Some of you have heard me mention my Alpha Dog on social media. I thought you might like to hear how we met.
My Southern California apartment manager set me up. Really. This woman I hardly knew called me out of the blue, telling me that a guy in the complex had noticed me, and asked her if she’d introduce us. My silence must’ve telegraphed stunned, because she rushed on to say that he was a successful businessman, polite in the old-school way, and kind of shy. He was raising his two kids all on his own… Before she could launch into a saving-kittens-from drowning-story, I said, okay, half to shut her up, half because I was curious to meet this throwback.
She knocks on my door that afternoon, introduces him and takes off. There I stood, not knowing what to do with this shy, good looking man on my doorstep. He invited me out that night, and I said yes, because I couldn’t say no to that cute, little-boy smile.
He took me to dinner, and proceeded to drag me through every detail of the horrific divorce he’d just gone though . . . for TWO HOURS. I’m sitting there thinking, He may be cute, but I’m so out of here.
Then he tells me his goal is to be married within the next year. Wow. Really? And he has full custody of his two kids.
I’d never had kids – never wanted them. And I was never getting married again. Ever. I couldn’t wait to get home.
He dropped me at my doorstep, and looked like he wanted to kiss me, but didn’t.
Then he asked me if I wanted to go for a ride on his motorcycle that weekend. He has a motorcycle? I LOVE motorcycles! The wind in your face, the thrill of speed, wrapping your arms around that strong chest . . .
Okay, so one more date. At least he couldn’t talk about his divorce while we were riding, right?
That shy guy and I celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary next month.
He went from the worst date I’d ever had to my best friend. Who knew that could happen?
The Rudolph my 64 year-old brother made in Kindergarten
This time of year, I get nostalgic and sentimental. In between the family events, the shopping and the Christmas parties, I think we all do, don’t we? It starts with putting up the tree. See, I don’t have one of those pretty, color-coordinated, sparkly, Macy’s trees.
Mine is covered with old, glitter flaking santas, and plastic balls. I think people are probably a bit taken aback when they see it (surely they can do better…can’t they?)
They don’t know how lucky I am to have those battered ornaments. I have all of the ones from my childhood that have survived the decades since. Getting the tree trimmed every year is full of ohs and ahs (mine). See, I don’t see them as they are. I see them as they were, in the past. Many are ones my aunt bought us, one every year. Some are from past marriages, boyfriends, or trips I’ve taken.
There’s the whirlybird thingy (technical term in my family). You’d put it over one of those big bulbs that used to go on the tree, and the heat would make it spin. My dad burnt the carpet one year, laying the lights out to be sure they all worked. My mom was MAD!
Then there’s the last remaining hand-blown ornament of my grandmother’s. The sole survivor of the year our Siamese cat patched out on the table holding all the ornaments, and broke probably half of them. Money was tight that year – dad had lost his job. Again. And he was drinking. So we kids walked to a mile down to the drugstore and bought some.
Cheap plastic, but they shone bright. They don’t shine as brightly nowadays, but I don’t care. They always remind me of my mother’s stoic resilience. She taught me a lot about strength in adversity, and those lessons have stood me in good stead over the years (thanks, mom).
Then there are the ones that remind me of people. The one that our dear friend Barbara bought Alpha Dog and I for our first Christmas together. We lost Barbara a few years later.
My sister Nancy and I made our Christmas tree a whole magical world. We played with the Santas and the Rudolphs, and an odd wood and string stick figure we called ‘Chingy’. I wouldn’t give those memories for anything. Sure wish I still had Chingy, but he’s been lost somewhere down the years. Nancy has been lost, too.
Oh well, here I am, blathering on (told you I get sentimental), and what I really wanted to do was to wish you a wonderful Holiday season, and may the coming year be your best ever.
As the year end nears, I’m seeing the annual crop of ‘Best Of’ lists. As a lifelong avid reader, I have more faves than the number of ants on the planet. But I’ve spent some time, wrangling them into a few categories (it’s amazing what you’ll do, NOT to write).
I reserve the right to add to the list when I slap my head and remember more.
It was hard enough to narrow these down, so don’t ask me to put them in order. I’d never get any writing done! So here they are in no particular order –
Top 5 ‘desert island books’ – ones I’d want in my suitcase in case I’m stranded.
Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand
King’s Oak – Anne Rivers Siddons
Marjorie Morningstar – Herman Wouk
South of Broad – Pat Conroy
The Stand – Stephen King
Top Historical books
Last Woman Standing – Thelma Adams
Letters from Home – Kristina McMorris
Camden Summer – LaVyrle Spencer
Outlander – Diana Gabaldon
Centennial – James Michener (I could have listed almost any of his here)
Top Romance Books
Gone with the Wind – Margaret Mitchell
Outlander – Diana Gabaldon
The Thorn Birds – Colleen McCullough
Coyote Dream – Jessica Davis Stein
Camden Summer – LaVyrle Spencer
Top Horror Books
Boy’s Life – Robert McGammon
The Stand – Stephen King
The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson
The Boys of Brazil – Ira Levin
The Fireman – Joe Hill
Just know that this list could have been pages long
Top Women’s Fiction
The Perfect Son – Barbara Claypole White
The Sleeping Night – Barbara Samuel
Virgin River – Robyn Carr
Solomon’s Oak – JoAnn Mapson
Walk Me Home – Catherine Ryan Hyde
This one was a killer to hold to 5, too
Me – Katherine Hepburn
Helter Skelter – Vincent Bugliosi
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – Robert Pirsig
No One Gets Out Alive – Jerry Hopkins
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford – Ron Hansen
Top General/Uncategorized – Not keeping myself to 5 here, because I can’t.
Flowers for Algernon – Daniel Keyes
A Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
A Time to Kill – James Grisham
To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
The Help – Kathryn Stockett
The Secret Life of Bees – Sue Monk Kidd
Island – Richard Laymon
Timeline – Michael Crichton
Malevil – Robert Merle
A Gift Upon the Shore – M.K. Wren
A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
Traveller – Richard Adams
Are any of your favorites on my lists? What ones did I miss?
Wow, it’s been a busy summer, but I still can’t believe how long it’s been since I’ve written a post. I attended the RWA Conference in San Diego and tacked on a week, staying with a good friend, catching up with many of my buds. For the first time, Southern California didn’t feel like I’d woken from a coma and was home again.
Alpha Dog and I rode the motorcycles to Colorado, where I fly fished for ten days. And worked – the above photo is proof!
Then I went on my annual ‘chick fly fishing trip’, this year, to Yellowstone National Park. Fishing was dismal, but the scenery was incredibly beautiful. Hard to complain about the fishing, when you’re thigh-deep in a river, casting flies, listening to elk bugle in the next meadow. Ahhhh.
But this wasn’t meant to me a ‘how I spent my summer’, post. But I can’t resist a few more photos of YNP.
Further proof that I have been working – the new look to my website. I believe it much more accurately reflects me and what I write. I hope you like it.
Now, on to book news: I’m writing two projects at the moment. One, a Western Romance novella for a super-secret anthology that should be announced around the end of the year. More bull riders!
The second project is very different. A hard-hitting Women’s Fiction, about the right-to-die. Tentatively titled For Roger, it’s out on submission now. Here’s my working logline:
The story of a conformist who must survive her choice: consign the love of her life to a death by ALS, or grant his wish, to help him die.
More news as I have it. In the meantime, I’m back to work!
I’ve been feverishly working to make my deadline for the last book in my Widow’s Grove series. This will be Bear’s book; the scary guy from The Reasons to Stay (you knew he’d turn out to be more teddy than grizzly, right? 😉 )
But authors are the ultimate multi-taskers. We look ahead to the next story to be written, even as we’re working on another project.
And the next two ideas aren’t romances. I didn’t consciously set out to change the path I was on. Oh, you thought I was in charge? I wish. Who Is? Heck if I know. If I had a muse, she’d look like this:
I’ve written one women’s fiction project, and it’s being shopped by my agent now. I had so much fun writing it, and was so happy with how it came out, I guess that’s why my brain went there.
I know authors who have so many ideas for stories, they can’t decide which to write. I’m not like that. About 2/3 through a project, I start worrying, Is this it? The last book I ever write? I have no idea what to write next. What if an idea doesn’t come to me? Not that that’s ever happened. But there’s always a first time.
Yeah, along with being multi-taskers, we’re Olympic worriers. What can I say? It’s my super-power.
So this time when I get 2/3 through the book I’m writing, TWO ideas come to me, out of the blue. They’re so different that it scares me: one is a hard hitting Jodi Picoult-esque Women’s fiction, the other is a biker-chick series, women’s fiction with romantic elements. At first I thought it a romance, but how do you have a romance when three chicks are on a road-trip for most of the book?
So I’m now working on finishing one book, and writing two proposals, simultaneously, and I’m having a blast.