Friday, September 28, 2007



In this winter scene, Claire, a loner, doesn't want to approach the man mourning his beloved aunt, and her good friend. But she must.

He didn't turn as she came near. He just stood looking at his aunt’s front door as if he hoped it would open, and Eunice would be there.

"I'm sorry," Claire said, when she's stood that careful, measured three feet away from him, a distance that helped to protect her from the energies of others. Though she'd seen Neil Olafson at a distance, he was much taller than she expected, and gauging by her own five-foot-nine height, he was at least six inches taller.

She couldn't see his face, or maybe she didn't want to see the grief hidden between the black knit cap and a high collar of his peacoat. Her sixth sense could grasp not only feelings and emotions, but an expression.

Snowflakes swirled between them, and she wondered if he'd heard her above the howling of the wind. He didn't move, his workman's boots braced apart in the snow. He suddenly turned to her, and the wind caught a strand of dark waving hair, taking it away from a harsh, weathered face.

Beyond the lens of her sunglasses, narrowed light eyes caught and held her, reminding her of a wolf pinning his prey. At close range, with snow falling steadily between them, that broad face, that blunt nose and strong jaw held the look of the Norse heritage Eunice had described. Light eyes flickered, and the set of his lips hardened, the lines deepening around it. His gaze shot down her body, then back up to her face. She noted the snow clinging to his thick eyebrows in the dark double of his jaw.

The snowflakes seems so fragile against his weathered skin. One tumbled down to his lips and melted, unnoticed on the hard contours. Claire mourned the boyish grin she'd seen from her windows, a man teasing his elderly aunt and causing her to laugh. His breath stirred the snowflakes with steam, and his voice is deep and raw with anger, cutting through the wind. "So now you come out. Claire Brown, isn't that your name?"

Her instincts told her to help him -- has an empath, she could with a touch. But that would be leaving herself open to take his pain, adding it to her own. Instead, Claire stood that careful distance apart, and waited for him to speak.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Jam Time

And you wonder what I do with my time :) These are Italian plums or prune plums and jam, sometimes with nuts and pineapple, my mother's recipe. They're very pretty in a Christmas basket with freshly baked rolls.

Monday, September 17, 2007

No Problem vs You're Welcome

Pet Peeve, among others is the phrase "No Problem."

Service people of all kinds are coming to use this phrase, even when it is the customer's problem/inconvenience, and that is irritating.

The other day, I was most inconvenienced by a sales person. This required visiting the store twice, driving in heavy traffic on a hot day, and finally refusing a damaged product on the second run. At the end of the transaction, I said my usual, "Thank you." I'm nice, after all, or try to be, even in 100+ temperatures.

The clerk who could have helped me immensely by being alert and thorough and involved in Customer Care, replied, "No Problem."

No Problem? No Problem? Yes, it was a problem--for me, the customer, using expensive gas and productive time, driving cross heavy traffic to get to the store, 2Xs... because the service clerk was inefficient.

No Problem is NOT You're Welcome. Good Customer Service people should train all their staff to reply with "You're Welcome."

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Computer Problems

I'm between books and catching up--Still! BTW, I've just sent an excerpt of Claire and Neil's story in AT THE EDGE to this week's mailing list. There will be more, so if you haven't subscribed, now is the time :) But on to Computer Problems.

One of the things I'd let stack up during a compressed writing schedule was repairing a faulty DVD burner. I spent enormous writing time trying to backup, and finally called a tech, this on warranty services. He came last night, replaced the drive, and hopefully, I'm able to backup now.

Meanwhile, I researched and tested several online storage and backup services. Logically, it would be better to have backups and storage away from the office, and supposedly "secure."

It all sounded so easy. It wasn't, and I still do not have that ease. Here's what I found, generally. I'm not a tech, so take it FWIW and do your own research before settling in--I still haven't found anything suitable:

Primarily: All of them are very different. Most carry Macs and PC services, a few do not. Free offerings may be for a limited time, or not. They may run from 1-25 gigs (the 25 at Some put a nifty little program on your desktop, others you just go to their URL ( Some charge more if you exceed their upload bandwidth. Some charge more if you download over a certain amount, which you would do during a restore. All are extremely different with different services, including e-mail, sharing with friends, etc. Take into account that when a friend downloads too much, you could be financially accountable. Buddy systems abound.

The charges: Everything seems to run in increments. Check the I Agree clauses carefully, always a good idea. GoDaddy starts at 50MB, pretty small when you want to back up email. has an upload limit of something like 10MB and then you have to "upgrade." Upgrade is a standard word popping up wherever. "Upgrade" means more $$. I've already accepted that I'll have to pay something somewhere. That's the understanding of anyone playing with programs and computers and online services, which is how writers do business.

If you want to backup email, it can be zipped or unzipped, depending on the service. If you use Thunderbird, you may need software to compress into their .pcv files, which can be changed into more common zips. A free software is MoBackup, another program is $10.

I also use Outlook Express, also not easily backed up; there's a process where you store to a folder, copy, move, etc. to another. But you can save messages easily. During this time, I forwarded important stuff to my other mailboxes.

Lots of people use Mozy. My CenturyTel DSL speed was too slow, even with knocking off some running programs on my desktop. But they are kind and inform you of your lack to play straightaway. Mozy is easy to use, easy to unsub. Too bad.

1. Gmail/Yahoo/AOL offer backup services for their emails.
2. has a difference of editorial opinion with people commenting on XDrive. I found with, that it was necessary to actually click into the offerings to get a good view of the updates, etc., then visited the sales websites.
3. is not easy to unsub, requiring an email to sales, according to the tech. I like to unsub at will.
4. There are "Widgets" to check your load speed. Widgets are little elf-like installed programs that do whatever they do.
5. I checked DriveHQ, too.

Generally, even zipped, my email was too large for upload on a free-test run, so I'm back to DVDs and storing them off-site.

I continue to search for a comfortable fit in online backup and storage, if it really exists for me, but right now need to get just one solid backup done. Cross your fingers, please. :)

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Heads Up

With promo of AT THE EDGE still going strong, I've just been interviewed by Rachelle at her blog. Take a look!

Then I'm getting ready to post some excerpts from AT THE EDGE and the reissued EVERY GIRL'S GUIDE TO... in my enewsletter and all you have to do is to subscribe by writing

Watch for more on this....

What's It All About?

I've been chatting this a.m. with top blogger, D.K. Raymer. She runs several very successful blogs among other things. She generally posts a lot about everything and you can find her at A Flyover Blog. Really interesting person/businesswoman with tons of advice. Please do visit her blogs.

Another blog I frequent is for freelancers jobs (not that I'll ever be one:)), run by Deborah Ng. Deborah also runs several blogs, i.e. Simply Thrifty.

And here I am, blogging with the greatest. Well, maybe.

But for writers, I think Jayne Ann Krentz and crew at Running with Quills is great. Jayne Ann (as Jayne Castle) just did a chat at last night, focused on Silver Master. Gotta love those dust bunnies. RWQ is a mix of several top writers, all with something to say.

I do have a lot to say as my sister's long suffering sighs tell me. :)

But I wonder, when thinking every so carefully about what has not already been posted about writing and life, what might interest my visitors. I do know they loved the Benchmarks of a Career post. But maybe I shouldn't be picking through such elements so carefully. Maybe I should just write.

What do you think?

Monday, September 03, 2007


Recently, I attended a writers group in which one of the exercises was to develop first lines of the book. Everyone struggled to come up with those few perfect words to hook the reader, and some of them were pretty good.

But in reality, those first lines don't pop out at the writer's command. They are elusive, sneaky little devils that appear when they desire. Likewise, that first hook, that first scene may actually occur in the second chapter of the rough draft. I've written about this somewhere else, but there is a certain amount of dreck needed to get the story rolling. This bubble of creative energy when the story is turning within the writer can be revised and cleaned up later. It is most important not to get stalled while the storyline and the writer's energy is waiting.

Instead of struggling very hard to get the first hook in the first scene just absolutely right, it is far better to start writing and building the story. This doesn't mean to plunge recklessly into the story, or perhaps it does -- if that is a particular writer's modus operandi. (You know the old story about the plotters or the plungers. We're all different and what works and works.)

To help understand why it is far better not to spend too much time on that lead sentence in that first chapter (when first starting rough draft) remember this: a published book has passed through many many phases before it is in the reader's hand. First there is rough draft by the author and that has gone through many phases before submitted to the editor. The editor will likely look at the flow through of the story before turning it over to the copy editor, etc. Those first words have been polished and revised many times.

In rough draft, that published author may have written as many as three quarters of the book, prior to going back and revising the first chapter or that lead sentence. In the writing, ideas pop up. Somewhere in the struggle of writing the book, wresting it from the computer screen, some small gem of a lead sentence is going to pop up, or a lead scene is going to unfold on the screen. Then it is revise, revise, revise.

All writers take different paths to the same end. However, spending an eternity locked on that first sentence or in that first scene is a waste of energy. Write on, get into the story and have confidence that first hook will magically appear. And it will.