Recycling Our Lives

There was a time when people used up as much as possible before throwing anything away. Old clothes were repurposed into rag rugs or quilt pieces or cleaning rags.Old blankets became quilt liners and wood was used in a myriad of ways before producing heat through fires. Bones and vegetable scraps combined into healthful broths or soup bases. Getting full value from every item, though time consuming, was often a financial necessity.

We progressed to a time of planned obsolescence where a new car ever five years was considered the minimum requirement for a life well lived. Not for everyone of course and not only for financial reasons. No matter how desirable we thought that new car smell might be (which we now know is a compilation of chemicals used in vehicle production, the idea of car payments, learning the idiosyncrasies of a new vehicle (not to mention car salesmen!) led many of us into holding on to old faithful just one more year.

Recycling has become a cultural preference as well as a recognition of the dangers inherent in an ecologically overstressed world.Better than sorting out our trash is that old idea using it up as completely as possible.

Use it up. Wear it out. Make it do.

This mantra was in the forefront of my mind as I decided to follow a dream plan of creating a micro climate..a small place on

A bird bath from a defunct garden

A bird bath from a defunct garden

our high desert property where I could have an area of plants and flowers protected from the often harsh winds, without stressing the water supply. The catalyst for this idea was numerous large cisterns placed on the property by the previous owners. The slightest moisture on the roof trickles into these containers, giving ‘free’ water for my projects.

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latilla from another project and old planks

It started with a small fenced in area outside the master bedroom, along with a low retaining wall to deflect excess rain water from the house.It doesn’t rain often here but when it does it can rain heavily. When I decided to complete the area, I did so with a commitment to, as much as possible, use materials found on the property, left over from earlier projects. The fence posts were new but the wire, the snow fencing, the gates, were all scattered around, waiting to be re-used. I did purchase some landscape boundaries to keep the new soil in the planting areas but covered it over with whatever was on hand. I’ll be using flat rocks scattered I’ve found here and there for the solid areas outside the master bedroom, and will add some sort of ground cover in between.

It’s a work in progress, but I’m getting there. With the exception of my late husband’s brother’s help with setting the posts (it

gate from a heavy wire  display

gate from a heavy wire display

took three of us actually, along with a rented auger) I’ve done the work myself. Originally it was intended as a private area for my husband to convalesce; it’s now slowly growing into a place of peace for me.

Along the same lines, I ‘found’ a story I wrote several years ago and started to work on it. What the heck, I purged that sucker from one end to the other. Gutted whole chapters of drivel to get to the meat of the story about a mercenary’s daughter and a special forces vet, neither one of whom thought they deserved love. I sent it out, to be snapped up and put into the edit queue at Black Opal Books. I have more stories to be found and repurposed, as well as new stories to be written. It’s all about finding my creative self, and recycling those ideas pounding around in my head.

Gardening and story telling, both expressions of artistic effort. Both so rewarding.

BICHOK Y’all

what better use for a chimayo?

what better use for a chimayo?

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When Things are Even Better Than We Remember

How many times have you recommended a book or a movie or a song from your distant memories, then when you actually read or watch or listen to them again yourself you’re appalled by what your younger self thought was high quality. The book turns out to have a pathetic plot and flat characters; the movie is poorly acted, and not in a funny way; the song, oh dear the song is just not very good.

But every now and then your memories don’t prove you false and they are every bit as good as you remembered. Sometimes even better.

I’ve contemplated this post for a while, right down to the music clip. I remember when I first heard When I’m 64, and how I could not conceive reaching that age myself. My parents were nowhere near 64, in fact I’m not sure I knew anyone that old. Times do change, don’t they.

So here I am on the eve of that momentous age and I decided to see if that light, happy tune I what I remembered.

It’s not. It’s better. Judge for yourself

Tom liked to point out we were the same age for twelve days, his birthday being on the 16th. He’d have enjoyed this rendition, we were both saps for the ‘old’ music.

Getting back into the habit of sharing recipes, I needed to find an egg less sugar free cookie for a kennel club meeting, and I found with this one. Unfortunately I’m not yet finding the website, I’ll keep looking:

Ingredients

1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup artificial powdered sweetener, such as Equal
2 cups almond meal
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup pecan pieces

Preparation

In a large bowl, cream the butter and slowly add the sweetener. While mixer is still running add remaining ingredients, one at a time. If the mixture seems too dry, add another tablespoon of whipping cream.

Roll mixture out onto wax paper and form a log that is about 2-1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap wax paper around log and refrigerate at least one hour. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove shortbread log and cut into slices, about 1/2 inch wide, place a few inches apart on baking sheet. Bake in oven 8 to 12 minutes. Allow to cool before storing.

Yields 2 dozen

They were super yummy but a bit delicate probably because I added extra cream, figuring it would be too dry. More crumbs than cookies which meant they were finished with a spoon. Which got me to thinking about a cheesecake mousse layered with cookie crumbs. Hmmmm, yeah…

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Peeking in on A Question of Honor #SPeekSunday #MFRWAuthor

 

Here’s a peek at the beginning of A Question of Honor, which is with Beta readers now, ready to go to Black Opal Books very soon. A Question of Honor is the first story of Stormhaven, a ranch in northern New Mexico which offers sanctuary to those wounded in spirit by their defense of country.

***

She knew that walk. With a slight hesitation in one leg he prowled like a wounded predator, conditioned to succeed against the most dangerous game of all. Even limping, his reactions would be instantaneous, his balance superior. By itself, his body would be a weapon. He’d be the best man to have on your side in a battle. After the battle, he’d unwind with a drink and a woman. The drink would be strong and straight. The woman would be bosomy and not too bright. He’d very likely spend more time with the drink than the woman.
Sydney Castleton let her mind drift through bitter thoughts and buried memories as she waited for the man who proclaimed danger with every step he took toward her. He was no different from the men who’d worked with her father: Soldiers of Fortune, whose luck could run out at any minute.
What trouble had her sister gotten her into this time?
This late at night, the Long Beach airport was far quieter than its Los Angeles counterpart to the north. Weary passengers straggled across the large hallway, looking for friends, for family, for signs guiding them to their luggage and the end of their trip. The surrounding crowd would see only the man’s height, the breadth of his shoulders, perhaps the dark hair under his wide-brimmed hat. His distinctive gliding walk might seem merely athletic, and who else would notice his awareness of everything around him?
Sydney knew these skills demanded a greater price than most would willingly pay. What had his payment been? She shook her head to dispel the thought and quell her imagination. He was just a man, after all, here to help her move a horse. She put aside her memories and stepped forward to greet him.
He didn’t seem to notice her at first, his attention on the rowdy returning youth sports team about to overrun the lobby. With a quick step to the side, he slowed down and put himself behind a young mother pushing a stroller, until the swarm separated around them without incident. Then he looked over to Sydney, and tilted his head, indicating a door leading to the outdoor baggage claim area.

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Sydney and Devin will be heading into the mountain area, somewhere in Northern New Mexico…kind of like this picture.

For more great peeks at stories, pop back to Sneak Peek Sundays. Happy reading

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Grow Old Along With Me

This weekend, I did not write. I did not edit. Yes I have projects in progress. I’m coming to the end of the first draft of an extremely difficult story. I’ve been moving the intimate scenes around with a “note to self: insert hot love scene” and then moving on. Feeling kind of stupid about it but just kept moving forward and now it’s % done, at least in first draft. Except for those insert scenes. Because I’ve gotten to the end I now know WHY my Jess is there in Willow Springs and it’s not at all why I originally thought she’d was drawn back…go figure.

I’m editing that story about the mercenary’s daughter and the PTSD ranch in Northern New Mexico, and trying to decide if I’m going to combine these stories. But I didn’t edit.

Instead, I took Fire Dragon to an Agility match yesterday, and his brother Moochie to a conformation match today. Another Saluki person at the conformation mentioned how difficult it was to maintain a positive attitude about showing since we don’t win a lot with our more old fashioned dogs. I pointed out to her just showing my own dogs as I approach 64 is a win. She laughed, and had to agree.

Then tonight I learned my veterinarian who lives at the end of my lane died while checking out an ultra light plane in another state, and I realized how very true that statement had been. We are not all allowed the luxury of growing old. Yes, he died doing what he loved but dammit 67 is too young. Far too young.

If there’s someone you haven’t talked to lately, give them a call. And don’t forget to tell people you love them. Because we just don’t know, do we.

Hugs from the high plains. Love you. And yeah tomorrow I’m back writing

BICHOK y’all

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Wow, I’m Featured..and I’ve Changed!

Black Opal Books, the press that took a chance on me during their start up, has made me their featured author for August.front-cover-my-killer-my-love-first-try[1]

Considering how long it’s been since I’ve sent in anything new, that’s pretty darned nice support!  This blog kind of wanders around what I’m working on to send them (yes, I am writing), so in case you want to move on, I’ll just tell you Black Opal has put My Killer My Love on sale for this month. If you don’t have a copy, this is a great time to pick it up.

So what have I been doing recently? Right now I’m now working on Seasons, the story of a woman mentioned in Teach Me To Forget: a success story from a woman’s shelter in California. She’s been given the opportunity to get even with the town that turned its back on her. The tag line has been “Was rape still the rite of passage for the young men in town?” Yes, it’s been a very story difficult to write. To help with the stress of her story I’ve also been delving into Romantic Suspense, with stories about a ranch in northern New Mexico where there is more to the ranch than just cattle and horses. Some of the men are relearning how to cope with life while dealing with PTSD. We don’t do enough for our veterans.
Unfortunately I’m taking the Truman Capote approach, not wanting to release my work until it’s perfect. But the perfect is the deadly enemy of the possible and really A Question of Honor is pretty much ready for its close up. It starts with:
***
She knew that walk. With a slight hesitation in one leg he prowled like a wounded predator, conditioned to succeed against the most dangerous game of all. Even limping, his reactions would be instantaneous, his balance superior. By itself, his body would be a weapon. He’d be the best man to have on your side in a battle. After the battle, he’d unwind with a drink and a woman. The drink would be strong and straight. The woman would be bosomy and not too bright. He’d very likely spend more time with the drink than the woman.
Sydney Castleton let her mind drift through bitter thoughts and buried memories as she waited for the man who proclaimed danger with every step he took toward her. He was no different from the men who’d worked with her father: Soldiers of Fortune, whose luck could run out at any minute. What trouble had her sister gotten her into this time?
***
Sydney knows more about fighting men than she lets on since her father was a mercenary and she helped keep his unit running smoothly. She’s going to meet her match in Devin, a banged up alley cat of a former Special Forces who doesn’t think he deserves any fun for himself.014

And as long as I was working on stories about Stormhaven, there’s Tyler’s story…yeah I have to do something about the title. Ty was actually married at one time to Sydney’s half sister so he now doesn’t trust beautiful women or writers. Enter Rosalind Summerton who used to model for Victoria’s Secret and is now a successful writer. Hey, if it’s too easy, who’s going to keep reading? Ros is hiding out at Stormhaven since she got involved with the wrong group and ended up in a pretty desperate situation. For right now, this is the start of her story

***
Whoever came up with the expression “Cursing a blue streak” must have been around cowboys early on a winter morning.  Certainly the good natured grumbling would turn the air blue.  Much like Paul Bunyan’s story, the day seemed to be nearly cold enough to freeze words in mid speech.  Rosalind wondered if the words would thaw, come Spring, and shock someone walking near the barns.
Then she laughed at herself, at the morning, at the freedom of standing in the snow under a lowering sky with billowing clouds edged in early dawn.  Life, for the moment, was good.
***
The fun scenes are between Sydney (compact little pocket rocket) and Ros (yep very tall with long legs) It seems as though the women are diametrically opposed when in fact their minds work in a similar, if strange, fashion:
***
“Ty was married to your sister?”
“For about a year.  Never did figure it out.  She was such a city girl and he’s definitely Western all the way.  I think once he got her here he couldn’t figure out what to do with her.  Lana’s never been much of a home body and with Maria here it’s not like she had anything to do.  She didn’t ride, could barely stand to be around the horses.”
“Doesn’t sound much like a match made in heaven.”
“Most of them aren’t.”  Sydney rested her arms on the top rail, her chin on her fists.  Stared at the horses in the corral.
“Yours?”
“Heaven so far.  Except when I have to give him hell over something.”
***
I find when I’m first drafting I’ll come up with more dialogue than description, which helps me with characterization. Then I can go through and fill in the rest of the scene. It’s kind of fun to come back to something I wrote a few months ago and read notes to myself such as ‘Good grief, get them in bed sometime this year’ Those scenes are fun to write but the ones that have the greatest impact on me are the intimate ones, where my two main characters are learning to trust each other.  Those are also, of course, the hardest ones to write.

BICHOK y’all  020

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I am Not Nora

Although I write Romance in a broad range of sub genres, I do not have her name recognition nor her amazing work ethic. Needless to say I’m also not any of the authors whose books I devour. I thank them for the hours of entertainment, and pleasant dreams.

I am a member of Land of Enchantment Romance Authors, the local RWA chapter, but I am not any one of the remarkable, prolific, award-winning authors in the chapter. So many of them…you really need to come to a meeting and absorb the magic.

I am published by Black Opal Books, but I am not Jami Gray or Nana Prah, nor any of the other talented writers making their publishing debut through this unique press, or choosing this venue to continue their career. However, I am this month’s featured author…and that is such an ego boost!

I enjoy using my camera to record events in my life but I will never be the equal of Anita LG, who reveals her vision to the world

Fire Dragon over the jump, photo by Anita LG

Fire Dragon over the jump, photo by Anita LG

through her camera lens.

I show and judge dogs, but you’ll never see me on one of the televised shows, choosing the best of the best while wearing a full length evening gown. Nor will you see me presenting a dog at one of these prestigious events.

Recently I’ve started my Salukis in Agility. It is possible I will compete one day but the odds of me achieving top honors are slim to none. Although competing with a breed not often seen in Agility might be to my advantage.

This is stating facts, not any attempt to solicit sympathy. Though I involve myself in these activities, I’m not these people. They are not me. We are each of us unique, special little snowflakes, trying our best to stand out in a blizzard.

We waste so much of our lives comparing ourselves to others, generally to our own detriment. Maybe it’s time to step back, take a deep breath, and enjoy being who we are.

While we’re at it, let’s enjoy the low carb Pecan Sandies I made last week. They go very well with red wine, and good company. Instead of crescents, I made tiny balls and squashed them flat. The recipe came from All Day I Dream About Food, a fabulous resource for those who have chosen a low carb lifestyle.  Unlike some people I haven’t lost weight nearly overnight but I’ve succeeded in taking control of my diet and my life. And now I’m going to give myself fifteen minutes (or more) to delve into my latest book. BICHOK y’all

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Photo credit Monica Stoner…that’s me when I’m not writing

Have a fabulous day, everyone.

 

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You Give Me Fifteen Minutes…

A memory from my childhood, reinforced by my years commuting in Los Angeles, is a radio tag line: “You give us 22 minutes, we’ll give you the world,” from an all news radio program. Turns out this was the third all news programming, started in 1924, making the radical decision to go all news in 1965. I kind of miss the all news radio programs, but that’s a topic for another time.

Time management people advise us to break down insurmountable tasks into achievable steps. When that doesn’t work, then only take on the impossible job for a short span of time: ten, fifteen, twenty minutes spent on sorting the mountains of old mail and newspapers on the table, or going through the junk drawers. We know this works, even when we don’t always do it.

When Susan Elizabeth Phillips spoke to LERA , she revealed her production secret: a kitchen timer, set to her personal time goal. For that period of time, she writes. Write or Die will help you stick to that time period, not allowing you to step away from the keyboard until your time or word allotment is complete. You do NOT want to upset Write or Die! Several of LERA’s amazing, prolific, award winning authors (we have more than one!!!) use Write or Die.

I bought my kitchen timer, and yep, wrote for those minutes. Until the timer disappeared in a pile of old mail, and my attention wandered off to other things. I tend to do that, all too often.

So yep here I am back again with another session of BICHOK, which is not a new breed of fuzzy dog. It’s Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard. And with a bit more understanding of my own foibles.

Since the kitchen timer, once unearthed, did not work, I turned to my cell phone. Sure enough, there is a timer, so I had no more excuses.

Here’s how it works for me when I sit down to write. The family of dust bunnies I see in the corner, which has been in residence for longer than I want to admit, must be evicted NOW. If the refrigerator is not cleaned out immediately I will no doubt starve to death (an unlikely occurrence but still…) And I jump off my writing stool and take care of these issues. Before you know it, I’m out of time, and wondering where the day went.

Fifteen minutes, during which I do not answer the phone, the door, or any call of nature. I think only about my book. I write steadily, sometimes fast sometimes not. Sometimes strong emotional scenes, sometimes puking drivel. Fifteen minutes I give myself up to my story. Then I walk away and do something mindless.

Mindless might mean sweeping up those dust bunnies or washing some dishes. Maybe bagging the bulk box of chicken necks into

daily portions, for the Salukis. Gardening is a different level of consciousness for me. Not mindless, more of a Zen experience. I garden to be aware of what’s growing for me, and to help fulfill my love of color and beauty.

During those mindless times I realize Matt would never have asked Jess anything which might upset her until after she’s eaten breakfast, since she already tends not to take good care of herself. So I know when I go back to their story, I’m going to fix that scene. Which I can, because it’s now on the screen, not just in my head.

Because I gave myself fifteen minutes.

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Kindle Unlimited, Amazon-Hachette, and “Fairness” with thanks to Bob Mayer

MonaKarel:

Yeah, I know, I’m leaning on others for my blog content. Or as I’ve said before related to the dogs, “I stand on the shoulders of giants.”
This is a time of HUGE upheaval in publishing…thank heavens since we were sinking into a pit of ‘same old, same old.’ We’re in exciting terrifying times.
Every time I see the Oh Woe is Me sort of post, it serves to kick my substantial backside onto the stool so I can do the one thing over which I have control: Write the best possible.
I’ll be back with pictures of my trip to the Saluki National and some cool recipes. But for now
Keep Writing

Originally posted on Write on the River:

I am so outraged! Yes. And you know what? No one gives a damn.

ShitDoesntJustHappen_TNActually, I’m not outraged. I’m kind of sick of outrage.  I think you can get an idea of part of my philosophy from one of the covers of a trifecta of similar books I’ve written coming out in September.

Somehow, this notion of ‘fair’ has crept into publishing. Which is really funny because it’s never been fair, and isn’t going to become fair.

Plus ‘fair’ means different things. For a bestselling trad author who gets 7 or 8 figure advances, fair is they made it and doggone, they want everything to stay the same. Because it works pretty well for them. Completely understandable.

Big name authors have agents that negotiate better terms for them than the average authors gets. Better royalty rates, kickers, marketing built into the contracts, etc. As I was told by my publicist…

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Writing, Caregiving & Confessions of a “Recovering” Control Freak

MonaKarel:

I’m going to let Kristen Lamb do the heavy lifting today. We all need to know when to accept help, and keep going

Originally posted on Kristen Lamb's Blog:

Screen Shot 2013-04-01 at 8.16.28 AM

It’s funny how life has this way of pointing out our weaknesses. We have this delusion that we can keep doing things the way we always have and it will work…and that’s when the pressure piles up. I admit it. I am a control freak and a perfectionist.

I grew up in a family of chaos where the rules changed daily and the only thing I could count on was nothing could be counted on. My family was also rather stoic (likely because we are mostly military and medical workers).

I still tease my mom that she had a saying, “Come home with your lunch kit or ON it.”

Growing up, we went through a lot of bad times and crying was highly discouraged. Second place was the first loser. Failure was not an event, it was who you were.

When Life Lands in the Blender

I try to always…

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Shifting Worlds

One of the many delights about being a writer is the ability to immerse myself in a book, and call it research. Any book,  but since Paranormal and Urban Fantasy are particular favorites of mine (well, along with Romantic Suspense and Historical Romance and Mystery and…) An even greater delight is finding a new author who can sweep me away into their world.

I’m going to have extra fun tonight sharing some favorites with you. Three highly talented writers who each have their own unique take on shifters. They don’t know I’m writing about them, so we’re all going to have fun. Get ready to add to your TBR pile!

First is Doranna Durgin. Award winning and prolific, Doranna has created a world of Sentinel Shifters, who take a myriad of animal selves, and who help protect the world from the extremely bad Core. It all started several thousand years ago with a Roman, a Druid, and…you’ll probably enjoy more finding out for  yourself. The first book in the series is Jaguar Night, and the most recent one is Lynx Destiny. My favorite? Mmmm hard to pick, each has a unique flavor with a guarantee of strong intelligent women and powerful, compassionate men. Oh, yeah. And by the way, Doranna helped emphasize a point of grammar in my MFRW Blog

Then we have Jami Gray, whose Kyn Kronicles build a world of magic and intrigue and…shape shifters. Her most recent book, Shadow’s Moon, delves more deeply into the shifter population of the Kyn community. She explains the difference between ‘Born or Bitten’ shifters, and how some supernatural beings are just not nice to be around. Strong women again and intelligent, hot heroes. What more could we want for a rainy evening read? Jami’s visited several times in fact Jami Was Here  not too long ago.

Dropping Down Under, Greta van der Rol has made her mark in Space Opera, such as The Iron Admiral and Morgan’s Choice.    Her concern with the plight of the tiger has led her to create her own shifter world, where it’s all in the family, but family can show up at any time. Starting with Black Tiger and then White Tiger/Black Tiger, Greta not only brings magic and romance into her stories, she also reveals some ugly truths about how tigers live in the US.

Since these writers have all become friends, I don’t feel comfortable reviewing their books, but I wanted to share them with you. Maybe you’ll enjoy their stories enough to write your own reviews?

For tonight, it’s raining in the high desert and I think I’m going to bed. Happy Reading.

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