Thursday, November 29, 2007

Found Money

Sometimes a royalty will drop into the mail slot years after the book came out. It's amazing to get paid - even a pittance - for books that are sometimes twenty or more years old. My husband, The Prof, who has called writing "the greatest case of delayed gratification" he's ever seen, is properly respectful of these astonishing dollops of dinero.

But I found yet another form of "found money" while cleaning out the drawers and jars and small pots that have been stuck on bookshelves or dressers to catch the change we seem to accumulate. The more I cleaned, the more I found. It began to overwhelm me, so I got a large canning jar and started decanting all the various smaller ones into it.

This morning I sorted through it and separated out all the foreign change.

We have a serious chunk of foreign change which means we are going to have to go back to New Zealand and Ireland and Austria and Italy and Spain and the Netherlands, not to mention to England because it's doing us no good at all here. And someone is going to have to go to Brazil because our son brought back coins after he worked down there.

We might have to think about opening our own Bureau de Change because, let's face it, the grandkids can only do so many social studies projects on foreign money.

For the moment, however, these alien coins have their own jar -- awaiting the next expedition to wherever.

The American stuff I took to the bank this morning -- and came home with ninety-seven dollars!

Good grief! Who knew?

I have new respect for the quarters, dimes and nickels I stick in the cup on the top of the dresser. And the stuff that falls behind the chair -- and in the laundry basket.

And the ninety-seven dollars I have decided I will tuck away for something wonderful -- I just need to figure out what's wonderful enough to merit it.

I must say, I now have an even greater incentive to keep cleaning the house.

And the gratification isn't quite so delayed, either!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Christmas Recipes

In my current book-free state I have been contemplating Christmas recipes. This began when Anne Gracie asked me about which recipe I thought she should make for a certain occasion.

It snowballed from there.

Well, here it snowballed. In Australia, I gather, it would be sizzling instead. Even I, who grew up in California, have trouble imagining a Christmas where things routinely melt. We never melted at Christmas. Though it wasn't ever really "cold" on the coast, it was often damp and shivery all the way to the bone.

Anyway, the discussion of recipes, and the arrival of two of her best for me to experiment with, has led me to contemplate my own favorite Christmas recipes.

There is a date bar recipe of my mother's I'm very fond of (and which the family story reminds me that when my mom sent them to my stepdad's grandmother for Christmas the first year they were married, she got a lovely note back thanking her for the little meat pies). Then there's her lemon bars recipe. And the spritz recipe from the spritz maker gizmo, and the cut-out Christmas cookies with the bit of orange peel and mace.

And just last week we made the orange-cranberry cookies which I suggested to Anne would make brilliant Christmas cookies, only to discover that Australia doesn't do cranberries. At least not fresh ones. Poor deprived people. I don't suppose they get the same effect using Vegemite.

So . . . this brings me to a question.

What are your favorite Christmas recipes -- for cookies or for whatever else you habitually make at this time of year?

I need to start thinking about getting these things done because soon there will be revisions. And I should take advantage of the time I have now. I'll be making my traditional cookies and breads and other goodies. But I like to broaden my horizons.

So share your best recipes, please. I could use some great new ideas to add to the ones I make year after year.

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Free Time

I can't remember the last time I had any 'free time' -- that lovely unstructured resource that I love so much. But I have some now.

At least until tomorrow morning. Or whenever my editor comes back to me with revisions, suggestions, comments or, God forbid, "this sucks."

So I'm relishing being free to clean my office if I want (and whether I want to or not, the office needs it), paint our bedroom (ditto), bake Christmas cookies and freeze them, go shopping (once or twice, but mostly online), have a friend or two over for tea, take the dogs for longer than usual walks, and read books.

The TBR pile (that's to-be-read for those who don't have one) is sky high. But I just got to read the Regency Christmas anthology from Signet and enjoyed the stories there. That's a yearly ritual. I'm looking forward to a re-read of Loretta Chase's Lord of Scoundrels when it comes out next week. I, among others, adore that story. But my copy went to someone else to read and hasn't ever come back. So I'm getting a new one. I have several more I'll talk about as I finish them, provided I have time to.

It's good to be home. Thanksgiving in Texas was terrific. We never ran into crowds at the airport (once we stopped being fogged in). We had great connections, great games of monopoly, a great gingerbread house, some relatively painless Black Friday shopping (always interesting as long as you're not in a hurry), lots of good football (Go, Packers!), and a fabulous dinner, not to mention plenty of quality time with daughter and son-in-law and Glowkid.

We even decorated the Christmas tree before we left because they did it early this year so we could be part of it -- and they are going to swim with dolphins the week before Christmas and then to Missouri for Christmas with the other side of the family, so getting the tree at home early seemed like a good idea so they'd have time to enjoy it. And we got to enjoy it, too.

I think we should have carved a pumpkin and dyed a few Easter eggs, too. But in general a good time was had by all.

Couldn't have been better (even the fog didn't cause problems really because we then went to a different airport, got a non-stop and had no hassles at all).


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

When You're Making Other Plans . . .

Fog, that's what happens.

So we are still here -- waiting to go there -- along with literally millions of other people.

Now we are scheduled to go tomorrow afternoon from another airport about 2 hours from here.

That's the downside. The upside is that it's a non-stop to DFW, so provided the plane flies we will not be bogged down in a hub someplace -- or if we are it will be because we've been diverted and that will be a whole new downside we aren't even contemplating at this point.

My theory about airline travel (and any other sort for that matter) is that it's a whole different sort of time entirely. I suppose it's like "dreamtime" -- though not meaning the same thing. It's a sort of "time" which you step into when you leave wherever you're leaving from, and until you get off at the other end, you're in "travel time" and "real normal time" as we know it ceases to exist.

What is "travel time?" Time when you have no control, you can't plan, you are herded about like a sheep (Eamon, where are you?). And all you can do is take along a good book and go with the flow.

Generally I have no problem with this. Today, for example, it didn't bother me a bit to be told we couldn't go. Any idiot could see we couldn't go.

When I get annoyed is when it's clearly a matter of choice for the airline to muck up peoples' lives. Ordinarily they don't.

But last year they did when they knew perfectly well that a three hour late arriving flight the night before was going to mean that the crew couldn't fly at the very early scheduled time in the morning (there's a rule that says they have to have 8 hours between these flights to sleep). So everyone who had a connection missed it.

The airline people knew this the night before. But they didn't bother to tell anyone not to come at the regular time. They also didn't bother to start booking people on new flights until we'd reached Denver where we sat for 16 hours as flight after flight was already "full."

There were any number of ways they could have made things go more smoothly. They didn't bother. And they didn't even seem to care. Fog doesn't bother me. Disservice to customers does. I don't fly that airline as often as I used to. And it's never my first choice. I'm sure they don't care, but I'm sorry they don't.

But I'm not flying that airline tomorrow -- and it's still going to be a good Thanksgiving.

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Life After Book

There is indeed a life AB (after book).

In fact, it's quite a lovely life for the most part. There are things to do that have needed to be done for aaaaagggggeeeeessss. And I'm beginning to get some of them done. There are books to read -- I'm getting one or two of them read. There are places to go . . .

I'm leaving for Texas tomorrow.

When children spread themselves around the country, the chances of ever getting all of them in one place for anything short of a wedding are pretty much nil. So we have been taking our chances, getting one here and one there. And generally we've been spending Thanksgiving with friends and neighbors and people we find without a place to go.

But this year we are going to Texas to visit our daughter and her husband and GlowKid. We did it four years ago and had a great time with them. One of our sons came then, too. He won't be there this year. But I just saw him in Washington state.

We're looking forward to the visit. I'm taking cranberries. In a bag. So I can make the cranberry sauce when I get there. I might bake some pumpkin bread tomorrow if I have time. I'm busy changing the sheets on the bed so the dog sitter can have a place of his own uncovered by dog hair (for the first instant anyway). And I'm going to enjoy kicking back and relaxing while I'm there.

I'm not exactly looking forward to the trip -- flying on holidays is not my favorite pastime. I rather feel like my youngest son does: I love being different places. I just don't much like having to get there.

Oh well. It beats staying up all night to work on the book.

I wish you all a happy and blessed Thanksgiving. May you, even if you don't celebrate the holiday in your country, at least stop and reflect on the things you have to be thankful for.

Among my many blessings, I'm thankful for all of you.


Friday, November 16, 2007

Winging Away

They left.

The ducks all packed their knapsacks and strutted off down the runway a while ago. I saw them take off. I got an email that says they landed.

My editor wished me a "happy manuscript free weekend."

Ah, yes.

But the truth is, I'll miss PJ and Ally. The wrap up was, for me at least, definitely worth the trip. I would have preferred to linger. Possibly, when it comes back for revisions, I will allow myself to linger. I feel sure I haven't seen the last of them yet!


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Ducks and details . . .

I'm back at the beginning, lining up the ducks. Everything is done except the last part of the last chapter -- and all the bits and pieces that a re-read of the book shows me that I need to layer in to create the details that make it all work.

So that's what I'm doing now. And then I will wrap it up and send it merrily off to Richmond.

And then, I would like to say, I'm going to take some time off. But the fact is, I have a review to write for some genealogical software which is due on Monday. I should have had it in tomorrow, but dealing with the last gasp of PJ and Ally has put it on hold with its editor's blessing (she's going out of town anyway).

THEN, I intend to take some time off, shovel out my office, clean house, repaint and recarpet the bedroom, buy a new mattress for our bed, new blinds for our windows, go Christmas shopping in a real store instead of online (but possibly only once; I do like online shopping; the selection is so much better), and sit down and read some lovely long anticipated books.

I can't wait.

But first, the details . . . and the ducks.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Still slogging

Sometime a year or so ago I posted a picture of good ol' Montana gumbo.

No, it's not a cajun stew. It's the quality the local soil achieves when it comes in contact with moisture. It forms an at-first-slick, then sticky, then binding, then congealing mess. It gets in your tires and forms tires around them.

It pretty much stops you dead.

I would not like to describe where I am in the book as having anything to do with gumbo. Not really. Because I'm making progress. A considerable amount of progress in fact. But someone keeps moving the destination.

I think I'm coming in sight of the last turnpost before the end and, oops, no. Not there yet. More twists, more turns, more complications. Who knew?

I am reminded of my fellow former Harlequin American author and still good friend, Barbara Bretton, who had a book like that which went on for another 60 or so pages beyond where it was supposed to call it quits.

I believe she sent it to her editor (in those days of paper submissions) with a knife stuck through it, indicating that she'd finally simply had to end the thing.

I know how she felt.

I do not particularly want to stick a knife through PJ and Ally, but I see them racking up frequent flyer miles and I want to throttle them. Enough to-ing and fro-ing for goodness sake. And yet, I know this is how the story has to end.

I just hope my editor knows it, too.


Saturday, November 10, 2007

Almost There

Things are progressing. Maybe not as fast as I would like them to. But words are piling onto other words and pages are piling up.

The ducks, as you may remember from Spence and Sadie and from Flynn and Sara are being chivvied into a row. Some are more cooperative than others.

Since I know what has to go into all the rest of the book, you would think that I could just sit down and bang it out on the keyboard, wouldn't you? Well, I'd think so if I were you. Sometimes I even think so when I'm me. But it doesn't always happen that way.

Still, another couple of days (I hope) and I should be writing my favorite words: The End.

Life is pretty boring around here otherwise. Sorry. Will try to do better when the book is in!


Thursday, November 08, 2007

Waving from the cave

I got back from Washington LATE last night. Have been unpacking and doing laundry and sorting through the bags trying to remember where I put things today. Have also washed sheets (why do dogs spend every hour of the day on my side of the bed while I'm gone?). And have been sorting through what I need done on the book to call it 'finished.'

Quite a bit. Well, not as much as when I left, but still not there yet.

So I'll be disappearing back into the cave until Monday (with possibly a few forays out to eat and walk dogs and, maybe, post here because I have some nice pix I'd like to put up, but first have to download from camera and then upload to computer).

Am hoping for a pic or two from the cowboy auction for Hope For Horses, too.

If you have read the comments, you will see that, sadly, Abby and Eamon believe they do not suit. Kate and I are quite despondent about this because we truly thought Abby had met her match -- and that surely Eamon had met his. But apparently not.

Ah, well . . . the course of true love rarely runs smoothly.

Perhaps this is a temporary break and they will live happily ever after eventually.

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Sunday, November 04, 2007

Eamon in Abbyland -- part III

Well, here it is: the long awaited and intensely anticipated finale of the adventures of Eamon in Abbyland.


Eamon in Abbyland -- part III

Eamon waited . . . and waited . . . and waited . . . but still Abby didn't come back to him.

He had no idea where she had got to and he didn't know
where to start looking for her. Too late, he began to wonder if he
had been wise to knock back all that Lost Sheep Chardonnay. It had gone straight to his head. So much so that he was no longer feeling horny. In fact, his brain was starting to feel a bit woolly.

He was quite forlorn all alone in the bed that might not have been as big as the bed in Kate's hotel room, but it was still very big and
very empty for an Eamon all alone, without his Abby. He felt so sheepish just sitting there waiting for her. How could she abandon him like this? And who had she gone to instead.

After a while he ventured out of the bedroom and as he did so he caught a new sound. One he had never heard before.

Tap tap, it went. Tap, tap, tap. Suddenly it slowed noticeably . Tap .
. . t-ap . . t-a-p . . .

It was very puzzling. But then, as he listened at a door, he heard the sound again – much quicker this time. Taptaptaptaptap . . .

And to his shock and horror he also heard Abby's voice – his Abby's voice! 'Oh yes, Sebastio! ' she said. 'Yes! That's the way!'

Sebastio! Eamon thought in shock. Who was Sebastio! Had he given his
little woolly heart only to have it broken as Abby gave her affections
to someone else – to some foreign old goat?

'Abby!' he called in despair. 'Abby!'

Abby came to the door and saw him.
'What is wrong, my little lamb?' she asked.

'You are being unfaithful to me!' Eamon flung at her. 'You are in
there with some foreign Baaa .. . .baaast . . .Some other love called

Abby smiled and patted Eamon's woolly head. 'Don't worry your little sheepish heart,' she reassured him. 'Sebastio is not a real lover. He's a character. In my book.'

'In your book ? What book? Have I read it?'

Abby smiled again and laughed a little. 'Not a book I'm reading you jealous little ram – but a book I'm writing. Like Kate I am a romantic novelist and the book I'm writing is a romance. I'm writing it to earn some money for both of us so that we can stay in this nice house in the Emerald Isles and be happy together.'

'And drink Lost Sheep Chardonnay?' Eamon asked, brightening a little.

'Lots of Lost Sheep Chardonnay,' Abby assured him. 'But if I am to earn some money by writing you will have to be a sweetheart and let me work. I have to finish this book by my deadline or there will not be any money coming in.'

So Eamon promised he would wait and he would let Abby
work. At first it was easy. He put on the TV and he watched the news. But there was nothing on about the Wool Exchange, only stories of some people being fleeced by conmen.

So Eamon read the paper from cover to cover and learned all about the
sheepdog trials – though he couldn't quite find out what the sheepdogs
were on trial for. Worrying sheep, he suspected. He had always found
sheepdogs pretty worrying after all.

But soon he'd read every word in the paper and he was bored again. It
was then that he spotted a book lying on the table beside Abby's bed.
It was a bright pink book with a handsome couple on the front. But
not as handsome a couple as he and Abby made together. For one thing,
the man just wasn't woolly enough. And he didn't have any horns.

But it was the name on the book that caught Eamon's eye. The Kouros Marriage Revenge it was called and it was by Abby Green – his Abby! It was set in grease apparently. This was the sort of book that Abby was writing in order to keep a roof over their heads and to keep him in Lost Sheep Chardonnay.

Eamon was overwhelmed with curiosity. Just what sort of a book did his beloved Abby write? Opening the book, he settled down on the bed and began to read . . . Time sped by as he became totally absorbed. He didn't hear the tap tap, taptap tap of the keyboard in the other room as Abby worked.

Chapter One . . . Alexandros Kouros was bored . . .

Chapter Six . . . 'For better or for worse . . '

Chapter Ten . . . Eleven . . .'Kallie, don't turn away from me. You
want me . . .. . . . . . . . Twelve . . .

Chapter Sixteen . . . She felt the tears slip down her cheeks. But
they were tears of joy . . .

Oh my! Eamon found that he had come over all peculiar. This was the sort of book that his Abby wrote! His Abby had a secret saucy side. This was the sort of thing his mother had warned him about! Still, it was just as well that as someone had said – at least it wasn't a mint saucy side.

For a long while Eamon lay stunned and overcome. In the distance he could still hear the tap tap tap tap.Taptaptaptaptap .

Then suddenly there was a joyful cry of The End! And Abby came rushing in.

'I've finished, Eamon dear,' she said. 'Sebastio has his happy ending - I've met my deadline – and now I'm all yours! Eamon are you all right?'

'I don't know if this will work!' Eamon managed weakly. 'I'm just a little woolly sheep and you are a brilliant – and saucy lady novelist– who dreams of tall, dark, handsome Greek Adonises. Or Hugh-in-a-towel.'

'Oh Eamon, you silly!'Abby chided him gently. 'I may write about Greeks or talk of Hugh-in-a-towel , but the truth is that my personal private fantasy is a small, woolly, crossed-eyed Eamon. And if he's a little rough and ready then so much the better. You are the only man –I mean ram – for me!'

'Do you mean it?' Eamon asked.

'Of course I mean it!' Abby assured him. 'Heroes may come and heroes may go – Frenchmen, Greeks, Italians - even Hugh-in-a-towel – but they are just passing through my imagination on their way to the pages in a book. You my dear Eamon are my one true hero – the only one who
shares my bed at night and stays with me each and every day. Here – let me prove it to you.'
And she gathered up Eamon into her arms and held him tight, promising that she would never ever let him go. Not even if Hugh-in-a-towel
walked into the room without it (the towel that is).

And, as all good love stories should end . . .

They both lived happily ever after . . . .

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Greetings from Washington

I know -- you're all here because you're waiting with bated breath for the third installment of Eamon and Abby.

It's like having my very own "online read." Only I didn't have to write it -- Kate did. (Are you all reading Kate's The Greek Tycoon's Unwilling Wife? You'd better be. All except Kate, of course, who is reading my The Boss's Wife For A Week, as well she should, having lost the first copy!)

Anyway, I'm working on getting Eamon in Abbyland -- part III sorted out and will be putting it up in the next few days. Depends on how much time I can get at the computer.

Yes, I know. Go away and work on Eamon and Abby and stop writing this drivel. Okay. I'm going. But I'm also working on "the book" which is due today and which still needs some sorting out and will probably be finished end of next week. So Eamon and Abby are not the only things I've got on my plate.

In case I didn't mention it here, though I did on my website, there is a cowboy auction tomorrow night in aid of the Hope For Horses charity out of Woodinville, Washington. They provide homes and care for abused, abandoned and neglected horses in the Washington State area. And they very kindly asked me for a copy of The Great Montana Cowboy Auction to sell. They also promised to offer for bid "quite a few cowboys like Sloan."

Naturally I sent them a copy. I am all for helping horses and all for auctioning off cowboys. Check it out.