Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Happy Birthday, Mom and Jerry

My mom and brother share a January 31 birthday, just as my dad and I shared June 10. 

Here's wishing you both lots of love and many more birthdays.

Blogging in the afternoon seemed like a good idea at the time, but it apparently doesn't work for me.  By three p.m., my brain has switched from writer mode to wall-staring mode, since I'm basically a morning person.

I'm well and I'm hard at work on the new book, and I just wanted to let you know that we're plugging along here on the Triple L.  Bernicie and I even got a walk in yesterday--the air was so wonderfully fresh--stepping around mud puddles and the occasional stubborn patch of ice.  She doesn't even slow down from the moment she sees me put on my boots--it's Hallelujah Day for her.  Lots of yapping follows, and I have to remind her to stand still so I can hook on her collar and leash, and then we're off, out the door, into the big, wide world.

It's wicked slick around the barn, so the Canadian Wrangler made trails leading from the outside doors of the stalls with old shavings, making sure the old Buckaroo wouldn't slip on the ice.  Traveler, the little pinto, doesn't step sedately out of his stall of a morning, like the gentleman he isn't.  :)  He thinks he's the Wabash Cannonball.  Banjo has a Seabiscuit complex, and only the ladies, Coco, Skye and April, use any common sense at all.  Coco, as the eldest mare, is the leader of the band, but everybody defers to Buck, out there in his muddy green coat.

The weather was sunny when I got up, but now it's mildly overcast.

The jury's still out on whether or not Bernicie and I will get our walk, but I'm thinking probably.

See you tomorrow.    

Friday, January 27, 2012

Still Iced In

Bernicie and I took a short walk yesterday--she was barreling along, on the trails of passing turkeys and coyotes and deer, while I picked my way cautiously from dry patch to dry patch.  :)  The fresh air was good for both of us and the weather, as I mentioned, was beautiful.  More sunshine today--I can't get enough of it.

I'm working on the new book, and making some real progress, so I'll be switching the blog-writing from the mornings to the afternoons, when I have my pages done.

See you then.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Take Cover, I May Sing

One of the songs from the musical, "Oklahoma", is running through my mind this morning--"Oh, what a beautiful morning, oh, what a beautiful day..."

The sun is brilliant in a blue sky--this despite the fact that there is more snow on the way--and the driveway looks treacherous.  We are "iced in", I think, the kitties, Bernice and I.  And that's okay, because all I want to do today is write.  :)

A happy-birthday shout out to the Canadian Wrangler, Larry.  (I won't say how old he is.)  January is a heavy birthday month in our outfit--my sister Pam, cousin and trail boss Mary Ann, her husband Larry, my mother and my brother all celebrate within a few days of each other. 

The wild turkeys have been passing through, and I've spotted coyote tracks on my walks with Bernice, but our moose visitor has not been back.  (I like seeing him from a disance.)

Off to write.  Have a good day.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Feeling Considerably Better

We even have sunshine today, though it's very cold and the roads are too slick for Bernicie and I to go for our walk.  Maybe later--we took a short one yesterday, and she was practically bounding along, while I picked my cautious way between patches of ice.  There were four turkeys in the neighbors' driveway, but I don't think she even noticed them.  :)  She's old, and doesn't see that well, methinks.  We met another dog at the top of the driveway--a portly and elderly gray-muzzled black lab.  He was quite benign, and gave a half-hearted woof at the sight of us--translation: 'this is my part of the road so watch it'.  I smiled and we turned and went the other way.  Bernice had her nose to the ground and was either unfazed by the old gentleman or never knew he was there. 

I'm especially eager to get into the book, but I'm not very speedy.  :)  Not sick anymore, just a little flimsy and fragile.  (OK, whiny.)

Now for the comments:  Thanks, all of you, for the kind words.  And Jessica, in response to your post--I would LOVE to see the McKettricks in a TV movie or better yet, a series.  Wouldn't that be great????  There was some interest in such a project at one point, but nothing more was said.  The movie/TV business is like that--I think my friend Josanne spent something like five years getting "Last Chance Cafe" on Lifetime.  Nothing happens and nothing happens and then one fine day, the phone call comes in and it's Nellie-bar-the-door.

Hope springs eternal.

And now, to work.


Monday, January 23, 2012

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Let it snow, let it snow, let it, oh-for-Pete's sake, SNOW

I guess with a heading like that, you don't need a weather report.  (As if you did in the first place.)  The stuff is actually very beautiful, and I'll post a picture later today.

I loved your responses to the Valentine question--Margaret, I DO remember making those Valentine boxes with crepe paper and glue, and waiting in anticipation to open them on the day.  It was very exciting--a lot of things about attending grade school in Northport, WA were major events--like the last day before Christmas vacation, when we always had cookies, punch, a movie and a very modest gift exchange in the afternoon, followed by dismissal.  Hard to know who was happier when the bell sounded--us, or our teachers.  :)  Those of you familiar with small towns will note that movies were a very big deal in those days--our local movie house closed sometime in the early fifties, I think--I recall being enthralled by Disney's "Toby Tyler".  That kid would have had me sold on running off to join the circus if it hadn't meant leaving home.  :)

I mentioned my big plan, right?  The one where I get up at 4 a.m., etc.?  Well, it finally occurred to me that God's plan for me might just be a little different from mine. 

He seems to want me to sleep in.  :)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Today's Snow Report

The white stuff is coming down pretty hard at the moment, though the flakes are tiny and it looks as though we've got less than an inch.  Hope those won't turn out to be Famous Last Words.  :) 

Today is my sister Pam's birthday--happy birthday, Sis.  She and husband Jon recently moved to Seattle from California--sure hope that snow doesn't come as too much of a shock.  I'm a little envious, to be frank--I'd love to be able to buy fresh fish and farm flowers at the incomparable Pike Place Market, eat at the New Orleans Cafe in Pioneer Square, and shop at Westlake Mall.  :) 

Sure, I could probably manage a condo in the Emerald City, but where would I keep my horses? :) 

Snow or no snow, I'll be writing today.  Under my special sunshine lamp.

In the meantime, let's talk about Valentines.  (I know, it's a little early, but hey.  It'll be fun!)  What was your most memorable Valentine, either given or received?  Mine was presented to me by a high school flame--it was six feet tall.  (The Valentine, not the flame.)

Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Well, we've been lucky with the weather so far this winter, but it seems all our chickens are coming home to roost, beginning with light snow tonight and semi-blizzard levels tomorrow and the day after.  As long as the power stays on, my computer will work and I can concentrate on my story, which means I'm a happy and grateful camper.  (I'll still be happy and grateful if the lights go out, but it will take more effort.  :) )

I really enjoyed your answers to yesterday's question--those of you who haven't seen them can click on the 'comments' link under Monday's blog entry.  I certainly agree with all your choices--Robyn Carr's Jack, for instance, is a definite hunk.  Today, I'd add Francis Crawford, of Dorothy Dunnett's Lymond Chronicles, and of course Rhett Butler deserves a spot in the Hero Hall of Fame.  Branching out into TV, I'm still crazy about Little Joe Cartwright, of "Bonanza" fame.  Even after all these years, that saucy grin of his inspires me.  :)

I mentioned my dawn simulator, basically an alarm clock with a blindingly bright light, a few entries back.  Gadget queen though I am, I couldn't figure out how to set the thing for about a week.  Finally, a tech-savvy friend solved the problem, and I've been using the widget for a couple of days now.  It definitely wakes me up, but I'm all too able to ignore it.  Maybe what I need is a radio/CD player that will boom out with something like, "76 Trombones" or Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" :)  My goal is to resume my old habit of getting up at 4 a.m. (I am a morning person, obviously.)  I like to read my devotionals and listen to the Daily Audio Bible, get a little exercise, and start writing immediately after that, so I can be all jazzed up when I sit down at my computer.

The best laid plans.  Today, the first thing I had to do was throw Bernicie into the sink and lather her up.  You're happier without the details, believe me.  Then the coffee pot--which I bought 2 months ago--went on the blink.

John Lennon was right.  Life IS what happens when you've made other plans.

See you tomorrow.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Friday's Topic

Wow.  You sure responded to that one.  Fun to hear so many different viewpoints--we'll have to have more of these discussions.

The consensus seemed to be:

Full moons ARE different from other moons--I've always figured it was simple physics, ie, if the moon pulls at the tides, why wouldn't it pull at little ole water-filled us?  (This last one, according to my MoonPhase app, was the Wolf Moon.  Don't you love that name?)

Black cats, like all small furry folks, are wonderful.  :) 

Some of you told great stories about things your grandmothers believed.  (My mom could never stand to see us play with crutches, I recall, because we might wind up needing them sometime.)

And you brought to mind one superstition I do believe in, because I've seen it happen so many times, growing up in a small town the way I did.  Big events--especially deaths--happen in threes.

Or maybe we just segment them that way.  :)

If you could pick one hero, from one novel or from history or whatever, and marry him, who would you choose?

Dibs on Sam O'Ballivan, the Man from Stone Creek.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday the 13th

I'm not superstitious--well, not very--but I do tend to watch my p's and q's on Friday the 13th.  :)  I'm also not wild about walking under ladders--that's probably just common sense--but I don't throw salt over my shoulder when I spill it or anything like that, and I have no issues with black cats.  My daughter has two.

On the other hand, the full moon always seems to affect me, as does Mercury Retrograde.  (Even when I deliberately ignore them.)

Are you superstitious about anything?  Let's talk about it.

Just click on the comment button below.  I'll send an autographed book to one of you.

Have a great weekend and, oh, yes, don't walk under any ladders.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sunny Skies in January

This is the Eastern Washington weather I remember from my childhood--it's very cold out, but the sun is shining and the sky is sugar-bowl blue.  As Bernicie and I walked around the pasture this morning, I felt my heart just swell with gratitude.  That's my prayer time, while I'm walking, and it's just such a gift to me to spend that time with God and my all-time favorite Yorkie.  :)

I mentioned losing my cell phone--odd how disconnected I felt, even though I'm not actually a phone person anyway.  I missed my Daily Audio Bible app most of all--listening regularly to the Word is so healing, even when the stories themselves are confusing.  By that I mean some of the stuff in the Old Testament--burnt offerings, for instance, or Lot, willing to toss his two virgin daughters to the angry crowd outside his house.  Yikes.  For a long time, things like that kept me at a distance from the Bible, even though I was raised on the King James Version and will forever be grateful to my mom for taking us to the Northport Presbyterian Church from infancy.  Still, as I'm rediscovering now, there is much more to the scriptures than the superficial meaning of the words themselves.  It definitely has a singular power, all it's own.  

For me, the key was to stop trying to understand, and let up on wanting to argue every point.  Now, I don't worry about believing or disbelieving, I just listen.  And there is some kind of shift going on within.

Snow predicted for the end of the week.

Oh, well.  :) It IS January, after all.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


It's hard to believe I've written 1600 entries on this blog, but I reckon the counter doesn't lie.  :)  Amazing.

Today's Q&A:

Hilda asked if sections of my books are ever cut out, and told me some authors post the missing chapters on the web so the reader can fill in the blanks.  I've never experienced this, really.  My editor and I work very closely together throughout the process, and that keeps me on track.  If Joan asks me to change something, I generally agree with her, and make the changes.  If--and this is rare because we are very like-minded--I don't agree, we negotiate a solution that suits both of us.

Lea didn't actually ask a question--she sent me a link to her blog, "Lea and Her Mustangs".  The pictures are great!

It's a beautiful, sunny day today.  This has to be the nicest January in my long and winding memory--not counting the 8 I spent in Arizona, of course.  :) 

And now back to the writing. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

One Question

A special hello to Jennifer, who emailed to say she's an aspiring writer.  Here's her quesion: do you define your characters before you write, physical and character details, or let them develop as you write?

A: Both.  Usually, I'm getting to know a character for weeks, if not months or years, before I write about them.  When I begin the story, I have a fairly comprehensive but also generalized vision of the characters, the situation, etc., but my characters invariably develop as the book unfolds and they often surprise me--and I love it when that happens.

That's my method, but I hasten to add that there is no one "right" way to plan characters--I work organically, with one thing growing out of another.  Something happens, a character responds to it, and so on.  Here's the most valuable advice I can give an aspiring writer (besides the obvious, which is write, and you wouldn't believe how often that particular step gets overlooked): Be willing to write badly until you learn to do it well.  Perfectionism is the enemy--and after all these years, it's still a struggle I face every day.

Only God is perfect.  The rest of us have to be satisfied with doing our best and letting that be okay.  When you get right down to it, after all, "good enough" is plenty in most cases--and it sure beats doing nothing at all.

Bernice and I took a nice walk today.  No snow.  (YES!) The Yorkster is downright perky these days, thanks to her medicine, and that lights up my heart.

Until tomorrow....

Monday, January 09, 2012

Leaner But Not Meaner

I did it.  I worked up the courage to step onto the scale this morning and--hallelujah--I am at my pre-rodeo, pre-Toronto trip, pre-Vegas weight!  YES.  Viva la D.I.E.T.

OK, so a dozen of you left comments, with questions, and I will address them here as best I can.
Thanks first, though, for all those kind words.

Q: Will I be writing more time travel books?
 A: If I get a really good idea for one, yes.  Right now, I'm up to my eyeballs in sexy cowboy heroes and the view from here is great.  :)

Q: Is there a man in your life?  Romantically speaking, that is?
A: No.  But I believe he's out there somewhere and he's a lot like Sam O'Ballivan, the man from Stone Creek.  :)  I expect he'll turn up when the time is right.

Q: Are there audio versions of your books?
A: Most of them are available on audible.com or iTunes, methinks, but not all are on CD.

Q: How do you like your CPAP machine?  (This is a breathing device for those of us with sleep apnea.)
A: I rest ever so much better, now that I don't wake up fifty times a night to breathe.  The mask part is bulky, though, and I took a while to get used to the thing.

Q: Do you use events from your own life in your stories?
A: Well, I never put down an experience exactly as it happened to me, but of course I am influenced by life--mainly the stories I remember my cowboy dad and uncles telling and certainly Gramma Wiley's tales of her Kansas childhood.  My writing tends to be organic--I begin with a certain character in a situation that intrigues me, and build from there.

So that's the overview for the most recent crop of questions.  If I missed yours, never fear.  I'll get to it.  :) Keep them coming.

In other news, I have misplaced my cell phone and am awaiting a new one.  There was a delay.  Is Mercury in retrograde?  I'll have to check.  The moon has been full the last couple of nights, and that usually dials up the crazy-meter a little.  :)

Basically, it's all good.  Bernicie the Yorkie is doing very well on her new medicine.  (She'll be 12 in April.)  My old Buckaroo is still hanging in, wandering around the pasture during the day with the other horses, clad in his beloved green blanket, and keeping his mischievous fan club, Banjo and Traveler, in their places.  Both these ponies want to be like Buck when they grow up.  :)

And who can blame them? 

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Writing and Rambling

I'm writing today, and I'll like be at it for the next several hours, but I wanted to stop by the blog to let you know I'm thinking about you and to wish you a wonderful New Year.

2012.  I can hardly believe it.  I'm still setting goals--looking for ways to live up to this year's word, "Thrive"--and I think I mentioned the art journal I've begun.  I started off by signing up for a Photoshop class, starting in late February--something I've always wanted to do.  Randy Travis is appearing at Northern Quest casino in February as well, and I plan to be there.  I am a major Randy Travis fan.  :) Not that going to a concert is the same as achieving a goal, except that, for me, it's part of the process.  Part of my definition of thriving is having more fun.

As I write this blog entry, I'm awash in full-spectrum light--bought myself a special floor lamp for Christmas, to keep the winter blues at bay.  So far, so good.  I forge on with the D.I.E.T. and all I can say for sure is, my jeans still fit.  :) 

I'm opening the floor for questions, informally at least.  Click on the comment button and ask your question.  I will answer as many of them as I can, right here on the blog.

Time to get back to Parable, Montana.

See you tomorrow.