Saturday, September 01, 2012


I have been doing both.

It has always been a firm belief of mine that you can't write – or write well, anyway – if you don't read. And I'm not talking about magazines – c'mon, people, we all read magazines, if only while waiting at the checkout counter (although 2 of my regular supermarkets now have TV for the attention-impaired, 5 second snippets of shows and commercials.) I do not discount this type of reading; I publish in magazines and do not bite the hand that at least pats me on the head. But magazines are very thin picture books, meant to give your mind a jumpstart or a tweak, not to give you hours of transportation to a completely other world.

The difference between books and magazines (or newspapers or blogs or the Huffington Post) is not exactly the same as the difference between People Magazine and actual people, but it is nonetheless great.

So when I say I have been reading, I mean books. It sort of goes without saying that I read magazines, online posts, news, cereal boxes, tee shirts, bumper stickers, the mail, and just about anything with printed words.

I have my favorite genre fiction – it runs from James Lee Burke, Dean Koontz, and Louise Penney on one side to Earl Derr Biggers, Arthur Upfield and Ngaio Marsh on another and Sue Ann Jaffarian, Jeff Sharrat and Taffy Cannon on yet another - it's a multi-sided construct. But I love classic fiction as well. I learn from it, the easy way, while being entertained, enthralled, whisked away, and fed on rich things.

I have a dear friend who just discovered the joys of a Kindle and is reading Willa Cather. Now that's reading. This same friend just finished Faulkner (the hard, difficult, rip your eyes out Faulkner of Light in August) in hardcover, so she's no stranger to the type of reading that sometimes takes you to places you would never allow yourself to be taken otherwise. But she enjoys going to the good, kind places, too.

Which brings me to writing. If you don't take the trips to places through reading, I don't see where you can buy your ticket to take others to places through your writing. It is one of only two ways I know to learn how to write, and they are both connected. The other half of it is actually writing, the BIC (Butt In Chair) method.

This week I have been reading both fiction and non-fiction – and writing.

I have completed 145 pages – roughly 45,000 words – of that same novel I started writing in late 2007. I confess I let it sit for several years due to plot holes, but I have since learned how to knit up the raveled sleeve of a couple of good ideas strung together with engaging characters, an endearing puppy dog and a couple of gruesome murders. What's not to love? And working on it this time around is a pleasure, not a chore.

I also discovered – by reading through it and looking ahead to the satisfying conclusion which I have yet to write but now can see – that it is not the mystery I thought it would be, but is an animal I have not before tamed, namely Romantic Suspense.

So I have begun to read in that genre. And it's fun. I am enjoying and learning and reading it all with a delight I before had reserved only for mystery, science fiction and certain favorite classics.

So my question this week is:

Which romantic suspense authors do you like? Recommend a few books to me before I reach the end of my own.


Eggs for breakfast this morning. It was especially nice to know exactly which chicken laid which egg for me. Thank you Spot and Big Red. (Nothing from Whitey right now - she's molting)

Hearing a wonderful story from a friend this week about a Gustav Klimt drawing and then receiving a postcard – from a different friend! – with a Klimt drawing on it!

Ramiro, our gardener, found two small, black statues of birds and gave them to me – I will put them at the edge of the bird feeder.


Saturday, August 25, 2012


It has been a very long time since I posted here – so much has happened, and when stuff starts to snowball, you just get overwhelmed. I loved seeing the book in print, and of course, that took up a lot of time and energy. But also I quit working my part time job, started volunteering one afternoon a week at the dA Center for the Arts and started working again on my cozy novel. I also have been thinking about painting again – well, more like obsessing over it, which, in my experience, is the only way to do it.

But it has been too hot to do more than obsess over things.


We have chickens, and the heat is hard on them. Chickens can be resilient – they can stand in snow and not flinch, but the heat really sets them off into odd behaviors, illnesses and throws them off their laying. This is too bad, as they lay the best eggs ever. (Except for Big Karla, the French Copper Marrans, she hasn't laid a thing since March. Who knows why? Her age? Her temper? Chicken voodoo?)

Big Red, the Rhode Island Red, lays a brown egg nearly every day. Spot, the Barred Plymouth Rock, lays a very smooth brown egg, also nearly every day. Whitey, the White Leghorn, was doing fine there for a while, laying a small, torpedo-shaped snowy white egg almost daily, until the heat hit and she started – inexplicably – to molt out of season. Hens don't lay during a molt, so I'm just waiting for her to finish shedding feathers and get back to work.

And Flora and Dora – the Red Speckled Sussex Games – well, they usually lay great big beautiful cream-colored eggs every day, but Flora has become broody – they don't lay when broody, and I am using all the usual methods to get her to stop it. And Dora is on strike in sympathy, I guess. The usual methods include trying to bring down the temperature of the chicken's underside, which goes up alarmingly during broodiness – by dunking them in cold water and keeping them away from nesting materials. (No, they don't like it, but it helps them in this heat.)

So instead of 6 beautiful eggs every day, I'm getting about 2 per day…still enough to dine on, but not enough to share.

Here are pics of the chickens.


The puppies are so sweet. Can't believe we have three rescues. Only one kitty left now, as Nero died last Christmas.

My brother, Bill. He moved to New Mexico with his wife and pets and lives up a rustic canyon outside of Truth or Consequences near Elephant Butte Lake. It is so beautiful there. I plan to visit him in October. Here he is with a bass he caught.

Reconnecting with old friends. Sometimes the best things about getting older include looking back on how many opportunities we have had to make friends. Finding the ones who have dropped off our radar can be especially sweet, like finding that last peach on the tree which has had all summer to ripen.