Monday, June 30, 2008

Lake Blog

Mom, Sadie, Bernice and I are cozied in at the lake house. It is wonderful to be out here again, where it's quiet. I was up extra early this morning--and that's okay. I live at a different pace at the lake. And there's always the nap option! Mom and I haven't had much time together, due to all my travels and construction at the other place, so this is very nice.

Sadie and Bernice always have a little trouble adjusting--the windows overlooking the lake are floor to ceiling, and Sadie-beagle feels duty bound, until she gets used to the change anyway, to alert me that there are PEOPLE out there, boating, skiing, fishing and swimming. (The nerve. :)). Bernicie always sniffs every corner and then pees somewhere she shouldn't. :)

Plans for the day include:

A chapter of the new book (TYLER) written.

Flowers and fresh fish from the store in town. (I cooked up the regulation 3 and 1/2 ozs of Chilean Sea Bass yesterday for lunch, using my George Foreman grill. DE-licious!)

A run to Barnes and Noble, just for fun. I inherited my deep love of books from Mom, and we LOVE to prowl the stacks, even though we both own hundreds, if not thousands, of books.

And perhaps a round of "Bookolpoly", the board game Mom brought with her. We have Scrabble on the shelf, but if you're going to play THAT game with my mother, you'd better be taking double vitamins. I'm good at it--she's LETHAL. :)

Supper and early to bed, with a good book.

Life is good.

Friday, June 27, 2008

OK, Linda, Enough Already!

No more talking about the diet, at least until I have numbers to report. :)

It's beautiful in Spokane today--a delight to the soul. Since I need one more goof off day, I'm planning to: make phone calls, collage a little, and perhaps make a run to my favorite art supply store. Tonight, I'll probably visit my nephew Mike and family for a couple of hours, out at the lake house.

The staff house is almost finished--how long have I been saying that?--and Mary Ann and Larry are eager to move in. Who can blame them? The place is gorgeous--I always tease that they can stay in the big house, and Sadie, Bernice, Cha-Cha, Jitterbug and I will move in over there!

Alas, I will soon have nearly 3,000 square feet of office/library/studio space. Because the area is on the ground floor, and the French doors open into the back yard, the dogs and kitties will be overjoyed. So easy for them to go in and out. The grass is green and the fence is high enough to keep out coyotes. It's all good.

Have a lovely weekend. Talk to you on Monday.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Day 2

It is surprisingly easy to stay on this food plan. Here's what I eat: three and a half ounces of fish, chicken or lean beef at lunch and dinner, and the same measurement of approved vegetables. In addition, two pieces of fruit. Two litres of water. Starvation fare, right? Wrong. I love not having to make so many decisions about food all the time. PLEASE do not go on this program as outlined here--I'm under the care of a doctor, and taking special supplements and hormone drops. I have regular blood work. I repeat, DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME. You MUST have medical supervision. If you think you might want to be on the program, call Dr. Sam Walters at Wellspring Clinic in Scottsdale, AZ. He's listed.

Although the time for peonies is about gone, I still have some budding in my yard. What joy they give me, and I suppose the fact that they're here for such a short time is part of their unending charm. When it comes to flowers, my rule is: it simply isn't possible to have too many peonies. :) Roses, either.

TYLER is well underway, but except for Monday, and some polishing yesterday, I haven't written a word. I'm in goof-off mode, but no worries. I'll be back to work by Monday, for sure. After many years of driving myself, I've learned (finally) that puttering occasionally is okay. It's even good for the creative process.

So I'm going to collage today, and go in for my mammogram at three o'clock.

Have you had YOUR mammogram, ladies? I know it's a pain, but it's necessary to stay healthy.

More tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Continuing Adventures of Linda

OK, this is the first real day of the Magic Hormone Diet. (For the first two days, you load up on fatty foods, so your body won't freak out when you cut back. Think this is easy? Think again--I couldn't WAIT to get back on the low-fat wagon.) This second phase of the diet is a challenge, though. 500 calories a day. (Don't panic. This is temporary, and there are lots of supplements. My doctor's wife, who looks fantastic, by the way, lost 25 pounds in three weeks. And she's keeping it off.)

A week from today, I will weigh in. And I will report honestly. If it's a bust, I'll say so. :)

I'm inspired, though, to pursue other goals. I want to quit smoking, so I'm on Chantix, and I just ordered some special cut-back filters from Got the false cigarette, too, because with writers, so much of the habit is about holding something in your hand.

Many and varied are my personal goals. :) Here are a few of them:

Declutter, get rid of clothes, makeup and STUFF in general.

Learn Photoshop.

Attend some art workshops--especially ones by Lisa Pavelka and Laurie Mika, polymer clay artists extraordinaire. (No, I don't know them personally. :)But I am a great admirer of their work.)

Learn something new every day, however small and seemingly unimportant. Knowledge IS power, ladies and gentlemen.

Find a tailor, when I lose the 26 pounds remaining, and have some clothes custom-made.

And I want to remember that the key to success is any endeavor is VISION. I will think about how I want things to go, and not invent disaster scenarios. :) Writers are very good at that.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Books, Books, and More Books

The boxes of books I shipped to myself from Manassas have arrived. One of them is so heavy, I couldn't even drag it over the threshold. :) I am especially excited about the fold-out timeline I bought in one of the Park Service gift shops--they've all run together now, so I couldn't tell you which one. Good thing I faithfully labeled my battlefield pictures every night in the hotel room--no small feat since I was exhausted by a twelve-hour march. :)

I am super-eager to delve in, but right now, I'm reading the new Stephanie Plum book, "Fearless Fourteen". I'm a major fan--especially love Grandma Masur and Bob the Dog.

I drafted the first chapter of "Tyler" yesterday, as planned. It is quite unusual for me to finish a first chapter in one day, actually, but having already told Logan and Dylan's stories, I'm all primed to tell Tyler's.

My nephew, Mike Lael, wife Sarah (she's a real sweetie) and children, Courtney and Chandler, along with other family members, arrived yesterday, to spend a week at the lake house. It makes me so happy to think of them all out there, splashing and enjoying the lake in all its changing phases.

I'm on a new weight loss plan, so Weight Watchers is on hiatus. It's all natural, involving hormones and the like--definitely a factor with Baby Boomers like me. I'll report on it when I have more to tell you, but it's definitely exciting, if a little complex. If you can't stand the curiosity, check out Wellspring Clinic and Dr. Sam Walters on Google. :)

The sun is shining, glistening on flowers and pine needles. Just the way I love it.

Color me grateful. After a long (long) winter, this weather is pure joy for me. Would you believe it snowed on June 10th??? Fortunately, I was sweltering in Virginia at the time, or I probably would have had a meltdown.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Birds Singing Up the Sun

The sun is just tinting the eastern hills a soft, pinkish apricot--with a lot of happy encouragement from the birds. I do love these early mornings, and I love being at home, with my dogs and cats and horses, and a new book waiting to be written.

Today, I will draft the first chapter of "Tyler", the third story in the Montana Creeds trilogy, which will be published under the Fabulous Harlequin's HQN imprint in February, March and April of 09. They're paperback originals, too. Gotta keep that cowgirl budget in mind. Wait till you see these covers--and until you meet these Creed men! They have all the cowboy-charm of their cousins, the McKettricks. As promised, you'll be meeting some new McKettricks, too--the Texas branch of the family. Tate, Garrett and Austin are descendents of Jeb McKettrick's youngest son, a rebel who left the Triple M to run the ranch outside San Antonio. (I would tell you more about these tall, tough, sexy-as-hell Texans, but at the moment, this is about all I know. :)) Once I have a character's name, they evolve FAST. Give them the wrong one, though, and they dig in those boot heels like you wouldn't believe, and refuse to participate until they get the name they want.

I believe I told you Harlequin gave me the life-sized poster of my Creed boys that was on display at BEA. Well, it arrived while I was on the Civil War tour, and it's at the framer's right now. It's so big, they had to measure the bed of the truck to make sure it would fit! The work should be done around the end of the month, and I can't wait to hang it on the downstairs hallway wall. Passing by the Creed men every time I go from one room to another--now that's inspiration!

Guess I'll brew up some more coffee, push up my sleeves, and get to work. Tyler and Lily will be waiting. :)

It's all good.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Recovery Day

As you know if you've been following my Civil War blogs, I had a marvelous time in Virginia--despite bugs and a heat wave. I was delayed one day getting home, and spent a night in a Denver hotel, but the flight yesterday was on-time and easy. The dogs were glad to see me--they probably thought I'd died. :) --So they were overjoyed to discover that I had been resurrected. Not that they pined--reports are, they missed me, but they are well cared-for and much-loved, even when I am off the canine radar screen.

I mostly sat around staring at the wall yesterday, confounded by how tired I was. (Why does that always surprise me?) I saw so much, learned so much, that I'll be a while integrating it all. The myriad experiences and impressions go into the subconscious brew, where some strange and wonderful alchemy takes place, and when I sit down to write "North of Eden", the images and sensations will be there. That's the closest I can come, today at least, to answering the question I get most often: Where do you get your ideas?

I immerse myself in the project and the research, not just by traveling and reading, but by drinking out of Civil War mugs, hanging posters and flags with 33 stars, watching videos purchased online and in National Park Service gift shops, etc. I even do art revolving around people and events of the period.

That's the big picture. The small picture is, I'm goofing off today. I want to do some preparation for "Tyler", the third book in the Montana Creeds trilogy, and play around with my art supplies. I might even go over to the casino for a little while. I've learned something, taking the London trip and the Blue and Gray tour--playing is as important to the writing process as sitting at the computer. Granted, there has to be a balance, but I think I've spent too much time with my nose to the grindstone, and not enough letting myself stop and smell the proverbial roses. Of course the Civil War tour was a research trip, primarily, but being a buff, I enjoyed every single moment of it, hectic as it was. I'm already looking forward to the second tour, in September! My Rebel cousin, Doris, will be joining me. It's a shorter trip, and I will know what to expect, which helps.

I do love an adventure.

Monday, June 16, 2008

In Denver

Here I am in Denver--my flight was late leaving DC because of weather, so I missed my connection home to Spokane. I have no luggage, and no pajamas, and it's too late to shop. (Or, at least, I'm too tired.) I'm trying to be philosophical about this--I believe there is a reason for everything. Frustrating though it may be. :)

The upshot is, I may not be able to blog tomorrow morning, because of course the charger for my laptop is--you guessed it--in my suitcase. At least I have my phone and iPod chargers. (Have you noticed how derned many things have to be charged these days????)

So the plan is: room service, bath, and bed.

Tomorrow, to quote Ms. O'Hara, is another day.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Storm Coming In

I think we're in for a dandy lightning storm tonight, here in Virginia. I do love a rollicking good storm. :) Last night, the whole sky lit up. Call me crazy, because I hope it happens again.

I promised an update on the day's activities, and here it is. We visited two plantations, the fabulous Shirley Plantation, occupied by members of the Carter family for eleven generations, along with a nearby plantation called Westover. There is a 350 year old Willow Oak tree on the grounds, and the property is right on the wide, beautiful James River. After a week of battlefields, it was a joy to visit a lovely home. You can't go inside Westover, but it is a splendid brick mansion, and its front yard slopes down to the river. In between, we enjoyed a lovely lunch/supper at a place called the Charles City Tavern. Wow. An excellent meal, in very gracious surroundings.

Virginia is a beautiful state. I've fallen a little in love with it--inspite of the heat and the bugs. ;) Virginia bugs are most persistent creatures.

I'll be traveling all day tomorrow, so I probably won't blog again until Tuesday morning.

Now, for some of Cousin Gladys's incomparable blackberry cobbler. :)

Heck, it's a vacation, if a working one, and I've been good the whole time.


Sunday in Chester, VA

I'm writing this on my laptop, on Jim and Gladys Lael's screened sunporch. Doris and I drove down from Manassas yesterday, after stopping off to mail home all my new Civil War books. THAT was, literally, like losing a hundred pounds!

Of course it's Father's Day, so Dad is very much on my mind. I've reached the point where I remember the happy times, more than grieving, but it still side-swipes me once in a while.

Today we're visiting a plantation, and I'll write more about that later, to share the experience with you as much as I can. I'll be on my way home tomorrow; it may be weeks before I've assimilated all that I've learned. What a trip I've had!

I've taken a number of pictures, and dutifully printed them out in the hotel room and labeled each one, so I'll be able to tell the battlefields apart. It was a running joke on the tour--"You know that battlefield--the one with the trees and the grassy field and the cannon?" (They pretty much ALL look like that.)

More tonight, good Lord willin' and the creek don't rise.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Different names for the same battle--which took place in Maryland.

Today was an easier day, in terms of hiking and heat, but it sure seemed long. Cousin Doris and I leave the hotel with the tour group at 7:30 am, and tonight was typical: we didn't get back until around 9:30. Although our bus is very comfortable, I've about had it with that form of travel for a while. Sure beats riding in a Civil War supply wagon, though--never mind an ambulance.

I am always struck by the pastoral beauty of these places where such terrible things happened. What is it about this dreadful war that fascinates me so? I don't really know--I am not into brutality, and this conflict was as brutal as any in history, for my money.

Tomorrow, the last day of the tour, we have the luxury of sleeping an extra hour, and Manassas (Bull Run) is just down the road, so traveling will be easy. We'll trek all over the battlefield, like always, but the bus will come back to the hotel at 3:30. Doris and I plan to catch our breath, then mail my books and maps home, and goof off for the rest of the day. My gosh, we are SO tired. Exhausted, in fact. So we plan to stay here tomorrow night and crash early, then hit the road for Chester first thing Saturday morning.

We have laughed so much, despite the serious nature of the tour's subject. I suppose it's better than crying, and when I look into the eyes of those soldiers, in books and on the postcards I've been collecting, I want to weep. Officer or private, Yankee or Rebel, here's what they have in common: bewildered sorrow. They seem to be wondering, "How did I get here?"

In the words of the old Peter, Paul and Mary song, When will we ever learn? Oh, when will we ever learn?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

June 11 and Gettysburg

A year ago today, I lost my beloved father, so he was on my mind all day today, as I explored Gettysburg with the tour group. The weather was slightly cooler than yesterday's, so that was good.

Although all the other battlefields on this trip are new to me, I've been to Gettysburg before, years and years ago. I'm so glad I came back and refreshed my memory. As you will know if you have been to the battlefield of all battlefields, Gettysburg is an ironically peaceful place. It is hard to imagine the pain and bloodshed these green pastures have seen. It's really one big cemetery; the mood is reverent.

On a more cheerful note, Doris and I had all kinds of fun raiding the gift shop. We all had lunch at a place called the Farnsworth House--it has bullet holes in the brick walls! I choked at dinner and Doris immediately jumped up to administer the Hemlich manuever--thank heaven, it turned out I was okay. Something just went down the wrong pipe, I guess.

I'm writing this at 11:42 pm, Eastern time, and I'm absolutely bushed, since we left at 7:30 am and didn't get back until nearly 10. It takes at least an hour to settle down for sleep, though. I have to print out the day's photos, label them, and tuck them into my special notebook.

It's off to Antietam tomorrow morning. Friday we do First Manassas (if you're a Reb, Bull Run if you're a Yank) and that's a shorter day. Most battlefields, it turns out, have two names--the Northern one, and the Southern one. Saturday, off to Chester, VA for a very short but much-anticipated visit with Jim and Gladys Lael. The Confederates tended to name battles for the nearest town, the Yankees for some creek or landmark.

And now for the 5 and 1/2 hours of sleep I'm being allotted on this trip!

Good night, sleep tight.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Wilderness and Spotsylvania

Those are the battlefields we visited today. It is VERY hot in Virginia, and my hair and t-shirt were absolutely soaked. I had to sit a couple of the sites out on the air-conditioned bus-tomorrow is Gettysburg, and I want to be in top form for that. Here's my secret wish: I wish I would see a real ghost on the battlefield. I know, I know, it's crazy, but there it is. Of course, now that I've told you, it isn't really a secret anymore, is it?

Today was also my birthday. Since it was Dad's birthday, too, and this was the first without him, I was a little subdued. I do miss him so.

Yesterday and today, we were accompanied by the imimitable Edwin "Ed" Bearrs (pronounced Barrs), author and celebrated expert on the Civil War in particular and military history in general. Ed is 84, and tramps all over these battlefields, in this heat, reeling off facts and stories. He sometimes closes his eyes as he describes a scene, and I know he is seeing it as if the action is unfolding all around him. The magical thing is, he gets the rest of us seeing it too!

More tomorrow night.

Notes from a tour bus!

I have finally managed to get online! Yeehaw, I am one persistent cowgirl! It wouldn't work in the room, but I'm picking up a signal on this bus headed for the Wilderness and Spotsylvania battlefields. :) Go figure.

Suffice it to say, I am having a wonderful time. I bought so many Civil War books yesterday, I had to carry them into the hotel on a luggage cart! By George, when I sit down to write those stories, I'll know my stuff.

We started on Sunday, with Chancellorsville, and went to Petersburg, Malvern Hill, Cold Harbor yesterday. Lots of hiking involved, under a hot Virginia sun, and I'm enjoying every moment!

More later

Friday, June 06, 2008

The Dixie Tour

Thanks to United Airlines, I don't have to 'wish I was in Dixie'--I'm headed there, to the land of my ancestors, on the Lael side anyway. The Bleeckers, Mom's side, were Yankees.

The British have a term for this hour of the morning--sparrowfart. As in, "I was up at sparrowfart."

Weight Watchers was good--I lost another couple of pounds and hit the 25 pound mark. I'm jazzed! In point of fact, I'm writing this blog in a pair of Levis--the first pair I've ever owned. And does that ever feel good!

The dogs are still snoring away on the bed. No doubt, they'll be up to see me off when the car arrives at 4:30! I spring-sprang-sprung (take your choice :) ) for a first-class seat, too.

I expect to learn so much on this trip. To meet new people and to be inspired, not to mention reconnecting with the Rebel cousins. :)

I'll blog with Day 1 tomorrow. Be there or be square.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Another Getting Ready Day

I had to have bloodwork this morning, so it was no coffee for me. Yeesh. I need coffee by IV when I wake up. Someone once said writers have java in their veins instead of blood (with Hemingway and Fitzgerald, it was booze), so maybe my test will come back with a high caffeine rating. :)

Our sunny weather has flown. Oh, well. It seemed way odd to be wearing a coat on the fourth of June. The Dixie climate will probably be an adjustment. I'm so looking forward to hanging out with my Confederate cousins and I'll be spending my birthday on the Wilderness and Spotsylvania battlegrounds. The anniversary of Dad's death is June 11--I'll be at Gettysburg that day.

I've been making lists, hoping not to forget anything. I'm mostly packed, but there's always that one thing...

I'm taking my laptop along, forgive me if I'm repeating myself, and if I can't blog on that, I'll use the hotel system, the way I did in London. The posts are likely to show up at odd hours, though, because most days, the tour bus leaves the hotel VERY early. It's my hope to share at least the highlights of the trip with you along the way.

Guess I'd better go. There are still a lot of things on that darn list!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

A Getting-Ready Day

Sunshine! YES!!

The peonies are blooming--big, fat pink blossoms. Most of my plants are too young to produce much, but every year, it gets better. My goal is to have a yard full of them, and carry the blossoms into the house by the armload. I cannot get enough peonies!

I managed to clear up some of the craft mess yesterday--worked at it on and off all day, and it was a job. HOWEVER, now I can journal and work on ATCs without pushing aside paint bottles, scrapbook paper, etc. I try hard to confine myself to one project at a time, but as a Gemini, I find this especially difficult. :)

Today is a getting-ready day. I have a list of things I'll need on the Blue and Gray tour--yesterday, on the trip to Walmart, I even bought a small photo printer. (Good thing I'll be seeing my favorite chiropractor soon after I get home from Dixie.) I'm going to need to keep those battlefield pictures straight, and if I wait until I get back to Spokane, I won't know Gettysburg from Antietam! So at night I plan to print out the best ones, label them, and tuck them into the special loose-leaf notebook I put together for the purpose. Each battlefield will have its own journal-section, too. There are places for postcards, too, and the like.

Once, on a long trip to Italy, I kept a careful journal. To this day, when I read that journal, I am instantly back in Florence, shopping at the flower shops, sipping espresso, eating risotto. (I ADORE risotto.)

Anyway, back to the getting ready. Today, I'm packing basics. Jeans. Lightweight tops. P.J.'s. You get the picture. I'm scheduling a haircut, too. My hair grows so fast, one of my former hairdressers used to say you could hear it, like corn growing in August. :) I guess that's better than not having enough, though, so no complaints here.

I continue to eat the Weight Watchers way, and I'm loving it. So easy, and no more wearing fat pants! Yes! I've lost about 22 pounds so far, and have about that many to go. Lots of walking on the Civil War tour, of course, and since counting points on the road is hard, I'll just have to eat sensibly. In other words, I KNOW how I should eat--I just don't always follow my own good advice.

Have a wonderful day. It's your choice, you know. You can't choose what happens to you, but you CAN choose your attitude. Make it one of gratitude. That always works for me.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Book Expo America (BEA)

I had a FABULOUS time in L.A.!!!

Imagine the thrill I felt when I walked into the Harlequin booth at this massive, sprawling trade show, and saw LIFESIZE posters of my Creed cowboys, Logan, Dylan and Tyler. Honey, the word WOW just doesn't cover it! These guys are My Boys, come to life! Even better, if anything could be better, there's a VIDEO! I got so choked up watching it--the last time I had that feeling was watching Kevin Sorbo play Chance in "Last Chance Cafe".

I was wined. I was dined. I was treated like the queen of cowgirls. I can't begin to tell you how good my Harlequin family is to me. THANKS, GUYS.

I got to spend lots of time with daughter Wendy, she of soon-to-be screenwriting fame, and future son-in-law (hurry up!) Jeremy. This guy will be the dream son-in-law. Wendy, Jen and I got in a little shopping time, too, of course. We hit the MOCA museum store, where I got some intriguing dab-on inks for ATCs, among other treasures. Also went to Chico's--a real favorite--and my friend Nancy Berland and I met for breakfast wearing exactly the same blouse! Too funny. The shopping trio also hit Sephora--I truly believe we set some kind of record. I got to see the fantastic Debbie Macomber; she looks WONDERFUL. Stardom looks good on you, girl!

Alas, I am home for only a short time. I leave on Friday for Virginia, to take the Blue and Gray Tour (Civil War, I think), and will spend a few days afterward with the Confederate Laels, Gladys and Jim and their lovely daughters. In fact, Cousin Doris and I are crashing at Alisa's place outside Washington, D.C. the first night after the tour. I'm lugging my Toughbook along, so I can blog. Watch this space! June 10 is my birthday--what a way to celebrate! I'll be standing on one of the battlefields, in my glory, snapping pictures and soaking up details for my Eden books. ("North of Eden" is book 1 of 6) June 11 is the first anniversary of Dad's death--but I think he'd be pleased to see his girl out Doing Something Constructive instead of moping. He was big on that. "Do something," he'd say. "Even if it's wrong!"

In the meantime, I'm tying up loose ends around here--a haircut, a routine doctor's visit, etc. When I get home from Down South, I'll be plunging right into "Tyler", the third book of the Creed trilogy.

The weather is beautiful today, and sunny-bright. The horses are loving their summer freedom--they don't have to sleep in the barn at night. :) The staff house is Almost Done, which means Mary Ann won't have to live in the basement anymore, and I'll have a big office and craft area to contain the inevitable mess.

Next month, I'll be heading out to Santa Fe to hang out with my buddies, Althea, Cindy and Annie. We go Way Back, and always have as much fun as legality allows when we're together. I definitely plan to hit Simply Santa Fe--HARD. They sell my beloved Double D Ranch jackets. After Santa Fe, San Francisco, where I'll be hanging out on the fringes of the RWA conference. RWA is always fun, and always hectic, and this year I decided to give myself a break from the hectic parts. :)

Today, I've got to clean up my crafting area (yikes) and make a run to Walmart. It seems I LIVE at Walmart sometimes! It's a one-stop-shop, though, and I need plastic boxes for all these art supplies--dog treats (though Sadie could do with a few less Beggin' Strips), etc. I will be nice and spare you my shopping list!

It seems to be a day for exclamation points.


Talk to you tomorrow. :)