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Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday Fun: Snow Day Entertainment

Yep, it's a snow day. We haven't had one since 2008, and with a tough school district like ours, my kids know they're lucky they got this one. (However, can't say I appreciated the phone call with the pre-recorded message at 5:30 this morning letting me know schools would be closed. Really? I need to know at that hour?)

Anyway, I'm having fun just hanging with my guys today and after watching our big doofus of a dog romp in the snow, we started browsing You Tube for fun pet videos. Somehow the subject of pets on commercials came up and I introduced these poor deprived children to one of my childhood "heroes," Morris the Cat. We enjoyed some old commercials then stumbled across this one. Apparently Mr. .... er Cat, is still alive and well (and looking great for his age).

This video had us cracking up. If you're a kitty person, you'll love this.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wednesday on Writing: Peeping Tom vs. People Watching? (Or: I really need to get a life!)

Are writers ever bored? I don’t think we are. I mean, sure there are times when we’re restless, but with people and plots living in your head, you're pretty much carrying around your own entertainment 24/7.

And as if that weren’t enough entertainment, there’s always people watching. Which is how I discovered The Black Family. I have no idea what their last name really is, and that’s not an observation about their skin color, that’s just what I call them.

Let me explain. As any of you who have visited here before know, I have two boys. Which is precisely why I sit in the last row at church every Sunday. It started out simply enough—it’s easier to take a wailing newborn, or tantrum throwing toddler out of the building when you sit near the door. Now that they’re older, I sit there because The Walk of Shame (when we leave after mass) is shorter –meaning there are less people to glare at me on the way out for the way my boys have behaved the past hour.

But the acoustics in my church are not all that great, and in-between my hissing “stop that!” or “sit/stand/kneel” I really can’t hear what’s going on up front. Which is why my mind wanders. And I people watch.

This is how I discovered the family referenced above. It started out as simply noticing the well dressed lady several rows in front of us. Maybe it’s because she never turns and glares when my youngest loudly demands “how much longer is he going to talk?” Or maybe it’s because I admired her red curls (my hair is fine and pin-straight; we always want what we don’t have).But after a while I noticed, hmm, she always wears black. If you were to throw open my closet doors, you would see a lot of black, too, so maybe it’s normal I’d notice it.

Most weeks she was joined by a young man I’m guessing (the red hair is a dead give away) is her son. I’m really not a voyeur, I simply noticed him because of his timing. He shows up at a quarter past the hour—you could set your watch by him—seconds before the reading of the Gospel. He also leaves (as does half the congregation) directly after communion. This is an old Catholic trick; technically, if you’ve heard the gospel and received communion, you’ve been to mass. But most of us consider it cheating. Eventually I began to notice that Mr. 11:15 also wears black—coat, shirt and shoes. Every week.

Okay, so maybe those are just their Sunday best, right? Oh, it gets better.

On holidays, the pair are joined by an older man I’m guessing is Dad. Because he has light grey hair and a stocky build, he looks like a Mafia Don, so he kind of stands out. And guess what? He dresses all in black, too. Head to toe.

Still, I was willing to concede that this was a family in deep mourning and leave it go at that. Until one day when I was out walking my dog. I passed Mr. Black—again dressed all in black—and he was walking his dog. It was black. I noticed, because it’s a newfie, and I love newfies.

Then he turned down the driveway toward what I assume is his house. Since this is my usual route with my dog, and I see their dog barking in the window most days when we go past, I’ve had time to notice a few more things. Like the fact that the house has black shutters. And both cars in the driveway? Black. The lawn furniture? You guessed it. Black.

It drives me crazy wondering what’s up with all the black? Is it their last name? Are they huge Johnny Cash fans? Mobsters? Color Blind? If it’s not a mourning thing, who came up with the idea—and how do you convince your family to only wear one color-- only buy things in one color-- for the rest of their lives?

It certainly must make it easier to get dressed in the morning.

The fact that I have mentioned all of this to my husband and he just kind of grunted and shrugged like it didn’t matter, makes me wonder if I'm crazy to wonder. How can he not find this interesting? Are writers the only ones who notice this sort of thing? Or am I just bored out of my mind?

Do you notice things like that about people you see on a regular basis? Whether it's the guy who rides the elevator past your floor every day who always carries an umbrella; or the woman who is always sweeping her driveway in her housecoat? And if so, do you ever start “what if’fing?” wondering at their motivation? Like "It's August, no chance of rain" or "how dirty can a driveway get in 24 hours?" There just might be fodder for some good characterization here, if only you knew what motivates them. Does he have toupee he fears getting wet? Does she have some OCD that makes her need to clean?

Why, why, why, why???? It's a writer's favorite question.

Lately I’ve noticed that Mrs. Black is no longer at mass every Sunday. And Mr. 11:15 still shows up for his half hour “drive through” version of mass.

Hmmm….. I really need to get a life.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Monday Morning Musing... thoughts and observations of the past week

Ahh the perfect Maxine cartoon after a week spent with the boys both home, LOL.

Spring fever pandemic! Who’d’ve thunk 36 degrees could feel so wonderful, but with sunshine galore, this was a gorgeous weekend. The birds were chirping, the neighbors were grilling and I even got to wear…. shoes!!! No boots on these feet when I headed out for church and shopping yesterday. Felt great!

Westminster Dog Show. Loved it, as always. For some mysterious reason (hmm. I wonder why? *G*), I always root for the herding dogs to win. EW magazine picked this guy as their choice for Dog of the Year, LOL. If you’ve seen the movie Up, you know why I agree. “Squirrel!”

Now, if the judges at Westminster would just overlook that whole “jumping as a form of greeting” thing, and admit that even those fancy pedigreed dogs lick their butts now and then, I think they’d see my side of things and pick this guy. Okay, maybe not. But he’s my pick for best in show any day, LOL.

McCaffrey’s Law: the one night I don’t have trouble falling asleep is the one night both my kids do (hmmm… worrying about heading back to school today, maybe?).

Tiger Woods. I missed it. Did Tiger see his shadow—or do we have six more weeks of sex scandals?

Quote for the day. This is from one of my personal heroes, the jellybean prez himself, who would have turned 99 this month:

Hard work never hurt anybody. But why risk it?” – President Ronald Reagan

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Friday Fun: Just for laughs

This is not intended as anything other than fun; we've all heard the stories about the Toyota recalls; I have two friends who drive Toyotas and frankly I wish they'd just get rid of the darn things so I could stop worrying.

But when I saw this on YouTube the other day, I laughed out loud--and who doesn't need a good laugh these days! So that's all it's meant to be, --a laugh--no offense to anyone who loves their Toyota, LOL.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

To Judge and Be Judged

A recent conversation on one of the loops I belong to got me thinking about contests. Love ‘em or hate ‘em , they’re a necessary evil in this business. And they don't stop just because you finally grasp that brass ring -- publication.

They just get more expensive. *G*

But the conversation wasn’t about post-pub contests, it was about entering contests as a pre-pubbed author. It seems that in the early days of a writer’s career, when her work needs a little guidance, the judges are kinder. But for the more seasoned writer who has polished her style and her voice, it seems the claws come out.

Developing a thick skin is a must when you’re a writer but that doesn’t mean unkind comments don’t sting. While I threw away all those old scoresheets a long time ago, there are one or two comments that have stuck in my mind over the years.

“This guy is really pissing me off.”

LOL. This was about Derek, the hero in my 2008 release The Model Man. Years away from that painful barb I can say at least my writing brought out strong emotion in the judge, LOL. But I think the reason I remember that one so clearly is because the comment had absolutely nothing to do with my writing and everything to do with the judge’s personal taste. It was really unprofessional.

Some are just plain amusing and this one has always stuck in my mind:

“Is it supposed to be day or night?”

This one was on the opening scene of Wild Texas Wind. After reflecting on how exhausted he is, how hard he’s worked, how he’s looking forward to a little R&R, my hero, upon learning the size of the reward being offered for a missing heiress, climbs out of a hot bath, hands his cigar and brandy over to the soiled dove he was planning to –er—keep company with and leaves, (telling said prostitute he’s going after that reward money). If that’s not enough to tell you how this man doesn’t give a damn if it’s night or day, rain or shine, or even if there’s a blizzard raging, I don’t know what it’s gonna take, LOL. And this poor clueless judge wanted to know if it was night or day! Oi!

Of course, it goes without saying that the nastiest comments are more than made up for by the glowing remarks of a judge who does like your story, only critiques your skill and gently encourages you on your career path. But it’s funny how some of those comments linger .

What are some of your more memorable comments –good or bad-- from contest judges?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Monday Morning Musing... thoughts and observations of the past week

*Whatever happened to manners? Maybe it’s because I spend so much time living in the past vicariously through my characters, but… Why does my son’s schoolteacher—a woman a good 15 years my junior—think it’s okay to call me Nicole when I’ve not invited her to do so and always call her Miss So and So? My younger son’s teacher is a good 15 years my senior and she calls me Mrs. Hmm…Maybe I’m an old fuddy duddy. But if you happen to see Common Courtesy out there, will you tell it I’m looking for it?

*Speaking of school…which is worse, that I have the middle school principal (where my oldest attends) on speed dial on my cell phone… or that the principal of the grammar school my youngest attends has me on hers? Hmmm.

*McCaffrey’s Law: the same husband who treats Christmas and birthday gifts as an afterthought will go overboard on Valentine’s Day… especially when you didn’t get him anything.

*February recess. Yes, the kiddies here are off from school all week. Who invented this form of parental torture anyway? I’m betting it was Uncle Walt himself, since this is one of the busiest weeks of the year at Disneyworld.

*How many more days until February recess is over?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Friday Fun: Hangin' with Isabel

Isabel Roman reviewed The Model Man on her blog on Wednesday; today she's interviewing me. Stop over for and visit!

Here are excerpts from the stories mentioned in the interview:

This Moment in Time

Wild Texas Wind

The Model Man

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Model Review

I'm so tickled! Isabel Roman has reviewed my 2008 release The Model Man on her blog today!

Stop over and see what she had to say about it, then be sure to stop back at her blog Friday for her interview with me.

Thanks, Isabel!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Monday Morning Musing

Some random thoughts inspired by my busy weekend. (Is there any other kind?)

*Never again do I venture into a grocery store on Superbowl Sunday. I don't care if it's milk, tampons or dog food that I'm out of. NEV-ER.

*Lone gunman--or conspiracy? No, I'm not talking about JFK, I'm talking about laundry! How is it that skipping one day--just one day!!!-- of doing laundry means the next day, there are at least three loads waiting. There are only four people in this house and at least one of them doesn't change his undies every day (my ten YO--he thinks I can't tell!) so where does it all come from??? I'm betting on conspiracy.

*McCaffrey's Law (since I'm no relation to Murphy): It is a scientific fact that while you are cleaning one room, your hubby and/or kids are trashing the others. You think I'd stop bothering after a while!

*Lastly... why is it that the more determined you are to have a quiet weekend, the less likely it is to happen? (or in other words--can I get a blizzard, please???)

I'll leave you with a quote from a woman who undoubtedly understood.... the late, great Erma Bombeck.

Do you know what you call those who use towels and never wash them, eat meals and never do the dishes, sit in rooms they never clean, and are entertained till they drop? If you have just answered, "A house guest," you're wrong because I have just described my kids. ~ Erma Bombeck

So how was your weekend? Did you get time to relax or spend it watching the clock, waiting for Monday to get here so you could finally have your house back?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Happy Dancing

As some of you may have noticed on the sidebar, I have my cover for Wild Texas Wind. I'm thrilled with it, and while the cover artist couldn't find a guy with long, dark hair, like my hero, I love that she picked a guy whose hair doesn't show--and if I look close enough in those shadows around his collar, I can pretend his dark hair is there, LOL. And, I should add, the artist got everything else right. I always envisioned the cover to feature my hero, shirtless, in just a long black coat. Kudos to the awesomely talented Nicola Martinez.

What do you think? I love it!

Read on for the back cover blurb and excerpt.

All Raz Colt wants is land, a quiet peaceable existence and to put his life as a hired gun in the past. When the chance to earn a sizable fortune by rescuing a kidnapped heiress comes his way, he seizes the opportunity. Trouble is, the heiress doesn’t want to be rescued. Offsetting Arden O’Hara’s beauty is a rattlesnake personality and shrewish temper. Despite her claim that she faked the kidnapping so her fiancĂ© would ride to her rescue, Raz knows someone is out to kill her. And if anyone gets the pleasure of wringing her lovely neck, it’s going to be him.

Arden O’Hara is desperate to go home. Her fiancĂ© was supposed to ride to her rescue, proving it’s her–and not her father’s money– he loves. Instead an arrogant stranger, with weapons strapped gun-fighter low and a decided lack of sympathy for her situation, shows up spouting a ridiculous tale about someone trying to kill her. It’s infuriating when Raz Colt’s claims prove true after not one but several attempts are made on her life. She has no idea who this fast gun with the deadly aim is, or why he makes her feel as wild and untamed as the Texas wind. But like it or not, if anyone is capable of getting her home alive, it’s Raz Col


“Don’t say it, Colt.”
“No one else has reason to want you dead—other than me. But if you marry him and meet up with some convenient accident, Geoffrey becomes a very rich widower.”
She lunged at him, claws bared. “Bastard.”
Raz caught her arms and pressed her against the mattress. “The sooner you face the truth, the better your chances of staying alive.”
“I won’t listen to this.” She flailed , but when she couldn’t dislodge him, she attempted to put a knee to his groin. “Let go of me.”
He straddled her hips to keep the knee from connecting. “Not until you calm down.”
“I’m not going to calm down as long as you’re on top of me, you jackass! Let me go or I’ll scream.”
“You wouldn’t dare.”
She opened her mouth.
Pinning her arms, he had no choice but to muffle her scream with the only thing he had left. Leaning forward, he opened his mouth over hers.
In an instant everything changed.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

As good a place to start as any....

I received this from Sarah Simas (thanks, Sarah!) back in December but haven't had a chance to do anything with it yet. I guess seven random facts about me are as good a place to start as any (if I can think of that many! LOL)

1. It's all about handbags. Some women shop for shoes, some like clothes. Me, I love purses. Big ones, small ones, leather ones, fabric ones. For me, a stroll through the handbag department is like a little kid walking through a candy store.

2. I've always believed that pets are God's way of keeping angels with us at all times.

3. I hate to drive. In fact, if I never had to leave my house again, I'd be a very happy hermit.

4. The first story I ever wrote was called "The Unloved Doll Who Became Loved" (my mother still has it). I've since learned not to give away the ending in the title. *G*

5. Fifteen years together and I am still giddily, ridiculously, head over heels in love with my hubby.

6. Hubby and the boys think I watch Dirty Jobs with them just to spend family time together. But I have a secret crush on Mike Rowe.

7. Must have my NCIS fix daily. A day without NCIS is like... well, a day without NCIS!!

How about you? What's something random about you that nobody knows? Fess up!

The Struggle is Real Week 8: When Life Hits Back

  It’s been nearly two weeks since my last post. Did anyone notice I was missing?   But I have good news/bad news.   The good news. I wr...