Saturday, July 19, 2008

Patience, dear

It’s raspberry season! I love raspberries, especially sprinkled over oatmeal or mixed with yogurt in the morning. To get them, all I do is walk out the back door, turn the corner, and head for the garden. Voila!

I am impatient to cram them into my mouth, and occasionally the berries I pick aren’t as ripe as they could be We all know that unripe berries are sour. Puckery sour. Thanks to more than a few unpleasantly sour experiences, I have learned to curb my impatience (negative reinforcement, I think the psychologists call it), and wait an extra day or two if the berries aren’t quite red enough. This strategy almost always pays off.

Believe it or not, you can apply this same strategy to novel writing.

A novel (or any piece of writing) needs time to grow, ripen, and mature. Just like berries. Rush to finish and the end results are not the best. It’s ironic that a person as impatient as I am chose a career in novel writing. A craft that requires infinite patience and reworking. I’m embarrassed to admit that once or twice early on, I hurried through writing a book and sent it off before it was quite ready. Thankfully, the editors caught me. I know better now, knowing that through patience and persistence I do my best work.

Until next time and wishing you the patience to do your best work, whatever it is,

Ann Roth

Friday, July 18, 2008

Getting Things Done...or Not

I can so relate to what Barbara went through yesterday. It must be the alignment of the planets or today's full moon. Technology has hit me hard, too. Hey, I'll blame anything!

Time can be so hard to find. I understand that to get things done, one must make the time to do them, but when time isn't available, what's next? Skipping sleep? I've tried that, and it just isn't what it's cracked up to be. I just don't do well on two hours of sleep, and no one wants to be around me when that's all I've had. Even me.

I'm not and never have been a person who can live on a rigid schedule. I'm too flighty. Too...Gemini? (There's that planet thing again.) I try, I really do. I get up at the same time every morning, usually have lunch ready about the same time every day for my grandkids, am always happy to see their moms pick them up at night, and then after that... I move from one project to another, sometimes on a whim. Even during the day, I bounce from one project to the next, dodging little interruptions whenever possible.

It keeps life interesting, but it makes life more hectic. I admire those who know what they'll be doing when and follow their schedules with zeal and appreciation of having a handle on their lives. If I could do that, I might find myself reading a book from my ever-growing TBR pile. And I do so love to read! I might find myself watching a movie I've been longing to see--a movie I bought six months or more ago and never found the time to sit down, veg out, and enjoy.

But projects and ideas come at me like arrows, zinging me from all directions. It seems my mind is never still, always thinking of this thing or that, jumping from one idea to another. At this stage in life, I'd say it's getting too late to change. I've tried. And then I slip back into my old and comfortable (sometimes) ways of doing what comes naturally. I guess I've made it this far, so maybe it won't hurt if I just keep on keeping on. Things that really need to be done do get done. It's those extras that I wish I could squeeze in to fit. Right now, that means I'm going to go read another chapter, maybe finishing the book before the weekend, when I'm sure I'll find something (many things?) to keep me more than busy.

I hope your weekend is a great one! I'll do everything I can to make mine the same. :)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

It's a conspiracy

Honestly and truly, I have no idea why technology plots against me. Nine times out of ten, when I'm doing anything connected to computers, I have issues.

This time, it was loading a new program onto my computer. Piece of cake, you think? Any techno-dummy can handle it, right? All you have to do is stick in the CD and follow the prompts.


I put in the CD.... Things moved along for a while.... Then a new file began loading...and loading...and loading.... And never stopped.

Called Tech Support. Got cut off. They called me back. Got cut off again.

Can you feel the frustration building? LOL

On my own again, tried rebooting the computer. Attempted re-clicking the CD. Went through the cycle of start, stop, start again, stop again--and at last, success!

Finally finished installing the program.

The program that should have taken...oh, approximately thirty minutes to load. And actually took four hours-plus.

So, I ask you:

Do things like this happen to you, too, or is it *really* a conspiracy? ;-))

All my best to you,



Barbara White Daille

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Family Cook-Off

My mother was a fabulous cook and I swear she made the best gravy in the world. I wasn't much of a meat eater--still am not, but I ate a ton of mashed potatoes drowned in gravy when my mother cooked a pot roast. It wasn't until I married and she gave me a collection of her own recipes that I realized how inept I was in the kitchen. There are so many little tricks of the trade when it comes to cooking--like browning the roast in butter and onions until it's burnt on all sides before you put it into the oven to bake--how was I to know that was my mother's secret for making great gravy?

This week my younger sister is here visiting from San Antonio and my father from Wisconsin. Both are excellent cooks. I don't have many memories of my father cooking when I was younger, but once he retired he took an interest in creating his own recipes. So this week at my house we launched a cook-off. Me, my sister and father all love tuna fish casserole. My husband almost gets sick on the smell of it baking in the oven and neither of my kids will touch it. So when my father and sister are around, we three treat ourselves to a little comfort food.

Our cook-off challenge was creating a Tuna Fish Casserole recipe to-die for. Well, as you can imagine, most of mine found its way into the garbage disposal. My sister' was pretty tasty, but my father's recipe won hands down. We even made an extra batch to freeze. So for those of you who also love an old fashioned tuna fish casserole you'll have to try my dad's recipe. And be warned…it doesn't taste as good if you substitute low fat ingredients--this tastes best using full-fat everything!

Tuna Casserole

2 cans Albacore tuna
1 Package egg noodles
1 Med White Onion fried in butter with seasoning salt, lemon pepper
1-Lemon juice (4-5 Tablespoons)
1 small can Durkee French onions
1-Large package Sharp cheddar cheese
1-small sour cream
1-can 15 oz Lesueur Early peas (Silver can)
16 oz Whipping cream
1 Can cream of mushroom soup

Cook noodles and rinse, then mix all ingredients. Top with crushed Durkee French Onions and a few squirts of lemon juice, then bake at 350 for 45-60 minutes

Happy Cooking!

A Coal Miner's Wife *Hearts of Appalachia*August 2008
The Cowboy and the Angel Nov 2008

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

My catless garden

This is my first summer in many years of gardening without a cat.

Wait, you may ask. What does a cat have to do with a garden?

Let’s back up. In December, Blue, the stray cat we’d adopted eight years ago, died of cancer. Losing a pet, as most of you know, is wrenching, and I felt his absence in many ways.

No furry gray face outside the French doors in the morning. No nonverbal questions meowed when I arrived home after an outing. No soft, purring body on my lap in front of the TV (unless you count my husband, but he doesn’t exactly purr).

Then there’s the garden.

Our standing joke, each spring when my husband fired up the rotary tiller, was that our cat thanked us for remodeling his bathroom. While Blue made himself scarce during the noisy part, he always reappeared to poke his nose into my activities when I began planting.

Many times, I had to lift and move his curious, attention-seeking self out of the way. Whenever I stood up for a few minutes, I invariably returned to find him curled on my kneeling pad. And, after planting, I learned to arrange old wire tomatoes cages across the freshly turned earth to prevent him from digging up what I’d so lovingly buried.

Once the tomatoes and zucchini sprouted, Blue went on patrol. He might not be big enough to tackle a possum or a raccoon, but we never had to worry about invading rodents.

This summer, for the first time in memory, there’s a squirrel hanging around our yard. I have nothing against squirrels per se, but in the last few days I’ve started finding a tomato here and there, laid out on the patio with a bite missing.

Call me stingy, but I’m not keen on sharing my produce with animals. It’s a daily scramble to pick every tomato that’s even faintly pink so it won’t attract unwanted attention.

As for stray cats to pick up the slack, they seem in short supply these days. While I realize most people would consider that a good thing, I could use a little help around here.

Still, I balk at importing a cat. These days, the received wisdom holds that cats belong indoors, and I don’t want an indoor cat. So I bide my time until one shows up who’s already proved he knows how to survive in the great outdoors.

Who knows? He might turn up any day now.

Monday, July 14, 2008

July Old-Timer Interview

Good morning! All of us Harlequin American authors are trying something new, which we hope will be fun for YOU--our readers--who are the most important part of our line!! (This pic is of Daughter and I.)

Twice a month, we'll be posting author interviews. One from a Newbie to the line, and another from an Old-Timer, which this month, happens to be me! Marin Thomas thought of these fun questions, so here we go:

1. When you looked in the mirror this morning, what was the first thing you thought?

How embarrassing!! But truthfully, I thought good Lord, I need a haircut and a diet--STAT!!!LOL!!!

2. Do you re-read your books once they're in print?

Never!! Who has time??

3. Did you ever eat paste or Elmer's glue when you were a kid?

Nope, but I did eat the plastic banana off of a stuffed monkey!! I display him proudly in my entry hall!! Also, I have a vague recollection of eating a few dog biscuits!!

4. What do you want to know about the future?

Will we ever fly to work? Do Bigfoot and UFOs exist? Atlantis? (Can you tell I'm a frustrated paranormal writer wannabe?) Most importantly, I want magic fat pills and exercise pills and anti-cellulite pills and oh yeah, world peace!!!

5. Can you taste the difference between Pepsi and Coke?

Absolutely! Pepsi is sweeter. I prefer it, but for some warped reason think Coke is somehow cooler. Go figure.

6. If you were stranded on a deserted island, what kind of hero would you want with you? A cowboy, a Viking warrior, a CEO, a forensics investigator, a chef, or an accountant? Why?

This is HARD!! (Get your minds out of the gutter!! I'm not talking about all of those hard chests and abs!! LOL!! I'm seriously torn on this one. First inclination is the CEO, because he'd have the big bucks for folks to be out looking for him. But cowboys are resourceful guys. Real big on practical, common sense knowledge that would be important for island living. Oh--and when it gets too hot, I could borrow his hat!!

7. You can erase any horrible experience from your past. What will it be.

Some biggees, would be deaths. My husband's father died way too young, so I'd for sure erase that. I miss Grandma and Grandpa, so they're coming back, too. There are a few real estate moves I'd have skipped, and a few mean people I'd have preferred to never have met.

8. What's the strangest thing you've ever eaten?

LOL!! Please refer to question 3!! I think I ate chocolate-covered ants once. I can't even remember where. On a trip to the East Coast--maybe Maine--we ate smoked eel. It was actually pretty good.

9. How long have you been published?

In book form, since my twins were five. They turn sixteen this week--ARRGGHH--so I guess that makes eleven years. I sold quite a few magazine articles and stories before that.

10. Describe your writing space.

I used to write in a great office, but Son #3 is addicted to World of Warcraft, and the only computer in the house powerful enough to run it is the one in my office. Meaning, I'm usually on a comfy chair in the living room, using my laptop. I write better on my laptop, so I don't mind. My office is a gorgeous jungle green color, with white trim and piles of junk waiting to be organized!!

11. What advice would you give a writer just starting out?

Initially, figure out what line you want to write for and target it. Meet the editors, read the books, etc. I think early on, I had too much of an "I'll write what anyone wants to buy" attitude. While Harlequin American was the first line I ever submitted to, upon my first rejection, I gave up and tried elsewhere. Finally, it clicked that just because one book/idea didn't work, that didn't mean I couldn't try another and another and another!!

12. What comes first--the plot or the characters?

Characters. Because of them, my plots are constantly changing.

13. How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

My new contract brings me up to 31 books!! My favorite would have to be Saving Joe, which actually is one of my all-time worst sellers.

14. What are you reading now?

This is so sad, but the only thing I've read all summer are art books, art lesson plans, art websites, classroom management tips, etc. I know, yawn, yawn. I'm alternately thrilled and scared to death about my new job!!

15. Are you working on anything at present you'd like to share?

I'm in the home stretch of a book due August 5th!! ARGH!!! My working title is Baby Brigade, which I just heard is changing, and I'm not at all happy about it!! LOL!! It's about a Marine who has a one night stand appear with twins she says are his. He hires a nanny and mayhem and lust ensue!! Just kidding, it's actually turning out to be a much heavier, richer story than I'd first intended. The heroine lost her baby to SIDs, and her ex-husband blamed her for the infant's death. Ema's in a rough emotional place, but Jace,being a Marine, is coming to her rescue!!!

There you have it. Everything you didn't want to know about me!! LOL!! Seriously, let us know what you like/don't like about our interview questions. We're a work in progress around here!!

Have a happy Monday!! ;-)