Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My first ever winners!!!

I am so excited, because I just randomly chose 3 winners from among those who follow my blog.

Congratulations go to:

Karen H in NC who won the $10 gift card from

Pomma Emeraldwolfeyes who won the $20 gift card from

mom1248 who won the $30 gift card


I will be announcing new prizes to be won in the coming days. Thanks for following my Wednesday's Words!

After years of being exiled to the far corner of my office, sitting with my back to the room like a recalcitrant child, I am pleased to announce that I finally rebelled, and ordered a complete and total re-organization of my work space. And in the process, I discovered, among other things, that no one in this family remembers things in quite the way they happened.

I do recall that I came home one day several years ago to find that my daughter had re-arranged my office for me when all I had asked her to do was “clean up my wires”.

Imagine my surprise to discover my antique oak library desk that had been situated in front of the window, shoved into a corner, and not only into a corner but angled in such a way as to make me face that conflux of two walls if I wanted to work at it.

When I came home on this particular day, my husband saw my face as I took in for the first time this new arrangement. He said, “I told her not to do it. I told her you’d be mad!”

I wasn’t mad, but I was a little disappointed. I left the office in this new arrangement for two reasons. First, a lot of the work had been involved in carrying out the move in the first place. Second, the truth was that this new set-up was necessary for Internet access, which at that time was through my phone line. My daughter hadn’t been able to move the phone line to the computer as we had thought she could, so the alternative was to move the computer to the phone line instead. At the time, I hadn’t yet been published and didn’t spend all that much time BICFOK [butt in chair fingers on keyboard].

So through the years there I’ve sat in this room everyone agrees is my office, in the far corner, facing the wall, while life goes on behind me.

There are two doorways (but only one door) in my office. One opens to the entry hall and the living room; the second opens to the kitchen. And yes, the preferred route—but not the only one—from living room to kitchen is through my office.

The rest of my office is filled with file cabinets, book cases, and of course, a second computer, one that my beloved likes to use.

You can just see us, can’t you? Silently sitting, back to back, and surfing the web in matrimonial harmony.

Two winters ago saw the addition of an electric fireplace to my office. My beloved set it up in front of the window, of course. Ah, a fireplace! That sounds cosy—until I tell you that after it got moved in, we shortly discovered that to use it meant to pop a fuse breaker. Thus it sits, in the winter, in front of the window, looking cosy.

I’ve been continually reassured that we’re going to have that glitch looked at, one of these days.

There had been only one real down side to this desk in corner arrangement. In the spring, the sun streaming through my window shone upon my computer screen so brightly that for an hour and a bit each morning, seeing the screen was out of the question.

I quickly bought a bamboo blind to solve that problem.

Eventually, of course, I got tired of the corner, so about two weeks ago I informed all and sundry that I intended to move my desk back to in front of the window. I want to at least see the sunshine and blue skies each day.

No one recalled the actual circumstances of the first move, and I heard grumblings of “make up your mind where you want to be” despite that at least six years have passed since the desk was moved to that corner.

So on the appointed day my daughter came over, and the move was accomplished.

As soon as he saw it my beloved announced he wasn’t completely happy with the new look, as we were now sitting closer together, and at right angles to each other. But then he proved he’s come a long way when he hastened to add that it was after all my office, and I was the one who needed to be happy with it.

And they say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks!

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I was fortunate enough to be invited to be on a panel of published authors at my RWA chapter meeting this month. The moderator of the panel asked me to tell the aspiring authors present my best “publishing story”. I thought that perhaps you, my faithful readers, would like to hear it, too.

A long time ago, before I ever truly believed I would someday really get published, I wrote a Cinderella story that was just for me. If you’re a writer, you know how it is: you’re feeling down, and so you write. This story was about a widow who, with the help of two fairy godmothers, won a trip to a Mediterranean kingdom; she then met the king while he was staying “incognito” at a resort. They fell in love, of course, and they lived happily ever after. I wrote this story by hand, and it wasn’t more than 30 pages long.

The story had no conflict to speak of, but it was, after all, an escape, and just for me.

Flash forward to 2005; I attended CanWrite, the writing conference of the Canadian Author’s Association, in Kitchener, Ontario with my friend Kelley Armstrong. There I heard of something called “erotic romance” something that seemed to be a new genre just opening up, being published in e-books, a new medium just opening up. I’d been writing romance for years; I’d already finished 10 novels! Surely I could spice the romance up enough to make it erotic romance. So I began to write a story I called Simply Irresistible. But I had never written anything specifically to sell before. It was really tough going. Words dried up, and I wondered if I could really do this thing called “writing”, after all. Then along came NaNoWriMo. Kelley said she was going to participate just for the fun of it, and suggested that I should, too. Also, since I’m a moderator of the writing group on her web site, the two of us together could encourage the entire writing group to join in the madness that is NaNo and thus inspire them to finish their novels. I agreed, of course, even though I didn’t have a clue what I was going to write about.

And then I remembered my Cinderella story. I got excited about writing again, and I ended up producing 54K words in a fortnight.

The story still had no conflict to speak of, but it was, after all, just a writing exercise, and just for me.

Two years later it’s 2007. The book that had been written as Simply Irresistible had been released with the new title Made For Each Other, and my publisher put out a submission call for “adult fairy tales”. She wanted to publish an anthology of them. Eager to have another title published, I put my thinking cap on and came up with “Beau and the Lady Beast”. I pitched it, and my publisher loved it. She then asked, “Do you have any other ideas?”

I remembered my Cinderella story, which for NaNo I had renamed “Once Upon A Time”; I really loved that story. But it had no conflict to speak of….ah, but now I was a “published” author, and I knew I could “fix” it. So I pitched it to my publisher, who suggested making the story into a three book series. It was my first series, and, since the name “Once Upon A Time” had already been taken, I called it “Magic And Love”.

What had begun as a short story hand written one sad, lonely day ended up as a 145,000-word series.

If you have a story that you wrote long ago that you love, it doesn’t have to stay in the past. You’re a writer, a professional. You can make it work, if you want to.

These three stories of Magic and Love (The Prince and the Single Mom, The Princess and the Bodyguard, A Prince for Sophie) are very far from my best sellers. But to this day, they remain my favorites of everything I’ve written, and I even re-read them, from time to time, myself.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

So I was sitting on my front porch a couple evenings ago. It was that time of day when the heat is just right, the shadows comfortable with sun dappling through trees, and the neighbourhood kids out and about enjoying their summer.

On this particular day, our youngest grandson was playing with a friend of his a couple of doors down. They had water guns and were taking turns trying to see who could shoot the farthest.

Yes, I had already been asked if they could shoot each other and I (being a party-pooper kind of granny) had said no.

As they were playing, the other boy’s younger sister chose to ride her bike back and forth along the street.

She got distracted watching the boys, lost control of her bicycle, and ended up on the pavement. Now, she wasn’t badly hurt, just a minor scrape to her knee and a major one to her ego.

Even before her father came out of the house and picked her up she was wailing that it wasn’t her fault she’d fallen; the boys had made her fall.

Having seen the entire episode unfold, I will say that the little girl, who’s 8, let her attention wander, watching the boys instead of what she was doing and where she was going on her bike. However, neither boy did anything to cause her to fall. They weren’t even “shooting” in her direction.

As I sat and pondered this mini-accident, what got me was that in fact that entire episode struck me as being a micro-encapsulation of what I think is the main thing that’s wrong with today’s society.

My question isn’t so much doesn’t anyone own their own actions anymore? It’s more, what the heck are we really teaching our children and grandchildren?

I can guarantee you, that if that had same thing had happened to one of my kids, along with the hugs and the murmurs of sympathy and Band-Aids would have been the words, “well, if you’d been paying attention to what you were doing, you wouldn’t have fallen and gotten hurt”.

It seems to me that these days, we let our children get away with saying whatever they want, which mostly is to publicly disavow any culpability in their own stupid actions.

Thus they don’t learn to think before they act, or look before they leap. They aren’t taught the simple logic of cause and effect. They’re not made aware that their actions can have consequences that go far beyond the one simple moment of inattention, or far beyond anything they could ever imagine.

Having these lessons learned when they are small, like my young neighbor, will result in scraped knees and banged elbows, and bruised egos. Maybe, they’ll result in a broken arm or leg, or a mild concussion.

But failure to learn these lessons when our children are young could have possible much more catastrophic outcomes for them when they become teens or young adults.
They could lose relationships, or jobs, or sometimes something totally irreplaceable.
Some of those consequences don’t bear thinking about.

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Drawing August 31 2011

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Those of you who follow me on Face Book know that just a few days before we were scheduled to leave on vacation, my sweet little Boots kitty fell ill, and passed away. He’d lived a good long life—more than 15 years, having come to us when he was about 5.

When Booty arrived, I already had a cat. Her name was Gray Kitty. She was old at that point, and ignored the interloper. When Gray died at the age of 18 (human years), Boots became top cat—actually, he became the only cat.

Over the years, Boots had mellowed from being a feline who barely tolerated a scratch to a needy kitty who demanded I pick him up and snuggle him like a baby—yes, on his back so I could rub belly and scratch chin—every day.

I knew he was getting old, and I had told myself many times that he wouldn’t be with me much longer. Still, our pets really are members of the family, and despite my efforts, I wasn’t prepared to lose him.

When I came back from the vet, I had my daughter take the 7 foot tall cat stand that had been in our living room these past ten years to her house – only Boots had ever used it here, and my daughter has two other cats at home she thought would like it. Also, I wanted her to have it so I wouldn’t have to look at it every day.

We left for vacation, as scheduled. While we were gone, my daughter for the most part stayed here at the house, to watch over her cat that still lives with us—Crash Ktty is also very old and not well—and our dog.

On the Thursday of the first week we were away, Jenny came to the house between clients (she works in home healthcare). It was raining, and as she climbed the steps to the porch she realized there was a strange cat sitting in one of the padded patio chairs. My daughter shrugged, because it was raining at the time, and she figured the cat was simply escaping the wet.

This unfamiliar cat was all black, like my Boots kitty, except for a tiny flash of white on her chest. I don’t want you to think this cat is an exact physical replica of Boots. First, she’s female and second, she has short hair. Boots had been a Persian cross breed. The eyes, however, are the same color exactly.

An hour later this cat was still there, and when my daughter opened the front door to let the dog out on the porch, the cat came inside as if she owned the place. She immediately walked over to my beloved’s chair, jumped up, and stared at the corner where the cat stand used to be. Then she turned, gave my daughter a dirty look and meowed.

Can anyone else hear the theme from the Twilight Zone playing in the background?

My daughter has given this cat the name “Spooky”. She tried several times to get it to leave, but of course, it didn’t. Jenny even took it a block away, thinking it would find its way home. Instead, it found its way back here. It claimed as its place the fourth step leading to the upstairs.

The minute I came in the house and met it, this cat decided I belonged to it, and moved into my office. Spooky thought she could sleep on my keyboard. I’ve given her temporary lodging on the open shelf in my file cabinet, instead.

My daughter is making inquiries of the area vets and humane society to see if anyone is missing a cat. This animal has had its front claws removed, and looks healthy, well fed and well cared-for.

Spooky has clearly been someone’s pet, and if she belongs to someone, then of course, I want them to have their familiar back.

If she doesn’t have an owner claim her, well, we’ll see.


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

It’s summer and we’re on vacation again, taking two weeks off to kick back and recharge our batteries.

Our first stop last week, was, as it has been these few years, the north-eastern Pennsylvania city of Hazleton. We have friends who live there, and each year we take a few days to visit them. My beloved also likes to go on excursions, feeding the history buff within. This year on our schedule was a return to Steam Town, USA, the railroad museum in nearby Scranton, Pennsylvania, and a first time visit to the coal-mining town of Ashland.

As well as museums, my husband enjoys exploring historical sites. The first time we came to visit the area, he took the Lackawanna Mine tour. He liked going deep underground for the duration of the guided tour, which lasted over a half an hour.

During that first trip, I of course stayed on top of the grass. As I have done during every mine tour since.

The day after the return to Steam Town, we went to the small town of Ashland. There my husband and our friend toured the mine. While they explored, I stayed in the shade in the park there and read. A perfect outing for us both.

One thing both my beloved and I agree upon is that our marriage has lasted 39 years (as of this past July 14th) mainly because we allow each other to pursue different interests.

After Hazleton, we took two days in Philadelphia. We’d explored the city once before, but one thing David didn’t get to do that last time was visit the New Jersey, an Iowa Class Battleship that has been decommissioned and is moored at the waterfront of Camden, New Jersey.

While I stayed back in our comfy room on Friday David did just that. The tour he took was led by two World War 2 veterans, whose knowledge and experience awed their audience. My DH thoroughly enjoyed himself.

Most of our second week – this week – we are spending on the Jersey shore, in a place called Wildwood Crest. We’ve never been here before, but count ourselves lucky to have discovered it, and this very comfortable beachfront motor inn. We have a two room efficiency unit, which suits us to a T. We brought our Keurig with us, of course. One definition of heaven for us both is an ocean view and a freshly brewed cup of coffee.

We’ve already decided that the next time we come here, we won’t travel from Philadelphia on a Saturday. What should have been a two hour trip lasted nearly six, due to several instances of gridlock along the way. But we arrived safe and sound in the end. Within the hour we’d changed into our swim suits, and taken a dip in the pool.

After dinner that first day, around sunset, my beloved set off to have his first walk along the beach.

And showed up sometime later, dripping wet. Tee shirt, shorts, everything, soaked through because, in his words, “I wasn’t going to go in, but then I simply couldn’t resist.”

I shook my head, because that’s what he expected me to do. But what I actually thought was how cool it was for a man kicking at the gate of 60 to be able to enjoy the moment enough that he could give in to the temptation to wade into the ocean, despite not being dressed for it.

His sense of adventure and his thirst for knowledge are two of his most attractive traits.