Monday, March 31, 2008

Monday Miscellaneous

I'm home--it's been a whirlwind of a week! Last Monday, I went to Toronto for the More Than Words award ceremony, as you know if you've been following this blog. Then, on Saturday morning, it was off again; this time, I flew into Seattle, was met by my long-time friend, Gentleman Sam Smith, crack Harlequin sales rep. (I knew Sam and his wife Janet, who is one of my all-time favorite people, long before either of us worked for Harlequin.) We drove to Snohomish, where I signed books at the new Fred Meyer store. Both of us had a great time.

Since we didn't have time for lunch, I had LOTS of points (Weight Watchers) left for dinner. I had fish--fortunately, I LOVE fish and fresh vegetables--and a "dirty" martini. For you teetotalers, that means they pour some of the olive juice into the drink.

Sam and I shared an excellent meal and a lot of good conversation--we talked about animals, art, and of course books, a subject near and dear to both our hearts. (Sam reads virtually every book he sells and he can discuss them intelligently.)

Once I got to my room, I was bushed. I did a little watercolor, as art helps me make the transition from full throttle to sleep. In the morning, I had a light room service breakfast and watched infomercials (my little confession for the day) and then Sam and I met up again, in the lobby, and headed over to the airport to catch our flights--his to sunny California, mine to snowy Spokane. (Have I mentioned that I REALLY miss Arizona?)

Well, time to journal--I am WAY behind today--and then plunge into "Taming Dylan". You are going to LOVE Dylan Creed--I know I do. Hunka-hunka of burnin' love, that Dylan.

Meanwhile, the new More Than Words anthology is out there in the stores, along with "Deadly Deceptions", the second Mojo adventure.

:) Read a good book lately?

Friday, March 28, 2008

Linda Sighting!

For those of you who live in the Snohomish, WA area, I'll be signing at the brand new Fred Meyer, 2801 Bickford Avenue North, tomorrow (Saturday, March 29) between 2 and 4 pm. Come on by and say howdy! Store phone: 360-563-3700


When my daughter hurts, I hurt. All you moms and dads out there know what I'm talking about.

Over Easter weekend, Wendy and Jeremy were forced to put their beloved 11 year old dog, Bailey, to sleep, due to multiple problems, including old age and undiagnosed diabetes. He was a big dog, with a broad smile and a beautiful whitish coat. He stood by Wendy through thick and thin, in the singularly devoted way dogs do--we always thought Bailey knew he'd been rescued, and he was clearly grateful. I vividly recall the day Wendy brought him, as a frisky puppy, to my office in Port Orchard. She'd just lost her other dog, Oscar, and Bailey joined the family.

I comfort my daughter, future son-in-law and myself with this thought: because Wendy adopted him, he enjoyed a long, happy life, overflowing with love. And he gave so much more than he got.

So good-bye for now, old dog. You were a gift to all of us, and I thank you, from the bottom of my mother's heart, for loving my precious daughter, for protecting her, and for cheering her through dark days. You did a good job, and you deserve to run, free of pain, in the deep green grass of heaven.

I'll see you on the other side of the river.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

More Than Words

I've been in Toronto, participating in Harlequin's annual More Than Words celebration. This accounts for my absence from the blog for a few days--did you miss me?

More Than Words, for those of you who haven't heard about this wonderful program, honors five women each year for the contributions they've made through their own singular charities. Each winner receives $10,000 from Harlequin for their projects, and writers are assigned to write stories inspired by one of the winners. Mine was Jeanne Greenberg, who, along with her wonderful husband, Syd, started SARI--a theraputic riding program for children facing challenges of all sorts--Down syndrome, autism, and other serious handicaps. Syd and Jeanne started the program in memory of their daughter, Sari, who was a Down syndrome child and received so much enrichment and empowerment by riding and just being around horses that she truly blossomed. When Sari passed away at 15, their grief was overwhelming, as you can imagine, but out of Sari's short life came an endless stream of good. They've helped hundreds of children since starting their foundation. They work tirelessly--and both are in their 80s, married 65 years, and still so deeply in love that it is magical to watch them interact. My story, "Queen of the Rodeo", was inspired by their amazing contributions.

Do you know someone--perhaps yourself?--who works to make life better for children, animals, homeless women and children? If so, I encourage you to go to Harlequin's website and watch for this year's More Than Words program. 2007's winners included a young married couple who gave Build-A-Bears to the guests at their wedding--and the bears went to disadvantaged children. This has become Bears Without Borders, a world-wide organization, in just a few years. Another woman has established a housing/work program for homeless women and their children. Yet another gives prom dresses and tuxedos to disadvantaged teenagers, so they can go to prom and graduation and feel as though they fit in. It is incredibly empowering. Lastly, there was Dr. Ricki, a physician who has built an organization for research into autism and advocacy for children afflicted with this disease. More than a few tears were shed, I can tell you, as these women told their stories. What struck me most was that each of these far-reaching programs began with a single act of kindness.

So if you know someone who makes a difference, in her community or in the whole world, please consider nominating her for the 2008 More Than Words program. All net profits from the books go to fund the continuation of the program. The hope is that, not only will readers volunteer or contribute, if they're in a position to do so, but also that they'll follow through on an idea of their own. As I said, you can find the information on Harlequin's website.

On a sadder note, my daughter and future son-in-law had to put their beloved dog down over the Easter weekend. Bailey will be sorely missed.

Back tomorrow.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday--and SNOW

To look out my windows right now, you'd swear it couldn't be Good Friday. It looks more like Christmas Eve, with all this snow--yes, snow--tumbling down, edging the top of the fence, frosting the great pines and Douglas firs surrounding my house.

Frankly, I'm beginning to wonder if God reads this blog. :)

The weatherman swears it isn't his fault--evidently, he's been getting calls and emails of resounding protest. Little wonder.

But the fact remains that Easter, the greatest day in the Christian calendar and in my opinion, the greatest day in the history of this and all other universes, is nigh. Let's celebrate with grateful hearts--NOT live rabbits and chicks dyed strange pastel colors. I know most of you are on the same page here, but these are living, sentiment creatures, not toys to be terrorized by children all day Sunday and then left to their own devices.

Have a truly blessed weekend, whatever faith you may follow. I hold you all in the warmest part of my heart.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Hello, God? This is Linda....

It snowed again! What's that about???? Isn't it supposed to be SPRING?


Tonight is Weight Watchers--I'm looking forward to weighing in, if you can believe it, because I'm doing really well on the program. It works for me.

Today I'm doing a read-through and revision of the "Taming Dylan" pages. Dylan Creed is tough to tame, I'm here to tell you, but I think our heroine, Kristy Madison, is up to the challenge. It is a pure delight to watch this rough-and-tumble, card-sharp cowboy trying to adjust to the two-year-old daughter he's suddenly 100 percent responsible for raising. :) The potty-training alone is a hoot.

The art projects are going pretty well, too. As I mentioned, I FINALLY learned to transfer images onto polymer clay. VERY COOL. I received a shipment of blank ATCs (artist trading cards) yesterday, too. Wealth! I will collage on them, though I am a long way from being ready to trade. Art therapy, big-time.

Bernice is still a conehead, but continues to recover. She has one front leg shaved, and the rest of her is fluffy. :) She's on the last day of her antibiotics, and next Monday, she gets her stitches out and won't have to wear the cone anymore. I will be in Toronto, celebrating the release of the new More Than Words anthology, along with the other authors in the collection, but trusty Mary Ann or Jenni, aka the dog nanny, will take Bear in to see the doctor.

You'll want to be on the lookout for this year's More Than Words release--hitting stores everywhere the last Tuesday of this month. It's a gift-sized hardcover. When you buy this book, you not only get five very good stories, but you'll be honoring the wonderful women who inspired these tales. All profits from the sale of the book go back into Harlequin's inspired More Than Words program, which is designed to draw attention to very special programs designed by very special women. My story, "Queen of the Rodeo", is loosely based (the stories are fiction and don't directly parallel the experience of the woman who inspired them) on the work of Jeanne Greenberg, of SARI. Jeanne's young daughter, Sari, suffered from Down syndrome, and Jeanne, a horse person, quickly discovered that riding a well-trained horse empowered Sari in profound ways. Tragically, Sari passed away at 15, but Jeanne and her husband Syd carried on this work in her memory, providing multitudes of afflicted children with the invaluable experience of theraputic riding. Each of the winners receives a hefty $10,000 donation from Harlequin, and all the publicity they can muster up.

One of the many reasons I love my publisher.

Check out the Greenbergs' wonderful work at

Sorry about the highlighted words. Something Google does.

Hello, God? This is Linda.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Radio Interviews and Image Transfers

I had an interview at 6:05, my time, this morning, with Irene Robinson, KWCL-FM, 96.7. To hear it, you'd think Irene and I were sitting face to face in a studio, chatting away about subjects dear to both our hearts: books, animals, red-hot detectives like Tucker Darroch in "Deadly Gamble" and "Deadly Deceptions". :) In reality, I was in my bathrobe, seated at my kitchen table, swilling instant coffee while I waited for the pot of regular java to brew. Sadie-beagle barked once, during the interview--she always has to get a comment in somewhere! Bernice, Cha-Cha and Jitterbug were all close at hand.

Once Irene and I had finished our chat, I just had to go back to the art room to see how my polymer clay image transfers worked out. Since they were lovely--the secret, it turns out, is using regular old bulk white Sculpey clay, burnishing the images well, and if you can bear to wait that long, letting them sit overnight. (I use personal photographs and copyright-free clipart, reversed and printed on t-shirt transfer paper.) It is like Christmas to me, peeling back that transfer paper and seeing if the process actually worked. It did! Although my ultimate objective is jewelry, I will probably use some of these pieces in collage or on greeting cards.

And now--to work. The clay will have to wait until later.

Darn it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tuesday, Tuesday

What can I say about Tuesday?

Bernice visited the vet yesterday afternoon, and while she's still wearing a cone, at least she's rid of the bandage. Nothing malignant, thank heaven. She's working this situation for maximum sympathy and pity treats. Considering how spoiled she already was, that's saying something.

The sun is out today, and am I ever glad to see it. This cowgirl can only take so many overcast winter days before she starts thinking about loading up the computer and the critters and heading due south. :)

Things have been in a real uproar around here lately, but now they're calming down. I sneak into my newly beautiful craft room (thank you, Deb!) to paint a bead or glue something to a collage every once in a while, but I'm getting back into the current book today, and I'm thrilled.

The Weight Watchers program continues to go well. No problem at all sticking to my food plan--by rodeo time this December, I'll be back in my skinny jeans.

More tomorrow. Have a good day. Be kind to yourself.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Spokane Update

You'll be glad to know that things are calming down here on the Triple L. Bear (aka Bernice the Yorkie) has a cone, and is still on meds, but seems to be returning to her old self.

Debbie has gone home to Colorado Springs and, as far as I know, has not incurred further injuries. :) She and I have a great time together, but ambulance rides tend to put a damper on social occasions.

Are you wearing green? Having corned beef and cabbage for supper? :)

Have a happy St. Patrick's day, me friends, and I shall try to come up with more blarney on the morrow. :)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Debbie/Bernicie Report

Both girls are recovering nicely. Deb is still pretty sore from her fall, and all Bernice (the Yorkie) needs is a little pirate hat to complete her ensemble. Her right foreleg is heavily bandaged, giving her a peg-leg look. She was rummy from the pain meds, etc., last night, but glad to be home. This morning, she's more like her normal yappy little self.

Things are going well on the Weight Watchers front, too. 2 more pounds gone--I've only lost six all together, but I already feel skinnier.

Would you believe it's snowing as I write this? Did anybody mention to God that it's SPRING? :)

Have a good weekend, and thank you for your prayers and good wishes. We definitely felt them.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Bernice and Me

Today's blog must necessarily be short, as I'm leaving in about fifteen minutes to take Bernice, my spunky little Yorkie, to the veterinarian for some (hopefully) minor surgery. She has a wart on one leg, and what we believe is a benign tumor under one "arm". She's not going to like this one bit, and might even end up as a cone-head, the way Sadie did. :) We'd both appreciate a little prayer or a flash of white light.

My cats have been leaving me presents--and not the kind you're probably imagining. :) It seems that, while I'm sleeping, they raid the craft room down the hall. Practically every morning, I wake up with a packet of stickers, a piece of packing tape--today a lightweight piece of blue foam--resting on or near my pillow. It cracks me up. Thank heaven, they're not bringing mice!

The horses need baths, but it's still too cold for that. They look like mud-horses. :)

Choose to be happy today. Choose to be grateful. And choose to trust--there IS a bigger plan, and we're all part of it, and no matter how gnarly things look sometimes, it's a GOOD plan.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

What A Day It WAS

Ah, yesterday. One of those days.

I got off to a slow start anyway--I'm in a mulling phase--and I had just opened the window to write this blog when I heard my friend and long time employee, Debbie, call out from a room at the other end of a long hall. "Linda! I need help." Well, she's got back problems and is under strict orders not to lift or anythng. I thought she wanted me to get something down off a shelf or help her move a box. Well, when I stepped into that room, there she was, lying on the floor--bleeding! She'd fallen off a four-foot step ladder.

Definitely a trip to the emergency room. Trouble was, she was too sick and dizzy to ride in my truck. So I ended up calling 911 and off she went to the hospital for a few stitches and a lot of tests. Thank God, she's all right, but pretty bruised and sore, of course. Larry, Mary Ann's husband and the main wrangler on this spread, went to fetch her home when she was released. Mary Ann, usually referred to as the trail boss, has been visiting grandson Lucas in Canada this week. Back tonight, thank Heaven, because this herd is scattered in all directions and needs rounding up. :)

If that wasn't enough, I was looking for a particular product I'd seen on a polymer clay video, and ran a Google search. I innocently tapped into one of the links, and this G-awful porn video came up. To shorten an already long story, I had a heck of a time getting rid of that thing, and I really thought my computer was going to crash. Fortunately, I stumbled upon the restore feature in the Control Panel and was able to travel back in time, at least in the cyber world, and get rid of the uglies.

Today has a much calmer energy, praise the Lord. Bernice is going to the vet for an eye problem, but ointment will probably be the perscription.

I continue to do well with Weight Watchers. I have always loved that program because it really doesn't feel like a diet--it's truly a lifestyle and one I can live with. I'm also listening to a set of hypnosis CDs I read about at Dottie's Weight Loss Zone--dot com. (I'm not affiliated with either Dottie or the CD people, but hers is positively the best site I've seen for finding restaurant points, good recipes, and all around encouragement.) The CDs ("Enjoying Weight Loss") make a big difference.

Time to go check on Debbie again. She was breathing the last time I looked in. :) Always a good sign. If we're breathing, we're good to go.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Cowgirl Goes Crazy!

Yesterday, I made the happy and fortuitous mistake of attending a saddle and tack supply auction here in Spokane. As you know if you follow this blog, my number 1 saddle is my dad's, given to me last Christmas by my big-younger brother, Jerry. I treasure that saddle, and though I intend to use it and make sure some pictures are taken, I couldn't bear to leave it in the barn. It's on proud display in my living room, and just seeing it makes me feel closer to Dad.

Anyhow, to make a short story longer, I am pretty much horse crazy, although some of my cousins WAY outstrip me in that regard!

I thought I'd pick up 2 saddles, if the prices were right, for regular use. WELL, I ended up with four, plus assorted tack and some beautiful saddle blankets. A standing saddle rack--well, you get the picture! The prices were not only right, they were TOO right!

Everyday use? Ha. One is a fine and fancy roping saddle. Another has a pink seat and hearts on the skirting. Still another is lovely tooled leather, and the fourth--which I probably will use a lot--is an Australian saddle.

Like I said, Cowgirl Goes Crazy.

I'm set for life, when it comes to saddles. :)

Friday, March 07, 2008

A Day for Doing Other Things

I had one of those just yesterday! :)

Never did get around to writing--guess I needed a Mental Health Day. Still, being descended from good sturdy blue-collar stock, I had to do something constructive, so I cleared MOST of the craft stuff off the kitchen table. (Housekeeper's away, writer will play.) Got to get a bunch of those plastic organizers--I just used boxes for sorting. (Because I'm forever ordering books and art supplies, I have LOTS of boxes.)

Sister Sally sent a cute hot-dog bed for Bernice. Made it herself. Thanks, Sal!

And my agent sent lovely flowers, to commemorate "Deadly Deceptions" being on the New York Times list. Thanks, Irene and Alex!

But it gets better. Last night was my first weigh-in at Weight Watchers--down four pounds! I LOVE that program--don't know why I ever quit it. It's so flexible, and once I plan what I'm going to eat for the day, I don't have to think about it. I love not having to think about food. :)

Tomorrow, my good friend Debbie Korrell will arrive for a visit from Colorado Springs. I can't wait to see her. We have a lot of fun together, and she's one of the smartest people I know.

Have any of you heard about I'm taking their American Civil War course, and the lectures download directly into my beloved iPod. WAY cool.

(I told you yesterday was a day for doing other things!)

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Books, Books...

And more books! Gotta have 'em!

What fun I had at Auntie's Book Store last night. We met in the coffee shop, a diverse group of around a dozen people, and chatted informally. I do enjoy that so much--I'd finished a chapter of a book an hour before, and I thought I was tired, but there's something about being in the company of other book fanatics that jazzes me plenty.

Now, whenever I do a book signing, I usually buy a lot more than I sell, and last night was no exception. I found treasures! "The Anatomy of Story", by John Truby, and a book on writing memoirs by Natalie Goldberg. AND four of the Dover copyright-free clip art books, the kind with the CD in the back, for all my gloriously messy projects. Riches!

I especially like Auntie's--Lois Hughes is always so nice to me and so thorough in her preparations--because it is an old-fashioned book store, the kind you don't see so often anymore. Now, don't get me wrong. I've never been in a book store I didn't like, and I'm a regular customer at all the big chains, as well as Wal-Mart and Target, but the selection at Auntie's is unusually eclectic and the ambience is great.

Speaking of books, I happen to be writing one. :) Better get right to work.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

How I Work..and other stuff

There are patches of ground showing through the snow. Can it be that spring is stirring?

I drafted a full chapter of "Taming Dylan" yesterday--I'll polish it today and go on to write Chapter Two. I am already LOVING this book. Getting Chapter One done is usually a big challenge for me, because everyone has to be on stage, and there are a lot of things to juggle. I guess because "Taming Dylan" takes up where "Logan's Return" leaves off--in fact, there's a slight overlap of time--it feels like a continuation of the first story. And, of course, that's exactly what it is. :) The Montana Creeds series is really one long book.

At personal appearances, I always get a lot of questions about how I work. (For those of you who live in the Spokane area, I'll be at Auntie's Book Store tonight at 7:30--we're gathering in the coffee shop.) My method is a long, involved subject, but basically, I sit down at my computer, say a little prayer, and open up whatever I wrote the day before. I go through that, making adjustments as I go along, noting potential problems or loose ends, often writing down the name of a secondary character or an animal so I won't forget it. Then I start the new chapter, and that's where the magic happens: everything around me dissolves, and I am INSIDE the story, with the characters. It's rather like virtual reality--I can move among them, observe them, listen to what they say to each other and themselves. It is all so real to me that I have to resurface for breaks--every thousand words or so--but I don't always come up for air. Or lunch. :) I write fast--a legacy of serving an apprenticeship in the 'categories'--shorter books that are part of lines like Silhoutte's Special Editions--in the old days, I had to produce quickly to make a living, since the advances were relatively low. And now it's a habit, one I wouldn't want to break! (In the words of poor Anna Nicole Smith, it's expensive being me.)

My daily quota, as I've probably mentioned before, is 5000 words. I write 5 days a week, 6 or 7 if I'm under a pressing deadline. Since the process is a 24/7 kind of thing, I'm always and forever making notes of ideas, insights about a character, scraps of dialogue, things like that. You might even see me at a slot machine, rummaging through my purse for a pen and a notepad!

I'm beginning to see my art work (artist trading cards, hereafter referred to as ATCs) as a dimension of my writing. When I'm working something through in my personal life, there is usually a parallel in the book I'm writing at the time. As with the Lincoln piece, which as I mentioned yesterday is a visual record of plotting the first Civil War book, and also a way of stimulating my imagination, the art is a record of the journey and, at the same time, part of the journey itself. I absolutely LOVE mixed media art--mine tends to be humorous, rather than edgy, but looking at other people's work stimulates me, too. Even if it's edgy. :) I pour over books like Lynne Perella's "Beyond Art Dolls" and "Mixed Media Mosaics" by Laurie Mika. I adore Ann Baldwin's collages. The more color and texture a piece has, the more interesting I find it. I'm also working on a tribute to my father, a way of working through the loss, I guess, and also honoring his memory. At some point, I hope to display some of my work on the website and join an ATC artist's link online, so I can trade. There is some AMAZING stuff out there.

I'm adapting well to the Weight Watchers program. I'll keep you posted on my progress. Next weigh-in is Thursday night. The thing I love about WW is that it really is a lifestyle, as the commercials say, and not a diet. I have to do some planning, but after that, I don't have to think about food, and that is a plus.

How I do run on. :)

Thanks for showing up to "listen".

Monday, March 03, 2008

The Firefly Syndrome

Over the weekend, I discovered that I suffer from the Firefly Syndrome. Especially when it comes to art--with writing, I'm pretty disciplined and focused. With art...


I go from one fascinating project to another; rubber stamps here, watercolors and artist trading cards there. The centerpiece for my Lincoln tribute, which is a sort of visual journaling process. (I flat out admire Honest Abe, but beyond that, it's a plotting system, a colorful chronicle of the first Civil War book.) I LOVE the idea of recording the journey in polymer clay and collage. I also tried a great candle technique I saw on Carol Duvall--you take an ordinary inkjet print of a photograph, pin it to the candle, and making sure the candle is upright and on wax paper or something, you use a heat tool (rubber-stampers, you know what I mean) and carefully go over the picture. The wax seeps through and the picture is bonded to the candle in the coolest possible way. You heard it here second. :)

Jamie and Gil and Martha, I so enjoyed seeing you at the signing at Waldenbooks this Saturday. Jamie's first book, "Betrayed", was just published by Tor. It has a wonderful premise. Haven't read it yet, but I certainly intend to. If you like paranormal stories, check it out!

See? The firefly thing again. Off I go, chasing this firefly, and then that one.

The world is just TOO full of interesting people, of beauty and color and texture! Indeed, we should all be as happy as kings. (Or queens.)

Enough already.