Saturday, September 25, 2010

Oops - Where'd It Go?

Well, for some reason, the blog I prepared over earlier this week didn't actually post today. Let me check into it. I probably hit a wrong key or something, so I'll save that post for next month.

In the meantime, here are a few pictures taken at the Black Point Preserve just north of where I live. Black Point is very similar to the fictional Phelps Cove featured in The Daddy Catch (June 2011).

Friday, September 24, 2010

A Visit to the National Eagle Center

Earlier this month, while visiting family in Minnesota, I had an opportunity to visit the National Eagle Center in a little town called Wabasha. The center currently has five injured and non-releasable resident eagles—one golden and four bald eagles.

A 29-year-old bald eagle named Harriet was taking part in an interpretive program when I arrived. She was incredibly alert and it was clear that those bright, sharp eyes didn’t miss a thing.

At one point she even gave us a look at her amazing wingspan.

A splendid example of the national bird and national symbol of the United States, don’t you think?

In the 1950s, there were only about 400 nesting pairs of bald eagles in the 48 contiguous states and these magnificent birds were on the endangered list. In 1995 bald eagles were transferred to the threatened list, and in 2007 they were delisted. Their recovery can be attributed to various government agencies and other organizations, including the National Eagle Center.

I enjoyed meeting Harriet and was especially pleased when she agreed to pose for a picture with me.

If you’d like to find out more about Harriet, you can read her bio here.

And here’s a short video taken by another visitor to the National Eagle Center.

This fall we’ve had lots of happy bald eagles here in the Pacific Northwest because there’s been a record run of sockeye salmon. In honor of the eagles and the salmon, I’ve posted my favorite recipe for Grilled Sockeye Salmon on my personal blog today, and I’m giving away an autographed copy of Firefighter Daddy today. I hope you’ll drop by and leave a comment.

Until next time,

Monday, September 20, 2010

Our Life in Our Books

Readers and aspiring writers often ask two questions. (1) Where do you get your ideas? and (2) Do you base your characters on real people? I usually tell people that I don't know where the ideas come from; they could be based on anything from a TV news segment to a story in a magazine to a dollhouse sitting in a hallway. (Yes, I actually did write a book based on a dollhouse - A Cry at Midnight.)

But I can honestly say that I don't base my characters on any one real person. I also don't base a whole story on what happened to me or someone I know. However, with the book I'm writing right now, which will be a July 2011 release, several events from my own life have crept in. The most significant one is that both the heroine and I planned and executed a wedding in less than a week.

In my July 2011 book (We don't have a title for it yet!) the heroine's conservative aunt and uncle, who raised her, are coming to town AND the heroine is secretly three months pregnant. Because they will find out at Christmas that she was pregnant and didn't tell them, her friends talk her into having a surprise church wedding when they arrive. Of course, all the Brody's Crossing folks pitch in to not only plan the wedding, but also renovate a house for the couple.

In my case, thirty nine years ago this month, I got married in Louisville, Kentucky. My husband actually announced that we were getting married on Monday when we were at our newly married friends' apartment. This was news to me since we'd broken up for some reason that I never understood and can't remember! I wouldn't say "yes" until that Friday at about eleven o'clock in the morning. If we were going to get married before he moved away on Wednesday, we had to get our blood tests and our marriage license on Friday. We went to the doctor and the courthouse, then went to my house to tell my parents. After that went pretty well, we celebrated by spending the rest of the afternoon at the movies.

Above, Sara and Eric with my husband Chuck and me right after the ceremony.

On Saturday morning, my mother and I started planning. We arranged for a minister, church, and wedding cake. My sister and someone she knew who did flowers volunteered to help. The newly married couple, Sara and Eric Schulenburg, volunteered to have a reception in their apartment. (Here they are in a photo from last year, still married and beautiful after all these years.) I also had to pack up my belongings and move to Denver, Colorado. And to top it all off, the retail store where we worked was doing inventory on Sunday, and we both had to work!

Chuck and I cut our wedding cake. He was 28 and I was 20. We looked so young!

Somehow, everything got done. It was tough to load up a small U-Haul trailer with everything except my dresser, desk and rocking chair, which wouldn't fit. My husband sold his six month old MGB to a good friend, and we hooked the trailer to my 1971 Dodge Challenger R/T. We pulled out of town Wednesday afternoon for St. Louis, Missouri, exhausted but excited about the future.

I hope I can give my characters the same feeling of hope for whatever will come. They are going to start a life together when they don't know each other very well. They are going to have a baby when neither was planning on starting a family. They are going to have to learn how to compromise and talk through their problems. That's what will make their journey interesting, and hopefully, seem real to readers. At least I can say without a doubt that a wedding can be planned in less than a week, and sometimes, you can look back on that wild, crazy time even after thirty nine years of marriage.

P.S. If you have ideas for a good title, please let me know. The word "Texan" must be in the title. The other elements are surprise, wedding/marrying, expecting/pregnancy, and baby. The hero is a retired rodeo cowboy and the heroine is a project manager for a renovation company. Thanks!