Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Back in the Saddle

This morning, I have lots of news. 

First, "Creed's Honor" is in the stores today.  I'm so excited!

Second, the Linda Lael Miller Scholarships for Women will be starting up again soon.  My sister Sally will be overseeing the program, and the goal is to evolve the whole shebang into a bonafide foundation, with ongoing grants offered.

Third, I'm getting a whole new website soon.  Watch this space!

Fourth, I will definitely be at National Finals Rodeo this December, and there's some exciting stuff in the offing, including a contest awarding the most amazingly beautiful silver belt buckles from Montana Silversmiths--with three cowboys and "The Creeds" engraved. 

And then there are the changes: I will be working with one or more horse rescue charities, instead of the Humane Society of the United States.  I want to take a much more active and personal role, and the smaller groups are the ideal place for that.  The animal shelter plan turned out to be too complicated, both legally and ethically, but I will continue to support Spokanimal, one of our local shelters, and I hope you will do the same in your own community.  If we all did that, the world would be a better place, not just for the animals, but for people as well.

The trip to New York was absolutely wonderful, and very exciting. I did an interview for the Rhapsody Book Club, and you'll be able to see it soon, on their website and my own.  I chatted with the lovely Maggie Linton, for Sirius XM Radio, and did a couple of book signings--always fun to meet all those librarians and booksellers, face to face.  My long-time agent and dear friend, Irene Goodman, joined me for a quiet dinner--believe me, we were both ready for some quiet time--during which we discussed kids and plans for the future.  Joan Marlow Golan, my beloved editor--Anne of Green Gables would describe her as a 'bosom friend'--spoiled me rotten, with a lovely Italian lunch and then a delicious dinner at the Russian Tea Room.  That's become our tradition--when I'm in NYC, we dine at the RTR.  The fabulous Harlequin team threw a hoopalah in my honor, too--a lovely dinner at an elegant restaurant.  I had my own printed menus (yes, Mom, I saved a few for you) and the table was positively heaping with snow-white peonies--my faves.  I was constantly dazzled--it's no wonder I've renamed myself Lindarella.  :)

Frankly, I'm still assimilating the whole experience.  I came home exhausted, but very happy, and very grateful.

That's the update for now.  So much happened on that trip that things will probably be surfacing right along, so please stay tuned.

Make it a good day, my friends.  We're gonna make it through these challenging times, because that's who we are and what we do.   

Monday, May 30, 2011


Today, I will be quiet.  I will remember all those who fought and died for freedom and basic human dignity.  I will remember those who are serving right now, too--far from home, holding the line, living from one courageous moment to the next.  God bless our servicemen and women--you are the very best of America--and I pray that each and every one of you will come home safely, and soon.

No remembrance would be complete without a mention of my late dad, Grady "Skip" Lael, proud Marine and former town marshal.  Dad, you taught me practically everything I know about 'toughing it out', hanging in there, sticking with it until the job gets done, and doing the right thing.  You and Mom were always around, and I felt safe--that security is still with me to this day.

Thank you.

I have lots of news, but I'll write about that tomorrow.

Today is for remembrance. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

We, the Concentrationally Challenged

It's so beautiful out today--hard to stay inside and focus on what needs to be done.  :)

Packing for the trip to New York, for instance.  I spent yesterday shopping for a few extra things to wear--not my favorite thing to do when my weight is higher than I'd like--but I found a dress, a skirt, and two blouses that will work.  The wonderful thing is, there will be so much going on, so many friends to see and books to sign and events to attend, that I won't have time to feel self-conscious.  

My "Little House" books arrived recently--I plan to read them straight through.  They are lifelong favorites, along with "Anne of Green Gables", "Little Women", "Jane Eyre" and a real oldie called "Girl of the Limberlost".  I also loved the Nancy Drew mysteries, Trixie Belden, and before that, the Bobbsey twins.  I believe our most beloved books become part of us, in some way, don't you?

Spokane's Lilac Parade is tomorrow--kicked off by tonight's Torchlight Parade.  (Spokane is the Lilac City.)  Welcome, lilacs.  I swear, that must be the way heaven smells--like those lush and lovely purple flowers.  Few things are more beautiful, in a fruit jar vase or a pitcher.

Have an outstanding weekend.  I certainly intend to.

Oh, and one more thing.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

My Many and Varied Interests

Is it because I'm a Gemini?  :)  I don't know.  But I'm interested in so many different things--art, cooking, reading, travel, languages, animals, to name just a few.  And, of course, there's writing.  I feel so lucky to get paid for doing something I'd do anyway.  (Our secret.  Please don't tell my publishers.)

I love to try new recipes, and I make a mean Boeuf-Bourg., if I do say so myself.  (And even if I can't spell it.)  Lately, though, I've mostly been using my cookbooks to weigh down something I've glued to an artist trading card or a potential collage background.  :)  They are especially good for that.

I listened to the end of John Hart's "The Last Child".  It's a breakneck thriller--and I was hardly able to turn off the iPod until I'd finished the story.  The violence was pretty graphic, but the action was non-stop and the writing superb.  I just had to know what would happen.  I will admit I'm looking forward to delving into, Debbie Macomber's "A Turn in the Road"--I'm ready for some humor and random acts of kindness.  Isn't it wonderful that there are so many different kinds of books out there?

The peonies are sporting teeny, tiny buds.  (Grow, grow!)

I plan to write today, and I'm so eager to get back to my story people, now that I'm getting to know them.

Sadie-beagle has a well-earned day off, and she's snoozing away on her dog bed over in the corner.  Bernice is off in some other part of the house, probably policing the cats--she considers them her personal responsibility.  :)  Bernice is one officious Yorkie, and she has to know everything that's going on, at all times.  We have no idea what she plans to do with this information, but there you go.

And that's the news.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Spring at Last

This sunny, warm weather is something to celebrate.  Absolutely gorgeous.  I can practically feel my winter-logged brain cells lighting up for action, hear them shouting, "Yeehaw!"

When will the peonies pop?  That's the big question around the Triple L these days.  It usually happens while I'm off in New York, attending BEA, but I don't mind coming home to all that color and fragrance and swift-passing beauty.  The roses will be lovely, too--especially the Veteran's Honor ones planted in honor of my dad--and of course they'll last the whole summer.  

I love these trips to New York.  I won't be there long, but I'll get to see dear friends and sign books and cruise the aisles looking for famous people.  :)  (A couple of years ago, I saw Dog and Beth, the bounty hunters.)

There is so much to be glad about, and to be grateful for, but I can't close this entry without mentioning the passing of my friend, Darlene Layman.  Darlene was a long-time member of Romance Writers of America, serving on the national board and at the chapter level, too.  She was generous and supportive and funny, and she will be sorely missed.  She was very dear to a great many people, including me.

Godspeed, Darlene.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Blog On, Big River

Sometimes I just can't resist playing with words, even when the results don't make sense.  :)

I wrote a chapter yesterday, so the book is up and running.  Chapter One is always a challenge, getting everybody on-stage, etc. 

I'm reading Jennifer Lauck's new memoir, "Found".  Like her previous works, it's fascinating--"Blackbird" was one of my all time favorite books.  An incredible testimony to the resilience of children--Lauck's stepmother was a piece of work, I'm here to tell you.  She should have been in jail.

On the iPod front, I'm listening to John Hart's "The Last Child"--I made John's acquaintance at the Pike's Peak Writer's Conference down in Colorado Springs at the end of April.  This one is a thriller, and it's hard to push that 'stop' button--I thought I'd already read it, and I decided a review would be in order, only to discover that I'd never finished it.  I'm making up for that now--it's a great book, beautifully written, but be warned.  The action and the emotions are intense.  I can't wait to find out what happens!

And that's the great thing about a good book, isn't it?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Monday and Me

Monday is normally one of my favorite days.  Today, I don't feel quite ready for it---:).  I had so much fun goofing off over the weekend that I'm a little tuckered out. 

I went to Costco on Saturday morning, early.  (Yes, yes, I know--Costco on Saturday morning--whose bright idea was that????  But I work on weekdays, after all.)  Among other things, I bought my friend Debbie Macomber's new book, "A Turn in the Road", the usual huge packages of fish and meat, vitamins and soap, etc.  Did I mention that I love Costco, even though it wears me out? 

After I'd loaded my stuff into the back of my truck, I headed for another favorite hangout, Spokane Art Supply.  Thanks to Mary Jo McGraw, an art-stamp enthusiast with DVDs, books and appearances on "The Carol Duval Show" to her credit, there is plenty of amazingly cool stuff for making artist trading cards and similar hobbies.  I'm happy to say I've signed up for Teesha Moore's visual journaling class--I was so disappointed to miss her legendary "Artfest" this April--and I can hardly wait.  Teesha's designs are merely fabulous. 

This morning, I put down a deposit for an art workshop in France, in September of 2012, with Lynne Perrella and Lisa Renner.  Think ahead, that's my motto.

I just learned that "Creed's Honor" will be the Book of the Month at K-Mart during June.  I'm tickled pink by that news, and while I'm at BEA this month (Book Expo America), I'll be filming an interview for the Rhapsody Book Club, which will eventually be shown on their websites.  That's a thrill, too.

Sadie-beagle is snoring away--I love how that dog gets me up at daybreak to make a trip to the backyard, then promptly goes back to sleep, leaving me awake for the duration.  As my friends often point out, the Beag has me well trained.  :)

It's raining here today.  Big surprise.

That's the latest from my kitchen table.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

My To-Do List, etc.

Yes, I checked off 'paint mermaid tails'.  :)  Nothing quite so whimsical on today's list.

I get a lot of satisfaction from crossing something off the list and, naturally, I get more done, but there's an even better reason for writing down the tasks I want to accomplish in any given day, be they large or small.  Making the list helps me to focus on one thing at a time instead of constantly trying to round up all my stray thoughts.  That helps me avoid procrastination, too.

Strange weather today--started out sunny, now it's overcast.  Go figure.

I started "Big Sky Country" yesterday.  The first chapter usually takes several days, and this one is no exception.  It sure feels good to be working on a new book and a new series.  

What I'm reading/listening to: The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure, a memoir about the author's long-time fascination with Laura Ingalls Wilder.  As a major fan of that series myself, I'm definitely enjoying this one.  Maybe I'll reread all the Little House books, just for the fun of it.  What is their great charm?  Simplicity, I think, and the happy, resourceful comraderie of the Ingalls clan--these were people who knew how to look on the bright side and make the best of whatever came their way.

Not a bad way to live.

And that's the news.  

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Here in Lindarella's Castle

(Okay, so I'm in a whimsical mood.  :)  I gave myself the name "Lindarella", when so many cool things began to happen in my career--and although this house is big, it's definitely not a castle.)  Call it artistic license.

Thanks for the prayers and the good thoughts: Sadie-beagle's test came out fine.

We are in for MAJOR sunshine here in Spokane, and I am thrilled, thrilled, thrilled.   The predicted high is a delicious 70 degrees.  The trees are literally sparkling with light, the sky is sugar-bowl blue, and there are wild turkeys on the lawn over by the shop, pecking at the rich green ground.  YEE-HAW!

After writing my Morning Pages this a.m., I made my to-do list for the day.  Don't all writers love paper?  I know this one does.  Anyway, one item on the list jumped out at me as I was reviewing the plan--"Paint mermaids' tails."  I had to smile.  Bet that one doesn't turn up on a lot of to-do lists, between, say, "rotate the tires" and "pick up the dry cleaning".  Of course it refers to a set of artist trading cards I'm doing for a swap called "Ocean".  The mermaids' tails will be painted and glittered up and, naturally, attached to mermaids--using brads so they will move.  I have some little bitty library pockets from the Colorado Springs shopping haul, with tabs inside that can be lifted out, but I haven't decided how to use those yet.  Like my mother and my daughter, I dearly love tiny things, especially if they're interactive in some way.  I have some new rubber stamps, which I love, and I treated myself to 2 large sets of Copic markers, my faves.

This morning, however, there is no time for art--at least, not the kind that involves paints and brushes.  I'm due in Parable right after breakfast, and I plan to be there on time.

That's the news from my kitchen table.

Be kind, not just to other people and, of course, animals, but to yourself.  Times are tough out there, and folks need a smile and a good word more than ever.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Glory Hallelujah!

The sun is shining!  Brilliantly, joyously, lighting up the blue-green landscape.  YES!

Sadie-beagle is having a sonogram today--think good thoughts, please.  Her most recent blood test concerned her vet a little, so we're checking things out.

I spent yesterday reading a manuscript before it goes to press--"A Lawman's Christmas"--and today I'm starting the new book, #1 in the Parable, Montana series, called "Big Sky Country."  Finally.  It was something of a challenge, clearing the decks for this one.

My peonies are busy, busy, busy, getting ready to spout blossoms, along with the lush leaves they already sport.  I have several peony plants, mostly young ones, but they're finally getting established.  There are few things more beautiful than these grand dames of the garden when they reach maturity.  There are roses, too, of course, and I'm looking forward to a yard bursting with color and bouquets on every surface. 

I plan to buy some bedding plants this weekend, along with a few herbs, but I'm skipping the tomatoes.  They had some kind of blight last year and, besides, we have some terrific farmer's markets in the Spokane area.

My newest gadget is a Nook--I think this is true love.  :)  It's much lighter than my ipad and, unlike the Kindle, it has color, a definite advantage with magazines.  Just think of all the paper to be saved.  :)  Not to mention the reduction in clutter.  Which is not to say I plan on giving up real books and magazines, because I don't.  Ever.  But I do a lot of traveling, as you know, and the Nook will be perfect for that--easy to carry around.

That's the news for Tuesday, my friends.

Be safe, be happy, be kind.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Mother's Day Report

My favorite (and only) brother drove up from Kittitas yesterday, and he and I took our mom out for a lovely brunch at Prospector's, up on the north end of town.  She was all spiffed up for the day, and a grand time was had by all.  After a delicious meal, we headed over to Fred Meyers to do a little shopping--Mom and I shopped, anyway.  Jerry just waited patiently and then loaded up the car.

Later in the day, once I was back home, I had a long talk with daughter Wendy.  Her movie, "Truth Below", as been moved to June 16, on MTV, at 10 pm Pacific.  Warning: this movie is not for the faint of heart or the easily offended.  :)  That said, I'm very proud of Wendy and all her accomplishments.  She is an amazing woman, my baby girl, with an inborn talent as a writer and an even greater capacity for hard work.  Talent, of course, is not enough on its own.

I'm writing today, and also reading through a manuscript.  I spent the whole of last evening reading the wrong one.  Duh. 

The weather is overcast this morning, but some sunshine might creep in a little later on, and I'm ready for it.  :)

I threw together a few artist trading cards over the weekend, and made a quick trip to Walmart, where I bought some plastic containers to hold the new art supplies I picked up on my recent visit to Colorado Springs.  (I'm trying to get organized, but it's a big job.)  I hosted a trade on Art 42 and sent out all the art dolls on Saturday.  The swap was a lot of fun for me, and I already have another one set up.  Check it out online--Steampunk Paper Doll is the name of the trade. 

The peonies in my backyard are sure leafing out.


And that's the news for today, my friends.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Mother's Day

Happy Mom's day to Hazel Bleecker Lael, my mama.  See you Sunday morning!

There are many reasons why I love my mother, and here are just a few of them:

She was always there for me.
She passed on her love of books and her facility with the written word.
She took me to Sunday school.
She covered for me when I would otherwise have been in big trouble with Dad.  :)
She can make me laugh like no one else.
She never said 'go outside and play' when I was scribbling down some story in a spiral notebook.
She pretended she didn't know I was faking it when I stayed home from school to see Michael Landon on "Hollywood Squares".
She did without so many things so her children could have extras.

And that doesn't even scratch the surface.

I love you, Mom.  Thanks for being you.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Iris Folding-Hot Air Balloon Card

Belated Blog

I know, I know.  I was going to blog from Colorado Springs, using my trusty iPad.  Obviously, it just didn't happen.  I was too busy having a great time!

The Pike's Peak Writers Conference is one of the best I've ever attended--well organized, well attended, and very informative.  I attended a workshop called "Cowboy Up" and learned a lot.  I had a lovely view of the Peak from my hotel room window, and enjoyed making new friends and reconnecting with old ones.  Well, not old....

After the conference, I stayed at my good friend Debbie's house, and did we ever have fun.  We hit my favorite restaurants, Souper Salad and Mimi's, along with two wonderful papercrafting stores, Archiver's and Simple Pleasures.  Wow.  I had a ball buying loads of new stuff to try with my trading cards and art journals.  Debbie and her mom, Jean, and I are thick as thieves, so we have fun just hanging out together.  Deb taught me a great new (to me) technique, called iris folding.  I made the prettiest kimono, maybe 3 by 5 inches, and will glue it into an art journal.  If I find a good video on iris folding, I'll post the link here on the blog.  I couldn't figure it out from the instruction books, but once Debbie showed me the trick, I really got into it.  The results are beautiful and unique.

I've been getting a few of the same questions on through the website, so I thought I'd address them here, though just briefly.

The #1 question, Will there be more Mojo books?
The answer: Yes, eventually.  Right now, I'm too busy with my new Parable series, but I'll write at least one more Mojo book for sure.

The #2 question, Will you ever write more vampire books?
The answer: That's unlikely.  However, I will be offering the four original books as e-books very soon, and at some point I may offer short stories about the characters, also electronic, for a whopping 99-cent fee.  Depends on the response to the initial series, of course.

The #3 question, Will you ever finish the medieval series begun with "My Lady Wayward" and "My Lady Beloved"?
The answer.  Also unlikely.  They were great books, but frankly, they didn't sell all that well and, alas, publishing is a business, though we readers tend to think of it as an art form.  :)  Again, however, I may write a shorter version of the third story, as an e-book, just so people can find out what happened to the third sister.

Tune in tomorrow for more about the conference in Colorado Springs.

In the meantime, be happy, be well, and be kind.