Friday, October 22, 2010

As Mark Twain once said...

Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated. *G*

While it is true I've been hiding out, thanks to a boatload of migraines, and haven't had nearly as much time for writing as I'd like between kids' school and scout schedules and the tear-your-hair-out stress that comes with being part of the Sandwich Generation, I'm still here.

If you've been missing me, you can find me in a couple of places.  First today, I'm blogging with my friends the Sweethearts of the West.  Those who know me won't be the least bit surprised to learn that I'm talkin' 'bout... what else? Cowboys.  And I even managed to work in two of my personal favorite cowboy-hat-wearin' heroes, Raz Colt and Kip Cooper.

Tomorrow you can see me live and in person at the Ogden Farmer's Library in Spencerport, NY.  I'll be participating in an author tea with several other local romance writers.

Hope to see you there!

Friday, August 20, 2010

The truth is revealed!!!

So which of yesterday's comments was a lie and which were the truth?  Read on and find out!


1.  I sleep with six pillows.  Plus a husband.


Totally true.  Monya has it right.  You gradually add pillows to cushion the aches and pains.  I added one for each pregnancy, then another for a chronically achy knee, another when I tore ligaments in my ankle and the next thing you know.... 

2. If I were to become single again (widowed, divorced) I wouldn't remarry.  I'd just have more dogs.  Cause.... you can train dogs.


So very true.  And this came from an actual conversation with my sons after they overheard a discussion about the divorce rate on the radio.  I had to reassure them that mom and dad weren't quite ready to trade each other in for younger models just yet--and that should that ever happen, I would definitely lean toward canine companionship rather than trying the whole husband thing again, LOL. 

3.  I once made radio legend Casey Kasem cry.


This is surprisingly true!  Back in the day, I never missed Casey's weekly American Top 40 Countdown radio program.  My favorite part was the long distance dedication, where listeners wrote a letter to Casey requesting a song be played for a friend or loved one they'd lost touch with or who had passed on.  I wrote a letter to Casey myself and was thrilled when it was accepted.  Only the radio station in my area had changed its format and I could no longer listen to the AT 40 Countdown.  I contacted them, was put in touch with Casey's producer and told her that I wouldn't be able to hear my dedication air.  She said "Oh, I remember you, you're the little girl who made Casey cry."  She went on to explain that while taping the segment where he read my long distance dedication, Casey  kept choking up and had to start over several times.  Long story short, a few days later I received a cassette copy of that portion of the show in the mail, and when I popped it in and listened, sure enough, about halfway through the letter requesting a song in memory of my aunt, who had just passed on from breast cancer, you can hear Mighty Casey's golden voice crack.  I still have the cassette, btw, and a handwritten note from Casey telling me to "keep reaching for the stars."

4. My sister is also an author.


True.  She writes contemporary western romance.


5. I once turned down a really great job because it was on the 18th floor.  And I'm afraid of heights.


True. Can't believe you guys doubted this one, hee hee. Caroline has it right--I thought I'd get a nosebleed on that long elevator ride, and at nearly every floor, it stopped and more people got on  until we were packed in there like sardines (hold on... I'm feeling faint...did I mention I'm also claustrophobic???).  But really, even the idea of being that far off the ground is hard for this self-proclaimed wuss.


6. Speaking of fears, I suffer from lepidophobia, or fear of butterflies.  I'm also not good with birds, moths --pretty much anything that flutters.
Oh so very true.  Donna,  beautiful butterflies? Or harbingers of doom???  shudder, shudder. Lilly, your poor daughter.  I'd have been catatonic! Not sure what it is about them, they just give me the heebie-jeebies.


7. As a teenager, I won awards for bowling and could have gone on to compete professionally if I'd wanted to.
Gotcha!  Only Maeve and Monya caught my lie.  I was actually a pretty good bowler; my dad coached bowling and did take some kids on to competitive status.  I just wasn't one of them. 


8. I haven't written a dang thing since summer began.

Harumph. I see no one doubted this one, LOL, but it's true.  My kids have driven me CAR-AZY all summer long.  There just hasn't been time--or sanity--enough to write.


So since Monya and Maeve both guessed the correct answer I'll put their names in a hat (I'm not afraid of hats, as it turns out, LOL) and draw.... drum roll please....


The winner is Maeve!!  Email me at nmccaffreyauthor@yahoo.com with your choice of which e-book you would like to receive a copy of and I will get that out to you!


Thank you, wonderful TWRP authors, for your amazing show of support.  I won't forget it and will try to get out and visit your blogs soon as well (and Monya, I know I still owe you an email, I haven't forgotten!)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Forced out of my summer doldrums....

Darn that Darah Lace.  Not only does she tag me, forcing me out of my sleepy summer doldrums (read laziness!) , but now I actually have to come up with something to blog about.

Darah tagged me with the Versatile Blogger Award.  I have to list eight things you probably didn't want to know about me, and one of them has to be a lie.  If readers guess which is the lie, they win a prize.  (Okay, that part I like, LOL, I'm good with prizes.)

So here goes.  I'll list eight random things and the winner who guesses the "oopsie" gets a free e-copy of any of my releases.  Small Town Christmas, The Model Man or Wild Texas Wind.  Your choice.

1.  I sleep with six pillows.  Plus a husband.

2. If I were to become single again (widowed, divorced) I wouldn't remarry.  I'd just have more dogs.  Cause.... you can train dogs.

3.  I once made radio legend Casey Kasem cry.

4. My sister is also an author.

5. I once turned down a really great job because it was on the 18th floor.  And I'm afraid of heights.

6. Speaking of fears, I suffer from lepidophobia, or fear of butterflies.  I'm also not good with birds, moths --pretty much anything that flutters.

7. As a teenager, I won awards for bowling and could have gone on to compete professionally if I'd wanted to.

8. I haven't written a dang thing since summer began.

Okay, I nominate the following authors for the versatile blogger award:

Susan Macatee
Isabel Roman

Leave your comments and guesses as to the truth versus the lie.  I'll be back tomorrow to post the winner and reveal the truth!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Welcome Special Guest: Paty Jager

Hi Nicole, Thinks for sharing your blog on my release day!

Yes, today, Friday, August 13th is the release of my first historical paranormal Spirit of the Mountain. This is one of those books of the heart. I have put a lot of research and heart and soul into this story. I found a Nez Perce woman and man to help me with my research and hopefully kept me on task with the cultural aspects, while my imagination blossomed when putting tougher the spirit aspect of the story.

When Red Wolf acknowledged the information I found about a lineage of Nimiipuu with blond hair and blue eyes, he said he was of that line and their eyes could also turn to red when emotional, I knew I had the makings for my spirit hero.

Jade Blackeagle helped by taking questions I couldn’t find in books to her elders and asking them how this was down or was this something that would offend.

This first book is set before the White man comes to the Wallowa Valley and causes problems. It is a time when the Nimiipuu only have to fear other tribes they have dealt with for years. And Himiin the hero has to deal with the dark spirit trying to take over his mountain. Evil in any shape or form is deadly and Wren and Himiin find they are battling it from both their worlds.

Blurb for Spirit of the Mountain
Wren, the daughter of a Nimiipuu chief, has been fated to save her people ever since her vision quest. When a warrior from the enemy Blackleg tribe asks for her hand in marriage to bring peace between the tribes, her world is torn apart.

Himiin is the spirit of the mountain, custodian to all creatures including the Nimiipuu. As a white wolf he listens to Wren’s secret fears and loses his heart to the mortal maiden. Respecting her people’s beliefs, he cannot prevent her leaving the mountain with the Blackleg warrior.

When an evil spirit threatens Wren’s life, Himiin must leave the mountain to save her. But to leave the mountain means he’ll turn to smoke…

Excerpt
Wren’s eyes glistened with unshed tears. “My gift is to save The People. The weyekin who came to me in my vision quest said this.” She wrapped her arms around herself as if staving off a cold breeze.
Himiin hated that they argued when they should relish their time together. He moved to her, drawing her against his chest, embracing her. The shape of her body molded to his. Her curves pressed against him. Holding her this way flamed the need he’d tried to suppress.
He placed a hand under her chin, raising her face to his. The sorrow in her eyes tugged at his conscience. To make her leaving any harder was wrong. But having experienced her in his arms, he was grieved to let her go. Even for the sake of their people.
Her eyelids fluttered closed. Her pulse quickened under his fingers. Shrugging off the consequences, he lowered his lips to hers. They were softer than he imagined. Her breath hitched as he touched her intimately. Parting his lips, he touched her with his tongue, wanting to see if she tasted as sweet as she smelled.
Honey.

This is the last day of my six day blog tour that includes a puzzle and a prize. Copy the puzzle piece in this post to a document and collect all the pieces at the blogs I visit. Then when you have them all, send them to me at patyjag@gmail.com and I'll put your name in the drawing for a copy of Spirit of the Mountain and other goodies.  I'll draw the name and post it on my blog on Monday July 16th.  If you want to go back and check out all the blogs to join the contest, hop over to my blog and find the places I've been. http://www.patyjager.blogspot.com

If you'd like to read more about me and my books or enter my website contest go to: http://www.patyjager.net

Nicole, Thanks for having me!

Paty

Friday, June 25, 2010

Hangin' with Sarah Simas

It's Friday!!!! (I survived the first few days of summer vacation--whew!) Anyway, I'm still celebrating the release of Wild Texas Wind and those great reviews.  Today I'm hanging with the always sweet, always adorable Sarah Simas over at The Lovestruck Novice.  She asked if I'd say a few words about writing to different genres and writing to please yourself.

Drop by and say hi and share your thoughts!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

First Reviews Are In!

And it's.... four spurs  from Love Western Romances!!!!

Read the fabulous review here!

Thank you hugs to reviewer Kathryn from Love Western Romances for "getting" my story and for her thoughtful and insightful review.

And.... four books from Long and Short Reviews. Thank you hugs to Camellia from LASR for her amazing review!!!

Woo hoo--you ladies sure know how to make an author's day!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wednesday on Writing: Speical Guest Paty Jager

It's my pleasure to have my long-time friend and critique partner Paty Jager here visiting with us today.  Paty is a multi published author of historical western romance--and how do you like that! We're each other's blog guests today!  So after reading this, mosey on over to Paty's Blog and  settle in for a visit!


Tell us a bit about yourself and why you write the genre you do.


I'm an Oregonian and proud of it. My husband and I farm/ranch 350
acres in central and eastern Oregon. We're empty nesters with children
and grand children coming and going faster than the change of weather.

I enjoy writing historical westerns because it is a time when the
women thought legally not treat equal, they were equals in the day to
day living with the men. They had to be for the families to survive.
It was a time when everything was wild and raw. Which makes for great
scenes and fun dialogue.



 How long have you been writing?

To be published? Probably twenty years. I started out writing mysteries and floundered unable to find a support group. Then I read LaVyrle Spencer's Hummingbird and tried my hand at historical western romance. I also found RWA(Romance Writers of America) and learned I had a lot to learn about writing a romance. But I did well in contests and found a wonderful critique partner and I learned to write. I became published four years ago with Wild Rose Press.

 Where do you get your ideas?



My ideas can come from song lyrics, a newspaper article, or something I read while I'm researching for a book. I even had an idea come from something I heard on the radio. My ideas are open to anything!


Describe your typical writing day.

Lately, my typical day is getting my dh out the door to work but 6:30 am. Then I'm queuing the music for the current WIP and writing. I've made a pact with myself that I can't get on the internet until I've written 2000 words. Once I've hit that mark I can check e-mails, visit blogs,and work on promotion. Then after that if I don't have outside or inside chores that need done, I'll write some more on the WIP until I have to make dinner.

Now if I'm at our place that's three hours away. I wake up at 6 am and
change pipes.  Have breakfast, then I write until I can't stand to sit
any longer and go outside for a walk. Then I come in and write more
until I need to move and then I eat dinner and go out to change pipes
again. Then I watch a movie and go to bed.




What was your “Aha!” moment—when you knew you had to be a writer?


I was a senior in high school. We were given the assignment to write about a figure in history. We researched the character and then wrote the story. I wrote about Joan of Arc burning at the stake in her POV.  I still remember the teacher reading my story aloud in class and the quiet that followed when she finished. Even the class clown didn't have a joke.  That was when I truly realized the power of the written word even though I'd been an avid reader and traveled many continents and emotions through my reading.





If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?


I think I would have like to work in advertising if I'd had the opportunity to fully explore all occupations when I was in school.



Tell me your best cure for writer’s block?


Knock on wood. That rarely happens to me, but when it does it is
usually because I've written myself into a hole or trying to make a
character do something out of character. Or I've had some negative
feedback on my writing and that throws me for a loop. Then I just look
at the books I have published and read the good reviews and get myself
back in the game. So far, I'm never at a loss for things to write
about or characters to take on a journey.






 Tell us a little bit about Doctor in Petticoats (coming June 25 from The Wild Rose Press)

Doctor in Petticoats is the fourth book in the Halsey brother series.
Clay finds himself blind after an accident and his older brothers
decide the best thing for him is to learn how to deal with his
blindness and send him to a blind school across the state. While there
he learns a lot about himself and falls for an independent female
doctor in charge of the students at the blind school.

At writer workshops you're always hearing your book will only work if
there is no one else in the world who will compliment your characters
but each other. I think I did that with this book.



After a life-altering accident and a failed relationship, Dr. Rachel
Tarkiel gave up on love and settled for a life healing others as the
physician at a School for the Blind.  She's happy in her
vocation--until handsome Clay Halsey shows up and inspires her to want
more.

Blinded by a person he considered a friend, Clay curses his
circumstances and his limitations.  Intriguing Dr. Tarkiel shows him
no pity, though.  To her, he's as much a man as he ever was.

Can these two wounded souls conquer outside obstacles, as well as
their own internal fears, and find love?



“I’m going to look in your other eye now.” She, again, placed a hand
on his face and opened the eyelids, stilling her fluttering heart as
she pressed close. His clean-shaven face had a couple small nicks on
the edges of his angular cheeks. The spice of his shave soap lingered
on his skin.

She resisted the urge to run her cheek against his. The heat of his
face under her palm and his breath moving wisps of wayward hair caused
her to close her eyes and pretend for a few seconds he could be her
husband. A man who loved her and wouldn’t be threatened by her
occupation or sickened by her hideous scar.

His breathing quickened. A hand settled on her waist, slid around to
her back, and drew her forward. Her hand, holding the lens, dropped to
his shoulder, and she opened her eyes. This behavior on both their
parts was unconscionable, but her constricted throat wouldn’t allow
her to utter the rebuke.

Clay sensed the moment the doctor slid from professional to aroused
woman. The hand on his cheek caressed rather than held, her breathing
quickened, and her scent invaded his senses like a warm summer rain.


Wow!! That's a great excerpt!   Anything else in the works you can share with us? 



My first attempt at historical paranormal will be released in August. It's a book set among the Nez Perce Indians in the 1700's. The hero is an Indian spirit. And I have contracted a contemporary western that is waiting for a release date. It's the story of an ER nurse and a bareback bronc rider. For a glimpse at these you can go to my website. http://www.patyjager.net

This week I'm starting a ten day blog tour and giving away an
autographed copy of Doctor in Petticoats, a $25 B&N gift card, and a
summer tote full of goodies. to enter the contest just follow my blog
tour and leave a comment. The person who comments on the most blogs
will win. To find out where I'll be go to my blog:
http://www.patyjager.blogspot.com

Thanks for visiting with us today, Paty!  We'll see you back in late summer to tell us more about Spirit of the Mountain!

Monday, June 21, 2010

And the winner is....

The winner of last weekend's celebration drawing is.....

Susan Macatee!

Congratulations, Susan!! There's an e-copy of WTW on the way to you!

If you didn't win, there's still a chance! Stop by Darah's Lace's blog anytime today and leave a comment for a chance to win !

Nic

Friday, June 18, 2010

It's Here!!!!


With all that's gone on this week, I nearly forgot that today was release day--so it's a little like Christmas Morning to wake up and realize it's here!

I've "introduced" you to Raz, and posted a scene with both Raz and Arden--but today I'd like to post a scene from Arden's perspective.

I'll be celebrating all weekend, and will be giving away a free download from the commenter's, so if you stop by, be sure to leave me a comment! Stop back Monday morning to find out who the winner is!

~~~


Arden couldn’t be certain the exact moment she realized the approaching rider was watching her. But the chill crawling up her spine was the doing of the man lying unconscious beneath her. He’d deliberately tried to frighten her.
And for the moment, she was stuck. Her chin hovered mere inches from his chest. No matter how she struggled she couldn’t free her hair from beneath his dead weight.
“Wake up.” She tried to squirm free, to kick him—anything. She reached awkwardly around to slap at his cheek, but to no avail. He didn’t stir. Only the steady rise and fall of his chest assured her she hadn’t killed him.
The rider moved closer, slowing his pace to take in the scene before him. It was too late to play dead. She had a funny feeling it wouldn’t have done much good anyway.
The metal of the .44 grew warm against her palm, but her hand, pinned awkwardly between her body and the man she lie upon, was numb and tingly from lack of circulation. The rider stopped a few feet away and dismounted. He walked closer, then stopped, studying her with a smug expression. When the corners of his mouth turned up, she had the oddest feeling he considered himself the cat to her mouse. Every instinct screamed the truth. This was the killer.
In one grand attempt to remain alive, she rolled to one side, ignoring the sting of her scalp, and freed her arm. Cocking the hammer with her thumb, she trained the gun on him. “Don’t come any cl—”
A hand on the back of her neck slammed her face down on the ground. Her finger was squeezed tight against the trigger as he—the arrogant ass she’d been unable to rouse a moment ago—closed his hand over hers. Three shots rang out almost simultaneously, the kick from the gun lurching her arm as it fired. Something warm buzzed past her ear, like the hum of a bumble bee but much too fast and much too hot. She opened her mouth to scream but inhaled a mouthful of dust and dirt instead.
Silence reigned for only a second before he rolled off her, one hand pressed to his head where she’d struck him. “Son of a bitch.”
Sputtering, Arden sat up and wiped an arm across her mouth. The rider lay slumped at an odd angle in the dirt. She turned to the suddenly-conscious stranger “You killed him.”
He stood, hand still on his head. “You’re welcome.” With a motion of his finger, he wordlessly told her to stay put. Gun in hand, he approached the dead man, then nudged him with the toe of his boot. He bent to press two fingers to the side of the man’s neck. “He’s dead.”
“So I gathered.” She noted the precision of the two holes, one square in the chest, the other right between the eyes. Either would have been a lethal shot. Another chill slithered down her spine despite the sun’s merciless heat. Who was this man with such deadly aim?
“Do you know him?”
The sight of the corpse, already taking on a chalky hue, began to sour her empty stomach. She drew her knees up to her chin, shaking her head in answer to his question. “Do you?”
He glanced down at the man’s face, cocked his head as if considering. “By reputation only. At least I think it’s him.” He rose, reloaded, and holstered the .44. with a smooth motion that told her he did it often and without thought.
“Why did you kill him?”
“What?”
“Why didn’t you just shoot him in the hand or the leg or something?”
“Are you out of your goddamned mind?”
“Anyone who can shoot as accurately as you could have disarmed him without killing him.”
“Hell, yeah. I could have invited him to tea, too.” He stepped a few feet away to retrieve the other man’s revolver from where it had landed. “But I have a bad habit, sweetheart. It’s called breathing. And I’m kinda partial to doing it.”
As he approached her, she reached for the extra gun he carried. “I’ll take that.”
“The hell you will.”
“I feel the need to protect myself.”
“And you’re doing a half-assed job of it, from the looks of things.” He knelt down in front of her. “Are you all right?”
She had to admit, his concern was somewhat touching. The memory of him throwing himself over her, shielding her with his body, caused a warm flush of gratitude. “I’m fine. Thank you.”
“Good. I got ten grand riding on your well being.” He glanced back at the other man. “Who wants you dead, Miss O’Hara?”
“No one.”
Raz shifted his gaze back toward her. Something in her voice wasn’t quite right. “You sure about that?”
“Who would want to kill me?”
“Anyone who has known you more than five minutes.”
Hurt flashed in those big green eyes before she pushed to her feet. “I’m leaving.”
“That’s a good idea,” he agreed. “Whoever wants to kill you will try again when he doesn’t come back.”
“I assure you, no one wants me dead.”
“That remains to be seen.” He left her to rummage through the dead man’s pockets, looking for anything that might identify him. But he didn’t need a name to know what Arden O’Hara would have suffered before he killed her. Finding nothing of use, he hoisted the body over his shoulder and draped it across the back of the extra horse.
“We’d better head to the nearest town and find the sheriff.” He didn’t bother to add there would probably be a reward.
“We?”
“Yes, we.” he repeated. “Don’t you want to know the identity of the one person in the whole world who wanted to kill you?”
She stared at the corpse as if it would bite her. “I told you, I don’t know him.”
“Whoever hired him knows you.”
She briskly rubbed her arms as though to ward off a chill. “Look, Mister—”
“Colt. Raz Colt.”
“Fine. Colt,” she repeated. “I think a terrible mistake has been made here. I’m quite certain this man never meant to harm me. I think he was probably trying to scare me.”
“Men like this don’t play games, darlin’. They kill.”
“You speak as though you have personal experience.”
He shrugged. “I don’t make apologies for what I am.”
“What are you?”
“A law-abiding citizen.”
She raised a brow in his direction before dropping her gaze pointedly to his guns. He wasn’t about to explain his lifestyle to her. He was a hired gun; it wasn’t something he was proud of but it was what he knew, what he was good at. And he liked to think he provided a service to the local law enforcement. Any low-life he took off the streets was one less gun the sheriff would have to face down.
Still, her decided lack of fear in all of this nagged at him. Sure she was a little green around the gills from staring at the dead guy, but not once had she come close to panicking; not before he’d entered the little shack, not when he approached her and not now, when she’d damn near met her maker.
He removed tobacco and paper from his shirt pocket and calmly rolled a cigarillo. “Mind telling me why you’re ‘quite certain’ this man wouldn’t harm you?”
She sighed dramatically. “It’s a long story.”
“I’ve got time before he starts to rot.”
“I’m sorry you were dragged into this, but I was not kidnapped, at least not really.” She began to pace, moving away from him.
The cigarillo complete, he scraped a match on the heel of his boot. “I’m listening.”
She walked toward a nearby rock and took a seat, resting her elbows on her knees, chin in her palms. Another sigh. “I wanted Geoffrey to rescue me.”
He inhaled, held the smoke in his lungs, and willed himself to stay calm. A million different responses came to mind, most of them more colorful than what she’d spouted earlier. At last he allowed a stream of smoke to slowly leave his nostrils. “Why?”
She sprang to her feet and resumed pacing. “I needed to know if he cared about me or if it was the money. I didn’t want Daddy involved, I knew he’d worry.”
“That doesn’t explain our friend over there attracting flies.”
“The men I hired would never have sent a man like that, not even to scare me.”
“The men you hired?”
“Yes. I think we need to assume this man was after you rather than me. A man like you most certainly has enemies.”
“Not alive.” He threw the cigarillo aside and stalked toward her, thoughts of killing her himself running wild. “Are you saying I damn near took a bullet for someone who staged her own kidnapping?”
She shrugged, almost childlike. “I’m sorry.”
“You’re sorry?”
“Yes. I’m sure Daddy will still pay—”
“You’re sorry?”
“Mister Colt, you’re doing that repeating thing again.”
For the second time that morning, Raz hoisted her over his shoulder, this time taking care to remove his guns. He pressed one against her ribs, partly for effect, partly from anger. “Not half as sorry as you’re gonna be.”
As expected, she kicked and thrashed, pummeling him with her fists, screeching like a banshee.
He deposited her onto the back of his horse, pinned her arms together while he retrieved a length of rope from his saddlebag. Before she could free herself, he wound it tight about her wrists, then secured it to the saddle horn and mounted behind her.
“What are you doing?” she asked, sounding more annoyed than afraid. She tugged at the ropes and let out a child-like shriek when they didn’t loosen.
“Taking you home.”
But not until he taught her a damned good lesson.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Countdown Begins!!!


One week from today is the release date for Wild Texas Wind!!! I'm torn between wanting to shout it from the rooftops--and wanting to pull it so I can fix all the things I imagine are "wrong" with it. Yipes!

As promised all those weeks ago, before the ol' Lifus Inerruptus got hold of me and kept me from blogging, I told you I'd be posting excerpts. If you just can't wait to get your hands on a copy, it's available in print format as an early bird special. But for the e-version, you'll have to wait til next week.

So without further adieu.... here we go! One of my faves, this is where the hero and heroine first meet.



“You call this crap food?” Raz Colt listened patiently to the tirade coming from the line shack he’d discovered late last night.
“I wouldn’t slop hogs with it!”
A sound suspiciously like a pot hitting a wall echoed in the calm morning air.
He shifted position. He’d been lying on the dusty ground below the window since last night. With the promise of H.H. O’Hara’s reward still fresh in his mind, he would spend an entire damn week this way if he had to. The sagebrush provided shelter from both the sun and any lookouts who might be around. He hoped to hell the men he’d leaned on for information and the trail he’d followed had led him to the right place.
A shriek of female fury pierced the quiet, echoed around him and bounced off the canyon walls. “I told you I needed a firmer bed. My back is killing me!”
“No, no, señorita.” Something banged against the wall, followed by shattering glass.
“I expect to be cared for better than this!”
Raz rolled his eyes at the stream of expletives that followed. She cursed her male companion, his mother, his future children, the entire country. Christ, she knew words even he didn’t say out loud.
This couldn’t be the “baby” H.H. O’Hara was so convinced “might just wither up and die” if she wasn’t treated “delicate like.”
He resisted the urge to have a look inside. He wasn’t sure he’d be able to recognize Arden O’Hara from her father’s description; the big man had been blubbering so hard the other night he’d been almost incoherent. Guilt was a powerful thing, Raz supposed. H.H. had refused to meet the kidnappers’ demands and hadn’t heard from them a second time. The rancher feared he’d done the wrong thing and would never again see his daughter. Averse to paying the “hooligans” who had taken her, he was more than willing to pay someone else to find her and bring her home.
The cabin door burst open; a man dashed out, holding his hat to his head.
“I said I wanted a bath, you incompetent jackass!”
A pitcher and bowl flew past, narrowly missing the man’s head. He bent to pick up the shattered pieces, mumbling to himself in Spanish about the ungrateful señorita breaking his wife’s good pitcher.
Raz made his move. With speed born of practice, his gun met his hand. Swiftly yet silently he crept closer. The other man started, then reached for his gun.
“Save it. You’ll be dead before you clear leather.”
The man glanced from the Peacemaker in Raz’s hand to the one strapped low on his hip then raised his gaze to size up his rival. His arms went up in surrender. “Señor. Did El Hombre send you?”
The man? What the hell was that supposed to mean? He adopted a loose-hipped stance, leaning one shoulder against the shack. May as well play along, see what he could find out “Yeah. He sent me.”
“Bueno. Better you than me. She is a handful, but I could never kill a woman. No matter how unpleasant she is.”
Raz digested that in silence. He wasn’t surprised the kidnappers intended to kill her, had half expected to find her already dead. Now that her daddy had refused their ransom demands, they would have no use for the girl. Except one. And with a temper like that, she’d only make it more fun for them.
“That does not bother you?”
Something thumped against the floor of the shack. “What the hell is going on out there?”
Raising a lazy brow, Raz sneered. “Do I look like it’s gonna bother me?”
The man gave a slight shake of his head. “She is like a tiger. She will not go down without a fight.”
With deliberate movements, Raz removed tobacco from his shirt pocket. Bracing one foot against the door, he calmly rolled a cigarillo. It was pure luck he’d arrived before the real killer, but he wished this little fellow would be on his way. Just once he’d like to have a job gosmoothly. No bloodshed, no fist fights. Nice and easy.
“Where is my goddamned bath water?”
The man adjusted his dusty, battered hat. “Good luck, amigo.” His relieved grin told Raz he’d probably need it.
He pulled a drag on the cigarillo as the other man mounted his horse and watched until he rode out of sight. With a light-hearted sigh, he turned toward the shack. It appeared all he had to do was return Arden O’Hara to her daddy, collect his reward, and not risk his neck doing it.
Visions of how he’d spend the money swam in his brain. Well, just one vision. Land. Lots of it. He’d always dreamed of being a man of property. Maybe then he could hang up his holster, change his name, and live a quiet, peaceable life.
“Do I smell cigarettes out there? Are you heating my bath water or lazing about smoking?”
He tossed aside the cigarillo and pushed open the door. And ducked as an object came flying at his head. It missed him by inches and flew out the open door. He glanced toward the enamel coffee pot, then back inside. The interior was dim, stuffy. It took a few seconds for his eyes to adjust to the change in light.
“Great, another one.”
Raz blinked.
“Did you bring my bath water?”
From his conversation with H.H. O’Hara, he’d been expecting a much younger girl. His gaze fell to the way she was dressed. A man’s shirt, tucked into slim-fitting trousers that hugged every curve. This was no child. Her hands rested on either hip. One small, booted foot patted the ground impatiently.
“Leave something on me, or I might catch cold.”
If life was fair, she’d have the face of a hag to match that heavenly body. Reluctantly, he pulled his attention upward. Damn the luck.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tuesday Musin'


Yesterday didn't allow for much blogging time so I'm musing a day late, and since my brain is still reeling from The Crash (my desktop--which is still not home) my musing is very lame, LOL.

Lovely evening. Yesterday was one of those perfect spring days, a bit on the cool side, but sunny with blue skies. After dinner last night, I convinced the DH to take a walk with me and the dog while the boys rode their bikes. What a great way to cap off an evening (and we snuck in a little exercise to boot!)

Sandwich generation. That's what they call those of us who have elderly parents and young children. I think that's because calling it "the generation whose head is being squeezed in a vice grip until their brain explodes" would take too long.

Kudos to Darah. Have you seen the review Miz Lace got for Unmasking Zorro? Incredible. Congrats, Darah. If you haven't seen it, hop on over to her blog and check it out. It's phenomenal! But then I expected nothing less.

Cold sweat. Now that I have the release date for Wild Texas Wind, my nerves are kicking up. What if no one likes it? What if it gets bad reviews? What if it doens't sell???? What if, what if, what if, LOL. It's amazing how many ways I can find to torture myself over what's supposed to be a good thing!


Favorite quote this week: (as seen on a bumper sticker, LOL) I'd give up chocolate... but I'm no quitter!

Now if that doesn't tell you everything about my mindset (let alone where my hormones are!*G*) this week, LOL, nothing else will.

Hope it's warm and sunny where you are!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wednesday on Writing: Sweet Release


What is it they say about the best of intentions? Well, I had 'em. Now they're gone, LOL. I awoke Monday morning with a great Maxine cartoon to share, ready to do some Monday Musin'.... only to discover my computer was NOT ready for me. It's dead. Crashed. Kaput. Whatever you want to call it.

Fortunately most everything was backed up (I have learned this lesson once before, and was also in the process of transferring some files to a new lap top --which I had barely taken out of the box!) So all is not lost, I'm just annoyed and what was supposed to be a gentle, gradual transition between computers was more like a trial by fire. Old Faithful will be repaired, though, I'm still a desk top gal at heart.

But the good news in my inbox (now that I have found and can access it again, LOL) is the release date for Wild Texas Wind. June 18!!!! Yay!!!!

Now I'm off to think up a contest idea for release week and will post some excerpts once we get closer to The Big Day.

For now, let's just stare at the cover some more.... SIGH.

How about you? How's your week been going so far? Any news --good, bad or otherwise--in your inbox?

Friday, April 2, 2010

I'm baaa--accck! Ready for some Friday Fun? Let's hang out with Darah Lace!


Wow, what a week. Once again the bug takes a bite and I go down like a ton of bricks, LOL. But I'm back! Able to get my coffee cup past the end of my nose this morning, so that's a huge plus!

Today we're hangin' with my buddy, my bff Darah Lace. Do you have a CP that really makes you step up your game--that forces you to become a better writer just to keep up with her? LOL. Well that's Darah in my world. We've been buds for 7+ years now and I still mean it when I say she's one of the best writers out there. Not only am I a better writer for having spent these past seven years learning from the Queen of Steam herself--I think I'm a better person just for knowing her!

But enough mush... take it away, Darah! I'll just be here staring at that cover.... don't mind the drool running down my chin.

Hi Nicole! Let me get my Dr. Pepper and I’ll be ready to roll.

Tell us a bit about yourself and why you write the genre you do.

Not much to tell. I’m a wife, a mom, a friend and a writer. And I write what I write because no matter how hard I try to control them, my characters always want to be naughty.

LOL. Yes, they really do. Where do you get your ideas?

From songs, events, dreams, or maybe just a word triggers a thought, but mostly my ideas get me. They come from nowhere in particular. Sometimes it’s a line of dialogue. I’ve heard a lot of erotic romance writers say they get the story down and add sex later. I usually start with a sex scene I want to write and build a story around it. In Unmasking Zorro, I saw the h/h disguised and having sex in an alcove of a garden. With Bachelor Auction my characters were in a closet and with Saddle Broke I envisioned a barn and a saddle.

Describe your typical writing day

No day starts without a 12 oz. can of caffeine. My dh knows I’m up when he hears the pop from the kitchen. The buzz of my computer is next. Email, then a little back and forth IMing... yes, I procrastinate as long as I can...and up comes Word and my wip. I usually read through the previously written passage so I can get a feel for the characters’ moods then my fingers either thrum on the desk, 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4, while I continue to stall or they tap out a rhythm to match the words on the page. At some point I realize I’m hungry or I need another Dr. Pepper. Then there’s more email and chatting and back to writing until school’s out. I try for 1k per day but when I’m in the zone, I can get 2 or more. I do love those few and far between “more” days.

What was your “Aha!” moment—when you knew you had to be a writer?

I don’t really know if it was an “aha!” moment, but I do remember the book I read just before I started my first ms. I had never stayed up all night to read a book before but I can still hear the alarm clock going off as I started the last chapter of Courting Miss Hattie by Pamela Morsi. After that, the characters of my first book formed and they pestered me until I wrote their story. Of course, I had no idea what I was doing, but I loved every moment and it was then I decided I wanted to write.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?

More organized? A better housekeeper? An inmate in a loony bin? LOL I don’t know. I can’t imagine being anything else.

Tell me your best cure for writer’s block?

I wish there was a cure, but for those times when I have “treat the symptoms” I usually back off, read, watch movies, take a drive without the radio on, clean my house (surprising what clarity comes while washing dishes or sorting laundry), but then it all comes back to parking my butt in the chair.

Let's talk about UNMASKING ZORRO!

My contemporary erotic romance, Unmasking Zorro came out today at The Wilder Roses and I’m so excited. I had a lot of fun trying to keep up with Spencer/Zorro and who he was at any particular moment. He was confused half the time and so was I. Poor Melody didn’t stand a chance.

Blurb:

Business becomes pleasure when Spencer Preston attends a masquerade ball and encounters a red-hot she-devil. Especially when the sexy siren turns out to be none other than his prim and proper, no nonsense secretary, Melody Jamison. He’s been fighting his attraction to her for months. Hiding behind the black mask and swirling cape of Zorro, Spencer intends to discover all her deepest desires.

A plain-Jane persona is the only way Melody Jamison can ensure her business assets outshine her physical. Her only priority is attaining a coveted promotion at Preston Enterprises—and based on job skills, not T&A. Yet she desperately needs release from her uptight alter ego. A chance meeting with Zorro provides just the outlet she needs—and allows Melody to explore her most intimate fantasies when her masked lover seeks her out time and again.

When an unknown threat to Preston enterprises throws Melody and Spencer even closer together, will they trust each other enough to reveal their secret identities? Or will Spencer lose Melody forever by Unmasking Zorro?

Excerpt:

Headlights flashed at the end of the drive, and a car pulled through the open wrought-iron gate. Spencer ducked to the left between a white Rolls Royce and a black Mercedes. Damn. Just his luck for one of his brothers to show up and bust him for ditching the party early.

He waited for the car to pass, but instead of continuing on, it stopped next to his hiding place and backed into a spot behind the Rolls. He groaned when he recognized the red Corvette with vanity plates “REESE 3.” His instincts had saved him once again.

Crouching low, he poked his head around the front left fender of the Mercedes. Charlotte Reese slithered from behind the steering wheel. She glanced toward the house, and Spencer reared back, immediately moving to the other side of the car.

He was about to round the opposite fender when the passenger door opened and the toe of a red stiletto appeared. A pair of shapely legs followed.

The door shut, offering him a full-length view of those legs. Sheathed in red-tinted stockings, they led to the sexiest red dress he’d ever seen. A clingy bit of nothing with a hemline that swirled around the top of slender thighs then shrank to hug curving hips and a tiny waist. The neckline—if you could call it that since it came nowhere near her neck—revealed ivory swells that made his mouth water.

He lifted his gaze to see if her face matched the rest of her perfection and promptly fell on his ass. It couldn’t be.

But it was. He’d know that mouth anywhere. In the last six months, it had haunted his dreams almost nightly with the sweet taste of its lush fullness, its soft warmth against his skin. Those lips had promised many things but only in his dreams. And never in such vivid color. Fiery red.

Spencer watched as his secretary—or as she insisted he call her, his Administrative Assistant—settled the red sequined mask over chocolate brown eyes. It looked nothing like the black-rimmed glasses she usually wore. Little red horns topped the mask. Appropriate for the virago who taunted him by day with just a hint of the woman beneath all that starch, while by night she obviously lived a much different life.

“Would you hurry up?” Impatience tinged Charlotte’s voice. Probably eager to sink her hooks into some poor bastard. Spencer wondered who her next conquest was or if she even knew. Didn’t matter as long as it wasn’t him.

“I can’t believe I let you talk me into this.” Yep, that stern voice definitely belonged to Ms. Jamison. “What if someone recognizes me?”

“Too late,” Spencer muttered under his breath, frowning at the reasons why his prim and proper, no nonsense Administrative Assistant might want to hide her more feminine assets. And more importantly, what the hell was she doing with Charlotte Reese, the daughter of his most fierce competitor?

Ms. Jamison moved out of sight, and he was back on the balls of his feet, ready to shift the opposite of whichever direction they took.

They swept past, oblivious to his presence, and his gaze followed the red stocking-clad legs upward to an indecently short hemline that fluttered teasingly in the breeze. Heat speared straight to his cock.

“I don’t know what you’re so worried about.” Charlotte snapped him out of his lust-filled stupor.

“Mitch Preston is supposed to be here.” Did he hear a bit of panic in the she-devil’s voice?

“So? You said yourself you hardly ever see Mitch. And when you do, you’re practically invisible to him. It’s not like Spencer will be here. He shuns these things like the plague.”

“He’s still out of town. I wouldn’t be here otherwise. Too much rides...”

Spencer strained to hear more, but whatever else Ms. Jamison had to say was filtered by distance.

The shadows swallowed them, yet he waited another full minute before rising, disappointment pressing in on him. In the past three years, Spencer and his brothers had run the firm their father built from the ground up, and they’d done a hell of a job turning the moderate business into a multi-million dollar corporation. But over the last several months, they’d begun losing clients. Big money clients.

At first they’d blown the loss off as a streak of bad luck, but over the next few months Reese Consolidated underbid Preston Enterprises by just enough to get every contract they competed for. No way was that a coincidence. Someone at Preston Enterprises was leaking information to Ben Reese. If his suspicions proved correct, he’d just found her.

Spencer looked at Zorro’s mask in his hand. He had to know for sure, and there was only one way to find out.

Anything else in the works you can share with us?

I recently sold to Ellora’s Cave and Saddle Broke, my contemporary BDSM cowboy ménage, will be out April 16!!! Click here to read more but be prepared to saddle up for a smokin’ hot turn between two cowboys who like a little twist with their ride.

Also, the sequel to Unmasking Zorro, will release September 3, 2010 at The Wild Rose Press. Bachelor Auction is Marcus and Charlotte’s story and all I can say is these two fought every step of the way toward their happily ever after. And they were the opposite of most of my characters. He was the stuffed shirt and she was the fun and flirty vixen!

Thanks so much for letting me be here today! I had fun!


Darah!


It was fun, Darah! I hope you'll stop back soon to introduce us to the next hot, hunky Preston brother!

Speaking of, Darah is giving away a free PDF copy of Unmasking Zorro to one lucky winner! Just post a comment and tell us the name of the sequel to Unmasking Zorro--she'll draw from the names of those who get it right!

Darah Lace

Slip into the seduction of Lace...

www.darahlace.com







Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wednesday on Writing: Lifus Interruptus


What do you do when life interrupts your writing schedule? This is one that affects me a lot. Seems whenever I get "into the groove" and back into a regular writing schedule, something comes along to upset my apple cart.

I try not to let the personal things interfere--my dad, after all, is well cared for in the nursing home so even if our last visit didn't go well (sometimes he pleads with me to bring him home, or to tell him when he can go home. Those are the hardest visits.) Anyway, I have to put that out of my head. Same with other personal issues, whether it's finances, a fight with my husband, worried about son #1's sliding grades, or something the MIL said that's burning my behind. I can set all that aside and still write.

But what about the stuff that really takes time away? Sick kids comes to mind. Up during the night so many times that you're dragging all day long, and ready for bed long before the household is ready to let you go there. While I've noticed my oldest son hasn't had nearly the number of ailments as usual this year, my youngest has averaged at least one illness a month since school began in September. I'm a certified germ-a-phobe, one of those mom's that all but dips her kids in hand sanitizer every day after school and after grocery store visits, etc. and is vigilant about hand washing. But he and his classmates are still young enough that they pass things around easily. Since it was the same with my oldest until he hit middle school, I'm guessing I have another couple of years of this before it's over.

This week was a combination of all of the above. I had only one day this week--today-- where I'd be home for the majority of the day--and instead I spent it chasing my youngest to the doctor, and then to the pharmacy for antibiotics and the 40 minute wait for the prescription to be filled. SIGH. I'd love to say I'll find time to write tonight after everyone is in bed, but after having been up and down with him most of the last couple of nights, I know I'll be too tired. Tomorrow night is cub scouts and Friday night is family game night--no give in the schedule at all.

All I can do is hope --and try! --to find time to write this weekend to make up for what I've missed all week long.

So what do you do when life takes a bite out of your writing schedule--how do you bite back?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Monday Morning Musing

I'm back after a week's absence (dang migraines!)

It's not nice to be fooled by Mother Nature. Figures that the first day of spring would see a return to winter. We went from two weeks of 60 degree weather back to the cold, hard facts this weekend! Sure it's only 38, but after two weeks of shirt sleeves and flip flops.... brrrrr. Guess we'll finally have to admit it's March, not May!

The week from hell. It's never a good feeling when you flip the calendar to a new page and realize you don't have even one open weekend the entire month. I'm halfway through that, but about to embark on a super busy week. SIGH. Don'cha just hate it when life interferes with writing?

Whatever happened to the Class of 85? Have you heard about this? Did you ever wonder whatever happened to the prom queen? The guy voted most likely to spend time in a Federal Prison? The couple voted most likely to succeed? This is a new series the Last Rose of Summer line is doing over at TWRP. Next to the historical lines, LROS is my fave line to write for. I may need to dust off some of those contemporary ideas I've shelved for this one. (Class of 84, myself. Hey! I was 12 when I graduated. Child prodigy. LOL. You don't really beleive that, though, do you?)

Speaking of Class of 84, this week I've been totally obsessed with a band I spent a great deal of time listening to back in the day--saw them in concert twice in those days. I really love what Journey's new lead singer (Arnel Pineda) has done with the old songs. Loved Steve Perry back then, love the energy this guy brings now. And that long black hair (It's Raz hair!! SIGH.) doesn't hurt, LOL. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jEVKoeVYugA http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ApvzYi9Jwk If you haven't heard his amazing "Cinderella" tale and discovery on YouTube, head over there and search for Journey on Oprah.

New follower? Well, well, well Miz Lace, 'bout time you emerged from hiding. Good to see you back, girlfriend. How many days til Zorro comes out???




Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wednesday on Writing: What Frustrates You the Most?

Funny, for last week's Wednesday on Writing feature I had planned to discus something along those very lines. But a busy schedule kept me from posting and I shelved the topic for this week.

And then something wonderful happened. A similar topic was chosen for discussion on one of the TWRP loops. The question "what drives you crazy about the writing process?" was posted. TWRP Author Delle Jacobs responded and her response not only had me nodding my head in agreement, it touched me--and inspired me.

With her permission, I'm sharing that with you. What she had to say was far better than what I would have come up with. I hope you'll find her words as inspirational as I did.

Do you know what is the most frustrating thing about writing for me? ME!
I am my own worst enemy. There are so many times when I would just like
to kick myself if I could just figure out how to do that effectively.I
probably have a lot of company, from what I hear. Writing is the thing
we love with such an intense passion that we quit our jobs to stay home
so we can devote more time to it. And then what? We waste our newly
found time.

I'm always busy, yes. But doing what? I've never been one to write in
the morning so I try to get other tasks done until my mind is better
set. But it seems there ae so many days when morning doesn't end until
the sun goes down! And that's entirely my fault!

I think we talk a lot about writers' block, but we don't seem to
remember writing is hard work. Most of us can remember the early days of
our writing when it was such pure joy, when the words flowed like warmed
honey, and we think we ought to feel that wonderful experience with
every word we write. But we've forgotten the other side of that time.
Part of why it was so wonderful was just writing without the constraints
that inevitably came with writing better. We didn't really know how to
write, but we didn't know we didn't know. And now we know so much more,
and hold ourselves to a much higher standard. Now writing it hard work.
Yet we tell ourselves how bad our writing is. And we fill our days with
busy work that keeps us from having to face the fear that maybe our
writing stinks after all. What failures, what frauds we are! All because
the stories don't come easily, like we somehow think they should. But if
writing were easy, why would anyone stand in awe of authors and what
they do? If it were easy, anyone could and likely would sit down and
whip out stories as easily as they manage the daily drive to work.

I've decided that when a story hits a wall- or I do- it doesn't mean I'm
a failure or fraud, or that my story is junk and that's all I can write.
It means instead that I have come upon an opportunity to take my story
from ordinary to outstanding. I could probably take the easy, safe way
out and just write what anybody would write. There's always one of those
easy, trite plot lines available. But if my gut is shutting down my
brain and saying "Don't write that," then I'd better listen. It's time
to sit back and analyze my story, brainstorm my plot, or as Joleigh
Kramer said, time to make a list of ten different thing that could
happen next, and throw away the first five, because anyone could think
of those.

But you know what, this is hard! Maybe I just slip back into the bad,
lazy habits because I just don't want to face hard. Maybe some days I
just want to go back to the joy of writing junk and not noticing how bad
it is. And maybe, some days I'm just plain lazy and want to play. And
I'm willing to accept the coming guilt as a perfectly acceptable price
to pay for the fun of being lazy.

Delle Jacobs

http://dellejacobs.com

Isn't that amazing? Big round of applause for her honesty. Now let's all go write and not worry about how good it is, or if we're doing it right. Write, if you will, just for the joy of it!

How about you? What do you find most frustrating about writing?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Monday Morning Musing

I'm musing, LOL, but only about one thing. I just found out this morning that my 2008 contemporary release The Model Man will be out in audio book on May 12!

TWRP, my publisher, chose only those books that had sold exceptionally well and received great reviews to be among the very first offerings for their new audible book feature. I'm so tickled mine is one of them!

It's exciting and a little scary to think of someone actually giving a voice to my characters!

So that's all I'm musin' 'bout this sunny Monday morning!

Pretty cool, huh?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Muuuuu-sin' .... on a Tuesday Afternoon...


A busier than usual Monday kept me from musing, so here I am with some thoughts and observations on a Tuesday! My Wednesday on Writing post will probably also be delayed since I won't be near the computer for much of tomorrow. (Sorry, couldn't find any good Maxine's this week, either! I will do my best to find one for next Monday's post!)

Remember when you were a kid and your grandparents told you children should be seen and not heard? That's kind of how I feel about perfume, one of my worst migraine triggers (and air fresheners and scented body lotions, etc.) It should be something someone smells only when they get "thisclose" to you. Not something that lingers from a hundred yards away.

Kids! Sometimes the hardest part about being a parent is not laughing when you really want to. Last night I served stuffed peppers for dinner--never a favorite among kids (or me!), but one of the dh's favorite dishes. I told my 7 YO he did not have to eat the "yucky, slimy pepper" if he didn't want to. He promptly yanked it from his plate, dangled the halved pepper in the air and announced (much to the delight of his older brother): "It looks like an ass." I tried to swallow back my shock and surprise, glanced to the hubby for back up--and he was trying not to laugh, too. Sigh. Outta the mouths of babes.

McCaffrey's Law: We finally get a good snowstorm--and the one street they forget to plow in the entire neighborhood? Mine! Go figure. Thank goodness Mother Nature came through with some great sunshine today and melted it all off. That noise you hear, btw, is not the Wicked Witch of the West, but the giant snowman my kids built Friday after the storm. "I'm melting.... melting...."

Which brings me to:

TGIM! Yes, thank God it's March! You know what they say... "thirty days has September; April June and November. All the rest have 31, except for February which has..... 137."

Favorite quote this week:

A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song. – Maya Angelou















Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday Fun: Snow Day Entertainment

Yep, it's a snow day. We haven't had one since 2008, and with a tough school district like ours, my kids know they're lucky they got this one. (However, can't say I appreciated the phone call with the pre-recorded message at 5:30 this morning letting me know schools would be closed. Really? I need to know at that hour?)

Anyway, I'm having fun just hanging with my guys today and after watching our big doofus of a dog romp in the snow, we started browsing You Tube for fun pet videos. Somehow the subject of pets on commercials came up and I introduced these poor deprived children to one of my childhood "heroes," Morris the Cat. We enjoyed some old commercials then stumbled across this one. Apparently Mr. .... er Cat, is still alive and well (and looking great for his age).

This video had us cracking up. If you're a kitty person, you'll love this.

Enjoy!


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wednesday on Writing: Peeping Tom vs. People Watching? (Or: I really need to get a life!)


Are writers ever bored? I don’t think we are. I mean, sure there are times when we’re restless, but with people and plots living in your head, you're pretty much carrying around your own entertainment 24/7.

And as if that weren’t enough entertainment, there’s always people watching. Which is how I discovered The Black Family. I have no idea what their last name really is, and that’s not an observation about their skin color, that’s just what I call them.

Let me explain. As any of you who have visited here before know, I have two boys. Which is precisely why I sit in the last row at church every Sunday. It started out simply enough—it’s easier to take a wailing newborn, or tantrum throwing toddler out of the building when you sit near the door. Now that they’re older, I sit there because The Walk of Shame (when we leave after mass) is shorter –meaning there are less people to glare at me on the way out for the way my boys have behaved the past hour.

But the acoustics in my church are not all that great, and in-between my hissing “stop that!” or “sit/stand/kneel” I really can’t hear what’s going on up front. Which is why my mind wanders. And I people watch.

This is how I discovered the family referenced above. It started out as simply noticing the well dressed lady several rows in front of us. Maybe it’s because she never turns and glares when my youngest loudly demands “how much longer is he going to talk?” Or maybe it’s because I admired her red curls (my hair is fine and pin-straight; we always want what we don’t have).But after a while I noticed, hmm, she always wears black. If you were to throw open my closet doors, you would see a lot of black, too, so maybe it’s normal I’d notice it.


Most weeks she was joined by a young man I’m guessing (the red hair is a dead give away) is her son. I’m really not a voyeur, I simply noticed him because of his timing. He shows up at a quarter past the hour—you could set your watch by him—seconds before the reading of the Gospel. He also leaves (as does half the congregation) directly after communion. This is an old Catholic trick; technically, if you’ve heard the gospel and received communion, you’ve been to mass. But most of us consider it cheating. Eventually I began to notice that Mr. 11:15 also wears black—coat, shirt and shoes. Every week.

Okay, so maybe those are just their Sunday best, right? Oh, it gets better.

On holidays, the pair are joined by an older man I’m guessing is Dad. Because he has light grey hair and a stocky build, he looks like a Mafia Don, so he kind of stands out. And guess what? He dresses all in black, too. Head to toe.

Still, I was willing to concede that this was a family in deep mourning and leave it go at that. Until one day when I was out walking my dog. I passed Mr. Black—again dressed all in black—and he was walking his dog. It was black. I noticed, because it’s a newfie, and I love newfies.

Then he turned down the driveway toward what I assume is his house. Since this is my usual route with my dog, and I see their dog barking in the window most days when we go past, I’ve had time to notice a few more things. Like the fact that the house has black shutters. And both cars in the driveway? Black. The lawn furniture? You guessed it. Black.

It drives me crazy wondering what’s up with all the black? Is it their last name? Are they huge Johnny Cash fans? Mobsters? Color Blind? If it’s not a mourning thing, who came up with the idea—and how do you convince your family to only wear one color-- only buy things in one color-- for the rest of their lives?

It certainly must make it easier to get dressed in the morning.

The fact that I have mentioned all of this to my husband and he just kind of grunted and shrugged like it didn’t matter, makes me wonder if I'm crazy to wonder. How can he not find this interesting? Are writers the only ones who notice this sort of thing? Or am I just bored out of my mind?

Do you notice things like that about people you see on a regular basis? Whether it's the guy who rides the elevator past your floor every day who always carries an umbrella; or the woman who is always sweeping her driveway in her housecoat? And if so, do you ever start “what if’fing?” wondering at their motivation? Like "It's August, no chance of rain" or "how dirty can a driveway get in 24 hours?" There just might be fodder for some good characterization here, if only you knew what motivates them. Does he have toupee he fears getting wet? Does she have some OCD that makes her need to clean?

Why, why, why, why???? It's a writer's favorite question.

Lately I’ve noticed that Mrs. Black is no longer at mass every Sunday. And Mr. 11:15 still shows up for his half hour “drive through” version of mass.

Hmmm….. I really need to get a life.