If you chance to find an authoress occupied with her needle, express no astonishment, and refrain from exclaiming, “What! can you sew?” or, “I never supposed a literary lady could even hem a handkerchief!” This is false, and if expressed in words, an insulting idea. A large number of literary females are excellent needle-women, and good housewives; and there is no reason why they should not be. ~ From Miss Leslie’s Behaviour Book: A Guide and Manual for Ladies, written in 1839 by Eliza Leslie

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Finding the Zen of Vacation While Writing

I’ve gone on the same vacation every August (late July into early August) for about the last 30 years. Setting aside why I would do the same thing every year, let’s take a look at a typical vacation day for me.

Our medieval vacation living quarters every year.

Our vacation living quarters (photo courtesy of Kate Newton via Flickr Creative Commons license).

I wake up at the crack of dawn and step outside my very medieval military tent and do some Tai Chi. I am one of perhaps one or two other people in a camp of 200 (out of 10,000+ at the campground) who is actually awake and moving. The other guy that wakes up early sees me and without words, we head to a medium-size circus tent and share coffee with the owner of one of the best commissaries in the campground. About the time that people start showing up for breakfast (usually around 7:15 am or so), my buddy and I head back to camp and I do whatever the heck I want for the rest of the day. If I want to read, I read. If I want to take a class in medieval bead making, I take a class. If I want to watch several thousand of my closest friends beat each other up in medieval armor, fantastic, I do that.

I do whatever the heck I please, when it pleases me to do so. I let go of all this irritation of working and simply enjoy the moment. I don’t worry about deadlines or projects or how the client is going to react. I let it all go and immerse myself in what ever I’m doing. Every so often I pull my head up out of what I’m doing and look around to make sure that everyone else I care about is safe and happy, but I focus most of my vacation thoughts on simply enjoying myself RIGHT NOW, this very moment. I enjoy myself so much that time has very little meaning. Continue reading

On Books I Feel Compelled to Finish

graffiti struggle
There are people in my life that I trust implicitly in their recommendations. MrMr, my husband, of course heads the list, but I also include my girlfriend, The Divine Miss A (lover of cheesy bad movies where things get blown up), and my doctor, Dr. D, an old soul who seeks knowledge simply for the joy of it. While each of these people has recommended some great reading material over the years, they’ve all set me on to books that, for one reason or another, I’ve struggled with before conquering. Continue reading

What to Eat When Writers Can’t (or Won’t) Cook Breakfast

Overnight OatmealHey, you. Yeah, you with the coffee in hand. You know that’s not an adequate breakfast, right? Trust me on this when I say you could do a damn bit better and improve your writing productivity with barely 5 minutes of effort. And no, smarty pants, I’m not talking about popping the top on your Cocoa Puffs or whatever vile boxed cereal passes for breakfast these days and chasing it with a Red Bull. I’m talking real food, and gluten free, since I can’t seem to swing a dead cat without hitting someone with gluten sensitivity any more (present company included).

Okay sure, yes, you could have full cooked breakfast, but honestly, think about it? Do you really have that time? Day job, kids on their way to school, family responsibilities. All these things have you pulling your hair out already. Do you really want to add to that stress? I’m going to guess no. As much as you and I might really want that yummy slab of bacon, scrambled eggs, full fat buttered toast and what not, the reality is neither you nor I are going to take the time out of our over-burdened schedule to cook it, right?

So as luck would have it, I’ve got the solution. It takes all of 5 minutes to throw together the night before. When it comes time for that day job or that head first leap into your latest work-in-progress, you can grab and go. Take the time. Five minutes and you’re not even cooking. You can even make it two days in advance. Yes, I know it’s not bacon, but this is brain food we’re talking about here. It’s all over the interwebs (check out this Huffington Post article for a start). You need a fast, yummy kickstart. Here’s my suggestion.

PS: You can add chocolate. Continue reading

Learning from Death

I’ve been sitting on this blog entry for a couple of days now debating the wisdom of posting it. My big fear has been reducing the impact of such great posts as the cover reveals by Jessica and Erica and the wicked review of Any Duchess Will Do by Lisa. But the romance community, thank the gods, is a family. At the urging of several of you, I’m not going to abandon this entry for the sake of saving myself a few tears.

You see, three people died last week that had, in some ways, a profound impact on my life.

Obit-Esther-Williams-4One of them was Esther Williams, the grande dame of 40’s bathing beauties and film-based mermaids everywhere. No, we weren’t related. She was the movie star my mother and I watched faithfully every Sunday afternoon, skipping her movies only when there was a Shirley Temple film playing. Ms. Williams gave my mother and I common ground. Ms. Williams was in that very small class of people that my mother and I bonded over despite our generation gaps and I will be forever grateful to her for that.

My mother called me when she heard the news about Ms. Williams and we reminisced about the days when mom and I would sit and enjoy these movies together. This before my mother’s drinking habit took control of her life and things became a tad uncontrollable. This past week Mom and I talked about the unpleasant days a little too and how glad we both were that she’s been sober now for decades. But the thing was, Mom and I actually talked about things she could remember. You see, my mother is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease Continue reading

How I Decide Which Authors to Follow on Twitter

Ace of HashtagsThere are plenty of articles on how to use twitter effectively and I’m not going to write about that here. Go forth and Google that on your own. What I am here to tell you about is what I look for when I see someone’s tweets, whether directly from that person (via a hashtag I follow) or retweeted from someone else. What is it that makes me decide that I really need to follow this person and add to the endless stream of information that flies past my eyes when I’m not on self-imposed “I’m writing and don’t bother me” radio silence, so to speak?

Honestly, it starts with your twitter bio. Okay, technically it starts with that tweet that makes me take an interest in you and click on your twitter bio in the first place. Once you’ve piqued my interest with that tweet, I ask myself three things. Continue reading

Still In Love After All These Years

First Kiss

Our first kiss as husband and wife (I’m wearing my something blue in the form of a Laura Ashley dress stolen from my mother).

People said it wouldn’t work for us and frankly I can’t blame them. Truthfully, we got married very young. I wasn’t even 21 years old yet and he only just. We got engaged 13 days after our first date and married 8 days later. Both sets of parents were divorced, we had no income and little by the way of prospects other than our smarts and this fragile bond we’d formed in oh so short a time.

And yet this past weekend marked my 24th wedding anniversary to a wonderful man that many of you have heard me refer to as “MrMr” (it’s short to type on Twitter) or “The Big Guy.” He’s my hero, my knight in shining armor, and the love and light of my life even after so many years together.

People have asked us many times over the years how we do it. We have not had easy lives, but still we magically stayed together despite all the hardships. So what makes it work for us? Honestly, sometimes I wonder that too, even though I’m in the thick of it. There’s no easy way to say “This is how we got to be living our ‘happily ever after’.” Everyone is different. But it’s had some common themes over the years that I think might help people understand a little better. and maybe, just maybe, help you write your happily ever afters a little better in whatever work in progress you happen to have going on right now. Continue reading