Monday, November 30, 2009


The little Arabian sweetie-mare.
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Banjo and Coco

Mother and son.
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My first ever horse. She started it all!
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My little paint pony, named for Robert E Lee's magnificent horse--which looked completely different. :)
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Hello, Monday!

Well, as you can see, I've discovered the art of posting pictures to my blog. Where this will all end is anybody's guess. To say I tend to get carried away with things like this would be the understatement of the day--week--month--YEAR.

Expect to see strange and amazing things--and lots of fun shots of my big adventure, coming up in Las Vegas, at the National Finals Rodeo, in December. I'll be there from the 7th to the 9th, so it's a flying trip, but trust me, there will be plenty to blog about. (That many cowboys in Wranglers? Be still, my beating heart.)

I wish I were skinnier, though. I quit smoking last June, and I've put on a few pounds. Oh to be BOTH a nonsmoker AND a size 8. It's back to Weight Watchers for me, right after the holidays.

Finally, I'll be finishing "Garrett" today, and I am so happy about that. Since this is a trilogy, I don't have to say good-bye to the story people quite yet. Beginning soon, and working hit and miss through December and REALLY HARD in January, I'll be starting "Austin", the final book in the Texas McKettricks series.

And so, it's back to Blue River, Texas. It's Big Scene day.

Yee-haw! Open the gate, boys, I'm ready to ride!

Friday, November 27, 2009

My Thanksgiving

I was working yesterday--and the big hoopala is planned for Christmas, since I'm joining Wendy and Jeremy in Santa Monica then--so I figured I'd just fix the turkey--whenever. Use that nifty deep fryer I bought specially from QVC--I cannot resist a gadget--and let everybody drop by when and if they pleased to fill a plate and nuke it. Not exactly Norman Rockwell, I admit, but, hey, I was happy.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the handy-dandy turkey fryer fell into the Some Assembly Required category. In other words, you had to snap on the little plastic feet and then screw them into place. I couldn't find the screws OR the screwdriver, and there was No Way I was lighting a fire under a gallon and a half of cooking oil unless the thing was darn secure.

So I gave the bird the minimal required prep--I washed it--and put it in the oven to do its thing. It's been in for about an hour when along comes Larry, the Canadian Wrangler, and Mary Ann's husband. He says, no problem. Finds the screws. Attaches the fryer's feet. Ready to roll.

Except that it takes an hour just to heat up the oil. Interestingly, only about 45 minutes to cook the actual turkey, but go figure.

The hell with it, we said, after some consultation. (We say that a lot around the Triple L.)

So we never plugged in the turkey fryer, and I took the pasty-poultry out of the oven and fridged it. We all went to the casino, where we played slot machines and ate at the buffet.

We're having turkey TODAY.

Even as I write these words, the oven is heating up.

There you go. You've got to be adaptable in this world.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Foggy Thanksgiving Morning

There is a cloud resting in the valley below my house. How lovely it is.

Today, I'm especially grateful.

For my loved ones, human and furry.

For my freedom, and those who preserve it for me.

For the first responders, the brave ones who run toward any disaster, in order to help, and not away.

For my home.

For books and art and music.

For way too many things to list here.

And certainly for you, dear reader.

May you be blessed, now and always.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Turkeys in the Trees

They're out there, windy and cool as it is, trying to snug down in the inadequate branches of tiny trees along my driveway. This morning, I watched with a smile as one HUGE turkey bounced precariously on a low branch, while another, below on the ground, jumped and jumped, trying to catch one of the few remaining leaves. It was almost as though they were working in concert, except that turkeys, whatever their good points, are not smart. They've been known to drown by turning their heads up in the rain.

In case you're worried, these turkeys are obviously not starving. Some of them must weigh 25 pounds, or even more. Feeding them would be false kindness--plus, I had an uncle who fed wild turkeys, and they became so plentiful that they would peck at his front door at feeding time! No sir, I learned my lesson trying to feed birds in Arizona. The pigeons came and muscled out the small birds and every roof in the neighborhood had crap on it. Fortunately, these patient and good-natured folks understood about the crazy writer lady at the end of the road and still liked me.

I'm so close to finishing the book! Another chapter done yesterday, and it's a good one. I love sharing the storyworld with my characters. Roaming around Blue River, Texas, tracking rustlers and all the rest. It's a writer's life for me.

Also, before I head for Blue River, I have a new art product to mention--it's called Liquid Pencil. Graphite that can be mixed with water or medium and applied with a brush. LOVE IT. Produces a great "grunge" effect, which is what we're going for on Suzi Blu's Petit Academy. I'm proud to say some of my art work has been posted there, now that I know how to upload photos, and I'm loving the classes I'm in.

And so, for today, adieu.

I'll be right here, counting my blessings.

Dogs on the kitchen dog-bed.
Horses in the barn.
Cats roaming wherever they darned well please. :)
And turkeys in the trees.

Who could ask for anything more?

Not this cowgirl.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I love Tuesdays. Like Thursdays, they are buckle-down-and-tend-to-business days. By Tuesday, one is over the shock of Monday, and has yet to reach Wednesday--over the hump day, they call it--when a lot of people inevitably start thinking about...Friday.

Tuesdays are faded quilt days. They are watercolor days. They are lovely, tea in china cups days.

Tuesdays, especially at this time of the year, are days to have split pea soup simmering in a crockpot. New books and DVDs come out on Tuesdays. I plan on lighting a fire, writing a new chapter, and doing some sketching, painting backgrounds, or whatever. Just as long as it involves paint, paper and/or glue, and is messy. :)

See you Wednesday. No doubt most of us (the lucky ones) will be thawing out turkeys and shaking out tablecloths.

All the things we have to be grateful for? The start of a thousand other blogs.

Enjoy your Tuesday. It has charms all its own.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Slushy Monday

It snowed. Then it rained. Now, of course, we have slush. You don't see paintings of slush. You don't read poems about it. It's just--slushy.

Lest you think I'm feelin' blue, it isn't so. I painted and drew this weekend, and even managed to post a couple of my sketches to Suzi Blu's Petit Academy, where I am a student. This is a big accomplishment for me. Drum roll, please. (I'm also taking an online course from

I spent yesterday reading "Garrett", making notes and minor revisions. I expect to finish the story this week, and I'm eager to barrel right on into "Austin", which is the conclusion of the trilogy. Stepping back and taking a good look at the story was a wise decision--it's good. You're going to like it.

I bought a turkey on Saturday. Will be trying out my turkey deep-fryer from QVC. :)

Until tomorrow.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Yesterday's Story

I slipped into a parallel universe. That's the only way to describe it. :)

I had every intention of doing everything I usually do in a day. But it just didn't happen. (Well, beyond normal care and feeding of the animal kingdom, anyway.) I never got dressed, actually. I mostly just sat around and stared at things. :)

I did one constructive thing yesterday, and that was a beeswax collage, incorporating one of my own drawings. Attempts to photograph the great big turkeys swaying in the branches of the little bitty trees were not successful. I am undaunted.

Today, I'm back from the other universe. I plan on dressing, writing and generally moving on with my life.

If I'm going to be doing some version of time-travel, though, I'd really rather go back to the Arizona Territory and hang out with the original McKettricks...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


When Mary Ann and Larry told me they could see our large flock of wild turkeys swaying in the limbs of the small trees in front of my house of a morning, from their place across the road, I thought they were pulling my leg. You have to see these birds in person to believe how BIG some of them are--as in, none of them are in any Thanksgiving danger because they wouldn't fit in anything smaller than an industrial oven.

The front of my house is lovely, and it does overlook the pasture, where the horses are, or will be, after the Canadian Wrangler brings them their room service breakfasts in their snug stalls and turns them out to take the air :) Most of my life is lived at the back of the house, as my office, studio and kitchen, and in summer the deck garden, are all on this side. So, although the turkeys regularly parade past the fence and down into the draw, thus driving my Yorkie bananas with excitement, I have not noticed them trying to nest in my relatively small trees. It's a sight, I'm here to tell you. I got a phone-camera shot this morning and posted it to Twitter; I plan to get better pictures next time, with my other camera. (These robins on sterioids fled soon after I opened the front door.) In the meantime, the large brown blobs in the tree limbs ARE turkeys.

Trust me. Would I lie to you?


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

My Christmas Tree

This has to be some kind of record for me. As of yesterday, I have a 4 foot Christmas tree set up in my office. It is white, with pastel lights, and it looks so pretty in the dark. (I have always loved the way Christmas trees look in the dark.)

Why so early? Well, I'll be in Las Vegas for three days during the rodeo--Harrah's and my wonderful publishers have teamed up to put on the most amazing promotion for my books and for me. I will be giving you lots more details as I get them and also tweeting pictures like mad, once this begins.

That's reason one for putting up the tree early.

Reason two is, I'll be leaving for Santa Monica to spend the holiday with my daughter and future son-in-law on December 21. On the 23rd, we're going to Disneyland to see all the lights and decorations--watch for tweets on that, too.

In the meantime, I want to look at shining Christmas trees, without putting up the big fifteen footer that usually goes in the living room. Ergo, I purchased two prelit white trees (one is for my bedroom) and ornaments in silver and aqua.

I'm into enjoying Christmas this year. :)

We might even have to downgrade my personality type from A-minus to B-plus.

Or not.

Monday, November 16, 2009


I spent the whole weekend relaxing. Painting. Reading. You get the idea. In fact, I became SO relaxed that I'm running late with just about everything, including this blog.

My original intention was to work this weekend, as I am so close to finishing "Garrett". Instead, I played with art supplies and allowed the Writing Muse to rest. Now, the Muse is ready to create, big-time.

I'm onto something here.

Maybe instead of being a Type-A personality, I can ratchet it down to Type-A-minus.

Stranger things have happened.

Stay tuned.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Snow Predicted

Okay, it's only an inch, scheduled to start coming down at mid-day, but I'm excited. YES, I said 'excited'. After all, snow is beautiful. (Repeat after me, snow is beautiful, snow is beautiful...)

Cold weather has definitely kicked in--all the horses have new blankets to keep them snug when they're out in the pasture during the day. Sadie-beagle wears a blue fleece coat to and from her exercise therapy classes. Bernicie has a red one, but she hangs out here with me most of the time and doesn't need it.

Today, I'll be working on "Garrett"--the process, though rigorous, seems almost magical. I sit down at my desk in my lovely office and close my eyes for a moment, and suddenly it's as if I'm in Blue River, Texas, in the middle of the action.

I can't believe they pay me to do this.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans and Active Duty Personnel:


Thank you for sacrificing so much to preserve the freedom we cherish. Your courage, persistence, dedication, honor and constant heroism, be you male or female, are an inspiration to all of us.

I won't pretend it doesn't break my heart to see you in airports and other places of transit, dressed in your desert fatigues, saying good-bye to husbands and wives, tiny babies and small children and tearful elders trying hard to be half as brave as you are.

Like Bob Hope, I dream of a world where you can stay right here at home, with us, always.

Alas, we must make do with another sort of world for now, and carry on, and you are the main reason we can do that.

Thank you for your service.

For the example you set.

Thank you.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

975 Faces to Go

I've set a goal to draw 1000 faces, as many of you know, and I try to draw at least one every day. Some are better than others, of course, but my rule is: No tearing them out of the sketchbook.

I want to be able to look back over my work someday, around face 1002, and chart my progress. I'm learning structure now, to create contour with shading. It's HARD.

You might be wondering what all this art talk has to do with writing books, which is my day job and my passion, and that's reasonable. Art trains anyone, but especially writers, to look more closely at things around them--to see more deeply. And somehow that informs the writing with a new level of reality, so the reader can experience the story right along with the characters.

The basis of art, the wise ones say, is learning to SEE what's there, and not what we expect to see.

The same applies to writing, it seems to me.

And to life.

Monday, November 09, 2009

My Weekend

I attended Kathy Bannon's memorial service on Friday, in her hometown of Kettle Falls, WA. I fully expected to work on Saturday and Sunday, as I'm on a deadline and "Garrett" is flowing so well. Alas, saying good-bye to a dear friend and cousin took a lot more out of me than I expected.

On Saturday morning, I took my time with my journaling and did a few sketches. Later I visited JoAnn's and Spokane Art Supply, which is one of my favorite haunts. When I got home, Sadie and Bernice threw a welcome party, as they do whenever I come back from anywhere, be it the mailbox of the Great Wall of China.

Alas, I ended up playing with paints from then on. I did backgrounds, watched videos, experimented with colors and textures. I napped and read and listened to books on my iPod. I neither tweeted nor blogged.

I was totally self-indulgent. This would normally arouse a lot of guilt--protestant work ethic and all that. Zero guilt this time, though, because there's a reason why 'you've got to refill the well' has become a trite old saying--because t's been true so long.

Be kind, not only to others, but to yourself.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

More on Gratitude

It just seems natural to write more on gratitude, so here's my Thursday list:

I am thankful that:

1. The book is coming along, and I'm loving the writing process.

2. I start an online art class on January 29, and I'm so excited!

3. My editor, Joan, is an angel. She brings out the best in me.

4. Sadie and Bernice are here in the office with me, Sadie snoozing in the recliner.

5. It's cold outside, but the sun is shining.

All simple things. All good. Try it--you can come up with at least five things to be thankful for, I'm thinking.

Tomorrow I will be attending my cousin Kathy Bannon's memorial service, so there might not be a blog.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

November Thoughts

I suppose it's appropriate that, with the approach of Thanksgiving, I am thinking a lot about gratitude. As my dad used to say, if you can get out of bed and put your feet on the floor, it's a good day. I heartily agree--now that I'm older and wiser.

Back when the Simple Abundance craze was on, I started keeping a gratitude journal--simply put, in case you were in a parallel dimension when Oprah championed this most humble and most holy of virtues, you make a practice of recording 5 or more things, each and every day, that you are grateful for. Obviously, this causes you to look for good things during the day, thus there is a positive focus.

I must have a dozen of those little green books, neatly filled with one-sentence thank you's. Somewhere along the line, I let the habit fall away--it wasn't that I wasn't grateful. I was just busy. Little by little, things got to me--like that big snowstorm last December--though mostly they were really small annoyances.

Recently, I have gotten back into the habit of keeping a gratitude journal. There are other factors, of course, but I think this is one of the main reasons why I feel a little better every day than I did the day before. I've realized that even in the darkest times, I had heaps to be grateful for. Counting blessings really DOES seem to attract still more blessings.

I recommend this highly. No need to buy a special journal for the purpose, unless of course you really want to--a composition book or plain notebook will do.

Among the many things I am grateful for, here are 5 for today, not necessarily in order of importance. :)

1) Sadie-beagle weighs 31 pounds. Finding a trainer and getting the weight off my sweet dog was a miracle.

2) I am no longer a smoker. Ditto. This seemed utterly impossible at one time.

3) I have the most amazing daughter, and I get to spend Christmas with her this year!

4) I have the best crew of ranch-hands ever--people who show up, suit up, and Get 'er Done.

5) When I sit down to write this blog, I know you're out there, ready to read it. Thank you for showing up so faithfully, and for buying all those books, too.

Be blessed and be kind. You never know what other folks are going through.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Artist of a Thousand Faces

It stands to reason that if I do something 1000 times, I will get pretty good at it. And because I want to be a better artist, I have set a goal for myself, to draw at least 1000 faces in my sketchbook. I'm making real progress already, folks--I've been posting sketches on Twitter (@lindalaelmiller) for the past few days.

Of course my real love is and will always be writing stories. I mean, I can't believe they pay me to do this!

My sister Pam arrived safely back in Scottsdale last night, and was happy to be home and see her kitties. Her husband was away for an important job interview--we're all crossing our fingers, because this would bring them back to the NW.

I just proof read the beautiful printed newsletter that will be going out to everyone on the snail mail list. You might want to make sure you're signed up, because it's a wing-dinger and a dandy. There's even a blurb written by my baby brother, Jerry "Bubbie" Lael. :)

Mom forgot her cane after her overnight visit--it will be delivered to her tomorrow--and every time I look at it, standing in a corner in the kitchen, I remember that scene in the original version of Miracle on 34th Street. At the end of the movie, a very small Natalie Wood makes the hero (John Payne?) and heroine (the incomparable Maureen O'Hara) stop the car because they're passing the dream house, the one she asked Santa for. They stop. They all go into the house. And there is the cane, proof that Kris Kringle had indeed delivered on his promise.

It must be getting close to Christmas.....

Monday, November 02, 2009


My Mom and sister, Pam, arrived yesterday and spent the night. We had a great time catching up on our visiting and playing with art supplies.

Pam will be returning to her home in Scottsdale, AZ today, and Mom will be heading back up north to her retirement community.

I'll be going back to Blue River, Texas, to rejoin the Texas McKettricks.

All kinds of exciting things are in the works--keep an eye on the website for updates.

More tomorrow.