Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Remembrance of Anne McCaffrey

“Harper, your song has a sorrowful sound,
Though the tune was written as gay.
Your voice is sad and your hands are slow
And your eye meeting mine turns away.”
Anne McCaffrey, Dragonsong

Perhaps it's appropriate to write this today, on Thanksgiving, as it is my thanks I wish to convey to Anne McCaffrey for all she did as an author. 
I was handed the Dragonriders of Pern trilogy as a 10 yr. old by a friend at school.  I read it backwards--starting with The White Dragon.  While I adored Ruth, it wasn't until I met Lessa again for the first time in Dragonflight, that I truly fell in love with Ms. McCaffrey's writing. 
Yes, Jaxom overcame the challenges of not only being born as the Lord of Ruatha, but also answered the calling of dragonrider as well.  He and his dragon saved Pern. 
But Lessa...she was something altogether different that a headstrong girl growing up in the 70's connected with.  Tiny and powerful.  Arrogant. Smart.  Able to love, be loved and be more than what you might expect when you first meet her.  It would not be this woman's great beauty or connections that turned her into one of the great political powers on her planet, but the sheer force of being "Lessa." 
It was McCaffrey's ability to script characters who defied convention and expectations that had me plunking down my allowance for each new release, and into my adulthood, for first editions. And hunting back piles of bookstores for forgotten titles.  I was first a Pern fan, but as time permitted my library to expand, I realized I was just plain an Anne fan.   
As readers, we often select a favorite tale.  But I can't.  A favorite character?  Still not possible.   
While lost in the worlds of McCaffrey, I rode horses, met war veterans with PTSD, flew with the dragons, became a ship, sang arias to crystal laden valleys--heard and saw the universe in both the best and worst lights.  I came to understand what a gifted storyteller could do. 
It truly will always be one of my regrets that I never got to a convention to shake Anne's hand in person.  There were a couple letters exchanged, internet forum discussions, some bookplates autographed....but it's not the signature I cherish.  It was the generous nature, the insight into humankind and willingness to share that view with us that shall always be the greatest gift I could ever receive from an author. 
Ms. McCaffrey--thank you.  For being you and having the strength to follow your own dreams, such that many more could find theirs.  I shall ever be in your debt.
Anne McCaffrey  April 1, 1926--November 21, 2011

Friday, September 23, 2011

Hey! I did it...

Sometimes there are good days.  This was a good day.

Occasionally you set yourself goals.  Some are short term, like getting all the laundry done today.  Others are more long term, like learning a new task.  And some are more grandiose--meeting that one person who has really brought some joy to your life over almost 20 years. 

For the past few years I've enjoyed watching Gordon Ramsey's Hell's Kitchen.  I suppose I truly enjoy this reality show because we are talking about real talent, not just who can out-last or whatever.  And it seems that one of the perennial dishes on Ramsey's menu tends to be Beef or Lamb Wellington.

Due to a certain amount of curiosity--having heard of this dish on and off throughout life--I looked up the recipe and determined this is one of those things I should endeavor to make.  Afterall, you cannot possibly screw up beef tenderloin, can you?

I did it!  It came out of the oven even looking like recipe pictures, and it was pronounced a good thing by my husband :D  Personally, not being a fan of mustard, I think I'd tweak it in the future, if I ever decide to take two days to cook a main dish again.  I might cook it on a broiling pan, too, as the drippings made the bottom pastry soggy.  Or was that because the pastry wasn't entirely sealed? hrmmm I wonder.  I might add that the Wellingtons were created in an RV.

Now, Good Thing Number 2. 

While the whole day at the track was pretty damn good (my husband earned Cold Passes through supporting the Best Buy Racing program at work) one moment stands out for me above all.

We were wandering through the Sprint Cup garage while the cars went through inspection before qualifying.  We spotted John Darby, Mike Helton, some major NASCAR reporters, Regan Smith, AJ Allmendinger, Carl Edwards, T.J. Bell, and a few other faces.  I was picking up driver cards from each team hauler.  I looked behind me and noticed we were standing in front of the No. 24 Dupont hauler and reached for a Jeff Gordon card.  Cool! That made it like 25 cards I could add to the ever growing collection of NASCAR memorabilia.  Then we noticed a guy walking backwards shooting photos...of who?

Hey! It was Jeff Gordon!  I am no autograph hound, but when fate offers you opportunity, don't pass it up.  I called out, "Hi Jeff!"  He answered, "Hi."  Kept signing a couple other things, but made sure to turn back and reach for his driver card I was holding and sign it before entering his hauler.

My driver.  The one I have cheered for since his first Cup appearance waaay back in 1992. 

You know, there were piles of tires, engines revving, team members running from one place to another, underfunded teams and the highest paid athletes in all of sports.  We had rain, a race and qualifying made all the more entertaining by the fans who have had enough of moisture in New Hampshire this year.

But nothing can dim my enjoyment of that moment of serendipity for me. 

So, a dinner that we would have paid much $$ for at a fancy restaurant and an autograph that means quite a lot to me all in one day.  Not too bad for day which was supposed to be nothing but rain, rain, rain.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Memories of 09-11 by S.D. Grady

As the 10th Anniversary of the attacks on America come around, I don't think there are many Americans who are not thinking back on that horrid day.  I still struggle to understand what happened.  I still shed tears when I think about it remains incomprehensible to me that humans would do this to one another. I offer up a piece I wrote on the 2nd Anniversary for you to think about.  I don't know that much more has changed in eight years...

Written September 11, 2003

What happened that day two years ago. We all have our own memories. We were all affected in some way by those terrible events. My life since has continued much as it was before, and that might be a good thing in many ways. I have not been forced to bend in fear to the terrorists; a small victory in the war. But for a few weeks in September 2001, that was not entirely so.

It happened on my way to work. I always listen to the radio in the morning, “Matty in the Morning,” something fun and perky while I stare at the traffic. The DJ came on with an odd announcement. “Apparently a plane has crashed into the World Trade Center in New York. That’s a doozy!”

I thought it a curious announcement. Figuring it must be a small craft, but none the less a newsworthy story, I switched the station to WBZ, the local news radio. From the moment I listened to the first live report in Manhattan, life slowed to a crawl.

I was stuck in bumper to bumper traffic. Realizing that it would take forever to reach my exit a mile away, I turned off on the “emergency” exit I use in such cases. This road twists and turns through grave yards, suburban neighborhoods and inner city slums. The scenery passed by as I listened in stunned silence to the surreal report of a major airliner slamming into the first massive tower. The reports were confused, erratic and unbelievable. And then the second plane came.

I knew it then. This was intentional. This was evil. Fear, anger, impotence and sadness rushed through my body.

Rumors of more planes missing. The Air Force scrambling. Maybe we have to shoot down some of the planes. Targeting the Pentagon, the White House, the Capitol building.

I pulled into the parking lot at the theatre, ran into the lobby and dialed my husband at home. He was still asleep. I heard the answering machine pick up. I yelled at him to answer, hung up and redialed. Again the answering machine. I started babbling at the machine. He picked up.

He turned on CNN and MSNBC and relayed the breaking news. The planes had flown out of Logan Airport in Boston and were supposed to fly to the West Coast. A tiny prickle of irrational fear added up some things. My father often worked at the Pentagon, he often flew out of Logan, he often flew to the West Coast. What if…

I had to know if he was safe. Frenzied phone calls to his home in Maine resulted in busy signals. And more busy signals. I could imagine my mother dialing frantically trying to find him. A moment of clarity offered itself to me. He could be on-line. I broke company regulations and sent an e-mail. Five minutes later he called me. We both cried with relief to know that our family was intact.

Meanwhile, another manager had gone back home to get a TV. He watched and relayed news to the floor as the fourth plane went down in the Pennsylvania fields, as the towers fell, as we all stood and stared. And then across the parking lot we spied a small army of children.

Across our parking lot is an office building. A mere 15 floors, but a “tower” anyway. It houses tech companies, a major phone switching station for the city, a police training school and a not so secret FBI office. And in its basement, a day care.

The tower was emptied in fear and the children had nowhere to go. We opened our doors and brought everyone in. A video tape was put on the video wall- that helped to distract. Crayons from coloring contests were dug out. Popcorn and lemonade were dispensed. Cribs were rolled in. Parents were called.

It took almost four hours for all the kids to be picked up. We let them watch a movie to help pass the time.

Over at the tower, it looked like the Army had descended. Fire trucks, bomb squads, police cars and local media. Nobody could enter our parking lot without passing a safety checkpoint. Later that day, a passing Police Officer stopped and said a few arrests had been made around the city. He didn’t say what for.

As the week passed other changes arrived. Our back parking lot became a gathering point for emergency crews. Several times a massive amount of emergency workers from many communities would suddenly appear- to make sure they were ready. The next day the tower was evacuated again because an employee called in a fake bomb threat.

We had to remove promotional material for “Spiderman”. Most of it showed a helicopter crashing into a giant web strung between two eerily familiar towers. Other soon to be released films pulled shots of Manhattan that showed the towers.

A young man on an exchange trip from Germany was noticed taking pictures of the office tower in the parking lot. The other managers wanted to call the cops. I asked him what he was doing. He said, “Taking pictures of the leaves.” While he waited for the theatre to open. Wrong place, wrong time.

I refused to watch the news. They would only show the towers crashing down again.

Almost everyone at work knew or knew of somebody that died that day. A small boy, a distant cousin of mine, was in the tower that morning. My cousin, who is a union organizer, had led the restaurant workers at the top of the tower in their contract negotiations. They were all dead. Entire companies from Massachusetts were on those planes.

We hired a security guard to stand in our lobby all day and check everyone’s bags- for what, I often wondered.

I follow the news and listen to the on-going war with Iraq. Time has softened the edge of my anger, but not completely. A death for a death is not right, either. But, can we just let the evil that led to that day continue to exist? I don’t know.

I still drive to work every day and run the movies, providing an escape from a world that is sometimes very wrong. Perhaps that is something. Perhaps it isn’t.

The sun was shining bright this morning. It was shining two years ago, too.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Stray Cat Lee Rocker

A tiny venue, the Tupelo Music Hall in Londonderry, NH.  It seats around 240.  I'd say about 50 people actually sat in the hardback chairs edged right up to the tiny stage.  But sometimes bigger is not always better.

When the Stray Cats hit the charts in the early '80's, I was an easily swayed not quite teenager who was won over by songs of teenage arrogance.  Ah, come on.  That's what they were.  Fast cars, fast women and rockin' music.  What made it different from the rest of the Top 40?  That string slappin' bass.  The Cats resurrected rock-a-billy, redesigning the world's love affair with twang and pop.  I bought into it then.

I was resold tonight.  None of us in that hall were teenagers any more.  But watching Lee Rocker play his bass, I rediscovered a little bit of that teenage awe.  Perhaps for different reasons...

I saw a musician love his instrument.  The four band members all had a wonderful time, still egging one another on to greater, faster heights as they explored the evening's riffs.  I listened to a voice a little mellower with age, but still very fun to hear.  The Stray Cats always wrote lyrics with more than a bit of tongue in cheek, and witnessing a bit of bantering on stage, there's a greater appreciation of where those tunes came from.

I bought the mp3 of the old album, and I can hear the youth in the studio tracks.  But Lee Rocker and his band have not lost that joy--the spark that brought them Grammy nominations and millions of record sales.

So, yes, The Stray Cat Lee Rocker can still deliver an awesome set.  The crowd leapt to their feet for the final songs.  Applause resounded amongst the rafters.

When we sat down three rows and about five feet from the stage, I leaned over and whispered, "That's got to be a good indication.  No chicken wire."

I'm glad to say, I was right.  Sometimes you don't need to visit a venue that seats thousands to find a night filled with killer talent.  Sometimes you only need to find a renovated barn.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

The Silver Scream

A great many things in my life have inspired me.  Perhaps movies could be counted near the top.  It wasn’t always happy ever after, for me.  As a child, I adored the old creature feature films, many where shadows were the source of all fear.  I watched Mel Brooks’ classic High Anxiety and loved all the imagery, camera angles and hidden characters…all spoofs of the greatest master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock.

Thus when I decided to embark upon an erotic story that featured gremlins—those unseen creatures that live in the wiring—it should not surprise anyone that I placed the book in an old movie house.  How many tales of fear and love crossed that silver screen in its heyday?  And what of the old wiring?  Does it keep memories of lights and passion? 
The Silver Scream is not a tale of happy ever after, but perhaps lives closer to those suspense films of old where a great many things will happen in the course of time, many of them evil.  This tale releases August 10th at Purple Sword Publications, and you will find it available at most major ebook outlets shortly thereafter.
TAGLINE:  Trapped in the wiring for decades, this Gremlin desires but one thing…and he can’t have her.
BLURB:  Film school student, Gilda Albright, has taken a job in the newly refurbished Orpheum Theatre as a movie projectionist.  The gem from another era prompts her imagination to take flight, and she invites her boyfriend Seth to a private screening.  Looking like a movie star from the 50’s, she strips in the spotlight, ensnaring Seth’s lust and drawing the eager eyes of another to her buxom figure.  The building takes on a life of its own—fear invades Gilda’s workdays.  Will the unseen gremlin let her go or fulfill its erotic obsession with a vision from the past?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Age and Fandom: A Little Philosophy

Appearing in today's Frontstretch, my Sittin' in the Stands: A Fan's View column I pondered my mortality and the apparent lack of in a young athlete...namely Austin Dillon.  I think I'm falling for this kid.  Hope you enjoy!

"Wishing For Just a Bit of Austin Dillon's Youth"

Thursday, July 21, 2011

You Can't Get There From Here

Apparently Google Maps thinks the ocean is so beautiful that you should take a detour to look at it whenever possible.

This is perhaps the first vacation that we have taken utilizing our GPS on the phone rather than a pile of map books (Yes, it took me a long time to get past that.) And it works well, until you enter Ogunquit, ME. Google has an obsession with sending you down to the ocean to sit in beach traffic rather than leaving you on the straight path that leads you to your destination.

Should we have listened to Lola (That’s what we call the GPS…reference the movie RV) we’d still be going in a literal circle that includes the towns of Ogunquit, Wells and Arundel. Kennebunk wasn’t much better. We knew we wanted to stay on Rte 9…but Lola kept telling us in its mellifluous voice to take a right. WRONG!

This morning, we chopped a good twenty minutes off our drive to Bath by taking a simple left out of the campground, rather than the 5-mile detour Lola had mapped out for us on the phone.

I know we’re missing many views of beach homes, people padding about in flip flops and eroding beach walls, but that’s okay. Walker’s Point and the Maine Maritime Museum were much more of what we were looking for, at the moment.

The visit to the Maritime Museum included a demonstration of a boat launch, more fascinating details of ship manufacture in the final days of the great schooners and a lovely boat ride on the Kennebec River, highlighted by lighthouses, eagles, osprey, seals, cormorants and terns. Perfect weather, perfect topic, perfect day.

Unfortunately, it looks like we won’t escape the heat wave heading our way, but at least there is the ocean to cool our toes in. Enjoy the photos!

Post Script by Betty: q 1wacfju7nb

Sunday, July 17, 2011

And after the party is over...

Okay, so the image at left is not New Hampshire, but the sentiment is appropriate.

The sun has set, the engines are silent and all that is left is the purr of the generators in the camping lots, and oddly enough the haunting voice of Tammy Wynnette echoing among the RV's.  A bit surreal, if you ask me.  But soothing, in its own way.

We walked down to the track about 8pm, a mere 3 1/2 hours after the checkers dropped and...

The Sprint display was already loaded into its four haulers, the SPEED stage haulers were idling with lights on and...I admit to being impressed.  We walked up to the track and admired the piles of trash already neatly bagged up at the bottom of the stands.  It seems that those of us enjoying a late supper and chatting idly while the rest of the world rushes off to its own destinations are perhaps taking the lazy departure a bit too far.

This is the other end of the arc.  First there was last Sunday, with a few SCCA cars whizzing around the road course and but a few early RV's setting up in the lots.  A sprinkling arrived Thursday with FanFest and the arrival of the racing haulers.  A determined downpour of people started Friday night, culminating in the final furious storm that is Race Day in Sprint Cup world.  You can even call the race itself the eye of the storm, as just about everybody stills to watch the cars go in circles. 

But there is always the backside of the storm...when everybody runs for their cars and home.  We just take shelter and listen to whatever our neighbors are the moment some mexican guitar's intriguing.

Tomorrow morning, we'll take the last of the weather with us...more wailing mexican music...

Well, until we make it back to civilization, enjoy your week.  May it be not quite as overwhelming as a trip to the track :)


It might be the compulsive part of my personality, but I ask myself, "What's next?" about 30 times a day.  However, the moment that this question really hammers at my peace of mind is when I finish.

Finish what?  At this particular moment, reading a book.  It was awesome, and fun, sparked my imagination, took me to far off lands and times long ago.  And now...I want more.

This is when my better half, if that's what you want to call responsibility, wars with my more creative self.  I want to read another book full of kings, mistresses, war, politics, gowns, glory, deceit but I also have other projects that require attention.  There is The King's Mistress, a new novel, and now a Fairy Tale project--which is finally getting the seeds of imagination it requires to take flight.  There's racing, and commentary and editing.  My job--you know, the thing that pays the bills, gets in the way of all of this.  The house, my lord they really know how to plow you under, those piles of sticks which threaten to fall on top of you if you let them. 

And still, amidst all this reality, the call of whimsy remains.  I want to read another.  There are volumes in the To Be Read pile. Movies in the To Be Watched pile. An afghan in the To Be Crocheted pile.  Paint for the Finish the Living Room pile.

Read? Clean? Write? Play?

My fellow bookworms understand the call of the paperback. They draw you in and threaten to suck your life away, if you let them.

For today, I shall head off to the track, watch some racing, sort some photos and conjure a column for The Frontstretch.

Tomorrow?  Maybe there will be time to read, perchance to dream...

What did I just read? 

Saturday, July 09, 2011

The Sweet Sense of Anticipation

It's with great dread and anticipation that I look at the upcoming week. 

First there is the fun!  Richard dropped off the RV at NHMS this morning and tomorrow we'll drive up with a few more things and...just so we can wander around the track a bit.  Watch the incoming RV's.  Think about the great empty grounds that will be seething with humanity come next Saturday morning.  I've said it many times, the NASCAR circus is an amazing feat of organizing and promotion.  Seriously, Barnum & Bailey's train has nothing on the hauler parade that criss-crosses America continually for much of the year.  This is spectacle on the grandest scale.

Now, the not so fun...well, not entirely true.  Thursday night, come midnight, the final Harry Potter movie will open to thousands of dressed up muggles.  About 1,500 of them will be at my theatre.  In about one hour I will need to feed and seat these 1,500 patrons.  It is enough to make one shiver in their shoes.

It is in itself something of a spectacle, these midnight screenings of the latest and greatest film.  We will have capes, hats, wands, tattoos on foreheads, owls (fake) perching on arms and long, striped scarves wrapped around necks that would otherwise be bare in the summer heat.  By and large, everybody laughs, is very patient and mostly cooperates with those moving the cattle in and out of the holding pens.  And all the craziness will be over when the projector turns on and does its magic (yep--praying that the projector gremlins don't play any games on us).

So, you see, it's a big week.  But before there is the Harry Potter insanity followed by the sudden appearance of a major city in the midst of the New Hampshire forest, there is tomorrow:  Sunshine and 84, so says the Weather Channel.  We'll wander around the track and enjoy the rumble of various vehicles as track personnel scurry to ready for their own version of a movie opening. 

And I won't have to stress about a thing.

That's tomorrow.  I'll worry about the rest when it gets here.

See you at the races!

Friday, July 08, 2011

The Elements of Love Now Available


The Elements of Love

The Elements of Love

By: S.D. Grady | Other books by S.D. Grady
Published By: Purple Sword Publications, LLC
ISBN # 9781936165964

Word Count: 21932
Heat Index    

Available in: HTML, Adobe Acrobat, Rocket, Microsoft Reader, Palm DOC/iSolo, Mobipocket (.prc), Epub

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About the book

On a world at war, the Four Elements hold the key to balance and peace. An ancient prophecy first demands they surrender to undeniable passion.

Two tales of love and fantasy.

War rages between the Lands of the Moon and Sun. The Healer of Water, Arlynn, touches the scarred Fire mage Myrric. The steam of their passion alters Arlynn's powers forever, sending her on an odyssey to fulfill the ancient prophecy of peace for a world on the brink of destruction.

Village smith Grelig stops a slavegirl from stealing his lunch, but not his heart. Attempting to free Shayla from her cruel master, Grelig stumbles on a Trine of Evil and discovers that to spare one girl, he must first save his world.

An excerpt from the book

"Myrric?" she called softly.

He looked up.

As Arlynn's pale blue gaze locked on Myrric's black glare, a shockwave of power surged between them. Myrric looked stunned.

"What have you done to me?" he asked, his gravelly voice weary and scornful.

Arlynn looked up at the general present. "I need some time alone with the prisoner, sir."

The cynical, grizzled man with a short sword at his waist shook his head. "Your efforts to heal the High Mage would be wasted, Healer. Either Myrric will stand for us during the next battle or he will be executed for his crimes. Don't waste your powers on him."

Arlynn struggled to find an answer. She knew she had to have something from the beaten and bloody man before her. Even now, the power arced between them, invisible to the clerk and general. The spell he had begun to cast on the battlefield was not complete yet. Arlynn needed to finish it, or never heal another person again. Her powers, released during their kiss, were now locked up tight in the spell.

She settled for telling a half-truth. "Even so, general. I cast a healing spell on him, and it was incomplete. I must finish it before my powers can be used for the benefit of our troops. I was unaware of his identity when I began."

The general appeared to consider this. After only moments, he executed a short bow. "As you require, Healer. The clerk and I will leave you."

The door closed, and the heavy lock clicked into place. Myrric studied Arlynn closely.

"When I woke, I had no powers. What have you done to me?" he asked in a hard tone.

"Nothing more than what you did to me," she answered evenly. She reached towards his arm. He flinched, but his restraints held him in place.

"You were casting a spell before you passed out on the battlefield," she murmured as her hand settled above the burns on his arm. Power and passion erupted between them. The blue peace of healing waters lapped against the crimson sparks of fire.

Arlynn watched Myrric fight the odd effects of their melding.

"What were you casting?"

His mouth grimaced. "A fireball."

She considered. "So, you did not get the chance to send the power out from you. It now sits in me."

His black eyes watched her carefully.

"But my power lies in the oceans, not the fires." She paused seeking for a way to let him understand what was happening. "The surge of power I took from you ebbed away for a bit on the tide. Now it is a cresting wave, and it needs to be used somewhere." She bit her lip. "I could heal you. Your power would be restored, and our armies would not withstand the next blast you send our way."

He began to twist, pulling at his bindings.

She stood, settling her hand on his cheek. He stilled. "But then my powers would ultimately be used to hurt, not heal. I could not bear that." She bent over, his breath heating her lips. "But such power…it must be used for something." Sparks began to fly through the air.

Myrric eyed the temptress before him. Myths and legends were passed down at the School of Fire and War of a woman made of water, light and joy. Surely this could not be she, with eyes the color of the sea and a touch that set his blood boiling.

"Let me help you, Myrric," her moist lips whispered. "Let me take all the anger away. Let me give you joy."

"Joy?" he laughed roughly. "I have never known joy. It is not for men such as me."

Her fingers, soft and agile traced his cheek. Memories of heat and contentment surged forth.

"Nonsense, Myrric. What you have given me I am not sure. But I do know what I cannot do. I cannot allow you to take that power and kill more people." Her breath teased the small hairs near his left ear. "I can only heal." Her hands demanded more as they crossed his chest. "I can only love."

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Honoring the Medal of Honor Recipients: 2011

Last year during the Coke Zero 400, there was a tiny blip where cameras panned over a collection of men mentioned as Congressional Medal of Honor recipients...but no information given.  Just a, "Hey, isn't that nice!"  Then I felt compelled to share their stories of service and sacrifice.

Well, same thing happened again this year.  So, I wrote another column :)  If you ever wondered where all the stories from Hollywood came from...this is the real deal.  Please enjoy, and thank those around you that serve and have served our great country!

Sunday, July 03, 2011

900 Words

Well, that's what I managed to put down for The King's Mistress, today.  Not too bad.  Why the word count?  Ah, that's a writer thing.  Either you count words or you don't.  For me it's a way to feel like I've accomplished something, a bit of self-reward.

Since some of my stories are a mere 3,000 words, you can see why a number like 900 might get me all riled up.  Problem is, I don't know how long The Mistress will end up...right now it's feeling like a novel.  Oh, big sigh.  Really?  Another novel?  Something else I'll have difficulty editing and getting sold?  Why would I do such a silly thing?

And how long is a novel, you ask?  Start at the big 50k and work your way up from there.  With almost 3,500 in the bank for the Mistress, I am well on my way...and have no idea where I'm going.  That's the funny part.

Oh well.  Such is the whimsical nature of my muse.

And where did I get the inspiration this time?  Like all my historical fantasies, from a real life character.  In this case, Louis XV's long time mistress...what happened to her after he died?  How can a woman wield such fearful power in the court one day, and the next be cast into the street because she was not of noble birth?  That's the launching point.

Why do I do this? Only the muse knows...and she's not telling!

Until next time.

Friday, July 01, 2011

A busy day

I'm trying out a few things today, like writing 1500 words on a new story and working on an updated website. Although, the most hitech trick might be learning how to post to blogger from my Galaxy tablet.
What is the new story about, you ask? Oh, the usual. There's a princess, the old king's mistress, a regent and a whole lot of political intrigue. Fun!
I hope this blog post actually find its way to you, and that you are enjoying a beautiful 4th of July!

(Hey! It worked :) )

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Don't Know Where the Mouse is...

My cat Emerson is asking for my help...which I'm not about to give.

He found a mouse last night.  There was squeaking, and then some active digging behind my dresser late into the night.  My husband helped with the hunt briefly, but determined it was much too late for this.  Emerson gave up at some point, too, as he reappeared to sleep on my feet.  But once I got up, apparently the mouse tried to make another run for it, and Emerson was making it squeak some more.  He had it trapped in a pile of laundry.  He would pounce periodically to see what noise the laundry might make next.  I went in my library and shut the door.

I am accepting that cats are predators and love to hunt and play.  So, I let them.  However, I am not going to assist them. 

Emerson knocked on the door a little while ago.  He made quite a show of jumping on my lap, purring, flopping over and generally being a love bug.  I made a trip to the kitchen.  He turned off into the bedroom and asked politely if I would come, too.  He began to circle around the dresser again, looking up at up and making his little "meh" noises when requesting assistance.

I guess the mouse is in hiding again.  Emerson keeps circling the library and bedroom.  Somebody needs to make the little rodent come out and play.  That won't be me.

Betty, a little more arthritic than her partner in crime, has decided the mouse is too fast to bother.  She's not helping, either.

I just hope it doesn't perish in an inaccessible spot...that smells.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Daily Victories: It Takes Neighbors

This week, we got the bad guy. 

A patron reported to one of our managers there was a suspicious person looking in car windows in our lot.  It's a big lot--close to 3,000 spaces.  So, you can imagine that a lot of people might wander around a bit after they've misplaced their car.  Still, we checked it out.  Sure enough, this young man was weaving through aisles, peaking in windows, ducking down for a minute or two and walking quickly in the other direction when he saw us watching him. 

He moved his car one aisle over, driving about two miles an hour...slow enough that it catches your attention even in a parking lot.  He probably figured that I couldn't see him...magic cloak of invisibility once he got in his car.

We called the police department, which I'd like to say that our PD is awesome.  They're always polite, professional and respond to problems in a reasonable amount of time, considering the size of the city. 

Mr. I'm Not Acting Weird bolted a few seconds before the cruiser arrived.  But they did notice his little red car careening out of the lot and wandered off to stop him after getting a few details from me and my manager.

The next day, the officers stopped by to tell me the perp ran away.  But they got the car.  And they got a purse that he had stolen from a car he broke into.  The patron got her purse back.  The perp lost his car.  And we've got all the info to nail him with when he reappears on the radar...and he probably will.

It all started with a concerned citizen, a manager who acted on the information and a police department that took the time to investigate a suspicious person.  We can make a difference and we can help each other to keep our world a little safer.

Until next time! Have a great day.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Daily Victories: Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

You know, when you leave your swim suit hanging out to dry, I can imagine if it went missing you might not want to say anything. A little embarrassing, don't you think?  But what if you know who snagged it off the line?  Then what? It seems it's time to face off with the burglar...

And so the residents of a California neighborhood have.  Except they're not ticked off.  Not really.  Because it's funny more than tragic.  When Dusty the kleptomaniac kitty goes on his nightly prowl, he just can't resist bringing home any little, medium or even surprisingly hefty object that his neighbors leave in their yards.

You'll love the night vision shots at the end of the video as he brings in his nightly haul.  Smile!  And I hope all of life's little challenges are as benign as Dusty's neighbors.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Daily Victories: Listen Well

Sail Boston R.J. Grady
I love listening to people talk. Having grown up with parents who hail from two different parts of the US, living in more regions besides those and listening to Monty Python from an early age, my own accent is something of a mutt.  Little bits from different places hang around in there.  It does cause raised eyebrows from time to time.  As such, I relate to anybody who is struggling to work their mouth around a new sound.

But sometimes, those sounds do make you smile.  You can't help it.

Today I visited a store where the clerk, a middle-aged gentleman who hailed from Barcelona, I think, was struggling with his printer.  Very polite.  Made every effort to ensure I understood exactly the terms of the contract.  Waved his hands a bit.  And then when the contract refused to print he began mumbling, "Paper yam.  It has a paper yam." 

There was picking up the tray, turning it upside down, crumpling paper, pushing of buttons, turning around, asking the customer that entered the store, "Un momento, please. S'okay? I am having a paper yam," and other bits of dancing behind the counter.  There was putting the phone on speaker while he waited for another patron to come back on the line...canned music filled the air.

Had it been another day, I might have eyed the circus with dread, knowing the receipt would never print.  But you know, Javier made it worth the wait.  Eventually he won the battle with the recalcitrant printer, we shook hands and I continued on with my day.

I would never trade the world we live in with another.  It's too full of intriguing people, with and without accents.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Consistently Changing the Rules: An Obsession NASCAR Needs to Stop

If you didn't read your Frontstretch Newsletter this morning, feel free to enjoy my column by clicking on the link:

And a big thank you to Mellissa Monk for reading :) 

Monday, February 07, 2011

The Frontstretch Returns Full Time for 2011

The 2011 NASCAR season is getting ready to go green!  And my other obsession besides writing romance has returned for another year of news and commentary about my favorite sport:

The Frontstretch

Today we're examining the changes made to the Chase and the Points System.

Also, if you like NASCAR coming to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter:

Frontstretch Newsletter Sign Up

Tomorrow my weekly commentary, Sittin' In the Stands, will appear in the newsletter.

Until then, have a great day.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Daily Victories: Small Kindnesses

Life is like a box of chocolates...literally.

You never know what to expect.  It's a sad truth in retail life that you make very few friends.  You might have many customers, even familiar faces that you exchange smiles with, but that personal connection is often lost amidst the throngs.  Thus, when somebody leaves you a small box of valentines candy, it makes your entire day.

My valentine is simply a gentleman who had a couple trying experiences and I spent a few minutes talking to him about it.  We came to an understanding.  I hoped he would still come back.  And he did...with that box of chocolates.  This came on the heels of a neighbor plowing our driveway during the latest snowstorm.

It's at moments like this that I am reminded that we all are part of a neighborhood, no matter how large the city we live in.  Or even how seldom we actually speak to those around us.  Yet, we are all human and I can vouch most of us have kind hearts.  Each of us looks to our neighbors for reassurance that we live in a good world and it is our personal responsibility to live up to that obligation.  It's not hard.  It just takes small kindnesses to help keep the fabric of life whole.

A smile.  A thank you.  A gesture of good will.  And the strength to Pass It Forward when you have the chance. 

Who would you like to thank?  Have you?

Have a great day.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Daily Victories: The Sun Does Shine

Two days and more than a foot of snow MORE later...the sun came out.  It does that, you know.  Blue skies.  White piles all around.  Really pretty.  And to top it off, I spotted two bald eagles this morning fishing over the Merrimack River. Fantastic!

While I grew up in the Merrimack Valley, wildlife really wasn't part of the daily life.  The river was off limits back then to just about everything.  Filled with trash and pollution, it boggled the mind how it could even be a water source for communities along its banks.

But things have changed.  Those eagles are proof.  They aren't plants.  Nobody put them here.  They came back.  We have a few nesting pairs, but the Merrimack is also host to a wintering colony that fly south from Canada.  Apparently snow drifts and frozen rivers are balmy for these guys.

But you know, after you've been shoveling and shoveling and laugh while your neighbors curse the skies at the now freezing rain that's falling, it is a glorious thing to drive around and see that massive bird with its white head and tail hovering over some open water. 

Things do change.  Our water ways are cleaner.  The fish stocks are larger.  And the eagles are returning.  It makes one believe Spring might arrive one of these days.

Better times are ahead.  Have a good day.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Daily Victories: Give Yourself Credit

Atlanta Botanical Gardens

 If cleanliness is next to godliness, I'm no saint.

This winter, I've been working on tossing out those piles of boxes and doo-dads you accumulate over time.  You know...the "it might be useful" someday stuff.  And I must be imaginative, because most of this stuff ain't ever gonna be of use to anybody.

This last week I made the big step of calling a junk guy to haul off the big stuff...bikes, mattresses--the ones you wouldn't want the cat to sleep on, TV's, etc. etc.  After he departed I walked around the house and realized that although there's still a goodly pile of stuff nobody will ever want or use, I can actually make use of three rooms in my house I couldn't three months ago.

This wasn't an overnight success.  It happened a little bit every day...or every other day, depending on the rest of life.  It happened because I kept repeating to myself, "Hey! You got those bottles returned!" or, "See? You can open the china cupboard, now."  Not that I'm serving a fancy dinner soon, but still.

I poked my head into the sun porch and realized that the piano was accessible...I can call the tuners! Ah! Not yet.

You see, the really big goal is to finish the living room.  So, piano tunings and china cupboards aside, there's still a lot of trash and donations to be cleared.  But I'm getting there.  Honestly getting there.  And it's happening because you just gotta keep saying, "I completed a little tiny something today that wasn't done yesterday."

When you look back after a week or two, it's pleasing to see, or not see in my case, just how much can be accomplished with persistence, and giving yourself a pat on the back for achieving one small extra goal a day.

Maybe I'm the little train that could...maybe that's a childhood story we should all revisit when we're feeling like life is impossible.

'Til next time, keep smiling!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Daily Victories: Lost and Found

If you dropped your wallet at a major entertainment venue, would you expect to get it back?

I ask, because like many people in this world, I have to admit that I wouldn't necessarily expect to find that wallet again.  But, you know what?  More people turn in those wallets to the lost & found departments and the police than you'd think.

Yesterday, in a single eight hour shift, I returned to worried individuals two cell phones, a wallet, set of car keys, an iPod and various hats and scarves.  And I'm only the person rummaging through the lost & found bucket...not the one finding and turning in the items.  I still have a lost wedding ring note on the bulletin board--perhaps that, too, will appear.

But besides lost items, there are also lost people.  My high school principal stopped for a friendly hello last night, as well as a police officer who used to work details for me over ten years ago.

Yes, we all have too many things to keep track of in our daily lives.  But we'd all be a bit happier if we truly believed that the people in our neighborhoods are willing to help us keep it all organized. 

The next time you misplace an item, ask around.  I bet somebody will be happy to bring a smile to your face and return it to you.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Daily Victories

Yes! I found the focus for this blog.  I am always impressed by the series of TV ads placed by the Foundation for a Better Life.  If you read their website, they don't accept donations.  All this independently run concept charity asks is for every person on the planet to take those values we all cherish and utilize them in our daily lives. 

And as I've considered one topic after another for this blog, I am usually faced with one truth, I don't want to turn this blog into a place to's not becoming and there's far too much of that on this planet.  So, I will use this space to talk about what makes me happy, what I saw today that made me smile...or made somebody else smile. 

We forget, but there are many kindnesses that are extended from one human to another each and every day.  Strangers are kinder than we'd believe, due to the nightly news with stories of murder, war, theft.  There're far too many places for you and me to learn about that.  So, here will be a good place.

For today's daily victory I'll share something I saw between two of my employees: One a teenaged girl, the other a young asian immigrant.  They were leaving for the night and chattering away.  When they passed me, she kept repeating the word 'vocabulary'.  He was attempting to say it.  She spelled it out.  He spelled it out.  They sounded out the word has a couple sounds difficult to say.  He said it very slowly by himself.

"There you go!" She smiled.  "You got it!"

He thanked her and left for the night.

They're not particular friends.  Just co-workers.  People with good hearts.  One wanted to help, the other was willing to accept the olive branch.

And that is today's daily victory. 

The picture?  I'll be using pics from my vacations...they made me smile at one point.  I hope they'll make you smile, too.

Share your daily victories!  I'll post them :) 

Have a great day.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Is it a Hobby or an Obsession?

I dare not call it a career or even a job.  Writing just seems to be something I can't stop doing.

When attempting to succeed in the arts--whether it be music, art, film, dance, or writing--first there must be a belief that you have something to offer that others don't.  You practice, hone and research.  Try once, throw it out, and try again.  Sometimes you decide it is no longer worth pursuing.  I've pursued a number or artistic endeavors throughout my life, but writing is the one that keeps coming back.  It always has. 

But does that make my musings worthy of supporting me? In a materialistic manner?  I am not vain enough to think that like geniuses of centuries past, my prose is meant for readers of future generations, and thus I shall never see the true worth of these words in my lifetime.  lol  No...not that.

My dream...I am foolish enough to have to manage to support myself with my maunderings.  This year is the year of the agent hunt.  It is a dreary process, but one you must struggle through in this particular area of the arts.  But mostly, you must believe in yourself.  Your voice. 

Time and again I have tried writing "for the market."  Ultimately, my works tend to live in the margins of those popular markets, but never in the fast lane.  Perhaps that will be my epithet..."From the sidelines."

It's not a bad place to be.  You get to see a lot of life from that angle.  And you will never really end up in the middle, due to a lack to fitting in, if you will.

Currently, I am querying my latest work "The Heart of the Dragon," and just starting on the next idea.  Novel or novella remains to be seen for The King's Mistress.  NASCAR cranks up in just a couple more weeks and I'll be returning to the world of sports opinion on a weekly basis.

I am hoping to make this blog something more regular over the next few months.  It will take a bit to find this one's focus...NASCAR Notes took me in a direction I never believed I could achieve, really never intended to achieve...I covered a Sprint Cup race from the infield!  That there is proof that the improbably can happen if you follow your heart.  Good things come from good effort.

Well, that's all for this morning.  I shall return when I have more to share :)  Enjoy the snow! We've got enough of it.