Monday, January 30, 2006

funerals and such

Today I went into Paris with my husband. It was for the funeral of a lady I really liked. Her family is best friends with
my husband's family, and we've known them forever, so we were sitting in
the family section right behind the main family. It was my mother in law,
me, and my husband all lined up on the pew. Well, I hate funerals and I was pretty upset, but I didn't want to cry (I hate crying in public) So I started to stare at the painting in the church on the wall.
It portrayed Jesus dressed in a white
pleated long dress with a swooping hem-line - very 1930's flapper style - and he
looked like he was disco dancing in the air while Moses and St. Peter
looked on with horrified expressions painted on their faces. Beneath Moses (whose stone tablet had two bumps in the top that made him look like he had on a wonder bra) were two other saints cowering beneath the floating Jesus (in his pleated white flapper dress, with his arms held out in a cha-cha-cha...) Well, the more
I looked at that painting, the funnier it got, until I was trying not to
giggle instead of trying not to cry. Of course, when you bury your face in
your kleenex everyone thinks you're sobbing...
Then my mother in law who has eyesight problems (she can drive legally,
but she likes to pretend she's going blind) was clutching my arm through
the whole thing.
Afterwards we went outside to say hello - there
was quite a crowd - and everyone would come up and say to her "Hello Jackie"
and she would lean forward (with her huge dark glasses on) and say, "I'm
afraid I'm losing my sight, who is it?" And I'd have to introduce her. And
another friend came over and she said it again, and again, "I'm afraid I'm
losing my sight," until I finally said, "Yes, we were praying she'd lose her
voice, but unfortunately it's her sight that's going." Luckily my mother in
law has a good sense of humor, lol.
Well, that was the funeral. It was nice to see old friends, but in a bad
situation. I'll miss my friend, but she was very ill fora long time, and at least she's no longer suffering.
Then we had to go back home because the dogs were inside, and the
puppy had made a big mess in the kitchen, lol. Oh well. The sun was shining, so despite the bitter cold we went for a long walk.
So much for writing anything today, but maybe tomorrow I'll get some work done on my projects.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Cabbage Patch dog

Here is a picture of Auguste, sound asleep on my daughter's lap.

Poor Auguste had his vaccination yesterday, and about two hours later I took a look at him and noticed that his eyes were almost all swollen shut. In fact, his whole face was swollen. He looked like a Cabbage Patch dog. I called the vet who told me it was a rare but thankfully not dangerout allergic reaction to the vaccine, and I rushed him back to the vet's office where he got a shot. He's now back to normal, thank goodness.
This morning as I did the laundry he jumped in the laundry basket, grabbed a pair of shorts, and dashed into his little doggie carrier (that he uses as a bed). I looked inside, and there was one of my son's shoes, my daughter slipper, and the pair of shorts. Plus a dish towel and a sock. He's not a dog, he's a pack rat. Nothing was chewed - just stored away.
He did get a hold of my daughter's riding helmet and chewed it to pieces, however. So he is not exactly Mr. Perfectly Behaved. Yet.
I'm babysitting this weekend for two adorable children and their dog, Popaye. Popaye is a Jack Russel terrier and very funny. He spends most of the time trying to stay away from Auguste, and I spend most of my time cleaning the house. As you can tell, this weekend is not going to be very prolific for my writing.
And it's Still Cold out - it rained last night and froze, so there are patches of ice everywhere. Our front walk is particularly treacherous. I will be extra careful not to fall.

Friday, January 27, 2006


I wonder if I spelled that right - it looks odd.
Anyhow, my kids have been asking me about getting them bonsai trees - those tiny little trees tortured into staying in a flat pot - trees that lose their leaves and die almost as soon as you get them in the house. Well, the supermarket nearby had a Chinese New Year sale, and they had a bunch of bonsai trees for 5 euros. SO I got 2 -one for Sebi and one for Julia. Sebi went and painted a Chinese backdrop for his tree (he's a very talented artist and paints Chinese type watercolors - and then my daughter wanted one so he painted one for her (a bamboo grove) Very pretty.
So now we have two bonsai trees in the house, with Chinese backdrops, so they don't feel homesick. Maybe these trees will last longer than the ones I got, which died when it got (pick one or all: overwatered, underwatered, too much light, not enough light, too hot, too cold...) Anyhow, I can grow plants outside but I don't have much luck with houseplants.
It's still cold today. But we're going to burn the HUGE pile of brush in our back garden. I was going to work on my WIP, but I will have to keep the dogs away from the fire, so I'll be busy taking them for walks, I think.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


Chey tagged me - I feel like I just got asked to the prom! *grin*
Which brings to mind Dorothy Parker's wit:
"If all the girls who attended the Yale prom were laid end to end, I wouldn't be a bit surprised."
So without further ado:

7 things to do before I die:
See the Grand canyon
Go to Australia
See the pope
Visit Jerusalem
Learn to dance the Polka
Learn to speak at least two more languages
Have my own horse
See a volcano

7 things I cannot do:
hold my tongue
keep a grudge
understand politics
tolerate fanatics
tell my left from my right

7 things that attract me to men:
sense of humor

7 things I say most often:
Well, d'oh!
No Auguste!!!
I love you!
Did I do that?
What time is it?

7 Books or Series I love
Harry Potter books
Ann of Green Gables books
Lord of the Rings
The God of Small things
Dreams of my Russian Summer
Ann Frank's Diary
Where the Red Fern Grows

7 movies I can watch multiple times:
Lord of the Rings
Harry Potter
The Longest Day
Honey I Shrunk the Kids
The Pink Panther

7 people I want to join in (tag, you’re it), provided they’ve not yet done it:
I didn’t check to see if you’ve already been tagged, so if you have, disregard!

Tara Marie


Patrice Michelle wrote a blog on this today, and it really struck a chord with me because I'm in the middle of two books. I'm desperately trying to finish 'The Last Templer' but it's very tough going. It's probably one of the worst written books I've read, switching mercilessly between anyone's POV, (head-hopping, as my editor says), until I'm never sure who is thinking what or about to speak next. Another thing that bothers me are the historical settings. I'm sure the author did tons of research, but it hardly shows. The other book I'm reading is White Murder, and it quite a lot of fun being a Roman mystery (set in ancient Rome) but with the protagonists speaking like characters out of a Dashell Hammet mystery. It actually adds veracity, because I bet the Romans loved slang. The hero of the story loves wine bars and good food, and the author here has done a ton of research and it shows flawlessly. He's written a really good tale full of colorful characters and I'm dying to see 'who dunnit'.

I'm also re-writing a book I started and can't finish. I'm chopping out huge hunks of it - slashing and burning, to try and hone it down to where I can start over again and build it on a more solid base. It's got too many characters, and although I'm going to keep them, I'm taking out their POV's. The book 'The Last Templer' has shown me how too many POV's can weaken a story. The White Murder, which is a huge book (over 500 pages) is told first person, so it's only one POV and it's a strong, well-told story.

Writing lesson for the day - too many POV's can spoil the book, just as too many cooks spoil the soup!

Oh, and if you've read a few of my books, would you trot over to my website and take the poll? (under the News section) I'm really interested in what readers prefer to read!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Happy Birthday Twins!

It's Jan. 23rd, and 20 years ago today, the twins were born. They were born at 6 mos - three months premature. They looked like miniature old men, and were about the size of my hand, with tiny little stick legs and wrinkled skin everywhere.
They were tough and hung in there, and finally got out of the hospital after two full months of treatment and care. They weighed 4lbs each when they got out of the hospital.
We flew to England right away, and stayed there for three months, living with a family near Bath in the Cotswalds while my husband played polo. Then we went to Deauville for a month, and then to Paris for two months, then to the US, Argentina, England again...and so on for nearly ten years.
The twins were regular little globe-trotters, packing their own bags and makeing sure they had their stuffed animals with them. One day Alex looked at me and said, "Mommy, I'm known all over the world!" Yes, especially after the time he lost his first tooth in the middle of an important polo final and had most of the spectators looking for it in the grass, while the announcer told everyone to please keep an eye out for Alex's tooth!
Sebi was always a clown, and people still tell me about things he said to them when he was little (to my friend Julia who lives in London - "I love your island. England is so nice." and "Now I'm a dead chicken" - when she had to carry him upstairs to his bed because he was too tired to walk.)
They made travelling more fun, as I got to look at the world through children's eyes, and more scary too, as in the day I had to drive forty miles through the Argentine Pampa looking for the doctor's office to put stitches in Alex's head. (He got hit by a polo mallet - guess who didn't look behind him when he swung it! Yes, Sebi!)
We never saw snow or fog, being mostly in places with warm climates, so the first time they stepped outside on a foggy day they started rubbing their eyes and asking me what was wrign with their eyes. And when the leaves fell off the trees and vines in Bordeaux, they thought all the trees and vines were dying and cried. They had never experienced fall, winter, then spring. When we settled down, they were impressed with our new hotel (the apartment building) and thrilled to have their own beds.
We could finally have a dog, and we adopted a black Lab and named her Fudge. She slept with Alex every night until she died age eleven. We moved a lot - polo still pulling us this way and that - but the twins managed to change schools and houses with no trouble.
And now they're in college, away from home, and it's wonderful that they've grown so, and sad for me that they've left home. But I'm awfully proud of them! Happy Birthday Alex and Sebi!

Friday, January 20, 2006


Here's the promo post for my new book, just out at Changeling Press.
Best wishes,

Apocalypse by Samantha Winston

Adam and Evan discover Cabel's plans on Enfer Island. Cabel means to
rule what is left of the world. He is counting on the Federation
returning, and plans to denounce Evan as a shape-shifting

Under Federation laws, all his children can be exterminated. If the
tribes from Paradise Island want to survive, they must defeat the
monsters on the mainland and also find a way to convince the
Federation they are no threat to the universe. But winning the war
may make the Federation fear them even more...

Don't miss this series finale for Samantha Winson's award winning
Paradise Earth!

ISBN (10): 1-59596-292-1 ISBN (13): 978-1-59596-292-8

Genre(s): Futuristic, Action Adventure, Sci-Fi

Theme(s): Gay/Bisexual, Vampires, Werewolves, Elves, Dragons &

Novella $3.49

Thursday, January 19, 2006

coffee and oranges

Breakfast is coffee and oranges for me this morning. I bought a bag of the little clementines with the shiny orange skins and tart, sweet taste. The skins are full of oil, and this is what we do with them: We peel off a section and then bend it, releasing the scent. If we peel off a big piece, we put it on top of the radiator nearest us so that the room smells like orange. All winter long I have dried orange peels on the radiators, lol.

Last night I tried to make pizza from scratch but my yeast was too old and the dough never rose. I tried to bake it anyway, and it turned out sort of like a pizza cracker. Not very tasty. I decided to quick re-heat some pasta, and I burned it- thank goodness for the oranges that are scenting the room! Well, luckily I had some soup left in the pantry. So dinner was a bit of a disaster last night. I told my daughter that we couldn't be gourmet cooks every single day. Some days are cooking disasters. That's what soup is for.

My daughter and I put some music on this morning and the puppy starting to howl. He doesn't like rock music - only classical music. I can play my Portugese fados, or some country music, or folk songs. But as soon as the rock music comes on he howls and runs into his little bed to hide, lol. I'm sure he'll get used to it soon. (I hope so - I love to listen to my music while I clean house!)

Today I go back to the hospital for my last check-up for my arm. I got some x-rays taken yesterday. So far I've had almost twelve x-rays taken of my arm and I keep expecting it to start glowing in the dark. Hopefully the doctor will tell me I can go back to the gym. I'm getting desperate. Four weeks with no exercise except walking...And I'm tiring the dogs out with my walks, lol. They are fast asleep in the kitchen after our morning walk.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Churchbells ringing

This morning came too early. The churchbells ring at 8 a.m., but it was still dark out. I got up and put on some jeans and a warm fuzzy (what we call the big, huge, polar sweaters) and staggered downstairs to let the dogs out and feed them. The sun was just rising as I opened the door and the village square was bathed in the palest apricot light. The air was still vibrating from the churchbells, and the doves who nest in the belfry were still flapping around the old chestnut tree. (I'm sitting here wondering what it's like to be a dove, and wondering how many die of heart attacks when the bells start ringing in the morning...) There is also a small falcon who lives in the belfry, and two or three barn owl families. The owls never budge when the bells ring, but once a year there are fireworks in the village square and that always scares the owls out of their nest. When the first fireworks go off, four or five large white shadows come shooting out of the belfry and careen into the air, dodging the sparks and disappearing into the night.

The puppy is whining now. He made a poopy in the hall and according to the dog training book, I have to scold him and put him outside for fifteen minutes. I don't think the puppy minds, but he can hear Rusty in the kitchen finishing the dog food he left in his bowl and that is making him desperate to come inside. I am trying to ignore his heartbroken little whines. One must be consistant when house-training a dog (quoting from the book here) especially dachshunds who are notorious for not getting it right. (Advice from my sister-in-law here, who had three.) Just checked my watch. Fourteen minutes to go. The neighbors (hopefully) cannot hear his high-pitched whining. Which reminds me, the neighbor's daughter has been coming over for English lessons. Her mother called me from the restaurant and said that her daughter has had some bad grades and could help her study. I said of course. The grades are worse than bad, and the poor child has no notion of English. So I'm cheating a bit. We're going over and over the vocabulary for her next test. I told her I wanted to see her an hour every two days, and we just go over the words. If she can't speak English, at least she'll ace her tests. LOL. Which goes to show how little testing is worth. Well, she might get some vocabulary out of this too. (Just checked clock. Ten more minutes of puppy torture.) Rusty just came in looking very smug and lay down on the doggy bed next to me. She likes Auguste but, like any older, jealous sibling, feels no pity for the punished.

It's Sunday, and I have pity for my neighbors who might be sleeping in. I will let in the punished puppy and hope he's learned some sort of lesson...(I'm mean? Rusty is a pig? The door is very solid?)

Have a lovely day!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Sunshine and the Answer

Has the puzzle kept you up all night? Well, here is the solution, provided by Sebastian.

5 + 5 + 5 = 550 You take the first '+' sign and add one line to make it the number '4' thus: 545 + 5 = 550

(He made it look so easy!)

Today it's bright and sunny, so I'm outside all day. I've planned a long walk and then tea with friends, what better way to spend a sunny Saturday?

Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Rain, Mud, and a Puzzle

I had planned to go for a long walk today to the badger grounds, where a family of badgers has made its home along a wooded knoll. Unfortunately, it rained and so the walk was postponed. I'll go as soon as I can and take pictures. The work the badgers have done is quite incredible. I see them rarely. Actually, in five years here, I've seen one twice. Both times it was at night, both times it was while it scooted across the road and vanished in the tall grass. For such a big creature, they move fast and are very discrete.

Our new dog, Auguste, is a dachshund, which means 'badger hound' in German. They were bred to dig badgers out of their holes, so the dachshund is quite a digger. Our garden already has several deep holes to prove this, and I am gearing up to defend my tulips and flower beds come this spring. Auguste and I may have some disagreements. Today, before it rained, my husband took the chainsaw and cut down some scrub trees in the back garden and we cleaned up the hedge. The garden looks good (for a winter garden) but it is mostly mud right now. Going outdors means putting on boots or my wooden garden clogs my friend Andrea gave me, and which I leave near the back door. The garden clogs are terrific. I can just hose them off and they are easier to put on and take off than rubber boots. When I put them on, Auguste has learned it means I'm going into the back garden, and he gets all excited. He loves to play (in the mud). I have to carry him down the back stairs though. He can go UP the stairs, but he hasn't learned to go back down.

Anyhow, because it rained, my son and I made chocolate chip cookies. And he figured out a puzzle I have been working on for 2 days now. (it took him ten minutes) Here is the puzzle:

By adding one single line, this equation will make sense: 5 + 5 + 5 = 550 (You may not touch the = sign)

Can you figure this out? I'll post the answer in a couple days!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Book 2 in TBR challange

I still can't type for any amount of time - my arm is just too sore. BUt I can read - so I've been tackling my TBR pile.
Book 2:

Title: Big Hair and Flying Cows
Author: Dolores Wilson
Year published: 2004

Why did you get this book? At the RT convention in St. Louis

Do you like the cover?
It's a cartoon cover and not too clear what's happening on it but it's all right.
Did you enjoy the book? Not particularly.
Was the author new to you and would you read something by this author again? The author was new to me, and I won't be getting her other books.
Are you keeping it or passing it on? Passing it on.
Anything else? I just don't like whacky characters and rambling plots, although this book did get good reviews and other people have said they loved it. I am afraid it wasn't my cup of tea but I wouldn't discourage anyone from getting it because I know it may appeal to those who love whacky characters and comic situations.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Tackling the TBR pile

I joined Angie's TBR challenge - a book a month from my TBR pile.
Here is January's book:

Title: Tarnished Dreams
Author: Tricia McGill
Year published: 2004

Why did you get this book? I bought it online from Sheherazade Books last year, but never got around to reading it.

Do you like the cover? I can't remember the cover and the cover is missing from the file, lol.

Did you enjoy the book? Yes, but I had some issues with it. I loved the characters, but I thought that the heroine was very immature. She grew up at the end but it was too little, too late in my mind. The hero was terrific. The setting was unusual and well done too.

Was the author new to you and would you read something by this author again? She's not new to me, I've read four of her books and liked them very much - this was the weakest one of her books so far but she's such a good writer I will definitely buy something of hers again. I love how she does characters and emotion. She gets 5 out of 5 stars for emotion!

Are you keeping it or passing it on? It's an e-book, so I won't be passing it on. It was enjoyable, so I guess I'll keep it in my files. The setting, Tasmania, was interesting and I may re-read it for that.

Anything else? I think that her other books are better - if I were to suggest her to another reader I woulsd tell them to start with White clover, or Blue Haze, for example. Both outstanding books.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Renegade Aquarius cover

I got my new cover yesterday, and thought it was very nice. I love the colors, and since it's about an Aquarius, the water bearer was very effective. But this is the thing: they ("they" being the powers that be in the art department) asked me to tell them hair, skin, and eye color to personalize the hero. I sent in this: short, light brown hair, brown eyes, pale skin. This is what I got: a swarthy Rasta. I got a case of the giggles when I saw the cover. I also did not recieve a note telling me I could ask for a change (which I've gotten every single time up till this one) and I think it's because last time (for the first time ever) I asked for a teeny change. I found the poser-figure's arm looked like it had been badly broken (sometimes poser figures get joints where they should not have joints, you know what I mean?) and I wrote back saying I LOVED the cover, could they please fix the elbow (and me here with a broken elbow, lol) Anyhow, I didn't get an answer, and this cover came with no note letting me know I would be able to make suggestions and change it.
SO.....Without further ado -
Here is my cover for Renegade Aquarius - please ignore the swarthy Rasta on the cover, lol.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Auguste gets a bath

Yes, the puppy got a bath today. We flooded the kitchen, but he is clean! The house was too quiet. The twins are back in college, my daughter is in school. I had lunch with friends today, and learned a great new recipe. (Lynn's homemade salmon sauce - brown sugar, soy sauce, fresh ginger, and red Martini, mix well, add some water, and cook with salmon. yummy!) I decided to wash the puppy to give me something to do this afternoon. My arm is getting better, but typing for any length of time makes it hurt, so I just answer e-mails and blog a bit. I'm done with edits (mostly) and have one more book to finish, but that can wait a bit. I'm also happy to say that Horse Passages is doing well at Barnes & Noble, if you've read it, drop me a line and let me know what you think!

Auguste is as cute as ever (and he's clean too now!) Rusty is getting used to him and will play with him and lets him sleep in her bed (she doesn't have much of a choice, actually, lol.) I've never had two dogs before, so it's fun watching them interact. I believe Rusty looks younger and happier now that we have Auguste. Before she just kind of slept and moped around the house. Now she plays in the garden with him, and she's more alert. (Because he will often leap on her while she's peacefully sleeping and bite her ears - Rusty Hates that, so she sleeps with one eye open now.)

Other news - today it was cold and gray and there were snow flurries. Brrrr. No snow stuck to the ground, but it dusted the roofs and the cars. (There isn't much going on here right now - I'm still trying to get used to a quiet house, and it's horrible having to wake up early again. Ugh! I much prefer vacation!)

Monday, January 02, 2006

Happy New Ear!

My favorite New Year's celebration was in Punta del Este.

It was 1989, going to 1990. We had been in Punta del Este for nearly a month, staying at a hotel affectionately called 'The Waffle Tower' because every day, at tea time, it served home-made waffles. The waffles were incredible. They were made with old-fasioned, cast-iron waffle irons heated over a huge fire. The tables were all set with white linen and silverware, and the dining room looked out over a garden full of lavender and roses. During the day, we went to the beach, or to a huge park in the middle of a eucalyptus forest. The park was filled with fanciful, fantastic wooden figures, cars, boats and trains all painted in bright colors, all for children to climb upon and play with. There was also a double-humped bridge, that we called 'the up-and-down bridge'. Everyone loved to go over it as fast as possible, so there was always a long line of cars in front of the bridge waiting their turn to zoom over it. The ocean in Punta del Este is dark, ultramarine blue, and the sand is naples yellow. Huge, black sea lions swim in the waves, and inland, past the dunes, the pine forest, and the eucalyptus groves, are huge plains where shaggy, long-legged emus run. We were there for a polo tournament. Every evening we would watch the games as the sun went down, and the dust rose and made everything gold and shadows.

That New Year's eve, we went to a pizzaria with the twins, who were 3 years old, and with two young polo players from France. We had a great time, and when midnight came, everyone stood up and cried 'Happy New Year!' The twins looked at me, and Sebi said, "Who got the new ear?"

They thought we'd been celebrating someone's new ear.

What was your favorite New Year's eve?