Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

I could look back at 2008 and talk about what has happened, because certainly good stuff has. But enough other stuff that happened is no place I want to dwell, so I think I'll take a page out of my middle son's book and say, "Time to move on."

And having done so, and thinking positive, I will toss out a few resolutions as well.

1. Get the revisions done. This is a no-brainer. They need to be in next week. They will be. Christo has finally got his act together. It's just a matter of me getting it on the page now. Or, the rest of it on the page.

2. Enjoy winter. Sometimes easier said than done because often hereabouts winter is a pain. But as my stepdad would have said, "It's better than the alternative." By this he meant, not summer, but being dead. My stepdad dealt in basics. And winter is definitely preferable.

3. Finish two books (Christo's doesn't count; it is finished, it's just being tinkered with).

4. Go visit the grandkids. Pretty sure I'll be able to keep that one!

5. Use the 'bird by bird' approach to getting my office cleaned -- one box at a time.

I'm going to stop at five because I don't want to overload the circuits. And I do want to have a reasonable chance of keeping them.

What about you? What resolutions are you making? Or do you make any at all?


Monday, December 29, 2008


It's blog time for me again over at the Pink Heart Society where I get to talk about temptations. At the moment, neck-deep in revisions, my biggest temptation is to be anywhere but at my desk.

And the greatest temptation drawing me away from my desk are several boxed sets of DVDs that I -- or lucky family members -- found under the Christmas tree.

For years we didn't have a television at all. We never had one before we got married and after the kids were born we deliberately didn't get one because it seemed like more trouble than it was worth. Certainly I know it saved a lot of arguments over the years about who wanted to watch what and how much time could they spend watching it.

I was always a low-maintenance kind of mother -- if confrontations could be avoided, I was all for that -- as long as they toed the line when it mattered. They did. And the tv wasn't around to be a temptation at all.

It wasn't until the youngest headed off to Wyoming at age 18 for school that we (no, I) succumbed. I bought a television. But I tend to forget to watch it. It doesn't tempt me because I have to rearrange my schedule to fit its schedule (we don't have Tivo).

But I love boxed sets. I can watch them when I want, however many I want, and I don't miss anything that way. For years I've been hoping that they would put Laramie, my favorite western from when I was a kid, on DVD and in a boxed set. For years no one did.

And now, my dear friend Jessica Douglass tells me, they are doing season 3. Season 3 happened about 1961, which was about the time I stopped watching because I got a life. So chances are I never saw any of those episodes. Umpteen hours of Robert Fuller just waiting for me . . . talk about temptation.

I don't know when they are expected to come out yet. Jessica didn't say. But I've put my name down to be notified. And I'm going to go get busy on revisions so I can watch the Foyle's War DVDs I already have so my TBV (to-be-viewed) pile is empty for when Laramie arrives.

Do you like boxed sets? Which ones? Has anyone seen Burn Notice?

I bought it for Kate Walker for Christmas on the basis of reviews. It's on my Netflix list, but I need to get the revisions done first. What do you think?

Yes, I know I should have asked before I bought it, but I couldn't because she reads this blog. Her cat Sidney reads this blog. There is no privacy in blogworld. That said however, if you have other recommendations for future gifts (like birthdays) send them along. I'd be grateful.

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Sunday, December 28, 2008


I know I should have done all the housekeeping stuff before the holidays. But when you're going to be spending it with several little and not-so-little-anymore boys -- and their dog -- there really isn't much point.

It was lovely. We had a very good time. Now I am cleaning up.

And while I'm doing that, I am cleaning up loose ends on my desk as well. Some of them have to do with winners of books which will be sent out, weather permitting, tomorrow. Avi and Gina, your books will be on their way first thing. And Mallory, who won 3 Antonides books at the eharlequin open house, yours will be out the door, too.

My apologies for not getting them sent earlier, but the ice, snow and lines at the post office didn't cooperate. The lines are gone now. And, barring major ice, I'll be at the p.o. tomorrow.

Speaking of winning books, it's almost time for the 3rd annual Here Come The Grooms contest which I've been doing with Kate Walker and Liz Fielding. We're getting ready to do it again. So check back for details.

PJ has already agreed to come and blog, which is a very good thing, as I'll be deep in Demetrios's story by then.

Stay tuned.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I didn't really vanish. I just got absorbed in revising and throwing out and revising and throwing out until I thought the ripple effect was really an undertow, and I was done for.

Happily, I don't think it is. I still have work to do -- but it's not going to get completely finished until after the first of the year. My new year's resolution is going to be one of patience. I hope my editor's is, too!

I have seen Antonides' Forbidden Wife in one store so far, so I know it exists -- just in time for Christmas stocking stuffing (I hope). At least for those who are doing their shopping on Christmas Eve.

We are celebrating the lovely news that yet another grandchild is expected come summer. The 4th of July, they tell me. An auspicious day, to be sure. And the birthday of my grandfather as well, which makes it even more special. We've also just learned that the baby due in April is a boy. All very exciting.

Must get busy and write the next book so I can go visit these new little people and their parents without deadlines hanging over me.

But first -- revisions.

I wish you all a very happy holiday season. May you find joy in the celebration and be in the company of people you love this year.

Meanwhile -- the dogs wouldn't sit still for a photo. They sent stand-ins ( see below). Happy holidays to all of you from all of us!

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

The ripple effect

I've been doing revisions on Christo and Natalie's book.

They are odd sorts of revisions because they are basically all in the first three and a half chapters. I've only had one other book like that -- Out of Bounds -- with my cellist and my pro beach volleyball player. That, too, needed all its mucking about in the first seventy pages or so.

And like the changes in that book, these make perfect sense and will make it a stronger book ultimately.

But they are creating a ripple effect that goes on and on.

Change one thing here, I have to change something else there. Otherwise it doesn't make sense. And if I change that, then I have to change that remark in chapter six or seven. Or maybe both. And then, if I do that, well, I will want to go back to chapter one and tinker a bit again with what was going on there.

It's worthwhile. But it's also frustrating. Sometimes I wonder if it will ever feel like a whole again.

It would be less frustrating, I suppose, if I hadn't spent a week figuring out how to accomplish it, then a week nursing Gunnar through his final illness during which I forgot much of what I thought about, then a week trying to get my head around the hole he left in our lives.

Some of the revisions are done. There's a new prologue and a new first chapter. The rest -- the changes in chapters two and three -- I'm going to try to get done tonight and tomorrow. But that might be pushing it.

I like what's happening. It's a better book. I just wish it was happening at a different time of year under different circumstances.

Ah well. If I disappear for a few days, you'll know why. It will be me and Christo and Natalie holed up working hard trying to get things wrapped up and sent off. Think good thoughts.

Also, don't forget to go to Fresh Fiction on Monday and say hi.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Blogging and blogging

I never blog but it pours.

Or something.

I have these revisions, which are not yet done. Sigh. And I need to be doing them -- this weekend. But I also have commitments to blog -- and so I've spend a chunk of today trying to figure out what earth-shattering things I have to say.

In the face of revisions, I opted for the easy way out tomorrow (Saturday) on the Tote Bags 'n' Blogs site where I'm sharing a couple of seriously tasty recipes for the holidays. If you are a fan of cranberries in baked goods, stop by. If not, stop by anyway and tell me what recipes you like. You could win a copy of Antonides' Forbidden Wife.

Then Monday I'm going to be blogging at Fresh Fiction, which meant I had to write it today. And you know when your mind goes blank from having been on overload for way too long -- well, that's the way mine was today. And so I fell back on the tried and true.

I talked about where I get my ideas! People are always asking, aren't they? Well, Monday you can find out the answer -- briefly -- at least as it applies to where I got some of the ideas that led me to write Antonides Forbidden Wife.

Where did PJ and Ally come from?

No, I'm not giving you a birds and bees lecture. I'm talking about literary conception, nothing else.

But stop by on Monday for a visit at Fresh Fiction if you're interested. I'd love to see some friendly faces. Or read some comments from people I know.

The other thing I'm doing is waiting for a very appropriate memorial to Gunnar, which I will share when it arrives. It's the only thing that doesn't make me cry whenever I think about him. It makes me smile. We're getting there. And I know he'd love it.

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Monday, December 08, 2008

Pictures and words

Kate Walker posted a lovely blog about "a very fine dog indeed" on Monday -- a tribute to Gunnar that I appreciate more than words can say.

Everyone has been so kind in their support and their comments that I just want to say thank you all for your care and your concern for me and my family and for all the nice things you said about Gunnar (who would say that he certainly deserved them!).

I indulged myself today briefly by playing with Wordle, making word pictures of my blog about him, trying to find one that spoke to me. They all do, really. But I guess I like this one best:

Micah is mastering the art of keeping my feet warm, so I suspect he will be an important part of the revision process. And Mitch is putting his head on my knee as I write. They are both wonderful companions and doing their best to darn a patch of sorts over the hole Gunnar left.

Again, thank you all so much. It's true that you meet the greatest people writing books!

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Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Quality of Life

When my youngest son was 10 he wanted a dog. All his older siblings had decamped and he didn't much like being an only child. The cat didn't count.

There were stipulations. He had to take care of the cat for a year before he could have a dog.

He did. He got a dog.

The dog, a great big three year old Golden Retriever, called AJ, had a head like Rushmore and a personality like a saint. He is responsible for the procession of dogs who have come through our lives since.

It is a tribute to AJ, truly a god among dogs, that we have opened our hearts to so many others since he arrived.

When AJ died the week after my son graduated from high school, there was a huge hole in our lives.

No matter that the cat and the two remaining dogs were still here. Lovely as they were, they weren't AJ. No one was.

Enter Gunnar.

Gunnar wasn't AJ, either. Not even close.

He was small and he was black. He was a retriever, yes, but a flatcoat -- at least mostly (even a flatcoat breeder said so).

He walked like a flatcoat; he talked like a flatcoat (I have him on video giving a speech); and like most flatcoats, if you told him what to do, he had a better idea.

The first day he arrived as a four and a half month old puppy, he jumped through the dining room window. It wasn't open at the time.

To say he brought joy and challenge into our lives was not to overstate the case. He was noisy, rambunctious. He grew, but he was always lean and somewhat wiry. He was also tough and opinionated and he had legs like springs. You should've seen him bounce.

He never met a tennis ball he couldn't shred in two minutes flat -- but he'd much rather make you throw it nine hundred times first.

He was something of an intellectual. For example, he was a student of nature. He and Goliath, the cat, spent countless hours lying on the bed in the guest room, staring out the window at the birds. We used to call them The Audubon Society, though I'm sure they were more interested in recipes involving avians than in counting and identifying them.

He was a student of human nature, too. He loved everyone except the mailman and boys with skateboards -- and the man in our neighborhood with the green umbrella.

What precisely annoyed him about the man with the green umbrella, I don't know. But whenever we saw TMWTGU on our walks, we had to cross the street. Otherwise Gunnar acted like he was giving serious consideration to going for the throat.

As Gunnar was a good judge of character, I have always wondered what he saw the rest of us didn't.

Suffice to say, Gunnar made life interesting. To echo my son's words after AJ's advent into our lives: "He really did improve the quality of life around here."

So did they all.

But especially Gunnar.

Gunnar has spent the last twelve years at my feet while I wrote books and blogs. He tucked himself in under the desk and hummed while I worked.

He was there this week while I worked on my revisions -- up until yesterday when it was too much of a struggle to climb the stairs.

Last night he slept downstairs. This morning he climbed up on the sofa to look out the window, then he lay down and watched me do my 35 minutes on Wii Fit (which he found endlessly baffling -- why is she stepping on and off that plastic board? Why is she tipping and tilting and teetering and tottering? Especially when we could be going for walks).

But the past two weeks we haven't been able to go for walks. And this morning, on the sofa, he closed his eyes and breathed his last.

The quality of life dropped fast.

It will improve again, I know. There are ups and there are downs. And there are days like today which really are the pits.

But I would go through today again -- and again -- for the joy of having him in our lives for so many years. And he will be in our hearts forever. We might not have him here anymore, but we will always have that.

He trained Micah and Mitch to do the contests (a forward thinking dog, our Gunnar). He taught them how to sit under the desk or behind my chair to trip me when I get up. He taught them the fascination of watching me twist and turn and step on the Wii balance board.

He taught them to look suspiciously at the mailman, the FedEx lady and the UPS guy (though neither barks with quite the warning he did). And heaven help the man with the green umbrella should we happen to see him out walking.

Mostly, though, he taught us all about love. He gave it unconditionally. I hope in turn we gave him the life and the love he deserved to have.

God speed, Gunnar. You were the best.


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Saturday, December 06, 2008

Up to my neck . . .

Apologies for the lack of posts which is not intentional.

There is the general holiday preparation stuff which normally goes on at this time of year. But there are also the book revisions which are making me rethink the first third of the book and recast it in a slightly different form.

I like the suggestions my editor made and the changes I've done so far have made it a better and stronger book, I think. At least Christo and Natalie seem to think so. They want me to get on with it faster. I will.

But presently I am also dealing with a very very sick dog. As he has been a member of the family for twelve years -- and the outcome does not look promising -- I am rather distracted and spend a lot of time with him. So bear with me, please.

Gunnar is a very special guy. He's has definitely, as my youngest son once said about our first dog, "improved the quality of life around here." Right now his quality of life sucks. But we're doing the best we can.

If you want to read something cheery -- or at least more entertaining than this -- there are some great blogs on my sidebar and if you aren't already going to several of them, do check them out.

I have good news about my website which has been in limbo for much of the past year. It seems that it is about to get a serious update -- and a lot of content that's been missing since the old site was 'revamped.' I'll keep you posted on that.

And, of course, keep an eye out for PJ and Ally's book, Antonides' Forbidden Wife, coming later this month (so it won't get lost in the Christmas rush). Julie Bonello wrote a lovely review of it over on the Cata-Romance site.

RT had nice things to say, too. Michelle Reid very kindly sent me their review a couple of weeks ago. I meant to post it, but there's the small matter of not having any time.

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Monday, December 01, 2008

Gunnar's Choice

Gunnar the flatcoat, with his stalward treat-snarfing golden retriever apprentices, Micah and Mitch, has picked ArkieRN as the winner of the drawing held on the Pink Heart Society blog.

So, Arkie, if you're reading this here, go to my website and hit the "contact Anne" link and send me your address. Then we will package up your book and send it on to you.

Many thanks to everyone who posted comments here and on the Pink Heart. I found several new authors to check out -- and I hope you did, too.

Also, I enjoyed reading about all the books you've enjoyed reading aloud with the children in your lives. Thanks for sharing!

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