Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Nashville - Part II (Grand Ole Opry)

Having never been to Nashville (not even driven through it), I knew we needed to attend at least one concert (show) at the Grand Ole Opry. None of us are country music fans (although I do like The Dixie Chicks), but going to Nashville and not the Opry just didn't seem right. So before we left, we checked the web to see what was showing during our stay there.

The web doesn't really specify what kind of show you're seeing. I just assumed it was a concert, because only one act was listed. For Saturday, Josh Turner was performing; for Sunday, Steel Magnolias. Do you know who Josh Turner is? I never heard of him before then. But he sure LOOKED good, so hey – he won! (This picture of him on the big screen isn't the best, but it's as close as I could get!)

Instead of one performer, what we got instead was a variety of acts. Old and new. Vince Gill was the only name I recognized. Four half-hour sets, each with two to three acts singing one to two songs, all live on the radio/internet. With commercials, even. Our seats weren't the greatest (we didn't really care where we sat, we just wanted to experience it), but the show was more than any of us expected. Funny and entertaining. I highly recommend going if you're ever visiting the city. It was a fun night.

Josh Turner probably got the biggest reception (see the fans hogging the stage? - they didn't do that for anyone else) and after listening to his wonderful baritone voice, I can understand why. Heck, maybe I'll even become a fan.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Nashville - Part I

We took our annual Memorial Day Weekend trip with our friends. Every other year we end up in Chicago, which we visited last year. In between we pick a place we've never really visited. Our only stipulation is that the city must be within driving distance after work on Friday (so no farther than six hours – and that's stretching it). Two years ago it was St. Louis. This year it was Nashville.

I have to say, our timing sucked. Not only was it the warmest weekend there (in the 90's), the cicadas hatched (which they do every 13 years). The place was swarming with the big buggers. They were everywhere!

I know they don't bite. It doesn't matter. They fly at you. They land on you. They're BIG! And they're noisy. Deafening in places. You can see them on the trunk of this tree (which was the closest I would get to take their picture) if you look hard enough. There are singles toward the bottom of the trunk, but a big mass of them up on top.

I think I became everyone's entertainment when I flapped my arms every time one of those bugs would fly by.

Besides the annoying insects, we had an enjoyable time in the Music City. We saw a show at the Grand Ole Opry, took a dinner cruise on the General Jackson, and a city tour on Segways. Even with the warm weather, it wasn't extremely humid. The wind helped keep it comfortable. I'm just glad it didn't rain. I've seen enough of that for awhile.

But it sure would have been nice to visit the city without the infestation. I've never even heard about these bugs until we moved to Ohio. We must not have ever lived in an area long enough to experience them! They certainly never lived in Southern California. I think I would have remembered them.

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. I know the weather was good around here. Hope it was wherever you are, too. It's about time we saw the sun.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Pen Pals

Is having pen pals a lost art? Is writing letters?

My parents belonged to the Independent Order of Foresters. I never really knew what it was at the time, I think I discovered years later that it was their insurance company, but what was neat about this company was the magazine they sent out each month. A magazine which had a section titled "Pen Pals". Children would submit their name, address, and age, asking for pen pals.

Times were different back then, I suppose. I can't imagine parents letting their kids post their name and address in any magazine (I don't think I would have in the 80's). Too many weirdos in the world. Not that they didn't exist back then, they just didn't have the resources they do now.

I responded to several ads, but never got any responses back. So I decided to place my own ad.

What I didn't realize was that it would take a year to post.

My ad said I was 13. By the time it posted, I was nearly 15. But I got lots of responses – and I mean LOTS – from kids that were nearly two years younger than me.

I definitely kept the ones that were closer to my own age. Of the others, I gave my sister first pick (since most were her age). But I was determined to respond to every one (because I hated not being notified of all those I had written in the past). Of the leftovers, I decided to play "match maker", sending suggestions to one reject to write to another reject (because they seemed to have the same likes). Whether or not they wrote each other, I never knew. But it was the thought that counted, right?

I believe I chose close to 20 pen pals from that ad. I only remember 9 (Pam-St. Cloud Minnesota; Ron-Winnepeg, Manitoba, Canada; Steve-Seattle, Washington; Carl-San Francisco, California; Linda-Faversham, Kent, England; Mandy-London, England; Helen-Sri Lanka/Australia; Mary-Colorado; & Howard-Phoenix, Arizona). I met four in person (Steve, Carl, Mary, & Howard). In fact, two of my pen pals wrote each other and ended up getting married (Mary & Howard, I was at their wedding, but they later divorced – always felt bad about that).

One has passed (Ron – and that was tough because he was my favorite and I always regretted not meeting him) and I keep in touch with one (Helen) via Christmas Cards. It's sad to think I had all these neat friends from all over and have lost touch with them. I kind of hope that someday they'll find me on Facebook, but that hasn't happened yet.

I don't write letters anymore (well, except for my yearly Christmas letter, but that doesn't really count) and I rarely e-mail. It's a shame how much changes when you grow older.

Did you have any pen pals? Do you still keep in touch?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What A Day

We were under a thunderstorm watch yesterday afternoon and had tickets to a Dragons game. Okay, sure. That's common this time of year. It gets warm, the air gets unstable, it storms. What were the chances it would happen downtown?

Apparently damn good! After the second inning, we saw the clouds close in and it wasn't pretty. We got up to leave. We were about a block from our car when the sky opened up.

I wasn't prepared to exercise! But we made it to the car before we got soaked.

Oh well. I figured I'd get some writing done instead. We got home. I turned on my computer. Checked my e-mails. Power went out!

But we were recording the season finale of "House"! Sh*t! Guess we'll have to catch that one on line.

At least I have a battery on my laptop, so all's not lost. But it's dark out and I can't really see the keyboard. I did get 250 words added before I gave up. We decided to go to McDonald's so we could at least read.

Power was out at McDonald's, too. But Dairy Queen across the street was lit. Mmmm, Dairy Queen. I try to stay away from the place, because it's bad for me. At least I held back and only ordered a small caramel Moolatte.

Did I say mmmmm?

The husband and I set to reading. We had an hour before they kicked us out. I kept checking McDonald's across the street. Figured when they got light, we could go home.

At 9:45, McDonald's lit up. Yay! Power!

Unfortunately, we didn't have cable, phone, or internet. That's what you get when you bundle. Ah well, got more writing done. And all was well in the morning.

At least the power was only out for 90 minutes. I did NOT want to have to restock my freezer!!! (see previous post).

Monday, May 23, 2011

Thawing Out

I didn't do too badly, writing-wise. Got almost 2000 words written. Maybe I would have gotten more if I didn't have to defrost the freezer.

You see, my husband took some ice cream out of the freezer on Thursday night. On Friday night, my daughter went to fetch some mini ice cream cones (it was Buffy night and we always have dessert while we watch the series) and said I might want to consider defrosting my freezer because it was full of ice.


I have a frost-free freezer!

Needless to say, my husband apparently did not shut the freezer door all the way on Thursday. Everything in the freezer was thawed! (Which was apparent when we went to eat the ice cream cones and had very very very soft ice cream – kind of warm, too)

Saturday I trashed everything (except the girl scout cookies and the ice cream cones – although the ice cream cones are strangely shaped now, they're still edible), brought down the portable heater from our bathroom, and set to defrost. Made a nice watery mess, but the heater worked great (quick, too).

What fun – NOT! Man, I hated dumping all that food (especially the steaks and ribs that were Christmas presents). We took a trip to a dumpster on Saturday night so the thawed food wouldn't stink up the garage.

Sunday I went to the store and re-stocked. Not as much, but I had to have my pizzas and lean cuisines!

When you have to get up every few minutes to pick up ice chunks and mop up the water (towels can only hold so much, you know?), it makes it hard to get in the groove of writing. But write I did, and I'm pleased with what I have so far.

I always shock myself when I start a new WIP, because I always wonder if I can do it again. Apparently I can! Even with the distractions.

Friday, May 20, 2011


This week saw the end of my first round of editing on MEMORIES. Now I just have to wait until I hear back from my critique partners.

Can I say I'm a little nervous? Or maybe a lot? Normally I give the story to my daughter, but since she's still working on Book 2 (SARAH'S TURN), I decided to find critique partners (and I got lucky and did!) and make her a beta reader instead.

SARAH'S TURN isn't all that pressing, and while I ask her about it (constantly), it's not a book that can stand on its own since it's the sequel to THE UNCOMMON ONE. Of course, I have readers who want to read it, so they're really the ones who want her to finish!! You hear that, Steph??

So, while I'm on break from MEMORIES, my next story (GHOSTLY LIAISON) is starting to take shape inside my head. I'm glad. I was afraid it had left (since I kind of put it on hold while I worked on MEMORIES). In fact, I'm getting better stuff now. Motivation and goals – two good things for my characters to have. Conflict is the easy part – just throw things in their way so they can't meet their goal. It's also the most fun to write, too!

So, as long as the world doesn't end tomorrow (or so I've heard…), I'll be back to writing first draft stuff. That's kind of hard to do since I've been in edit mode. I need to just write. If it's crap, I can fix it later!

Hope the weekend is full of happy stuff for you. I certainly hope to get a lot of writing done.

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Honey Funny

This morning, as I was pouring the cereal into my bowl, I noticed a small bottle on the counter with a lid that said "Fat Free". Wondering what was in the bottle, I picked it up. It was Tylenol gel caps. I thought it was a strange thing to put on a pill bottle, so I figured the gel caps must now be fat free.

I get the milk from the refrigerator. The cap on the milk is one of those "push and turn" child-proof types. What was Kroger doing to their milk now? Don't they want kids to get into it? That's when I looked at the "Fat Free" cap again.

Apparently my husband switched the caps last night (since he takes his pills with milk). Didn't know if I should be worried or not. I decided to laugh instead. When I told him what he had done, he said "Oh! That's why it was so hard to put the cap on the milk," and laughed along with me.

I'm sure glad Kroger isn't putting child-proof caps on their milk. What a pain to get off!! But should I worry about my husband? This is the same man who, after the Steelers won Super Bowl XL, stated he wanted to get a Super Bowl shirt, but they only came in extra large. After I busted out laughing, I had to explain to him that the XL wasn't for the size.

He knew that - he truly did. Just not at the moment he wanted to buy the shirt!

Life is never dull with him around!

Saturday, May 14, 2011


Do You Believe in Ghosts?

I do.

My grandmother's house had a ghost guest my grandmother called Ethel Beth. I can't say Ethel Beth haunted the house, because I don't think she was trying to scare anyone. She was known to open windows during dinner and throw hats from closets. All the stories portrayed her as having fun with the living, but she still scared this little girl (especially when I had to spend the night!).

You know why she scared me? Because she could see and hear everything I did. There were no secrets with her. If she wanted to know, she could. How could I stop her?

I mean, if you were a ghost, wouldn't you peek at intimate moments? Listen in on secrets? What else is there to do?

Being a ghost has to be frustrating, though. Maybe it's a test for the spirit to see whether or not they deserve heaven, for those souls who are borderline. Do a good deed, go to heaven. But how do you do a good deed if no one can see you? Maybe that's the test!

Do you believe in ghosts? If so, why do you think they exist?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Men Who Resemble My Characters

I've got it bad right now. The hero of my current WIP ("Memories") is Jack VanAllen. I describe him vaguely in the book (I like to have my readers put their own spin on the likeness, you know?), but I know what he looks like.

Then on one Wake Me Up Wednesday blog from Renee Vincent, she posted pictures of Alex O'Loughlin. Oh my! There was Jack!

I kind of knew who the actor was. I knew he was on Hawaii Five-O (a series my husband was watching but I didn't have much interest in) and discovered he was on a short-lived vampire series I tried to watch (the vampire premise was interesting, but I didn't care for the show).

Now I'm in the middle of editing/revising and I can't get enough of Hawaii Five-O! All because of Alex, mind you. It's like seeing my character on screen. Unreal!

A minor character from my second book ("Sarah's Turn"), Sam Kincaid was definitely written with an actor in mind – Brandon Routh. Yeah, he made a nice Superman and all that, but caught my attention on an episode of "Chuck". Oh yeah – he was Sam! I had hoped to get Brandon's autograph while at Dragon*Con last year, but the cost was prohibitive (to my pocket book, anyway). One day Sam will be featured in his own book. I'm sure I'll have a fixation on Brandon when that occurs!

Normally, I don't flash on celebrities when I read a book. I form a picture of them in my head, but no one famous. So it was strange when it happened as I wrote a book. I had a sense of what Sam looked like, but nothing firm. Then I saw Brandon and BAM! There was my description. But Jack was different. I had already formed a likeness in my head and no one triggered it. At least I didn't think so. Maybe it was buried in my sub conscience. Who knows!

Do you picture famous people of characters you read (or create)? Is it normal for you, or does it only happen occasionally?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Spiders - Ewwww!

I don't know about you, but I hate spiders.

Oh hell, why limit it to spiders. I hate bugs.

Still, spiders are up at the top of the hate list (just under those bugs that sting) and when I find one in my house, I get a little freaky.

On Sunday, one blonde spider happened to show up in my bathroom. It was up where the ceiling meets the wall. Too high for me to reach. Sure, I could have gotten a step stool, but I tend to be unsteady on those and I didn't want the thing to fall on me. And I know that would happen, because that's what always happens!

Better the spider stayed away from me. So as long as it stayed up there, I was okay with it.

Sort of.

On Monday morning, it was still there. As long as I could see it, I was fine.

On Monday evening, it was gone. I looked on all the wall space. Nothing. I looked at my cluttered countered and worried.

Could it have climbed into the vent on the ceiling? Could it have shimmied behind the mirror? Or did it crawl into my Kleenex box, or my jewelry box or any other open container I had on the counter (I said it was cluttered!).

I wanted to think it had left. I knew better.

This morning I flipped the switch and looked around the ceiling. My eyes were blurry, still getting used to the light, but no sign of the bugger. I looked at the walls. I looked at the floor. I looked everywhere. Nothing.

Once I finished doing what every other person does when they wake in the morning, I went and grabbed the previous day's towels to put in the hamper. As I walked by the light switch – there it was!

Yee gads! Did I almost touch it when I turned on the light? I could have sworn I checked that wall. But I can't imagine that spider moved that quickly. I shudder to think how close I came to touching it!!

I had towels in my hand, but I wasn't about to soil them that way. I grabbed the Kleenex box and squished the monster.

I am the spider slayer!

I can now breathe easier.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Editing and Reading

I'm finding editing to be a whole lot less stressful now that I set a goal for myself. It's a whole lot more fun, too.

I want to get the first edit of "Memories" done by the end of May (no later than, anyway). So I was back to the calculator. How many pages per day would that entail? Granted, I tend to add pages in my first round of editing (because my first draft is rough), so I would have to take that into account, too. Still, 10 pages per day seemed like a nice round number. Doable, too.

Now, after I've hit the 10 page mark (or the 70 pages per week – since there are some days when I'm just not able to get to my book), I will allow myself to do other things. Not chores (those usually have to come before writing/editing), but fun things. Like watching "Vampire Diaries" (I record those shows to watch when the husband isn't home) or reading.

Yesterday I had reached my page goal (and am only 5 pages short of my weekly goal – I still have today since my week runs Mon-Sun), which was a feat in itself. With a hair appointment in the morning (must hide those grey hairs), and mowing the yard in the afternoon (finally!), and meeting friends for dinner (of which we monopolized the table for 3½ hours), it's amazing I got any editing done at all. But I did (takes a bow) and decided to spend the rest of the night reading.

I started reading "The Vampire and the Virgin" by Kerrelyn Sparks on Thursday. Normally, it takes me a week to read a book (since I usually only read during my lunch hour). I finished it last night. I haven't finished a book that fast in soooo long. I loved getting lost in the story (and that's very easy for me to do with her books). Heck, I just love her books!

I hope one day someone will say that about my books.