Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Rakkutta ja lapsionnea

A rainy day got sunny when I found a nice surprise in the mail today. It was a little box from Harlequin--two copies of Rakkutta ja lapsionnea.

No, I’m not playing dancing digits on my keyboard. Rakkutta ja lapsionnea is Daddy in Waiting in Finnish.

One of the most fun things about being a Harlequin author is receiving copies of foreign editions. When I pulled this one out of the box I had a bit of a déjà vu experience because I remembered being paired with the incomparable Holly Jacobs before. Hmmm. I had to pull out my box of foreigns and my last royalty statement to realize that one of the copies was a direct sale copy and one was a retail copy. Not that it matters...I’m just happy to be in the game.

You may note that there are different covers on the books. The one on the right is my original cover and the other is Holly’s. In the baby cover sweepstakes, both are winners.

I once had a sister author tell me I was lucky that I got such a cute baby. She said that Harlequin babies usually look like space aliens. Hey, I’ve seen some of those babies, and my friend was right.

So, if you’re in Finland this summer, look up a copy of Rakkautta ja lapsionnea. If you miss it, it’s probably available at for a penny.

Happy writing.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Wild Kingdom

I'm working on a scene today that has dogs in it. Deputy Buck Thomas, the hero of The Cowboy Way, has three Border Collies.

As you know, Border Collies love to work. On the Triple Bar T, (Deputy Buck's family's ranch) the dogs have two jobs: they instruct visitors on how old-time cattle ranching was done (man, horse, dog) and they herd things.

Any things. People, cows, name it.

One of the dogs, Chris (his mates are Bill and Jack) has fallen in love with the heroine, and she with him. There are also some barn kittens that the heroine falls in love with, but that's another part of the story.

I hesitated to put dogs in this story, because, as you know, kids and dogs always steal the show. And, wouldn't you know it? Chris turns out to be a minor hero of The Cowboy Way. But it is a ranch story, and there were already these three great dogs living why not.

It's no secret that I love animals--well, except for squirrels. So, imagine my annoyance when yesterday I noticed that the squirrels had brought a friend along with them to the feeders...a rat!

I was not amused.

In fact, I was really upset until I saw the newest denizen of the back yard, a hummingbird. Yes, I have finally attracted a hummingbird to my feeder. As best I can tell, it's a female ruby-throated hummingbird. She's small and kind of plain, but I'm so happy to see her when she comes by. Watching her delicate wings flutter while she looks for food, and then seeing her jet off when she's done just makes my day.

So, what's your pleasure? Birds or squirrels or rats? Did I forget to mention the snake on the porch yesterday afternoon? Or the mosquitos? Ouch!

It's a regular wild kingdom around here!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Flowers for You

These sweet dianthus (some call them Pinks) greet me each time I go in or out my front door.

In this same pot I've had zinnias, azaleas, a rose (didn't make it a week), a hibiscus (had to water it twice a day) and some primroses that survived against all odds and retired to the little woods behind my house.

I love flowers. In my stories the heroes are forever giving the heroines flowers (Daddy in Waiting), taking the heroines to wildflower meadows (The Cowboy Way), and sneezing because they're allergic to flowers (Untitled, at this point).

I hope you have lots of flowers (both real and figurative) in your life.

Happy weekend.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Nothing you write, if you hope to be any good, will ever come out as you first hoped. Lillian Hellman

The hand-to-hand combat with The Cowboy Way continues. On Monday afternoon I cut the scene that had been driving me crazy, only to put it back that evening. Tuesday I wrestled with the next scene, then decided that the characters were bickering (a big no-no in a romance novel). A short re-write later they were working as a team again.

What’s next? Darned if I know. If Lillian Hellman is right, I’m probably not supposed to know. I’ve had characters hijack a story before and that kind of writing into the unknown is fun. This—wrestling—is not.

One thing for sure. I’ll keep plugging away until I find out.

Happy writing.

Monday, June 20, 2011


Over the weekend I read an interesting post by Victoria Strauss over at the Writer Beware blog ( where she speaks to the problem of Internet procrastination.

I have to admit that there is a LOT of distraction to be found online. My solution is to do online “research” on my Netbook and remove Internet access from the computer on which I do the majority of my writing. That particular computer is in my study, and believe me, there are ample other distractions in that room—and the Internet can’t hold a candle to a single one of them.

First, of course, there are the books. Last year I weeded them down to only the keepers, and there are still several hundred of them. I struggle not to pick up an old favorite when the writing is not going well, or as quickly as I’d like. Lynn Kurland’s This Is All I Ask is a perpetual temptation.

Then, there’s the stereo. I love to listen to music while I write. While working on the cowboy books, it’s soundtracks. Brokeback Mountain and Crazy Heart, especially. And I love Toby Keith. When he sings “You Shouldn’t Kiss Me Like This (Unless You Mean It Like That)” I just have to stop and drool.

The window overlooking the back yard is hard to miss. From my desk I can see the woods and the bird (or should I say, squirrel) feeders. Even with the windows closed I can hear the cardinals singing for their breakfasts, lunches and dinners.

Finally, heaven help me, I cannot fight the siren song of Spider Solitaire. Just one game, I tell myself. I’ll only play until I win, I insist. Oh, it helps me to play a game or two and let my mind wander (this worked for me exactly twice, and I’m still using it as an excuse).

Yes, Solitaire is the alternate spelling of PROCRASTINATION. I know this because I looked it up on the Internet.

Happy writing.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


I'm begining to feel that this is more a weather blog than a writing blog. The heat index today was 105 degrees! Hot, humid, bright, bright, bright sunlight...that made it a great day to stay inside and write.

My revisions of The Cowboy Way are forging ahead. I feel as though I'm in hand to hand combat with every paragraph, every sentence, every word. Does the heroine ask the right question? Give the right response? Does the hero reply in kind or is he just stubborn enough to poke and prod and rattle her cage? To-may-to or to-mah-to? Po-ta-to or po-tah-to.

Mark Twain had it right:

"The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug."

One thing is for's illuminating.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Had to ask the muse to sit on her hands yesterday while I worked in the back yard. The process of planting some rose bushes turned out to be a little more complicated than I’d anticipated.

I bought Knock-Out roses for the flower beds. I was excited about them for several reasons, not the least of which was their tolerance for direct sunlight and drought resistance—both of which (sun and drought) we currently have in Central Florida.

Also, they’re adorable! The flower isn’t tightly furled like a hot-house rose, it’s more like a wild rose. They currently only come in a deep red color, but there are rumors that pink and yellow are on the way. Since I’m trying to attract hummingbirds to the yard, red is the perfect color for me.

I’d heard that Knock-Outs didn’t have thorns, but that’s not true. I have the scratches on my hands to prove it. Not sure yet whether they really do dead-head themselves, or bloom from spring to fall, but that just adds to the enjoyment when you are the most amateur of naturalists like me.

After I rounded up all my tools, kneeling pad, drop cloth to hold the mulch I raked off the beds, then went back into the house ten times to get water, pruners, etc., etc., I was ready to plant. Got the first three into the ground, watered them, moved the mulch into a non-grassy area so the landscapers wouldn’t run over it, then…

I stepped on a rusty nail.

It was a funky little nail, about an inch long attached to a flat metal plate about an inch square where the head should be. I’m guessing it’s a fugitive from the time my roof was replaced, about three years ago. I recently moved a piece of wood from the area where I picked it up and think it might have been hiding there.

Question? Do you know the date of your last tetanus shot? I didn’t. I changed doctors a couple of years ago, and they didn’t know either. So, the gardening stopped so that I could run over to the doctor to get the shot. Now I have a record of my most recent vaccination and a list of others (influenza, etc) for the next time I need to know.

Question? Did you know that the “new” tetanus shot is paired with a pertussis vaccine? Now, when you’re vaccinated, you not only avoid a nasty care of lockjaw, you won’t be a danger to little babies. That’s a plus for me, since my youngest great-nephew is only one year old.

The roses? I finished planting them this morning. I’d hoped to get to them early, since we’re expecting a high temp of 97 today. I stepped outside at 9:00am and it was already hot, but luckily, shady by the porch. They’re watered and waiting for the mulch to be replaced. I’ll have to do that later, maybe when the temp drops to a more manageable level—95 or so.

Till then, I’m enjoying the view.

Friday, June 10, 2011

What I'm Reading

I could never write a mystery. I don't have the kind of mind that can sort clues from red herrings, the cute bad guy from the cranky cop with the manly, twice-broken nose or the spooky old house from the modern, crisply white beach-side home that will eventually be covered in blood.

I was raised on John D. McDonald and Ed McBain, because that's what my parents read and what was most often found laying around the house, but I was never interested in writing one. I was more of a Dreiser, Shakespeare, Nancy Drew kind of a gal.

Disclaimer: The Cowboy Way does have a teeny, tiny mystery element to it, but I don't make it hard to solve. I reveal the bad guy's name on the first page...Bradley, if you must know.

So, I'm glad that great writers like T. R. Ragan (Theresa to her Noodler sisters) has taken up the romantic thriller mantle. I just finished Abducted, now available for download on (and others). You don't want to miss this one, folks. It's suspenseful, chilling and un-put-downably good. You'll double lock your doors and put a baseball bat next to your bed, guaranteed.

Abducted is the story of Lizzy Gardner, kidnapped by the totally warped and crazy Spiderman when she was in her teens. He's back now, kidnapping, torturing and murdering other teens, and Lizzy knows she must help capture him. She teams up with Jared Shayne, her boyfriend at the time she was kidnapped, and together they solve the mystery.

The characters in this book are so well-drawn and well-motivated, I couldn't stop reading. Don't you love a book when you can't wait to find out what happens next???

I highly recommend Abducted to everyone who loves a good thriller, and especially to those who don't often read them. It's that good.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Poetry Day

It was Poetry Day at the June meeting of Central Florida Romance Writers on Saturday. Our speakers were two poets who courted through poetry. Their story was fun and inspiring. Interspersed with readings were several short (5 minutes) writing exercises. Out of three attempts I managed to write one thing I was happy with and thought I'd share. We were talking about food imagry here...

strawberry lips
almond eyes
cherry cheeks
skin smooth as vanilla creme
voice like melted chocolate

what man could resist such a woman?

what woman could resist such a gourmand?

I love stepping outside my comfort zone and being prodded to stretch my creativity. Sometimes it takes a cattle prod...but that's another topic for another day.

Speaking of cattle (I wasn't, really, but play along with me here), rewrites of The Cowboy Way are going swimmingly. Ideas tend to ping-pong around in my head when the writing is going well, so ideas for other projects are bubbling up, too. There's nothing I can do but just go with it. Where fiction is concerned, a flood is always better than a drought.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

What I'm Reading (YA Edition)

I was browsing on B& last week ordering Tangled (Have you seen it? It's too cute) and to round out the order (love that free shipping) I bought A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly. It came out in 2003 and I don't know how I missed it, because it has a Theodore Dreiser connection.

From the back cover:

Sixteen-year-old Mattie Gokey has big dreams but little hope of seeing them come true. Desperate for money, she takes a job at the Glenmore, where hotel guest Grace Brown asks her to burn a bundle of secret letters. But when Grace's drowned body is fished from the lake, Mattie discovers the letters reveal the grim truth behind a murder.

Set in 1906 against the backdrop of the murder that inspired Theodore Dreiser's An American Tragedy, this astonishing novel weaves romance, history and a murder mystery into something moving, real and wholly original.

I just started it today and I'm already impressed with the wonderful descriptions and characterizations.

YA. It's not just for kids.