope you have a lovely weekend! Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Two Wolves Story

I'm reading two books right now -- one a novel by Elizabeth Berg and the other an inspirational book by Rabbi Kushner. Both cite the famous two wolves story. So thought I'd share this Native-American parable.

A Cherokee Elder was teaching his grandchildren about life. He said to them, "A fight is going on inside me... it is a terrible fight between two wolves.

One wolf represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride and superiority.

The other stands for joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.

This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person, too."

They thought about it for a minute and then one child asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old man simply replied, "The one you feed."

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Smellavision



Evidently Blogger had issues on Friday so I was, like countless others, unable to post or comment. Very frustrating!


Just thought I'd pop in on this rainy Sunday morning to share this sweet bunch of grape hyacinths with you. How I wish you could catch a whiff! They were amazing!



I hope you have a peaceful Sunday. Me? I'm going to do some weeding. Yes, in the rain. The weeds just pull right out when the soil is wet. Besides, it's only water and, believe me, I'm not so sweet I'll melt!



Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Life was going so Well!

Just when I thought life was almost perfect...

I finished my two outstanding novels. One a romantic suspense and the other a contemporary romance. Sent them off to the publisher, had them accepted. Already ideas were buzzing for another romance. As I said life was almost perfect...
Knowing I am prone to do silly things, tripping up a major thing I seem to be doing lately, I decided to have my bathroom re-jigged. A shower instead of a bath, you know the kind of thing.
The man came to start, I had forgotten the problems with going to the "comfort station!" Not being in the USA I have only the one. Got around that problem, I have great neighbours, phew that was a relief, in more ways than one. I hadn't realised how much I would actually miss my shower as well. Hadn't even considered the dust and muck (I wonder how much someone would charge to come clean my house after the plumber has gone?). But again a friend came up trumps offering me her shower whenever I want.
Ah well, as my mother would say, these things are sent to try us. I am getting there right, er wrong. Remember what I said about "tripping? and I don't mean tripping the light fantastic I mean tripping up and falling. Bang, down I went like a ton of spuds. Over on my ankle, which immediately came up like it was being inflated by a bike pump. The next day - ugh - forget it, ugly and painful. My friend's husband kindly took me to the hospital for an x-ray. The biggest fear was of course that just the day before I had booked my flight to the USA. Broken ankle, no way, and I hadn't even time to take out insurance.
I confess I could have cried (perhaps that really was me sniffling). The nurse said she thought it broken. How could this keep happening to me. I felt sorry for myself, don't mind admitting that.
But no, again as my Mother would have said, "God is good" just a painful, horrid sprain.
I can't think of tap dancing around my kitchen yet, or going for a long, lonesome walk at the beach, but I do know that, accidents, calamities, house falling down, me falling down again, I shall be taking the big bird to sunny Florida. I will be sitting at my computer till then working on my story and one day sooner than I hope, will be taking a long, hot shower in my super new bathroom, the decor of which will be so perfect, I think I will take up residence!
Thanks for listening!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Happy Wednesday


Today I am tackling my mid-week 'to do' list. I need to create an author page at Amazon. I've needed to do this for awhile but a lovely review at www.readersfavorite.com got me motivated. Here is what they said about my novel, A Private Matter. "This book is filled with twists and turns, and is a very enjoyable classic suspense story."

So this encouragement has me tackling a job I've avoided for months. What's on your mid-week 'to do' list?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Week In Review

Whew! We made it to Friday, didn't we? I've got to say, some weeks that feels like a huge accomplishment.

This has been one jam-packed week. A few highlights...

One day spent dodging raindrops while running errands. You'd be surprised by how drenched a body can get just going in and out of the car. But, banking, grocery shopping, posting, etc. all accomplished.

Spent all day yesterday doing yardwork. Wrangled with the pushmower for a bit, but the stubborn thing finally started so I mowed in the tight spots I can't possibly reach with the lawn tractor. Love it that things look less shaggy now!

Actually cooked a few times. Progress there, and I've got enough red rice and beans, beer bread and cranberry-chocolate clusters left over that I won't have to cook again for at least a day. Maybe two. No complaints there.

Am creeping along on the writing front. Really, creeping, trying to find my way in that part of my life. It feels different now but I'm working on getting used to it. On the whole, I'm pleased with the story I'm writing so that's an encouragement to keep going. Really, I want to see how it ends.

My biggie for this week? I learned how to change the oil in the lawn tractors! Yes, I did! I gave them a tip-to-ah, it's not toe, is it?-tail servicing and now know how the tractors operate. There's much more to it than just turning the key. Who knew?

So, what about you? How has your week gone? And have you any plans for today?

I'll be out in the yard again today. Working on weeding and mulching the blueberries. As I work, I write in my head so hopefully I'll get that story moving along.

I hope you have a peaceful day! Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Certain Slant of Light



A few months ago the winter sun cast this golden glow in my kitchen. I tried to capture the light with my new digital camera, but as you can see my efforts fell flat.




The whole experience reminded me of writing. There is the perfect novel in your mind and then there is the novel you actually write. The trick is rewriting and rewriting until you know the story is the best that it can be, but also accepting that it can't be perfect. I know a perfectionist who has been working on the same book for 23 years and I've read some big name writers (really big) who slap books out prematurely (they needed more work). The rest of us have to find that middle road.

Friday, April 29, 2011

This and That

Between raindrops, I've been exploring the grounds. We missed last spring, so roaming around and rediscovering this and that warms my heart. I thought I'd share some of what's here with you. Ready?


I love daffodils. They make me smile, bobbing in the breeze.



They make me smile in the kitchen, too.

I wish you could smell these hyacinths. Heavenly!


A few weeks ago I cleaned all the birdhouses.

We have nesting going on in every one!



Pussywillows are attractive even after they've put their best face forward. And the tree grew so much since last year. It's huge!


This week when I'm not tramping about, I've been working on a new story. It feels good to write, especially surrounded by so many beautiful sights.


So tell me, what's going on with you?


Thanks for stopping by! I hope you have a peaceful weekend.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Eden's Child



I thought I would re-visit Eden's Child, which was a No. 1 best seller at Whiskey Creek Press.

This book was inspired by a back-packing trip that I took around Australia.


I always have had a thing for Australia, from being a little girl I wanted to go there. I read countless books about the country/Continent, and was enraptured. In fact whenever anyone wanted to know anything about Australia, friends would refer them to me. "She knows all about it," they would say.

Going there was a big thing. I hadn't flown for years and had developed a fear of flying but not being a multi-millionaire, I couldn't take the boat. Also I was going on my own, so that only added to my fear.


By the time I had boarded the plane from Singapore, having changed planes twice already, my fear of flying had disappeared. Flying around Australia also helped to show me I had nothing to be afraid about.



And the country of my dreams? Well it lived up to my expectations. It was everything I had thought about and dreamed about. I adored it. If I were younger I think I would go for it and live there but unfortunately I am too old now. Life works out in strange ways but you know what, Australia gave me the will to write again. I do believe that Eden's Child really shows my love for the country and its people. I hope you agree.

"Maddy has lost her memory, the more she finds out about herself the more she loathes herself. Her husband Nevis, handsome and wealthy, lets her know in no uncertain terms that he hates her - she can't blame him, yet she can't stem the feelings she as for him.
How could she have been so despicable to this man when all she longs for is to be in his arms.
Confused by who and what she she is, sometimes she thinks it would be better if she never remembered the past."

The novel is set in wonderful, magical North Queensland.

available from www. whiskeycreekpress and www.amazon and lots of other outlets.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Release Day


Actually it's a re-release. Random House has re-released my 1989 novel, The Way it Happens in Novels. That year Publisher's Weekly called this book, "a romance leavened with wisdom." And over all these years I've continued to get fan mail so hope it has a new life on the Kindle and Nook.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Friday, April 22, 2011

George


A few weeks ago I spent some time with friends. One of the residents of the household is George, pictured above. He is adorable. You're probably wondering why I'm talking about a cat, aren't you? Stay with me, please. I do have a point.

George is adored by all, especially Aidan who technically "owns" George. If you ask him, he'll tell you George is "his" but I'm pretty convinced that George is all his own. He just lets the young man believe there's an ownership issue.

So why is George such a popular figure in this large family? How can such a small being hold such an esteemed place of honor?

It's easy to understand when you think about it. George has all the qualities we aspire to in ourselves and look to find in those we care about.

He's loyal. Ask Aidan, who finds George snuggling him in the night, keeping his "owner" safe, secure and warm.

George is smart. See the photo? The patch of sunlight was tempting but even more so when Maegan placed her computer case there. George hopped right onto it, recognizing he'd be both sunned and comfortably padded. Brilliant!

The furry one's greatest asset is his ability to love. He enthusiastically displays his affection--for everyone, not just Aidan. George loves, and is loved.

I could go on, but you get the idea. When I sat down to write this blog post I wondered what to share with you today. Then, it hit me. I'd share George. Why not spread the love around?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Spring in Florida




We don't have daffodils or tulips, but here in Florida we have lots of blooms. Below is is the oleander bush in our front yard, and above some petunias that require constant watering.

And while Sarita shovels snow and Margaret hikes in cool weather, It's 90 and higher every day here -- way warmer than normal. Wouldn't it be nice to meet in the middle (some 70's perhaps)?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Taking a Plunge

If you read this blog regularly, you'll know that I've been absent from The Lark Journals for over a year now. Thank goodness, Kathy and Margaret are still blogging regularly and have kept the journal alive while I was away. I am so grateful they did, very appreciative of their kindness and dedication. Also, for their unending support. You see, I have needed all of those items, things these amazing ladies have given so freely.

My brave husband recently lost his battle with a monstrous disease. He was courageous, valiant and loving throughout the ordeal but in the end we didn't have the outcome we all prayed so hard for. I hate it that such a good, kind, brilliant man has had his life cut horribly short. He was my best friend, the joy in my world, and I miss him more than I can begin to say.

So, now you know where I've been. But thanks to my fellow Larks, I've got a warm "nest" to return to, so I'm back. I won't try to pull the wool over your eyes. There have been moments these past weeks when I can barely think and am certain I have nothing to say to anyone. Still, there are hours, more as time passes, actually, when I feel somewhat like myself. So, a blogging I will go.

Thank you, Kathy and Margaret, for having me back. Thank you for keeping this place alive. Mostly, thank you for your friendship and support. I don't know what I'd do without you. You are the best.

It's beginning to look like spring here--finally!--on the farm. Vito's bees are waking up, there are buds on the fruit trees and the vineyard will soon begin to unfurl its slumbering leaves. Flowers will be blooming, baby birds will be taking their first tentative flights and warm breezes will caress my cheeks as I watch dragonflies' reflections on the pond. There will be peace.

I'm praying I will heal. I'm on this journey so unexpectedly it's difficult to know how the path will unfold. All I know is that I'm going to keep putting one foot before the other, and if you'd like to see how this goes I'm willing to share it with you. Honestly? I need the companionship, so please check back now and again. I'll give glimpses of life on this beautiful farm with you and perhaps we'll all be enriched by the experience. That's my hope, anyway.

Thank you for stopping by. Have a peaceful day. I know that's what I'm going to strive for!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Comfort Box


When the blues strike, Sarah Ban Breathnach in Simple Abundance advises readers to have a comfort box tucked away. She suggested having good-quality chocolates, a paper back by your favorite author and some luxury soap or bubble bath tucked in it.


That wouldn't work for me. I would eat the chocolates immediately and tuck into the book at once. I might save the soap. So I have to think of some other cheering items. I like magazines and those I can save. A box of hot chocolate might last for awhile. I have movies that I am waiting to watch. But my favorite item is a brand new floral journal that I'll keep on hand with a pretty floral pen. When I need them, out they come to be used as a gratitude jourmal or a diary.


What would be in your comfort box?