Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Aging ungracefully

This has been a busy and exciting month. As most of you have heard by know, the release date for "A Question of Boundaries" is August 26, wherever e-books are sold. It's a little different from my other books as far as setting and time, but the main theme of all my books is still there -- relationships. Relationships between friends and between lovers. Will Caroline get the moody, guilt-ridden Nathan to return her affection? Can she accept her rather strange new friends for what they are?

I've begun a sequel and am almost finished with the first draft. The trouble is, these long, summer days are not conducive to sitting down at a computer and imagining other worlds. I made it a goal this year to clean up the yard and most days I'm out there working. I expect I look a sight with my knee-high rubber boots, stained jeans and tee, and a bandanna wrapped around my forehead because, to be honest, I sweat. A lot.

A young neighbor walked by yesterday and asked, "How old are you?"

I didn't think it was impertinent and I'm not ashamed of my age, so I told her. She looked amazed. "I hope I'm that young when I'm old," she said. "You sure have a lot of energy."

I didn't tell her my back hurt and that as soon as I cleaned up the trash in the yard that I'd created by my "energetic" lopping of branches and pulling up vines, I was going inside to put my feet up and possibly drink the last beer in the refrigerator.

"Just stay active," I told her, "and you will be."

Reminded me of what a relative said at our recent family weekend. "Sandy does pretty well for her age."

Ha. I think I do, too. Especially when I sit down to write. Then, age doesn't matter. I'm the same age as my heroine, and as eager for adventure. I remember what it was like to fall in love and it doesn't seem that long ago. The only difference between me and a 20-something author is that I have more experience to draw on.

Yep, I hope I'm that young when I'm old!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Home again

If you remember, I promised a link to Amy's blog this week. She had an exciting announcement to make, and if you click you will see what it is!

Meanwhile...I'm writing this with my mind still halfway on vacation ...

You know how it is with a vacation -- even a mini one like we took this past weekend. It takes two days to get ready -- wash clothes, pack, prepare food, make sure the cat has a sitter -- and then you get home and do everything in reverse. Well, at least the unpacking and washing clothes. And going through the accumulation of mail. And reassuring the cat that you will never, ever leave her again. Which is a blatant lie, but she is a very forgiving cat.

We like to rent a large cabin in the mountains or at the beach, to include family and friends who want to come along. Friday night is pot-luck, so I spent two days baking scones, cookies and a cake. And making pimento cheese for sandwiches. Others brought beans, pasta salad, assorted fruit and enough snacks to satisfy a teen-age slumber party.

It reminded me of the days when I was a working person (not that I don't work now, but I'm my own boss and set my own hours). You  needed a vacation and counted down the days on the calendar. When I worked at the bank, vacation was mandatory. You HAD to take a week off, whether you wanted to or not. Surprisingly, there were workaholics who would rather stay on the job. I wasn't one of them.

At the newspaper, it was hard to set aside a week, and then it took a week to line everything up so things would carry on in my absence. I would come back to a desk piled high with correspondence and telephone memos and wonder in despair why I had ever left my office.

At the end of the day, though, it's worth it. We need to every so often climb out of our ruts and experience something new (although I politely refused an invitation to go zip-lining). Maybe we get together with family, but each time I learn something new about my sons and daughters-in-law, and my grandchildren that takes me by surprise.

I come home both tired and refreshed, which sounds like a contradiction, but isn't.

If you are going or already have been on vacation this summer, you will know what I mean.

Monday, July 7, 2014

On a World-Wide Tour

Lynette Hall Hampton invited me on a tour with her and other writing friends -- a blog tour, that is.

Lynette is the author of 22 mysteries and romances written under her name, and since 2012 she has written several Western historical romances using the pen name Agnes Alexander. She plans to write 26 books in the genre, each using a woman's name beginning with one of the 26 letters of the alphabet! Meanwhile, she is completing her contemporary series: Ferrington Men, Coverton Mills,  and the Reverend Willa Hinshaw  mystery series.

Lynette says she writes because she can't imagine doing anything else. She loves to tell a good story, and writes for up to 10 hours a day! No wonder she is able to publish so many books.  You can read more about Lynette and her books at 

Now I am supposed to answer some questions bout myself and my writing. I am a slow writer, publishing a book every two years, but I'm trying to work faster to set free the stories in my head. You can read more about my books at  I also love to read and work puzzles on my iPad. You can find me and my husband, Jim, most any morning enjoying a biscuit at one of our local restaurants before we begin our day. Our kids are grown and gone, but we did adopt a very strange cat that we call Spooky -- because she is so easily spooked by the smallest things, such as turning a newspaper page. We think she endured an abusive kittenhood, so we try to let her know we will keep her safe.

Right now I am working on "A Question of Loyalty," a sequel to "A Question of Boundaries" that will be released by Astraea Press later this year. It's an alternative history set in the late 19th century, with an isolated United States ruled by King Thomas Jefferson the Fourth. I let my imagination run rampant in this and borrowed from paranormal, steampunk, and many "what-ifs."  It differs from others of this genre in that in that I had to imagine what the United States would be like if it had been completely cut off from any contact with the outside world for almost a century.

 I love to write about women and their friendships, and how they help each other cope with illness, loss, and other difficulties. I hope that by reading them, people will cherish their own friendships. These last two stories carry on the theme except that the friends have abilities a little beyond the normal. And, of course, a good dash of old-fashioned romance!

I try to have all my daily chores done before I sit down to write, as I know I am easily distracted and might jump up in the middle of a sentence to empty the dishwasher or put in a load of laundry. Once I sit down, I enter my own world. I read through a few of the finished pages to get my head in the story and then I am off. I may only write for an hour or so a day, but the story is in my head 24/7. I work the scenes out as I go about my chores, so when I sit down to write it is almost as if they are dictated.

Now I want you to meet some writing friends of mine who have jumped aboard the blog train: Maria Elena Alonso-Sierra, Robin Weaver, and Amy Pfaff. Please visit their sites and support them by leaving a comment or  "like."

Maria Elena Alonso-Sierra is a full-time novelist based in North Carolina. With Cuban roots, she has lived in many countries, including France, the setting for her first novel, The Coin. She speaks English, Spanish, French, Italian, and German, and reads Latin, Middle English, and old French. She holds a Masters in English literature, specializing in medieval romances, and is currently an active member of the Carolina Romance Writers. She loves to hear from her readers, and always hopes to open a dialogue with her fans. 

A professional computer geek, Robin Weaver started writing extensively when she traded in her ski-boots for flip-flops and moved to North Carolina.  She was a Golden Heart finalist and winner of the prestigious Daphne du Maurier contest. Her romantic suspense novel, Blue Ridge Fear—currently available from the Wild Rose Press—was the winner of the Write Touch contest and was a finalist in the Winter Rose Published Contest. Forbidden Magic, published under her pseudonym Genia Avers, was a 2013 Prism finalist. Her latest genre-hopping endeavor, The Secret Language of Leah Sinclair, a young adult suspense novel, will be available in late 2013.
She teaches workshops on point of view and pacing, and is a regular blogger with Romancing the Genres ( She loves Latin dancing, pistachios, Def Leppard, and the five o’clock shadow, not necessarily in that order.  Please visit her on Facebook, LinkedIn or via her website:

Like Marie Elena and Robin, Amy is a fellow member of the Carolina Romance Writers. She is going to make an exciting announcement on her blog next week, so I will remind you then to take a look. The suspense is rising!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

First steps are the hardest

Well, the third thing happened -- I accidentally provoked a nests of wasps into attack mode and was stung twice before I could retreat. Time to pull back and do a little planning before wildly hacking at any old weed that comes along. First thing is to spray the poison ivy and wait until it is dead before trying to pull it up.

Also, with the new trash rules, I can't put umpteen bags of dead leaves and vines out to be picked up. There is a limit of four bags per week now, so there is no point in working every day. Frankly, with the heat, I decided if my project isn't finished until fall, that will be all right too.

Do you ever do that? Rush into a project with enthusiastic abandon, only to realize half way though that it is going to take more energy and more time than you thought? I think that is true of many first-time authors. They decided that by golly! I am going to sit down and write that book. And then halfway through...

They realize they  aren't sure where they are going with the plot. They see that it takes much more commitment than they thought. They discover they have to find a balance between The Book and Work, Family, and Other Life Priorities.

Unfortunately, many authors give up in the face of these obstacles. Which is too bad, because they do have a good story to tell.

In the past, I have had would-be writers ask me about helping them write a book.  I  invite them to attend writers' club meetings or tell them about a workshop that would get them started. I am no longer disappointed when they don't show up. It's hard to make that first step.

Like the little boy in the comic strip "Frazz:" who states his summer goal is to jump off the high dive, they begin to second guess their goal, and find excuses why they can't do it.

One summer I, too, decided to jump off the high dive at the pool. It was scary, but exhilarating, to find out I could do it and live.

It just takes putting your foot on the first step up the ladder.

Or writing that first sentence.

Or pulling that first weed.