Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Maybe it's because I'm a Gemini, but I'm way too good at jumping on passing bandwagons! I just leap right on, ride a ways, and then have to slog back to center and start over.

What the heck am I talking about?

Distractions. I get an idea--for example, yesterday, I decided I needed some Emergen-C, vitamin C in 1000 mg packets, because I'm coming down with something and I'm leaving for New York on Thursday morning and being sick is NOT an option. I got the Emergen-C, all right, but having just had houseguests, I decided I needed better sheets, too. The kind that don't wrinkle in the dryer. To make a long story slightly shorter, I went out for Vitamin C and came back with a truckload from Linens and Things. I'd read somewhere that those Kong toys will keep dogs occupied for hours, so of course I had to stop by PetSmart because, while Sadie and Bernice have everything ELSE under God's sun, they didn't have Kongs. (They ignore them.)

Good heavens. Here's me, slogging back to center...

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Here Comes the Sun--and Althea!

My friend Althea is arriving today on a plane from New Mexico. I treasure all my friends, but there is truly no one like Althea! She's a powerful healer, a diplomat, an inveterate traveler. I never know quite where she'll be next--Sri Lanka? India? You just never know with Althea. She's the best mimic I've ever met. She brings her sweet little dog, Ti Amo, everywhere she goes, within the continental U.S. anyway. He stays in New York with her brilliantly talented daughter, Ava, while Mama leaves the country.

Althea is funny.
Althea is a voice for Peace.
Althea is gentle and good.
Althea is creative to the max.
Have you guessed? I LOVE Althea.

Tomorrow, Annie ("Kodak") and Cindy ("Mrs. Jones) will complete the gang. Life is good.

And the sun is out.

I am one happy woman.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Lake Doings

All danger of having my hair declared a national forest, or even a park, is past. I had the haircut and the color job, and all is well in LindaWorld. I didn't reach my writing quota, but I did write a very good scene. Since I left the hero, Wyatt Yarbro, about to ride an unridable horse, I am eager to get back to the book.

Sadie and Bernice are napping on their office dog beds. Since the sun is out, I'll be able to take them for a walk later. They LOVE that. Last night, a dozen or so young boys (8-12) had a party down on the beach, complete with a hot dog roast over a bonfire and some game involving throwing frisbee-like items. Sadie watched from the front windows, barking and barking--I think she was trying to wangle an invitation! From a Beagle's perspective, few things are more attractive than hot dogs and boys throwing things. Sadie is so sociable that I felt a little sorry for her.

Yesterday, it was the hair. Today, it's the carpet cleaning people. (Blame the Yorkie.) My dear friends, Althea, Annie and Cindy are coming for a weekend visit, and I want the place to be presentable. We plan to laugh, cry, shop and drink a lot of cosmos.

More tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

There's Something About the Lake....

That makes me introspective. Since I tend to live in my head too much anyway, this is not necessarily good news. Today, as I was writing in my journal, next to the fireplace, I got to thinking about attitudes. How they're behind even the smallest action.

For instance, I need a haircut (my hair is in immediate danger of being declared a National Forest), and I have an appointment to have it cut and colored this afternoon. It's rainy out. I don't like leaving the dogs, since the lake house is still new to them. I'm a little under the weather, literally and in the Freudian sense. I'm dreading that drive into town! I'd rather stay home, write in my Uncle Harry chair, play with the dogs, and a thousand other cozy, soup-bubbling-on-the-stove kinds of things. Does it do me any good at all to dread the appointment? Not a bit.

Attitudes are essentially choices, at the beginning, and their ramifications are far reaching, though often very subtle, leading to either a positive experience or a negative one, or that vast mediocre space in between. So I'm choosing another attitude. I'm going to focus on how much better I'll feel, not needing a whip and a chair to control a bad case of helmet-head. I'll be grateful for Lisa, my hairdresser, who wades in with her scissors every six weeks or so. And won't it be nice to come home again, and be joyfully greeted by my beloved puppers?

OK, I'm good with the haircut.

Talk to you tomorrow.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Cozy Day With Rain

Today I'm writing on my laptop, in my "Uncle Harry" chair, by the fireplace, with the dogs curled at my feet. Life doesn't get much better than that, folks.

The chair is so named--it is a Morris style recliner, very comfortable--because it reminds me of the chair my beloved uncle, Harry Bleecker, always sat in to read his newspaper and drink his coffee. My mother's eldest brother, Harry was a gentle soul with a broad Bleecker smile. Although he was tall and skinny, he always played Santa Claus at the church Christmas pageant in Northport, passing out little bags with candy canes, oranges and nuts in them. My brother, Jerry, climbed up onto his lap one year, looked past the mop-beard to see that famous smile and those kind eyes and said solemnly, "You're not Santa. You're my Uncle Harry."

He was sweet and funny and profoundly good, our Uncle Harry, and endlessly patient. We miss him very much, but his legacy of kindness lives on. He was an adult all his life, having grown up in the midst of the Depression, and as young as ten, laid awake nights wondering how he would feed his younger brothers the next day. Wherever he is, I know he is surrounded by laughing children, who undoubtedly know that, indeed, he's not Santa. He's Uncle Harry.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Allrighty, then!

The Geek Squad saved me, and now I can use the Word function on this computer. Imagine my chagrin this morning when I realized that Microsoft has changed the whole format! It's always something, isn't it?

The weather this morning is beautiful beyond description--blue-gold is this day.

The pool has been shocked and has turned, as if by magic, from green to blue. Sadie-beagle is eager to go for a dip, so we have to keep an eye on her. Bernice gives the pool a wide berth, but she's a swimmer, too. When they were filling the pool in Arizona, and the shallow end was still dry, she waded out and started paddling around. Sadie is a comical swimmer--her ears float as she paddles diligently along.

So, much to do before I sleep.

Allrighty, then.

I'll just push up my sleeves and dig in. It's the McKettrick way, after all. And the Lael way, too.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

God Bless the Geek Squad

They'll be coming to the rescue today. Although this computer (lake house office) obviously goes online, it won't access my Word program for some reason. (Which means I've written the first two chapters of "The Rustler" on my laptop, at the dining table.) Isn't it nice that there are people like the Geek Squad, ready to swoop in and help at a moment's--okay, a day's--notice? There's a man coming to "shock" the swimming pool, too. (It's a chemical process, of course, but I can't help imagining him standing there, saying inflamatory things...)

My, I'm in a silly mood today. Must be all that rest I'm getting.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

My Crazy Schedule

I've always been an early riser. Now, for some unknown reason, I'm sleeping in! Maybe it's all that lake water out there, sparkling in the moonlight, gleaming in the sunshine.

I'm gearing up now for a visit from my long-time friends, Cindy, Annie, and Althea. We first met on a tour of Southeast Asia, years ago, and become buddies right away. I was spending a lot of time in Europe in those days, and I think it was something like four years before we all got together on the north American continent!

I plan to show the gals the changes at the main house, then we'll all come out here to the lake to catch up and drink cosmos. Cindy makes a mean cosmo.

Now, back to work.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Lazy Lake Days

Another late blog! I blame the lake--it's just too beautiful and too soothing. Lovely to sleep with the windows open to a lovely night breeze. (Sadie snores so loudly that the mattress vibrates!) They're out here with me, in the studio office.

Yesterday afternoon, things went well with the frog prince, but then I made the mistake of moving to another slot machine. Enough said on that.

Off to write, walk the dogs, and dive into a new biography, titled "Grant". (I warned you--you'll be getting TMI about the Civil War.)

What are twenty things that are great about Tuesdays?

This is the meantime, you know. And life is lived in the meantime, in all its variety and richness, not the past or the future. RIGHT NOW. Make it count--this particular Tuesday is a precious gift, and it will never repeat itself.

Monday, May 14, 2007

I'm Late!

Well, truth to tell, I had such a great Mother's Day weekend, I was slow getting out here to the studio office to write this blog. My apologies. I slept late, exhausted from all the fun with my mom, Hazel, and then went over the manuscript of "The McKettrick Way" to make last minute changes.

Mom and I celebrated by shopping on Saturday, and yesterday we lounged, topping the day off with a family dinner. My beautiful, talented daughter, Wendy, called, of course, and she had great news--in addition to the cheesecake, steak and lobster she sent for Gramma and me. She's a screenwriter, as I might have told you, and she has "meetings" (Hollywoodspeak) with some very big agents.

Realistically, I probably won't get any writing done today. Maybe I'll go and see what the frog prince is up to....

Friday, May 11, 2007

20 Things I Love About My Mother

1. Her quick wit and sense of humor
2. When I was little, and scared or sick at night, she always knew somehow, and came to help me.
3. She taught me to love books.
4. She makes the best date bars and chocolate chip cookies in the world--hands down.
5. She made me go to Sunday school.
6. She sewed Halloween costumes
7. She made Christmas magical
8. I can giggle with her.
9. She's game to try new things
10. She thinks I'm brilliant.
11. Her dazzling smile.
12. The sound of her voice
13. The way she looks so good in red
14. She steered me through hard times, listening patiently to my tales of woe.
15. She encouraged me to daydream
16. She covered for me when I was a teenager and stayed out too late.
17. She taught me so much about kindness to animals and to people
18. She reads all my books. (Skipping the sexy parts.)
19. She calls me Lindy.
20. At 77, she still loves paper dolls.

Thanks, Mom.
I love you!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

This Morning's Walk

Sadie and Bernice and I are starting to love this walking thing. (Well, the girls always loved it. It was Mom who had some issues.)

Today we had a little test from the Universe, and we passed with flying colors. Some runners were out, with several large dogs, one of which was not on a leash. I drew Sadie and Bernice in and crouched down beside them, to let them know I'd keep them safe. Some sniffing was done, and then the runners and their dogs went on, and Sadie and I finished our walk. (For those of you who don't know, I'm paranoid about dog attacks. I'm not afraid of dogs myself, but a good friend had a tragic experience.)

This morning, I set an intention. I decided I would not be afraid; the price of fear is much too high. (I learned this trick with my colt, Banjo. I knew I couldn't let him sense that I was afraid, or he'd have the upper hand. So I simply switched it off.) Who knew?

Fear is a choice.

And so is courage.

I'm choosing courage.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Walkin' the Dogs

Sadie, Bernice and I have instituted a walking program. The dogs love it! I had to overcome a lot of fear--one of my friends lost a dog in an unexpected attack--but I finally decided my fear was costing them too much. So I bought a can of spray repellent--the humane kind that does no lasting damage--bit the bullet, and hooked up the leashes. There are lots of perks--this morning I met one of my neighbors, B.J. And of course the area around the lake is a beautiful place to walk--the lilacs are starting to come on. Heaven must smell like lilacs! (Spokane, you know, is called the Lilac City.)

Best get back in the house. Lots to do, and I can hear the girls barking their brains out.

Have a wonderful Monday.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

That is one of the most common questions I get, along with, "Will there be more vampire books?" (Probably not) and "When are you going to write the third book in the My Lady series?" (Probably never. They didn't sell and publishing is, after all, a business.)

Where do I get my ideas? Well, a lot of them seem to come out of the ether, but I think it's really a subconscious process. I read a LOT, mostly history, biographies and memoires, and all those words and images get into my deeper mind, and some kind of synthesis thing happens that seems magical. Or I may be playing with the dogs, or fiddling with polymer clay, and a snatch of dialogue or a scene comes to me, or even a mere flash. I scribble it down, and always regret it if I don't. Ideas are fleeting--you think you won't forget them, but you do.

When I'm planning a particular book, or just a chapter of that book, I use my very favorite all-time brainstorming tool. I make lists of twenty. Full credit for this idea goes to Brian Tracy, the motivational speaker. I ask myself, "What are 20 things I know about this character?" (It always surprises me how much I know about a character who has been hanging around on the fringes of my mind.) Or "What are 20 things that could happen in this book?" The technique can be applied to virtually anything you want to do; the possibilities are quite literally endless. Here's the important (VERY important) part. You have to let yourself go. No matter how ridiculous the ideas seem at first, put them on your list. Absolutely no judging! The first five or six or nineteen will probably be really stupid. (Once, when I was creating a character, the first item on the list was: "She could jump off a cliff") Keep digging, keep practicing. This technique is an acquired skill. If you persist, you will discover things you never would have come up with in any other way.

How to get started? Well, how about, "What are 20 ways I could use this list of 20 idea?"

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Rainbows and Confederate Generals

Yesterday, as I was returning from a brief visit to the casino--one of my favorite ways to relax, if you're new to the blog, is playing slot machines--an enormous rainbow arced across the sky, ending in the lake in front of my house. I'm taking it as a good omen! (The frog didn't morph into a prince, but at least I held my own.)

The dogs are with me in the lakehouse office as I write this. Sadie is snoring away on the dog bed, and Bernice is cuddled up next to her.

I'm writing a new westrn, and doing research for a monumental series set during the Civil War. Since the actual writing of these books is four years out, I'm just doing the preliminary reading at the moment. I've ordered stacks of DVDs, and every night, I go to bed with a Confederate general. :) He's in my iPod. I'm listening to Shelby Foote's ground-breaking series and must admit, although I have both Confederates and Yankees in my lineage, I feel a pang every time the Union suffers a setback. Although I have Confederate sympathies (the Laels are from North Carolina and many still live in Virginia and Georgia), I cannot, of course, condone slavery.

Nation against nation, brother against brother. The whole pyschology fascinates me. The West I write about in books like "The Man from Stone Creek", (paperback coming out the last Tuesday of this month) and "A Wanted Man", (hardcover, June 26, absolutely fabulous cover) would not have happened without the Civil War. In fact, the escapades of men like Jesse James, as I'm learning now, were simply continuations. The Confederate cause died hard indeed.

You're probably going to hear more than you want to about the Civil War, over the next few years. :) I'm keeping a special journal about the process of planning the books--we're talking geneology charts, the whole works.

In the meantime, expect more Mojo books (a LOT more), and another western contemporary trilogy, starring the Creeds of Montana--distant cousins of the McKettricks.

God, I love this job!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


It's raining today, and even that is lovely. A day for a crackling fire and hot tea.

Back to the house, though. The dogs are inside, barking. Sadie has a touch of arthritis this a.m., so I gave her half a dog aspirin.

Longer blog tomorrow, I promise.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Invasion of the Maid Brigade

Sadie, Bernice and I are hiding out in the lakehouse office, while the cleaning crew whizzes through the main house. Now that they each have a bed out here, the dogs are calmer.

Last night, family and crew came out for dinner. I made a pork roast, and a good time was had by all. Guest of honor was baby Lucas, who will be two months old on the 8th. Bernice was especially fascinated, and couldn't resist jumping up onto the couch to peer into his infant seat. He really has her mystified. When his mother took him to the living room to rock and have a bottle. Bernice discovered that he was missng from the seat and got frantic, relaxing only when I showed her he was safe with Mommy. Bernice has always been our own private police dog--she rides herd over both cats and always has to know what's going on. We've never figured out what she means to do about it once she finds out. :) Sadie, always sweet-spirited and calm, loves having a lot of people at the house.

My room at home is being redone--new paint, new floor, and eventually new furniture, now waiting in the bedroom across the hall. There is a lot going on, so I'm enjoying the peace out here. At night, the moon shimmers on the lake, and it takes my breath away. It's still too cold to swim, but we're all awaiting the day--even Sadie, who loves to paddle along with her beagle ears floating.

Now, wouldn't you know it. I go to all the trouble to find 2 dog beds, and both of them are on the same one as I write this.