Friday, October 26, 2007

The Hawaii Checklist

Let's see how I am doing on my To-Do list this week:

1. Toes in sand -- check

2. Mai Tai -- not yet, but Laval Flows are mighty nice

3. Watched dancing hula boys -- check (addendum, also watched the hottest man in Honolulu, a fire-eating hula dancer boy)

4. Luau -- nope

5. Sushi -- check

6. Watched surfer boys -- check

7. Swam in the ocean -- nope

8. Conference presentation -- check, and it was excellent LOL

9. Visited the Dole plantation -- check (gift shop only)

10. Breakfast by the ocean every morning -- check

11. Saw an ocean rainbow -- check

12. Shopping -- check, all kids and grandkids accounted for

13. Shopping for others -- not yet

14. Shopping for me -- two t-shirts, earrings, a print

14. Got lei-ed -- check. ( and it is a beautiful one made of purple orchids)

15. Island touring -- partial check, more to come

16. Pearl Harbor -- nope, maybe Saturday

17. Boat ride on ocean -- not yet

Until tomorrow....

maddie

p.s. My connection here keeps timing out on picture upload so maybe no more pics until I get a better connection....

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Hawaii ~ mid-week

So, okay. I know I said I'd blog, right? Well, of course I had very good intentions but somehow good intentions get tossed by the wayside. Let's just forget that it was a 9 hour flight across most of the lower 48 and the Pacific to get here. Yeah, let's forget that. And yesterday, well, we just set out in the car and drove the rim of 3/4 of the island of Oahu. Wow, what a diversely beautiful place this is! Here are a few pictures.






This is the view of Diamond Head from my hotel room. Waikiki Beach is below. See the surfers?











Basking sea turtle on the North Shore. They come up and lay on the sand for a couple of hours or more in the afternoon. Big ol' lugs. You can tell boys from girls by the length of their tail. Hm.










Surfer boys, somewhere on the west side of the island.







This morning we visited a Hawaiin language immersion preschool. All of the children were fluent or learning -- three and four year olds. Hawaiin is the only language spoken at school during the day. The majority of the children are native English speakers. How interesting to see these little ones learning their own native language and speaking so fluently. Hawaiin isn't an easy language to pronounce, we learned. My tongue just does not want to do the things it is supposed to do to sound out the words.

I have more picutres and may put them into a slide show and post. For some reason Blogger is taking a long time to upload this evening...maybe because it's such a long way to Hawaii! LOL Doubt it. I'll try to post more soon!
Hope all is well with everyone. Aloha.
maddie






Sunday, October 21, 2007

I'm sure I won't get lei-ed

This, is the normal view from my office.













This will be the view from my office for this next week.

Yes, my friends, I will be working from Waikiki Beach.

I know, it's a dirty job, but someone has to do it. I am sacrificing myself for the good of the organization and oh-so-humbly accepted the invitation to participate in conference activities there. I know, I know...I am a martyr to be sure.
It will be a hardship. It will be time-consuming. It will be work, work, work the whole time we are there. You know how that is, you go to a conference and the only thing you see is the inside of the airport, the cab and the hotel. I'm sure it will be the same this week. Just absolutely positive. I am confident that I will not look once out of my hotel balcony over-looking Waikiki Beach or even attempt to dig my toes into tiny warm grains of sand anywhere. I'm quite certain I will not have a mai tai or participate in a luau. And quite honestly, I doubt that I will see even one loin-cloth clad Hawaiian male dancing and shaking and...oh my....

And I'd even be surprised if I got lei-ed.

But just in case, I plan to take pictures (of the scenery, silly!) so stay tuned....

Aloha,

maddie

Bread for Chocolate

There. It's done. I've made the decision. And now I'm going public with it.

I'm giving up bread for chocolate.

Well, bread and potatoes and the occasional rice and pasta dish. (Occasional being a key word here.)

This is not unlike giving up things for Lent. It's related. Sorta. I'm purging myself of the starchy foods things. But I need a tradeoff. I need something in exchange.

You see, now that I'm over 50, I feel I owe it to myself. I can certainly give up some things but I definitely want to get something in return. For example, I can give up a margarta if I can have a mojito in exchange. I can give up the treadmill if I can take a leisurely walk around the neighborhood. It's all steps, right? And I can give up bread if I can still keep the chocolate.

I started thinking about this yesterday when I read an article in More magazine. The woman was in her 60s, looked fabulous, owned her own new-agey type business, and was very happy with her life. She stated, "I mainly eat fish and vegetables." So, I got to thinking...could I live on just fish and vegetables? Maybe protein and vegetables, I thought. That could include fish and chicken and an occasional rib-eye and even nuts, right? Nuts are good for us. Then I realized that that meant no starch. No bread, potatoes, pasta, rice. I'm not a big starchy eater anyway and I thought, hm...perhaps if I too can eat just protein and vegetables, I can be 60 and look fabulous and own my own new-agey business in a dozen years or more. Or maybe just be a fabulous-looking, sixty-something writer.

But I realized one thing. Chocolate is not in the protein and vegetable essential food groups pyramid. So I just decided. I'd give up bread for chocolate. I mean, it's a compromise, right? I give up something, I get something. All evens out in the end, correct?

I'm glad you agree.

I think I'll start a campaign. Anyone care to join me? I may make buttons. "I gave up bread for chocolate."

I like the ring of that.

maddie

post script addendum: I totally forgot about ice cream. Yikes! I suppose I'll just have to make all my ice cream choices with chocolate. Whew. That's covered....

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Stuck in Denver....

There is nothing quite so awful than wanting to be home and being stranded somewhere. Of course, when you are a frequent air traveler, it's expected once in a while and I'm not a stranger to having to find a hotel at 9pm to lay my weary head. But this weekend I really, really was longing to be home and now, I'm stuck in Denver.

Denver is a great place, actually. I love Colorado. Although I can't say I am well-versed in the offerings of the state I've spent a bit of time here for conferences, meetings, etc. I've had a couple of weeks up in Breckenridge during the summer months attending conferences. How beautiful it is up on the Rockies during the summer. Crisp and cool and the air is clean as a whistle. The peaks were still slightly snow-covered in July. I remember being in awe as my friend and I drove up from Denver into the mountains, our car made a turn and the vista was suddenly laid out before us. Absolutely a breathtaking site.

It was on one of those trips to Breckenridge that my friend and I decided to do a trail ride up into the mountains. Two hours up, two hours back. She was an accomplished horse woman, I was not. Let's just say that even though I love horses and had ponies as a kid, it was not a pleasant four hours for moi. That scenario triggered the first scene in the first book I sold to Kensington. Titled The Wild West, the entire book was set on a week-long trail ride into the mountains, two friends, one eager, one reluctant, and hunky cowboys all around.

My other treks to Colorado have included Colorado Springs (Pike's Peak is lovely) and Durango (a setting for another of my books titled TOGETHER (a rodeo book).

So, I like Colorado. Truly do. But right now I'm stuck and like Dorothy I'm thinking, "There's no place like home." I have no hair brush, no toothbrush or toothpaste, makeup, deoderant, change of clothes, etc. I do have my computer. Hm. Priorities? I did wash out my panties in the sink last night. Yay for me.

I've been gone since Monday and I'm ready to be home and want and NEED to be home. I was supposed to get my hair cut today. My daughter and I were going to participate in the community yard sale today. I have laundry to do and expense reports to write and even without all of that, I just need the comforts of my home for some downtime. I leave out again on Monday....

I need downtime. I get crabby. And no one likes crabby. LOL

Cheers! (see, I'm trying to be upbeat. Bleah)

maddie

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Featured Author ~ Lyn Armstrong

Today, ladies and gents, we have as our feature author Lyn Armstrong, whose debut book The Last Celtic Witch is now available from Resplendence Publishing. Lyn is a fellow author from my publishing house and I’ve heard she writes some really hot and spicy sexy stuff! I’m sure you’ll want to check her books out.

Maddie: Tell us a little about yourself.

Lyn: I come from Australia and have lived in Florida for 4 years. I am on the Board of Florida Romance Writers and a member of Romance Writers of America. Along with being an author I am also an actress. This year I will be a cast member of the Florida Renaissance Festival. But my main passion is writing. I love to write historical erotic romance novels and have a recently published with Resplendence Publishing.

Maddie: You have a new book out. We’d love to hear about it.

Lyn: Yes, I do have a new book out, THE LAST CELTIC WITCH. It is the first book of the Celtic Series.

Pursued by evil forces for her powers, recluse Adela MacAye foresees her own agonizing death. She must seek the chosen one to produce an heir and pass on her Celtic powers. To fail would be the end of good magick, plunging the world into darkness. Conjuring a fertility spell she is led to a sensual chieftain who is betrothed to the sorceress that hunts her. Time is running out as fate and the future pursue her.

Plagued by enemies and undermined by sabotage, handsome Laird Phillip Roberts must save his clan from a bloody feud with an alliance through marriage … a marriage he does not want. After a night of white-hot sensual delights with the alluring witch, his heart commands he break the pledge of peace. With treachery around every corner, will he be too late to save … The Last Celtic Witch?

THE LAST CELTIC WITCH – available now at http://www.resplendencepublishing.com/

Maddie: You’ve just sold your first book. How exciting! We’d love to know the details.

Lyn: When Jessica Berry, Editor of Resplendence Publishing, called me to say she wanted to offer me a contract, I thought she was kidding. I was waiting for her say, "Ha, ha, had you fooled." LOL. When it finally hit me she was deadly serious, I was ecstatic. I couldn't wait for her to get off the phone so I could scream the house down.

Maddie: What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Lyn: Join a writers group and find a critique partner. Not only will these people help you learn the craft of writing, but they will support you when times are rough. And believe me, not too many writers can boast of being published without receiving countless rejection letters from publishers. I feel only another writer can understand the heartache of getting rejection after rejection for their manuscript. Even more important is to be persistent. Never give up, no matter what. Being published is a numbers game, the more times you submit, the better your chances of finding a publisher who loves your work.

What is your next project?

I am currently working on the second book in the Celtic Series, THE WITCH AND THE SORCERER. It follows the life of Gavenia Roberts, Adela’s daughter from “The Last Celtic Witch”. A bored and powerful witch, Gavenia wishes to explore the world, but is kept safely behind the walls of her parent’s adobe, Gleich Castle. Her only duty is to marry and produce an heir to pass on the Celtic powers, there is just one problem. With the gift of sight, she foresees her death at the end of labor. She must resist men at all costs. To mate with a man, is to mate with death. So when a mysterious man seduces Gavenia in her dreams, she could not resist her heart’s desire and her body’s reaction to his sensual skills in the bed chamber. If she only found out sooner the handsome sorcerer had more sinister plans for her other than an unattainable life of passion and adventure.

THE WITCH AND THE SORCERER – available January, 2008 – Resplendence Publishing.

Lyn, thanks so much for being my guest today. I can't wait to read The Last Celtic Witch and all that come after. Best wishes to you and here is wishing for many many more sales!

maddie

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me!

Well, there it is, staring me in the face. It's 11:51 p.m. on October 13, 2007. Nine minutes and counting to my birthday.

I like birthdays, always have. Not because people give your cards and presents but because it symbolizes moving forward. Some may argue about to what end we move forward--the end of our lives--isn't such a great thing. But I disagree. Life is a cycle of events. We all move forward. It is how we move forward and what we do in our cycles of life that is important.

Seven minutes and counting.

Last year I turned 50. A new decade. This year I've spilled totally over into it. I'll be 51, of course. So, I pulled out the goals I set for myself last year and pondered those a bit. I'd actually set some goals twice in the past year or so. The first goal was rather long-term and I first said it outloud to another writer friend at the national RWA conference in Atlanta, 2006. I had a 5 year plan. I wanted to be writing full-time in 5 years.

Five minutes and counting.

That's a big undertaking. I'm my sole income. So, to write full-time that meant I had to get really, really busy.

Four minutes and counting.

So I set some goals. Around my birthday last year I wrote them down with my critique partners. We all set goals. I've managed to accomplish a few. One goal was to sell my time travel trilogy. I can most assuredly say that I met that goal. I contracted the entire trilogy to my new publisher.

Two minutes and counting.

I also said that I wanted to finish a novella, part of an anthology we wanted to pitch, and sell it. Cross that one off the list, too. It's done and sold. And, another goal was to attend a writer event. I've accomplished that several times over.

What I didn't accomplish is just as pertinent.

One minute.

I haven't finished two books I wanted to finish by now and I've not secured an agent. But, I'm not in the least concerned about those two things....

Midnight!

Happy birthday to me, Happy birthday to me! Happy birthday dear madddddddiiiiiieeeeeee.... Happy birthday to me! :)

Okay, so I've not yet accomplished all my goals for this year. There is time. I'm not concerned. Even though I haven't finished the two books on the list, or snagged an agent yet, I'm not in a rush. I contracted for seven books this past year. Seven! And I am very pleased with that. As well, I am tickled pink with my new publishing house. Signing with them wasn't on the list but it sure was a good move for me. I'm very happy.

So...has all this moved me toward my five year plan? My five year plan which is now a four-year plan? I very much think so. I'm happy with where my plan sits at the moment. Moving forward. It's a good thing. Just like birthdays.

Have a great weekend.

maddie

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Changing Seasons

I've always loved Fall. Leaves falling. Crisp days. Blue skies. Muted reds and oranges and yellows and browns. Sweaters.

Change. It's all about change.

I never really signified fall with the approaching end of something although I can easily see how one could think that. Leaves dying. Bleak cold days of winter approaching. Dark, dorment days. No, I never thought about it like that. To me, fall symbolized another start. A new season.

School always started in fall and since I've spent most of my life in education, that is probably one reason for the way I feel. But lately, that has nothing to do with feelings of change.

Change. Seasons of our lives. I think I am fast moving into the fall season of my life. And it isn't sad, it's kind of exciting. Even though my colors are fading (yes, the hair is a little grayer) and gravity has wreaked havoc on my body, my spirit is crisp and blue as a fall sky. I'm still shining bright as I move one more year into a new decade--the one in which I plan to make some determined and positive changes in my personal and professional life.

Life is about change. Writing is about change. And writing is the central focus in the changes I plan for myself in this current decade. Writing has long been a part of my life but has often been put on hold, slid to the backburner, over the previous two decades. Now, in this fall season of my life, it is a priority. It's been that way since I turned 50 almost one year ago. And as I look back over the past year, I can see so clearly in my mind's eye all the things I have done, and accomplished, to move my writing forward.

I'm thankful that I have the energy and the time in my life to move this dream, this goal, forward. And I'm grateful for another birthday coming up this weekend to celebrate all I've accomplished.

maddie

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Badlands, South Dakota

My goodness, what a beautiful, clear day it was yesterday driving in from Rapid City, SD toward my work destination of Kyle, SD. Crisp and clear and so fall-like. Just beautiful.

Kyle is a very very very very small town located on the Pine Ridge Reservation in southern South Dakota. Last year I sent my son a postcard from Kyle because, well, his name is Kyle and he sort of stakes claim to any town or thing that bears his name. In Charleston, WVA there are all these buildings -- they look like warehouses to me -- that have KYLE written all over them. We'd pass through Charleston on our way to the beach when he was a kid and he'd always proudly exclaim, "there are my buildings." So, it's always kind of neat when I come to Kyle.

There is not a lot there. There is a school (where I work when I'm there). A quanset hut restaurant that has burritos and tacos (cash only, no credit cards), another restaurant open only for breakfast and lunch, a gas station/conveinence store, a small cultural center, and housing. That's about it. If you live in Kyle and need or want anything that is not to offer in these places, you drive to Rapid City, some 80+ miles away.

Kyle is on the edge of the Badlands; those rock formations just simply fascinate me. My pictures, snapped quickly while driving as you can tell, don't really do the things justice. Some time when I'm here I want to venture in deeper. I've just glimpsed the outer edges each time I've been here. My friend who lives in Kyle, the teacher I visit, has a husband who does informal tours through the area. I should arrange to do that.
The land is just so vast in South Dakota. So darned big. From the Badlands to the prairie up northwest, to the farmlands of the eastern side of the state, everything is just big. I think its so big because there is sparse population in so many places. With no buildings and houses and trees and such, the place just looks so wide open.

Guess why they call the west the wide open spaces, huh?

So, that was my day yesterday. It has nothing to do with writing other than the fact that my day job travels often spur ideas and settings and characters for books. I do have a book in progress that is set on the Cheyenne River Reservation up in that prairie region I spoke of earlier. My hero is Lakota and my heroine is Anglo. Right now a proposal is sitting with Harlequin. We'll see.

What do you think...should I continue to blog about my travels? I have a lot of weeks of travel coming up so I thought maybe you guys might like to see some pics and read some slices of my travel life.

Off to work....

maddie

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Slice of Maddie’s Hectic Life #1 - Never Give a Baby Ramen Noodles

Never give a baby ramen noodles. I’m here to tell you, it is not a good plan.

My grandson came to visit yesterday and ended up spending the night. Cute little booger that he is, I was not prepared for his visit. Okay, so let’s say that Grandma has been rather self-absorbed in her own life for the moment and hadn’t been to the grocery for a while. I mean, I can exist on ramen noodles in various forms. Ramen noodles and frozen peas make a great quick soup. Ramen noodles cooked and then tossed with stir-fried veggies make a great quick and hearty oriental meal. Ramen noodles sautéed with butter and olive oil and tossed with soy sauce (or Worcestershire) make a great crisp topping to soups and casseroles or a salad. They are good to munch on alone, too.

Ramen noodles can be great for many things. They stink as baby food.

(Okay, so those aren't ramen noodles in the pic above, but I did not have time to snatch a photo of the real ramen noodle disaster, so just imagine this, times 4. Or 5. That is my grandson, however...)

My grandson is all of 14 ½ months old. He’s a bruiser and he eats with his fists. What I mean is, he “fists up” food in the palm of his hand and shoves it in his face. Both hands. Mile a minute. Non-stop.

This is in such stark contrast to his two older sisters, who, when eating would gingerly pick up a noodle or a cheerio with a dainty pincer grasp (thumb and forefinger) and carefully move it toward their dainty mouths and slowly chew.

Not so, this boy. Fist, shove, gulp. That is his mantra.

The poor baby ended up spending the night and (since I’m heading out on several weeklong business trips in a row beginning tomorrow) I’d not been to the store. No milk. No bread. No eggs. I’d used up everything and was just “making do” until time to leave early, early, early tomorrow morning. I had nothing for him to eat for breakfast.


Except ramen noodles.

Well, I did have other things in the house. Frozen broccoli, refried beans, long-cooking oatmeal, a can of corn, green chilies, black beans, and a bucket of frozen margarita mix in the freezer. Um, none of those would work. I decided the ramen noodles would be safe until his Mama came to claim him in a couple of hours.

I was wrong. Never, EVER, give ramen noodles to a baby. After a while, when fisted up like he does, they dissolve into a mish-mash-mush that gets caked into hair, eyes, nostrils, and into the diaper (somehow, I can’t explain that one). His shirt was soaked. His pajama bottoms. The high chair was covered. The floor was slick with noodle-goo. And all I could do was pick the poor child up, carefully hoist his 30 pound body (yes, he’s a big one) and head for the tub while dialing my daughter and asking how quickly she was coming—the baby was hungry and the ramen noodles didn’t work.

She didn’t question that. She just came. And after stripping and washing up (him, not me), he was fine.

But then there was the high chair. And the floor. All I could do was take it outside (chair, not floor) and run the hose over it. The floor needs a good mopping. And me…I just need a nap and it’s only noon.

madz

Friday, October 05, 2007

Checking Out Ebooks -- At Your Local Library

My sister, the librarian, called me yesterday. I'd been to visit a couple of weekends before and had given her some promotional materials -- book marks, postcards, some freebie books -- to pass out to her friends and put on the counter at her library. She'd been thinking, she said, and wanted to tell me some things about the library, books, library patrons, and ebooks in particular.

Now, I'm thinking, I've had a library card for years and pretty much know about libraries. I know quite a lot about books and ebooks, and since I'm a library patron (albeit a sporadic one) I thought I would know a few things about that, too.

I was wrong.

What my sister wanted to tell me was this -- ebooks are available in libraries for check-out and she could not find any of my titles in her state library ebook system. This, according to her, was not good. This, according to me, was something I'd not considered.

Several of my backcopy print books have been distributed in libraries but I had never considered that libraries offer electronic books. That, my sister says, is because I've not visited my friendly neighborhood library's website in a long time. True. I had not.

So I did. I immediately went to the Louisville Public Library website and to my sister's library in Ohio. Omidgoodness! Ebooks galore! But how does this work, I ask? And why is it important to me? And should I be worried that libraries offer ebooks for download -- for free!?

So, my sister and I talked about this some more.

How does this work? Just like buying an ebook off a website, except no money is exchanged, of course. You download it for free --however, according to my sister, at her library the books magically disappear off of your computer within two weeks. Ah. Sweet, huh?

Why is it important? Again, my sister, the book woman, says it is important that any author's books be in the library and it doesn't matter if the books are print or ebook. According to her, library patrons think if an author's book isn't in the library, the author is not a good author. Yikes! She also says that libraries are discriminate about what they buy -- they want to buy the books that will be checked out often, over and over again. Helps the budget, of course.

Should I be worried? Nope. My sister also says that library patrons value books and authors and that when they find someone they like, they will buy the next book rather than wait for it to come to the library. And, because ebooks can sometimes be quicker, they will buy the ebook before the library gets it in print. Library patrons, she says, also make strong recommendations to their friends about the authors they like. And, when they need to buy a gift for a friend, they often buy a favorite author’s book.

I experienced this not long ago with one of my print books. A friend here in Louisville had checked out one of back copy print books a couple of months ago. It was the first time she'd ever read anything of mine. Last week, she ordered one of my ebooks. Pretty cool, I thought, that she'd found me in the library and then actually bought my book.

So, ebooks in the library were just such a new concept to me that I wanted to share. Boy, can I see advantages for readers and authors in so many ways. Something I think I'll want to ponder a little more.

Happy Friday!

maddie

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Pause

Sometimes, life just has to pause for a while. Ever feel like that?

Lately, I've been needing to pause on the writing but have been pushing forward to get the latest manuscript to my editor. Last night, I believe I finished the final polish. I say "believe" because I woke up this morning with one last "tweak" on my mind. So, I may not send it off today but literally, the work is done.

So, I'm going to pause for a few days on the writing. My brain needs a break. It's a good time to do that, too. I'm waiting on edits from a previously submitted book and those have been promised to come within a few days. My editor has suggested that I not send the next book until she gets this one off her plate. That, blessedly, allows me time for the pause.

My brain needs to wind down. Rest. My muse needs a little nap.

I've been going at it strong for a few months working toward the deadline. To work each day and straight to the computer every night. I wake up and the cycle repeats. Weekends were mostly crammed with writing. My deadline was tight.

The next one will be tight, too. And the following. But I am going to allow myself the pause. If I don't, I'll be pretty burned out, I'm certain. Not to mention Musie. (my muse) We're tired.

So, I will wean myself away from the computer for a few days. Perhaps even email, too. What will I do? Hm. Hm. Hm. Oh! I need to clean the garage. And bake some cookies for the big booksigning next weekend. I can freeze those. And I need to get promo together for that. I need to clean my office. That would be good. Yes. And the yard needs some work. That's been a bit neglected in the drought we've had around here. And I suppose the house could use a good once over....

Clear the mind. Clear the mind. Clear the mind.

I wonder how long this pause should last? That all sounds like a lot of work. And you see, I've got this little cajun werewolf story that is haunting me.

maddie