Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Christmas Fun Ahead

Well, the new computer isn't getting picked up today. It's ready, but the roads up on the caprock and into Amarillo are all iced over, and I'm not about to brave them for any reason. Especially since I'm such a chicken about driving in icky weather. So the computer will have to wait till later.

We should have no problems heading south however, to pick up the grandboys (and parents) in Dallas. Originally, we were only going to have the one boy for Christmas, but plans have changed, and our older son's two boys are going to be able to come for Christmas morning as well. Their dad will be flying out to work right after Christmas, but the boys will get to stay till he comes back on the weekend. The house may well be straining at the seams, but we'll have lots and lots of fun.

Wish me luck, and sanity. :)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Dead Computer

Yep, mine finally bit the dust. It's several years old--more than several, actually, but I don't need a lot of bells and whistles. I need internet access. I need to run my word processing programs, etc. I'd like to run games, but I do have the "spare" computer in the boy's room, when he's away at uni with his bells-and-whistles supercomputer. (Not the one he leaves behind.) Anyway, I have a new one ordered, and should be able to go pick it up on Tuesday, I hope. I like the open architecture computers that I can take in and swap stuff out as needed, and have a good local company to build it for me, for a quarter of the price of the boy's supercomputer for his engineering classes.

But, this means I'll be having trouble getting online for the next little while. First, because the available computer is in the boy's room, and he's in it much of the time, and when he's not, he has a tendency to unhook the computer and take it to friends' houses to network all their computers and play vast games of ... something. (I wonder if he brought the folding tables back...) And second, by the time I get the new computer and get it all hooked up, it will be time to go pick up the grandboy at the Dallas airport. Oh, and his mom and dad too. And once the company arrives, it will expand and contract to various amounts--as various parents, in-laws, children, grandchildren, and nephews and Boy Scouts stop in for visits--all the way through New Year's. And when there are curious 2-, 4- and 5-year-olds wanting to help you on the computer...well, it's really best just to leave the poor thing turned off.

It's also really hard to write when one has lots of company and has a broken computer, so I won't be getting much of that done either. However, I did get The Eternal Rose manuscript turned in, so there's not much to be done.

If I don't stop by before next Monday, y'all have a Merry Christmas. (And a Happy Hannukah too!)

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Firsts for Me

So, the fella has a meeting in Orlando, Florida. Neither one of us has been to Orlando before, so we decided to come early and play for a few days. So at the age of grandparentness, we both got to go to Disney World for the very first time. (We've never been to any Disney park before, though I did get to watch the fireworks at Disneyland from across the street once...) Anyway, since there was just the two of us, we went to Epcot and Disney/MGM parks and walked my legs off. Don't know if the fella walked his off or not, but I do know mine are gone. Well, okay, they're still attached to the body, but they are sore. Still, we had a great time, riding the rides and watching the shows. We're definitely people who like shows.

We also got to watch the space shuttle launch from the beach over in Cape Canaveral. I'm pretty sure we were in the town of Cape Canaveral and not Cocoa Beach, but it's hard to tell where one starts and the other one leaves off. The fella is a fan of NASA and space stuff, so he really, really wanted to go see it. Enough that we drove over Thursday when it was cancelled, and drove back on Saturday when it finally went up. And we did get to watch. I took pictures, which are still in the camera. Then I called the boy and told him we got to watch the shuttle, and he'd forgotten that we were going to be in Florida and was all trying to figure out how they'd moved the shuttle to west Texas... Then he was really, reallyjealous. Mostly because we got to go to Disney World without him. (neener, neener) Hey, he gets college tuition. He doesn't get Disney.

So, today the meeting starts and there are a bazillion college people running all over this hotel, and there's no room for me to get in anywhere and eat, and there's nowhere else nearby for me to go, and I'm really hungry, so I think I'm going to see if the lunch rush has finally faded, and I will take my manuscript with me to edit while I eat, because I'm not in a mood to read about the history of the Solomon Islands, and none of the novels I brought are speakin to me either. Ooh, but I did find a book I want to get--it's a history of the real Scarlet Pimpernel people (there were apparently a number of them) in the Napoleonic era. I'll have to look...

I'll blog later, if I do anything else interesting... (Aren't y'all lucky I brought my computer glasses with me so I can see the computer screen?)

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Sunday Stuff

I just have...stuff...going on. Yesterday, the fella and I put up the Christmas tree. It's always a fun time, even though it was just the two of us--I think we may have waited till the boy came home to put it up last year. Anyway, we found, in a box of package decorations, a big bunch of new ornaments neither one of us remembered buying. There's a lovely "crystal" nativity, and a little boy playing "Indian", and Santa in a canoe fishing, and a bear in a canoe fishing, and Santa ice skating... It was a nice surprise, but we're still accusing each other of buying the ornaments.

Of course, putting up the tree is always preceded by moving furniture, so we have extra tables in the front entry, and chairs in weird places. Had to find places to put away tea sets and dragons and things so we could set out snowmen (they're on top of the piano, and one of them dances whenever the piano is played. He danced himself right off the piano once...) and angels and stocking holders and things. The house looks very festive...as long as no one looks into my office. Hmm. I wonder if that's why he suggested putting the Christmas tree in the corner in front of the doors to my office, instead of in front of the front bay window... Hmmmmmm.

Cute story. Thursday, the fella had to fly to Galveston, but it was snowing and snowing and he wasn't sure whether his flight would get off. He had a 7:00 p.m. flight, and kept checking all day to see if it was on time or canceled or what. Well, about 3:30 Thursday afternoon, when he checked, his flight was canceled. There was a flight at 5:15, or the next one after his was delayed till 10:30 or so. Since our town is at least an hour from Amarillo (where the airport is), he had to hop in the car and drive through the snow right away to get to the airport.

On his way out of the office, he grabbed a can of Coke (diet caffiene free, actually) to drink on the road. But it was such a tense drive, with the blowing snow and the hurry to get there, he never opened the can. The weather guys were predicting temperatures in the teens, and he didn't want the can exploding all over his car, and when he parked in the garage, the snow had blown in and made a drift in front of the parking space. So he took the can of Coke out of the car and dropped it down in the snow drift.

Friday was gorgeous, and snow melted all day. By the time he got home late Friday night, the snow had melted enough that he could see the top of the Coke can in what was left of the drift. So he picked it up and inspected it. Looked fine--no bulges, no leaks. So he popped it open and drank it on the way home. Snow drift ice chest...

So, we have the Christmas tree up. We've started wrapping stuff. Still have grandboys to shop for, and nephews (we have a LOT more nephews than nieces--and the girls are easy to please) but we're ahead of where we were last year.

And next week, I want to go over the second proposal I want to get out and see about getting it in the mail. Onward and upward. Or onward, anyway.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Snow: Can't stop it now...

It has been snowing since midnight or so last night. May have stopped an hour or two ago--it's hard to see outside in the dark. I don't object to the snow too much. I mean, it's moisture. I sure don't want the place to burn like it did last spring. But it sure is cold out there with the high wind and the snow and everything.

The cold makes me want to bundle up in the fella's recliner with my crocheted blankets (even though I haven't actually finished one of them--it's still big enough to cover you up) and read. I sure don't get out to walk to the post office and pick up the mail. So I guess I ought to go back and use the treadmill thing in the back bedroom. Need the exercise. But I'd really rather walk outside. But it's so cold!

Speaking of exercise...it's really sad when even the fortune cookies begin to nag you! Yes, I got a fortune cookie fortune at one of the restaurants where we ate while we were visiting over the holiday that said something to the effect of "Work on upgrading your exercise routine." I mean, come on! I know I need more exercise. But from my Fortune Cookie??!!?! Hmph.

Mostly I read today. Yesterday I read Od Magic by Patricia McKillip, and Rules of Seduction by Madeline Hunter. Today, I've read an old novel--not really fantasy because there's no magic, but it's not set in any world we know--called Swordpoint by Ellen Kushner. And I'm reading the sequel now. Interesting books all of them.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Good News after Thanksgiving

I didn't think I ate that much while I was eating it, but I feel like I'm waddling now that I'm home again. I had turkey and dressing and ham and yams and greenbeans and fruit salad and Brasilian cheese rolls and buttermilk pie and apple-pecan pie and... hmm. No wonder I'm waddling...

So, okay, now the news can be shared, I believe, since I have the contract in my hands.

The Eternal Rose has been picked up by Juno Books and should be published next July in trade paperback format.

Juno Books is the brand new fantasy/paranormal romance imprint of Wildside Press. I tried several times to find the editor at the World Fantasy Con in Austin when we were there earlier this month, but never did connect. However, my good friend and Luna Author C.E. Murphy (an even better friend than ever I knew) pitched the book for me when she connected with the editor. And did several other favors like forwarding e-mails, etc., with the result that the editor tracked me down by cell phone a week ago Saturday to make an offer to buy the book sight unseen.

Harlequin is willing to give me back the rights and that is in process now, so all you wonderful people who read the first two Rose books and loved them (and you are truly wonderful people) should be able to read the third book only a month later than it was originally scheduled by Luna.

Life is good.

Especially when you can add pie to the equation. :)

Monday, November 20, 2006

Done with Tweaking (for now)

Dang, I'm not quite making my "goal" of posting to the blog at least once a week, am I? But I'm trying!

I've been working on re-doing the synopsis to The Eternal Rose to make it fit how the story actually came out, which required re-reading the story again, which had me finding all kinds of new places that needed tweaking. Finished the new synopsis last Friday. Finished the tweaking this a.m. This leaves me time to bake pies and flourless gluten-free cornbread tomorrow before I go paint.

I have to drive back to Amarillo today. Saturday, the fella and I went to town early. I had a Panhandle Professional Writers meeting and he had an auction he wanted to attend. (He's become addicted.) And when we went to load up the stuff he bought into the back of the SUV, the bookcase wouldn't fit along with all the boxes of stuff. (He did get the two tea sets I wanted. One German and one from China--and one of the odd lot boxes had a platter that matched the German set. More teapots (rubbing hands in glee)!) So, anyway, I have to go back to town this afternoon and pick up the bookcase. They won't hold it any longer than today. I'll get the buttermilk for the pies too. After the auction, we ran a few errands, had dinner at our favorite Japanese place and went to the late show of Casino Royale. I like the new Bond. I like the movie--they have James running a lot...

Tomorrow, the pies. And painting class. I'll bring my Boys at the Beach painting back home. And Wednesday, we'll drive 5 hours to pick up the older son and the grandboys, then two more hours to pick up the younger son at his college apartment, then two or three more hours (depending on traffic) to the parents house.

Have a nibble on a publisher for the last Rose book. Cross your fingers that we can get things worked out in time.

And thanks for all your comments. I'm not good about commenting on the comments about the blog, but I do read every one of them.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Been a Long Time

Yeah, I know. It's been a long time. I'm in roller-coaster mode again. One day on top of the world, the next day, convinced I don't have a clue what I'm doing trying to write a book. Typical writer.

So, I went to my very first World Fantasy Conference, which was a bit of a culture shock. It's much more laid back than the romance writer's meetings--largely because it's as much for fans as for writers. Instead of workshops about "How to do it better", there are panels to discuss "Why it is the way it is, and should it be that way?" There aren't near as many people, and they have readings, where authors read from their work.

I got to read. Surprised the heck out of me. Especially since the final decisions weren't made till the last week before it started, while I was out of town in Austin. I had forgotten to bring any of my books (or my bookmarks to hand out, sigh), so I had to borrow the books from my Mom to have anything to show people. And I loaned my copy of Eyes of Crow to Jeri Smith-Ready so she could read it, because she'd forgotten all of her books too. There were four of us reading in a "paranormal romance" session--even though none of us actually write paranormal romance... I suppose I could have broken out an exerpt from Devil in a Red Dress, to give an idea of a "real" paranormal romance, but it's not exceptionally romantic yet, so... Plus, I haven't sold it.

Anyway, Jeri read, I read, Robin Owens read her Luna book, and Shanna Swendsen read her non-Luna Enchanted, Inc. Which is a really cute chick-lit-y fun fantasy. It was good. I had a couple of guys come up to me on Saturday and Sunday and tell me they enjoyed it (probably because I read from the blood, guts and gore part of Compass during the battle where Kallista gets her magic) and would check the books out. So, new readers. Yay!

And I talked to several editors, one of whom might be willing to take on the last Rose book. I hope. No harm in trying, anyway. But I need to do a new synopsis for Eternal Rose so it matches the actual book--which means I need to read the book over again, which means I'm going through and revising again. I put some stuff back in--but I think I'm going to take it out again. I need to finish reading, do my turning points and make sure the story stays on point. I really liked all the sword-fighting, but... it doesn't necessarily move things along. I can always put it on the website.

Most of them probably don't want to do a 3rd book in a series started by another publisher, but all of them seemed interested in other material, and, well--there you have it.

I found several new books and new authors. I finally picked up a Carol Berg, as my daughter has been nagging me to do, since Ms. Berg was at the conference. She told me her favorites of those she has out now, and I picked up Transformation which was a very different sort of story and very good, so now I'm going to read the rest of them.

And I picked up some YAs. The one I liked best was The Queen of Attolia, because it made me want to read the other books in the series. It was very gritty--the main character got his hand chopped off early in the book, so obviously one can write pretty much what one wants to write, especially for older kids. I might like to write YA fantasy (which wouldn't be too far a stretch from the other stuff I'm doing). I was thinking about YA, and realized that I doubt I could write the YA "girl" books, because my girl didn't really like them, I never did, and besides, my boys were the last ones at home in the YA years. So I'd want to write YA "boy" books. And at the YA/juvenile fantasy panel, someone said that YA books for boys were very much in demand. So.

But I have many many places to go with the writing already. Beginning with the revising of Eternal Rose and the writing of a synopsis for it. Then I want to finish the synopsis for Thunder so I can get that sent off--I've got it mostly written, but I'm not sure about the ending. I may not have the details together till I actually write it, but one can't write "So, in the end--somehow he makes her remember everything and they all live happily ever after." But that may be what I end up with. And then after that, I'll get the partial together for Red Dress and send That off, and then, I'll get back to finishing New Blood. Sounds like a plan. Now if I can just get it all done. Especially since it's the holiday season... More traveling, but at least the nest is empty.

OH! And I pulled out a book from my TBR stack that had fallen down amongst the others and read it and loved it, and can't wait till the next one: THE LOST FLEET: Dauntless by Jack Campbell. It's the very first--if you like the Captain Jack Aubrey books, you'll like this. If you like Naomi Novik's Temeraire the dragon books, you'll like this one. It's naval battle in space--the hero has been frozen in an escape pod for about 100 years, and placed in command of a fleet just before all the admirals are assassinated at truce negotiations. It's up to him to get the fleet home. Great story. So, there you have my latest recommendation.

I'll try not to be so long before posting here again. Just couldn't get up the energy. (sigh)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Dreaming in Austin

I've been in Austin since Sunday. Came down from the Dallas/Fort Worth area after moving furniture for the son (who'd better move it out of his grandparents' garage right quick) to a conference downtown for the fella...ate way too good while he was conferencing. Then Tuesday, I drove all the college board members who came to the meeting (and the fella) to the airport to fly back to the panhandle. And I drove across town in the bus to the parents' house.

My Mama is starting to have trouble remembering things. I wouldn't worry if she just forgot names (I've never been able to remember people's names either), but she forgot that Daddy called while he was out yesterday afternoon, and was worrying about where he was even though he'd called to tell her. She's not bad yet, but now I'm worrying. Anyway, we have had a good time. She took me down to "her" shoe store--a "real" shoe store, where they measure your feet and find shoes to fit your peculiarities. Which in my case are a wide square-across-the-toes foot with a very high arch, and a big toe knuckle with arthritis in it. And after only four tries, we found a nice pair of black dress shoes that didn't kill me when I put them on. Paid more for them than I have ever in my life paid for a pair of shoes, but for shoes that don't commit murder, that's important. We did have to hunt for the shoe store for a while because Mama couldn't remember exactly how far down Burnet Road it was, but we did eventually find it. ;)

I'm using Daddy's computer to post this blog. He was in on the very birth of computers, worked on them when they took up the size of a big room and required punch cards to run a program--and the punch cards were an improvement from earlier data input. So he doesn't have a problem working on aged equipment. Actually, Daddy's stuff is newer than my father-in-law's computer. He's still working off Windows 3.1, I think...we keep threatening to get him a new computer, but he resists mightily. If I were at the in-laws, I would not be blogging. And I have a chance to get to the computer, because my brother just gave him a new hand-me-down laptop. It's probably five years old or more, but it's newer than the one he had before, so it's a new toy, and I get to play with the desktop. :)

Anyway, the World Fantasy Con starts this afternoon, and I'm all excited. I've never been to a fantasy conference before, ever, so this will be a really new experience for me. I will be the gray-haired granma wandering around goggle-eyed. And I'll get to read from one of my books in a group reading, so that will be fun.

I doubt I'll have time to blog during the conference, but if I do, I'll be here. Otherwise, I'll report when I get back home on Tuesday. The conference goes through Sunday afternoon some time, and it takes all day (between 9 and 10 hours) to drive home from here (even tho we are on the north side of Austin), so I'm not leaving till Monday a.m., so I can get home before dark. And maybe stop off in Waco to visit the boy. Yeah, I'm staying free at the parents' house--they're only about 10 or 15 minutes from the conference hotel, so I can do this one cheap. :)


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Thursday Thoughts

Hey. I told you I stunk at titling stuff.

Okay, so. Went down to Waco for Baylor Homecoming last weekend. It was our 30th reunion year, but didn't see anybody we know except for one guy who was in the journalism department with me who now teaches there and writes mostly non-fiction books. Had a good talk with him and his wife (who went through the same education school program the fella did so they had stuff to talk about).

Went to see the boy, mostly. He still hasn't gone by to talk to people about changing his major to see if they'll let him into their department. (GRRR!!) But he's doing well, not starving...not cleaning up his apartment either, but hey, that's what college is for. To learn that occasionally you do have to take out the trash and wash the dishes...

We went to the Homecoming Parade Saturday morning--Baylor has the biggest homecoming parade in the nation--and the winning Class A float caught fire just before it got to us. It was one of two "dragon" floats. One (the one that didn't catch fire) was a "St. George and the Dragon" theme float, (only St. George was in a football helmet and pads, rather than shining armor) and the other was a Chinese dragon with a bear-type face. (For those of you poor souls who don't know, the Baylor mascot is a bear.) Anyway, both floats had fire for the dragon's mouth--and the Chinese dragon caught his face on fire. Fortunately, the "float walkers" had fire extinguishers and put it out in a few seconds. Still, it was a rather exciting few seconds. The son thought it was hilarious, since the burning float was built by a "rival" fraternity.

The football game was hot, Hot, HOT. I put on sunscreen and got burnt anyway. It was so bright, I wore--well, a towel, okay? I wore a towel on my head to shade my poor little part (I have sunburnt the part in my hair so many times it isn't funny) and my eyes so I could see the field. I didn't get one of the ball caps in the car before going into the stadium. I probably couldn't have worn it, because I have a giant head--bigger than anyone in the family--but I didn't even think about it. Hence, the towel-head. We stayed through the whole entire game, even though Baylor was behind by 18 points going in to the 4th quarter--and it was worth it, because about 10 minutes into the quarter, the Bears came roaring back and won the game. Very exciting. (I like football when I have something invested in the game. Or when I'm there in person. I get very loud.)(Hey, I'm a Texan. And I live in a small town.)

Then we came home. I'm going to Austin for the World Fantasy Conference next week, so it'll probably be a little while before I manage to get here to blog again.

Oh! Got a phone call from the daughter in grad school. (The only daughter I have.) She made all A's on her mid-terms. (Rather expected, since her brothers' nickname for her is "Girl Genius") And the grandboy who lives there actually condescended to speak to me on the telephone. He didn't say "Hi, GiGi." He sang "The Itsy Spider" to me. The Spider got washed, but wouldn't climb back up the spout. He sang to me twice. Once to say hi, and once to say bye. Boy genius, I tell ya. And that spider never did get back up that spout, but boy did it get washed.

Okay, I've bored you enough. Giving a shout-out to Lindi! Hey girl--and if you get your bachelor's, you tend to be less poor (Okay, I'll give the lectern back to your mom now)...yeah, I need to update the website. I'll get there.

I finished the synopsis for Devil in a Red Dress so things are moving right along in that area... Later.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

What A Difference a Day (or Two) Makes

Well, the next day--the day after I wrote that last blog about being insecure and mistrustimg my own judgment--I sat down at my desk, and the words just flowed. It was a great scene, and had great conflict and emotion and sexual tension and I absolutely loved it. I even went "over quota" on the pages.

And then, the day after that--I got maybe 3 pages written. Okay, some of it was because I went to Amarillo on Tuesday as usual (finished a little painting, painted over another sucky one) and bought books. I bought The new Lois McMaster Bujold (which is FABULOUS) and Robin Owens' new HEART QUEST and a couple of others (including, finally ANANSI BOYS which had made it to the remainder table and cost the same as a paperback)--and I stayed up reading Heart Quest (also FABULOUS!) till way too late and when I got up Wednesday morning, I was sleepy and the brain wasn't really perking on all cylinders and I had to head downtown for a Friends of the Library meeting at noon anyway, which meant I needed to stop a little early...Yeah, I know. Excuses, excuses. Still, couldn't get into the story.

And then today, stayed up too late again--this time getting through Nora Robertses new sorcery/vampire series--but I slept late. So I started late. But didn't have anywhere to go, any thing I had to do, except make it to the bank before 3:00 p.m.--so I just kept working. And again, the words flowed and the characters spoke to me. I did have to make myself stick with it until I got my 6 pages (think I got a little more, when I reached the end of it) and barely had time to grab some lunch and walk to the bank. Hmm. Now I think about it, the weather's been about as roller coaster as my writing. The writing has gone better on the pretty days.

I listened to some of the RWA workshops on my iPod while I was out walking, and I think the last couple really helped me focus on what I needed to do with these scenes. Of course, they didn't come out at all like I thought I had planned--but then that's my writing style. I plan the overall plot (which I actually haven't done with this book, except very, very vaguely) and then when I get to the scenes, I line up the characters--whoever needs to be in the scene--tell them "Okay, in this scene, Lilah wants to find out who Will thinks is after her, and Will wants to tell her so there's no conflict in that, but when she finds out, she doesn't like what she hears and has to argue with him about it. Ready? Okay--Go!" And I turn them loose and watch what happens and write it down as fast as I can. And it went in a few directions I did not expect. So I'm both a plotter, and a pantser. I know what the scenes are supposed to be about--but I have no idea how that stuff is going to happen. Which is why I can't write out of order.

Anyway, I think I've gotten my 24 pages for this week. (I hope.) Not writing tomorrow. Heading south to go visit the son at university and go to the Homecoming football game and hang out. Then I'll have a few more days at home and it's off to Austin for some Texas community college board association meeting thing, and then the World fantasy conference at the end of the week. Guess which one's going to be more fun?

I'll blog next week, but probably won't while I'm out of town...

Monday, October 16, 2006


The bad thing about a publishing fiasco like mine is that it can undermine a writer's confidence until there's nothing left but a big sucking sound. I know the decisions made were because of numbers and the "bad" numbers were due to unrealistic expectations...but still, when I sat down to write this morning, I found myself second guessing every word I wrote. Is it good? Is it good enough? Is it emotional enough? Too emotional? Exciting? Too talky? Not talky enough? The questions keep coming, bombarding me until I just want to go GAAACK! and bang my head on the desk.

And here I am working up workshops for RWA National conference again next year. Two of them, this time. Like I think I know what I'm doing.

Maybe I'll just bang my head on the desk, anyway. I'm not quitting mind. I'm just not sure if what I'm plugging away at will be any good. (Yeah, I know. Typical writer...)

Did get 6 more pages done today. I need to find out how to do those little thermometer-esque things, something that will fill up with every page written...

Monday, October 09, 2006

Down in the Flatlands again

It's not that flat in this part of Texas--we're in the "Rolling Plains--but it's a lot flatter than the Rocky Mountains, so yeah. I'm home in the flatlands again.

I had a great time getting the fella to drive me up even higher in the mountains so I could take pictures of bright golden-orange aspens and reflective lakes and rushing Chalk Creek, and Cottonwood Creek--missed the creek that goes with Cripple Creek somehow--but got a bunch of pictures of the Arkansas River too. Over 300 pictures, actually. I ought to print a few of them out and take them to art class with me. Did you know there is still a HUGE gold mine operating in the Cripple Creek gold field (actually, it's closer to Victor, but it's all considered part of the same gold field...)? I didn't know that, till we drove past it.

We went swimming in a hot springs pool--swimming pool-sized, but hot as a really hot hot tub--on the one day it didn't cloud up and rain in the afternoon. The fella went fishing some while I was taking all those pictures--didn't catch any fish. He's not the most patient fisherman in the world, but his philosophy is--if you don't catch anything in the first half hour, standing out there in the cold in the same spot won't get you any more fish...

I listened to a lot of RWA workshops on my iPod (I have very little music on the thing.) and thought about writing, but did almost none of it. Did a lot of crossword puzzles. It was nice having the time off.

This week, I'm trying to get back into the work, and have to pick up food and get ready for a dinner party for all the college administrators on Thursday night. Ack! (It's a small college--still, dinner for 14 is nothing to sneeze at.)

But I did a bunch of Tarot readings for the characters for Devil in a Red Dress--some of them didn't make sense, but I can figure that out later--and printed out the chapters for Thunder so I can really get into revising them. Next I need to do some more character work for Devil, and do that revision stuff--but that's for the rest of the week. (Hmm--maybe I ought to shorten the "devil" book to "Red Dress", in case I write some more books with devils in them...)

Thanks to all y'all for your comments. I appreciate them muchly.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Shadows Fade

Yeah, I suck at titles, but I've been trying to think up a new title for the WWII book, and have been waxing poetic...I'm leaning toward Thunder in a Cloudless Sky for the book...

Anyway, the blues do go away, especially with Hershey's dark chocolate kisses, and with the application of the mind to the Next Thing.

The next thing for me, right now, is a trip to the mountains, leaving tomorrow. I have the iPod plugged in, charging it up so I can listen to all the RWA workshops I didn't get to go to in Atlanta. I need to get the battery out of my camera and charge it up, and load the extra camera memory card. I plan to take lots and lots of pictures of aspens and fall foliage in the Rockies, and hope that the fella will stop along the highway when I want to take pictures. I have to figure out what food to take, because we're staying in a "cabin" (it will sleep around 25 or 26--but the upstairs is closed up now) with a kitchen.

I'm taking the books--the ones I'm writing--though I don't know how much writing I will get done. The fella is the sort who tends to need to be entertained. He's not very good at doing nothing, even when he's on vacation. He likes to go to the pool (there's a hot springs nearby, but we don't know if it will be open out-of-season as it is) or hiking to the top of the mountain, or to museums or... we'll take cards and dominoes and maybe the Trivial Pursuit game. He'll take his Sudoku book (if I have to pack it in my bag) and another book or two--I may take Thermopylae, the history book I bought for research recently, for him. (Of course, I'm taking a big fat bag full of books for me to read--but I read faster than he does.)

He hasn't taken any time off from work at all this year--and he gets three weeks, plus all the time the college is closed down. I have basically told him "You will go on vacation." He can hike to the top of the mountain if he wants, but otherwise, he's vacating, if I have to sit on him. I'll tie him up and toss him in the back of the car with the luggage. But I think he's looking forward to it. I'll charge him with taking pictures for me. (Like I don't already have enough pictures to paint--but one can never have too many...)

And when I get back, I'm digging in... to something. Probably to getting Thunder ready to send out, and on Devil in a Red Dress. I'm going to be doing the pre-writing in the mountains. I think I can do that while we're up there...should be fun. See you in a week, +/- a day or two (since you already know I'm not the steadiest blogger around...)

Friday, September 22, 2006

I Got The Blues

And not the kind from the Kraft macaroni box. Though that sounds like a great idea for lunch, now that I think about it...

Nope, these blues are the icky kind. I have been informed that 1. Luna will not be publishing the 3rd book in the One Rose trilogy, and 2. they don't want to buy New Blood, the option book I sent them. My agent and I are discussing possibilities to find a place where Eternal Rose could see light of day, and places to send New Blood. And lots of other things I have ideas for.

This is part of the publishing world. The part that really sucks. Just like television shows that get yanked after only 3 or 4 episodes, without being given a chance to find an audience, books and authors now have the privilege of having that happen to them too. We might get six months, since it takes at least that long to gather book numbers, but the booksellers are just as ruthless. If the 1st book by a particular author doesn't do spectacularly, they won't order so many of the next one--and if the bookstores don't order the books, the "suits" will pull the plug.

I think I had decent sales--sales that another fantasy publisher would consider solid--but I think Harlequin's expectations might have been greater than they should have been. Who knows.

It's disappointing, but it's not the end of the world. I may have to take another name to publish more fantasy or fantasy romance. But Dayton isn't my real name to start with, so yet another one is no big deal to me.

I've taken this week off to think about directions, new or otherwise, and to walk and read and clean myself through the suckage. (I NEVER clean when I'm upset--but I'm trying really hard not to eat my way through it--I'm about 8 pounds lighter than I was in Atlanta!) I cleaned about 20 years of grease off my venthood. (I've only been in the house 2 years, okay!) Who knew it wasn't supposed to have a matte finish? It's shiny now!

Next week, it's back to the WWII book. And the week after, the fella and I are going to Colorado to do nothing but look at golden aspens, work puzzles of various kinds, read, and maybe shop. Or hike. He's more into hiking than I am. I may take the book--whichever one I'm working on--and if I do, I may or may not open it up.

As Woody Allen said, Ninety-eight percent of success is just showing up. And you have to KEEP showing up even when things go bad. What else can you do?

Last read: DECEIVED by Nicola Cornick
Rate: Good

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Trying out a Workshop

I took a flying trip to the DFW area to try out a new workshop on the RWA chapter I belong to down there. North Texas RWA is a great bunch of people and I really enjoy getting to go down and visit, even if it does take me five hours to drive down there. And then five hours to drive back.

I did a workshop on writing the fantasy, futuristic and paranormal novels, and had a lot of fun doing it. I think it came out pretty well. It was fun getting to talk with other writers and pretend to be a fount of knowledge and answer all the questions. I hereby state, I do not know the answer to everything, and often wonder whether I know the answer to anything...especially when I get e-mails from the agent that say "I got your submission. It needs a lot of work." Ugh.

Makes one wonder whether one even knows what one is doing any more. The brain may be going.

I'm going to finish this WWII partial, and then...I'll probably have something or other to work on. Something I need to fix. I did get almost 6 good pages for the story last week, so it's not completely stalled out. I tell ya, this is a soul-eating business to be in, but I can't imagine doing anything else, so I guess I just need to pull the ragged remnants out of the beast's mouth and fluff them up a little and get back to work.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Life goes

And there are many, many days that I wish I knew just where it (life) was going. I think sometimes, it's left me behind long ago.

I am happy today. It's been a good day. I typed in some of the WWII story--I don't have 3 chapters yet, so I probably ought to get back to the writing of it. I did most of the laundry, I walked to the post office and didn't have a bunch of stuff to lug back home again (and I walked all the way to Koogle Street instead of walking around the park, because there were a few more trees down 6th Street that I could walk in the shade of--I am an expert shade-spotter and walker-under-er... Hmm. Better quit there). I also finally paid my RWA dues--I had to do it online because I lost the paper I needed to send back--and had to go wander round the website a while because there wasn't an easy way to find the place to do it--as in "Go Here to Pay For Dues." Instead, it had "My Open Invoices" or something like that. Anyway, that's done and I don't have to worry about that any more.

I still haven't worked on the program I have to present this coming Saturday at the North Texas RWA meeting. Need to do that soon. But I don't want to do it too soon, or I'll be doing it cold. Still haven't added any of the books I read this summer/early fall to the list I keep--they are stacked up on the floor in front of my file cabinet high enough to totally block off the bottom drawer, and the second drawer up is in trouble... Need to do that too--but I'd better go judge the contest entries I said I'd judge for a contest. I've done one. (sigh)

Okay, I'll just quit whining here, and go get busy. The carne guisada I made for supper is done. Food first. Then contest judging or weed pulling or book reviewing--one of those. Or maybe we'll just have some TV watching. :)

Oh, thanks Catie for the birthday wishes. We went to see Hollywoodland--still want to see Crank. Maybe I'll go to town early tomorrow... Got the cutest birthday card from my best bud Belinda (who I forgot to send a birthday card to on her birthday because I think I was out of town--SORRY B!)--usually she sends me a hunk card, but this one has a Ma-and-Pa-Kettle-ish couple on the front, and the inside says "Welcome to Oldville." It made me laugh. :)

Better go turn off the oven. Back later to bore you all...

Friday, September 08, 2006

Happy Birthday to me

Yes, today is the day I was born mumbledy-something years ago. I'm not going to get specific, but I am barely into my second half-century. There. You already know I'm a grandmother several times over, so you know I'm no sweet young thing. I am however still sweet :) and I've always been something of a thing. Actually, a "thang."

There is a difference in the South between a "thing" and a "thang." Things are the dead fish your dog brings home as a souvenir. Thangs are puppies and kitties and pretty girls and handsome boys. I like to think I still qualify as a thang. :)

Anyway, it's my birthday, and I'm trying to decide what movie I want to go see for my birthday. The weather will determine whether we go to the big city today or tomorrow--if it rains tonight, we're not going to the local football game, but if it stays clear, we'll be at the stadium and go to town tomorrow. I'm not going to complain about the rain at all, it's been so long since we had much to speak of. The local lakes are anywhere from 40 to 50 feet below their normal levels, so actually, we really need more rain before this drought can be considered over.

Small-town Texas on Friday night--yeah, everybody goes to the football game, whether you have a kid in school or not. We don't always stay for the whole game now that our youngest has left for college, but we go. Unless, of course, it's raining. :)

Mailing a proposal to the agent today. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Weekly Post

I've run out of clever titles. I never had that many to begin with, and I have to save the really good ones for the books.

Hmm. Now that I think about it, most of my titles for the blog posts aren't very clever at all. This one is at least apt. It's my weekly post. I'd like to manage to post more often, but--well, basically I'm lazy. And I'm busy. Sort of. Mostly.

Fall activities are starting up again in my little town. The ladies' "Art Club"--which is a "meet once a month for lunch" club--is meeting again. The programs are supposed to be focused on "the arts" and we give a little scholarship to the local junior college, and we meet, talk and have lunch. We had show-and-tell at last Friday's meeting.

Besides that, about all I have done is write. I haven't even read much this past week. I've been working on reading WARRIOR SOUL by Chuck Pfarrer, which is his "My Life as a Navy SEAL" story. That pretty much took me all week to read, since I was also watching the DVDs of the HBO series ROME. We don't get HBO, and I really, really wanted to see ROME (I'm into all that historical stuff), especially since it was supposed to be such a good series--so I bought the DVD set for my birthday, and the fella and I watched two or three episodes every night. He got into it as much as I did. (Except he's not re-watching it with the commentary like I am.)

I mentioned the writing, didn't I? I'm proud of myself. I got 37 pages written last week. That's up from my usual weekly count. It's not going up this week though. I need to get it typed in and the proposal ready to send to the agent.

And I pulled weeds in the front flower beds. The rain has made the grass go berserk, and it's trying to take over. Actually, it HAS taken over in a big chunk of the bed. And I can't keep up with it. We need to get some mulch out. Maybe when the petunias die...

Heading off to Odessa for a few days--I'll try to get back here and blog when we get back.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Thunderstorms and Salsa

I'm not sure what thunderstorms and salsa have in common with each other, except that the last big Tstorm we had (throwing tornados 60 miles up the road, but calmed down some when it reached us), I was making salsa, because the computer had to be turned off. And I wanted to make the salsa before the tomatoes I bought got too soft.

I've been in the habit of making things like salsa--things that are generally made in the summer and need to boil a long time on the stove--at night. I've been known to begin a pot of salsa when the evening news comes on (10 p.m. here in Central Time). It's too dang hot to boil anything any earlier in the day, during most of a Texas summer. But in the thunderstorm, the temps had cooled off enough, I didn't mind setting those tomatoes and peppers and onions and such to simmering. It made a really good batch--maybe because I used Roma tomatoes, or maybe because I let it cook a little longer than I usually do. It's nice and thick. And I didn't cook along with the tomatoes. It was a smaller batch than the last one, but I have hopes that some neighbor or friend will donate some of their excess tomatoes later in the season.

And yes, I'm rhapsodizing about tomatoes because I have absolutely nothing else to write about. I'm not doing anything but writing my current ms., reading books, going to "the big city" to paint on Tuesdays--and I painted out the heads of the little boys in my current painting because they looked totally stupid and I couldn't make them look right by trying to fix them pieceeal. Time to paint them over and start again. One of the three boys did get to keep his head, but the other two? Headless! 19 pages on the ms this week. Next week, I'll print and revise and (if it doesn't seem too totally stupid upon second reading) send it to the agent. Then I think I'll go back to the WWII book till I hear about the option book. Keep your fingers crossed, y'all. Thanks.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Yeah, well...

I've been home a week and haven't blogged. I'm tired, okay? I've been writing and reading books and just generally being incredibly lazy. But guess what?!?

It's been RAINING!!!!

When we got home from dropping the son at his very first apartment in college, it was apparent that it had rained sometime over the weekend. There were puddles! So the fella got busy and mowed the lawn, and about the time he put the mower up, it started raining again. And it rained again the next day. And the next.

Now this may not seem such a fabulous event to you--if so, you probably don't live in west Texas. Rain has been very scarce this year, and if we don't get enough, the plains won't recover from that million acre fire we had back in the spring. All the ash blew away and left nothing but dirt behind--we were beginning to worry that there might be another dust bowl-type occurrence. It's going to take more to get the grass to growing good in those places where the fires were--there's lots of tumbleweeds (aka Russian thistles), broom and other weeds, but no grass. So a few raindances sent out way wouldn't be out of line.

On the other hand, the rain makes the weeds in my front flowerbed REALLY grow big. And I really need to get out there and pull them all up. (sigh)

Still writing the brick-in-the-head book. I've got a proposal, and a bunch more pages too.

Have I mentioned? I love my empty nest...

Ta for now.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Home again, again

Seems like I'm always posting reports these days about how I've managed to survive another trip unscathed. Although I'm feeling excessively scathed this time. I spent the week helping the daughter, son-in-law and grandson move. From a town about 600 miles from me to one 500 miles farther away. I helped pack, unpack and clean, mostly.

Actually, I did a lot of grandson-wrestling during the unloading, because the boy's only 3 (and has developmental delays), and wanted to run around in the truck, sit on the stairs or lie in the entry way, and threw a fit when we wouldn't let him. I spent over 30 minutes just hanging on to him until he wore himself out enough to fall asleep in my lap. He's a big boy--stronger than a lot of 5-year-olds--and he wore me out too. But I didn't get to take a nap, alas. I had to clean nasty bathrooms (the landlord painted & put in a new tub surround but didn't clean up after himself--there were globs of caulk and cement all in the bathtub...) and unpack. But they're all moved in. They've contacted the school people for the groundling's schooling--he gets a few weeks to settle in before going in for an evaluation--and we finally found the silverware.

So I'm really, really tired. I have to move the youngest son back to college and his first apartment on Friday... I've hardly been able to think about the book that smacked me in the head. It's been a nice thing to muse in the few moments before falling asleep at night, and I did work on developing plot while traveling on the airplane, but that's about it. I'm tired.

We shall see if I can even summon up any brainpower to blog again this week. If I spend a lot of time sleeping, we may not have anything to blog about... So...okay then.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Smacked in the Head

I live for those moments when a story comes out of nowhere and smacks me right in the head. Usually, it happens when I haven't been writing for a while and I'm vaguely ruminating about what I want to write, what I might write, who I might write something for but I just can't decide anything.

It happened to me early Saturday morning. Like 4:30 a.m. early. Because my personal thermostat is broken giving me temperature control issues, I have a tendency to wake up several times in the night these days. Saturday morning, I woke up as usual...but when the thermostat finally kicked in, I kept lying there, wide awake, with a story running through my brain. Not just a story idea, but actual sentences. Descriptions. Phrases. Wry narration. I composed whole paragraphs while lying in bed staring at the backs of my eyelids. Eventually, it occurred to me that this was a very good idea, and that I really ought to get up and go write some of it down before I forgot it, since I was awake anyway and apparently not going back to sleep.

I've written 18 of my longhand pages in the day and a half since then (which will type up to somewhere around 24 pages, I think). Not bad for a gimme. It may peter out in the next few days, or turn out to be completely unmarketable, but it's a start, and it might turn out great! Here's hoping.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Quickie Reading list

I've been reading pretty much since I left Atlanta. I've probably left some books off this list, but here is a partial list of the books I've finished this week--I thought y'all might like to see

ON THE WAY TO THE WEDDING by Julia Quinn, (Quinn lives up to her reputation)
GETTING EVEN by Kayla Perrin (a HQ Spice that wasn't particularly spicy but was fun to read),
SEDUCED BY CRIMSON by Jade Lee (fabulous as Lee always is),
HOSTILE MAKEOVER by Wendy Wax (pretty good, though I thought she left the resolution a little late and a little obscure),
DEAD RECKONING by Sandra K. Moore (a very good Bombshell),
THE RED HAT CLUB by Haywood Smith (lots of fun),
TIGER LILY by Kimberly Dean (very erotic erotica),
RESENTING THE HERO by Moira J. Moore (nice fantasy with a touch of romance that doesn't really fit its rather comic cover),
JUST FOR KICKS by Susan Anderson (an auto-buy author that lived up to my expectations),
THE TURNING by Jennifer Armintrout (a vampire book with romantic elements--might be uncomfortable for some because of one of the guys there's romance--or something--with),
CAPTIVE MOON by C.T. Adams & Cathy Clamp (a new shapeshifter book--very good),
WINDOW DRESSING by Nikki Rivers (Hq Next--good read), and
KITTY GOES TO WASHINGTON by Carrie Vaughn (werewolf radio personality--I liked this better than the 1st one. Good read.)

Yeah, I know. I read way too fast...

Friday, August 04, 2006

Saturday--the Grand Finale

We're up to Saturday now. I have to admit, it's all becoming a big blur--even the big bruise is beginning to fade. (Okay, it's turned really ugly reddish purple and black and hasn't made it to the yellow-y green shade yet except in spots, but it is getting better...)

But Saturday. I once again made it down to breakfast and this time ate with some lovely ladies from upstate New York. That's one of the things I really love about RWA National--doesn't matter where you sit down, you're going to meet someone lovely who has something in common with you: writing books. (Oh yeah, almost forgot to share my "wardrobe"--I know you don't really care, but...I wore a white short-sleeved sweater with colored (peach, turquoise, yellow and black) trim around the square neckline and sleeve hem, black slacks and my loafer shoes--I started with the black jacket, but dumped it in the room early on and never missed it.)

I didn't have a workshop I really wanted to go to at 8:30, and I needed to see about getting my big box of books shipped home (plus some of the freebies that I didn't want to lug in my suitcase), and there was a PAN workshop at nine I thought I might like to sit in on, so I went upstairs and loaded the big box. I took out two of my books and put in two freebies, carted the heavy box downstairs to the hotel's UPS location, picked up a box (those boxes they had available really were NOT large enough!), went back upstairs to load it up, came back down and filled out all the shipping paperwork. I still have no idea how much I spent to have those books shipped home. (I'm kind of afraid to look.) Somewhere in here, I went up to the OCC chapter's suite and gave them one of the books for their Chapter Birthday Party. (Remember that "get the books in the hands of readers" thing I've got going on...) Still had a book to give away, but I figured I'd find somebody who'd take it off my hands. Then I went to the workshop on The Numbers.

It was very enlightening. For instance, I didn't know that the New York Times Bestseller List was made up of reports from only 35 stores, (or maybe it was 38--fewer than 40 anyway) all on the East Coast. It may take Wal-Marts into account, but I was still shocked. Of course, it's the New York Times--I've found that to many New Yorkers (and many East Coast-ers), the rest of the country doesn't really exist. Of course to many, it does, but... Then again, I know a lot of Texans to whom anything outside Texas doesn't really exist... we're all provincial in our own little way. And I've really gotten sidetracked from talking about the workshop, which was about sell-through and lay-down and getting on one of the Best-Seller lists, and that it was easier to do in the months when there aren't a lot of releases. Writing fantasy, I don't know that I'll ever make it--but who knows. Dream big, right?

Somewhere in here--or maybe I did it on Friday--I ordered the CD sets for my crit partner and for the Heart of Texas chapter. I think I was the only one of the Waco area ladies (even though I don't live in Waco any more, I'm still one of them in my heart) to make it to Atlanta, so I bought their CDs of the conference workshops for them.

I picked up a cup of tea (real tea with orange & lemon, not herbal) in the PAN lounge and started walking back to the lobby with it--and of course spilled it as I was walking up the little steps outside the Harlequin room, so I stopped walking. Turns out, people were gathering for the SPICE book-signing. The line didn't appear to be too overwhelming, so I joined them and chatted with Stephanie Lynch (aka Arwen, aka half of the Cai Stephans writing team) and another woman who was there whose name has slid into the black hole of my faulty memory. Anyway, we had a fun time talking about erotica publishers and Tarot. Stephanie does Tarot reading professionally--I've been reading for myself and friends for about 10 years and still feel like such a beginner, so it was fun talking to her.

Anyway, I went into the book signing and picked up copies of the books and had them signed, talked for a minute to Kayla Perrin--her Getting Even sounds like such a fun book--kind of like one of the Chick-lit/Women's fiction stories about a group of women who get even with the guys who dump them--only it's erotica. I haven't pulled it out of the TBR stack to read yet, but I'm looking forward to it.

Let's see, then I went to the PAN promo workshop about what kinds of promo works and what doesn't. There were three women who do lots of promo and one who does none whatsoever--except for her website and writing back to the fans who write/e-mail her. And it worked for all of them. It was a great workshop about finding what works for you and what you feel comfortable with, and not worrying about anything else.

I like doing talks and workshops. I like doing this blog (although I'm TERRIBLY erratic about it, as some of you may now). I like sending my books (and bookmarks--though I'm almost out) out to various conferences and events to get them into the hands of readers. (I'm trying to do more fantasy conferences this year.) And that's pretty much it. I'm not wild about booksignings, unless I'm with other people--though I do like to go into bookstores and "sign stock." Hmm--that reminds me--I may not have sold many books at the big signing on Wednesday night, but I signed enough bookplate stickers for people who already had my book (and loved it) to almost run out of them. That makes me feel better. Anyway...that was that workshop.

And then it was time to go meet my editor and two other authors--Judy Duarte and Kelsey Roberts (who has another name, and I was told her other name, but darned if I can remember it now!)--for lunch. We walked over to the Ritz for lunch--very fancy place. Very nice lunch. I had shrimp and sausage gumbo (without a single shrimp in it! but it was still very good) and a crab cake sandwich. Yummy. And I enjoyed talking with the other authors, getting to know them, and hearing about the editor's new baby.

We got back to the hotel just a little bit after 2 p.m. I had wanted to go to the Nocturne booksigning and pick up some books to read and get a feel for what the line was going to be, and by the time we all said goodbye and I got around to the Harlequin suite, every single book was gone and the room had cleared out. I signed up to get copies sent to me and chatted with Lisa Childs who I met several years ago, and who I think might be from Texas, and who was, I swear, EVERYWHERE in Atlanta--every time I turned around, I saw her again.

Anyway, I was talking to Lisa and to Joanne/Sapphire (from the Harlequin boards and the fateful taxi trip) and Eileen Dreyer (aka Kathleen Korbel) stood up with two of her books--she'd found them on the floor where they'd apparently been knocked during the stampede. Joanne and I immediately glommed onto them. The lovely Eileen signed them for us--and then a friend of hers came in and she still had my book in her hand when she hugged her friend--and I was incredibly rude and pushy because I was worried about my book getting away--she handed it to me and went back to greeting her friend, and then I worried about being so rude...but I just got out of her way. Still, I love Eileen Dreyer. And I love her books, but that's another story.

Okay, so by this time, it's pushing 3 p.m. I'd missed the Spotlight on TOR--but I got a set of CDs for myself too, so I can put all the workshops and spotlights on my I-Pod when they come--and I'd put some workshops down for the 3:15 time. I went to the "Google This! Tips & Tricks for Writers" workshop, and it had a LOT of great info on how to find stuff on Google. Virginia Kelly is a librarian who does Google workshops for all kinds of groups, so it was a very well done workshop, and the handouts have almost all the stuff she showed us, except she had the screenshots for us to look at.

Then at 4:30, I went to one last workshop. Stephanie Bond talked about building a Brand. (I think the workshop title was "YOU, New and Improved: Building a Brand.") And I think maybe I finally get it. Her brand is sexy romantic suspense, usually humorous. The brand is as much the type of books one writes as it is the advertising you use for it, and it's as important to work on your brand before you are published as after. Which I have never done.

Except--one does tend to write the sort of things one likes. And even though I have--before publication and after--been all over the map, my stories have always been sexy, and they've always had some adventure in them. So I can say my brand is sexy adventure. But I think I'd like to refine that a bit more and say sexy fantasy/paranormal adventure. Now the question becomes--just how sexy do I want to make it? I don't think I'd have any problem upping the heat to erotica/romantica level, and it would still fit in the brand...but... Hmm. Well, I can ship it off to the swamp and see what the alligators make of it...

Okay, so that was my last workshop. My roomies were ordering pizza to eat in the room and be lazy before we got ready for the Rita/GH celebration, so I ran upstairs and arrived just in time to hang out for a bit before I went back down with Karen to pay for the pizza and help carry it back up. While we were chowing down, Wayne Jordan called about bringing his contribution to the Harlequin/Silhouette e-mail loop, so we invited him to the party. Of course, there wasn't much pizza left by this time, but he had a piece and sat down to talk about Barbados (he's a high school teacher there!) and Kimani Press and such. He's publishing romance under his own name. We thought that was very cool. Very nice guy...

And then it was time to go to the Ritas! I looked pretty spiffy in a black sleeveless sweater with pearl and bead trim around the neckline and my black handkerchief-hem skirt. I could "dress down" a bit, because I wasn't up for an award, though I had lots of friends up for the award--Besides Bronwyn of the three finaling books, there was Jodi Thomas in short historical, Stephanie Feagan in Best First Book, Candace Havens in Paranormal, Alesia Holliday in Best Novella--It was very exciting. I sat between Karen and Juliet right behind the "reserved" section and could see --well, everything. It was great. I was so excited when Jodi won and then was inducted into the RWA Hall of Fame for winning her third Rita in the same category. She is the nicest, sweetest person in the whole UNIVERSE, and totally deserved her win, because she writes fabulous books as well.

The party afterward was great--I gobbled down chocolate/orange cake and strawberry trifle and a peach mousse thingie, then wandered around till I found most of my friends and congratulated and hugged them. It was a while before I found Stephanie because she had to go upstairs and call her fella after winning the Best First Book Rita, and I never did find Alesia, but it was still lots of fun, and yeah, I know I need to post the pictures on the website. I got to rub somebody's Rita for good luck, and I have completely forgotten whose it was. Oh well. The mind goes first, you know.

And then it was time to go back up to the room, peel off the glad rags and try to get everything packed in time to head home on Sunday. It was a great week, but definitely time to go home. I had a good trip home--hung out with the North Texas girls (and a few from Houston and/or San Antonio) at the airport, talking about "what was the best moment of the Conference". I ran across Mary Theresa Hussey (the senior editor for Luna) at the Burger King--which had these weird computerized ordering systems--and talked for a few minutes. Then read most of the Korbel Nocturne on the plane, got to ride around to another terminal at DFW to take off for Amarillo (where I finished Korbel's book waiting for flight time). Got into the "big city' by 6 and was home by 7.

And now it's time to start over again. Whee!!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Friday, My Big Day

Friday was my Big Day at conference because I did my workshop presentation first thing Friday morning. So I didn't have to worry and obsess about it all day, which was nice, but it made sleeping a touch difficult Thursday night.

Anyway, I got up early and washed my hair, because you know, a good hair day can boost all kinds of confidence, and fortunately, my hair cooperated. I went down for breakfast and ate with several of the Dallas area ladies, including Anita Learned who has a Panhandle link. I managed to go through most of my workshop notes before I went down, but was too...antsy, I guess...to get all the way to the end. (I wore gray pinstriped pants, a sleeveless aqua sweater with button & bead trim around the neck and the same black tux-style blazer (hey, it goes with everything I took to wear, doesn't wrinkle in luggage and I can even button it now), along with open-heel loafer-type shoes--my toes didn't get cold wearing them...)

Bron Jameson was already in the room being very professional and going over her intro. I felt very privileged having her moderate my session, being Ms. Three-Time Rita finalist and all. She made one teensy, tinesy bloop in the intro, which I wouldn't even mention, but she'll probably come and make a big comment about it--but I didn't even notice until she said something afterward. There was that platform I had to climb up to get to the mike and the podium, and I climbed up and down Twice without falling, so I was thrilled.

Then I did my Writing Action Scenes workshop. It is about doing those very active scenes, but since pretty much every actual scene is an action scene of some sort, that's where I started. With writing any kind of action. Then I segued into writing the chase/fight/commotion type scenes. I didn't get lost, and I didn't sound like an idiot--that I know of--so I think it went well. I gave away a gift bag with both books--The Compass Rose and The Barbed Rose--in it, and then gave a copy of each book to two different people. I'd have liked to give away more, but they're big books and heavy to carry, both in the suitcase and in the totebag.

After that, I was FREE!

I went to the Breaking Away from the Pack in a Nudist Werewolf World workshop, which was about how to make yourself different when you're writing in a popular sub-genre. I think it would have been good if I had been able to hold still. But I think I was having a reaction or something...couldn't sit still, had to leave. And I don't know what I did after that. I honestly cannot remember if I went to another workshop, or what... Maybe that was when I went to the Goody Room and the Book Fair. I'm pretty sure I didn't go up to the PAN workshops. Darned if I can remember. But at noon-ish, I met up with my agent and we had lunch at the American Grill there at the Marriott.

I was starving for vegetables by this time, so I had the salad, and salmon with baby veggies and a banana (foster) split--banana with a crepe and ice cream. Yummy. And talked with the agent about things I wanted to do. She said probably I need to finish the WWII book in order to sell it, so I'll be working on it between other things. And I just need to get some more proposals in to her. Proposals that work.

After lunch--which ended not long before 2 p.m.--I went to the Harlequin/Silhouette Authors' forum. And had a whole lot of trouble staying awake. It was good information, I wanted to hear it, but I kept falling asleep. So I decided that I might want to take a nap before the party Friday night. But I had things to do first.

We got out of the forum in time for me to slip in late to the Death & Taxes workshop and I got some good information there about taxes and retirement. I need to talk to DH about deducting my home office--the office is strictly reserved for writing, and the IRS has gotten a lot less sniffy about home office deductions, so... They've gotten a lot MORE sniffy about cell phones, though.

I thought about going to a late workshop on Friday, but I was so tired... I was heading up to my room, and one of the others on the elevator was going to the Orange County Chapter suite to see what was cooking there, so I decided to drop in too. And they were interviewing a Red Dress Ink editor for a pod cast. Apparently they interviewed a lot of editors and agents, so y'all might want to check out the OCC website for those podcasts. She had a lot of good info, but I couldn't make myself stay to the end. I was dropping, so I went my two floors back down, dumped my stuff and headed over to the food court to grab some supper. The plan was to eat in the room while reading, and then take a nap, since the party didn't start until 8 p.m. And the plan worked quite well. Got a good nap in. Then I got dressed for the party. (Silver T-shirt, black handkerchief hem chiffon skirt, dark royal blue belly-dancing scarf with silver sequins & bead fringe) It was walking distance, at the Ritz, and I wound up walking over with Bombshell author Cindy Dees and a couple of marketing people from Amazon who told us about their "shorts" program--little short-story tie-ins to our books on their website.

The party was amazing. I met some of the other LUNA authors at RWA--Maria Snyder and Jeri Smith-Ready--chatted with them and with Robin Owens. (Felt a bit like the jolly Green Giant, since Robin doesn't even come up to my shoulder.) Wandered around talking to everybody I know, saw some other people I haven't seen since Reno--Kristi Gold, who knew me back when neither one of us was published, and will be a launch author for Harlequin's new Everlasting line--and Cindy Gerard and--well, lots of other people whose names I can't remember now. Got to chat with Jenny Archer and Jodi Thomas (fellow Panhandle-ites). Danced like a maniac--had to be careful with that scarf--didn't want to brain anyone with all the bling--met new people--tried to sing R.E.S.P.E.C.T. (dang that's high! Sally Ride is more in my range.) -- only had one Bliss cocktail. (I don't drink much. Medication issues aside, I don't have many inhibitions to start with, and the ones I have, I'd just as soon keep...) Then caught a cab back to the hotel with Juliet and Emilie and Michelle and another woman whose name I have of course forgotten...Emilie wanted to walk, but we wouldn't let her. I think Michelle would have tackled her if she'd tried. We hung out in the lobby a while, then went upstairs to collapse.

Harlequin does throw some great parties. (They had a chocolate fountain, but I avoided it. Chocolate fountains and I do not mix. I'll tell the story later, if I haven't already.)

Okay, that's Friday. One presentation, a few workshops, a lot of exhaustion. One more day of craziness yet to come.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Conference Begins

Of course, the Big Book Signing on Wednesday night is really the Kick-off event for RWA National conference, but it doesn't feel begun to me until the first workshops begin. I got up bright and early Thursday so I'd get to the workshop I'd picked out right on time. (I wore my pink & black striped summer sweater with the bow at the neckline and little clear beads with black dress pants, a black tux-style jacket to pull on and off when my temperature control issues flared up, & flat backless sandals--my feet FROZE.)

I chose a workshop on "Presenting with Pizzazz" about how to present yourself at your very best whether giving a speech or workshop at a chapter meeting or conference, or giving a radio/television interview. It was filled with great hints--some of which will do me no good. The speaker--who does this professionally--suggested getting out from behind the podium and moving around a little in a workshop. I might if it were not virtually certain that I would trip over something or fall off of something while attempting this. (The room where I actually did my workshop had a raised platform where the podium and speaker table was set--if I'd tried to move around any, I would definitely have fallen off the platform.)

But there were other hints that have already been a big help, like avoiding dairy before speaking (it clogs the throat), and tipping the glasses slightly forward to stop glare from lights. I'm going to have to figure out how to do notecards instead of big sheets of paper to have my "speech" on, but it was a great workshop.

I went to Haywood Smith's workshop on Reinventing yourself and just loved listening to her talk. I remember laughing a lot. She had some good rules on when to re-evaluate, and lies to watch out for--none of which I can remember right now. The main thing was: This is a business and you have to take control of your career for yourself.

Then I was the moderator for a Query letter/marketing workshop by Lani Diane Rich called FINDING YOUR FUNKY BIRD. You will hear me fumble the workshop intro on the tape, because when I got up to introduce Lani and the workshop, I couldn't remember the workshop's subtitle (A New Approach to Marketing Your Manuscript) and didn't have it written in front of me. So I just intro-ed it as Finding Your Funky Bird. Ah well. I got to do transparencies and play with the overhead projector. It was cool. Lani's main point though was that you need to find the thing that makes your manuscript different from all the rest. The "funky bird" came from her manuscript that had the hero and heroine working together to rescue the heroine's kidnapped victim from crooks that want only a rare funny-smelling parrot as ransom. That was her unique attention-getter.

THEN I hurried upstairs to meet with the eHarlequin hosts. Jayne and the other hosts had invited a bunch of the authors who participate on the boards to go to a lunch at a nice restaurant out in Buckhead. Enough of us to require about 3 minivan cabs. Problem was, our cab driver didn't have a clue where the restaurant was. After driving to the totally wrong location, he had to call the restaurant and ask--the six of us who were in the cab together bonded as we drove all over north Atlanta for, oh, an hour and a half or so. Jennifer LaBrecque lives in Atlanta, and guided our impromptu tour: "This is the millionaire's part of town--in that grocery you'll see all the nannies with their kiddies--and coming up on the left, you'll see the governor's mansion..." Yeah, we saw the Georgia governor's mansion--a BIG square house with 2-story pillars around all 4 sides...

Anyway, we eventually got to the restaurant where the other poor people had waited lunch on us. (Some of them had to get back, and took their meals to go. We are SO, SO sorry!) Oh! And the cab driver wanted Sapphire to PAY HIM!!!!! After he got lost and wandered all over the place, he wanted her to pay not just the regular rate for driving out there, but about twice the fee! I think she finally paid him most of it--but one of our company (Julie Miller, riding shotgun) had memorized his name and cab number, so we called the cab company and complained vociferously. (Okay, Jennifer did. I stink at that sort of thing.) And when I got out of the very back seat of the minivan, I got stuck between the middle seat and the door (hush!) and had a little "cork out of the bottle" action getting out--and have the Biggest, Nastiest, Ugliest bruise on my leg--shaped just like the hardware on the seat.

So, we had a wonderful lunch (I had shrimp and grits--I'm not a big grits lover unless there's plenty of cheese, and these grits were wonderful--which gives you an idea of how much cheese was in them) with fabulous desserts, and by the time we got back to the Marriott downtown, it was 3:30, and I was late for my meeting with the Brainstorming Desireables. (You know who you are.) I know most of the ladies through the online loop, so I really wanted to get to meet the ones I didn't already know. I at least know what Mary Lou and Carol and Franny look like now! Then I had to leave as soon as I slugged down my Coke to go meet Kerrelyn Sparks (of Vamps and the City and How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire fame) to get ready for the Published Authors Special Interest Chapter's Editor of the Year award reception.

For the second year, I headed up the committee to choose PASIC's Editor of the Year. I really enjoy doing this. A lot. Anyway, I met Kerry early so I could sign the certificates for all the nominees and make sure I had the right letters to read for the winners. That's one of the reasons I like doing the Editor of the Year committee--I don't have to work up any speech, just read the letters of nomination. The editors are nominated by their authors, who (duh) are writers and can write the best, loveliest thoughts in a fun and touching way. They do the work for me. :)

Patience Smith is the 2006 PASIC Editor of the Year, and Charlotte Herschner was named Editor of Merit.

Once I handed out the awards, I got to mingle. Lots of editors and agents come to the reception, and it's a casual time to get to meet people. I met Adam Nevill of Virgin Press. Incredibly tall and broad-shouldered, shaved head, soul patch and the yummiest English accent--it was lovely just to stand nearby and bask in the testosterone, but I did manage to open my mouth and speak. Virgin Press has been doing erotica for the past ten years or so, but with the recent acceptability of the genre, it's doing even better and they are looking for new authors and more material. They don't want "porn language", but other than that, pretty much anything goes. They'd love to see paranormal story lines. They do want a story along with the erotica. Cheek is a livelier, younger-in-tone line than Black Lace. Sort of the Sex in the City version of Black Lace. And I got a card and an invite to send something. I'm still thinking. (Because of a workshop at the very last timeslot on the very last day, which I will talk about when I talk about Saturday.)

Let's see--I hung out and chatted with the ladies--Ann Roth, Jo-Ann Power and several others whose names I can't remember now--after the party wound down, talking about the upcoming chapter conference in New York until Alfie Thompson came out to tell us to come get food before it got thrown out, so I collected some more cheese and some quesadillas and carried them up to the room where I basically collapsed. I got out one of the goody-bag books and ate snackies and read until the roomies turned up. Juliet and I also shared with Karen Kelley who writes for Kensington Brava. I don't think I mentioned that before.

And that was my Thursday. I slept pretty good, considering that first thing Friday I was scheduled for my very first workshop given at RWA... but I'll tell you about that tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Of Baseball and Big Fish

Okay, so we're still talking about RWA National. Yeah, I know other people were posting blogs while they were there, but they have laptops. I don't, and probably never will, given that I only need pen and paper most of the time I'm on deadline. (I do eventually have to type it into the computer, but I can be at home with the big desktop then...)

Anyway, I flew out of Amarillo on Tuesday. Nice short flight in a teeninesy little airplane--two seats on one side, only one seat on the other, and if you're any taller than my 5'8", you have to walk down the aisle bent over. In Dallas, I met up with a lot of other writers from the area, plus some from Houston and East Texas, including one of my roommates, Juliet Burns. Our seats were together, and we talked most of the way to Atlanta.

Writers don't talk a whole lot, ordinarily. At least I don't, having only the one child still at home who is generally either at work or in his room playing video games--or when he comes out to talk, he is the one talking. Mom is for listening. Anyway, when we arrived in Atlanta, my throat was already sore from talking.

They put us on the 37th floor. This would not have been so bad, but the Atlanta Marriott Marquis is one of those hotels with an atrium all the way up the middle and glass-backed elevators so you can admire the view. Lovely, unless you're one of those people who aren't fond of heights. Like me and Juliet. Fortunately, our room was right next to the elevator bank so we didn't have to walk along the balcony. I did eventually reach the point where I could walk around to the vending area, but I never could look out the glass on the elevators.

That night, a group of us had arranged to go to the Atlanta Braves baseball game. One of our company was Bronwyn Jameson, the triple-threat Rita finalist from Australia, and she wanted to experience that quintessential American event: baseball. So five of us--Juliet, me, Bron, Emilie Rose and Linda Steinman--rode the train to the Atlanta underground, hustled all the way through the underground to a shuttle bus, rode the bus to the stadium, and watched the ballgame. It was "mullet night" and it took me a while to figure out that all the players didn't really have mullets. They had photoshopped mullets onto the players' pictures for the big screen thing--but they did it very cleverly, matching hair color and curl, so--or maybe I was just oblivious. Probably that. I'm oblivious a lot. The Braves lost to the Marlins, but we had a good time.

The next morning, I had talked everyone into going to the Atlanta aquarium. The fella has been to Atlanta quite a few times, and he said that of all the things to see in Atlanta, the aquarium was the best--and it was pretty spectacular. We added Michelle Celmer and Leslie Marshman (I think--I'm sure of the Leslie, but the last name is iffy) to the aquarium tour group and all hiked off down Baker Street. And wow--

The coral reef with all the bright, bright fishes! And the tunnel beneath the huge whale sharks with their escort of little fish right in front of the sharks' mouth! And the penguins! And the otters! And the sea dragons! And--and--and--it was just totally cool. I got a big kick out of the Asian otters.

One of them was dragging a toy that looked like a bunch of tangled velcro strips as big as it was, and he was all like: NO, you can't play with my toy. I will hide my toy behind this tree so you can't play with it. And the other otter (who had a similar toy with a buoy in the middle) was like: Oh, that's a great idea! I'll hide my toy there too! And the first otter would go: NO! You can't hide your toy with my toy. I will hide MY toy over there! And the second otter was all like: YEAH, that is so totally a better place to hide my toy. Wait for me! And you could almost see the first otter's eyes crossing with rage as he hauled his toy to yet another hiding place. Okay, yeah, I'm a writer. I imagine otter conversations.

We also went to see the little animated 4D movie--I was very impressed because I could actually see the 3D stuff--a lot of times my weird eyes won't let me. And when the fishes splashed in the movie water, the theater would splash water on us. When the movie fishes swam through jelly fish, they dropped gummy worm feeling stuff on us--I kept checking to make sure it wasn't still in my hair, because that's where it hit me, but I think they pulled it back up as quick as it dropped. Anyway, it was a lot of fun. But after all the cool stuff, it was time to walk back to the hotel--and the first block was a hard uphill trudge. I kept up with all the skinny in-shape women, but I thought my heart was going to pound right out of my chest when we reached the stop light.

We had lunch at the food court in the Mall at Peachtree Center. Everybody had something different--well, except for two who had almost matching burritos. And then we headed for the hotel, some to work the registration desk, some to fall apart and rest up before the booksigning. I think that's when I went shopping too. Found some neat abalone earrings at the Museum of Design Arts store...

This is getting to be a really long blog, but I'm doing Tuesday and Wednesday together. Deal with it.

I wore my Loud Shirt with the Multicolored Horses to the booksigning. Usually I sit next to Geralyn Dawson, but she was two spaces away and I was between Sylvia Day and Kimberly Dean, both erotica writers. Kimberly Dean has apparently been writing erotica for about ten years and is one of the Big authors for Black Lace, and now does some things for Ellora's Cave as well. Sylvia Day writes for Kensington Brava and for Ellora's Cave. And there I was between them with my "hard core" Luna books.

I did sell a few books, gave away a few bookmarks, talked to a few people. I also bought a box of my books to ship home. I wanted to buy all that were left over. Instead, I bought all I could carry. One box. I left a teensy bit early to get to the Futuristic, Fantasy & Paranormal Chapter's Gathering for the Prism awards. The Compass Rose was up for one of them. I came in second--but given that this was the only contest I entered with Compass Rose, I was thrilled to have finaled at all.

And then I hauled that box of books back up to the 37th floor. I set them on the floor of the elevator--once I wrestled them up the escalator to the floor that had an elevator on it--and kicked them out of the elevator and the few feet to the door of our room. I just couldn't pick that box up another time.

And that was the end of Wednesday in Atlanta. More tomorrow.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Home from Atlanta

I'm home again and exhausted. It was a wonderful trip to RWA (Romance Writers of America) National Conference and I don't even know where to begin telling you about it.

I know it's been weeks and weeks since I blogged. The next time I tried to boot up my computer, while the grandboys were here, it wouldn't boot. It locked up somewhere in the middle and would do absolutely nothing. So I had to leave the son and spouse in command and hustle the machine to The Big City to get it fixed. Meanwhile, I was in charge of taking down names for the Published Authors Special Interest Chapter (PASIC) of RWA for our Editor of the Year reception in Atlanta--and here I was, in the last week before our RSVP deadline with a dead computer and no way to tell the committee chairman what was going on. ACK!! Oh, and the little boys were still here.

We had a great time with them. Took them swimming. Hung around the house. Goofed off. That kind of thing. Then we went to DH's conference in north Plano and gave the boys back to their parents. And went shopping. The conference had golf scheduled in the 102 degree Dallas heat and DH didn't want to play, so we hit the stores. Nice T-shirts for $2.50--yep, I went wild. And finally found something to wear to the Harlequin party in Atlanta at this neat import store in the shopping area near the hotel. A deep blue belly-dancing scarf with silver sequins and trim on it. It adds bling to pretty much anything...

Then we came home and I pretty much went into hibernation. Okay, I re-read ALL of Laurell K. Hamilton's books during the week, besides doing things to get ready to go to Atlanta and send the son back to college--you know, getting him an appointment at the eye doctor for new contacts and going with him to pay for it, finishing revisions on the workshop I was presenting and printing the sucker out--that sort of thing. We still have to find him a small desk to take along...

And then it was time to pack and get ready to go. And I'll tell you more about the trip tomorrow. I need to go rotate laundry, and then I think I'll take a nap. I'm REALLY tired. Later...

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Cows for Birthdays

The grandboys have come to visit. The Big Guy will be five in a couple of weeks, and the Squirt is a few months over two. Big Guy has a list of things he wants for his birthday, and every day, he wants to know if it's his birthday. He has informed his daddy that he needs a cow for his birthday. I have no idea why, but he says he needs a cow.

So while the boys are at our house out here in very rural west Texas, we're going to try to let them see a real cow, up close and personal. I know where there are some horses they can go visit. But horses aren't actually on the birthday list. He wants a cow, and a sheep and a pig, but not a horse. Maybe he'll be happy with a toy cow...

The Big Guy has also come up with a numbering system for everyone in his life. When you ask him how old he is, he will tell you that he's Number One. Not that he's four years old, or almost five. He's One. Because, after all, he IS the center of his own universe. His daddy is #2, the Squirt is #3, and poor mom is relegated to #4. I'm #11, right after Uncle Bob at #10. Ah well...

They've only been here over one night. The Squirt is old enough now that when he's tired, he realizes that Mama and Daddy aren't around, but he stops crying when Gigi or Grandaddy lie down with him and read him a story, and actually falls asleep before we reach the end of the story. Unlike his daddy, or his aunt or uncle, actually. They stayed awake by sheer determination right to the bitter end.

I might get to the computer a few times this next week, but since I figure I'm going to be spending all my time chasing the boys, I doubt I'll have much to write about. Well, except for the cute stuff they do. It's going to be a fun--and exhausting--week.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The 4th of July

Today is the actual 4th. We've been celebrating since Saturday, but only now it is officially Independence Day.

I heard a bunch of firecrackers go off in the wee hours of last night--because of the drought and the danger of fire, "aerial" fireworks are banned in our county--and most of the counties around us, but I think firecrackers are still legal--though probably not in town. Talking to the local volunteer fire department's son over on the courthouse lawn, I learned that the weekend has been slow, fire-wise. There was one fire Sunday night, after the VFD's 100th anniversary celebration, but it's been quiet since then--knock on wood.

We walked over to the courthouse and had lunch--sponsored by the Shriners, not the Rotary. It's hard to keep all these benevolent organizations straight. When the July 4th barbecue started, 129 years ago (yep, it's been going that long), one of the local ranchers would donate a cow or two and they'd cook it over a firepit and everybody would chow down. These days, the barbecue is catered and we buy tickets, but everybody still finds a favorite spot in the shade and picnic on the lawn. Then we walked home again, to wait for the parade in the air conditioning. It's hot outside. The parade was right on time, with cheerleaders and horses and old cars--and about a dozen firetrucks. I'm amazed such small towns have so many firetrucks, but most of them are for fighting grass fires, with the hose on the front. Our neighbors had a float. Nobody lives there most of the time. Miss Phebe Ann passed away a couple of years ago, and a niece or nephew bought the house for their vacation house. They're having a family reunion this weekend, and they built "Phebe Ann's Phun Phamily Reunion Phloat." Made me grin. And then we walked home again. We have steaks out to grill for supper, and that's our celebration.

Oh, and we have woodpeckers. Several different kinds. Our big redbud tree has some dead limbs, so the woodpeckers have started to show up regularly. Ladder-backed woodpeckers, flickers, and today, I saw a big, gorgeous red-headed woodpecker right outside the kitchen window. I didn't know they came this far west, but apparently so. Yeah, my sister got me into bird-watching a number of years back. I'm not rabid about it, but I do get excited when I see something unusual.

Monday, July 03, 2006


We're still celebrating the 4th around here. It's not done till after tomorrow.

So, after we brought the bean pot home (and the fella washed it without me having to lift a finger, the darlin' man) and rested up all afternoon, we decided to go out to the ranch rodeo.

Now a ranch rodeo is not the same creature as a "regular" rodeo. Generally real, working cowboys compete--guys who spend every day doing these same kinds of activities--and the events are things like "team doctoring" and "sorting" and "team branding." In the saddle bronc riding event, the cowboys use their own saddles, and there are no special rules about holding on or spurs--the guy just has to stick in the saddle as long as he can any way he can.

Since the last son finished his Eagle Scout award and turned 18, and then graduated from high school and went away to college, we haven't had to work at the Boy Scout concession stand at the 4th of July rodeo, and believe me, it's a thrill to know that I can go out to the rodeo grounds and just sit in the stands and take pictures. (One of these days, I really am going to paint a rodeo painting.) Under the stands, in the concessions booth, it's hot as blazes, and you have to stand up the whole time. Especially if you're in the back assembling hamburgers and hot dogs. But we spent many years down there...

Anyway, Saturday night, we got to the rodeo arena in time for the posting of the colors--an impressive sight on horseback. And before the actual events began, they had all the youth events. Little bitty kids riding calves, steers and donkeys. (The bigger ones were on the bigger animals.) I couldn't believe those mamas and papas let their little ones out there to do it--but knowing some of the kids who were out there, I'm actually not surprised--those particular kids would dare anything and get mad if you didn't let them try. Most of them fell off the minute Daddy let go (the calves were small enough, Daddy fit right in the chute with them), but there were a few really little ones with Daddies who never let go, just lifted them right off when they started to slide. Nobody got hurt. A few of them got mad. A couple didn't want to get up off the ground, but that was just mad, or embarrassment.

Still, I was glad when it was over and the grown-ups got to play. I do like watching the cutting horses in the sorting. There's a bunch of ten steers with numbers on them behind a line drawn in the arena with flour, and a four-man team. One man is the sorter, the others hold the herd. The event ended with the "team doctoring." As the sorter crosses the flour line (and I watched them draw the line, so I know they made it with flour), he's given a number, and has to find that steer in the bunch and cut it out of the herd first and chase it to the other side of the line, then the two numbers after that, in order. If the wrong number crosses the line, they lose. If the numbers cross the line in the wrong order, they lose. If one of the numbers already crossed goes back across the line to join the bunch, they lose. Then, they have to rope the last steer they cut out--head and heels--lay it down and mark some part of it they're doctoring. And they're timed, and they only get three tries. Or they lose. It's really easy to get a "no time" in this event. Out of the 7 teams competing on Saturday, I don't think but two got a qualifying time.

I went down to talk to Jiggs and Evelyn in their box--various ranchers in the area have boxes at the front of the stands with aluminum folding chairs--not real comfortable, but they do have backs, which the regular stands don't have. And I could get closer to the action from the box to take my pictures. I don't think Jiggs is his real name, but I've never heard anything else, so I guess it could be. I've met people or called Rip, and Buster, and Buck, and Rabbit. And people's "real" names tend to be a bit out of the ordinary around here too. For instance, I know two Delberts. And they go by Delbert, not Del or Bert. Willard has passed on--he was the sweetest, orneriest fellow. The man who built our house and lived here for years was named Heckle. I love Texas country names.

There's still 4th of July celebrations yet to go. The barbecue lunch is Tuesday at noon on the courthouse lawn. Our county courthouse was recently restored and it's a true gem of the genre. We'll probably walk over, because there's not a whole lot of parking around there, and we're just a block and a half away. Then the parade will come by around two. The courthouse is a block off Kearney, aka Main Street, so I guess downtown has a teensy bit more than one street...The parade starts at the park, goes up Kearney to the highway (if they let us shut down the highway for a little bit), over one block to the courthouse and back down to the park. It'll be fun, if it's not too hot...