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Friday, September 30, 2005

Friday's Finds

I guess I'm an optimist at heart, because for the past two days and nights, our little community was plaqued with raging fires, but I never thought that we'd actually be involved. There were fires to the west of us, to the east and to the south. Smoke billowed from the mountains just blocks from our house, but no flames. We knew the flames were on the back side of the mountain. For days and nights, helicopters flew above us, making water drops, but our sky remained blue. But yesterday afternoon, that all changed and the sky became an errie black and orange. Soot and ashes fell to the ground as the winds changed. And soon flames erupted on our side of the mountain.

I've never seen anything so frightening in my life. All the neighbors watched, looking up, trying to decide what to do. The night before we'd had voluntary evacuations. No one left, we watched and waited. I didn't want to leave my house. No one did. My optimism was tested though when the flames atop the mountains starting a downward decline towards our homes. It was only then, that we decided to pack up our valuables. Our kitties would be a problem. They don't travel well and that limited us to where we would go. But as all the neighbors watched and waited, the amazing firefighters did their jobs expertly. And we saw those threatening flames diminish in the hours to come.

The fires still rage in other cities surrounding us. It's 20% contained they say, but the firefighters lit backfires and are making sure the flames don't cause damage to any homes and that they don't jump the freeways. This is very good news, but it'll be days before the fires are put out entirely. My optimism is restored and I'm thinking that with no loss of life and only one house down, (I say that with compassion for that one homeowner) it's truly a miracle.

I can't say enough about our firefighters. They worked day and night and tirelessly, to make sure we were all safe. They are truly heroes.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Wednesday's Words

It's been a busy week with life sometimes getting in the way of writing. But at least, this time, it's a measure of good things that's taking me away from my writing. I'm a little off schedule, with hopes of catching up this week to make my 40 pages a week goal! I'd love to finish Shanghaied Groom before the middle of October. But I did have copyedits to go through recently for Heiress Beware, my June 06 Desire and then my Author Alterations for my February historical, Renegade Wife. It's always fun to revisit a story, once you've put the on the final "THE END" and with AA's and Copyedits, you usually see that story months after turning it in. So, I'm going to work doubly hard to achieve my goals this week.

But on another happy note, the ANGELS won the American League Division championship. They clenched it last night against Oakland and though I didn't see the game, I was able to see the champagne celebration afterwards. Thrilled that our team is going on to the playoffs, my hubby and I will take a day off to see one of the games, up close and personal. Sometimes, LIFE gets in the way of writing. And thank goodness for that!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Friday's Finds

Hurricane Rita -- It seems the worst EVER hurricane season. As I'm watching the news and seeing people evacuate their homes and livelihoods, I'm amazed at the power of such natural forces. Being an historical writer as well, I often wonder about the people living back in the day when there were no warnings, no doppler readings, no television. How did they survive? IF they survived such powerful forces of nature. Were whole towns and cities wiped out? With more primitive housing and no walls for protection in the sea, did any of those living on the gulf coast regions survive? Or has our weather changed so much lately (it seems so) that people living in the "olden" days didn't have too much worry about drastic hurricanes hitting the shore? I'm sure if I studied the facts, I find my answers.

But as I tried today to enter the RITA (pardon the pun) but that's the name of the Romance Writer's of America's most prestigious award contest- I realized that they are based in Houston. The site is shutting down for the time being as people there are evacuating. Who knows what might happen to our RWA -based offices? And just this morning I received an email from my web designer whose is on crutches right now and having to either have her parents move in with her or live in their house, until the hurricane passes. She's going offline until all of this is resolved. (My prayers to you, Shelley! I'm keeping good thoughts for you and your family. )

So, though thousands of miles away, the hurricanes hit us all in some way. They affect us and make us worry, and pray and hope for a good outcome. And I certainly do! As I know many of you are feeling the same way. Keep good thoughts coming. Let's not go through the alpha-bet of hurricane names this year. PLEASE !

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Thursday's Thoughts

Well - I watched the season premiere of LOST last night. I love that show and it didn't disappoint. It kept me on the edge of my seat. We finally got to see what's down in that "hatch" and what we saw didn't give us answers, but rather more questions. The show is "theme" based which as a writer, I love to see. There's always metaphors, and correlations between the characters present lives on the island and their past lives. The writing on that show is wonderful and it's what originally drew me in. I didn't start watching it when it first premiered last year because I had visions of Gilligan's Island meets Frankenstein. But one night, I caught it and that's the marking of a really good show, it only takes one episode to reel you in because the characters are so interesting and the writing is superb. I cheered when it won the EMMY. I felt it truly deserved that praise. So, now the new season has begun and between watching a few favorites and cheering on the ANGELS baseball team vying for their division lead, I'll have to adjust my writing schedule! I don't watch a whole lot of TV, but certain shows I hate to miss, LOST being one of them. Any fans out there? What's your take on LOST and other shows coming our way?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Tuesday's Tidbits

There are so many charities in need right now, that I'm not sure how to donate, but recently I saw a spot about Habitat for Humanity and how they have built over 200,000 homes across the nation. It's an incredible charity that provides homes for those in need. For the victims of the Gulf coast region, they are building what they call "houses in a box". I think people from all over can build the frames and then they collapse them and send them to be finished in the home town in need. Sounds like a good way to put roofs over people's heads in a hurry, especially with fall almost here and winter just around the corner.

The Today Show this morning talked about the homes being built and if you want to see one of these "houses in a box", they will be building one next week on the show. I think it would be great to find out where else they are doing these. I wouldn't mind taking hammer to nail to help out -- right now, here in California seems all we can do is send money. Money is important, and heaven knows it's going to take a whole lot of cash to see these cities rebuilt, but I think many of us would love to dig in, and actually do something physical to help out.

I keep hearing of these great organizations and decided instead of picking one, I'll donate what I can to each, since all seem to be doing a particular service, from feeding and clothing the victims, rescuing animals and rebuilding homes. All are equally important.


Friday, September 16, 2005

Friday's Finds

I find it amazing how little things we see and do end up in our books. When they say, "Write what you know", how can you not? Our stories are reflections of our life's experiences and it doesn't matter if your book is about forenics and you know nothing about that topic. You'll do the research and make it all plausible, but it's the little things, the nuances in our stories that seem to mirror our lives and what we know.

For instance, writing for me is very intuitive. I simply know what it takes to make my scenes work and for this one particular scene, I needed my hero and heroine to come together somehow, and for the hero to admire her gumption. As I watched Animal Planet, a show I enjoy about all kinds of animals, they showed a father and son, rescuing a heifer who was having a difficult labor. The two worked together, delivered the calf and saved both their lives. Hmmm, I thought. Wouldn't that scene work for my historical story? The heroine will dive in to help our hero deliver the calf -- a messy job, for sure, but it worked and the hero begins to admire our heroine for all her traits, but mostly because she wasn't afraid to lend a hand. The bonding they share as they care for the new calf is one of those "aw shucks" moments in the story too. Just a little five minute clip on the Animal Planet helped me design that scene.

And I find that a writer is always writing. You take in everything around you, log it away in your memory bank or make yourself a note, to use for another day. This happens to me all the time. I use my life experiences, what I witness, what I read, what I watch on television and it all comes together somehow to give me the inspiration to write my story. I bet many of you are the same. I wonder what we'll learn today that we'll use in one of our stories ... tomorrow?

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Thursday's Thoughts

Challenge Your Brain -- I just read a great article on how to improve your memory skills so that you'll be less likely to have memory loss in old age. I'm not old by any means (not yet!) but I do find myself forgetting things I should be remembering. It's usually nothing of great importance, more an annoyance than anything else and I've NEVER had a great memory. But these are some tips for challenging the brain. See if you do any of these things: Work on crossword puzzles and brain teasers. Take a class, learn a foreign language or a new skill. Change your pattern of shopping at the grocery store. Work on a hobby or craft. READ A NOVEL, (I like this one best) or articles or magazines.

And the article goes on to say it's okay to use Memory aids. I do these things all the time. I love making lists. So, mark you calendar of important events, birthdays, appts. Keep a day planner. Use sticky notes. Make up TO DO lists, especially for the husband (wink). It also goes on to say that you should exercise, eat a healthy diet and try to get your allowance in of Vitamin C and Vitamin E. Both are good for the brain.

I guess it's time to work on some crossword puzzles! All these things promise to keep our memories sharp. Hey, I wonder if writing a morning blog, counts?

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Tuesday's Tidbits

Do you ever find that some days you simply have to tune out the world? Lately, the stress level from watching the news about the hurricane disaster and all the controversy surrounding it, just gets to be too much. I found myself tuning in for hours in the beginning, to see a disaster of proportions almost to terrifying to imagine and I think most of us watched with open-mouthed stun. We simply couldn't believe the scope of the disaster. Then -- when all of our efforts should be on the rescue, so many found time to point fingers of blame. The political fallout from something that should know no politics, has been hard to watch. I tend to focus on the positive, the people who risk their lives to save others, the incredible generosity of Americans sending aid and money to help the cause.

But sometimes, it's all too much. Sometimes, even an hour a day, is too much, and though I don't like being uninformed, for peace of mind and my own sanity, I tune it all out. I'll watch baseball. My team, the ANGELS are in first place and I'm already having baseball withdrawals that the season is ending soon. Or I'll watch a repeat of LOST or DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES, talk about escapism. Or sometimes, I'll simply read. That's the most relaxing of them all.

I think many of us don't realize we need to DE-STRESS the way some need to DE-TOX. We need to allow ourselves time to sit back and relax and enjoy something. We need that "vegging" time. Do yourself a favor and tune it out, once in a while.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Monday's Musings

As I'm sitting here, finished for the morning's worth of writing, with my kitten Skittles, always trusty and atop my computer, I'm thinking of all the animals yet to be rescued by the hurricanes. It saddens me to think of those animals left behind and how hard it was on those evacuees who had to say farewell to their pets. True, nothing is more important than saving human lives, but I know how difficult it would have been to leave my pets behind. They are like small children, helpless and vulnerable and that's the hardest part. I think of them starving, frightened and perhaps injured and not knowing what to do.

Where dogs might come out and let their presence be known to the rescuers, cats tend to hide when frightened. I know my kitty does and no amount of cajoling or bribery will get her to show her face. So, I'm hoping that the cats do have nine lives and that they find ways to survive. They may have used up eight lives in the hurricane, but I still hold out hope that they are as resilient as I know them normally to be.

Thank goodness to all the rescuers out there and to the Humane Society and other such organizations looking out for the animals.

So I hug my little Skittles a bit tighter and let her drink my coffee. Yes, she likes coffee, don't ask me why. She doesn't eat or drink anything else, but the special cat food we feed her and water, but for some odd reason she likes my coffee. It's a struggle when I'm at the computer to keep my mug away from her and after I set it down once I'm through, she finds a way to get to it. It's uncanny really and it baffles me, but it's part of what makes up her cute personality.

So, I'm hoping that many other pets are found and rescued out there. It's hard to think of them going without food. Prayers to all, humans and pets alike whose lives were greatly affected by the hurricane.

Let's hope the storm Ophelia dies a quick death out at sea. We don't need another disaster.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Friday's Finds

It never ceases to amaze me the amount of information one can get from going ONLINE. This morning, as I woke very early, unable to sleep, I logged on to check email. And I found some very interesting items in my email. Recently, I subscribed to, an inspirational non-denominational site, where I receive all kinds of messages of inspiration. Today was especially interesting about the power of silence. Now, I've never given this much thought, but as I read this inspiring piece, the words so beautifully written about the silence of the ocean, and the Indian power of healing through silence, I realized that much of what was said can be true. The ocean is like a living being, and just watching the waves in early morning or at dusk, when it's you and nature alone, can be pretty awesome. It went on to say how just like all living things, the ocean breaths, through the coming and going of waves hitting the shore. It was truly an early morning inspiration for me.

Then I moved on to a health site and learned a little bit more about preventing breast and ovarian cancers by the foods we eat, our lifestyle and other tidbits. It's terribly amazing how much powerful information is out there, and how diverse it all is. I figure, if I can learn just one new thing every day, I'd be better for it and sometimes I seem to absorb everything I read, like a sponge, wanting more.

And my last exploration was to head to my favorite country western radio site. There, I read about upcoming concerts and of course, I entered a contest to win free tickets to a show at Disneyland! Well, one can always hope. Those were my pre-dawn exploits -- nothing too fancy or provocative, but it helps while away the time, waking me enough to begin my writing day.

It's early - early and my trusty "attack" cat Skittles is by my side as always, up on my desk, cuddled next to the computer. She's an inspiration in itself!

Off to work now.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Wednesday's Words

It's late in the day, but I thought I'd post a quick thought. I've been working on my historical story Shanghaied Groom and I must admit that after writing a few contemporaries and having two more ideas floating around in my head, I'm finding it difficult to get "into" this story. It's a great story, don't get me wrong, but I've been away from it now almost a year. And so, I remembered something "classic" that Susan Elizabeth Phillips taught me in one of her workshops. You can't work with a blank sheet of paper. Put something down, even if it's garbage and fix it later.

I'm not good with garbage. I tend to throw my garbage out every day. I like clean trash, so this is really hard for me. Yet, I'm doing it. I'm writing and you know, it's working! Putting something down has helped me formulate my ideas and the story is now flowing much better. I'm committed to writing five to ten pages a day, so I can't afford to go "blank."

Another thing I thought to do, was to go back and study some of my research books. I have these great easy reads, that look a lot like coloring books, but they are filled with valuable information. I sticky-note a page when there's an idea I think might work, and then sure enough, I'm able to go back and use it.

I still have nearly 300 pages to write, so I know I'll use these techniques again. Anybody else out there have clues and hints as to how to KEEP GOING when your mind goes blank?

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Tuesday's Tidbits

It's back to work now and blogging after a brief absence and very nice weeklong vacation. It's been a tumultuous week, hasn't it? I've been gone for most of it, but the news wasn't very far beyond and we kept up on the day to day struggles of those caught by the worst disaster I can remember.

The pictures of what happened to the gulf states couldn't have been more horrific. And unlike many who seem to want to point fingers and blame, I'm going to spend my time today, praising those remarkable people who lent a hand, risked their own lives and saved thousands of people. Yes, some died and my prayers go out to those families who are suffering and have lost loved ones. I guess, in a disaster of this magnitude, death is inevitable, no matter how fast the response time.

But to those wonderful people who got out there quickly and stayed I have to say you're our true heroes of the day. I keep seeing pictures of water rescues from boats and helicopters and those airlifts -- oh boy -- I'd be scared myself, I can just imagine what some of those senior citizens felt like being hoisted up and onto the helicopters. There will be, I'm sure, some of the most inspiring stories that come out of the disaster of saviors, of fearless courage, of the great humanity of our country.

Today, I'm dwelling on the positive. I'm thinking of and thanking heaven for miracles, both big and small. While I know that things were chaotic in those first few days and the level of frustration we all felt, in watching many suffer and wondering why help didn't arrive faster, I also know that the people out there sent to rescue did their level best. Let's not forget them. Let's give praise where deserved and not discount their sacrifice.

I know of one woman in RWA who lost her home and while this was happening her husband, a member of the Coast Guard, was out saving lives. Their family is thankfully safe, but they lost everything. In the face of disaster, the human spirit and the American spirit, glows with warmth and love. That's what I want to dwell on today.