Saturday, August 08, 2009


On the blog in July I wrote about being a little nervous about the conference and the flight. I hadn’t been on a plane since I wrote Texas Heir. The story involved a plane crash. All the research into plane crashes made me a bit leery. I knew it was all in my head so I had no problem boarding the plane. I was excited. The time had finally arrived to go to DC.

The plane was extremely warm and several people complained. The stewardess said once the plane took off it would get cooler. It didn’t. It got hotter. I was soaked with sweat, as was everyone else. The complaints started again and we were told to be patient. At this point, I think everyone on the plane knew something was wrong.

I had an aisle seat. A guy had the window seat and he closed the shade, or whatever it’s call. You know how small those seats are. The back of the other seat is right in front of you. I felt as if I was in a dark, deep hole and I was getting claustrophobic. I had just finished a book where a little girl falls into an abandoned well. I was getting that suffocating feeling as if I was in that hole.

I leaned over and asked the guy to please open the shade. He said, “Why? It won’t let any air in.”

I replied, “I’d just like to see the sky, clouds, something.”

Hearing the desperation in my voice he opened the shade. I could breathe again. The pilot came on the intercom and said there was a problem and we were returning to Houston. People demanded answers, but they didn’t get any. I was just trying to breathe. We were told to buckle our seat belts and that we would get details later. The plane became very quiet.

We landed safely and fire trucks surrounded us. We were told to stay in our seats. Firemen came aboard in aluminum looking suits with high powered extinguishers and went into the cockpit. Evidently there was a short in the AC unit. After about ten minutes, we were told to quietly and quickly leave the plane. After that we were instructed where to go to board another plane.

I thought I had about all the excitement I could stand so I called my husband. I was ready to go home. He didn’t answer. After dropping us off, he went to the Bass Pro shop and evidently guys don’t take their phones in there. It’s like a shire or something. So reluctantly I boarded the other plane and went to DC. And had the time of my life! Now I enjoy writing but I don’t want to personally experience some of the scenes I write.

The conference ended too quickly. I saw a lot of the American authors and got to visit, and met some new ones. Dinner at the Ritz with Kathleen, Johanna and Paula was wonderful.

Cathy Gillen Thacker, Cathy McDavid, Johanna, CC Coburn.. me and Kathleen.
Kathleen and I at the Ritas.
Cindi and I after the Ritas.

Cindi nor I won the Rita, but it was an amazing night. It was great to see two Americans flash on that big screen.
Next year for Nashville, I’m thinking about driving, or at least talk the hubby into it.

2009 RITA® Finalist TEXAS HEIR
Caitlyn’s Prize – July ‘09
Madison’s Children – Oct ‘09
Skylar’s Outlaw – Jan ‘10

Friday, August 07, 2009

Just Relaxing by Megan

Seems summer has passed me by without enough of that "sitting and doing nothing time" I remember as a kid. However I've just been forcibly relaxed: my doctor prescribed muscle relaxers for my neck, which went into spasm after a car bump (aka collision).

It turns out my body takes about a week to adjust to new medications.

Taking just one of these pills impairs my ability to type. That's not good for a writer trying to get a proposal to her editor. :( I sent an email to my friend, who then asked me if the relaxers made me dopey or grumpy. Had she seen me giggling as I typed, she would have known.

Dopey. Definitely.

The next day, I was at work at our town's independent bookstore. My friend's question popped into my head, but it came to me as "does the pill make you gropey or dumpy?" Gropey? Dumpy? I laughed out loud.

For about an hour.

I started thinking of the Seven Dwarves and tried to figure which Dwarf I'm most like when not on meds. Doc? Maybe. I do have rare moments of wisdom. Grumpy? Oh yeah, unfortunately. :) Dopey? More often than my kids would like. Sneezy? In the fall and spring. Sleepy? Every afternoon, but most days I can sneak in a quick nap. Bashful? You bet. Happy? Almost all the time. :)

The FedEx guy came in about the time I realized this about Happy, and I wore a huge smile (probably more like Goofy than a Dwarf). He let me know what he brought, and as usual, it was a box from Penguin Publishing. We usually make jokes about him bringing me a penguin (why'd you smash it in that box?), two little penguins, etc. But knowing I was liable to start cracking up again, I refrained from joking and began to sign my name.

Did you know my name is Penguin?


Fortunately I only got two letters in and was able to do a quick correct, but I had started to laugh (again) and told him what I'd done, blaming the drugs. He laughed too. And guess what? The guy's got a memory on him--and I've got a new nickname.

I can't be the only one with a resistance level this low. Any of you want to confess your silly moments when medicated? Misery--and hilarity--love company.

Pen--er, Megan Kelly

p.s. For anyone curious, I got through presenting the workshop at the RWA National conference last month without disappointing my co-presenter, embarrassing myself or being ill in public. I consider that a success!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Life and labyrinths

Last week, a friend invited me to walk a labyrinth. In my head I pictured tall, meticulously pruned bushes with lots of possibilities, some leading to dead ends. Not so, I soon learned. Those are mazes.

A labyrinth, which has no walls at all, is a series of curves and pathways. If you stay inside the lines, the path eventually leads to the center of the labyrinth. The one my friend and I walked was in the yard of an Episcopal Church near Seattle Center.

I loved walking the path and following all those twists and turns. Loved passing my friend as we both moved along. In my mind, the labyrinth is a metaphor for life. We all experience our share of ups and downs and ins and outs, but no matter what happens, we somehow continue on, learning and growing and hopefully, getting it right.

Writing is like that, too. Sometimes we get it right, sometimes not, but the only way to succeed is to keep growing and learning.

I’m curious- have you ever walked a labyrinth or a maze? If so, did you take any life lessons from the experience?

Wishing you growth and learning and good things,
A Father for Jesse
July RT Top Pick!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Two summer recipes

Since summer is half over (already!) I thought I'd better share both of these summer recipes with you this month. Both look scrumptious!

Spicy Melon Boat
This is one of my favorite summer dishes. It's perfect for picnics or outdoor BBQs, but keep in mind it's not PG rated.
20 servings

1 large watermelon, carved
2 cantaloupes
2 15-oz cans pineapple chunks, drained
other fruit in season

Tequila Sauce
1 cup tequila
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup grenadine

Shape fruit in cubes, balls or slices. In a large mixing bowl, combine all fruit. In a separate bow mix the tequila, orange juice, powdered sugar and grenadine. Pour Tequila Sauce over fruit and mix. Fill the watermelon shell with the fruit mixture. Refrigerate overnight.

Ann DeFee
Potato Salad
My mom's potato salad... Just typing it makes me think of family get-togethers. Our first taste of the year was usually Easter (to use up the boiled eggs, making it a very colorful salad sometimes), and we'd continue to have potato salad throughout the summer. Mom didn't allow us in the kitchen, and she didn't use written recipes or standard measuring devices. A "cup" of some ingredient meant a cup from the cupboard (or a mug); a teaspoon was the one we ate with and a Tablespoon was the one we served with. Mom cooked from experience, and her food was delicious. We still haven't been able to duplicate her fudge recipe, more's the pity.
I've learned a few things while trying to cook Mom's specialties, so below is MY potato salad recipe with the changes marked (*). Enjoy!

My potato salad recipe:
5 lbs red potatoes, boiled, peeled, and diced
3-6* eggs, boiled, peeled and diced
≤-1* small jar sweet pickles, chopped
1/2 jar Miracle Whip or till it looks right
Splash of pickle juice
Several shakes of celery seed
1-2 Tb sugar*

*Optional: squirt of mustard and/or some chopped white onion

Megan Kelly

Monday, August 03, 2009

My Turning Point

Ever have a time in your life that’s a turning point? One big turning point for me was when I decided to stop teaching school and try writing. That was the year my son started third grade and my daughter started first.

Oh, I wrote. But I also became a room mom, a tutor, and a church volunteer. I baked cookies and casseroles and sat at the kitchen table and helped with homework every day at 3:30. As the years passed, I drove the kids to church and soccer and baseball and tumbling classes and tutors and swim team. (Oh, have I spent hours at the side of a pool deck!) I stressed over grades and proficiency tests and dances and middle school drama.

And through all that, I wrote and wrote and wrote and even sold a few books. Time moved on.

This past June, I encouraged my son to go to summer school before his freshman year in college. He really wanted to go, and I thought it was a good idea. After all, I had done it-and even met my husband then. So last month, he and I flew down to Alabama and I dropped him off. We rented a car and he drove me to Tuscaloosa. I took him out to lunch, and over to the grocery store to get some snacks and bottles of water. And then we went to the dorm.

It only took us two trips to carry up the four duffle bags and groceries to his room. Around us were lots of kids in the same situation. Little by little, I watched him become a little cooler and cooler toward me. Pulling away.

Finally, when we put that last bag on the floor, I asked him if he wanted me to make his bed. He shook his head and told me he was just fine. And, as I looked at him, I knew he was.

Oh, I had planned to be so great and so cool. I was going to smile and offer words of wisdom and warnings about having ‘too much fun’. But all I did was try not to cry. This time, he was the one who was giving out hugs. This time, he was the one patting my back. Telling me that everything was going to be just fine.

How many times had I said that exact thing to him over the years?

I nodded, turned and practically ran from that room, trotted out to my rental car, and then –finally- in the privacy of that little Subaru- I cried. Okay, I'll admit it. I cried the whole way back to the airport.

On Saturday, he’ll come home for a week! He’s already asked if I’ll take him shopping. So for just a little bit more, I’ll bake him some cookies, run him to the mall and generally fuss…and then we’ll take him back to school.

I have high hopes that this time I’ll cry a little bit less, but I kind of doubt it. I’m going to miss him…but what I’ll really miss is those days of noise and mud and bikes and trails of snacks leading down to the basement. I miss washing machines full of swim suits and towels and baseball uniforms. I miss Scooby Doo on the TV and trips to McDonalds.

I’m sure very soon I’ll look back on these days, remembering it as a time of transition…and the beginning of other new things to come. But at the moment, I can’t help but feel a little bit out of sorts.

Anyone have any college stories to share? Either of when you went off to school…or taking your child? Any suggestions or laughs would really be appreciated!


Sunday, August 02, 2009


CONGRATULATIONS Lynn! You’re the July winner. To receive your free autographed books please contact Ann Roth, Michele Dunaway and Cindi Myers through their Web sites.

To enter the contest simply leave a blog comment and your name will go into the drawing. Easy and painless. And FREE BOOKS.

So check back often and be sure to leave a comment. Good luck!