Thursday, February 08, 2007

Valentine's Day is fast approaching...

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching…

At this time of the year I’m always thinking about what to get my husband on this special day. His gift for me has been the same for many years; he brings home flowers, it’s been a variation over the years, and we go out to eat at a nice restaurant--my favorite thing because I don’t have to cook.

It’s his gift that gives me a headache. It has ranged from fishing and hunting magazine subscriptions and fishing lures to wine and sporting event tickets. This year I’m doing something entirely different. He loves fig preserves and his mother, who has two big fig trees, always makes them for him. But she fell and broke her hip in early summer and didn’t make any last year. She froze several bags of figs though. I now have them and tomorrow I’m making fig preserves. I think I’ve lost my mind, but love makes us do crazy things.

I’m going to do this while he’s at work so he won’t know about it until February 14. I’ve never made fig preserves before so I’m hoping for the best. I have some festive jars and lids and his mother’s recipe. What could go wrong? Ah, I may be buying a bottle of wine at the last minute.

Are you doing anything special for your loved one?

Linda Warren

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Research Trips

I'm working on my December 2007 release, Texan for the Holidays, and needed to make a research trip to Graham, Texas. That's about two and a half hours from my home near Dallas. I went with my friend and fellow writer, Rebecca Russell, tracing the route of my heroine, Scarlett, who gets lost (now I can really see how!) and ends up in fictional Brody's Crossing. (This will be a new series which begins with Temporarily Texan in July, 2007.) Since I'm planning a series, I created a town based on all the small Texas towns I've visited in the past 30 years, living in Texas. Brody's Crossing is not a county seat, so I gave it a few streets and no town square. However, I wanted the folks downtown to have someplace special to go, so I created a small park next to the building housing the law offices and apartment of hero James Brody. It's the size of a narrow, long lot as you might find in any small downtown area.

The point of this rather long story is that when Rebecca and I went to Graham on our research trip (which also involved antique shopping and the search for the perfect coconut pie, of course!) we found a small park/courtyard on a street around the town square. It's right across from the Young County Courthouse (which I was researching) and, as Rebecca pointed out, right next door to the law offices! I took photos and emailed them to my editor under the caption, "bizarre." Sometimes, reality is really stranger than fiction!

A similar event happened years ago when I was writing for the Kensington Precious Gems line. Back "in the day" before easy Internet research, I relied on the zip code directory online, plus a hard copy of the Texas map to make sure my fictional town of Scottsville didn't really exist in East Texas. I found no listings for the name, so wrote two books set there. To my shock, when driving back from a writer's conference in Shreveport, Louisiana (with Kara Lennox, Judy Christenberry and another writer) we saw a sign in East Texas for Scottsville! Apparently there was an old town which is now just a community center, gas station, and cemetary. They don't have their own zip code. They aren't on most maps. Again, bizarre but true! Perhaps I had seen the sign when driving there before, but honestly, I don't remember.

So, if you find places, people or events in some books that seem familiar or bizarre, please know that we try to make sure we're really writing fiction. Best wishes and happy reading until next time.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

There's something about going home.

Last week my sister and I went back to our hometown to take care of family business. She hadn't been there in quite a while, and every place we went she commented on how small things seemed. When you were a kid your grandmother's kitchen looked like the Taj Mahal, although in reality it was probably your normal run-of-the mill room. But what do you expect when you're only four feet tall. I haven't been a kid in a long, long time so I'm not sure why everything seemed a bit Lilliputian.

And that brings me to the delightful part of our trip. I was able to connect with several people I hadn't seen since high school. Catching up on the gossip was a ton of fun, and more than once my reaction was a resounding "You've got to be kidding!"

Since I write about small towns, it was great opportunity to stock up on stories about colorful characters. And believe me, small southern towns are a treasure trove of eccentric folks.

So, if you're thinking about going home - just remember that some things will feel so right, and others will feel like a tight pair of jeans - a wee bit tight and a tad uncomfortable.

Have a wonderful day.
Ann DeFee

Monday, February 05, 2007

Accidents Happen

They say that when you cut your finger, your life is about to change. Well...

Last week we had guests over for dinner. I love to cook and was making a Greek dinner and a delicious hors d’oeuvre, a roasted eggplant spread (which is posted as my recipe of the month at I bought freshly baked bread for the spread. It needed slicing, so I set to work with a sharp bread knife. Everything was fine until the last slice. It was too thick. So I sliced in half—and sliced my finger, too. Nasty cut with lots of bleeding. My husband helped me bandage it and we went on with the dinner party. The next morning I changed the bandaid. Or rather my husband did for me—I’m way too squeamish. The cut looked terrible. “Baby, you’re gonna lose it,” my husband said. He’s never called me “baby” before and he meant my finger tip, so I knew this was serious. He took me straight to the emergency room. It was too late for stitches—you have to get in there pretty fast for those—so they gave me a butterfly bandage and a tetanus shot, since I couldn’t remember when I’d last had one. Now I have a huge gauze bandage on my finger. Good for garnering loads of attention, terrible for typing!

Lessons learned: practice safety when using a knife—make sure there are no fingers in the way. Bad cuts require immediate attention—careful cleaning and possibly stitches.

About those changes... so far, the only change is in my typing, which is better than it was ( have graduated to smaller bandages), but still slow and full of mistakes. Maybe the message is, slow down and take care. I’ll try, really I will.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

"I met him at the candy store...."

Well, actually I didn't, but it seems like a good lead, if you're into retro and recognize the sentence. If you're not and you don't, I'll clue you in: it's a line from "Leader of the Pack," a real tearjerker and one of the saddest love songs I've ever heard. But we won't go there.

This is February, the month of valentines and chocolate, roses and romance--and, not to mention, my birthday. (smile) Which means I'm all about happy love today.

I write romance, so, naturally, I enjoyed the previous blog entry with the A-lists of locations for marriage proposals. Now I'd like to back up a step, to where it all began, and find the hot spots for meeting the man or woman of your dreams.
I'll go first.

New York City. Times Square. New Year's Eve. The ball is dropping and the crowd is caught up in a feverish chant. The man next to me turns and wraps his arms around me....


Paris. In springtime. The air is perfumed with flowers. Lovers stroll arm in arm as the sun sets in a violet haze. I'm all alone until the man approaching stops before me....

No. Try again.

This time, the truth:

A small town. September. The bowling alley. My turn. When my first attempt bounces into the gutter, the man at the next lane over laughs. I pin him with my steely-eyed gaze, then fire the next ball straight down the alley. Right into the pocket. Strike!

You gotta love a guy who brings out the best in you.

It took a while for us to get together, but—except for some literary embellishment (hey, I'm a writer!)—that's how I met my significant other AKA my husband and hero.

How did you meet yours?

All my best to you,



Barbara White Daille