Monday, December 30, 2013


Tomorrow is the last day of 2013.  This has been a very - insert adjective here - year for me.  (Yeah, I couldn't decide - strange, weird, difficult, interesting.... so I'll let you pick).

The year in recap:

I weigh myself every Monday and record the weight. This year, I weigh 2 pounds less today than I did on the first Monday of the year.  I've been as high as 9 pounds higher than today and as low as 4 pounds lower. I am happy that the year ended up as a minus there for me.  But, I stopped working out and need to get back to that in 2014.

I lost my mom.  Enough said.

My husband Lonnie was in and out of the hospital, had eye surgery a couple of times, and is now is great health.  Whew, on this.

We tried several churches, from Unitarian to non-denominational to Baptist.  We attended one non-denominational church pretty regularly, but eventually stopped going.  I refocused my spiritual search where I feel it belongs, the same one I'd started over 30 years ago, and was able to find comfort in my mother's passing.  

Lonnie and I became volunteers with Legacy Boxer Rescue.  We helped nurse a nearly dead, sick and starving dog from 27 pounds to 52.  We picked off over 100 ticks, treated her for Erlichia and got her adopted - only to have her returned as she has kidney disease.  In the meantime, we'd taken another foster dog in and adopted him, so somehow we ended up with 5 dogs.  Which is Way.  Too.  Many.

We also evaluated dogs in shelters, transported dogs from shelters to foster homes or to vets, and did home evaluations for prospective adopters.  I joined the Shelter Committee and quit, as I wouldn't have been able to write.  I then joined the Foster Committee and during the weekend before Christmas, helped get 8 dogs pulled from shelters to foster homes!  We made and delivered holiday baskets to two local shelters, and assisted at fund raising events.

I got a new 8 book contract and then, as I was in the middle of the first book for this, was offered yet another contract for a Continuity.  I now have too much work, which is a good place to be when self-employed.

My husband and I not only took our third week-long cruise, but spent a few days in Vegas.  Due to the foster dog situation, we didn't get to go to our lake lot at all this past summer, which has never happened.

We've hung out with family, eaten a lot of good meals, and heard some good music.  I finally learned how to make a decent margarita at home, and cooked many new and different dinners.

I don't make resolutions anymore, but in 2014 I hope to get my day schedule better nailed down.  It's difficult when your husband is retired and there with you, and I tend to waste a lot more time than I should.  I want to map out time for exercising, as well as time devoted solely to writing.

And that's it for me.  How about you?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

It's Over (Whew!)

Christmas is over and I woke up still exhausted this morning.  Christmas Eve was different - Lonnie and I went and visited my mother's grave.  He gave me privacy and I sat on the bench by her - so close I could reach out and touch the granite.  My brother had bought a little Santa ornament and hung into there with a stick-on hook.  I brought some holly and silver ornaments and put them with the Santa.  I'd also gotten two scratch off tickets since she'd loved them so.  I talked to her awhile and scratched them off and left them for her (they didn't win.)  I cried.  Christmas Eve has been, for a very long time, a time we spent together.

Afterward, Lonnie took me to McAlister's Deli for lunch and then we went on home.  I cooked all the sides for the next day's Christmas dinner.  My daughter came over and we all went to eat at Cristina's Mexican Kitchen.  It was enjoyable.  Here's our tree on Christmas Eve, loaded down with gifts.

And my daughter and our newest Boxer, Peyton.

Finally, I set a beautiful table - which again made me miss my mother, as she took such pleasure in the fancy table.

The day itself was busy, but nice.  I still had the ache inside though.  I made cinnamon roles like I always do. We had coffee and Lonnie put Amaretto in his, like he always does.  Steph came over and I made maple bacon, another tradition.  We opened gifts.  I got Boxer earrings, a boxer tote bag, a custom made boxer blanket, a new purse, sneakers, pj's, and a surprise gift - Garth Brook's boxed set  - Lonnie must have listened when I was complaining how I couldn't buy his stuff on I-Tunes!  I'm listening to it as I type.

Later, my Dad, my brother, and his girlfriend and her daughter came over. She's seven. It was a delight have a child again at Christmas.  We all ate a big feast of ham, scalloped potatoes, cheesy spinach casserole, and glazed carrots.  I'd made pear and apple cobbler for desert along with Bluebell homemade vanilla ice cream.
The once again, we exchanged gifts.  I got a bottle of tequila.  My brother seemed to love his leather motorcycle jacket!  And the little girl appeared to like all her stuff - barbie, tea set, stuffed frog, new jacket.

Everyone was relaxed and happy.  It was a good day.

By the time everyone went home and Lonnie and I cleaned up, I was beat.  Today, I'm back to work, working on the synopsis for the Colton's of Wyoming book - Dead River Danger!  It's fun.  And a welcome distraction.  I still need to finish up on The Long Wait, which is now due February 1st. (Dead River Danger is due April 1st), so I'm going to be super busy.  That should help.

One other caveat - in the days leading up to Christmas, Legacy Boxer Rescue, where I volunteer, was super busy.  I think we had 11 dogs pulled from shelters or from owner surrenders in the days leading up to Christmas. Lonnie and I even transported one, a cute little female named Tierney.  Made me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

I hope you had a wonderful holiday, full of family and friends, good food, and gift giving.  Hold that family close, as I can promise you that you will miss them when they're gone.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Liberty Belle aka Libby

Today I'm doing a post about my only Brindle Boxer, my baby girl Libby.  She is at the vet's right now, having surgery, and I'm worried that she might have a particular nasty form of cancerous tumor.  I'm a bit weepy and praying like crazy and I thought this might help me feel better.

I bought Libby over the internet, from the daughter of the breeder from whom I purchased Mac Macadoo.  I selected her out of a litter and paid a deposit.  The breeder sent me frequent pictures and finally, when Libby was 8 weeks old, Lonnie and I drove all the way to Pryor, Oklahoma.  It was something like 10 hours each way, so I had to have my daughter come stay with my other dogs.

We picked Libby up on 9-11-11, thus the name Liberty Belle.  Her sweet nature was immediately apparent, as she gave us kisses and nub wiggles.  Here she is the day we got her.

Libby's wonderful personality continued to shine.  She was a typical Boxer puppy - in other words, crazy.

Here she is, winning over my grouchy bear Mac Macaddo.

Even as she grew, she still considered herself a puppy!

Here she is when she learned to swim at the age of eleven months.

Here she is at one year of age.

And now she's two. Her birthday is July 19th.   She has welcomed every foster dog into our home, winning over Katniss and making her a BFF.  She is also Besties with our new dog Peyton, and they run and play together and sleep together and clearly love each other.

I'm praying her surgery goes well and that what the vet found is NOT a cancerous tumor.  After just losing my mother to cancer, even the possibility of this is really rough.  I keep telling myself not to worry until I know for sure, but it's hard.  I love my Libster so much.

UPDATE:  I spoke with the vet last night and it was NOT a tumor!!!  Thank God.  It was a golf-ball size impacted thing full of what looked like dirt, the vet said.  The only problem is that it was so large, he had to cut very close to her rectum.  He kept her overnight and I'm going to call in just a minute and see if/when I can pick her up today.

Answered prayers.  I'm so happy.  I love my Libby girl.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

So Much

I have a lot of work to do, and this is the worst time of the year for my concentration.  With Christmas a week away, there's a lot to do, and my daily word count suffers.  I'm also a bit melancholy as this is the first Christmas without my mother.  Sure, the last two (2011 and 2012), she was too sick to leave her house, so we went there.  One year we ordered Subway, and last year I think we had cold cuts and sandwiches.

Before she got cancer, it was a big deal with us.  She and Gloria would come over on Christmas Eve and I'd cook a huge meal with a Honeybaked Ham.  I'd decorate (still do) and set a festive table.

 In 2009 we had a rare (for Texas) Christmas Eve snow.  That was the best Christmas Eve ever!

Christmas 2010 was the last one where she was healthy.  The difference was unbelievable.


Last year - 2012

She's been gone nearly 3 months and I find myself missing her at odd moments.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Iced In

This has been the most exciting couple of days.  We've had an ice storm - the kind that, according to the TV weather people, only happens every 10 years.  It's been COLD - the low was 18 last night.  And frozen.  Frozen roads, frozen yards, and a sloped driveway that I had to shovel a path in to get in the garage on Friday.

Here are a few pics.

My backyard.

The icicles from our patio cover

My backyard again

The greenhouse - with two heaters keeping our plants warm

The squirrel feeder.

So we've hunkered down.  I made some beef stew and sourdough bread.  I've been enjoying hot cocoa and a fire in the fireplace.  As have my dogs.

And I've gotten some writing done.

Most of all, this has made me feel more in the Christmas spirit.  I've started my shopping!!!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Vegas, Baby!

Yes, we're back from Vegas.  We had so much fun!  We stayed at the Bellagio.  Here's our room.

And here's part of the lovely bathroom.

Oh, oh, and this is the conservatory on the way to the cafe where we ate breakfast every morning.

I got some great photos of the strip.  I walked 13,000 plus steps one day, 14,000, another, and 12,000 another.

The weather was lovely - short sleeves during the day, a light jacket at night.  We slept in, gambled, walked, ate, and saw Cirque Du Soleil perform One - The Michael Jackson Tribute.  It was amazing.

The program.

The stage before it all started

All in all, we had a lovely time.   We haven't been in three years, so we truly enjoyed it.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Past the Bump

I must have made it over the bump, because I had another successful writing day yesterday.  I'm learning the characters and getting deeper into the story and.... drumroll.... having fun!  Times like these, I *really* love my job!

The wonderful autumn-like chill is leaving and today is supposed to be 70, with 80 on Sunday.  Blech. That's not the kind of weather I want for mid-November.  At least another cool front is headed this way next week.

Peyton is finally healing up from his neuter - it's 7 days today.  The poor puppy is ready to play and keepign him quiet has been more and more difficult.  Here's a pic of him from last night, lying on my couch.

Isn't he adorable?  He has trouble with a capital T written all over him!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A New Day

What a difference a few days can make!  We had a freeze (finally!), and temperatures have remained moderately chilly (50's) for Texas.

And I've been writing!  Enjoying the story even.  Yesterday, I put on my earbuds and used my I-Pod, sat in my recliner, and wrote 1500 words.  That made my entire day.

I still have the cough and the sinus stuff.  But in a short while, I'll be heading to Vegas, land of cigarette smoke.  I'll arm myself with nasal spray and inhalers and try to spend time outdoors in the dry air.  I'll miss my dogs and my foster dogs, but it will be nice to have a few dog-free days!

Meanwhile, I'm hopeful today will be another good writing day.  Wish me luck.

Monday, November 11, 2013


It's Monday, Veteran's Day, and I still feel like I'm operating in a fog.  I'm not sure, but it's gradually dawning on me that I'm seriously depressed.   I thought I was dealing with my mother's death well, but apparently this gray, cloudy feeling that lingers - ok, consumes me - is not going away.

Nothing interests me.  I can't get into reading - even the new Stephen King book can't hold my interest.  Sure, I play with my dogs, watch television, go out to eat with my husband, go to see The Long Island Medium with my daughter(that's another story for another day), but there's this THING hanging over me and not going away.  I told my husband that I feel like I'm drugged.  I speak and trail off in the middle of a sentence, choose the wrong words to describe things, and just want to sleep and sleep and sleep.  And the cough still lingers and just won't leave.  I want to curl up in a ball.

I'm having trouble writing too.  I need to write a minimum of 1500 words a day.  I can't get into the story, even though I loved the proposal.  I'm only 40 pages in and already had to ask for an extension, as there's no way I could make the January 1 deadline at this pace.

Lonnie's been understanding so far.  He lost his mother nearly 20 years ago, but I'm sure he remembers.  It's not something you forget.

My dogs understand too.  When I'm sad they kiss me and snuggle.

This too shall pass, I'm hopeful.  I guess it just has to run its course.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Sorta Sad

Today was another rainy, gray, and chilly day.  I drove to my mom's house with my brother.  We had to make a second trip to collect some of her things.  Her partner Gloria was there waiting for us.

It's very weird to be at my mom's house without my mom.  It's also kind of sad.

We visited awhile and then left with more pictures and mementos.  My brother and I stopped for lunch and then we had to find a notary to get some paperwork notarized.

By the time I made it home, it was nearly 2.  I had tons of emails tor read and catch up on and here it is, nearly five and this blog is the only writing I've done.

Something tells me I picked the wrong deadline.  I should have said February 1st rather than January.
But I had no idea there would be so many loose ends to tie up.

Ah well, live and learn.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Writing Bits and Pieces

I wish I was one of those authors who could sit down to write and manage 5000 words, all at once.  Me, I do 600 here, 400 there, and by then end of the day - if I'm lucky - I'll have 2000 words.  I need more.

I've taken courses in how to write super fast.  Read books.  But the one time I tried that, I ended up with a disorganized mess and had to delete half of it, and fix the rest, which meant I'd have been better off just following my usual method.

So I plug away, hoping the scene shows itself, praying the characters reveal what they really want.

And one by one, the chapters get done.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


It's a dark, blustery Wednesday.  There are huge storms to the south east of us, and we're supposed to get severe weather later in the day.  Bring it on, I say!  This is my favorite kind of writing weather - well, next to a good snowstorm.

Right now, I'm pretty happy.  Despite still fighting off this "allergies gone bad" as my doctor called them.  I'm in my office surrounded by my dogs.  My oldest Boxer Macadoo is dealing with day two of a bad case of hives - an allergic reaction the pollen, the Vet says.  We need a freeze (and I wouldn't mind a bit of snow.)
He's finally sleeping a bit after being up all night (and the night before - I'm slap-happy from lack of sleep.) I'm working on two books (I know, right?) and looking forward to Vegas.  This is made even better as I was able to arrange a dog sitter to come stay at the house (for a fee, of course) with my personal dogs and my two fosters are staying with other Legacy volunteers.  I'll miss them all, of course, but it will be so nice to have a few days dog free.  And I get to read on the flight!  Can't ask for much more than that.

I haven't been exercising much due to the horrible cough and general sickness, so I'm looking forward to feeling well enough to at least walk again.  The good thing about being ill is that my appetite has been non-existent, so I've lost a few pounds.  Yay!

Anyway, I wish I had a nice pot of white chicken chili in the crockpot.  I don't, because I didn't plan ahead. Oh well.  I'll figure something out.

Back to my fabulous job.  I've got a book or two to write!

Monday, October 28, 2013


I had two books going at once.  This was for my next contracted Harlequin Romantic Suspense.  I turned in a synopsis and started working on the story.  But another story kept tugging at me. Like I'd see scenes from this story while trying to work on the first one.

So I did what I've never done in 38 published books.  I emailed my editor and asked her if she'd be ok with me writing a different story.  I offered to send her a synopsis.  She emailed back and said no worries.  While she'd liked the synopsis I'd sent in, I should work on whatever story called to me.  She was sure it would turn out fine.

Wow.  Such an amazing leap of faith there.

I'm happily working on my new story and finding it cathartic.   It's different from anything I've done before.

This past weekend was Pet Fair for Legacy Boxer Rescue.  That's where prospective adopters can come out and meet some of our available Boxers.  It was busy and crowded and fun.  I even saw the family that I'm working with as an Adoption Counselor.  They'd come to check out some of the dogs.

Afterwards, we had a "Yappy Hour" at Red Robin.  20% of the proceeds went to Legacy.  I had a turkey burger and a couple of beers - all for a good cause.   It was a lot of fun.

Saturday night it stormed - wind and rain and hail in some areas.  Sunday dawned gray and chilly - my favorite kind of staying in day.  I made meatloaf and watched football - Dallas lost their game, and Denver won theirs.  It was a really nice day.  I'm still sick, but it was good to veg in a recliner in front of the TV.

Now here it's Monday.  I'm working again.  Still happy from the weekend.  And still working on two books.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Cold 1, Me 0

I gave up this morning and conceded to the cold.  Called my doctor, got an appointment.  I got two shots in the derriere - one antibiotic, one steroid.  And a Z-Pack, plus the prescription cough medicine.  Hopefully now I can get a handle on this thing.

Meanwhile, I've been outlining the first few chapters of the new book.  I'm kind of excited to write this one. It should be fun.

Oh, and Texas Secrets,  Lovers' Lie hit Bookscan's Top 100 Romances for the second week in a row! Last week it debuted at #57 and now it's #76!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


I thought I'd turned a corner with this cold.  On Sunday, I started feeling normal, even though I still had a bit of congestion.  Then the cold went into my chest, though remaining in my head, so now I've got the double whammy.  This Tuesday, I feel worse than I have since last week.

I miss my mother at odd times.  The weird thing is knowing that I can't pick up the phone and call her.  For the last 20 years or more, we talked at least once a week, for an hour.  

Trying to start a new book, which is normally a fun and happy time for me.  I'm trying to get there - I had one synopsis approved, but I'm having trouble getting into that story, so I emailed my editor to ask her if she minded if I worked on a different story.  Her response "Write whatever you want!"  I love my editor.  She rocks.

My new foster puppy Peyton is the most adorable Boxer puppy I've ever seen.  He gets along great with my personal Boxers and is learning to like his crate and learning how to have rules - today I caught him with one of my shoes!  He adores me and must be wherever I am.  I am so torn with him - I really want to adopt him and make him my forever dog, but then I won't be able to foster again.  And I still have my foster Katniss, who has kidney disease and may be with me awhile.  Such a difficult choice, though if the right family comes along who can give him a better home, I imagine I'll know.  Still, a dog like Peyton doesn't come along all that often.  Such a dilemma!  Part of me has this feeling Peyton is already home.

Things are falling into place for our short Vegas trip.  I'm excited and ready.

And now I have two books started.  I must choose one and write.  I love my job.  

Here's a photo collage of Peyton.  Isn't he adorable?

Friday, October 18, 2013

Clouds and Musings

I love learning new things.  Last night on the news weather, I learned these kinds of clouds are known as Mare's Tails.

I took this picture in my backyard.

I'm still sick with the cold that will never end - it's moved into my chest and I'm hacking and wheezing and sneezing.  My nose is chapped and raw, and I just want to curl up and sleep.  So not pleasant.  Meanwhile, Lonnie is feeling pretty good.  His cold skipped the head cold part and went to his chest, but he seems to have shook it pretty much.  He brought it home and this is just not fair.  Ah well.

I've turned in line edits and AA's on my February book, signed the new contract, entered the Rita's, written an author tip for The Knight Agency newsletter, and am working on my next Harlequin Romantic Suspense. Writing isn't easy when you feel like crud, and I'll probably abandon the attempt today.  We'll see.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The New Normal

Monday rolled around, just like it always does.  I'm ready to resume my normal life and get back to work. Yes, I have a cold, but it will pass.

It's raining still, which is perfect.  I have a nice pork roast in the crock pot for supper.   My new foster has a dog cold and it's spreading among my personal dogs and my other foster dog, so it looks like my entire household is sick.  :(

I did restart my story.  I'd originally written the first few pages in the hero's point of view and it wasn't working.  So I restarted in the heroine's.  And I like it.  So I'll make myself continue.  The book is due January 2nd, and I've got a trip to Vegas, plus Thanksgiving and Christmas in there.  It won't be the same without my mother, but I'll have her memories in my heart.

I've got a love story to write.  And a cold to kick to the curb.  I'm going to do both and enjoy the rainy day.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Rainy Day Sunday

It's a grey and rainy Sunday - my favorite kind.  My husband has a monster cold and I can tell it's making it's way toward me.  I've been taking extra Vitamin C and stuff, hoping to ward it off.

The memorial service for my mother went beautifully.  The setting was gorgeous - pond side at the cemetery where she has her niche.  The urn was made of onyx - green and gold and tan - so lovely.  I spoke and while I choked up a couple of times, I thought it went well.  There was a preacher there and he spoke too.  And in the middle of the service, a huge black crane flew in and landed at the top of a tree on the other side of the lake, spreading its wings and stretching its elegant, long neck.

I felt at peace after.

Today I'm trying to fight off my husband's cold - he's sick and I have a feeling I'm next.  I did laundry, played with my foster dogs and my personal dogs, and tinkered with my book.  Tomorrow, I get back to work.  Life must resume normalcy, and I have a job to do.

Oh, and I booked the airline tickets to Vegas.  And a show  Lonnie and I are going to try and take the trip this year that we were supposed to take last year when he got hospitalized and we had to cancel.  Fingers crossed for good health this year!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Difficult Writing

My mom's memorial service is Friday.  Two years ago to the day from when she called to tell me she'd been diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer.  (I hate capitalizing it - it feels like doing so gives it even more power.)

I was asked to write the Eulogy.  It was one of the most difficult things I've ever written, and I come up with words for a living.  I wrote one terrible draft, then poked around online, and read examples.  Then I ditched my first effort and wrote a second, much better one.  The only problem is that I will have to read it out loud at the service and I can't get through it without crying.

So I'm going to practice reading it again and again and again, until I can.  Because I owe my mother this.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Mums and Roses 2013

Twice a year, Legacy Boxer Rescue has fundraisers.  The fall event is called Mums and Roses.  It was held this past Saturday, October 5th.

I got up at 4:45 am.  When Lonnie and I got there at 7am to help unload the semi-trucks and get it set up, the sun had not yet risen and it was 78 degrees.  Rain and a cold front were in the forecast, so I brought a lightweight fleece jacket.

We unloaded pallets of mums - all sizes - and roses - all varieties.  We had pumpkins too - all sizes, ranging from $3 to $25.

By the time we were officially open for business at 9am, the cold front and northern wind had arrived and the temperature dropped to 57 degrees.  It was COLD standing out there.  I had to call Lonnie (he'd gone home at 10) and ask him to bring me a warmer jacket.

Patches was there - he's a dog we rescued from a criminal abuse case, and a bit of a minor celebrity.  His hair has started growing back, but they needed to keep him warm.

I almost cried when I saw him.  If you only knew how far he's come - he nearly didn't make it.

The puppies we call The Parvo Princesses were there also.  These are two baby girls who got Parvo and were dumped in a shelter to die.  We did an on-line fundraiser and our fans (Legacy's fans) came through. We raised enough money and pulled them and treated them.  David Rogers and his wife Jeanette took very good care of them.  One of them went to her new forever family after this event.

We also sold shirts and hats and all kinds of Boxer related stuff.  It was cold, but so cool meeting people I've only "met" online!  We had a huge potluck lunch - I made potato salad - though I had to miss that as my family wanted to go out to lunch.

The best part?  We managed to raise a little over $21,000 to help Boxers in need!