Thursday, July 31, 2008

Cowgirl in the Big City

I'm having the best time. Yesterday's lunch was at a restaurant called Boulevard, with a view of the Golden Gate and lovely, light, beautifully presented food. How could I have forgotten to mention that there was a third favorite person present, Diane Moggy. Diane is a study in grace, good manners, and beauty. On top of all that, she's smart. The four of us really enjoyed our get-together.

Evening brought Nancy Berland's wonderful party, at the lovely St. Francis Hotel, in their historic St. Francis suite. Elegance and good company--we honor various librarians and booksellers, and of course I always enjoy seeing writer friends there. Nancy and her team do a FABULOUS job--it's hands-down my favorite RWA event.

Good news! I was given an award from Borders Books--"McKettrick's Heart" showed the greatest improvement in sales of the year! I was so excited, and had no clue. Life was too crazy before the conference, or I'd have seen the notice in the RWR, RWA's report to members. Duh!

I'm having breakfast with Jill Marie Landis and Kristen Hannah, two MORE of my favorite people, this morning. After that, Jenni and I are heading for Chinatown. We have the whole day before the party for Single-Title writers tonight--thrown by Harlequin. (It means we write stand-alone books, instead of or as well as Special Editions, Desires, etc.)

I'm loving this! I took a year off from the actual conference, as many of you know, but next year, in Washington, D.C., I'll be back in the swing.

More later. Gotta go and get spiffed up for breakfast!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The City by the Bay

I can see why Tony Bennett would leave his heart in San Francisco. It's a lovely place.

Except for a delayed bag, the travel angels answered my prayers for a hassle-free day. I had a dinner scheduled for last night, with my publicist, Nancy Berland, and her gang. We went to a place called Silks--beyond fabulous. (Fortunately, I had hit Chico's in the mall near the hotel earlier, so I didn't have to show up in my airplane outfit.) I had the sea bass, and ladies and gentlemen, it was delectable. Also helped me stay in my skinny jeans--too much sourdough bread yesterday, though, so I'll be reining it in a little today! At the end of a literally perfect meal, we were served a melted chocolate drink in a tiny cup, with a tiny glass of beer (of all things) for a chaser. DELICIOUS. And we joked from then on about what my Creed and McKettrick boys' version of this would be: melted Hershey bars and Coors!

Today, I'm having lunch with two of my all-time favorite people, KO and Marleah, of Harlequin fame, and I'll be attending Nancy Berland's party for librarians and booksellers tonight. In between, back to the mall! And Chinatown is just a short walk from this beautiful hotel. Gotta go get my cheap souvenirs, collage goodies, and Feng Shui charms. :) (I want all the good luck I can rustle up.)

Right now? I'm heading out to see if I can scare up one of those little bitty coffee pots. :) Fancy as this hotel is, I need CAFFEINE in regular doses!

More later! (On the continuing adventures of a cowgirl in the Big Smoke.)

In the meantime, one word sizes it all up:


Monday, July 28, 2008

Oh, What a Day I've Had!

First thing this morning, I get an unnerving phone call--on my unlisted number.

Then I find out someone has been shopping at Walmart and Home Depot--in Florida, no less--using my credit card info.

One of the fire alarms went off this afternoon and terrified my poor little Yorkie.

I leave for San Francisco at 4:30 tomorrow morning.

It's 9:12 pm and I haven't even packed.

Need I say more?

If you're of a praying disposition, send up a word for this beleaguered and very frazzled cowgirl, please. I'd appreciate it.

Another Trip

Tomorrow morning, early, I will be squired to the airport for a trip to San Francisco. I'm unofficially attending RWA (Romance Writers of America). I say 'unofficially', because I'm not actually registered for the conference. This year, I'm just meeting with certain friends and attending events put on by Harlequin and my publicist, Nancy Berland. It's pure self-indulgence, because I've had the most frenzied summer. I need a 'breather' year, a chance to be an observer.

While always fun and very educational, RWA is stressful, too. There are those who, though vastly and fortunately outnumbered by friendly and professional people, want to take you down a peg. Make sure you're not enjoying that success a little TOO much. What is it with people like that??? I'll bet you know some.

They're the ones who tell you things (always bummers) For Your Own Good. And they're everywhere, it seems to me. Here's this cowgirl's answer to the knife-under-the-ribbers: Your approval, while always appreciated, is not required.

Critical people are always authorities on everything--have you ever noticed? I wonder what it's like to have that much free time, not to mention that they must have all their OWN ducks in a row, if they feel justified in telling other people how to live.

I'm taking my laptop along on this trip, as I'm behind on a deadline and frankly a trip out of town right now is just about the LAST thing I need, so I'll blog as often as I can, as well as writing TYLER. (Yum. Hunka-hunka burnin' love!)

I also plan to: visit an art supply/rubber stamp/scrapbooking store--eat a LOT of seafood--hoist a glass or two with good friends--and generally appreciate what a lucky woman I truly am. Whoopee--it's FUN to be me. (Also expensive. :))

More tomorrow, probably toward sundown. I'm asking my angels for a hassle-free flight. No delays. No cancellations. Nobody taking up all of their seat and half of mine.

I do not love the transit part of travel, as you might gather from the above sentence. (And if I hadn't just ranted on being critical, I'd tell you what I think of the airlines!) But I love the places I go, and I love coming home even more.

It's all good. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

What I Did This Summer

Well, okay, today.

I had the best of intentions, but the fact is, I ended up puttering in my studio all day. I never even got out of my pajamas!

Now, I've taken some good-natured ribbing for calling my little heaven-on-earth a 'studio' instead of a craft room. Here's how I figure it. I do art, and that makes me an artist, and an artist works in a STUDIO, right? (Nobody said it had to be GOOD art, did they? I'm still learning, here!)

Just what do I do in there? Well, I work on ATCs (artist trading cards) and today I experimented with a batch printed on inkjet canvas paper. Cool! Also, I colored some vellum envelopes with alcohol-based ink. BEYOND cool. I prepared the background for a piece I intend to give my 89 year old aunt for Christmas. (She's the nonjudgemental type: no matter how bad it turns out, she'll hang it on her wall, bless her.)

I finally worked up the courage to send in my first card, in hopes of joining other ATC fanatics and trading. It was just like sending in my first manuscript--I was SURE the card would come shooting back along with a note reading: "please do not attempt to join our trading group again.
Your card sucks."


It's always good to be a beginner at something. I'm definitely out of my comfort zone with this one.

The dogs were bored crazy and thought I'd lost my mind. But at least I didn't end up at the casino. :)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Unfinished Furniture/Unfinished Me

My first projects have arrived--a dresser, a chest for stashing Christmas and birthday gifts I buy throughout the year, and a dear little cabinet. I'm not exactly sure what the latter will hold, but I couldn't resist it.

The anti-clutter campaign continues. I'm trying to unclutter my mind, as well as my writing area, DVD and CD collections, etc. Sometimes, things just get way too busy in this cowgirl's noggin! The Creed boys are over here, raising hell, because that's what Creed boys do. :) Renovation plans are here--I'm cutting out pictures of kitchens, etc.--my good friend Althea, an interior designer, told me just to collect images of things I like, and a pattern will emerge. Then there's Sadie's appointment for shots, a routine checkup, a badly-needed haircut. (We're talking weed-eater here.) So many ideas for ATCs and collages that I had to start writing them down in a notebook, because I suffer from Firefly Syndrome and kept flitting from one to another. An upcoming trip to San Francisco--what to wear, friends I'll be seeing, checking out the paper and rubber stamp stores in the famous Ghiardelli Square...

Good heavens. I need somebody to go in there and direct traffic!

The furniture is a work in progress.

And so am I, I guess. :)

Monday, July 21, 2008

End of the Feng Shui Nightmare

Or, at least, the beginning of the end!

Now that the downstairs space is clear, I was able to move my ATC/collage gear (aka "mess") off the kitchen table! Whoopee! Now I can eat, journal and read my Tarot cards again!

I am SO sensitive to energy, and with all the construction, etc., I've let some clutter build up around here. If you're a creative person, clutter is not your friend. :) In fact, I'm pretty sure it's nobody's friend. My new motto, especially when shopping on the road, will be: "Where will you put it?" I hereby vow not to buy ANYTHING unless I can say exactly where it will live when it arrives at my house. Hold me to it, will you?

I even plan to make an affirmation collage to implant this one, good and deep. Believe me, my housekeeper/cousin, Mary Ann, will be thrilled. :) With the decision, not necessarily the collage. She's entirely left-brained and more into representational art. Mine is definitely alternative!

I've taken up a new hobby, as if I needed one. I'm buying unfinished furniture and painting it Linda-style. That means, decoupage, the black and white checked pattern I passionately love, flowers and critters and bugs, etc. I'll keep you up to speed on the projects. I bought a small stool to practice on.

RE: the big diet. I lost 10 pounds, fast, which put me pretty much where I wanted to be. (I look good in my Levis, and over the weekend, I bought a slinky dress at Costco--yes, Costco--and it's a size 12, and it FITS.) So I'm on a modified version of the Weight Watchers Core Plan now--chicken, fish, lean meat, vegetables and fruit. And a glass of wine at night, with Andrea Bocelli playing in the background.

This morning, I put on a Big Band CD. I defy you to be blue if you're listening to Glenn Miller's "In the Mood"! Sadie and Bernice got a big kick out of seeing mama jitterbugging around the kitchen, in her pj's.

Ladies and gentlemen, THIS is living.

Once again, when you color me, use the crayon marked "Grateful"!

Friday, July 18, 2008

On the Mend

I'm feeling better, so now I can stop boring all of you with symptoms!

Very exciting things are happening. There is going to be a short video of the Creed brothers available soon--you'll be able to click a link and see those three delicious cowboys for yourself. (Be sure you're sitting down. We're talking cute-alert, here!)

Plans for the weekend include some serious vegging, a little slot machine action, and walking the dogs. Now that Mary Ann has moved next door, Sadie and Bernice and I like to amble on over for a visit and a cup of coffee.

We're through with construction around here for a while, and that's a major relief. Building things is traumatic, and there's no getting around it. Gets the energy all twisted up, and it's stress city. Renovations are another thing, though. The office downstairs will need new carpets, a paint job, and plenty of book shelves, plus high-tech wiring for the computers. (Yes, multiple. I have one computer totally dedicated to photo processing. Not that I know beans about it, but I'm ready to learn.)

I'm making some great ATCs, too. Lots of fun.

Have a good weekend, cowpokes. I certainly intend to!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Still Lazy

I've got some kind of bug, I think, or I'm just tired--travel is always stressful, especially at this time of year. I love getting where I'm going, being there, and being home, but the part involving security lines, crowds of angry people, cancelled flights, bag-lugging, etc., has definitely lost it's charm. (If it ever had any charm in the first place!)

I'm writing in 20 minute intervals--following my time-honored motto: Just keep showing up. :) My mind is going at full throttle, but my body is stuck in low-gear. I'm sure you know the feeling.

The highpoint of today will be getting my teeth cleaned. Pretty sad. :) Which brings to mind another favorite motto: This too shall pass.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer

I'm either worn to a frazzle or just plain lazy. I'm not sure which.

I worked on TYLER yesterday, and that really felt good.

The weather is beyond marvelous.

It seems the hurrier I go, the behinder I get. :)

I'm off to spend a few hours in Stillwater Springs, Montana, where things are really heating up with those Creed boys and their women.

Once that's done, I think I'll take a nap.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Land of Enchantment

I'm back--after an extra day spent cooling my heels (and my temper) in Albuquerque, due to airline incompetency--and considering the many gifts of my trip to Santa Fe.

A friend-of-friends, David Cartwright, generously put us all up in his incredibly beautiful hilltop house. David's house has a theme--what a concept--ravens. Hence its name: Los Cuervos--loosely translated, that means crows or ravens. The food was excellent, the art blew me away, and the dogs, Tojo and Kobe, provided smooth fur, saintly eyes, and that magical Dog Devotion that can heal a wounded heart. The view from the terraces at Los Cuervos was spectacular--nothing like a New Mexico lightning storm for sheer majesty.

Thank you, David, for making a stranger welcome.

Three of my best friends, Annie, Althea and Cindy, were there, too. Even better. Strong, smart women all, with incredibly diversified interests and talents. Cindy, for example, is among other things (a former model, Cindy puts Candice Bergen in the shade and seems to have no earthly idea how beautiful she is), a gifted photographer. Add a lot of hard work to that gift, and you've got photographs that will take your breath away. With Cindy's help, I chose a new digital camera and she showed me how to use it. What a concept! I've been snapping pictures like a crazy woman ever since, and figuring out all sorts of wonderful ways to use them in my art.

Althea shares my deep interest in all things mystical, and she took me to her favorite Woo-Woo shop, the Ark, where I bought more Tarot decks and beautiful bags to tuck them inside. Althea recently lost her cherished little black Pom and traveling buddy, Ti Amo. We did our share of remembering, hugging and crying--it is a healing thing, to grieve.

And what can I say about Annie? I always call her Kodak, and she calls me Miller. Kodak is the best business woman in the world, practical to the inth degree. Rock-solid, that's Kodak. She'll listen, and call bull-*&^$ if necessary, but she never makes me feel bad for asking dumb questions or expressing opinions that often vary greatly from her own. Kodak's vision of the world is crystal clear, but she never judges. I could tell her anything, and feel safe.

I am blessed to have these friends. I cherish them, and our time together.

I'm glad to be home, though, ready to push up my sleeves and get back to work, refreshed.

On the homefront, the staff house is finally finished and Mary Ann and family have moved out of the basement. All that space! A new phase begins--ripping up carpets, putting in bookshelves, etc. Soon, I will be working there, instead of here in my bedroom, which probably isn't the greatest Fung Shui. :) I am so sensitive to energy, and this has become a room to work in, not to rest. The area has two large rooms--one will be my studio, hallelujah! And the main part, of course, will be all office.

I repeat: I am blessed.

Color me grateful.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Still Showing Up

Sometimes, showing up is the best I can do. :) Even if it's late.

I'm off to Santa Fe tomorrow, and when I get back, I'll have stories to tell.

The weather is so beautiful--it makes me catch my breath.

I've been doing art therapy, big-time. ATCs. Collages. Some art journal pages. I'm feeling my way through something right now, and darned if I know what it is. :)

I'm sticking with the diet, only 5 to 10 pounds to go.

I can stand anything that long.

I think.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Creed Shock

Imagine the jolt I got, stepping out of the elevator this morning, on my way to the kitchen for coffee and journaling, to see my three Creed cowboys standing in the living room...


My kind of shock. :)

I'm feeling a little less FRAZZLED, and a lot more like my old self. Transitions, transitions.

There was a pack of coyotes in the draw last night, singing up a storm. As long as they stay on their side of the fence, it's all good. Part of living in the wild west.

I'm off to Santa Fe to hang out with friends in a couple of days. Some of my favorite people, in one of my favorite places. Life is good.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Missing Blogger Found Wandering :)

I was last sighted helping niece/assistant Jenni lug the life-size posters of the three Creed cowboys out of the framing store at Northtown Mall this afternoon. Now THAT'S inspiration, ladies and gentlemen! Who needs a big-screen TV in my living room, when I have Logan, Dylan and Tyler to look at?

The diet is definitely working--down 10 pounds in a week and a half--but it is not for the faint-hearted, that's for sure. I couldn't concentrate or sit still very long--I think I was having withdrawal symptoms from MSG and all the other preservatives in processed food, and of course I'm using the filters I told you about to quit smoking, so there's that. In any case, I'm better now.

Art was my refuge during this crazy, stressful time--a form of physical prayer for me, and certainly meditation. I've given myself permission to do bad art for as long as it takes. My personal way of celebrating Independence Day, I guess.

Unless I'm abducted by aliens, I'll be back in the morning. (Just kidding, folks. About the aliens, I mean...)

Well, you see what I mean....

Thursday, July 03, 2008

8.5 POUNDS!!

I'm a believer, ladies and gentlemen.

The program is definitely working. The results are amazing--but this is no magic bullet. I want to stress that. The amount of food allowed is VERY limited.

I came home from the lake early. The dogs just wouldn't settle down, and Mom, a homebody like me, wanted to get back to her normal life after a couple of days. Hence, no blog yesterday. I was in transition.

Plans for today:

TYLER. (Yum.)
ATCs--I'm having a lot of fun experimenting with spray painting the cards, etc.
Reading one of my Civil War books.

I finished Brenda Novak's "Stop Me". It was a grittier book that I would normally read, but I could not put it down! Like my diet, this book is not for the faint of heart :)--but it's riveting and I'll be on hand to buy every new BN from now on.

Feeling good today.

Why not? I can get into my skinny jeans. :)

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Lake Days

It's only about 7:15, and the pool is like bathwater. I think I'll take a dip, after I finish this blog. :) (It's a hard life, but somebody has to do it.) Strangely, the sky is overcast and it looks like rain.

Mom is sleeping in. It has been so quiet and so restful here, just the two of us. We made that jaunt to the book store yesterday, and came home with an eclectic mix. I bought two of Brenda Novak's suspense novels, and am well into one of them. Also a couple of art magazines from Somerset Studio, "The Lincolns", a recent Wyatt Earp biography, and James Van Praagh's new one, "Ghosts Among Us", along with my friend Kat Martin's "Season of Strangers". Riches! And the lake is such a lovely place to read.

We've been eating fresh fish and vegetables, and I think the diet is definitely working, although the scale here at the lakehouse may be different from the one at home. (I hope not--the news is VERY good if they're the same.) I do miss my nightly glass of wine or jigger of vodka with diet tonic water, but I can endure. Once I complete the initial phase, I can go back to that. What I miss most is breakfast. :)

And I'm even getting some writing done. YES!