Saturday, February 27, 2010


I just got news that I have to share: An Unexpected Father, my April release, was chosen as one of Romantic Times Book Reviews ‘Top Picks’. They gave it four and a half stars, too! I am stunned and honored.

For me, writing a book and sending it out for publication feels a little like sending my children off to school. How are they going to do? Will the other kids like them? Will they behave? Will anyone understand the effort I put in to raising them right? I know that you have to just send it off and hope for the best, but it’s difficult mothering such an unruly child. When a review and kudos like this come along, they bring grateful tears to my eyes.

When I was a teenager, my dad came home one night from work and hugged me. Just out of the blue. Now, my dad’s not really a demonstrative guy. I’d never had any doubt that he loved me, but hugs were for special occasions: birthdays, injuries, good report cards. If you’d been away on a trip—not just a weekend sleepover—yeah, a hug was due. He was glad to see me and I was glad to see him. But his return home from just another day at the office was not a ‘huggable’ event. A kiss from my mom was enough of a greeting for him.

On this particular evening, as far as I knew, I hadn’t done anything spectacular. I was a teenager; no one expected spectacular from me. Getting through those teen years was sometimes all anyone hoped for really, me included. Mostly, I think I was a relatively easy kid to raise—especially after my older brother. My parents didn’t pull their hair out too much over my moodiness, I paid attention in school, I was popular enough. You know, normal. So, I had no idea why my dad hugged me. When I asked, I was embarrassed by his answer. In a good way, though.

I had just spent the weekend with a close friend and gone out on a hike with her family. I didn’t know it, but my dad, a forester, was managing a timber sale with my friend’s father. At work that day, this father asked my dad if I was his daughter. After my dad admitted it was so, the guy shook my dad’s hand and congratulated him on having a good kid. He was impressed because I had picked up some trash on our hike and carried it back out of the woods.

This wasn’t a special thing to me; it was the way I had been raised. But it sure was to my dad. He got to find out—from a complete stranger—that all the hard work of being a parent had paid off. I feel that way about my book. The characters I loved writing went out into the world and did something good. It’s a small thing, like picking up a piece of trash, but they made me proud.

Of course, after I read the review, I hugged them, too.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Spring is a tease

Last weekend was a wonderful reprieve from our long, cold winter. It was in the mid 60s, sunny, birds were singing, and I don't think anyone was left in their houses. People around the neighborhood were jogging, walking, working in their yards, filling the bays at the car wash, etc. Finally, here was that hint of spring we'd all been waiting for. Sunday, it was 65. Monday, 45. By mid-week, we were struggling to get above freezing, snow showers filled the air, and the nights were dipping into the teens. Ugh.

Anyone who knows me knows that winter is, by far, my least favorite season. I get cold easily, I hate gray days, and I've had some bad experiences traveling in wintry weather (like doing unintentional 360s down the highway until I ended up in a ditch). Even a normal winter here in the South has me layering up in fleece and watching for the earliest sign of spring -- my daffodils popping out of the ground. Of course, lately my daffodils, which popped up a few weeks ago, have been shivering. It's been a cold, gray winter with more snowfalls than we typically have. I nearly had a stroke when I saw my last natural gas bill.

But this year, I don't think I'm the only one experiencing winter fatigue. People on the East Coast of the U.S. have been buried by one giant snowstorm after another. Residents of Texas and the Deep South even got a taste of winter -- a foot of snow in Dallas and snowfalls in atypical states such as Louisiana and Mississippi.

At times like this, I try to look for consolations and things to look forward to in order to get through the winter blues. For instance, I tell myself that it can snow and be cold now because I have to be inside reading RITA entries anyway. Maybe by the time I turn them in, the weather will have improved enough that I can start walking outside again instead of on the treadmill.

I think about where I'll be in less than a month -- Disney World! I LOVE Disney World, and it'll be a nice treat in between two deadlines and a board meeting. And at the end of next month, I'll get to enjoy a visit with my sister and nieces when they fly in for a week. Yes, my entire March is full to the brim, but there's a lot to enjoy in there. And hopefully, it won't be cold and there won't be a snowflake in sight and the daffodils will be in full bloom.

So, how has winter been where you are? Are you looking forward to spring? What do you do to get yourself through winter? Or are you a winter lover? And for our friends in the southern hemisphere, what is the weather like where you are now? It's odd for me to think that Christmas and Valentine's Day fall during your summer.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Tipsy Robins

I had planned to regale you with stories about our drunken robins today. This winter’s record lows froze the berries on our palm trees. When that happened, the palm berries fermented on the vine or, in this case, on the frond. Those same record lows sent huge flocks of robins into our heavily wooded, Central Florida back yard, and kept them there longer than usual. The birds gorged on the berries. Result—a goodly number of tipsy robins. So, we were going to talk about my drunken birds who, when they do manage to get off the ground, can’t fly straight. But…

I set off the house alarm at five a.m. this morning. So, instead of tipsy robins, I have some heavy duty apologies to make.

Especially to Dear Hubby. Last night was one of “those nights” when insomnia got the best of him. He was finally drifting off to sleep when the claxon sounded loud enough to give us both heart attacks.

I am sooo sorry about that.

I’m sorry, too, that, even though I punched the code and hit the cancel button, the monitoring company called…an hour later.

And I’m very sorry that by then I was on the treadmill and didn’t hear the phone ring. I’m sure that nice young police officer was just doing his job when he banged on our door. And no, it wasn’t my idea to invite him on a tour of the house. He just wanted to make sure no one was holding a gun to anyone’s head.

As long as I’m apologizing, I’m sorry that thieves broke into our car just before Christmas and that the house behind ours was robbed. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have had the security system installed in the first place.

Most of all, I’m sorry that, despite living in a normally quiet neighborhood in a very small and very quiet town, we also live in a world where security systems are necessary.

I promise not to set ours off at five a.m. anymore. All that racket disturbs the robins. And if there’s one thing worse than a drunken robin, it’s a tipsy robin with a hangover.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Fitness 101

posted by Lee McKenzie

I hate exercising. I really do. As a kid, I was actively involved in all kinds of physical activity—swimming, cycling, skiing, skating, field hockey, track and field. As an adult, I pretty much turned into a sloth. I became busy with family and work commitments, and I stopped making time to exercise.

Oh, I would go through periods when I had good intentions, sometimes I even went so far as to sign up for an exercise class. Tried aerobics. Hated it. Tried aquacise. Hated it. Also not a big fan of public swimming pools, but that’s a separate issue. Took out a gym membership. Hated it.

Two years ago, I had surgery for melanoma followed up with a grueling year-long course of immunotherapy. There were days when I felt not bad and other days when I felt like staying in bed. One of the profound effects was a total loss of stamina. I couldn’t walk more than a couple of blocks without being spaghetti-legged and completely out of breath.

The recovery period has been long and gradual, and in the last couple of months I have finally started to see noticeable improvement. Over the Christmas holidays, my husband and I spent a week in San Francisco and we did a lot of walking. In spite of its hills, San Francisco is a very walkable city, and I realized I could actually walk up one of those hills without requiring emergency resuscitation!

When we arrived home after New Years, I decided I really needed to get moving again. It wasn’t so much a resolution as a realization that at this stage of my life, fitness is important. That realization took me back to the dilemma of finding some form exercise I would enjoy and not quit after two sessions.

So I signed up to walk in a 10K race.

Yes, that’s 10 kilometers or 6.2 miles.

I also signed up for a training clinic and for the first time in...well, pretty much forever...I’ve found something I really, truly enjoy. The group is made up of runners, run/walkers, and walkers. The instructors and group leaders are wonderfully supportive and motivating, but best of all they remind us that they’re not just there to teach, they’re on the same journey we are. Further along, but still journeying!

Each session starts with check-in and a guest speaker. Last week it was a yoga demonstration. That’s followed by warm-up exercises, a walk or run with the appropriate group (each week the walks get a little longer), and cool-down stretches.

I’ve been properly fitted for footwear and even learned some basic techniques for walking properly—posture, stride length, arm position, and most important of all...breathing!

The race itself will be held on Sunday, April 25, so I still have a couple of months of training ahead of me. To facilitate that, and to challenge myself a little more, I signed up to walk in a 5K fun run on Sunday, March 7. My daughter has registered to run the same race, and last Sunday we decided to check out the course. I went online, printed the map and we walked the 5K route together. According to our wrist watches, we completed the course in 55 minutes.

Let’s face it, at 11 minutes per kilometer I am not breaking any records here, but on race day I now have something to aim for—walking the route in a record-breaking 54 minutes!

Until next time,
The Writer Side of Life

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Promotion Updates

Promotion is the bane of some authors' existence, and, I freely admit, I'm one of them. Between writing, family, and my job, finding those few hours a week to devote to promoting myself is impossible. Right up there with finding those few hours a week to devote to exercise and losing weight (another bane of my existence).

I am happy to announce that, after six months of working on it here and there, I have a brand new website with a completely updated look. I'm really pleased with the results, and I hope you'll stop by, have a look around, and let me know what you think.

In addition to the website, I've also joined Facebook in the last couple of weeks. I've resisted for a year now, convinced online social networking was yet another task that would require too much of my time. It does, but I'm also having fun and connecting with people I haven't see in YEARS.

That also means I'm currently on the lookout for new friends. If you're a member of Facebook and you'd like to be my friend (she asks in a small voice), let me know or search my name. I'd love to connect with you and have the chance to, yet again, avoid exercising (ha, ha).

Warmest wishes,

Cathy McDavid

P.S. The promotion fairy would scold me if I didn't tell you to check out my newest release, TAKING ON TWINS, out this month!!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

My Birthday Confession

Today is my birthday. That's reason enough to reflect on the past year, the past decade, or my entire adult life. Here I am at age 7, a good year in childhood because I was always looking forward to being age 10, which seemed sooooo mature. Believe it or not from this photo, I was a tomboy.

In many ways I'm not a very good adult. If I don't have to get up, I sleep late, especially because I stay up late. Way too late, actually. If there are "bad" foods to eat around the house, I will usually eat them. If there's a way to put something off, I'll find it. And don't even get me started on how I avoid exercise.

I think I just never developed any good discipline, which is ironic because I had fairly ordinary, motivated, depression-era parents who did get up early, worked hard, and served balanced meals.
Please don't tell my granddaughters, but their "Mimi" is a slacker. She would much rather run around the backyard, hide Easter eggs in January, go out for pizza, create something artistic, go for a drive or ride a carrousel than do laundry, clean house or run errands. You might say, "Well, of course. Everyone would rather do fun things than work." The problem is that I actually DO the fun things instead of work! (This is especially a problem when I'm on deadline for a book, which I am now, and I have to read eight more romance novels for the RITA first round judging. Oops.)
That's my big confession for my birthday. I'm hoping that I can finally improve over the next year. As of Feb. 21, 2011, I will reach one of those milestones that get you discounts at movie theaters and Early Bird Specials at restaurants. Doesn't it seem as if I should grow up sometime before I grow old? I think so, and I'm going to work on it. But only if it seems like fun.
Thanks for reading my confession, and if you're around or online, lend me some of your fortitude and encouragement this coming year. Best wishes, Victoria.