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I got back on the treadmill today.

In the best possible way. People like to use the treadmill as an analogy for the endless run of effort an unhappy life can feel like. Running as fast as you can to stay in the same place. Exertion without direction. It’s a valid analogy.

But it’s not how I feel.

I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a natural exerciser. In my vainglorious youth, back when I could eat anything and never show it, I liked to say that I only walk, never run. Hey – I was a teenager. I thought it was cute to say things like that.

Now I run. Because I have to. But I’m not a natural runner. The treadmill keeps me on track. I don’t have to worry about if I’m slowing down (which, left to my own devices, inevitably occurs) or how far I’ve gone. I set my speed and my time; all that’s left for me to deal with is keeping going. Thus, for me, the treadmill is about consistency and discipline. It’s all about daily progress.

No more eating whatever strikes my fancy – like the birthday crab-fest above – or lolling about drinking wine and being lazy. I’ve worked it out of my system. It feels good to reapply the discipline, work back into stretch of muscles and the glow of a healthy sweat.

I might even try to pick up the speed a little.

Back on the Ground

Okay, today is for flying, but the vacay is officially over.

Which is just fine.

We finished out last week being lazy on the Oregon coast around Newport. The we spent the weekend on a real live, live-aboard sailboat. Marcella Burnard and her generous husband, Keith, hosted us aboard the Copernicus, the Gemini sailboat they live on near Seattle. They even sailed us over to the Viking town of Paulsbro. There’s Marcella being the deck hand.

And look – here’s me sailing! (Okay, yes, with close supervision.)

Paulsbro was very fun – oddly like a mountain town. People sail in and the marina becomes like a big party, with cocktails, grills and relaxed conviviality.

Now David is thinking seriously about sailing, which fits in well with my ambitions to spend my time drinking wine in the sun and snorkeling.

Beaches and Birthdays

This is my view at this moment.

Beautiful. Gorgeous. Wish you were here!

Yesterday I put up a picture from Aaron and Louise’s wedding reception. (Aaron is my cousin.) The actual ceremony took place last Wednesday at the confluence of the Snake and Salmon Rivers. A moving analogy, say those who witnessed it. Those of us who didn’t raft down the rivers or jetboat-in for the ceremony were treated to a reception at Louise’s family home in the Oregon woods.

Also lovely.

Yesterday – my birthday! – David greeted me with a Starbucks gift card when I awoke. The man knows where I live. We threw on clothes and popped off to the coffee Mecca. One of the best things about the Pacific Northwest is that a Starbucks can be found every couple of blocks, even in the smallest towns. Were I to have a complete Starbucks meltdown – and it might have happened once or twice – I could crawl to an outpost.

Just saying.

Then we headed over to the coast, to Newport. David surprised me with a cd of the True Blood soundtrack. Throbbing to the beat of “I Wanna Do Bad Things with You,” we drove through the draping green countryside.

By lunchtime we hooked up with my folks for wine and seafood at Local Ocean. We walked around the shops and looked at the sea lions, who were also enjoying the sunshine.

After a while, we reconvened with my two aunts and their husbands back at the B&B.

We finished the day with dinner at an Irish pub and then a hot bath in the deep jacuzzi tub for two.

A girl can’t ask for a better birthday.

P.S. Why, yes, these ARE pictures taken with the new camera! Snazzy, eh?

Dirty Tweet-Up

We had dinner in Portaland last night with @quickmissive (Kristina in real life) and her darling husband.

Very fun.

And, yes, it was her first dirty martini. There’s a few of us on Twitter who get into martini riffs. @linda_grimes and I are the main martini-rhapsodizers. Yes, we sometimes tweet pics of our martinis. After all, everyone knows Twitter is just about talking about what you’re eating and drinking at every given moment. @tawnafenske and chime in, too, though they’re mainly about the wine.

Remember how I posted recently about writers and high-functioning alcoholics?

Yeah, that.

At any rate, at some point it came out that Kristina had never had a martini. Something everyone agreed must be corrected as soon as possible. Since I was the next to be in her neighborhood, I took one for the team and introduced her to the secret society.

She didn’t love it, which means I was forced to finish hers. Alas.

(Amusingly, she referred to it as a Dirt Martini on Twitter just now, which could be an error, but might more reflect how she felt about it.)

We had a great evening, with fun conversation, both writerly and not. The men enjoyed it, too. All of this is by way of saying that it amazes me how Twitter connects people. Somehow, although all we ever discuss is what we’re eating and drinking, according to the critics, we manage to find like personalities. We find new friends. Meeting Twitter friends in person demonstrates how well you really can get to know someone 140 characters at a time. We made a lot of jokes about Internet dangers and all the fears of meeting crazy people.

What a terrific thing that there are also so many wonderful people to meet.


High Maintenance

I’m off tomorrow on a bit of vacation. This is our annual family Birthday Weekend wherein we celebrate my birthday, my Aunt Karen’s birthday and Stepdad Dave’s birthday.

Here’s a pic from our Birthday Weekend at Jackson Lake Lodge in Wyoming a couple of years ago. It’s always a fun party, as you can see. This year we’ll be hitting coastal Oregon.

Stand by for pics. Maybe even from the new camera.

Hopefully I’m not overpromising there.

This is always a fun time of year for me, the days leading up to my birthday. I’m a Leo and I just revel in being showered with love and attention. I know – it’s really shallow of me. But, yes, I love presents and flowers and good wishes. I actually don’t care what the presents are – anything at all is fabulous. Give me kiss, hand me a chocolate bar and I’m happy.

I realize this is fairly high-maintenance, but I do try to notify people up front. It’s like a warning label on a new purchase. Please Note: Requires annual infusions of attentions and silly gifts. Will not be responsible for any breakdowns that may ensue if this maintenance lapses.

I’m lucky in that the people who love me know this and treat me well. The Universe is generally pretty good about treating me well, also. I’m showered with blessings. It often feels like I get special blessings in the week leading up to my birthday. I was contacted by the editor of my first book a few days before my birthday. We moved to Santa Fe at this time. The weather is a blaze of glory, flowers bloom everywhere.

But last night someone backed into my car.

Yes, my pretty car.

Oh, it’s not that bad – some dents and scrapes. It’s just a thing and not a big deal.


This is *not* a part of the birthday program!

Yeah, I’m feeling a little petulant today. I’d like to stamp my little foot and throw a fit. I’d like to shake my tiny fist at the sky and demand better treatment than this.

And then I read about Kevin Morrissey’s suicide. I feel like I know something about him, because I’m familiar with the Virginia Quarterly Review and with the world of literary publishing. I know what it’s like to work in an environment like that. For him, every day the Universe seemed to rain down more curses, driving him deeper into desperation. His world wasn’t full of sunshine and late-summer flowers.

I suppose it’s human nature to get buried in our own angst. We think we have to have this thing to make everything else right. I stamp my foot, I shake my fist. He called Human Resources umpteen times.

But in the end, no one can give us the thing that makes us happy. We’re ultimately responsible for our own maintenance. Despite the bullies of the world. Despite a Universe that distributes blessings and curses with random generosity.

We decide.

Torn Fishnets and All

Allison’s Cover has been spotted in the wild!

It’s not technically final, according to Pocket, but somehow it leaked and a few bloggers picked it up, so get to show it now. My own personal leak may or may not have shown it to me quite a while ago and it hasn’t changed since then. I suspect this will be it, even though it’s not yet up at Pocket’s very fun community site for urban fantasy readers.

And yes, the burning question is: how did Abby so thoroughly destroy her fishnet stockings?

Trust me, it’s a major plot point in the book.

There’s this pivotal scene where Abby is battling a vampire, an angel and an incubus in a dark alley. She falls to one knee. You know those cobblestones – they’re full of rough edges. She rolls to avoid the slashing sword of an evil Fae. Her fishnets tear on the other leg, hanging by only a few tenacious threads.

That’s when the incubus falls in love with her.

Wouldn’t you?

Okay, that scene may or may not happen in the book. Covers belong to the marketing people and not to the author. Abby may not be a mini-skirt wearing, midriff-baring, torn fishnet flaunting kind of gal, but she is tough. She’s sassy. This picture captures her attitude.

I’m working on getting Allison to pierce her belly button now, so I can buy her this outfit for signings. Wouldn’t that be total Awesomesauce?

Yeah, I think so, too.


Another in the “Isabel gets to sleep wherever she wants to” series. She spent several hours napping in the folds of the convertible hood.

No, I’m a softie – I didn’t make her move. If she thinks it’s a good spot, then fine.

It also gives her a good vantage point for mouse-hunting, which is always on the approved activities list.

I was thinking the other day how I’ve long had this tendency to mix things up. For example, there was my whole Ben Affleck/Ben Stiller, Matt Damon/Matt Dillon mix-up.

Yeah, my friends made fun of me no end for that one – you don’t need to chime in.

But see, let me explain. First, my brain apparently indexes by first name. No, I don’t know why. In my skull space, Damon and Dillon are really similar words, too. It’s a cadence thing. This was back when Good Will Hunting and Something About Mary came out. Both got lots of buzz and I read articles about the Ben Affleck/Matt Damon screenwriting team and how clever they were. Ben Stiller was just really starting to impinge on our consciousness as a comedian and Matt Dillon got nice write-ups for his performance in Something About Mary.

So, at some point I decided that Ben Affleck and Ben Stiller were the same person. I don’t know, maybe “Affleck” was too hard to remember. So I had him as the same guy in both movies. They kind of look alike don’t you think? If you put the difference down to make-up? No?

Well, *I* thought so. I was confused, okay?

But where I got really messed up was that Matt Damon and Matt Dillon arguably look absolutely NOTHING alike. I kept looking for Matt Damon in Something About Mary and not seeing him. People said, oh, he’s the private eye and I would study him thinking, whoa! that’s some seriously good make-up.

Yeah, okay, point and laugh.

I finally got it sorted out and it’s even more laughable now, given how all of their acting careers and public scandals (or lack thereof) have since diverged.

It came to mind when I did it again the other day, mixing up authors Jennifer Weiner and Jennifer Crusie. (See? It’s the first name indexing again.) That’s not quite so terrible, since they write books in similar veins.

It occurred to me though, that this silly flaw of mine, this tendency to mix things up, is parallel to how I draw disparate ideas together and tie them up in essays and stories. Readers often comment they like that about my work, how I bring things together they hadn’t thought of before.

Shakespeare used that theme a lot – how the hero’s strength (yes, it was always the hero and female characters were mainly foils, alas) also contained his fatal flaw. And the fatal flaw is what would bring the hero down in a tragedy. It’s interesting that, in a life, our flaws can contain the seeds of what makes us special.

Maybe that’s part of what being true to yourself is all about.


We’ve passed a watermark in our lives: we’ve been in the Santa Fe house for one year now.

I know. Time seriously flies, right?

So today I’m officially retiring the “Big Move” and “Big Switch” labels. It seems right. That part of our lives is over now. We switched; we moved. We’re here now. One year ago on August 14, we pulled our U-Haul truck into this driveway, moved stuff out of the Jeep and into the front seat of the truck. David climbed in and he, Zip and I drove into town to close on the house, just a hair before the 4:30 courthouse cut-off. With house keys in hand, which we pretty much had to wrest out of our dim-witted realtor’s hand – it’s a long story – we returned to the house, having made only a quick stop for a frozen pizza and beer. We unpacked the bed and ate the pizza watching the sunset.

In commemoration, I took this photo. I spent the evening reading on the patio anyway. I’m so blessed to have this kind of view.

(Um, no – this is still the old point and shoot camera. I’m working on it, okay? I did have this idea that I’d take an anniversary family photo with the new camera on the tripod, but I had significant learning curve still to overcome and David was scruffy and studying and it was hot out and the the animals wouldn’t have liked it and, and, and…)

David and I spent a lot of the weekend talking about how our lives have changed in this last year. It’s good to have watermarks like this, to measure the high and low tides of our lives. By the end of this week, he will have completed the first of three years of schooling. Completed with flying colors, I should add.

It’s another watermark that I have the new camera. Moving here really got me going on photography. I’ve been throwing all my Santa Fe photos into a “Santa Fe” subfolder under “House” – which is an artifact of moving in. Most of them are named by date. Like a careless banking programmer, however, they’re labeled with month and day. Now that I’ve wrapped the year, I need to sort them into year groupings, to avoid duplication. Fortunately it appears I didn’t get it together (read: I spent all my time unpacking) to start taking pictures by date until 9_17.

Gives me a bit of breathing room.

Now we commence the second year, of school, of the new place. I know what to expect from the plants and the weather. We have a pattern to follow now, a high tide line.

That was just the first year of the rest of our lives.

Moving on Up

The NEW CAMERA arrived!
Naturally I took this pic with the old camera, but do you like how I got the monstrosity floating in space aspect here?

Yeah, okay, I’m a teensy bit afraid of it.

I should note that I asked for this. For months now. My David, and my mom and her David, and my Aunt Karen and Uncle Bob all chipped in to give me this fancy camera for my birthday because I’m under some kind of delusion that I could produce better photographs with a better camera.

It seemed like a great idea at the time…

At first everything looked fine. Box within a box. Note Zip the Dog watching suspiciously from the dubious safety of the guest bathroom.

They lulled me in. The box was so neatly packed. So silvery shiny. The warranty instructions tucked precisely into their little slots on the lid. This will be easy and fun! it seemed to promise.

I set aside my extra battery and memory card.

Ready to see the camera, I opened the lid!

Umm, okay. Instruction books, three separate ones, various pamphlets and a software cd. Stuff I need, yes. Especially the Instruction Book. Clever me, I quickly determined that two of the instruction books were in languages other than English. Into recycle they go.

I am Photographer Woman, hear me roar!

Feeling bold and decisive, I opened the next layer, ready to embrace my camera.

But no.

Do you see a camera here? Me neither. But look at that neatly folded center section. It must be in there.

Eagerly I opened the cardboard gates to find…


Lenses are good. I’ve never had any that weren’t, well, already permanently melded to the camer, but this is big girl stuff. I’m ready.

But why are there TWO? a small voice whimpers inside.

Well, I wanted to be able to do the telephoto thing. So one must be for that and the other is for… untelephoto stuff. I set the lenses in a Very Safe Spot. No – I am not afraid of them. We’ll be good friends soon. I just have to work up to that bit.

And no, I have absolutely NO idea what the black plastic rings are for. They get to live with the lenses for now.

Onward! (There must be a camera in here somewhere…)

Camera located!

Yeah, the lighting is bad on this picture, but I was overexcited at this point.

So here’s all of it. I at least know what most of the cords do, so I’ll get a grip there. I charged up the battery easily enough and inserted the flash card – all the same as my little Olympus point and shoot. My happy little training wheels camera with the pink tassels on the handlebars. That’s where the similarity to this lean, mean racing machine of a camera ends.

I mean, just look at the open pages of the instruction book.

I feel like I’m 19 and taking Organic Chemistry all over again.

Only I’m doing this for fun.

So, no – no photos from the new camera yet. You’ll be excited to know that I did insert the newly charged battery. And turned it on, yay!

I had figured out how to open the viewfinder display but, to my disappointment, there was only dismal black.

Then I remembered – lenses. Duh.

Hey, I’m working on it…