Tuesday, August 13, 2019

My Summer Vacation

It's been too long! Ya gotta love summer, though. This is the time, for me anyway, where creativity renews. I spend long hours reading, playing games, traveling, cleaning out old boxes of stuff, and soaking up the warmth. It rarely gets too hot for me here in the Finger Lakes and on the few days it does, well, that's why we invented air conditioning.

Mostly though, I prefer to be outside on the front porch (which has had a MAJOR overhaul this summer. After 100+ years, the railings had rotted too far to be saved and needed replacing, as did the front foot of the decking. Last summer I kept a plant stand over the section that, if you stepped on it, you'd go through. This summer it's beautiful and new and shiny!). Out there, in our outdoor living room, I can read a book, play puzzle games on my tablet or phone, visit with neighbors, and listen to the cicadas singing in the trees. I can just...be.

I did get some traveling in...went on a cruise with my daughter, who works for Celebrity Cruises. She's a production manager and her last cruise of her current contract was the Independence Day cruise. Spent Canada Day docked in Halifax and the Fourth of July in Boston Harbor. The best part of the trip, though? Watching my daughter work in a professional capacity. I'm so proud of her! She's cool, efficient, and people went out of their way to tell me how much they loved having her as a boss. Made my mamma's heart swell with pride, it did!

You would think, with all this time just existing, that I'd have read a great many books on that porch. Well, you'd be wrong. Being in the moment means exactly that - being in the present moment, not in someone else's world. Not even in a world I create. So my reading has dropped off. Most years, this is the time I start forgetting to record what I read so I never end up with a full year's worth of reading. This year, I did better.

So here are the books I read for June and July (since I haven't posted any of them!). You'll see I finished off the Pink Carnation series, then went nuts with the genres.

By Lauren Willig:
     The Temptation of the Night Jasmine
     The Betrayal of the Blood Lily
     The Orchid Affair
     The Garden Intrigue
     The Passion of the Purple Plumeria
     The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla
     The Lure of the Moonflower

(Sidenote: I read all those at the cabin before I left on my cruise. Can you tell I enjoy those books? Read the entire series straight through over a six-week period!)

A Christmas Promise by Thomas Kincade (yes, the painter) and Katherine Spencer
Murder at The Breakers by Alyssa Maxwell (I picked up her book AT The Breakers, which we visited on an excursion)
Captain Quirk by Dennis William Hauck (a not-very-flattering biography of William Shatner)
Born of Legend by Sherrylin Kenyon (probably not the best book to read as my 1st Kenyon book. I was lost most of the time)

I also read two romances during this month, but those I did forget to write down and I can't even remember the authors. I know I tried a Fern Michaels on the ship, but honestly? The editing was so bad, I just couldn't get past the first chapter. Sorry, Ms. Michaels, but I passed it on.

So what are you all doing for your summers?

Play safe,

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Ah, summer fun!

I really have no good excuse for not posting - I've been alternately scraping the porch before my husband rebuilds and paints it, going to the cabin just because I can, and drinking lots of malted milkshakes. :)

Seriously. Have you had a chocolate malt? I'm on a crusade to bring them back. I like mine with extra chocolate and triple the malt. Yum!

I've done some writing in there as well. Nearly ten years ago I started a murder mystery set in the Smith Opera House. Went on a historical tour of the place recently (thanks, Chris, for a whole new set of ideas!) and got inspired to dig it out and see if something can be done with it. Wrote an entire new first chapter for it and mapped out the whodunnit part. Will be working on that for the next few months.

After I go on a ten-day cruise first.

Yep, leaving on my 38th wedding anniversary - and going without my wonderful hubby. For the first time in all those years, we're taking separate vacations this summer. It feels weird. Several people have told me its a great way to add some spark - I know I'll miss him while I'm gone and I expect half the time I'll be thinking, "Oh, I wish Steven could see this!" But I'm traveling with my daughter who works for Celebrity Cruises as a stage manager and staying in her cabin, so I won't be alone. And I am QUITE excited to see my daughter, as she's been gone since January. This is her last cruise of her current contract, so she gets to come home with me. And since the port is only five hours from where we live, I'm driving down. She's very excited that, once she gets off the ship, she doesn't have to take a plane or two before doing a five hour drive. We get off the ship, walk to the garage, and drive home. Easy-peasy!

For the record, lest any of you feel sorry for the hubby I'm leaving at home, he's going to Ireland at the end of July for a 10-day plein air event. He and another artist are going together and are renting a car. They'll stay with a host family near Wexford, Ireland and spend much of their time painting Ireland's beautiful southeastern coast. Why am I not going with him? Because 1) I won't drive in Ireland so I'd have to go wherever he paints and 2) I learned last year when we went to three plein air events in Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, that watching an artist paint? Is literally watching paint dry.

And yes, I've done some reading over the past several weeks. Just a few books. Here's May's list:

A Play of Heresy Margaret Frazer mystery
The Secret History of the Pink Carnation Lauren Willig mystery
The Masque of the Black Tulip Lauren Willig mystery
The Deception of the Emerald Ring Lauren Willig mystery
The Seduction of the Crimson Rose Lauren Willig mystery
The Mischief of the Mistletoe Lauren Willig mystery

You may note that the first one was the last in the series that I read in April. The rest are all part of a wonderful series that presumes the Scarlet Pimpernel (one of my favorite books) was a real person and that there was an entire network of flower-named spies solving mysteries. There are a few more in that series, but I read them in June, so will include the titles later.

As you can tell, the good weather has put me outside more often than not, so not only have I not posted, I didn't read quite as many books in May as I have in previous months. June's numbers will be similarly low - and for the same reason.

That's all for now - stay tuned for more information on the Smith Opera House Mystery!

Oh, and when you visit the website for the Smith, you'll see an ad for Spamalot! My hubby is directing that - so if you're in the area, come see it - and me!

Play safe,

Friday, May 10, 2019

Time flies!

Lilacs out my window, 2018
Wow, we're a third of the way through May already! It is my favorite time of year and lately I've decided May is my favorite month - mostly because of the flowers. From the crocus that announce spring commences through the tulips with their rainbow of colors to the lilacs that are already blossoming in Highland Park (mine aren't yet, but will be soon - the picture is from this time last year), the earth brightens and the world is renewed. And did I mention the bright green of new grass? Definitely my favorite time of year.

April, however, is a bit gloomy and unpredictable here in the Finger Lakes. We've had everything from snow and ice to rain to sun - all to prepare us for May, but gloomy nonetheless. Which is why I spent most of April indoors, reading and writing.

To that end, below is my April reading list. It's still extensive, although May's will be considerably shorter as I've already spent much of it outdoors. In fact, my hubby tried to call me on both the house phone and my cell phone yesterday to tell me he was bringing wings home for lunch, as I found out when he got home with the wings. He asked me why I didn't answer either phone and I told him, "I was outside, first hanging the laundry, then scraping the balcony (which is a sorry state and truly needs some TLC), then sweeping the walk, then daydreaming about the containers I would plant next week." He asked why I didn't take my cell phone with me and I said, "Because I was enjoying the outside!" Who needs to be disturbed by a phone when I was listening to the birds?

Here's my April list, a little late:

Star Trek: Vulcan's Forge Josepha Sherman & Susan Shwartz science fiction
Star Trek: Shadows of the Sun Michael Jan Friedman Science fiction
Star Trek: The Three-Minute Universe Barbara Paul Science fiction
Warrior's Bride Gerri Russell romance
Border Lord Haywood Smith romance
A Play of Dux Moraud Margaret Frazer mystery
Angel Mine Sherryl Woods romance
Gentle Warrior Julie Garwood romance
The Gift Julie Garwood romance
A Play of Knaves Margaret Frazer mystery
A Play of Lords Margaret Frazer mystery
A Play of Treachery Margaret Frazer mystery
Guys and Dolls Damon Runyon fiction

I have a lot of Star Trek books I've collected over the years and am working my way through them. Most of them can be read in a day, although that in no way detracts from their enjoyment. Same with the romances. The Margaret Frazer books are absolutely delightful and the Damon Runyon book is just plain fun. To be honest, though, I'm not finished with it. May happened, so you'll see it again on my May list.

Go outside and enjoy the newness!

Play safe,

Thursday, April 04, 2019

Of Memory Lane and Reading Lists

Before my mom passed away in January, she gave me a bin marked "Mom and Dad's Treasures - 57 Years Worth". And she wasn't kidding, in either the fact that they're treasures, or the fact that it was chock-full of papers and photos going back over five decades.

Most of what was in there I'd seen before, but much had been forgotten. The birthday cards we kids had given her, the Mother's Day notes and the letters sent between family. People I haven't thought of in years suddenly standing before me on the pages of old newspaper clippings and letters. It's been a wonderful trip down Memory Lane but the bin also posed a bigger question: What happens to all this once I pass on?

To answer that, I've been going through each envelope in the bin and divvying things up. My sister and brother are getting all the cards they sent Mom and Dad over the years and whatever pictures that pertain to them (there really aren't a lot of pictures. Mom split those up years ago). The stuff that pertains to me will reside in the bin for my kids to look at, store, give away, recycle.

Of course, going through their bin made me think of all the stuff I have hanging around here that's just sitting in bins, so I've hauled them out and have been going through those as well. I tell you, I might as well work in a museum!

In fact, I feel much like a curator, making decisions about what to keep, what to recycle, what to give away. Ever since the kids were little, I've kept a binder for each year. In it are news articles, programs, flyers...anything that helps tell the story of that year. Most are one-inch notebooks, but some years are a little more full - and so need bigger notebooks.
The Years of Our Lives

This shelf contains the notebooks from 1998- present day. I'm nearly out of room. I figure two, maybe three more years I need another shelf. 

But I can't tell you how often we check the notebooks to see when we did something or when we went where. I've scrapbooked most of our vacations (see below for a note about THAT!), so those are interspersed with the appropriate years. And they stick out at odd levels because I recently added the calendars for each year to the notebook itself (prior to this, the calendars were just stuck in a bin - like SO much else!).

Regarding vacations - some are in the 12 X 12 scrapbooks, some are in regular binders, some are within the year's notebook, depending on the length of the time away. HOWEVER, I recently brought down a bin that held not one, but TWO vacations I never got around to putting into anything. There they sit, the journals, the photos, the receipts - everything- each in a plastic bag waiting for me to remember they exist.

My husband recently got into the trip along Memory Lane as well since in that same bin was a smaller box of letters he'd received before we got married. He got a LOT of letters when he was in college - and he kept them all. So cool to read notes from friends he hasn't seen in years - and several he sees often. But it was the letter from his Dad that brought him up short - the only letter his dad ever sent to him in college. What a true treasure it is now.

Of course, I've been reading as well - my book list for March is below. You'll note the genre are varied, as are the authors. 

Moonlight in the Morning
Jude Deveraux
The Name of the Wind
Patrick Rothfuss
The Slow Regard of Silent Things
Patrick Rothfuss
The Wise Man's Fear
Patrick Rothfuss
Change of Heart
Jude Deveraux
Dragon Wing
Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman
O'Hurley's Return
Nora Roberts
Lilac Lane
Sherryl Woods
The Last Promise
Richard Paul Evans
Star Trek: Killing Time
Della Van Hise
Star Trek: Prime Directive
Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens

The Real James Herriot
Jim Wright
Mount Vernon Love Story
Mary Higgins Clark

The last two I put on the list, but I didn't actually read them. I STARTED them, but gave up. Both too dry.

And yes, I like most Star Trek books - and have nearly fifty of them. Have decided to move some from my TBR pile into the pile on the bookshelves. :)

FWIW, I'm really enjoying Patrick Rothfuss' series, although I didn't realize until I finished Wise Man's Fear that the next book might still be years away. Sigh. Dragon Wing is the first book in a seven-book series and I didn't like it enough to keep going.

Between the scrapbooking and the reading, I haven't done much writing other than writing up explanations for the notebooks to put items in context, although I have started a new erotic romance that has been capturing my imagination for a while (nothing like burying the lead!) 

Play safe!

Friday, March 08, 2019

What I've been reading...

It will probably surprise no one to discover I spent most of February immured in my chair with the blanket pulled up and the heater on...reading escapist romances. The wind was howling (some small branches down but no major damage), the temperatures in the single digits (Fahrenheit here, so at least they were on the plus side), and the snow came in big flakes that would be perfect for Christmas, except it was February and I'm so over snow...

So, what did I read? Here's the list:

This Matter of Marriage Debbie Macomber romance
Wishes Jude Deveraux romance
Montana Debbie Macomber romance
Ever After Jude Deveraux romance
True Love Jude Deveraux romance
For All Time Jude Deveraux romance
Lavender Morning Jude Deveraux romance
The Librarians & the Pot of Gold Greg Cox fantasy
Devil's Daughter Lisa Kleypas romance
Philomena Martin Sixsmith biography
Heartwishes Jude Deveraux romance
Mystic Warrior Tracy & Laura Hickman fantasy

You'll notice a lot of Jude Devereaux in there - she was one of my mom's favorite authors. Since I'm still working on the books in my mom's TBR pile at the time of her death, most of what I've grabbed and curled up with have been romances. Several of these books all took place in the same town.

You'll note a Librarian's book in there - I LOVED that series. Erudite, funny, well-written - it was a must-see for us every week. It got cancelled this year but I'm still holding out hope there will be a few more movies. The series started as three movies, so it can end that way, too, right? In the meantime, there are books - and I need to find more of them. This one was a Christmas present.

Philomena is also on the list: this has been on my own TBR pile for over a year. I haven't yet seen the movie and didn't realize how serious it was, but am glad I read it. Its going to be a bit before I can see the movie, though. Let me give you a warning: this book deals with some serious issues and will make you very angry. Very. Angry.

The Hickman's have written a LOT of books (the Dragonlance series, for example), and I'd gotten this one several years ago when I asked for books for Christmas. It's the first in a series and after reading it, I'm not interested in reading the rest. 

Yes, I've also been writing - and scrapbooking and doing family tree stuff. I'm not teaching this semester (one class cancelled due to low enrollment and one taken away and given to a full-timer who didn't have a full load due to a cancellation. Sucks to be low man on the totem pole). Not teaching has given me a taste of what true retirement will look like. I have to say...it ain't a bad place to be!

Read on and play safe!

Friday, March 01, 2019

CABIN FEVER is back!

After a nearly four-year hiatus, Cabin Fever is once again available in both ebook and print formats. It's now available on both Smashwords and Amazon - so pick up this long-lost treasure today!

What's it about? 

Isabel knew she was in trouble. Did all men take one look at her well-endowed breasts and think sex? No way was she going to make out in a tiny MG on some God-forsaken mountain with a date she never wanted to see again.

Daniel needed to forget a case gone bad and a relationship gone sour. Taking a leave of absence, he heads for a mountain retreat to deal with the guilt. The last thing he wants is company.

Forced together by a winter storm, neither gets what they want…but both get something better.

Click on the picture for a short excerpt and purchasing information or go directly to Smashwords or Amazon and download your copy now. Want the book in print? You can get that, too!

Want more Diana Hunter books? Check out this page and find all her books. 

Play safe!

P.S. Watch this space for the next re-release, Services Rendered, coming at the end of March!

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Books I'm reading

I have a lot to say about this month - but am not yet ready to say it. Instead, I'm just going to record here the books I've read this month - and you'll see they're nearly all romances (the Outlander books sort of qualify as romances, but they're also historical fiction, science fiction, a little bit of fantasy, and a whole lot of good reading).

So, for the month of January - 10 books in total (yes, I know I still have a day to go and with the wind chills at -22, there's a good chance I'll have one more book to add to this later...):

Echo in the Bone - Diana Gabaldon
Written in My Own' Heart's Blood - Diana Gabldon
Christmas in Evergreen - Nancy Naigle
Merry and Bright  - Debby Macomber
Moonlight Masquerade - Jude Deveraux
The Stormy Petrel - Mary Stewart
The Christmas Bouquet - Sherryl Woods (see note below)
Touched by Angels - Debbie Macomber
Only Beloved - Mary Balough
Divine Evil - Nora Roberts

Concerning all but the Diana Gabaldon books, these are all from my mom's TBR pile. I'd gone to a library sale over a year ago and for Christmas 2017, we all gave her books (over 20 of them). What I didn't know what that she'd pretty much slowed down on her reading. Where she used to consume about a book a day, she now took weeks to finish one because of the neropathy (sp?) in her hands. She just couldn't hold a book for a long period of time.

In any case, Sherryl's book was one she'd started and not had the opportunity to finish before she died. I finished it for her.

Play safe,

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

New Year, New Resolutions

Some wonder the worth of making New Year's Resolutions. They tend to fall by the wayside before the month is out anyway, so why bother?

I'll tell you why - and how to be successful at keeping them. One, putting a resolution down in writing makes it real. Seeing the words helps solidify the thought and desire in your brain. Two, it's also helpful if there aren't too many. You can only work on so much of yourself at one time. To take on too much is to set yourself up for failure.

And third, the more concrete the resolution, the more apt one is to actually make it happen. "Lose weight" is a great resolution - "Lose 20 pounds" might actually happen because you can see yourself moving toward that goal each time you step on the scales. Last year, I made a "lose 20 pounds" resolution in April and 21 weeks later, had accomplished that goal. I set a new one and by Thanksgiving, was down 30 pounds.

So here, written down, are my three VERY concrete goals for 2019 (in no particular order):

- Lose another 30 pounds by September (which will put me at my pre-pregnancy weight).
- Write 100,000 words on The Companion, my fantasy series and Work of My Heart.
- Finish repubbing the last few Ellora's Cave novels by June (I haven't counted them up, but there aren't that many left).

See? Doable!

Play safe - and make sensible resolutions,

P.S. Okay, so I do have one more...to really keep track of what I read this year. I've successfully done this in the past, so I know I can do it. I just have to remember!