Saturday, October 20, 2007

My cousin's wedding

I'm in wedding mode. Last September I attended the wedding of Kate McMenamy, who I have known since she was in first grade. I was her afterschool and summer nanny for almost 6 years.

My cousin, who is my age, married for the second time last Sunday. Since our mothers were sisters, we've been close since being in diapers. The wedding occurred Sunday afternoon in Batesville, IN. Many of you may recognize Batesville, for I've set books near there: Legally Tender and my upcoming The Marriage Recipe (April 2008).

Since I'm on deadline and had to work on Monday, there was no way I could do the drive up and back. I left at 6 PM that night, and driving would have gotten back to St. Louis around midnight. Instead, I flew.

Well, not me personally, but for a little bit my daughter got to fly the Diamond Star four-seater we took across the country. The hero of The Marriage Recipe is a pilot. One of my former students is a commercial pilot and he helped out wwth all the research for the book.

While in The Marriage Recipe I used a Cessna, I have to say I liked this plane better. You actually step on the wing to get in and the windows are bigger--you pull the glass down to close the plane. We left Spirit of St. Louis Airport and headed for Greensburg, where my cousin had someone waiting with her van to pick us up and get us back to her house. We arrived on time, the wedding was beautiful, my cousin gorgeous and happy, and we were back on the ground in St. Louis by eight.

I'm a nervous flyer, but we went right over the Arch and I've never been able to see my hometown so well (amazing at 6,000 feet). The skies were kind and one the way home the lights below contrasted with dark patches. I'm spoiled now. No security, pilot I know--great way to travel.

I have feeling you may see more pilots in future The Marriage Recipe Colin takes Rachel to dinner--in Chicago. Ah, the romance.


Friday, October 19, 2007

I love autumn, but yikes!

Fall is one of my favorite seasons. This year the leaves are especially vivid for the Seattle area. Probably because it’s chilly. more like a typical Midwest October than Seattle’s usual mild weather. About a week ago we turned on the furnace. The thing went on and off and on and off. Neither my husband nor I is mechanically inclined or do-it-yourselfers (you did not want to be at my house the one time he installed a new toilet!), so we called for help. The expert who came out replaced a part and recommended a good cleaning. He also expressed grave doubts that our furnace would live much longer. (It’s really old!) a few days later the cleaning guy showed up, About an hour into vacuuming the vents he noticed what the repair man had not: a huge hole in the exhaust pipe. This cavity was spitting toxic fumes into our house—and we didn’t even know it! Cleaning guy promptly disconnected the burner. He also charged us for his services, which were no longer needed. Ouch!

Next we invited two furnace experts into our home for advice and bids on a replacement furnace. The old one was oil, and we hoped that maybe we could switch without too much expense. Wrong! Oil it is—bio-diesel, which is better for the planet than regular oil. It’ll be another week or so before the furnace is installed. Thank goodness for the fireplace insert in the family room, and for portable heaters.

New furnace or not, from now on were having the thing serviced every year as a preventative.

How does this apply to writing (you so knew it would)? Hint: the clue is the annual servicing.

I’m a goal-setter. (If you don’t set goals, how will you know what to aim for?) I set annual, five-year, and even ten-year goals. But it’s been awhile since I’ve done any long-range planning. So, along with the annual furnace checkup, I have made a pact with myself to update both my short -and long-range goals once a year. In December, when I’m thinking about the new year.

What about you? Do you have goals? Do you update them on a regular basis? I’d love to know.

Until next time,
Mitch Takes A Wife, August 2007
All I Want for Christmas, November 2007

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Night and Day

I freely admit that I'm a nightowl and have been for as long as I remember. The story goes that, before I was adopted at the age of 7 weeks, the nuns in the hospital would wait until all the other babies were asleep, then they would get me up and play with me. After I was adopted, my dad worked second shift, so it wasn't unusual that I was kept up late so he could see me at the end of his workday. As a young child, I would "read" books by the light of my nightlight, long after bedtime. I'd still rather stay up long past the time everyone is asleep and have my alone time, when I can get done the things that need doing.

But life doesn't always comply with our internal clocks, so I work around it and try to compromise, going to bed later than I should, getting up when I have to, and struggling with the loss of sleep later in the day. Today was one of those "struggle" days, so I managed to sneak a two hour nap this evening. Which of course meant that I'd be late posting to the blog.

I know a lot of nightowls, many of them writers. Michele Dunnaway mentioned in an earlier blog post that she writes in spurts when she has chunks of time. I have a feeling that many of us do the same. With other priorities, we have to sometimes save the things we love doing the most until later. I hope that means that we do them better because of that.

Are you a nightowl like me, saving your reading or writing until the day has settled into night and you can treat yourself to that quiet time? Or do you jump out of bed early, eager to start the day, with special times you've built in for your treats? Do you read/write during the day, or do you save it for later? By choice or by circumstance?

Trick or Treat!

As a self-confessed chocoholic, I have to admit that when it comes to Halloween, I'm all about the candy.

Growing up, I also liked the fun of dressing up, the scariness of going door to door in the dark, and the anticipation of the goodies I'd get in my candy sack.

Over the years, I'd dressed in a lot of different costumes, from Cinderella to a space-age robot, a ballerina to a bum, a cowboy to Count Dracula, and a bunch of other characters in between.

My most lasting Halloween memory didn't happen on Halloween itself, but the night before. One Mischief Night, my friends and I decided the time had come to investigate the local haunted mansion, an old, decaying house just a couple of blocks away. The house had sat empty for as long as any of us could remember, and year after year, it became more run-down and ratty-looking--perfect for Mischief Night marauders.

We set out with a few kids, a couple of flashlights, and a whole lot of manufactured nerve. Truthfully, I think the closer we got to the house, the more we all wanted to go home. But no one wanted to be first to back out.

One of the boys found an open window at ground level
--lucky for us, huh?--and lowered himself into the cellar. He dragged over an old wooden chair he found inside and, one by one, we followed, until we all stood in a tight circle in a cold, dank, cobweb-draped room that echoed with the scrabbling of rats' toenails and the flapping of bats' wings....

Or so it seemed to us!

The adventure didn't last long. At the first whimpered "I want out," we all rushed back to the window, climbed through it, and ran home.

Give us a break, though--we were only eight years old!

Now it's your turn. What's your scariest, funniest, or favorite memory of Halloween?

All my best to you,



Barbara White Daille

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Power Foods

Following is a list of power foods I came across in a women's health article:

Apples, Avocados, Beans, Berries, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Canola Oil, Carrots, Cold Water Fatty Fish, Dark Chocolate, Garlic, Kiwifruit, Nuts, Olives/Olive Oil, Oranges, Pumpkin, Red Grapes, Skim Milk, Soy, Spices, Spinach, Tea, Tomatoes, Whole Grains, Yogurt. (All good foods that are also known to help prevent cancer)

Here's what I consume on a weekly basis:
Canola Oil, Dark Chocolate, Nuts, Spices, Garlic, Whole Grains, V-8 juice and orange juice. As for the others…hit and miss throughout the month.

I have to confess that the older I become the more and more I "think" about what I eat. Even so, I'll never turn down an order of chips and salsa from Chili's or potato skins from Fridays. Those foods make me "Happy" although they aren't healthy--well, the salsa is good for me I guess.

What about Happy Foods? I never come across articles on various foods that improve a person's mood. Any recommendations on healthy foods that put a smile on one's face and relieve stress? Right now my daily square of dark chocolate is my only defense against stress and makes me smile--but one measly square doesn't maintain the mood all day long.

I keep thinking how productive I could be with my daily writing goals, dealing with the kids, housework and the million other things us women do every day if we were always in a good mood. Then again there's the risk we'd get nothing done because we're content to sit around and eat happy foods all day long!

Happy Reading…and Eating

Marin Thomas
For The Children
(Oct 07)
*Hearts of Appalachia*

Monday, October 15, 2007

What writers have in common

On Saturday, best-selling mystery author Robert Crais spoke to my local chapter (Orange County, California) of Romance Writers of America. You might wonder what the writer of a hardboiled mystery series has in common with a roomful of women -- and a few men -- who tell love stories.

Of course, it’s fun for any audience to hear a personable speaker, and Robert’s darn good-looking too. But he’s blunt about the fact that he has no insights to share re plotting or characterization, because he handles those elements by instinct.

Yet he had an important point to share that resonated with us. It began when someone asked how a guy from Louisiana, whose family by his own account opposed his plans to become a writer, landed in LA and snagged a series of TV writing jobs. And how, from there, he wrote a mystery, The Monkey’s Raincoat, that won awards and launched his best-selling Elvis Cole series.

The answer was one we could all identify with, whether we’re published or not. He didn’t toss off a manuscript and get discovered. He didn’t have a friend or writing teacher or relative who introduced him to an agent.

Instead, he worked hard to learn his craft and faced rejection by submitting. His first two novels failed to sell. The Monkey’s Raincoat got rejected nine times. When it was finally accepted, he had to beat the bushes for publicity because his publisher didn’t do much to promote it.

I’m fortunate enough to know a lot of professional writers. What they all have in common is the same thing Robert Crais displayed: not just talent, not just determination, but courage.

The courage to try new things, to risk failure, and to reinvent ourselves when necessary. That’s one quality working writers – and serious aspiring writers – have to possess, or they fall by the wayside.

Developing this kind of courage helps us understand people who face a variety of situations – illness, the loss of loved ones, family problems, war, layoffs, addictions – and manage to triumph, even if it’s only one day at a time. We channel that understanding into our characters, however humorous or warm-hearted the framework.

So thanks to Robert Crais, to my fellow writers, and especially to our readers for keeping us going!

Sunday, October 14, 2007


I try - honestly I do - to keep up with technology. I'm a whiz at word processing. I'm also fairly efficient at Excel, Adobe and Publisher. I'm a D- techie, and in the general scheme of things, that's not too bad. I know folks who can't even retrieve their e-mails. But now I'm faced with - ta da! - doing a podcast. Yikes! Roz Fox, Tanya Michaels and I have been asked to interview for a podcast to promote out November Christmas anthology, The Perfect Tree - available soon on the E-Harlequin website. Wow! Talk about being immersed in the twenty-first century.

So, when it comes out, please download it. I had a YouTube that was viewed by about fifty of my favorite family and friends. Dean Koontz had something like a bazillion hits. Maybe I should add some fire-breathing dragons on deranged aliens to my Americans. LOL

So with a podcast under my belt, am I going to have to do the Bluetooth thingie??

Have a great week.


Ann DeFee
One Magic Christmas, The Perfect Tree, Harlequin American Romance Christmas Anthology, November 2007
Goin' Down to Georgia, Harlequin American Romance, March 2008

Poke a fork in me . . . I'm done!!

Whew, it's official. Two months into the school year and I'm pooped!! Why didn't anyone tell me teaching is so much harder than writing? LOL!! I did have some fun news, though, in that I'm now certified to teach English, so as soon as a position opens up, I'm hoping that'll be somewhat less stressful than special ed.

On the homefront, all is great. We're getting ready for a Halloween party. I've told each of the kids they can invite ten friends apiece. Well, Son # 2 hates parties and doesn't want to invite anyone. Son #1 is complaining that he wants to invite fifty friends, and Daughter is complaining she doesn't like her brother's friends, and just wants to invite her own fifty friends. ARGH!!! I'm about to the point that maybe we should spend a nice, quiet Halloween with just family!! (The top pic is of Son #1 & Son #2 with friends at last year's party. They were the Village People. Son #1 was the sailor and Son #2 was the policeman. The bottom pic is of Daughter & friend at last year's party.)

I went yard-saling yesterday and found an AWESOME sofa. Eight-way, hand-tied springs, cream-colored, embroidered cushions. Loads of extra pillows with tassels. I'm soooo excited. (Especially since it's going in our bedroom, theoretically meaning no kids or dogs!) When I asked the price, I was thinking $300 would be a steal. I got it for $75!!! Only problem is, Daughter programmed the woman's number into her phone and lost the number. GRRRRR. I have all the cushions in my car, but was planning to pay Son #1's friend to haul the actual sofa in his truck. (The woman is moving, and not living in the house.) Let's just say if Daughter doesn't somehow find the number, she may be moving, as well--along with her stinky dogs!!!!! LOL!!!

In other icky news, we've had a moth infestion in the pantry, so I'm off to clean and sort dry goods and squash bugs!!

Happy Early Halloween!!! ;-)