Saturday, January 31, 2009
I was looking for a picture that embodied the type of romance I write. I decided to search "Kiss," and this was my favorite of the several options.
I like so many things about this picture--the unusual location, the way the gown's train is billowed out behind her... But what I like best is the fact that she is so enraptured by the kiss, her beautiful bouquet is in danger of falling out of her hand. I love stories like that. The ones that take your breath away.
That's the kind I want to write, too. Working on it...
To visit my website, click here.
Friday, January 30, 2009
“Technorati (technorati.com), a website that covers all things blog-related, tracks more than 112.8 million active blogs, which means there are more people blogging than there are people reading books. Technorati also reports that there are more than 175,000 new blogs created every day and that bloggers update their pages to the tune of more than 1.6 million posts per day, or more than 18 updates a second.”
To read the full article, go here.
It was very interesting reading, for many reasons. But I mention it because it makes me want to say a big THANK YOU to anyone who is reading this. For goodness' sake, if you have a choice of 112.8 million active blogs, plus the 175,000 new ones created each day, what a huge compliment—whether intentional or not—that you spend some time here in Magdalenaville!
Thursday, January 29, 2009
I just noticed there is another lovely five-star review on the Amazon page for The Blank Book. How thrilling!
Also I've been wondering lately... Should I mention more often here on the blog the fact that I write books? Cuz that it sorta important, at least to me.
Okay. I write books! And sometimes people read them. And sometimes people who read them like them or even love them. And occasionally one of those people takes the initiative to write a review on Amazon, which is so incredibly cool, as well as being very, very kind.
Okay, to read the reviews--here is the link: Amazon reviews for The Blank Book.
Anyone can write a review. One thing, though--be sure not to tell the ending. Okey doke?
Magdalena (very excited!)
Don't know anybody who does that? Well, yes you do! Harlequin is celebrating its 60th anniversary by giving away $60 USD worth of ebooks to anyone who wants them. (Some titles have adult content, so watch for that if you're not an adult. It comes up in red letters when you click on the book.)
I hadn't noticed Harlequin offering so many different formats, but these books come in your choice of five. Yet another chance for the intrepid ereader to experiment. For the non-intrepid ereader who wants to sit at the computer, you'll probably want to choose Adobe. I guess that's why they put it as the big red button, above the other formats.
Go here and download to your heart's content.
Sorry, the offer isn't available to you if you are a resident of Quebec. Read that in the small print. Fortunately Magdalenaville isn't located in Quebec.
Happy Anniversary, Harlequin! We heart you!
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
I was without power a few hours, and without internet a few hours longer.
Nothing drastic, in other words--just a bit of inconvenience. That, and the fact that the dog and I are not speaking to each other. You know how he is about requiring a constant acceptable temperature in here. (If you don't know, read yesterday's post about the Two o'clock feeding.)
Anyway, the dog and I are looking daggers at each other, but that's the worst of it. While the power was off I even cleaned house a while. I baked a casserole and made potato soup when the electricity came on. Cuz you know, it may go off again.
Now, where are those ice skates?
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Then, finally, you get it settled for the night, and you settle down too. Get all warm and snuggled in bed. Maybe you're at a certain age, or have a lot on your mind, so that it's hard to fall asleep, but, eventually you drift off....mmm...
But--alas!--in the middle of the night, or approximately two o'clock, the dog awakens you. He's not barking or whining, but he's pacing back and forth on the hardwood hall floor outside your bedroom. This is the indicator that it's time for the two o'clock feeding.
So of course you put a pillow over your head, hope someone else will get up and do the two o'clock tonight--um--this morning. The pacing continues until you can't stand it, and know it's your turn tonight. Drag out of bed, stumble through the house in your flannel gown and fuzzy slippers, head into the "mud room" and throw the big ugly shirt on top of your gown, head down to the basement...
Open the furnace door and poke a few sticks of wood into it. (Make sure you shut the door after.) Go back upstairs, dump the ugly shirt, glare at the dog in the dark, go to bed and hope you fall asleep again.
If you heat with wood, maybe you've experienced this.
Maybe you wonder how to train the dog to load wood into the furnace instead of just detecting when it's time for someone else to do it.
Oh--the picture up there? Cute, isn't it? What? You thought this was about feeding a baby? Huh.
Monday, January 26, 2009
Sometimes I have to feel "under the weather" in order to appreciate my normally good health. I don’t know if that’s human nature or just me being ungrateful.
The last few weeks I’ve been so-so. Today, however, I could strap on some four-inch stilettos, slip into a really great red dress, and go dancing! Wahoo!
Of course I’m writing instead, but I will listen to glorious music while I write. It's probably just as well--I'd break my neck in those stilettos.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
I could go on for paragraphs about the things my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins have done throughout the years to make my life wonderful. Quite honestly, I'm terribly spoiled, and always have been. However, I won't go on for paragraphs. I can hear your sigh of relief.
But for any of them who visit Magdalenaville today, THANK YOU!!!
I've often wondered if my parents accidentally got the wrong baby at the hospital. I'm not musically talented like much of my dad's family, and I'm not exotic like my mother's family. Still, whoever I am, I'm thankful for where I landed.
I guess there might be a middle aged, exotic, musically talented woman out there who was put in the wrong crib in the hospital nursery a few decades ago. Hope she doesn't read this blog.
Friday, January 23, 2009
Easy to say, not always easy to do. But worth the effort, right?
This is a benedictory poem we used to recite when I was in study club. The last line popped into my head a couple of days ago.
Keep us, oh God, from pettiness;
let us be large in thought,
in word, in deed.
Let us be done with fault-finding
and leave off self-seeking.
May we put away all pretense
and meet each other face to face,
without self-pity and without prejudice.
May we never be hasty in judgement
and always generous.
Let us take time for all things;
and to grow calm, serene, gentle.
Teach us to put into action
our better impulses,
straightforward and unafraid.
Grant that we may realize it is
the little things that create differences,
that in the big things of life we are at one.
And may we strive to touch and to know
the great, common human heart of us all.
And, oh Lord God, let us forget not
to be kind!
Mary StewartApril, 1904
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
I receive e-cards too. Most of my friends have gotten into the habit. So it was a big surprise to find a card-shaped envelope in the actual physical mailbox on the front porch yesterday. Huh. A card. The kind you hold in your hand!
Here is what it says:
The Board and staff of Romance Writers of America
You know I've been decluttering. I've thrown away and shredded so much paper this year. But this card? I really think this one will be sticking around.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
How do you like my flowers?
Remember the other day when I was so tired of grey? I considered buying a big bouquet of fresh flowers for the sitting room where I spend so much time. But, well, money is a bit tight, so I decided to brighten my world with these flowers. They're in the center of my laptop monitor, in the middle of a bright green background. I feel more cheerful already!
For the next several days I'm going to say "no" to some things I'd rather say "yes" to, so I can meet my manuscript deadline. This is a bummer. The bright side? I love having a deadline! I love the story I'm writing, and the one I'm going to write next. No, I haven't decided which of the three main possibilities is next. But it doesn't matter, because I love all of them!
I have another fun project coming up. I'm going to design a brochure for a friend who has her own shop. She's seen the signs I make to advertise my booksignings, and she asked how much I enjoy doing that. Answer: I love doing it! So, this will be a neat new way to be creative. We had a little discussion about marketing and networking too. You know I'm all about that, right?
Seriously. If you'd known me a couple of years ago, you wouldn't even recognize me now. What a difference the right life path makes. This was part of what I heard in Sunday's sermon that meant so much to me.
I hope your corner is bright today. If not, what would cheer it up a little bit?
Monday, January 19, 2009
The walk is not just for fun, of course. It's also for the exercise, and I need that. I've missed a couple of days due to sickness. And laziness.
I feel as if I got a new start yesterday. Heard something in the sermon I really needed to hear, and took it much to heart. We had a nice afternoon and evening, including no writing at all. It felt good to live like a normal person for a little while. Sometimes I forget to take breaks like that.
But this morning I'm ready to jump back into it! I have a story to finish, and about three others I want to work on next. (I won't, of course. I'll have to choose one.) There are copies of The Blank Book on order, bookstores to visit, two signings coming up in February, and one in March.
At times I get overwhelmed with all there is to do in my writing life and real life. Quite often I handle it poorly. I'm not Nora Roberts, and never will be. In fact, I don't have that as a goal, because she does such an awesome job of being herself!
My goal is simply to do the best I can with what I have. I'm focusing better on that, with my new start.
Friday, January 16, 2009
Tomorrow's speaker is our one-and-only guy member, Michael Embry. I'm really looking forward to his presentation. Also looking forward to seeing the rest of our members again. We only meet six times a year, so if you miss one meeting it's a long time between in-person visits. So, hey, what's a five-hour round trip?
As you know, I don't post on Sundays. Meet you back here on Monday...
There are a lot of numbers that don't make a huge difference to me right now, such as the NYT bestseller list. So happy for the people who are on that list, and I'm sure there's a special kind of anxiety that goes along with it. Such as, if my book is Number 7 this week, will it go up or down? Will I be inundated with those pesky invitations to do nationally televised talk shows?
No, I don't have to worry about the NYT numbers right now. What I do watch, on a daily basis, are the numbers on Fictionwise and Amazon. I try not to watch it on more than a daily basis, because Amazon in particular can drive you nuts. A book's ranking can change hourly. Believe me, when the first Ladies of Legend book went up on Amazon, I checked its ranking constantly. Not a healthy thing to do, and finally I slacked way off. Fictionwise, which is a huge seller of ebooks, updates numbers less frequently.
Yesterday evening I checked Fictionwise, and was amazed that The Blank Book had made a considerable jump in ranking. Yes! It jumped. It did not dive, as it has done off and on since being released there early last fall.
You'd think I would be happy with that. But no. I want to know why it jumped. Did I do something right for a change? Did I somehow reach a new group of ereading people who were intrigued by the book blurb and excerpt?
Cuz if I did something right, I would probably be glad to do it again.
Meanwhile, another number is looming ahead: 31. The last day of this month, when I need to turn in my manuscript for Where Her Heart Is. Page count and word count. More numbers...
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Eons ago, he and I worked together. During coffee break, sometimes our conversation turned to writing. My romances, his poetry. The rejection letters. The time spent with Writer's Market (me) and Poet's Market (him). Would we achieve our dreams of being published?
It took us a while, and our routes were different, but we did it! I am so thrilled for Harold. I don't have my copy of his book yet, but I will soon.
Harold is a very humble guy. He doesn't talk a lot about his talents, which are many and varied. For instance, not only did he write this book of poetry, he illustrated it. Here is the blurb on the Amazon page. It tells you, too, what an unassuming man he is:
Life is a constant learning process, from childhood to adults. We're sewing pieces of our story, into the format of our personality. This is part of living, that we are members of this society, and need to make changes along our way. It is to this awakening, I stand as a member of society, in a sea of builders and dreamers of a better tomorrow. If only one poem reaches out with a warm-hearted glow, and insures one soul with a smile, that would be payment enough. I take life as it comes, with no certainties. I enjoy my simple life with my family, on a mini-farm, raising dairy goats, two Australian Shepherds and a few geese.
If you enjoy poetry, you may want to give this book a chance. It is available from Publish America, Amazon, Borders, Barnes & Noble, and Target.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
We visited a darling little independent bookstore, and a big chain store. The people in both were so very nice! I hope to share news here soon about my books being available in both locations. It's in the works, but the books aren't on the shelves yet. Exciting stuff--for me, at least.
It was such a nice day, and of course I have new books to read. The printed-on-paper kind.
Gotta run now. Literally--maybe around the block. Cuz, like, I had so much coffee, I'm bouncing off the walls. Next time maybe my theme should be books and decaf coffee?
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
“Be not the slave of your own past—plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep, and swim far, so you shall come back with self-respect, with new power, with an advanced experience, that shall explain and overlook the old.”
--Ralph Waldo Emerson
I ran across this quotation last night, and chose the clip art. Cheryl St. John posted a great picture and similar sentiment this morning. Or at least to me it seems similar.
Life. Dive in. Splash.
Wonderful advice.Thank you, Mr. Emerson and Ms. St. John!
Monday, January 12, 2009
I woke up at 3:00 a.m. today, re-living every wrong decision I've ever made. After lying awake for an hour or so, I went back to sleep. Not because I'd come up with any action plans, but simply because I was exhausted.
See the the signs up there, and the mess of roads? That picture is exactly the way I feel much of the time, and it's daunting. Especially when you're looking at it from a Pit.
I think part of today will be spent trying to sort out my map a little better. I think, somewhere along the way, it got folded wrong.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
But the kind of flexibility I meant to talk about is the mental and emotional kind. My stand has always been that I don’t mind change as long as it’s my idea. Otherwise, please do not bother me with it. Right. As if that’s going to happen. When I have a plan in mind, if something comes up to change it, sometimes I get very stressed. “Aack! No! That’s not how it’s supposed to be…”
This is why, years ago, I stopped making many plans. It seemed they were always changed by forces beyond my control, and I got very tired of the constant disappointment. Instead, I just floated along with whatever force of nature came my way, shoving me off the Shore of Indecision and down Igotnoclue Creek... I spent a very long time bobbing along on that creek, sometimes getting stuck in the weeds that grow along the edge, sometimes buoyed way up by the runoff from rains further upstream. None of it was my doing, and that was cool with me. It wasn’t my fault if things went badly, just as it wasn’t due to me if they went well. I just existed. I didn’t have a clue where the creek was leading--I guess that’s how it got its name--and told myself I didn’t care. My reasoning: I was being flexible and undemanding.
But recently, as I began to REINVENT myself, I looked at all this very differently. Bobbing along, occasionally bouncing off a rock, wasn’t good enough anymore. I decided I wanted to build a boat and head upstream. Because, hey, when the water gets deeper and more interesting down here, it’s because something is happening up there—and I wanted to be part of it.
So, as part of the reinvention, I’m building a boat. More of a raft really, but it shouldn’t leak much, and I’ve got a longish pole to push myself along. I’m planning to eventually have a darling little houseboat, but it will probably be a while. (I’ll leave it to you to ponder what those items are analogous to. I got up too early this morning, so quite possibly they aren’t analogous to anything.)
I’ve decided I can be flexible, but still make plans. Have goals. Work at something of value, instead of just work. That's what has me paddling so vigorously these days.
Friday, January 9, 2009
I have a deadline of January 31 to turn in my manuscript for Where Her Heart Is. I'm excited about this story because I enjoyed writing the heroine, Betsy, when she first appeared in the Finding Home anthology. She was Martin McClain's receptionist, and became a good friend to Midnight Shelby, the heroine of that story.
Betsy has been away from her hometown of Legend, Tennessee, for a couple of years, and now she's back. Her almost-ex-husband still lives there, and immediately complicates things for Betsy and their young daughter.
The story is going well. It's different in some ways than anything I've written before, and that's okay! More soon about Betsy, Mike, and LizBeth Ann...
Thursday, January 8, 2009
You know me and ebooks. Love 'em. Sometimes I talk about how much I love 'em. Maybe I talk too much about it?
When I saw this article in the online version of Business Week, I was really excited that this respected magazine was doing a story on using smart phones as reading devices. Yay!
But not only did I read the article. I commented. Oh my.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Here’s the thing. What’s the fun of working at home if you have to dress up? I mean, my alarm goes off at , I drink coffee and do my online stuff, walk a couple of miles (weather permitting), and then shower. At that point, quite often I go back to the laptop for a while before actually getting dressed and putting on makeup. I’m not being a slacker just because I’m in my bathrobe. And, heck, who’s going to see me?
Well… Tuesday it was the FedEx guy. My son was expecting the delivery, it had to be signed for, and I was the only one home. I peeked out the window when I heard the knock at the door, and when I saw the FedEx truck, I knew my momly duty was to answer the door. In my white terry bathrobe and matching headgear, unlike our model above who has cutely coiffed dry hair. I knew if I didn’t hurry, the guy would leave and take the package with him.
I apologized profusely, and as he left I told him to try to block it from his mind. Poor guy. I hope he isn’t traumatized.
Of course my son owes me, big time.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
1. Your Household;
2. Your Life-Style;
3. Your Finances;
4. Your Job;
5. Your Health;
6. Your Personal Life;
7. Special Issues for Women; and
8. Hard-Core Simplicity.
This is another book I've read more than once. I follow many of the suggestions, and have for years. It helps me to re-read, though, to see if more can be implemented now than in the past. It's always good to know that, although the path to simplicity/authenticity looks difficult, others have gone there before us. There is a trail, if we look hard enough.
Yesterday I filled four more big plastic bags for Goodwill. It helps me to concentrate on what is important when I pare down the extranea.
Monday, January 5, 2009
Here is a picture of the blank books I uncovered in my decluttering on Friday. Hm. I've moved them from the drawers, to the chair where I took their photo, to the floor where they add a sense of, um, clutter to the sitting room. Yes, my decluttering has created some clutter, and this isn't all of it. Fortunately, it's all you will see.
When I took a load of excess stuff to Goodwill on Friday, it was a busy place! It was, like, unload and get outta the way, because there was someone behind you wanting to do the same thing. I guess decluttering is big in January.
Speaking of that, Maddie James has re-vamped the SisterWriters blog page. It wasn't cluttered before, yet it does look fresh and new. As always, she's done a lovely job. If you have a moment to check it out, please do. We're posting more often over there, which is such fun--at least for us! Saturday I realized I had forgotten to do my weekly Friday post on SisterWriters, so I put that up on Saturday. It's about centering. I am really struggling with that. Can ya tell?
Saturday, January 3, 2009
In my frenzy of decluttering yesterday, I cleaned out two drawers of a piece of furniture formerly used as a desk. I didn't have a desk in those days. Actually, I still don't have a desk. Huh.
Anyway, I tossed a lot of stuff into the recycling bin, and shredded a lot, too. Some things survived the cut, though, including the blank books. Fourteen of them. Fourteen of them which are now stacked on a chair in the sitting room, where they are near the seven I have in the antique oak secretary (almost a desk). No way will they all fit in there, and I'm not sure where to store them.
This makes me think of Alice Williams, the heroine in my novel, The Blank Book. Alice has an addiction, and one of the symptoms is that she has a desk full of blank books. Actually, they're not just in the desk. They're stored other places too, because she doesn't have space in the desk. And she keeps acquiring them... Hm.
Of course THE Blank Book in the story isn't something she picked up off a shelf in a department or discount store. THE Blank Book is something else entirely, and when Alice begins to write a story in it, that story begins to take over her life.
But these twenty-one blank books--even though some of them are unusual looking--these blank books are just normal. I'm sure. And writing stories in them will not make the stories come true. Because stuff like that doesn't really happen.
Friday, January 2, 2009
I don't function well when I let my surroundings get cluttered. Eventually I get to the point of wanting a scoop shovel to deal with it. I've also threatened to park a dumpster outside and just start pitching things out the window. But mostly I work on a smaller scale.
Yesterday afternoon the Christmas decorations were taken down and stored.
Last night I revamped my website. I changed templates, streamlined, and uploaded a new graphic. Makes me feel all neat and tidy!
Thursday, January 1, 2009
FYI, I have taken the yarn out of the cupboard, but so far do not see the knitting needles. I know they must be in this house somewhere--everything imaginable is in this house somewhere--so I'll look some more after I take my walk. Thus far I have yarn and a crochet hook, which is way more intimidating to me than knitting needles.
I've posted the first incarnation of a List here today. This list will not be New Year's Resolutions. I don't do those. Rather, it will consist of things I am currently working on in the effort to reinvent myself. I'll keep it on the right-hand column of the blog, and alter it from time to time. I will try to review it occasionally, to add new reinvention projects. And if I look at the list and see I'm not doing something, off it comes. The list should help keep me on track, and keep me honest.
Feel free to let me know if you see I'm slacking on the list. Feel free to make your own list, too. You can post it in comments here if you want. As always, the journey to reinvention will be more pleasant if friends are along...to laugh about the wicked witches, and find ways to avoid them!