Monday, July 31, 2006

truth be told..........

I am a fair weather gardener. My hubby worked outside over the weekend, but not I.

Saturday we toured the Street of Dreams. Perhaps your city has a similar event. Builders participate and build luxurious homes which are furnished and decorated by participating companies who pay to have their products used and advertised. Admission fees go to architectural scholorships. We found our new home -- only 1.4 million -- unfurnished. It was an incredible turn of the century style, and we decided we could live very comfortably there. Now all we need to do is win the lottery. LOL

Went to see Pirates of the Carribean, Dead Man's Chest yesterday. It was as much fun as all the hype predicted. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Then I movie binged. Failure to Launch, Nanny McPhee, What a Girl Wants, Rumor Has It and Just Like Heaven. I think Just Like Heaven was my favorite of those.

It was 104 degrees here today! What do you think I did? I stayed inside and worked on my story, of course. One quick run to the post office was enough exposure for me. There are heat advisories in effect. They are like tornado warnings or storm alerts, for those of you who don't have heat like this. Charitable organizations take bottled water downtown to the homeless, the Salvation Army opens their offices for people to come in and get cool and watch DVDs in the afternoon. People are encouraged to check on the elderly and keep their dogs indoors.

Weatherman predicts one more day of this heat before it cools off. Some cities are rationing water for lawns. Lemonade anyone?

Monday's flowers

It seems there is something new and prettier every day in a garden. I took these upon waking this morning.

Friday, July 28, 2006

A Story is Feelings

Bring to mind your favorite book. Take a minute. I know there are many favorites, but think about the one that made you FEEL the most. The one you can remember where you were when you read it, how the character's plight made you feel, and how much you hated for the story to end. The one that when you finished it, you closed the book with a sigh and thought about the characters for a week. It's on your keeper shelf, so go get it.

Without opening it, make a few notes and come up with your overall impression of the book. What are the impressions you recall? Heat? Cold? Sexual tension? Yearning? Longing? Loneliness? Familial warmth? Secrets? Desire for something?

An overall TONE is something you can't always find adequate words to explain. But if, when you think about the book, you remember the FEELING you got from reading it, it was a tone that made an impression. And it was in your mind when I asked you to select a favorite book.

As a writer, it's my job to put those feelings into each book. If I haven't written a story that made you feel, then I haven't written a keeper. And I always aim to write a keeper.

So, with those feelings in mind, what's your all-time favorite book?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

every bloomin' thing

Remember my favorite lily? These blooms opened yesterday. There's a tad of shade for them beneath a fledgling tree, so I think that has helped the plant survive the summer heat. Most everything is past it's summer prime because of the intense sun and minimal rain, and my garden isn't the only one that looks this way. I could make my own calendar, couldn't I?

I am guest blogging at a writer's blog this week. Drop by to ask questions about writing or just to say hi.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


This is my youngest daughter's dog. Puppers is half Chihuahua and half toy poodle. We call him a Chi-oodle. His talent is chasing his tail.

Monday, July 24, 2006

and the winner is.....

Here's a link to the RWA site where the finalists are listed.
How many of the books have you read?

In the past there's been live internet coverage of the awards ceremony, but I haven't found anything so far this year.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

flowers for Bernadette

I was in a picture-taking mood this morning

One of my favorite lilies

My summer garden is just past its prime with the intense heat we've been having, but here is a picture I took this morning. It's one of my favorite hybrid daylilies.

Blog Spam

This morning I had to go through and delete 36 spam posts left in the comments sections here. I don't have the verification feature turned on, because I want to keep this blog as easy and friendly for you as I can. And most of the time it's not a problem. These were all made by the same person, probably electroncially generated, because many of the same posts with poor grammar were repeated over and over, like someone who doesn't speak English very well. "Greets to you" and things like that. And they leave a link to their site.

Do you post in blogs where you have to post the verification (enter some wavy numbers in a box to make sure you're a real person reading and posting) and if so, how inconvenient is that for you?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Think you'll go see it?

This opens July 21st. I always like M. Night Shyamalan's movies. How about you?

This fantastical new film, adapted from a bedtime tale he used to tell his children, features Bryce Dallas Howard as Story, a water nymph who inhabits the swimming pool of an apartment complex. When the building superintendent, Cleveland Heep (Paul Giamatti), discovers her presence, he learns that everyone in the surrounding apartments has a role to play in her fate -- whether they know it or not.

Why kids shouldn't be left alone

This was just too funny not to share.

what to say?

My agent will be accepting my RITA award for me, and I promised to send her a few words for the acceptance speech. Boy, is this tough! I've sat through enough award ceremonies to know it's an extreme kindness to keep it short. So it will be short.

Nothing sounds adequate. Everything sounds corny and repetitive.


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Heat Wave

It reached 104 degrees here today. Needless to say, I made as few trips out as possible. Thank God for air conditioning!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Harlequin Movies

Isabel Swift, VP, Author & Asset Development is interested in knowing which Harlequin/Silhouette books you'd like to see made into movies. Readers, here's your chance to voice your ideas and opinions to the Powers That Be!

Friday, July 14, 2006

The first story I ever wrote was called The Pink Dress. I stapled the pages into a book and drew a cover. I don’t remember how old I was. Many years later, I wrote a short story, submitted it, and received a rejection from Redbook magazine. I was fourteen and I still have the story and the rejection slip, and I still remember the feeling of rejection and disappointment when I received it.

My first novel length manuscript was titled The Rebel. I’m actually too embarrassed to tell you what it was about, but the title would have sold well to Silhouette, don’t you think? In fact it probably has. I was sixteen when I wrote it.

I wrote in notebooks for years when my children were growing up, and started a couple of books that way, but I didn’t get serious until my youngest daughter went to first grade. I was lost without her, but instead of having another baby or embarking on a real career :::LOL::: I decided that was the time to write the book I’d always wanted to write.

All The Tender Tomorrows. Great title, eh? Ambitious undertaking. Great characters. No plot. Passive, passive, passive writing. A totally unsaleable time period. It was typed on an old manual Smith-Corona, with an “A” that struck half a line below all the other letters, and it underwent at least three or four complete rewrites. I didn’t know it was passively written. I didn’t know it was a time period no one would buy. I thought it had a great plot -- I was involved! I sent it to many, many publishers. Most major historical publishers. What they should have said in their rejection letters was: “This doesn’t fit our present needs, and if it ever does, we’ll shoot ourselves.” But they didn’t.

I didn't receive constructive rejections; I got vague, form rejections. But I did learn to persevere. I wrote the whole thing from beginning to end and rewrote it as many times and as many ways as I knew how. And if one of those publishers had told me how to change it to make it better, I’d have done that, too.

I still just might sell that story someday.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Mia and her Binky

Mia is my son & daughter-in-law's ShihTzu. She's just a few months old. Here she is with one of her favorite toys - her Binky. Mia's very sweet-natured and calm. She accompanies the family on visits to my house.

original and foreign covers compared

UK Release in August

Here is The Mistaken Widow, an August MIlls & Boon release in the United Kingdom. I adore this cover. It is so gorgeous! What I also love is how it mirrors the details of the original theme cover.

Can't wait to have one in my hands.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Cheryl St.John's tips on collecting and displaying your favorite things

There are so many ways to collect today, from flea markets and antique malls to online shopping like ebay. Some people like owning only new things, others want pieces with history. We collect the things that appeal and intrigue and inspire. You can tell a lot about people by the things you see in their homes. Collecting is personal, and it’s about living with the things you love. Collections are as various as people. I’ve even seen a woman who collects lint and turns it into art.

If you have three, you have a collection. If you have two, you have two.
Always display things in groups of at least three.
We want our homes to reflect our personalities, and that’s what the things we collect reveal. We don’t want our homes to look cluttered. Even if you have many collections and display a large amount of them, your surroundings don’t have to look disorganized.

Color sets the mood of your room. You can change the appeal and focus of a room without painting or reupholstering by simply switching out your colorful collectables. They have punch and their mobility makes them a decorator’s dream.

Group items according to light or dark.
Use horizontal stacks as well as vertical rows of books.
Create a focal point for each shelf by grouping like objects. The bigger the object, the more impact. Too many small items create clutter.
Display small items in separate display boxes, shadow boxes or frames.
Use containers like baskets or glass bowls to hold things like buttons, marbles, matchbooks.
To arrange shelves, start with the biggest heaviest objects to anchor the space.
Add height and color. Finish with filler, smaller items to bridge gaps. Stacks of bowls or books are one item. Use interesting shapes.
Keep items from the same collection of theme together.
If you display photos in frames, confine them to one shelf to avoid clutter. The observer’s focus needs to fix on one group or shelf at a time, and not be drawn a dozen directions at once.
Turn things the same way and unify them by silhouette, for example teapots with spouts, pitchers and cups with handles

Remove the paper jackets and group hardbacks according to color and size.
A hodgepodge is confusing to the eye, where blocks of color and size keep the eye focused.
Paperbacks are less attractive and should be kept in another room or discreetly hidden in baskets.

Cardinal rule: Open shelving and china cabinets are for display, not storage.
Jam-packed cabinets lack a focal point.
You should be calling attention to the most attractive items.

1 adhere to a theme or color palette
2 use balance, but don’t be predictable
3 use a platter, soup tureen, or pitcher as a focal points (your anchors)
4 stacks and rows are more restful to the eye
5 stacking teacups on saucers rather than on each other maintains neat lines

Consider the backgrounds for your displays. If the inside of your china hutch is dark, paint it white or a pale color. If your display items are white, paint your shelves black or red.
Two colors with a strong contrast will make your collection pop.
The same principle applies to shiny verses matte finishes.

Curio cabinets can become a jumble. Create small bleacher-like steps with several layers for your displays. Make your own with painted or stained wood or fabric-covered cardboard. Choose a color that blends in with the cabinet.
You can use cup hooks on the underside of shelves to hang small treasures.
Small boxes can become shadow boxes. Heart-shaped candy boxes will hold miniatures or use picture frames or flat items like Valentines, stamps, paper fans or handkerchiefs.
There are also memory boxes to hold three dimensional displays.

Think of tables as pedestals. They can be casual or formal, whatever your style.
The same rules apply when displaying objects on a table, dresser or cabinet top. The bigger & heavier the table, the bolder the objects should be.
Have a theme in mind. Use one or two recurring colors.
Have a focal point.
Start with large objects like lamps and statuary and work to smaller. Think of a physical landscape with mountain peaks and smaller hills at the outer edges.
A live or silk plant is always a great addition for color and atmosphere.
Plants add warmth and hominess.
Lighting is as important as the items you’re displaying.
A table lamp with a three way bulb can add the sparkle you want.

A tray can be a tabletop, too, and you would arrange it the same. It’s actually a frame of sorts. The benefit is, it’s portable.
Remember that what you set on a coffee table must be able to withstand admirers and everyday traffic.

Change displays as often as you like, seasonally, or as the whim strikes. You can move the things you love from room to room to create variety. It’s always a good idea to pack away collections you’re not displaying and then bring them out another time. They’ll be new all over again, and you won’t get tired of them. Keep a collection flexible by changing out part and rearranging.

Either on the wall, tabletop or shelf, unify by single material, color, shape, texture or size.

Mantels used to be where the family displayed their crests, sabers and hunting trophies and this area often signified the family’s status. Today mantles are less formal, less symmetrical. It’s more about what you like than in adhering to design rules.

The mantle is a good place for more fragile, extraordinary or expensive things, because there’s less traffic. A mirror, clock, painting, flag or quilt is a good anchor. You should have a unifying element. It’s good to remember that a mantle is the bottom part of a picture frame. What flanks the mantle is equally important as what’s on it. Remember to tie in the items on your hearth and the adjoining wall.

Use mirrors. Place them flat and set items on top or hang them and reflect your room or your collection. Glass and bottles are best displayed in front of a window or with backlighting. Consider rope lights above or below shelves for effect.

Some collections are kept hidden away: Jewelry, watches, coins. If you want to take your jewelry out of the drawer it can be displayed as curtain tiebacks or in a glass dish.

If you collect something valuable and want to make sure you’re buying the real deal when you’re at a fleamarket, study up. Buying guides, websites and books will help you know your stuff.
Not everything has to be perfect. If you love it, it’s beautiful. Chips and dings can add character. Mismatched teacups or plates are delightful additions to a shelf.
If you love a particular textile or texture, you can purchase imperfect pieces and use them as mats for frames, throw pillows, tiebacks.

So much stuff can be overwhelming. Make one quick sweep to skim, then start over and spend time looking over the things you collect. Just seeing booths at an antique mall will give you ideas on how to display. Ask questions about the items and always ask for their best price. It’s usually 10% off, so don’t insult them by asking them to take less.
Garage sales don’t adhere to that rule. If they want to get rid of their junk, they’ll go lower.

Learn how to care for things like vintage linens, wood, glass & ceramics, brass, copper & silver, because moth and rust will destroy our earthly treasures.

If you like to collect marbles, shells, twigs etc., find creative uses for them by trimming lampshades, picture frames, by making wreathes or by filling clear glass lamp bases.

Many collectables are useful, for example: pots & planters, dishes, linens & silverware.

Nearly everyone collects something for Christmas, from snowmen, Santas and angels to glass tree toppers and Shiny Brite ornaments, there’s something for everyone at Christmastime. It’s a good idea to store like items or combinations together for easy retrieval and use. It’s fun to display a Christmas themed collection year round, if it suits you.

It’s been said that a collector is a curious, passionate person, and the more passionate one is, the greater is the collection. I remind my husband of this when he calls my collecting obsessive.

New feature!

Please notice the cluster map at the bottom of this page, which WDMCuz was kind and smart enough to figure out how to add for me. Thanks, Cuz! This is so cool! I never imagined there were so many hits - and international visitors - in just one day! It's going to be fun to see where people are visiting from. (Wish they were all posting.)

By clicking on the map you can enlarge it to get a better look.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

By Request

Okay. What I did on the 4th. My hubby and I had an opportunity to go salvage at an abandoned farm. The house was off limits because it will be moved, but the yards and barn and outbuildings were fair game. We removed and took home half barn doors (not the big rolling kind). They are so cool. Not sure what we'll do with them, but the possibilities are endless for nuts such as we. We found all the old woodwork taken from the house during a remodel stored in the rafters in the wash house. And we dug up plants. I even found a patch of foxglove. It's so pretty, and did great in the transplant. We used big galvanized tubs to bring all the plants home, including mature day and tiger lilies. I'm sure our neighbors think we're the Beverly Hillbillies every time they see the old truck pull up full of bricks, wood, fencing, etc.. We just love the cottage garden look.

The rest of the day was spent finding places to store wood and doors and getting the flowers in the ground. We were able to fill out some of our beds. They're almost all filled with perennials now. The ground has been worked and is in excellent condition. So nice to work in. Next Spring will be a snap to just rearrange a few things and add here and there, add a few annuals for summer color.

Boy were we pooped at the end of the day. anyone going to the movies on Friday?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


Stretching keeps us from growing bored with ourselves and prevents from our writing from growing stagnant--both with words on paper and in our attitudes toward those words.

The thing that occurred to me this past week was how easy it is to fall back into what we've always done. It takes a determined effort to change. Have you ever gone to the salon for a makeover - a new do - and you get a cut and style and you feel like a whole new person? How fun and refreshing is that? But then -- you have to wash and fix your own hair the next day - and it ends up looking the same way it always does. Why is that? Because you went right back to fixing it the same way you always did, instead of changing up. You probably needed a new product, a different curling iron - or a changed method.

We do the same thing when we're critiqued by someone and want to employ the technique they suggested or when we hear a fabulous workshop or a market tidbit. We have great intentions, but we don't change tools - we go right back to the way we did it before.

In order to implement recent changes, I made myself simple bulleted lists (I love bulleted lists!) and printed out one to hang over my PC and one for the front page of my project binder. That way each time I sit down to work I look at the list and remind myself of the scope I want to achieve with this project.

As for Independence Day: we declined invitations and hints to invite ... and salvaged an abandoned farm for barn doors and garden plants. Our finds took two pickup loads, and then we spent the rest of the day planting and finding places to store stuff. In the PM some of our kids brought food and grilled for us, then we watched the local fireworks displays. I think our neighbors are in the fireworks business. Everyone up and down our block sets out their lawn chairs to watch. This is the third year they've done it since we've been here, and we haven't been disappointed yet.