I’ve Seen Fire and I’ve Seen Rain

A new fire started yesterday, just south of Los Almos and this morning is a mile away from Los Alamos National Laboratory. Amazing how the smoke plume casts a shadow across the sunlit clouds.

After night fell, we could see the flames along the ridge. From our porch 35 miles away, we could see the flares rise and fall.

Just incredible.
I’m frivolously off to the RWA convention now. So I might not be posting much this week. Internet charges are rumored to be $17/day. We’ll see.

The good news is, the weather might be turning. Pray for rain for us, and less for those getting flooded!

Antisocial or No?

Here we are, at that place when we realize the 4th of July is next week and we feel like summer is already half over. It’s a false perception. We still have all of July and August. Really September, too, though emotionally that feels like fall, not summer.

Anne Lamott, a writer I’ve liked for some years, wrote an essay recently on finding time. I’m usually a huge proponent of making time for the important stuff and I often agree with Anne’s take on things. However this time I found myself disagreeing.

Oh, yeah – don’t watch the news. It just makes you sad. House-cleaning isn’t important in the grand scheme, sure. But she makes a basic assumption that meeting with a “close friend” for a couple of hours is more meaningful and nurturing than all the Twitter and social media “noise.”

Frankly, I’m getting tired of hearing this.

If you read this blog at all regularly – and I know many of you do, which means a great deal to me – then you know I greatly value my online community. I believe these online contacts are indeed real, actual friends who play meaningful and nurturing roles in my life.

And *now* I have data to back my opinions up!

I know – we should mark this date on the calendar.

A recent study of Facebook users shows that they “are more trusting, have more close friends, and are more politically-engaged.”

So there!

I absolutely see this. Social is social and the idea that one on one physically present interaction is the only “real” kind is just splitting hairs. Would it be nice to spend one or two hours a week with my close friends? Sure it would! But with KAK and Laura off in icky Ohio, Kerry and Tawna up in the Pacific Northwest with Marcella sailing around god knows where, that gets a little difficult. That only scratches the surface. I went to Memphis last weekend partly to see my friend Karen, who was my sorority sister in college and is one of my oldest friends. When I can’t do that, I talk to her on Twitter and Facebook. I talk to Kev, another lifetime friend, on IM.

I won’t even try to list all the people on Twitter I chat with day in and day out, whose insights and feedback form the watercooler of my days.

Please don’t tell me that’s not meaningful or nurturing, that communications with these people is noise to be eliminated. How poor and silent my life would be without them.

One of my college friends, Felicia, commented on Facebook that she doesn’t know how she would have coped for the last year, facing breast cancer, without her Facebook community. This is someone I would have long fallen out of touch with, if it wasn’t for the online interaction.

Yes, make time for what’s important, but make it wisely. One person’s noise is another person’s lifeline.

Good Business – Please Don’t Be Difficult

The longest day of the year comes to a close. The sun is now at its most northern point, shining into the Secret Garden. The pendulum hits the end of its arc, hesitates, and swings back.

So, I’ve been talking to people about redoing my website. Yeah, it’s old. I’ve bastardized it over the years. I *ahem* rarely update the thing. I kind of hate even looking at it and the prospect of dealing fills me with this formless sense of dread. Nevertheless: the site needs help and it’s time to do it.

Always an interesting thing, when you step out into the world with your fistful of money and say “hey, I’d like to purchase this service.” You’d think, especially with the economy as it’s been, that people would love to have your money and provide that service. Odd that it doesn’t exactly work that way.

I’m totally not counting all the people that suddenly followed me on Twitter the second I mentioned web design.

The first guy I talked to didn’t get my first email. Then, when he got my follow-up email, gave me a lot of complex feedback. As the astute Laura Bickle says, “I don’t want to know how sausage is made.” Don’t tell me about code, please. If I cared about that stuff, I’d be doing, um, web design. He charges by the hour, wasn’t sure how many hours it would take, and seemed to be going in directions that confused me. I expressed my confusion and he never replied.

Guess I was difficult.

After a week, I asked for other recommendations yesterday. KAK gave me one, and a Facebook friend gave me another. I filled out the form requesting proposals on both sites. One of those I still have not heard back from, which I wouldn’t think too much of, except that the other called me within about 1/2 hour. This gal chatted with me about what I wanted, didn’t treat me like I was crazy and explained in exact dollars what it would cost me and what I’d get for that.


Later in the day, the company owner emailed to tell me they were enthusiastic at the prospect of my business. She will be at RWA National next week and wants to meet with me. The fact that she runs her business this well makes me think that she will represent *my* business well, also.

My feeling of formless dread has transformed into enthusiastic hope.

Which is exactly what I’m hiring someone to do. Handle this for me, please.

I think it’s good to pay attention to how people handle their businesses, both good and bad. As writers, we are necessarily business owners, whether we want to be or not. More and more I think the key to running a good business is to make it easy for people to do business with you.

In short: Don’t Be Difficult.

I could wax on with specifics, but I’m sure you all know what I mean. Be easy to communicate with. Be clear. Know your price points.

Oh – and have a good website.


How to Get Everything Done

Yes – it’s the moment you’ve anxiously awaited. The beaked yucca bloomed!

Isn’t she pretty? Or he. We’re not sure how to tell.

If you haven’t been following the slow progress of the yucca bloom, you can see it here, here and here. Yeah, it’s been a long, slow process. Delightful result.

I mentioned last week that I went to Memphis this weekend to talk to the River City Romance Writers. It’s always a real treat to talk to other authors about the industry and process and writing time. They asked me to talk about writing novellas, then we worked into epublishing, do you need an agent and which epubs are the best these days and why I think so. We talked for two hours.

One thing that struck me was they wanted to know how I get it all done. This is always the hard question. It’s an easy answer, but no one really likes to hear it. I’ve talked about prioritizing before, so I won’t wax on about it right now. However, one thing that occurs to me is this old adage:

The more you do, the more you can do.

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about how the writing fuels us, rather than the reverse. I think it’s a fallacy to say “oh, I’ll write when I have more time.” Or “I’ll start exercising when I have more energy.” The thing is, time and energy don’t just appear on their own. It’s kind of a “if you build it, they will come” proposition. If you insist on having the time to write, the time will be there. If you exercise, you’ll feel better and more energized. Just talk to anyone who’s retired or has been laid off from their jobs – they’ll tell you they don’t know where the time goes. I’ve been this soldier many, many times. When I have plenty of time to do something, I fritter 90% of it away. If I have only a short space of time? Boy, do I pile on the effort and get it done.

When I was in college, the president of the sorority was awarded most improved GPA. The former president leaned over and whispered in my ear, “that proves it right there: the more you do, the more you can do.”

The best thing about getting all those things done?

The rush of energy, baby!

Now git ‘er done.

Turn, Turn, Turn

Yeah, it’s that time of year again. The time when grown women camp out on the living room rug and play with ribbons, hole-punches and silk flowers.

Being a writer is a pretty good gig.

Last night I assembled these, so I can ship them off today. No jump drives this time – just little bubble bottles, which is fun. And considerably less expensive, especially considering I’ve got 240 of the little cuties. (I was going to call them “suckers” and changed my mind.) The labels also say that Sapphire is coming soon.

It ended up being a family effort. David helped me wrap the labels around the tubes and attach the ribbons. At one point he informed me there is no such thing as an incorrect job, only unique ones. The kitties helped, too. If you get one with a ribbon that looks a bit gnawed on, well, that makes it extra special.

Zip didn’t help because there was a thunderstorm in the movie we watched, so he had to take cover.

It’s funny thinking about that Petals and Thorns has been out for nearly a year. July 13 is her one-year birthday. Last year, the RWA convention was a month later (actually this year is a fluke and is occurring a month early) and so I was there about two weeks after Petals and Thorns released. Once there I thought, golly gee whiz, I should have done some promo, but it flat out didn’t occur to me.

Part of is was that I didn’t get my cover until about a week before the release date, so it would have been tight.

But I also think that I didn’t really value this little book. It wasn’t a Big 6 book deal. It wasn’t one of my novels. It certainly didn’t compare to what some of my friends were going to convention with.

Comparisons – such invidious things.

Now, a year later, I’ve seen how well Petals and Thorns has done. The reviews, the private messages, the sheer enthusiasm of the readers – well, it’s all been just lovely.

So this will be my last big push for her and it’s really mostly to scatter rose petals for Sapphire‘s debut. Hopefully Petals and Thorns will win some prizes this year, receive her tiara and have her promenade down the cat walk.

It’s been a good year.

Strawberry Moon Interludes

I was so het up to discuss my fashion emergency yesterday, that I forgot to mention that I skipped over to Karen Katchur’s blog, to talk about fitness and writing.

No, I haven’t gotten one of those treadmill desks. Mostly because I think it would look ugly in my office. Priorities, people!

The other thing I’ve been forgetting to mention is that I’ll be in Memphis this weekend. The River City Romance Writers are hosting me on Saturday and we’ll be talking about novellas and “writing tight.” Should be very fun. The rest of the time you’ll likely find me wandering Beale Street with a frozen daiquiri in my hand.

If all goes as planned, that is.

Today I find myself between projects. I remember this feeling, from when I was only a reader. I’d finish a novel and, still swimming in the lovely world the author had created, try to decide what to do next. More often than not, I’d turn back to the first page and start over again. Or go through and re-read my favorite bits – which usually morphed into a full second read anyway.

Then I’d choose the next book. Sometimes this would be dictated by school, or by what was due at the library soon. But every once in a while I enjoyed the luxury of spreading out all the waiting books and selecting whatever seemed most exciting.

I’m kind of there right now.

I’ve sent off all my “supposed to’s.” All my deadlines, internal and external, have been met. I’m holding off until after the RWA conf on one novel. The other is out. I’m all caught up.

Work is quiet, too. I’d really pushed to finish things, both in work and writing, because I anticipated this month would get crazy. But the projects haven’t come in yet. They’re still hovering on the horizon, like storm clouds that will eventually gain enough momentum to swoop down on us.

But for now the sun is shining and I feel like I should be making hay. Instead I’m kind of lying in the grass, lazily eating strawberries.

The Strawberry moon is a gentle moon, isn’t she? Full and sweet, serene in the twilight sky.

I might sit here and enjoy it, just a little longer.

Village Fashion Assistance

Why, yes, that is Katy Perry dressed in Gautier from the June 2011 issue of Vanity Fair. And there’s a very good reason she’s there for you to admire.

Let me tell you the story.

See, I’m going to the RWA National Conference the last week of June. This will be my fourth time. This year I knew I’d be invited to the Carina party, as one of their authors. Author cocktail party? Pretty much a slam dunk in fashion-planning department.

Now I had a bit of an additional complication, in that I discovered the Carina cocktail party would be right before the FFP Gathering. Not a big deal, right? One party to the next, stick to the same drink, all is fine, tra-la tra-lay.

Only there’s one little hitch: the FFP party is a Superhero theme and I have my heart set on being Cat Woman. I don’t think I’m ruining any surprises here by leaking that, especially since I fully expect to be far from the only Cat Woman at a Superhero party attended primarily by women. In fact, I figured I’d just go to the Carina party in my Cat Woman outfit. It’s pretty demure, since I’ll be more of a Michelle Pfeiffer version than the Halle Berry iteration since, hello, I do not have Halle Berry’s vicious body. Dress myself only in black leather straps? I don’t think so. My costume looks like this (sorry it’s so small) and I figured I could be brassy and just wear it to the cocktail party, too.

But, and this is a big “but,” then I was happily invited to the Harlequin party, too. I wasn’t expecting to, but since Carina is a Harlequin imprint, they included us questionable digital types. It’s after the FFP party, so that’s fine. And, hey, everyone says it’s THE party to go to, so woo hoo! Except, I get the invite and it’s a rooftop Black and White ball, formal dress.

I’ve got nothing.

Clearly I’m not wearing the Cat Woman outfit there. Even if it wasn’t an outfit that can’t be worn outside of air conditioning (lemme tell you, that thing does NOT breathe), it just ain’t formal, by any stretch. I look in my closet – nothing. You know what that means, right?


I’m going in a couple of weeks, have practically no time to shop, and no inspiration.

So, I’m getting my hair done – my carefully planned pre-conference beautifying appointment – flipping through Vanity Fair and whining about my fashion emergency to a sympathetic Larry. I get to the above Katy Perry pic and say, this! This is what I should wear. Larry peers over my shoulder. “That’s perfect,” he says, “that’s exactly what you should wear.”

I say, “Um, Larry, that outfit is Gautier and out of my league on so many levels it’s not funny.”

“Oh no,” he waves the scissors in the air, “you could totally fake this outfit.”

He outlines how I’ll do it. Do I have a black skirt I could slit up the front? As a matter of fact, I do. I have a black pleather pleated Jones New York skirt that would work. Put a white lace slip or skirt under it, black heels, black leggings – I love how he never once considers putting white stretch lace on my thighs – with a big white blouse on top, belted with a fabulous Santa Fe belt.

I’m sold.

Of course, this is not so easy as it sounds. (Did it even sound easy?)

Once I left the salon, clutching my pic of Katy Perry in *my* outfit, which Larry thoughtfully tore out of the magazine for me, I began to lose heart.

“Just find a little black dress,” my mother counsels. “You don’t have time for this.”

I went shopping Saturday morning and nothing, just nothing lit me up. I began to despair. Sunday I hit the consignment stores and Goodwill thinking I could cannibalize a wedding dress for the white lace underskirt. Big goose egg.

Then, in Dillards, of all places, I found a big white jacket – spunky, sheer and shimmery. It’s the last one, and I make the sales gal take it off the mannequin for me. It’s a large, turns out, but that works perfectly. I find some black leggings with black lace edging at Kohls. Already bought funky black heels for the Cat Woman look. I’m rolling now.

Back at home, I start Googling for wedding slips. KAK is helping me via IM. But even her Google-Fu, which is very strong, fails. She does, however, find me this fab black corset to wear under the white jacket.

Now we just need the lace skirt, which totally should not be this hard. But it is.

She’s combing eBay. Laura Bickle comes on IM and I catch her up on the Story So Far. Almost immediately, Laura finds this skirt on eBay. It’s perfect. It’s in Hong Kong.

BUT, they have express shipping and it’s not that much overall.


So, all the parts are acquired or on order. Yeah, we’ll see how it all works out.

I think it will be fabulous. I’ll try to post pics of the final product.

Could never have done this without my pals.

Beaked Yucca Lessons

Update on the yucca flowering:

Not so much?

If you haven’t been following along with the Blooming of the Rescue Yucca, it started sending up a spire here and was much bigger here. I should have done an update last Monday, but I clearly had important ranting to do about appreciating the role of serendipity and chance in life.

So, you’d think there would be actual flowers by now, that there would be fragrant blooming. After all, it’s been weeks and weeks. Surely that’s enough time and effort? But no – the buds are covered with some kind of sticky stuff that the bugs seem to like. It’s all alien-looking and kind of Invasion of the Bodysnatchers.

The moral here is obvious.

Not all stages of growth are pretty. Things progress on their own schedule.

It always seems like a long time, when you’re waiting for the blossoms.

A few of my own flowers opened this weekend, though. Ellora’s Cave is making an offer on a short story tentativley called Feeding the Vampire. That’s right – it’s my Post-Apocalyptic Erotic Vampire story.


Hey – I don’t tell the dream faeries what stories to send.

Also, Petals and Thorns finalled in another contest – More Than Magic – for best novella! I’m so pleased to see P&T getting some love.

I don’t even mind the little bugs.