Monday, November 30, 2009

Free Books!

Last week, I asked my email newsletter subscribers if they'd like free, autographed copies of my books if they had to pay shipping and handling. You see, it costs a lot to mail things in Canada and we don't have that wonderful "media mail" like they do in the US. That's why I don't tend to offer free books or books as prizes. However, the answer was a resounding "Yes!" so I'm opening up the offer to readers of my blog as well. You won't have the same selection as my newsletter readers, because they've already spoken for many of the books, but there are still several left of some of the more recent titles.

Here's how this giveaway will work:

I'm going to list the books here. When you've decided which one(s) you'd like, send me an email at with the titles, your postal code if you're Canadian, your state if you're American, and your country if you live in neither. Then I'll email you the cost of shipping and handling. You may ask for as many as you'd like. However, shipping and handling will go up depending on weight, destination and size of package.

If you're still willing once you've seen the cost, you send me a check or money order for the amount of shipping and handling to the address I'll provide. When I receive the payment, I'll send the autographed books. The price quoted will the cheapest rate, so it may take a couple of weeks. In other words, I can't guarantee that the books will arrive by Christmas.

It will be on a first-come, first-get-books basis, for as long as I have books to give away. Please be patient if it takes me awhile to get back to you - I've been doing nothing but this for two days already and had to make a supply run twice! My office looks like Santa's, workshop.

The books are:

Limited quantity.



An anthology with stories by Jo Beverley and Deborah Simmons, as well. Trade size. USA Today bestseller! Limited quantity.

My one and only Young Adult historical romance. Limited quantity.





Was it visions of sugar plums that prompted this move?

No. It's the new season of Hoarders starting on A&E tonight!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Weight Loss Challenge - ARGH

Well, this is getting frustrating! Back to 141 today. Granted, I went on a mini-Tootsie binge over the weekend, but I haven't had a cola since Sunday, so I thought (obviously foolishly) that it would somehow balance out. I've eaten out a couple of times, but aimed for healthy.

I'm seriously thinking there's something to this idea that my body thinks, "Wow! It's getting cold. I'd better have a little extra insulation." I'm also wondering if I shouldn't do something different in terms of exercise.

So my latest plan is to add rowing to the regimen. I can't do it everyday, as it can aggravate an old injury, but I think if I treadmill one day and row the next, I should be okay. I'll have to start slow with the rowing, but it's worth a shot. Because something has got to change or I'm not even going to get close to my goal of 135 by Christmas!

This week's treadmill tally (and upon looking at my record, I see that I didn't exercise as much as I thought, so...there ya go.):

Friday, Nov. 20: 1 hr. on TM
Sat. Nov. 21 - 1/2 hr. on TM (this was a surprise - I guess I was busier than I thought!)
Sun. Nov. 22 - social event, so no TM
Mon. Nov. 23 - 1 hr. on TM
Tues. Nov. 24 - 1 hr. on TM
Wed. Nov. 25 - 1 hr. on TM
Thurs. Nov. 26 - 45 min. on TM

This week's plan - get out the rowing machine and see how hard I can work on it. I won't be on the treadmill tomorrow, but I will be wandering around a craft show. Sunday, treadmill. Monday, row. Tuesday, TM. Wednesday, row, etc. No cola. No cola or chocolate until Thursday (treats during Survivor are mandatory in our house). Fingers crossed I can get to below 140, anyway!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends! Wishing you a wonderful time with family, friends and good food!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

More Cool Old Stuff

Here are some more recent additions at my house.

I've been trying to discover how old this Underwood-Elliot Fisher typewriter is, and I think it's probably from the 1940's, or possibly the early '50's. I was actually
was able to get a ribbon (that's what the ink's on, boys and girls) at Staples. I'll have to see if it fits, then I'm hoping to get it working, just for demonstration value.

One thing's for sure, it's heavy!

The table it's on is something I've never seen before. In the middle, underneath that beautiful scroll work, is a speaker of some kind, maybe for a radio? I'm thinking I should send the picture to a club for antique radio buffs.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A funny thing happened on the way to the

Forum... Well, not really -although I do love that movie. I finally posted some new pages of pictures from our trip on our website, of both the Forum and the Colosseum, including a video.

I'm still working on my NaNo project, although revising and not writing anything new. I want a firmer foundation before I do that.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Babies and books and china, oh my...

I was at a baby shower on the weekend. In our family, we don't have baby showers until after the baby has arrived, so the Wee One was there in all his chubby-cheeked glory (and man, those cheeks were chubby!). Of course, we women trotted out all our "war stories." And new baby stories, thereby embarrassing those babies-now-young-women in attendance, which is also a time-honored part of the ritual.

I also managed to finish a synopsis, although I've gotta say, it's a whole lot easier writing a synopsis before I've written the book. When the book (or in my case, half the book) is done, I want to put everything in the synopsis. Every character, every bit of backstory about those characters, everything that happens, even some of the dialogue. Alas, that cannot be, or it wouldn't be a synopsis.

Even mindful that a synopsis shouldn't be book-length, I still put in too much and have to cut. That's next on the agenda, while also making sure I don't cut anything essential to the understand of the story and characters while keeping the overall tone of the story and characters.

I also spent time trying to find out the name of a china pattern. It's by Johnson Brothers. On the back, it has the name, the seal, "Snowhite" (which is not a pattern name, but seems to refer to the type of china) and "D" and "1" on the saucer. If anybody knows what this is, please tell me!

There's something else I'm trying to find out about. It's a Pyrex measuring cup, but it only hold 3/4 of a cup. Also unusually, it doesn't have a spout. I've never seen anything like it, and I can't discover if anybody else ever has, either. Any information gratefully accepted!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Weight Loss Challenge - I knew it

Well, I did get down to 138.6 this week, until the Stuff Hit the Proverbial Fan in my life, and cookies became my coping mechanism. So back up to 140 this morning.

But still, I was on the right track and as long as I don't have too many more days that require serious cookie therapy, I should be...not too bad. Will I make my goal of 135 by Christmas? I fear I won't. But if I don't keep up with the exercise and Cola Drought, I will surely gain.

This week's step/treadmill tally:
Friday, Nov. 13 - 1 hr. on TM
Sat. Nov. 14 - 1 hr. on TM
Sun. Nov. 15 - Nothing (social event)
Mon. Nov. 16 - 1 hr. on TM and I walked to the store
Tues. Nov. 17 - 13016 steps (and I note that I must have been going at a pretty brisk pace, because it took me only an hour and a half instead of two)
Wed. Nov. 18 - 1 hr. on TM
Thurs. Nov. 19 - 1 hr. on TM

I think for the next week, it'll be treadmill time. It's a harder work-out. Did I mention the cookies? I still have some left.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sometimes, you just gotta bake cookies...

You know, there are days when things just don't go your way. And sometimes a couple of days in a row. Days when you wish you could just go live in a shack in the woods for awhile.

This is turning into one of THOSE weeks. My NaNo goals have gone the way of the dodo. And after baking cookies this afternoon and eating a few, I fear my weight tomorrow will not be any lower, although (yeah!) it was this afternoon.

But there are times I just have to take the time to bake some cookies.

And this was one of those days.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

NaNo - nono

Yet again, when I think I'm going to have lots of time to work, LIFE comes a-callin'. Didn't get anything done until 5 p.m., then did some revisions. Didn't get on the treadmill till 7 p.m. Still haven't had dinner, which looks like it'll be toast and a banana.

Yep, one of those days, all right!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

NaNo and more Roma

Well, I'm glad I decided to stop and think about my story some more. A big plot hole opened up on me - now plugged. I'll be on a firmer foundation to carry on, as well. The only new words I wrote were notes, but they will surely prove to be some of the more important words regarding this project.

I've also uploaded some more pictures onto my website, of St. Peter's, the Vatican and the Vatican Museum, where every ceiling is something to see.

Check it out.

Monday, November 16, 2009

NaNo - Upon further consideration....

Despite having social events Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I did manage to write something, if not much, on Friday and Saturday.

However, as mentioned previously, I was starting to feel it might be time to stop and re-read. I've got a lot going on in the story so far, and I'm not sure how much I'll keep and how much should go. Sometime during Saturday night, my subconscious made the command decision that it was absolutely time to read and evaluate what I've already written. I decided to obey. I've learned that sometimes, my subconscious is a better judge of where I am and what I should do than my conscious mind.

I hadn't added my word counts for Friday and Saturday to the cumulative total yet, so as I was printing up my pages (because when it's time for the first real read-through with an eye to revising, I need hard copy), I did that. I discovered I have 25,113 words, or approximately half the length of the finished manuscript I'm aiming for.

Seems my subconscious had realized that, and that it was time to take a good, hard look at the foundations of my story and make sure I've got a plot that's taking me where I want to go.

While I'm re-reading and evaluating, here's where I do the majority of my writing now.

(If you're wondering what got cut off, as you can see, I also keep some of my DVDs on display.)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Weight Loss Challenge - One step forward, two steps back...

Or at least, that's how it feels, as I continue to hover around 140, even though I've been walking, doing the treadmill, have given up the cola for nearly a whole week (Sat. to Thursday evening, cola-free) and yet, I'm not losing. Well, there was cake on Tuesday. And chocolate on the weekend.

It's clearly a lot easier for me now to put on the weight than it is to get rid of it. Now, this may not sound earth-shatteringly new in the world o' weight loss, but for the majority of my life so far, I could eat whatever I wanted and not gain weight. OTOH, I was burning a lot of energy either swimming or performing or running around after the kiddies. But still...

I can so see why people throw in the towel and quit exercising. It's time consuming and, for me and I suspect a lot of other people, not exactly a laff riot. It's work. Or like another chore in the day. A must, not a wanna.

However, as Rome wasn't built in a day, so I shall keep with the exercising and limiting the cola intake, because I also know it works. Or I wouldn't have lost twenty pounds.

This week's exercise/treadmill tally:

Friday, Nov. 6 - I hr. on TM (but I also had two colas - a last hoorah)
Nov. 7 - 1/2 on the TM but spent an hour raking and putting leaves in bins
Nov. 8 - 16,029 steps
Nov. 9 - 13,038 steps
Nov. 10 - 1 hr. on TM
Nov. 11 - 1 hr. on TM
Nov. 12 - 12,787 steps

My goal for the next week is to try to exercise every day. I'm going out for lunch three days in a row, though, and I'm also trying to write every day, so that could be a challenge I cannot meet. I'm thinking less, but something, of both, may be the way to go.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

NaNo Day Twelve - Time to rethink or keep going?

How's a gal supposed to get any work done when her office chair has been commandeered???

I didn't get as much done today as I thought I might not because of "the boys" (that picture was taken yesterday), but mainly because I decided to walk to the store, which took two plus hours, rather than doing an hour on the treadmill. Then I went to the library. And a new Vanity Fair arrived, so...time out for reading!

I'm also going to be out socializin' the next few days (whoo hooo!), so there goes my writing goals for those days - but that's okay. I have given myself permission to do that without guilt.

I confess I've been tempted to stop and dissect the plot so far, but I think I'm going to keep going, even though I'm aware I have some major rearranging to do. Some elements will surely have more impact if they're moved to another place in the plot. OTOH, I haven't exactly figured out the plot is going to be. Completely, that is. New things are creeping in. Some elements I'll definitely want to keep, others...maybe not. Time, and my gut, will tell.

Here are the word count totals:
a.m. - 1395. I may get a few more in, but I may not, so let's call it the day's total, bringing my cumulative total to 23,660 words.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

NaNo Goodness and the Trevi Fountain

Well, after deciding not to push myself with the word count, I had the best morning yet - 2565 words. I haven't written any more this afternoon because I've been working on my pictures and videos of Rome, specifically the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain. That also meant figuring out how to edit. Which I did. All on my own.

Want to see the videos?

So that's two triumphs today and frankly, I think that's about all my poor gray matter can handle.

I see I didn't post my totals for yesterday, so NaNo totals so far:
Yesterday, a.m. only - 1239, for a cumulative total of 19,700
Today, a.m. only - 2565 for a cumulative total of 22,265.

Lest We Forget

That I can write what I want to write the way I want to write it, that I can live where I want to live, without fear, because of so many who served in our armed forces past and present.

Thank you.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Tales of the Sourdough and NaNo News

Here they are, the first two loaves of sourdough bread I've ever made. The one on the left looks pretty good; the one on the right is a bit of a mutant. However, we tasted the one on the right, and it was good!

And let me just say, our foremothers must have had some powerful arms, because stirring and kneading bread dough? Was a work-out.

In NaNo news, I've decided I might have set my sights a bit too high. Or maybe I'm finding two sessions a tough gig because I've got a lot of other projects I also want to do right now. Also, the weather's been so nice, I want to walk while I can, which means at least two hours a day. And I'll be honest and confess that it could be that I'm finding it tough to get my butt in the chair in the afternoon because I'm in the middle of the story and in the "feeling my way" stage. Yes, I had an outline, but I still have to flesh out the story and characters and come up with other incidents to keep it moving. I didn't manage to get to my second session until 9 p.m. tonight, and I have a birthday cake and dinner tomorrow, so I won't get a second one in tomorrow, either. Add to that that I'm not getting to my trip pictures, and...something's gotta give.

So I'm going to give myself permission to have one writing session a day for the rest of this week, on the understanding that I'll write every day, aiming for at least 1,000 words, and get the pictures done. Next week, I'll aim for two sessions a day again.

Sometimes, I just have to acknowledge what's slowing me down and deal with it.

Today's totals:
a.m. - 1362 p.m. - 446 for a day's total of 1808 and a cumulative total of 18,461.

NaNo Weekend - I still can't believe I did that

I've been saving my writing on discs or flashdrives for years now. But what did I do yesterday?

I copied over a chapter with an older version and lost 500 words.

Gone. Wiped out. Lost forever.

Of course, I'm sure those 500 words were golden. Great. Important.

This after I had to drag myself to the laptop after spending a relaxing day with the New York Times, finishing a baby afghan and going for a two-hour plus walk. I may also have been affected by a show I saw about W.P. Kinsella, the author who wrote SHOELESS JOE. The movie Field of Dreams is based on it. He wrote for two days, four pages a day or the revision equivalent (he never explained exactly what that meant), then took a day off.

Still, I got my butt in the chair and wrote 1101 words, finishing Chapter Seven and starting Chapter Eight. It was the end of Chapter Seven I lost. Which meant, having gone on to another scene, it was tough to remember everything I'd included in the first draft of Chapter Seven when I went back and tried to recreate it. I think I got the highlights, but see above re thinking I've lost some good stuff.

And all because I wasn't paying attention when I went to save.


Here are my totals for the weekend and cumulative so far:

Saturday (Day 7 of my unofficial NaNo): a.m. - 1249, p.m - 776 for a day's total of 2025.
Infamous Day 8 - when I went back and rewrote, I managed to add a few words, so the total came to 1192, for a cumulative total of 16,653.

Pretty good.

One thing I've realized: if NaNo is a sprint, I prefer a daily jog. If I write in the morning, that leaves me time for other things. I think I'd rather do that than write for two days and take a full day off, because my way means I'm better able to keep the story in my head. If you know what I mean.

Later today: NaNo totals for today and Tales of the Sourdough: I bake the first loaves.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Tales of the Sourdough: the saga continues

Good thing I split the starter between two containers this time, or it would have been the blob on the counter again. My recipe says to have at least a quart-size container. I don't know what kind of giant quarts they're referring to, because I needed more than three quarts. It rises, you see, and then contracts, but it would have been all over before it contracted had I put it in even the 64 oz. crock.

In other news, I've decided to go internet-free on the weekends for a while. It was just so liberating to be unconnected. I may check my email for messages, but that's it.

I'll still be doing my own unofficial NaNo and will note the new totals on Monday.

Weight Loss Challenge and hey, wha' happened?

Not what happened with my weight. I know what's going on there (too many Hallowe'en treats and last night, Evil Potato Chips controlled my mind and made me eat them). I'm referring to this blog and Twitter, as in why am I so late posting today?

We had connectivity issues. I was going to try the ol' unplug the modem trick, but the hubby had gone out and I wasn't sure if he was running a program or not, so didn't want to disconnect. I waited. And waited. Finally, I called, although there's a new law prohibiting talking on a cell phone when driving. He pulled over and answered, and yes, I could disconnect. Which was good, but ARGH that I hadn't tried it sooner.

Except... it was like the olden days. Email? Nope, no can do. Blog? It'll have to wait. So I could just...write. I got 1625 words done before breaking for exercise. I had my lunch. Then it was Tales of the Sourdough, Part Two: We Begin The Starter Again. Now I'm about to start writing again, having spent less than an hour, tops, online today.

However, as blissful as those first hours were, I did start to get antsy, because I'd send some emails asking questions. But for those first few hours? It really felt as if my time truly was my own. I'm seriously considering a no-internet-on-the-weekend policy. There may be blogs, but I'll do them ahead of time.

But, you may be wondering, how's it going with the weight loss challenge?

Alas, see above re chocolate and chips. 139.2 this morning. I hang my head. That's the bad news. The good news is that I'm back on track with the exercise program.

I either walked over 10,000 steps or - even better, I think - did an hour on the treadmill, every day. So now that the chocolate is gone, and the chips, too (as of noon today), here's hoping I can make it below 139 by next Friday.

ETA: NaNo Day Six -
a.m. - 1625 words, p.m. - 793 words, for a day's total of 2418 and a cumulative total of 13,436 words this week.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

NaNo Day Five: It's not me! Well, it is, but....

Obviously this is not the movie of my office. This is me inside the Colliseum. But at least I know what happened to the camera. It wasn't elves. It was the hubby, who took it to a Raptors game.

So why no movie today? I dunno. I must have done something wrong. I'll try again when we delete some pictures off the memory card.

As for NaNo, my word count today is down because I went to Fabricland and went, well, a little nutty. But there was a sale and my nephews and nieces are now having babies, and it's so much fun to sew for little ones that...well, I went a little nutty.

I still hope to make some character notes today, because the secondary characters are coming in fast and furious, and yes, that's going to count toward my total. However, so far, the totals are:

Today a.m.: 472
p.m. 974 for a day's total of 1416 and a cumulative total of 10,863.

Oh, and I attempted to make a starter for sourdough bread last night. Turned out the container was too small. Heard of the blob? That was what happened on my kitchen counter. But I'll keep trying. I'm assuming learning how to bake bread will be like writing - a lot of trial and error.

ETA: Made a few notes, so daily word count is up by 155. Total is 1571, which is not up to my goal of 2000. C'est la vie. Just didn't have the time. Maybe I'll do a little extra tomorrow. Or maybe not. I'm not beating myself up about it.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

NaNo Day Four: Is NaNo frying my brain?

Okay, what is going on? Is NaNo frying my brain? I took a little video of the upstairs den/office so you could see "where the magic happens" (snort), but can I find the camera now? I remember the last time I saw it. Did the elves take it?

When I went to the store, I nearly forgot the very first item on the list and the reason I went in the first place. Yeesh, distracted much?

In any event, the writing's going pretty well.

Day Four results:

a.m. - 1357
p.m. - 892 for a day's total of 2249 and a cumulative total of 9447. Obviously, I'm writing more in the morning.

Since I've misplaced the camera, here's a mini-movie of the Pantheon in Rome, a temple built by Agrippa and saved from destruction because it was turned into a church.

Yes, that's an opening in the dome. What happens when it rains? There are drainage holes in the floor.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

NaNoWriMo 2009 - Day Three

Today's word count:

a.m. - 1310
p.m. - 742 for a day's total of 2052 and a combined total to date of 7198 words.

Pretty good. I didn't get much done this afternoon, but I did take time to make some notes of details for future reference.

One thing I'm not doing is going on any lists, etc. where other people post their totals. I think that sort of thing really isn't the best, at least in my case. I'm better to aim at my own goal, and not be distracted by anybody else's accomplishments.

Tonight, I'll be watching the premiere of "V". And crocheting a baby afghan.

Monday, November 02, 2009

NaNoWriMo Day Two and Viterbo

Today's word count:

a.m. - 1073
p.m. - 1180 for a day's total of 2253 and combined total to date of 5146.

So far, so good, despite having to make a quick dash to the store.

I've also uploaded another page of pictures from our Italy trip, about Viterbo. Next up, Rome!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

NaNoWriMo 2009 - Day One

As I've mentioned previously here, I've decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo). The idea is that one sets out to write a 50,000 word novel in a month. It doesn't have to be perfect (indeed, how could it be?) - you're just trying to get the first draft done. I don't know if I'll actually have the whole month (I may have to revise my last submission before the end of November), but until then, it seems like a good way to jump-start a new project after a very busy summer and our trip to Italy.

So, I want to write 50,000 words in 30 days. According to my calculations, that's 1,667 words per day. Based on the font I use and my lean style, I get about 215 words per page, so that's about 8 pages a day.

Frankly, I'm surprised it's that little. That's a short scene for me. A short scene a day is certainly do-able. Indeed, I could probably aim for more.

However, I'm also still working on uploading pictures from my trip on my website (just did Assisi last night), getting back on track with exercise, crocheting projects for new babies, a baby shower I'm co-hosting, and (I hope) learning to bake sourdough bread, so for now, I'll stick with a goal of eight pages a day - but I'll make that a minimum and aim to do more, so if I do have to miss a day, I'll be ahead.

What am I working on? Well, I decided to do something totally different from my usual, a project about a character that's been hovering on the edge of my mind for eight years.

Yep, you read that right. Eight years.

I don't know if anything will come of it, but I figure, what the heck. I'm in wait-for-revision mode, so I don't really want to start the sequel to that book, so I might as well play. Yesterday, I went back through the synopses (turned out I had two), picked what I thought were the best plot points, and wrote out my file card outline.

I had a chapter written, but it's eight years old, so this morning, I've been rewriting it, from scratch. I've kept some of the material, but have cut more.

Word count so far today: 1508.

Now I'm taking a break for a walk, but will do more later. I'm hoping for 2,000 words today, and getting to the end of the old material, so I'll be onto new territory tomorrow.

ETA: Final word count for the day - 2,893. Walked for two hours, too. Now off to work on our photos from the trip.