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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!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Checking in, Holiday Wishes, Update and a promise

I have been off the boards, so to speak, for nearly a month after diminishing participation for several more.  Without boring anyone, I'll say that Eldercare Issues occupying a lot of time and travel expense (remind me to move to within 100 miles of my nearest and dearest when I am in my eighties.  It will save wear and tear on my family) a (day) job that keeps me extremely busy but puts bread on my table and three projects in the air have kept me from being any sort of a presence on this blog or anywhere else.

Just this morning, going through my mail, I encountered this blog post from WriterUnboxed:

It was just what I needed to read, an elbow to the ribs that brought home things I had been thinking.

Whatever we do, whether we are being creative, running a marathon or running after toddlers, we need to keep ourselves in shape, challenge ourselves and refresh ourselves.  Not the easiest thing to do, as we all know, but imperative. 

...So, Diana, what, exactly, have you been doing?

Aside from eldercare and driving 500 miles approximately every other weekend and worrying about the particular elder?  Writing,  you mean? 

Well, I could give a list:
  • Polishing Book 2 of The Orphan's Tale (due out around May of 2016)
  • Writing book 3 of The Memphis Cycle (due out autumn of 2016 if I'm lucky)
  • Mulling over putting out a book of shorts from The Memphis Cycle
  • Finishing the Crocodile Story (see upper right of my blog for a look at the cover).
It's rather a lot to do at once with everything else going on.

So, what to do? 

I've decided to schedule one post per week.  If I think of other things, I'll post about them.  I'll participate in the IWSG.  I love the Celebrations blog hop, and it would be easy to incorporate that into my weekly post.  I'll also be careful to respond to comments.  We'll see how it goes.

Meanwhile, if anyone is curious, this is what I did over the weekend.  It is the book cover for Vengeance, Book 2 of The Orphan's Tale.  The books form a trilogy.  Book 1 and Book 3 are essentially written.  That is, Book 1 has been out for some time.  Book 3 originally flowed from that after a six month hiatus.  Well, while polishing Book 3 I began to think of what happened during those six months.  So Book 2 has been written, basically, from whole cloth. 

The covers all feature a character from each story.  Book 1 was the Heroine, Book 3 will have the hero, and Book 2 has a little boy who is a pivotal character in every volume.  His name is Larouche, he was out on the street around age 3 in the wake of a cholera epidemic.  He was taken in by an old priest for the next year or so.  When the priest died, Larouche never went back.  He makes his appearance  nearly a year after the priest's death, and the Hero runs afoul of him.

Their relationship is one of the megathemes of the series and it has been a delight to write.  It was hard to find an image for him (depictions of street urchins are rather scarce, and I had to adjust this one).  I set it within a painting of a great old Parisian structure on Christmas.  Very fitting, since Book 2 ends Christmas eve with Larouche pausing to look in the window of a festive house.  It took a lot of work to adjust the images, position them, shade them, highlight the windows...  A lot of work can also be really enjoyable.  I do need to adjust the fonts at the top and bottom and perhaps change the color of the velvet background, but I do think I have my cover.

Thanks for your patience, my apologies that it was necessary.

May your days be merry and bright, and may 2016 be a year of wonderful happiness and peace.