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California, United States
I'm a wife, mom, mom-in-law, grandma, and writer. To read more, visit :)

Monday, January 31, 2011

Days 138 - 139

Saturday – Sunday, January 29 – 30, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Characters pulling on my ear all weekend. Psst.
Now is one of those times to sink totally into story. Worked on how to rearrange my schedule. “Just say no,” “the haircut can wait,” and “the business side belongs in its own time slot” should take care of it. =)
For me, it’s a story rhythm thing. Other factors – holidays, the May 1 deadline, life – enter in, but mostly it has to do with the characters. They are breathing on their own, they have needs and concerns, decisions to make, swords to pull out of stones and carry home. I must linger with them, make the journey alongside them.
THE DETAILS. . .A visit to the Wild Animal Park a.k.a. Safari Park. Got almost close enough to a giraffe to zoom in and photograph her eyelashes. Church. Reading. Finally finished The Lotus Eaters. Yes I am a slow, plodding reader. I like to savor each word. I think I write the same way.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Book exhibit

Ransomed Dreams on display with 300 others at San Diego Library.  =)


Day 137

Friday, January 28, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Such a day! There was the regular “lost in story” time.
            Then I popped downstairs to grab something for a late lunch, headed to the steps, leftover salmon in hand or rather on plate, backtracked to the front door. . .as if something beckoned me there.  =)
            Outside the front door was a box. From Tyndale. There went any more “lost in story” time! In the box were copies of the Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) of a not-yet-final-proofed-perfect (but bound with cover) version of Desert Gift.  I did not expect these to arrive until next week but there they were!
Sigh. It’s almost as good as holding the final product work in hand. I say almost because these copies go to reviewers, bloggers, etc., writers who reach readers with news of upcoming releases.
But still. . . In January 2008 I wrote the concept for the story. Three years later, here it is, a huge effort by so many people from my agent to my editors to everyone at the publishers who design and publicize and sell. Whoa.
And then – the day was not yet over – My Guy and I went downtown to the San Diego Library. The Mayor and City Council invited us to a reception for local authors who had published in 2010. Ha, ha. Of course my name was on the list because I gave a copy of Ransomed Dreams to the librarian collecting works published in 2010.
We went early (traffic concerns) and hung out in the elegant U. S. Grant Hotel a few blocks from the library, ate half-price hors d’oeuvres, and took pictures of chandeliers.
The reception was great. Two-hundred fifty authors plus one guest were invited; 400 were expected to attend. There were 300 books on exhibit (they will be displayed for the month of February). The topics ranged from biographies to crossword puzzle books to novels of every sort to children’s books. It was amazing to see the fruit of so much creative energy in one place, extra real because the authors were there in person.
What a delightful evening talking with other writers – strangers with whom there is an instant connection!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Day 136

Thursday, January 27, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Sooo nice to slip easily “into character.” In the beginning of a story, people are introduced; we see them where and how they are in the here and now. As conflict arises and they are pressed into survival mode, we see what they are made of. And then, as the story progresses, we dig deep into their hearts and begin to learn the whys. This is my work these days.
            (Later, healing will begin; they will be made new and whole.)
            THE DETAILS. . .Dentist appointments for me and My Guy. It takes some time out of the day since we drive thirty minutes to the community where we used to live. While there we got a long-time favorite pizza and ate at the “fields,” a park, soccer and baseball area where our kids played on teams as youngsters. We could see the back of the house now being built on the lot where our house burned.
An interesting conglomeration of memories.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Day 135

Wednesday, January 26, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Full day. Morning lost in fiction. Afternoon full of the “public” side of writing. Helpful talks with ladies who know marketing and work on my behalf and direct my efforts. Trying to post the new book (Desert Gift) cover gave me fits, but I will get it figured out. 
            As always, I am grateful to the publishing people and the readers. Without everyone, I’d have to get a cat to read my stories to.
            THE DETAILS. . .None.  =)  Oh, a bike ride with My Guy. 

Day 134

Tuesday, January 25, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Can’t talk about the fiction.  ;)  This is a good sign.
            Other writing business included communicating with a young writer about getting published, entering Ransomed Dreams in a contest (contests are always good exposure even if we lose), reading the official “going out of print” letter (eww), studying a marketing plan for upcoming release Desert Gift.
            THE DETAILS. . .Walked with My Guy to the market about two blocks away –  old-style neighborhood life or what? – and bought pork chops (cut extra thick) for him to grill for dinner.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Day 133

Monday, January 24, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Sighs of contentment. =)  So good to dwell in the story, to dig deep into hearts and motives and backstory. 
When the writing time was over, I visited the website. What a treat to read two newer messages from readers who describe how a book has spoken to them. Thanks be to God.
THE DETAILS. . .My husband must think it’s Valentine’s Day. I now have my very own photo of a MOONBOW which he ordered online. =) Is he something or what?!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Days 131 - 132

Saturday – Sunday, January 22-23, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Oh dear. Five of my titles are going out of print. Sigh. This is sad but inevitable. With so many books in the world, there is not space to keep all of my non-classics going in order to capture new readers year after year so that the books might pay their way.            
            One of these (A Journey by Chance) was released in 2002; it has had a good run.
            But wouldn’t it be great if the shelf life were as long as it is for Crisco? =)
            THE DETAILS. . .It was a quiet, reading weekend. Just when I decided to lay aside The Lotus Eaters I was back in it. The history and characters intrigue me; the writing is beautiful – except for the jumps in points of view. To “be” inside each and every character’s head within one scene distances me from them and takes away so much of the fun of entering into a fictional life.
I was going to start a T. Jefferson Parker (local author) book (he has a series about a Los Angeles detective) but the super-duper B&N purchase of one of his titles turned out to be the one I’ve already read.
Ha, ha.

Day 130

Friday, January 21, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Settings are big deals. Environments create ambience and dictate much of what the characters do. There are no quick getaways during a blizzard. Everybody knows everybody in a small town. People in large cities ride trains and walk a lot.
To date I think I have incorporated only places with which I am personally acquainted. It’s easier that way. =) Less research, more imaginative energy available to direct toward emotion.
At the moment my characters are in coastal Oregon, an area I visited often when Son, Daughter-in-Law, and Grands lived there. Beautiful, huge, wet, green, so-not-Southern-California.
It is amazing how much sensory memory is released through the act of writing.
THE DETAILS. . .Shared “my” pier with a friend. Nice.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Day 129

Thursday, January 20, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Yay for an easy-breezy leap into the story after a few days away, all due to my following the simple rule about which I harp to myself: do not, do not, do not stop at the end of a scene. Writing on the plane just enough to keep in touch with the folks also helped.
            Digging deeply into the main character’s emotions now. I will probably have to pull back from reading too much of The Lotus Eaters; its heavy tone will infect my writing. I incorporate some heaviness but my stories are not meant to have that voice throughout.
            THE DETAILS. . .Farmers market down the street; mmm fresh spinach and broccoli and eggs and salmon. Home Group; shared chocolate-covered macadamia nuts.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Another display of the Creator's awesomeness is the MOONBOW, which I had never heard of. I saw photos at the volcano. Below is a link to one:

Day 128

Wednesday, January 19, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Worked on things related to marketing and communicating with readers.
            THE DETAILS. . .Household chores. Email catch-ups.
Thinking about the Hawaiian language with its only 13 characters in the alphabet. No wonder the sounds and combinations are so intriguing.
Thinking about the novel The Lotus Eaters in which I spent most of the previous travel day. It’s set in Vietnam, 1963-1975, the story about a female photographer’s experience during the war. When I look at those dates I realize why that war so affects me still, why it plays a role in two of my novels: because it was the backdrop to my world from junior high until after I married. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


At 9700+ feet, Haleakala Volcano, Maui (the crater is not a hole like I imagined). This is above the clouds.

Days 123 - 127

Friday – Tuesday, January 14 – 18, 2011. . .
            Yikes! No time to blog. Hanging with My Guy’s brothers/a.k.a. business associates was a jam-packed Saturday through Monday on Maui to celebrate their 25th company anniversary. Favorites: seeing the top of a volcano – whoa! for real; being on whale-watching boat and seeing whale after whale and spinner dolphins; standing beneath and touching a banyan tree that covers an acre.
For me, God’s awesome creations reflect His character like nothing else.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Day 122

Thursday, January 13, 2011. . .
THE WRITING. . .Picking at the details, seeing the big picture as protagonist nears her “dark cave.”
THE DETAILS. . .Distracted by last-minute errands to prepare for upcoming trip. My Guy and I were surprised by these plans for a business/pleasure getaway for a few nights.

Day 121

Wednesday, January 12, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Listening for the teenager’s vocabulary again as she encounters a new environment. ;) Daughter and Daughter-in-Law, both of whom work with high school students, help me out via emails.
THE DETAILS. . .Marines were jogging today along my walking route, coming at me. As usual, almost every single one greets me with a nod and/or a “good morning,” sometimes even a “ma’am.” One by one they pass me and one by one I say a prayer. They  are all so young and fresh. Lord, keep him safe. Meet his needs. Hold close his loved ones.
An overdue coffee time with a special friend. “Coffee” is code for catch-up talk. Starbucks is jammed; outdoor sitting is uncomfortably cold in a breezy shade. We head to Barnes and Noble. Ah, books and a friend…soul nurturing time.

Day 120

Tuesday, January 11, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Hallelujah. Word pruning was not as bad as I thought it might be. There were buds hiding under the dead stuff. And – delight of all writing delights – the characters shared story secrets, those plot insights only they know about.
            THE DETAILS. . .My Guy and I availed ourselves of the new Tuesday special pricing at the movie theater down the street. Yes, we just saw a movie the other day. We like movies. I do not like country western music, but we went to see Country Strong because Gwyneth is fun to watch. Oh my gosh. The movie is chockfull of country western music – but surprise!  I enjoyed it very much.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Day 119

Monday, January 10, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Good golly! It was like pulling teeth. (Note the use of cliché.) Aaarrgh. Mondays can be slow to start but this was extra rough because on Friday I stopped writing at the end of a chapter. Besides that, the new scene was not a simple flow from the previous scene, but an actual new setting that required some logistical analysis as well as imaginative efforts. Not good, not good at all.
            And I know better.
            THE DETAILS. . .I pulled dead plants from pots, some of the soil still soaking from rains. I trimmed dead stalks from others. This is what I will do tomorrow with words.  =)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Days 117 - 118

Saturday-Sunday, January 8-9, 2011. . .
            My Guy and I enjoyed a Saturday date day in Del Mar. Lunch, favorite bookstore browse, movie. We enjoyed The King’s Speech; it was quite well done.
            A word tidbit…“speech” refers to two things: his stammer and his all-important speech to the people at the beginning of WWII. The best-ever titles are ones that do this, that use one word to embody two meanings that are at the heart of the story. I swoon over these.  ;)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Day 116

Friday, January 7, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .I had to do it: fine-tooth comb a scene. I went over it and over it as if this were the final edit. It is a turning point in the story. The protagonist has reached a decision that will change her life forever. She does not realize it will impact her and her family in such a major way. All she knows at this point is that she must go.
To get her to this point, I had to shake up her status quo, throw her into the throes of dilemma until she is between a rock and a hard place. This scene is her moving out from that place, choosing a direction she never would have considered if not for events leading up to this situation.
I wanted to get it precisely “right”. It will affect what comes after.
            THE DETAILS. . .Oh happy day. My firstborn, my son arrived 33 years ago, around 4 a.m., weighing in at 8 pounds and 15 ounces. I celebrated his life in my heart all day today. What a gift he is. What a gift to be his mother.
            Party tonight with church friends at another’s home. Twelfth Night became Fourteenth Night, a reason to gather and eat and chat, chat, chat.

Day 115

Thursday, January 6, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Yes.
            THE DETAILS. . .Not much beyond Home Group at our place, sweet catch-up time after weeks of not meeting and the holidays. 'Tis Epiphany, but it didn't show up on my radar. Ha, ha. I must be "in the zone."

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Day 114

Wednesday, January 5, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Not quite the same as “listening” to reader/reviewer voices is the aspect of writing so that the reader wants to read. A long-time favorite quote of mine: “I am constantly worried that the reader won’t keep reading, and I write every page with that in mind” (John Cain).
In other words, if I’m bored, my reader will most likely be bored. For the type of fiction I write – this is not for all fiction – it is imperative not to linger too long on description or within a character’s thought processes.
This approach also reflects the premise that every scene must move the plot forward. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t belong in the book. I’ve written plenty of these scenes (and I’m sure plenty exist in print!) and am no longer afraid to use the delete key. But sometimes I save them elsewhere; they always instruct me, they give me insight into the people, they give me details that I need but a reader does not.
All that to say I had to remind myself today not to dwell on getting the characters ready for their next big change but to simply plop them in it.
THE DETAILS. . .Mail from my Sister-in-Law (an aunt to my children) made me smile and sigh and giggle. She sent notes, drawings, and colorings made by our Daughter when she was in elementary school. SIL knows all such sweet mementoes were lost in the fire and so she gave us a bit of our past. Deep heartfelt gratitude. =)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Who needs the ball in New York City? Here's the Pine Cone ready for its New Year's Eve drop, downtown Flagstaff, at the hotel where Zane Grey wrote some of his stories.

Day 113

Tuesday, January 4, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .On my mind today was the idea of reader voices. These belong to reviewers, friends, strangers, editors. Sometimes they try to nag, but once I push them aside I have to laugh. There is no way that my work will satisfy every reader. This was a hard lesson to learn early on, to not take the voices personally.
Some help, of course, like those of editors. Others are opinions coming from people of such diverse backgrounds there is no connection. For example, one wants more physically descriptive scenes of intimacy while another thinks kissing before marriage is a major taboo.
THE DETAILS. . .Haircut and bike ride. ;) Life goes on.

Day 112

Monday, January 3, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Ahhhhh. Writing again. Delving into my characters’ world comforts (do I miss the kiddos or what?!) and soaks my soul with affirmation, probably because this is where I feel most intensely that I am about the business my Abba has given me to do.
Life is just not quite complete when days on end do not include writing of some kind. If I am in the middle of a book, it is worse. But I am happy and proud of myself: I left the story at a point that is very conducive to re-entry. The characters are in place, dangling threads as they should be; a chapter is ready to be finished and another tweaked because of story changes.

Days 107 - 111

Wednesday – Sunday, December 29, 2010 – January 2, 2011. . .
            Full days. . .
Gifts for our 37th wedding anniversary on the 29th included a blizzard and the arrival of Daughter and Son-in-Law; them on the interstate for 7 hours (instead of 2) with My Guy and Son; 17 inches of snow; a grateful time around the dinner table, cozy fire in the wood-burning stove, all 8 of us together.
Despite our delayed reunion and being snowed in for one day, we did our typical jam-packed time. . . “Christmas” on the 30th; games of Clue, chess; the Nancy Drew Movie (a new favorite of mine); sledding and snowball throwing; bowling; yummy food; bookstore visits; staying up until midnight on the 31st, Mountain Time, and banging pots and pans outdoors, Granddaughter tooting her trumpet.
Drive home on the 1st, back to cold rain and regular life with new treasures: two paintings, one each by the Grands; my very own DVD of A&E’s Pride and Prejudice; a John Donne book of poems; a poster of text messaging shorthand (research for the story).
And this all may be FMTYEWTK –Far More Than You Ever Wanted to Know.  =)