Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Knights in Shining armor

I went to a medieval fête this weekend and it was terrific. Lots of jousting, Crusaders, costumed revellers, stands, games, and a food tent where they served grilled chicken and cabbage salad (medieval fare, doncha know, lol!)
I took some pictures for inspiration to write a book - don't the characters just come to life?

Monday, June 19, 2006

In the eye of the beholder

And yes, I'm talking about art - and especially cover art. I remember being really turned off by poser cover art when I first started reading e-books. The covers were (to my eyes) really awful. But that didn't stop me from buying the books (I have to admit, I never judge a book by its cover art - I read the blurb...I don't even pay attention to reviews.) I got over it - the really awful poser cover art that used to bother me doesn't seem so awful anymore. I didn't mind when my first book (A Grand Passion) came out with a poser figure holding a soccer ball. I know that covers do sell, and I understand some authors who complain bitterly about covers, but I won't be one of them. Why? Because art and cover art is subjective and beauty is in the eye of the beholder. (Lots of clichés here, lol) But it's true - one person's disaster is another person's poster. I hate one of my covers (I won't tell you which one - it really doesn't matter) but one day a woman said to me, "I bought 'X' because of the cover. I just loved it." Lesson learned.

Sunday, June 18, 2006


I'm interested in just about everything and try to keep my enthusiasm for life.

I remember meeting an old man one day and we started to chat; he was so spy and fun that I just had to ask, "what's your secret? How do you stay so young?"
He looked at me and said, "I keep my enthusiasm for everything I do."
I've tried to live by that rule.

And I think that's why I get peeved when I hear writers saying, "I hate when people ask me how to write and how to get published." They roll their eyes and complain.
Didn't these writers ever have enthusiasm for what they did? Didn't they ever ask questions? How could they every forget being unpublished? Didn't they ever seek guidance?
I hope that whenever someone asks me how they can get published I'll have enough enthusiasm to answer joyfully and not with a sigh of annoyance. Even if I'm not a best selling author, if someone needs my help I will always try to be available.
I'm about to start a mentoring program and I sincerely hope that one thing I'll be able to transmit is the satisfaction I get from writing something - be it short story, novel, a letter, or even a blog entry. Communication by writing, imagining the story, choosing the words, and then putting it down for others to share...I'm enthusiastic about what I do and hope I can share that.
So all you published authors out there who cringe when someone asks you how to write a book or how to get published, I hope you'll get down off your high horse and realize anyone can be a writer - you might be talking to the next Nora Roberts or Diana Gabaldon...wouldn't that be exciting to be a part of their future success?
Lots of people helped me - I wouldn't be published if I didn't ask questions and struggle forward, (and a big thanks to everyone who helped me!) Enthusiasm - that's the key!

Saturday, June 17, 2006


I went to Versailles to visit the gardens on Friday, and yesterday I went to Giverny to visit Monet's garden. Two different looks, lol.
Here is Versailles (one of the many gardens there)

And here is Monet's garden - a blowsy, wild, mix of color.

Guess which effect I'm aiming for in my garden? LOL! Here is my front garden:

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Thursday Thirteen!!!!!

Thirteen things I learned from my dogs

1. Dead things really, really smell bad. Especially if they've been dead for over a week, and it's hot out, and your dog rolls in it and then lies down on the sofa.

2. Sofas never really let go of bad odors.

3. Rugs look strange when the fringe gets chewed off.

4. Leashes and collars should be made from chains, otherwise they can be bitten through in about two minutes flat.

5. Three a.m. is a bad time to wake up the neighbors with hysterical barking. They are sure to mention it next time you meet.

6. Small holes near the fence should be filled in right away, or else dogs can dig their way out and find their way to the neighbor's house and remind him why he never got a dog.

7. Toilet training takes longer than you think. Dog piss does wash out of socks and slippers, but it's best not to step in it in the first place...

8. Barbie dolls look terrible with chewed up heads.

9. Leaving something on the floor is only an option if you want to find only half of it the next day.

10. A determined dog can dig up a tiled floor. (this one didn't happen to me, but I saw the result. Oh boy.)

11. A Labrador retriever can chew up and swallow an entire large size tupperware bowl and its lid, but some pieces can get stuck in the digestive system resulting in a vet bill that would have paid a month's rent.

12. A large dog, tied to a cement block, is a bad idea on a brand new lawn.

13. No matter how mad you are and how angry you get, your dog always forgives you.


I've been busy playing tour guide and having fun with my sister, who is a terrific person. She wants to do volunteer work and join the Peace Corps, go to Africa, and work with underprivileged children. It got me thinking that my family is pretty special. My mom and dad both worked with underprivileged children. We almost always had a 'fresh-air' child come up and spend summers with us. My mother worked with the 'head start' program in New York with her father, and now works in a federal prison as a teacher. My father helped set up the food stamp program in NY and is now retired, but still does his 'meals on wheels' and teaches English to immigrants in a new language program in NY. My other sister always wanted to help others, and is now working as a job councelor in Ohio for the handicapped. So when my youngest sister told me she wanted a job helping others, I could understand. I've always felt that we were put on this earth to help others, and I feel best when I am being helpful. I think about 80% of my family are teachers! That's a pretty big percentage. Most of them are working in special education programs, and some of them are college professors - but all of them love what they do.
I was just wondering if traits like teaching and helping others were family traits, and if so, I was sitting here being thankful I had such a wonderful family.

Saturday, June 10, 2006


I know I haven't been blogging very much lately - but the sun is shining, the weather is splendid, and my sister is here on a visit from NY!
I'll be back soon!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Silk Stockings

I got married in silk stockings. It was sort of a fantasy for me - my fiancé and I had been living together for four years and I wanted to do something a little exotic and different - so I bought a real lace garter belt and silk stockings to clip on. I bought two pairs of stockings (luckily as it turned out) from Dior. The wedding day dawned, we got married at the town hall first by the mayor, then had lunch in the tent with the best man and maid of honor, and then I went to get dressed for the wedding in the church.
I took the stockings out of the box and held them up. "Horrors!" the first pair had a huge run down the leg. I was stunned. I'd been so careful, hadn't caught them on anything...they were defective! I opened the second box, and they were fine. I slid them on, clipped them, and admired myself in the mirror (meanwhile my poor fiancé was taking aspirin after aspirin trying to get rid of a major migraine headache...)

The wedding was a lot of fun. But afterward I wanted to exchange the stockings or at least get my money back. I'd bought them at the Dior stand at a big department store. I went there, with my reciept and the stockings...and the woman told me that she would not give me my money back because the box had been opened and obviously I'd torn them myself. I tried to argue, but to no avail. The woman remained adament. And I got mad. I took the stocking and held it up. Every time someone came to buy something at the stand, I showed them the stocking, said it was a scandal, and told them not to buy anything there. After I'd made at least five people walk away from the stand, the woman (who had been huffing and puffing in fury) ran off to get her manager.
I explained to the manager that I would continue to show people the stocking and tell them what happened. There was nothing he could do about it. He was smart. He gave me my money back.

Monday, June 05, 2006


Yes, I know it's an exciting blog topic - and I'd get a lot more people dropping in if I'd called it 'sexy cleaning,' or 'Fuck house Cleaning' which uis closer to what I feel right this minute...But I digress.
My sister is coming to stay for the summer, to travel a bit and see Europe, and I have to clean my sons' room so she can stay in it. I can't remember which labor of Hercules involved cleaning a stable that hadn't been cleaned in years...Well, that's about what I feel like. Armed with garbage bage, disinfectant, mop, broom, and sponge...I felt just like Hercules must have before his job.
And I'm not done yet.
I thought I'd take a coffee break and blog about something interesting, but it seems I have a small brain only capable of holding one thing at a today it's house cleaning.
A few house-cleaning tips:
white vinegar makes a great cleaning solution. Mix with some water and a few drops of dish washing liquid, and put in a spray bottle. I use it for everything and it gets rid of odors! Hurrah!
A tennis game in the background means you don't get too bored; ditto for some loud music. (Roland Garros is on right now, so I'm watching that between coffee, blogging, and cleaning.)
And now, back to the stables...I mean, the boys' room.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

6 Strange Things

More than you wanted to know…

Thanks to Jona, who tagged me, I’m getting to do a meme on six strange facts about me.

1. I dream every night, and sometimes the dreams are so real I get confused when I wake up - am I awake? Is this still the dream? Sometimes I dream about things that happen, and that makes it even more surreal.

2. My great-grandmother claimed to be a witch. She said she put a curse on the reservoir that covered her town with water. (Everyone had been bought out and forced to move) A few years later, the reservoir dried up. My great-grandmother was rather proud, I think, of being a witch.

3. I knew I was going to have twins before I got pregnant. (Actually, someone I barely knew told me he thought I'd have twins, and I believed him enough that when I got pregnant, I was sure it was twins...and it was.)

4. I'm pretty normal - so this is getting hard now, lol. Um...4. Well, I can draw Anything at all, once I've seen it. (I have a really good visual memory)

5. At the same time, I forget everything else, and my kids call me "Dorie" (from "Finding Nemo") because I forget to pick them up at school, or forget meetings (I just forgot one this week - and the guy called me up and asked if everything was all right - poor chap thought I might have been in an accident. Truth was, I completely forgot I was supposed to meet him.) or forget lunch dates...

6. I'm a geek. I don't care about fashion, shoes, movie stars, or gossip magazines. I have no idea why. My best friend is a shoe designer, I was good friends with Andie MacDowell when we were modeling, and most of the polo players show up in the gossip magazines - so you'd think I'd take the slightest interest...but I really don't. Sorry. I'd rather rant about saving the planet, pollution, politics, or education, so I really think I'm a geek. (does that count for a strange thing?)

I tag:
Wyn, Daisy, Chey, and Ann...

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Kelsey's Secret (part 2)

"The mirror," said the nurse. "Show her the mirror, it will all come back." Those were her first words. I didn’t like her voice. It was hard and grated in my head.
Silver flashed as the doctor picked up a hand mirror from the table next to him and held it up in front of my face.
Dark blue eyes stared back at me. Dark blue eyes in a heart-shaped, pale face. A white bandage hid the hair. But whosoever hair it hid it wasn’t mine. The eyes were not mine, nor was the face. "I don’t understand," I said weakly. "Who is that?"
"Don’t you recognize your face Kelsey?" asked the doctor. His voice held the slightest trace of worry.
I started to shake. It was uncontrollable. My body was seized with an argue that blurred my vision and clattered my teeth together. "I’m n-not K-Kelsey," I managed to stutter. "Please, w-what’s hap-pening?"
The slender woman started to speak, but the doctor put his hand on her arm. "Leave me alone with your daughter," he said.
The nurse took the woman from the room and shut the door. The doctor waited a few minutes. We stared at each other in silence. Questions tumbled and jostled in my head, tangling up and making coherent speech impossible. The doctor seemed to understand this. He pulled up a chair and sat by my bed.
"Do you know what year we are?" he asked gently.
I did, and I told him so.
"And the month? The date?"
I frowned. That was tricky. If I had a brain tumor perhaps I’d been unconscious for a few days. Why wasn’t my family here with me though? I grew distressed. "It’s January still, isn’t it? The fifteenth?" I tried to remember when I’d left the house.
The doctor bit his lip. It was the first time I’d seen him look worried. He took my hand. His hands were so large, I thought. Mine was tiny and fragile in his. "It’s May," he said. The tenth of May."
My first reaction was relief. I hadn’t missed my husband’s birthday. It sounds ridiculous, I know, but that was my first thought. Then the gravity of the situation became clear. "I’ve been in a coma for five months?" I asked.
"Nearly five months, yes."
"Am I cured now? Can I go home?"
"In a few weeks, I think."
"But, but why isn’t my husband here?"
The doctors hands tightened around mine, hurting me.
"What is going on?" I asked.
"Do you remember your name?" He asked cautiously.
"Vivian Georgette Marina Lanonne. I’m thirty-seven years old. I have three children. My husband’s name is Etienne, and we live just outside Paris in a lovely stone house with a large garden." I smiled, well content with myself and my memory, which was seeping back with the irresistible flow of the tide. "I want to see my children, they must be absolutely crazy worrying about me. And Etienne, poor Etienne. Can I see him now? Is he waiting outside? I know you wanted to protect me from shock, I suppose after being in a coma for five months you were worried about me, but I can remember everything now, at least, most everything." I smiled engagingly. "Please, can I see Etienne?" Tears started to burn my eyes and they trickled, hot, down my cheeks.
The doctor stopped smiling though. All the muscles in his face were drawn tight around the bones and his eyes burned into mine. "You can never see them again," he said. "You must forget that you ever knew them."
"Forget? What? Are they dead?" My voice rose to a shriek. My heart was hammering so hard in my chest it was shaking me.
"No, no. But, oh damn, I’m doing this so badly. You’re the first. The first person to ever undergo this surgery. How could I know? Kelsey, Kelsey! Answer me! Are you there?" He leaned over me, seized my arms and stared into my eyes. "Kelsey! Answer me!"
"I’m not Kelsey", I whimpered. "Please, what is going on? Where’s Etienne? I want Etienne!"
The doctor sank back onto the chair and wiped his hand over his sweaty face. He sat in silence, collecting his thoughts, then he picked up the mirror again and showed it to me. "Your name is Kelsey Verdant. You are eleven years old. You had a brain tumor. Normally this sort of tumor is fatal. There is nothing we can do. But a few years ago doctors began to experiment with a sort of brain transplant. It seemed to work well with monkeys, and so we wanted to try it on a human. This type of tumor strikes very young children. It seemed a crime not to try and save you. You were doomed. When we finally got a donor you were already practically a vegetable and in terrible pain.
“We called your parents and they brought you in. It was in January, five months ago. We had a donor. A woman had been in a terrible car crash. Her brain was intact, but she was bleeding to death. Her spine was broken. We could not save her. Her husband agreed to donate her organs. We took part of her brain. We operated on you that very night. Thirteen hours. In the morning you were still alive.
“You have been in a coma for five months. We maintained you in a coma so that the brain’s activity was at it’s lowest, and so there would be a minimum of swelling and damage. When your brain waves started to show normal activity we woke you up.
“Vivian Lanonne has been dead and buried for five months. Your family has mourned you. Would you go back to them as you are now? You are an eleven-year-old girl, two years older than your eldest son is. How could you go back? But there is a family here who needs you. You were their only daughter. Your mother has been sitting at your bedside everyday for five months. Your father comes each evening and holds your hand and tells you stories. You can make them very happy. You can have a whole new life. Or you can destroy two families as well as yourself. You can try and be Vivian Lanonne. Eleven years old. Married with three children. Or you can be Kelsey Verdant. Adored daughter of Lucille and Paul. Please consider the two cases most carefully."
I closed my eyes. The images were too painful. "Why?"
(to be continued on - on the front page is a link to the rest of the story if you would like to finish it!)

Friday, June 02, 2006

Kelsey's Secret (part 1)

Mistaken identity

The headline in the Guardian UK reads: One was killed, the other injured. Then their identities were tragically confused
And the story goes on to explain that when the accident happened the police took the surviving victim but with wrong identification because the two girls were so similar. The survivor was in a coma for weeks while people who believed to be her family watched over her. When she woke up, the confusion was immediately straightened out. The part about the girl waking up and being with the wrogn family and called the wrong name caught my attention because I wrote a short science-fiction novella a few years ago about a woman who was killed in a car accident and her brain transplanted into the body of a young girl. When she woke up, the family bending over her was not her own, and they were calling her by a different name.

The news story has a happy / sad ending. The young woman's real family is with her and have explained why they were absent when she woke up, and she is recovering rapidly. The family who cared for her is devestated by their loss, discovering that their daughter is in fact, dead. So there is both joy and sorrow in the tale. A tragedy, a dilemma, a resolution, and an ending that is both happy and sad. Those are the kind of books I love best. And you?


I have no recollection of the accident. Not even one of those fragmented pieces of memory that surges suddenly out of a half-sleep. No bits or glimpses of the tumbling sky or the shiny asphalt.
My three children were at home with their baby sitter and I was on my way to the city to see a play. I was going to meet my husband at his office. All that I can remember clearly. Then, mysteriously, darkness falls over my mind and the next thing I know I’m staring at an open window.
My first reaction is annoyance. It’s January and the window shouldn’t be open. Who left it open? I want to tell somebody to shut it, not to waste heat, but I am incapable of speech.
Then I realize that sun is pouring into the room and everything is bathed in its milky light. The breeze accompanying it is balmy and scented with spring. Confused, I look around. A slender woman is sitting in a chair next to the window, reading a red book. She’s dressed in navy blue, and is about thirty I’d say. Younger than I. Her hair is scraped back in a tight bun. It’s a soft yellow. She dabs at her red-rimmed eyes, and her hands on the book tremble slightly as she turns the pages. Otherwise she’s perfectly still.
My eyes are the only things that work. I try to open my mouth to speak, I cannot. My fingers don’t even wiggle. It’s as if I’m not part of this body lying so lightly on the neat bed. And yet I can feel the slight weight of the sheet against my legs and the pink woolen blanket is itchy under my fingers. I can feel myself breathing.
There are no machines around me to suggest I’m in a hospital, but I know that’s where I am. The white walls, stark and bare, are proof enough. There’s a television set in the corner of the room, and the woman is sitting on a folding metal chair. She turns another page and dabs at her eyes with the tips of her fingers.
Who is she? I make a huge effort to raise my hand, and a sharp pain, like a tiny needle, chases itself around my skull. It’s no use. I can’t move. Something is holding me pressed to the pillow. By shifting my eyes I can just barely make out the arm of some huge, steel contraption hovering over my head. It seems to be behind the bed. Suddenly I’m terribly frightened. I don’t remember the accident, but I remember my husband and my children. Someone must tell them not to wait for me. I picture my husband pacing in his office, and the children looking anxiously at the clock.
My panic grows, my heart starts to race and I’m drenched in cold sweat. Blood is pounding in my ears. The room darkens, tips, and I slide into unconsciousness once again.
This time my dreams are troubled. Voices I don’t recognize are all around me. Someone keeps repeating "Kelsey! Kelsey!".
Who’s Kelsey? In my dream I’m sitting in a pink room. It looks like a little girl’s room. There are posters of ballet dancers on the wall and stuffed animals on the bed. A bowl of goldfish is perched on a white dresser. I can walk around, and I slowly drift from one thing to another, touching the stuffed animals, peering at the goldfish. I even dip my finger in the water, it’s tepid. I examine the posters on the wall. I pick up a doll and smooth her hair. I remember my daughter, only three, and I hug the doll tightly and feel tears sliding down my cheeks. My chest tightens. The room starts to vanish, but just before the scene fades completely away I see a little girl sitting on the bed. Had she been there all along? I didn’t notice her before. She looks at me. Her face is heart-shaped and grave. Blond hair falls straight to her shoulders. She’s terribly thin and pale. Her eyes, a deep, steely blue, hold mine. Then she slowly raises her finger to her lips. "Shhh," she says. "Keep the secret."
"Kelsey! Kelsey!"
I opened my eyes.
I did it consciously. My eyes opened, and I saw a doctor bending over me. He was neither young nor old. He was Asian, and had gold-rimmed glasses. Behind him stood a rather stout nurse. And right behind her was the woman I saw reading. She’s the one calling Kelsey. She was looking straight at me and her hands flew up to her mouth.
"Kelsey! Kelsey, can you hear me?"
I don’t know who Kelsey is. My name is Vivian. But I heard her. "Yes," I whispered.
The doctor smiled. The nurse took a startled step backwards. The woman gave a joyful cry and swooped down upon me. I realized that there was nothing pinning me to the pillow anymore. I was free. Only a whisper of pain remained. Tentatively I reached my hand up to my head. A bandage swathed it.
"Please," I said. "What happened? Where am I?" My voice was raw and broken. Forcing it out of my throat hurt.
"Kelsey..." For some reason the doctor was calling me Kelsey too. "You’re in the hospital St. Anne in Nanterre. The operation was a success. We’ve managed to take out the part of your brain that was sick and replace it with a well part. Can you understand what I’m saying? Your cancer has been cured my dear."
I nodded. The words were clear enough, but the meaning was obscure. "I had a brain tumor?" I asked weakly.
The doctor beamed and nodded. The slender woman was still holding my hand and smiling broadly. The nurse watched me strangely. Like a cat watches a viper I remember thinking.
"Kelsey darling, you’re going to get better now. Soon we’ll take you home." The woman leaned over and kissed me. I was perplexed.
"Who is Kelsey?" I asked.
The woman gasped and jerked backwards. She looked at the doctor, her mouth opened soundlessly.
"You are," he said gently.
"No I’m not," I said firmly. "There must be a mistake."

(To be continued...)