I’m a bit scattered this week working toward two deadlines and preparing to leave for a visit to Louisiana. Ok, “a bit” is a massive understatement. So I’ll take refuge in a list. Here are some things I’ve been loving lately:
*My nieces! About four weeks ago, one was born, and two weeks ago, another turned two years old. Last week, my six-year-old niece had her first meeting as a Daisy Scout. They’re all such cute and fun little people. I would love to see them more often.
*Baking with pumpkin and applesauce. Does that sound like a toddler’s playdate? It’s really good, I swear. Turns out the old baking trick of substituting applesauce for oil is extra-excellent when you’re baking pumpkin goodies. The flavors and spices work beautifully together.
*Wi-fi hotspots. I used my phone as one on our trip to California in July, and it felt like living in the future. “How am I on the Internet when we’re zooming through mountain roads at 60 miles per hour?” Actually, the mountains blocked my cell phone signal, so that was the one place the hotspot did not work well. But you know what I mean. I just got set up with a stand-alone hotspot for my drive to Louisiana. Now that’s the way to handle a road trip (when you’re not the one driving, that is).
*Amy Schumer’s The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo. I like Schumer’s comedy (though it’s definitely not safe for watching when Little Miss R is around), and I thought this book would be in the same vein. It is, but it’s also much more. In some truly poignant essays, she talks about everything from domestic partner violence to family-of-origin infidelity. I expected this book to make me laugh, but I didn’t also expect it to punch me in the feelings.
*Library book sales. Our Friends of the Library organization puts on a huge book sale twice a year, and the fall sale is tonight. I can NOT WAIT. Besides hitting the romance section, I’m going to look for large print for my grandparents, some chapter books for Little Miss R, the Twilight books for Mr. R…nah, just kidding about that last one. He already got all the Twilight books at the *last* library book sale.
What’s something you’ve been enjoying lately? Do tell, because positive news is the coolest and best.
Yesterday was the release day for The Sport of Baronets, a prequel novella to my new Regency horse-racing trilogy. Two days ago, I turned in the second book in that trilogy to my editor. I’m not quite sure where the entire month of October went.
Anyway, now that I’m (temporarily) not on deadline, I’m ready to look around the real world again. Sunlight! Trees! People who don’t wear corsets! They’re all around, y’all. And this week, I’m letting myself enjoy the little things.
Sure, my Regency characters live a pretty good life, apart from all the emotional wringers I put them through. But do they get to…
…gorge on supposedly-for-Halloween candy?
No. They do not. Peanut butter hadn’t even been invented then, so my Regency characters each have a hole in their heart just the shape and size of a Reese’s. I’m not sure how anyone wrote a novel 200 years ago. The last third of my just-turned-in book was entirely fueled by Halloween candy.
…turn on a light when, thanks to the return of standard time, it gets dark out at 5 pm?
No. They do not. Even though I know from the movie National Treasure that Benjamin Franklin invented Daylight Saving Time (history is everywhere!), it’s never become a plot point in my books. My characters in The Sport of Baronets enjoy some long late-spring days, but when the sun goes down, they have to settle for oil lamps and candlelight. Which they seem to regard as both forgiving and conducive to romance. Oh, you characters.
…sit in a nice glider rocker while watching The Great British Baking Show?
No. They do not. Which is sad for them, for there is no greater bliss on earth than sitting in a nice glider rocker while watching The Great British Baking Show. At least to me, the day after a book deadline. Bart and Hannah of The Sport of Baronets would surely like the show, but they have to make do by watching a horse race. And for the chair, they use a jockey’s weight balance for…um, you know, you’d just better read that for yourself.
The Great British Baking Show airs on PBS on Sundays. Set your DVR!
National Treasure is pretty fun, especially the historian’s horror when they chuck the Declaration of Independence into the street or paint it with lemon juice.
Halloween candy should not be eaten to the exclusion of all other foods, even on deadline.
Um…I think that’s all the wise pronouncements I have for today. What’s up with you all? Did you have a good Halloween? What are you most grateful for that poor ol’ historical romance characters don’t get to experience? Do you like National Treasure and/or The Great British Baking Show? I’m feeling chatty, so just let me know what’s on your mind.
I’m taking a break to celebrate the holidays with my family. So, I’m sharing a blog that originally ran in 2012. I tweaked it just a bit to reflect what’s happening right now, but the message is timeless. Happy holidays, everyone!
We have nine days until Christmas. Where has the time gone? Is it just me, or has this year flown by? It feels like it shouldn’t even be Halloween yet. Probably because Halloween came and went without even a carved jack-o-lantern or toasted pumpkinseed in our household (and I love toasted pumpkin seeds…). Halloween was preempted by deadlines and obligation. There was just no time. Missing that, we held on tight as we careened into November, which is birthday season in our family; then the birthdays gave way to Thanksgiving. Now, here we are sprinting toward the end of another year.
I realized the other day, I need to slow down and smell the Christmas cookies. Actually, I need to make time to bake some. I need to make time to enjoy my family and the meaning of the season before it’s over and we’re halfway through next year.
It’s time to take a deep breath and live in the moment.
I’m reading a great book called Ten Zen Seconds by Eric Maisel. Chapter nine, Embracing The Moment, really spoke to me. It’s about the difference between “passing the time” (or in my case, racing through it) and “being present.” Living in the moment. It’s really given me pause and made me think.
How is it that we get so busy that we don’t have time to enjoy life? We get so caught up in planning and scheduling and racing from one thing to the next that we neglect to live. Events that are supposed to be fun and memorable become burdens or worse yet, they slip by because we don’t have time or we’re present in body, but not in spirit as our mind wanders, planning what’s next .
The commitments and obligations won’t evaporate – and the truth is, we probably don’t want most of them to go away. I just finished back-to-back deadlines (and thank goodness for book contracts!). I’ve barely made a dent in my Christmas list (probably good for the budget). My daughter just got home from college and my father just returned for the holidays (one of the most important events I’ve been anticipating all year. I don’t want to take for granted a single moment with my family). I am determined to slow down and savor the rest of the month.
What’s your best tip for enjoying the spirit of the season? How do you keep up with family, friends, work, housework, decorating and all those holiday concerts, pageants, and parties and keep your sanity? How do you live in the moment during the holidays?
I finished my book. No…let me state that another way: I FINISHED MY BOOK!!!! For whatever reason, this book took a lot out of me, and it took forever. So I’m doing a lot of running around and grabbing people and screaming “I FINISHED MY BOOK” until they get that wide-eyed look that says, “Let me go, or I’m calling the police.”
But here’s my new dilemma. What shall I do with all this newfound time? Remember, I have another job, and only a few days to work with! The thing about finishing a book is that there’s always another deadline to meet, and soon. So I need to make my freedom count!
Here are my top five contenders:
1) Read for fun. I always keep a notebook with me, in which I jot down book recommendations that come along. Right now, it’s jam-packed and calling my name.
2) Tear down the bathroom wallpaper. I know, I know, this sounds really boring. But I’ve been dying to do it for years. In fact, 24 hours before I finished my book, I began peeling paper, just to force myself to put this first. Now, of course, it sounds boring again….
3) Watch the great old TV series I’m behind on. I’m eager to catch up on Downton Abbey (Highclere Castle seen here in a lovely photo by Gary Bembridge), Ballykissangel, The Hollow Crown, Fringe, Arrested Development, Firefly, Scandal…and too many old Masterpiece Theater costume dramas to list.
4) Go antiquing. I don’t buy much, but I love to prowl around vintage stores and antique stores. I’m determined to start a beautiful teacup collection, but so far I have a total of one cup…and the rest exist only on my Pinterest board, and in my head.
5) Work in the yard. I think I must have a drop or two of farmer blood, because, although I approach gardening only in fits and starts—and in between times everything dies—I really do love getting my hands dirty. I especially enjoy the meditative quality of weeding. Go figure.
So, what do you think? Which one would you vote for? What do you do when you have a blissful bit of freedom, a little time all to yourself?
To one poster today, I’m giving away a chance to get one of my author copies of THE RANCH SHE LEFT BEHIND, the third in my Sisters of Bell River Ranch series. It’s Penny’s book, and it’ll be out in December, so my author copies probably won’t come in until November. It’s a bit of a wait, but if you win and haven’t read the first two books in the series, I’ll send you those now!
We all lead busy lives, and there are some weeks my life is way busier than others. I’m on an early flight to the Romantic Times convention in Kansas City this morning, and I had to do some creative multi-tasking to get everything ready in time.
And just when I thought I couldn’t add even one more thing to my to-do list, my publisher sent page proofs for The Spy Wore Blue my Lord and Lady Spy novella coming out in August. They were due yesterday. It’s a novella, so I knew it wouldn’t take me as long as a full-length book, but I still had to find some time to sit and read through it, making final corrections.
I remember the days when I had hours at my disposal to dedicate to writing, proofreading, revising. Now I’m lucky if I have one hour. So I multi-task.
My daughter is three and a half, and bathroom independent. Yes! But she still likes me close by when she uses the potty. And, like any kid, she sometimes wants to sit in there and sing or tell herself stories or whatnot. She might be in there ten minutes, but I had better be close by. She will check. So what do I do. Grab my computer and sit outside the bathroom door and write.
Right now her favorite game is Hello Kitty Bingo. The game is for 2-4 players, but we usually have only three—Baby G, Mickey Mouse, and me. Like and three-year-old, she has a short attention span. She wants to play, but then she finds something more interesting and runs off to investigate for five minutes. Eventually she remembers the game and comes back to continue play. I used to sit and try to catch a few minutes’ of sleep while she read a book or colored a picture. Now I open my laptop and write a few paragraphs before she returns.
And, of course, we have a couple of activities every week. One of them is gymnastics. I love to watch her, but she’s not actually doing any gymnastics for much of the class. In the 3-4 year old class, they run around, sing songs, and learn to wait for their turn on the balance beam or bars. So while I’m waiting for her to show everyone her front support, I read a page of the novella.
And that’s how the work gets done. Anyone else a master multi-tasker?