Friday, February 5, 2016

Celebrating the Small Things Februar 5, 2016

This is the Celebrating the Small Things blog hop, run by Lexa Cain and her two wonderful co-hosts L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge and Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits.

I have two words that indicate what I am celebrating this moment in the middle of a snow storm ('storm' being the operative word) in southern New England where one might *think* they knew how to deal with the white stuff.

I drove in to my office, dealing with people who either thought they were immortal and traveled at high speed, or who thought that crawling was the better way to go, found a good parking place, raised my windshield wipers (good trick to know if there is a chance the snow may change to freezing rain), and went into the empty building.

One other person there said, "Oh, they're closed!"

"Really?" I said.  Sure enough, they were.

So I'm heading home.

I am celebrating the words:


Stay warm, and if you happen to live in Hawaii or Tahiti, let me know.  I'd love to visit.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Insecure Writers' Support Group - February 3, 2016

Today is IWSG day. Come join Alex J. Cavanaugh and all the other writers who support each other, make us all smile and think in this monthly hop. No one is mocked or sneered at. All are welcome. We have all been there:

This month's co-hosts are:
Allison Gammons,Tamara Narayan, Eva E. Solar, Rachel Pattison, and Ann V. Friend!

We are The Insecure Writer's Support Group.

Well, I have a doozie for you:  what do you do with a writer who is not writing?
Not WRITING???  What ARE you, then?

Really, what if the writer isn't writing?  Does that make him a  non-writer?  I mean, writers write, right?  Right?

At the moment I am taking a break.  I am right now formatting a book.  And correcting the odd issue with style (we do grow and develop) but I am deliberately not composing a thing.  I'm not even reading my several works in progress.  Though I'm checking my blog, and I don't want to miss the IWSG, I'm not doing a whole lot else writing-wise.

I burned out, writing's a chore right now, and I really need the break.

Am I a writer?

I certainly am.  I think I was born to tell stories.  It fulfills me, it gives enjoyment to others (generally), it's a whole lot of fun, and I love it.

So, for right now I'm a writer who is resting.  Banking the fires, if you like.

I suspect we worry too much about whether we fit this mold or that.  We are what we are, and I'd say you all are pretty fantastic.

Back to resting and reading other things not my own.  I'll do more formatting tomorrow.

Write on, everyone!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

A Repairing Lease

If you read Regency novels (not just romances) you will run into the term ‘Repairing Lease’.

As in, “I saw Dick Rackham yesterday.  He told me he is going on a repairing lease.  He’ll be back when The Season starts.”

The term means that the subject is taking rest and relaxation in a quiet place. Perhaps it is because Mr. Rackham gambled too much and his pockets are to let.  Perhaps Mr. Rackham was jilted by the lady he wished to marry, and his heart is broken.  Or perhaps Mr. Rackham is simply worn out by times, events, worries, concerns and projects and, in modern terms, has realized that he is spinning his wheels and needs to rest.

Whatever Mr. Rackham’s reasons for the move, Miss Wilder begs to inform all that she is going on a ‘Repairing Lease’ for two months.  She hopes to be back in April.  She will try to participate in IWSG. 

She hopes that her absence will not offend, worry or puzzle anyone.  She has simply realized that her strength has run out for the moment and she needs to catch her breath and close her eyes.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Celebrations, January 15, 2016 - Finding Favorite Music...and A Bouquet

This is the Celebrating the Small Things blog hop, run by Lexa Cain and her two wonderful co-hosts L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge and Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits.

Quite a few years ago, in a late afternoon on a Friday, I was driving along an interstate highway and minding my own business when I noticed that a vehicle behind me kept coming awfully close and once or twice nearly did not stop when traffic slowed down.  He was in a hurry, and while he was not ‘tailgating’ me, he was staying very close.  Two times, three times traffic stopped and I held my breath, watching in my rear-view mirror as he closed the gap and stopped…but just barely.

The drive continued, traffic stopped – and the fellow behind me crashed into the rear of my car.  It was a heavy hit, and I was stunned for a moment.  I collected myself reached shakily for the papers in my glove compartment.  Documents that you fill out in the event of a crash.  My car was up against a cement divider.  I had not yet unbuckled my seatbelt.  I reached for the papers, turned toward the door with my hand at my belt’s buckle-

And the divider jumped at me and jerked sideways just as I was about to open the door.

What had happened is that we had stopped, and another vehicle, coming along behind us, plowed into both of us, slamming my car forward and to the side.  If I had stepped outside, as I had intended, I would have been killed. 

I stepped out of my car and saw both men emerging with cellphones plastered to their ears.  They were talking into their cellphones.  I took mine from my purse – where it belonged while I was driving – and called the police.  “Can you see police lights up ahead ma’am?” the bored voice asked.  I said that I was the front vehicle in a multi-car pileup (‘you unmitigated nitwits!’) and they needed to send someone quickly.

So, the accident.  My car was a total loss.  It was a heavy, full-sized sedan, the top of the line.  And its safety ratings were very high, one reason I had bought it.

Well, I wasn’t hurt badly, thanks to seatbelts, the Ford Motor Company and my delay in exiting my vehicle (one reason why I am posting this in the Celebrations Blog Hop).  But one very bad thing did happen: most of my prized CDs were splintered.

A family member gathered them in a bag, and there they sat, in my garage for years.

Recently, I was getting ready to take a long drive up into what the U.S. calls “New England’.  I saw a pile of CD cases sitting on a shelf, and went over to them.  Well!  It appeared that not all my CDs were destroyed.  In fact one of my favorite musical CDs was there, a group of performances by  pianist David Lanz. 

As I drove along, I remembered the CD and put it in the player.  The first was called Christophori’s Dream (Christophori being the inventor of the piano) and the second being a piano rendition of Procol Harum’s Whiter Shade of Pale.

I listened and smiled. The magic was there.  It being celebration time, I will share with you.

Christophori's Dream, performed by David Lanz:

A Whiter Shade of Pale:

They certainly livened my drive, and I'll be delving into that bag again.

And the Bouquet:  I happened to see this on a sponsored forum on a vendor of my books:
Does anyone know anything about the next Memphis book - I was told the title was to be KADESH?

How could I not answer?  I wish I had seen the query sooner:
I apologize for the lateness of this response, but I saw your question just now and owe you a response.
Family issues delayed the release of Kadesh. I am working on it at this moment with a projected release date the end of this year. I will be releasing another Egyptian story, set a little earlier than the Memphis Cycle, within the next two months. This is a fable, and is a shorter story. The title is THE THIRTY CUBIT CROCODILE, and you can find information about it on my website, which is

And you can imagine my smile when I read this response and saw that someone had ‘liked’ my post:
Thank you. I'll be waiting eagerly. 
What are you celebrating?

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Insecure Writers Support Group January 2016

Today is IWSG day, the first of 2016.


You can join Alex J. Cavanaugh and all the other writers who support each other, make us all smile and think in this monthly hop.
No one is mocked or sneered at.  All are welcome.  We have all been there:

First of all, congratulations to the writers selected for the anthology!  It should be really good! 
And…using this as a segue to my Insecure Writerly post…you are all so very very lucky that I didn’t submit for it because I am such a truly fabulous writer, one of you poor folks would have been bumped out of your slot! 

I would never say that, of course.  Based on my observations, it would not necessarily have been true.  But the notion does touch upon a strange contradiction I’ve seen in myself and in other writers.  I’d call it the ‘Rather Odd Dichotomy of Abyssmal/Sublime’.

Don’t we all think, in our heart of hearts, that we are really good, heartfelt, talented, gifted, sincere and dedicated creative writers?  I don’t know if I’d phrase it that way, exactly, but I think somewhere deep down we all think we’re really good.  We have The Gift.  We can Tell Stories That Enthrall.  (Well, they enthrall me, at any rate). 

But, really, think about it.  You all know you’re good and gifted. 

And yet at the same time, we just know that if we put our precious creations out there, they will be ripped to shreds and somehow, in some weird way, we think that maybe, just maybe, we deserve it.


Okay, that’s weird.  But – and here is my deep, dark secret that I am offering up – I find myself goofing off, checking eBay, looking at the news, following links to interesting places, fiddling with Pinterest—

Hold on, you say, what’s wrong with that? 

Well, because I have sat down (hundreds of times) with an idea for a scene that I am going to write, by golly.  Most recently, it’s two chapters, to be salted in my WIP, that introduce a new angle to the conflict that the character is having, and heightens the element of danger.  I jotted my thoughts, blocked some things out, got some feedback from a friend who is perhaps the best, most honest editor I’ve ever had.  It’ll make the story flow, it had scope for humor and danger and a touch of intrigue – Who IS that fellow??? – and I sat down, fiddled with Pinterest and GOGMSITE. (I digress here for a moment: anyone who writes historical fiction with a European slant and is interested in researching female costume/fashion should visit  It is a wonderful resource, full of images and run by someone who needs to be awarded something. Perhaps being named ‘Dame of the Empire’ or something.)

So…  Did I write the scene?  Well, I did crank out a page once I looked at the clock and squawked.  But I could have written the whole thing and fiddled with it the next day.  And I didn’t.  Why not?

Well, maybe because that would bring me closer to finishing the thing and having to show it to people who might laugh at it or pull it apart or sneer at it, or something.  …and maybe they would be right?

Does that lie at the bottom of our shyness?  That while we know we have The Gift, we fear that it won’t be obvious to others.  Or they will rip us to shreds?  Or sneer at our work?

 But, truly, how often has that happened?  How often have we done our best and had it destroyed by criticism?  For me, at least, not often.  I’ve had some pointed suggestions, some observations ‘You know, you use a lot of sentence fragments…  It does tend to divert the reader from the flow of the story…’

I don’t do that to others, and I only had one person do that to me.  She was in Preditors and Editors as an ‘Avoid at All Costs’.  Based on my information from the post office, she opened my envelope, scrawled a note on the manuscript I’d sent for her review, and stuffed it back in the mail within half an hour of receiving it.  Everyone else has been constructive, if somewhat stern.  Stern is nice.

I’ll be on the internet this evening reading Insecure Writer Posts.  Then I’ll spit out that chapter, which will bring me closer to finishing the WIP.  I will start sounding people out for beta-reads.

There.  That wasn’t too hard.   (I feel so much better!)

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Celebrating the Small things - the first of 2016

This is the Celebrating the Small Things blog hop, run by Lexa Cain and her two wonderful co-hosts L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge and Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits.

It is hard to believe that (at this moment) 2015 is winding down and 2016 is about to begin.

I remember for many years there was always a depiction of a baby getting ready for the year, sometimes as an old man crept out the other side of the image - the old year leaving for the new year.  I didn't like the ones I found, but this one makes me smile.

My family always sat up together to watch the ball drop in Times Square, and we would sip a glass of champagne or, sometimes, Cold Duck, which we kids liked a little better.  Grandparents would get misty, I would get sleepy...

On New Years eve 1999 (turning to the year 2000) we all got together and watched New Years all over the world.  It was wonderful, though there was a video of a Jordanian baptism that just wouldn't stop. 

"And now we take you to Paris!" 

And the baptism would show again.  We all began chuckling.  Everyone looked happy, we were happy, it was all good.

So what am I doing?

Well, I'll be sipping Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut, whichI received as a Christmas gift.  I'm always happy to drink Champagne.

It's a happy drink.  I remember one summer where a burgeoning case of depression (job woes, employers moving, ailing loed ones) was nipped in the bud with a glass of champagne drunk with family.

I'll probably be sitting and watching the fire with a cat on my lap.  My money is on Little Miss Mess, a/k/a Frida, who has appeared in this blog a time or two.  She's peppery, sweet and very affectionate.  Unlike a long departed darling, she does not like Champagne, so there will be more for me.

...and maybe I'll break out my current work in progress and pick away at it.

Tomorrow, early, I drive to my mother's to spend the weekend.

I hope you'll all be with those you love, who love you.

And I'm ending with something pretty to look at:

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Celebrating the Small Things, Christmas Edition, 2015

Welcome to Celebrating the Small Things, one of the loveliest blog hops on the blogosphere anywhere, run by Lexa Cain and her two wonderful co-hosts L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge and Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits.

It is Christmas.  I am sitting in my bathrobe (shame on me!) without any slippers on.  The fireplace is cold, which is perfectly OK beause it is hovering around 61 degrees right now.

I finished designing the cover for the third book in a series of mine and am debating cleaning the house.  I  had meant to fill in holes in a nearly finished manuscript.

(Sibling is at Mom's; other sibling and family are down in Virginia enjoying the weather.  Third sibling is stranded in upstate New York with a broken down car and a shoe-eating Lab puppy named Mack (for the truck).  He doesn't just eat shoes, either.  

The proud owner of quite a case of puppy-wiggles, he is enthusiastic about everything but shots and baths, and hasn't met a hotdog he did not like.

Puppies are always smile-makers unless it is the middle of the night, you have been wrestling with the 'joys' of housebreaking, and you have just started to take that long, slow fall into dreamland in the middle of your warm, desperately desired bed, when you hear the prefatory yips that you just know, with a sinking feeling in your stomach, means that you will shortly be pulling on what passes for a bathrobe (I know someone who uses a quilt) and stumbling to the door to stand there while said puppy decides whether it really wants to squat to (name the function) outside, or maybe should go back to the nice, safe papers.

That, however, is not my situation.  My grand old dog, Jesse James (aptly named as far as his attitude toward food goes) has been housebroken for...let me see...fourteen years.  Labs age gracefully, but he spends a lot of time snoring.  I may rent him out to people whose significant others are traveling and are feeling lonely at night.  Some people have actually said that the sound of snoring is very soothing, and it helps them to sleep.  I can loan out Jess (his nickname) and do a good deed.  He no longer bellows in your ear when he wants to be let out, but he still stares when you are eating, and he does a wonderful job mimicking a starving puppy.

But I digress.

Today I am celebrating those book covers.  Someday I'll bore everyone by posting them, which means that I will be smitten with an urge to change them forthwith.  I am celebrating the fact that while my family is far-flung this Christmas, there are no feuds, arguments, simmering bad feelings.  We all get along, we all watch each others' welfare and we actually love each other.  Truly a cause to celebrate.

I am celebrating last night's Christmas Eve service.  Since I was holding down the fort at this end of the country, I went alone. It was a wonderful service, everyone was welcoming, the music was lovely, and my thoughts were happy ones.

Tomorrow I drive to my Uncle's house a few hours away.  He turns 90 tomorrow, and I MUST be there.  Where have the years gone?  He's a little deaf now, but still the sharp, wonderful uncle I always called my bess frend (I was very little).

Right now I am going to get up and pop a chicken in the oven.  I like to make roast chicken, and a side of rice, cranberry sauce (with candied ginger, pineapple bits and mandarin oranges) will be good.  Not sure about dessert.  Perhaps the orange-tinged fudge (homemade).  Pity I don't feel like drinking a bottle of Champagne by myself.  It'll have to be a nip of Drambuie.  I think I can take it.  

It's been a lovely couple days.  I hope it's been the same for you.

And now, just for pretty, a picture a friend sent me.  Nearly as good as being there, she said:

All the best to all - and may 2016 be a wonderful year for you!