Monday, February 28, 2011

Monday February 28, 2011

I watched the Oscars last night and enjoyed the show for the first time in a long time.  It was funny and enjoyable and snappy - I liked the pacing.

We cooked a nice healthy meal last night. Cornish game hens on the grill and I made yellow squash, zucchini, onion, and tomato cooked in olive oil with garlic.   Very yummy and low-calorie.  I was happy when I stepped on the scale this morning - I lost 2 more pounds!!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday, February 25, 2011

This morning while driving to the bank and then work, I listened to Kidd Kraddick interviewing Simon Cowell about his upcoming show The X-Factor.  Because I adore Simon (and have the teeniest crush on him!), I listened intently.  I was impressed by how Simon (who is mega, mega rich) is already out pounding the pavement to promote his new show.  It doesn't even air until September. 

The man is brilliant.  And interesting, even if he does have a healthy ego, to say the least.  But confidence is attractive and Simon's is well-earned.  His new show sounds fascinating and I will be watching.  I'm very competitive myself and can readily identify with a lot of what Mr. Cowell said.

How, you might ask, does this relate to writing?  Because one of Simon's remarks really stuck out for me.  He said (and I paraphrase here) "In the end, all I can do is make the show I would want to watch."


Just like with so much else beyond my control, all I can do is write the book I'd want to read.

Good luck, Simon Cowell and X-Factor!  I don't think you'll need it, because the show will be a success.  How can it not?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Thursday February 24, 2011

Thursdays are often not very good days for me. Today is no exception.  I'm writing this from my car dealership's waiting room.  Yesterday when I left the gym after working out, I went to get in my car and the outside door handle just fell off.  The service guy joked that I need to quit working out - I'm too strong!  Hah!

Anyway, I braved rush hour trafffic and rain and am here waiting.  It's actually kind of nice - no distractions and I plan to try to write some too.

So maybe this Thursday won't be as bad as the last few.  I do have a workout scheduled tonight.  That's something to look forward to, right?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wednesday February 23, 2011

Today's post is about exercise.  People sometimes ask me what kind of workouts I do with a personal trainer.  They vary, sometimes we work with machines or free weights or a combination, and sometimes we do body weight exercises. 

Last night's workout was a killer one.  After warming up for ten minutes on the elliptical, I had to run for 2 minutes on the treadmill, then drop and do 12 pushups, then 15 body squats, then 1 minute of jumping jacks, then 12 pushups again, then 15 body squats.  All without resting.  THEN, when all was completed, I got one minute of rest and had to start it all again. 

We did this three times.

Then, after than was over, I had to go to this inclined board thingee and do 15 crunches, then do 15 exercises on the stability ball (glute ones, the name escapes me). You guessed it - three times without break. 

And then my half hour session was over.  So I had to do 20 minutes of just cardio afterwards.  Because the workout was so brutal, I chose 10 on the recumbant  bike and 10 on the elliptical.

All done.  Sweaty, tired, and happy.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tuesday February 22, 2011

Good days and bad days.  It's weird how I often equate a good day with getting a lot of writing done.   I'm happiest when I get to be creative.   Put that with beautiful surroundings - either indoors or out - and I'm ecstatic. 

I'm also happy when I exercise.  Not just going to the gym, though I love my workouts with my personal trainer.  But walking the dogs, riding the new bike I got for Christmas, or just working out with free weights at home.  I feel better when I workout. 

I was actually thinking about how much of each day I spend doing things that I don't want to do.  I remember being a little kid who couldn't wait to be a grown-up so I wouldn't have to do anything that I didn't want to do.  Hah!  I don't understand though how life became a series of working at an unfulfilling day job and spending the rest of my time trying to rush around so I could get it all done. 

And now?  I am what I am.  In a few months I'll be hitting that big milestone of age - 50.  Gulp.  Yes, I guess you could say it's hitting me hard.  It's difficult.  I find myself looking in the mirror, eying wrinkles and creases that seemed to suddenly appear and contemplating expensive face creams and lasers and cosmetic surgery.  Odd for me, who always, always, always got taken to be much younger than my actual age.  Not so much anymore, I don't think. 

This is the serenity fountain I have at my day job desk.  I'm not sure why I'm posting a picture of it, but it seems fitting.  Serenity = certaintly = happiness. 

I know I've posted before about the giant leap of faith that I'm poised to take.  Quitting the day job and finally, finally, finally getting to do what I've wanted to do since 1988.  Yes, I wrote my first (unpublished) book back then and dreamt of writing full time.  That's 23 years of putting my dream on the back burner.  Over, this year.  I'm excited and scared and worried.  But I'm going to do it.  And I will make it work.

And finally, give myself a chance to live up to my full potential.  At 50.  Who knew.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sunday Night, 2-20-11

It's Sunday night, after a fairly decent weekend.  I'm drinking a beer, listening to music from my I-Tunes, and feeling relective.  Amos Lee's "Violin" is playing now and it's perfect.

I didn't write at all this weekend.  I feel vaguely guilty, but Friday I got hammered at the day job.  Customer after customer, problem after problem.  I handled everything, including one of my employees who tried to help but only suceeded in making things worse.  But by Friday night I felt like a dishwrag, wrung out many times.  Sigh.

I did good though.  Not a single margarita all weekend and not very much beer also.    I got a lot done around the house, saw Unknown at the movies with the awesome Liam Neeson and cooked.  I even did some core exercises today at home - planks and crunches and weights. 

Despite that, I'm still not ready for Monday.  Though I do need to get back to writing.  So bring it on.  Bring it on. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Thursday, February 17, 2011

To tattoo or not to tattoo.  That is the question.

For many years (like 10 or so), I've said when I turn (gulp) 50, that I'm going to get a tattoo.  Not a bold, in your face, type of body art.  Something discreet, private, and mostly hidden.  Since that big birthday is rapidly approaching (in May), I've started perusing tattoo art online.  Right now I'm leaning towards a Celtic knot, considering my heritage and my beliefs about eternity and rebirth. 

I'd also considered an animal, such as a wolf (for obvious reasons) or a crane or hawk.

Right now I'm just looking.  I've been told it's quite painful and I'm a big wuss.  But we'll see. 

I'll let you know - and post a picture - after I do it.  In May.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Finally, a writing related post!  I had a great writing day yesterday, so here goes....

I've been thinking a lot about characterization.  One such show that I've been watching that's pretty darn good at it is Human Target.  One of the secondary characters is a man named Guerrero.  He's short, wiry, has long, scraggly hair, wears wire-rimmed glasses, and is pockmarked.  This guy is extremely dangerous (he's one of the good guys though) and the way the writers show this is awesome.  For example, in the season finale, the crew goes up against a rogue CIA agent.  There's a scene where he's going through all the files of the cast.  A man brings in a dolly with five big boxes stacked on it, all labeled Guerrero. 

The other bit of amazing characterization is the hero, Chance.  He is so plainly in love with his boss, the beautiful and brave Mrs. Pucci.  There's a scene where another character is trying to get Chance to talk about it and says something to the effect of "just because we're men, doesn't mean we can't talk about our feelings."  Chance gives him a sardonic look and says "Yes it does.  Oprah."   And then, when he's just let the woman he loves walk away and get on a plain to go live in London, he realized he can't let her go and races in his supercharged Corvette (naturally) to her private jet and grabs her.  She asks him what he wants, waiting expectantly.  All he can manage is to struggle to say something - anything - and finally he pushes out a garbled (and tortured) "Don't go."

And I just melted.

Of course, a lot of this is due to the acting.  True.  But the writing has to take a lot of the credit.  Speaking of which, I'd better get back to it. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tuesday, Feb 15, 2011

 It's RANDOM DAY!  Not really, but the above is a picture of my chocolate.  As of yet, it is *untouched*.  I plan to carefully ration it, a piece a day.  We'll see how that goes.

Yes, we had a nice V-Day.  Hamburgers at Chili's (Yum!) and even splurged on a molten for dessert.  That's like death by chocolate!  I was in hog heaven, literally.  And my husband seemed pretty darn happy too!

This picture is one of the Cardinals that frequent my bird feeders  I love watching them.

And this picture is of course, one of the squirrels who also frequent my back yard feeders.

Finally, I'll leave with with this image.  This was my den on one of the lovely snow days, when I got to stay home and write by the roaring fire.  If ever I need to feel at peace, I will look at this photo.

Monday, February 14, 2011

V-Day, February 14, 2011

My beloved husband got me these.

I'm so looking forward to dinner tonight after work!  Several years ago on V-Day, we had reservations at our usual expensive restaurant.  But neither of us felt like getting dressed up and I was craving a hamburger.  Since we try to eat healthy, we don't get hamburgers very often (maybe once every two or three months!).  When I suggested we cancel the reservations and go to Chili's for a burger, Lonnie was all over that idea!  And since then, it's become a tradition. 

I can't wait!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sunday 2-13-11

Wow, what a weekend.  Totally different from last weekend.  It was around 70 yesterday and 75 today.  On Saturday we went down to the lake place to put up the purple martin house and check on things.  It made us both miss the place so badly. 

We both didn't want to leave the lake.  But the camper was winterized and we couldn't stay.  But the purple martin house is ready for the birds to arrive.  It's always fun because the next time we get there, it will be full of birds.

We walked two miles today with the dogs and rode our bikes a mile.  So we got our exercise in, all in preparation for tomorrow - our annual V-Day celebration with hamburgers.  No exercise that day.  Oh no.  Just fattening food and chocolate. Godiva, of course.

I didn't write (sadly) and I did try to talk to my husband about quitting the day job so I can write full time, but that didn't go well.  Will try again after V-day.  Watching the Grammy's and blogging.  More fun!

And finally, we grilled babyback ribs on the barbeque and I made perfect margaritas that were... well, perfect.  An awesome weekend.  Making me ready for Monday!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Finally Friday February 11, 2011

I'm still at home this morning, it's my designated writing time before I go in to the day job, and I want to post here a big thank you to my friend Anna Adams.  She read my blog yesterday and emailed me and basically talked me down from the ledge.  She's a fantastic friend and an awesome critique partner and just an all around great human being!  She's the calm voice of reason and helped me come up with what sounds like a workable solution to my problem.  I'll talk to my husband about it on Saturday and see what he thinks.

Right now I'm listening to a new musical artist (new to me at least) called Amos Lee.  He reminds me of Bill WIthers a little bit and it's nice, soothing and moving music.  As you know if you're a regular reader of this blog, my musical tastes are all over the place.  I could switch to Eminem or Nickleback or Keith Urban at any moment.  Hah!

Gotta go write, but wanted to say Thank you for putting up with me!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Thursday February 10, 2011

Well, our little ice "event" is over and so is my lovely time at home.  Today I have to go back to the day job.  However, yesterday was a bit of an eye opener for me.  I spent the entire day writing (in between making some wonderful chicken white bean chili and cornbread for dinner) and managed 1200 words, which is a lot for me.  I actually enjoyed myself and it sort of dawned on me that maybe - just maybe - my creativity isn't dead after all.

Thwap! (hitting myself metaphorically upside the head)

I'd been struggling privately with the notion that perhaps I had become so burned out that I'd managed to use up my alloted store of creativity.  I now realize (ok, I suspected all along) that the majority of my troubles is trying to work full time, stay fit and healthy, keep my marriage happy, and squeeze in writing in my "free" time.  Of which there is too damn little. 

I'd resented having to spend my weekends (precious time off) working on writing.  The word flow felt like pulling teeth and I'd mentioned to more than one writing friend I was worried my creativity was gone.  I had even begun to privately wonder if I should give up writing.  I mean, how can you be a writer if you have no creativity, no spark?  And no matter what I did, it felt like mine had vanished.

Not so.  I just need to devote 100% to writing.  Now, I've mentioned in this blog before that 2011 is the year.  My husband and business partner in the day job have discussed it and he agreed, at least verbally.  I told my agent when I met with her in person last year and told my husband that I planned to be writing full time before my "big" birthday in early May.

Since then, my husband appears to be having, shall we say, some "difficulty" letting go of the day job.  Or, more specifically, me working there.  And with me writing the last book in a large six book contract and my agent getting ready to negotiate another large contract, this year is my year. 

It.  Is.  MY.  Year.    Not trying to sound selfish, but I think it's finally time.  MINE.

My agent met with my editor and the senior editor for my publisher yesterday and they both want more books.  Lots more books.  I want to write more books for them, so we're all good here.  I want to be able to give myself shorter deadlines, but in order to do this, I need to have the time to actually WRITE.  Not squeeze it in when I can, in between five thousand other committments, but give it my all.  After all, I gave the day job 110% all these years. 

A good plan, right.  Sounds simple.  It's time to move on to a new phase in my life.  I know what I need to do and what steps I need to take to do it.  Easily said.  Not as easily done. 

About the day job...  If it were a "normal" day job (ie; if I weren't part owner with my husband), I'd simply give my two week notice and walk away.  Yet how do I do that without causing major, major problems with my spouse?  He cannot keep the business running without me, unless he works 12-14 hour days, 7 days a week.  I don't want him to do that.  Plus, he'll feel like I've abandoned him and the business I worked so hard to help him build.

I'm not the type to walk away from responsibility - I'm reliable and trustworthy and have been called a "steady Eddie" by bosses in the past.  Yet I've been published since 1997 and working at this insurance agency business since 1999.  Isn't 12 years enough to give someone else's dream?  Isn't 14 years long enough to put my dream on the back burner?

I wish my husband read my blog (he doesn't - not sure why).  I've already told him I need to talk with him before I talk to my agent again on Monday.  I don't doubt that he'll be supportive, but actually getting him to come up with a workable plan, that's something else.   And it has to be workable.  Not something like "Fine, just stay home.  I'll figure something out."  (Hint: he's said that in the past).

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

2-9-11 Wednesday

This morning, just as predicted, I woke up to sleet and freezing rain.  15 degrees outside with a wind chill of 5.  The sleet changed over to snow a little while ago and is supposed to continue until 10 or so.  All the metroplex schools have been cancelled (5 days in one year - a new record, I think!)

My poor palm is still hanging in there.

My poor husband (a native Texan) is not doing so well.  He hates cold weather and snow.  He went to work in his giant SUV.  I stayed home with a fire in the fireplace and am preparing for a day of writing.  Harlequin approved my synopsis so I've got a book to write!  Yay!

I'd better finish up here so I can get to it.


I've spent almost the entire day in my recliner with the laptop with a roaring fire in the fireplace.  So far I've written 1100 words on the Work in progress.  My beloved Mini-Schnauzer Mitchell has been curled up by my side.  (That's Mac my Boxer on his bed in front of the fire.  Daisy's sleeping on the couch!)

It's been an awesome, if cold, day.  I even made some chicken white bean chili and some cornbread for supper tonight.  I wish every day could be like this.

In a little while, I'm going to go to the gym and do cardio for half an hour.  Last night's personal training session was FANTASTIC!  My personal trainer Rick came back to work at the gym and I couldn't be happier. 

Off to see if I can write a little more before Lonnie comes home from work and we head to the gym.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Today is sunny and it's supposed to hit 50 for a high.  Then tonight, what the weather people are calling an "Artic Blast!!!!" (exclamations intentional) is supposed to roll through.  Around midnight, we are supposed to get freezing rain, sleet, and then snow.  2-4 inches of snow by morning.

I can't lie.  I'm excited.  But then, I'm from up north.  I love a good, snowy winter.  (Side note - ice, not so much, but snow - hell yeah!)

I went back to the gym last night and did cardio and some light weights.  Tonight I have a personal training session with my trainer - who is BACK!  Thank goodness.  I told him, only half joking - if he leaves again, I will hunt him down and find him. 

But he's back, all is right with the gym, and I'm reading a really awesome book on my Kindle called YOUR BEST BODY NOW by Tosca Reno.  My hairdresser recommended her, and so far I'm really enjoying the book.  It helps that the author is 50 plus and can relate to that age group.  The book was only like $8.50, so I'd say it is well worth it. 

Gotta go write.  Back atcha with a full weather report tomorrow.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Monday February 7, 2011

This past weekend brought sunshine and temps in the fifties, melting the last of the snow and ice.  While I was sad to see it go, I was glad to be able to get out and have my hair highlighted, buy groceries, and go to the mall. 

And then last night we went to a local Sports Bar and Grill to watch the Superbowl. 

This is not the best picture, but DH took it with a camera phone in poor lighting after several beers, so....

I had a lot of fun.  Everyone in the bar was yelling for Green Bay.  I, of course, cheered for the Steelers.  Not because I like them or anything, but because I have a good friend who does and I'd promised her I would.  So I did.  And they lost. 

Superbowl over. 

We only stayed at the bar until halftime got over, then came on home.  We ate fried pickels and Lonnie had a Rueban and I had fish tacos.  And beer.  Two pitchers of beer, which is a lot.  Too much, actually.  I couldn't even stay awake to watch Glee after the postgame analysis, so I DVR' d it. 

Now I have to get back to regular life. The day job, etc etc.  And writing.  Of course.  TTYL!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Friday, 2-4-11

I'm in heaven!  I woke up this morning and, as the weather forecaster's had predicted, we got snow.  But not just 1-2 inches, more like 4-5, with more coming down.  When all's said and done, I imagine we'll have 6-7 inches of powder.

So yes, I stayed home from work today.  I ended up working all day yesterday from 7am until 5pm, with maybe a half hour for lunch.  I closed out the month, talked to a few customers, and got caught up on renewals.  Today I've got a fire going in the fireplace.

I trudged outside in the snow and refilled the bird feeders and the squirrel feeder.

I've also made stew for dinner tonight, along with some homemade potato bread in the bread machine.

Cutting up potatoes, onion and celery.

Now it just has to cook.  I can't wait.  Even though Friday is normally our night to eat out, since the weather is so crazy, we're just going to stay home. 

Remember the poor palm tree?  I wrapped it and have been hoping that it makes it.  It never got above 20 yesterday and today's high is forecasted at 25.  Here's the palm tree with snow over the ice.

Poor thing.  I sure hope it makes it.

Last night, Chili's had sent via email a coupon saying something to the effect of DFW people, come out and eat and we'll give you some free queso and chips.  So Lonnie and I decided what the heck.  It won't be crowded since no one drives on this ice.  We went.  The place was PACKED.  Half hour wait (except we got right in because there was just two of us and the twofer tables are never full).  But still, the kitchen was so swamped it was 45 minutes to an hour on food.  And, you can see the gym from the Chili's parking lot, and that place was full too.  Turns out everyone had cabin fever.  So weird.  I'm glad we ate out last night though, since tonight will be spent in with homemade beef stew.  And I'm glad.

Next up, I plan to park myself in my recliner with hot cocoa near the fire and write.  I'm lovin' life these days!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Thursday February 3, 2011

Wow - the ice is still around.  School districts were closed for the third day.  Today though, I went into the office.  I rode in with my husband in his "tank" and got in around 7:15 am.  I plan to catch up on some work, and then maybe go home around lunch time and stay there. 

Last night the circuit breaker blew on the greenhouse heaters.  Not sure when, but at 4am it was 27 in there.  Poor hubby had to get up, back his SUV out of the garage so he could reset the breakers.  Worse, we're scheduled for more rolling blackouts today.  Fun. Fun. Fun.

However, I wrote a LOT yesterday (on the Alphasmart).  I don't know how much, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself, all snuggled in the recliner with a blanket and my Schnauzer tucked into my side.  Hot cocoa with marshmallows (and later hot tea).  I made a grilled tuna melt for lunch and then I did make turkey enchiladas.

OMG, they were so good.  Hubby LOVED them. 

My plans for today include closing out January at the day job, catching up on some other stuff like renewals, and then hopefully heading home to write some more.  We'll see how that plan goes.  I have all three dogs here at the office with me becuase whenever the rolling blackouts come, our stupid smoke detectors screech the entire time the power's out.  I brought in a ladder yesterday because if they do that today, I'm going around and removing all the batteries.  Duh.  Should have thought of that yesterday.

Anyway, better get back to work.  I have a LOT to do if I want to go home after half a day.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Wednesday February 2, 2011

I live in Texas.  We usually don't have much of a winter, except last year we got an actual foot of snow. 

Last night was the coldest it's been here in 15 years.  It got down to 10F.  With a windchill of minus 12.  And our power went out this morning.  Oncor (the electricity provider) is having rolling blackouts to keep the grid from overloading.  The bad thing for us is our greenhouse is heated with two portable electric oil heaters.  When the power went out, it got down to 28 in the greenhouse.  My husband also worried about the pool pump (we have to keep it running so it doesn't freeze).  We were lucky.  Our power only stayed out about 30 minutes.  I have a friend who has been without power for 3 hours.  She says it's 54 in her house and dropping.

The roads here are like sheet ice.  Every single school district in the metroplex has cancelled school for the second day in a row.  Though my husband went to work, I'm home with a fire in the fireplace.

Yesterday I made brownies and home made bread.  Not good for the diet, I know, but frigid temps equal baking in my brain.  I wanted to make chili or stew but we're still eating that leftover turkey from this weekend.  Though I am thinking of making some turkey enchiladas.  Yumm.

I drank two cups of cocoa, with miniature marshmallows.  Also not good for the calories (though this was lower fat cocoa, 80 calories per cup).  I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed it.  But then, I love cold weather and snow.  Ice, not so much, but I take what I can get.

This morning I trudged out into the wintry weather and filled the squirrel feeder and the bird feeders.  We have some spectacular cardinals and blue jays and mourning doves that hang out in our backyard. 

Yesterday was lovely.  I totally enjoyed the unexpected day off at home.  I did some pre-plotting on my next Pack book for Nocturne, outlining some scenes I wanted to write.  I even started writing one.  I plan to do more of that today, while trying not to scarf down all the brownies.  And I definitely see some more cocoa in my forecast!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

It was an oatmeal kind of morning. 

I woke up at 3 am due to rain storms.  When I looked at the thermometer, it showed 32.  I went back to bed.  At four it started sleeting and when I got up at 5am, it was 22 degrees outside.  My poor dogs rushed through their morning potty breaks, not liking being pelted by sleet.    All the schools were cancelled in the DFW area.  I was glad, because that meant my daughter didn't have to drive to work.

As I type this, it's 17 degrees outside with a windchill of 0.  That's right.  (And yes, it was 75 this past weekend and I had all the windows open so the house could air out.)  The weather people say tonight it will get as low as 10, with a wind chill in the MINUS single digits.  OMG!  My poor palm.  That's ICE and snow coating it.

Luckily, all the plants inside my greenhouse (with two oil heaters going) are nice and toasty warm. So far I've watched the two cardinals and the blue jay feeding from the feeder.

My husband took his giant SUV and went to work. He called to let me know he'd had no problems. I told my receptionist to stay home and check with me at 10, but unless it's super busy, I'm going to tell her to stay home. Heck, unless it's super busy, *I* plan to stay home. I see hot cocoa, a fire in the fireplace, my laptop and my recliner all in my future for today.

Gotta love a snow day!