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Sunday, October 17, 2010

What is it About Sunday Mornings?

I often mention Michael Franks as one of the most romantic singers.  His lyrics evoke so many emotions.  They are a celebration of married life as far as I'm concerned.  A common theme seems to be Sunday morning.  Sleeping in, breakfast in bed, sunlight streaming through gauzy curtains, favorite music.  Stuff like that.

Recently Bruce and I watched the Diane Lane and John Cusak movie Must Love Dogs.  With the exception of one particularly weird and out of place scene that's just too sexual for the rest of the film, it's a charming story.  Diane Lane plays a jilted wife.  One of the things she misses most about married life is Sunday mornings.  Pajamas, the newspaper, being lazy together.

What is it about Sunday mornings?

Today we didn't have our fairly regular Sunday morning family breakfast out.  It was just me and Bruce at home with plenty of time before we needed to get ready for second service.  The autumn beckoned.  We poured steaming mugs of coffee, pulled on hats over our messy hair and went for a walk.  We zig-zagged all the streets in our neighborhood.  Saw the bright and thrilling contrast of the top branches illuminated by the sunrise with the lower branches still in shadow below.  Picked out the prettiest trees to point out to one another.  Stopped to notice a green caterpillar making his way toward the curb.

When we got home, I realized that was the most conversation Bruce and I had enjoyed in what seems like several weeks.  We've gotten busy.  Distracted.  Tired.  But this morning we were us again and it was good.

What is it about Sunday mornings?  I don't know.  They just feel different.  The whole world seems to move more slowly.  There is a general sense of no need to hurry.  People smile more.  Of course, for us, Sunday means significantly more than that as we set aside time specifically to worship with our church family; that aside, I guess Sunday is just a day for lingering.  Lingering over conversations, mugs of coffee, neighborhood walks, books, music.  Lingering long enough to notice the one you love.

And suddenly, "a month of Sundays" sounds quite appealing.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Louis Three-Hearts

Louis (as in St. Louis) is a teddy bear who sits atop the throw pillows on our guest bed.  Louis has presided over various rooms in our home since some of the earliest days of our marriage.  Louis has three hearts and that makes him one special bear.  

Bruce and I met when I was 28 and he was 38.  Our first home was one he'd established with his son.  My being there full-time was quite a transition for all of us.  Louis is our "love child" - the three of us.  He reminds me of all the hopes I had for our lives.  He reminds me that Bruce and Lucas each had their own hopes as well.  How many of their private wishes were realized or how many were squashed along our rocky way I don't know.  I don't allow myself to keep records of that sort and hope they don't either.  We are all three much better people now than we were then and have far better hopes and dreams for our futures than we could possibly have imagined then because we know why we love each other now, not just that we do.

You can't really force intimacy, though if other step-families are like ours, it's almost a compulsion to try.  Louis was one such attempt on our part.  Imagine a 13-year-old boy, his nearing 40 father and new stepmother standing in line to build a bear.  I'm sure the high school-aged girl working that day had no idea when she held out her basket of little heart-shaped pillows to us and told us we could each put one in that she was helping us make not just a bear, but a reminder of our promises to each other.  

I don't really think about Louis very often, though I notice that he sits there and I'm glad of it.  Yet, when I do take time to consider what he means and to take into account the fact that other lives besides my own are bound up in the heart(s) of him, he becomes quite precious to me.  

As I said, I don't allow myself to keep records of things lost along the way; but I do keep records of things gained. Blessings.  I could count forever, I think, and never finish.  But right at the top would be Bruce and Lucas.  They helped me become who I am and, painful though it was at times, I'm very grateful.  Life as I imagined it for the us might have been prettier, but it certainly wouldn't have produced as much character in any of us.  Like Louis, we each had to make a place for three hearts and that gave room for a whole lot of love to grow.  

Monday, September 13, 2010

from Guest Blogger, Bruce Foltz

     When my nephew was little, he would describe large amounts by using a measurement he could understand. He would explain size by how many bathtubs it would contain, such as it was 16 bathtubs big. He would also use this same measurement to show affection as  in "I love you 100 bathtubs full." I'm sure that now, as a PhD and professor at a Tennessee university, he has moved on to different, perhaps more precise measurements. But at the time it was his way of expressing an amount that would otherwise be beyond his understanding.
     I still sometimes think that way about love. It can be so powerful and overwhelming that I'm at a loss for words without falling into trite cliches or catch phrases. But the other night I experienced a perfect, for me, remedy for my tongue-tied muteness. Please let me share.
    It was the first game of the new NFL season and my Vikings were playing. I don't watch a lot of football but this one I wanted to see. Shellie is not a football fan. Hockey yes, but not much else. She planned our dinner around the game and prepared treats to fit the occasion. Since we both watch our weight, we're very careful about some delicacies and often share to save the calories. But on this night, my wife carefully planned the menu to include a WHOLE chocolate covered glazed donut! It was a little taste of heaven in my mouth. What made it sweeter still, as if it needed help, was the fact she arranged it for me, as a surprise, without causing any guilt over exceeding my caloric goal. Not a small task, but one performed with much love.
     So now when I need to express an amount of love beyond simple understanding, I'll use this heart-felt expression of endearment, " I love you a chocolate covered glazed donut, or maybe even two."
                                                                                           Who Loves Ya, Baby?        Bruce

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


I've been waiting for today.  Just to say, "It is September" is a relief.  Though we would be fooling ourselves to say it is fall now, it is fall enough for now.  After all, it is September.

September is poetry and it is soup in crockery bowls; it is dog-eared novels we've read so many times the edges of the pages are thick and it is homemade bread.  September is a bouquet of bliss and blessings, a bundle of bright hopes tied with the ribbons of sentimentality.  September is being in the moment, standing in the sun and breathing in deep.  It is sneaking in a tiny thought of the holidays that are coming and then hurrying back to today before you're lost in tomorrow.

September is a time for love and romance.  If you haven't anyone to woo in your life, then by all means, let September woo you!  Give in to it.  It feels great.  There's no guilt in the guilty pleasures of September.  Set the table with real dishes, lay a cloth napkin in your lap, light a candle on your table and invite Cyrus Chestnut, Vince Guaraldi, Michael Franks, or even Garrison Keillor to dine with you.  I can promise you will feel warmed on the inside for having been in their company.  There's simply no excuse for not being in love in September.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Now Playing

Theme dinner anyone?

For me, cooking is a less than desirable chore at the end of the work day.  Thus, weekday dinners tend to fall into one of three categories:  cheap eat-outs, frozen, or quick mix.  In the fall and winter I'm more likely to whip up a soup or try my hand at something with a few more ingredients and steps during the week, but I burn out quickly.  Weekends, then?  Restaurants.  Failing that, cereal.  Cold cereal.  Sometimes an antipasto platter or bread with pesto and cheeses if I'm feeling really daring.

Last school year, though, I got my gumption up and tried to plan for more home cooked (thank you, Sandra-Lee Semi-Homemade) weeknight dinners and even some at-home date night suppers for the weekend.  I can be creative when I want to be and one of my favorites was the Verona Night - a theme dinner.  I spent snatches of time online all week looking up the traditional foods of Verona and planned a not-too-complicated menu including a traditional dessert of Juliet's Kisses (again, semi-homemade).  We supped by candlelight and then went out to see Letters to Juliet.  It was fun.  I wanted to try it again.

A couple of months passed and Bruce's birthday was on the horizon.  A local business supporter and semi-green person, he likes the challenge of shopping for all of our gifts locally.  We have fun doing Christmas at flea markets and used bookstores.  He had mentioned wanting to reread some of M.C. Beaton's Hammish Macbeth books.  I found a few at the used bookstores and supplemented with a couple of new copies, wrapped them in green and blue plaid fabric and tied them with a green satin ribbon.  I purchased a c.d. of bagpipe music (yes, I really did) and planned a Highland breakfast.  Scotch Eggs (using vegetarian sausage), oat scones, carandash (I think that's how it was spelled - layers of real whipped cream with brandy - or in my case brandy extract - raspberries and toasted oats), and Scottish breakfast tea.  It was so yummy and so very fun.  I want to try it again.

As the school year gets started, I'm looking forward to the entertainments of the season:  high school football games, school dances, ice hockey, band concerts, theatre, and the return of all the best autumn has to offer by way of cuddling opportunities with one's Honey.  I'm also thinking that another Theme dinner might be on the menu soon.  So, I'll be perusing the offerings at our local independent movie theater, the stage plays coming up, and all the free things our nearby university has to offer (thank you, Missouri State!), and even dvds we haven't watched in so long I've forgotten we have them.  With a little invention, a little investigation, and a little investment of time and effort, our table will be set with a thematic flair once again.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Eat Your Heart Out Fraulein Maria!

These are a few of my favorite things:

Holding hands with my honey while we stroll around the neighborhood.

Strolling around the neighborhood with my honey and liking that he notices that when I walk I tend to be looking up and around while he tends to look down and around - I keep him from missing gorgeous cloud formations or the first colored leaf on the block; he keeps me from tripping on the uneven sidewalk or stepping on a caterpillar.

He always makes sure he has a quarter in his pocket when we go to the mall because he knows I'm a bubble gum junkie.

He sings a lot.  Sometimes I know the song.  Many times I don't.  I've learned some silly songs from him that are mine now, too.  And, sometimes when he sings I join in and he stops and says:  "Did I say this was a duet?"  Silly man.

He will watch It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown with me in the middle of summer if I ask him to.

We can be in different parts of a store and both zero in on a stupid song lyric playing overhead.  When we meet up again, we almost inevitably ask, "Did you hear that song?"

He is a genius at making up jokes.  I mean a real genius.  I almost always know when he's setting one up, but it's not very often I figure it out.  I groan LOUDLY when he tells me the punchline and he laughs that he can still "get" me.

Dancing in the living room.

Dancing in the kitchen.

Including the dog in a "group hug".

He tells me I look pretty and I believe he thinks I do.

He knows I'm going to cry at the same parts of the same old movies and he waits for it.  He also knows when I'm going to cry in a movie we've not seen before and I catch him glancing at me in the dark theatre to see if he's right.  He doesn't cry, but he doesn't make me feel funny about the fact that I do.

He likes that I'm tenderhearted.

He believes that if I had to I could survive without him, but he still does things for me that I could do myself just out of niceness.  I don't remember the last time I pumped gas myself, but I do remember how.

He never lets me open my own car door.  Never.

He stacks the clean towels so that he gets the rattier ones.

He makes the bed.

People who know us expect us to be together.  When they see one of us in public they look around to find the other.  Usually, they succeed.

We can go to the Library on a weekend night and joke about what losers we are.  We don't really believe it, though.  Well, not for that reason anyway.

He likes how I've decorated our home.  He says it's our sanctuary.  When he arrives home from work, he says, "Welcome to civility."  I can't think of a higher compliment he could give me.

He lets me say, "I love you," to him a hundred times a day.

He tells me he loves me, too.

Thanks, Bruce.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Witness to Your Life

One of my favorite movies is Shall We Dance with Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon.  It is the story of a middle-aged man who has become a bit bored with his routines.  There are many things I like about the story, the first being that infidelity does not enter into it.  The man loves his wife and family and he doesn't betray them. However, in his secret pursuit of dance, his wife has reason to become suspicious.  She hires a private investigator to follow her husband.  When ultimately she decides that he is not pursuing an extramarital affair, she terminates the investigation.  Her conversation with the much-enamored PI leads to the question of why do people marry.  His answer is the obvious one:  for love.  She refutes that and says rather it is because we all want a witness to our lives.  In marrying, in making that commitment, we promise to notice.  I like that.

The reason I thought of it tonight is that I was engaged in one of my favorite weekly routines with my husband:  Sunday evening at Mudhouse with a bottomless and a book.  I've been shamefully unable to engage with a book all summer.  Inexplicably unable to engage.  However, I picked up a memoir I purchased several weeks ago with a gift certificate given me by a couple of teachers in congratulations and goodbyes as I moved to a new school.  It is called Here If You Need Me and it is the story of Kate Braestrup.  I've never heard of Kate Braestrup.  What made me pick up the book in the first place was the gorgeous cover.  A tree branch all alight with autumn colors stretched over a lake reflecting a colorful hillside, an abandoned canoe at the shore and a single unoccupied Adirondack chair facing out toward the water and the distant shore on which you can  see the white trunks of birch.  I had to pick it up.  Had to.  When I discovered the true story was set in Maine, I was sold.

I started reading the memoir several weeks ago when I first purchased it.  Unfortunately, the first time I picked it up was in the middle of the night when I couldn't sleep.  Not really the time to start reading a memoir.  (More the time for reading The Shepherd, the Angel, and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog  - see a December post.)  I was too tired to focus and lay it aside, forgetting it until today.  I'm glad I remembered it.

Half-way through it now, I am considering the fortitude of this woman who, because of her conviction that genuine love means you take care of your family even in death, determined to honor her husband by taking care of his corpse herself.  He was an officer killed in a car crash.  She asked that he not be embalmed and that she personally take care of bathing and dressing him.  She also asked to be present at his cremation from start to finish (which, according to what she was told by the funeral home would take four to five hours or more for a young and fit man such as he was).  Her courage is unfathomable to me.  She writes:

"I wanted to do it not because it would help me heal - healing was both indefinable and unimaginable - but because it was the authoritative command of an authentic love."  The idea of caring for the bodies of your deceased loved ones is described as an "intimate privilege" that has been taken away from us by professionals.

I don't share these things out of horrified fascination or morbidity.  I don't say this is anything I would even consider or be able to do myself.  I'm not that strong and don't really want to be.  But, I do find the depth of commitment extraordinary and remarkable.  There's so much to be considered in regard to the link between physical and spiritual realms, the expressions of love, God's love, that is evident in creation, in emotion, and in spirit.  How far reaching His love is.  How far could my own reach if I would stretch it?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Bring Back the Silliness!

The hottest part of summer has arrived.  This is the time of year I usually feel the most lethargic and uninspired.  The haze and the humidity just make everything seem heavy and tiresome.  Hours spent in climate control make me soft to the great outdoors.  I wilt the moment I step outside.  The glass door is fogged over by 7:30 a.m. and we hurry the dog through her visits to the yard.  What better time to settle in for an afternoon movie?  Something timeless and romantic.  Like, The Marx Brothers!

Groucho has to be one of the greatest romantic heroes.  Who can resist that greasepaint moustache and those waggling eyebrows?  Not to mention the cigar.  Silliness aside (well, that's impossible as long as we're talking about the Marx Brothers), I do love the films.  And, formulaic though they may be, there are certain aspects I always look forward to and others I always laugh at - and heartily, just like the first time.  I love to watch Chico play the piano.  Harpo's harp playing is enchanting.  I can't help myself when Harpo tries to explain through whistling and gestures to Chico that Groucho is being duped by a woman (though, Natalie could do without that - we've discovered she runs from the television whenever there's a screaming monkey and whenever Harpo does his thing).  But, then, there's the inevitable wooing of Margaret Dumont.  Whatever characters they play, the wooing is always the same.  

Where has all the wooing gone?  Swallowed up in sophistication and sobriety.  Where's the silliness?  I mean, after all, what in life can't benefit from a little silliness?  It's terribly romantic.  Think how great you feel when you laugh.  

So, there's my prescription for the summer blahs:  see Dr. Hackenbush for a healthy dose of absurdity and kiss me in the morning!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

An Ordinary Day

Today I was reminded of a simple yet important truth.
     This morning Shellie and I visited a local farmers market. Not the height of the harvest season, but still plenty of good fresh produce to choose from. While we strolled up and down between the various vendors, we chatted with friends, farmers and each other. We pretended to be very knowledgeable as to what was best in fruits and vegetables. After a truly enjoyable time, we left with two large canvas bags of straight-from-the-farm goodies. Then this evening Shellie banished me from the kitchen while she prepared dinner. While I surfed on the world-wide she was busy chopping and cooking. The big moment, we lit candles, played soft jazz, and sat down to a wonderfully delicious meal of roasted vegetables, tossed salad, free range eggs, sliced tomatoes, hummus, and a mouth watering peach dessert. It was a  feast for the eyes, nose, and palate. My only contribution was to light the candles, pick the music, and brew the black walnut coffee. Shellie was responsible for this culinary treat. Store produce can't even begin to compare. Our day was, in many ways, an ordinary day. But also extraordinary in its own right.
The truth I remembered was this, romance is often found in the ordinary. When you get to share your life with the one you love, any day can be memorable.                                 Bruce

Guest Blogger: Bruce Foltz

Later this evening I will be hosting a guest blogger:  my husband.  I'm a brave, brave woman.

Monday, July 12, 2010

That Must Be Some Good Ice Cream

Black walnut ice cream.  My favorite.  A couple years ago I bought Bruce a little book about unique places in Missouri.  It's got listings of restaurants and things.  Last summer he drove me to Stockton, Missouri just to get some black walnut ice cream from Hammons Emporium.  It was worth the hour drive.  So much so that today we did it again.  It was better than I remembered.

On the way home we drove through Greenfield just to see what it was like, circled the square and noticed the old Opera house.  We detoured in Ash Grove to see the site of our wedding 12 years ago.  A one-time bed and breakfast that is now someone's very cute loft apartment.

I realize gas is expensive and I realize it's not a good thing to be mindlessly contributing pollutants to the atmosphere; but, may I recommend a good old fashioned Sunday drive any day of the week you can manage one?  Second to a picnic, the Sunday drive is simple romance at its finest.

When Lucas was younger and we were first married, we tried to do family dates.  That meant fun, but on the cheap.  One of the things we used to have fun doing was a driving scavenger hunt.  We'd make a list of several things we had to find, then get into the car and the first one to spot it got a point.  Whichever of the three of us spotted the most got to choose which McDonalds in town we'd go to for McFlurries.  I don't really remember too many of the things that made our lists, but I do know that some of the easier finds around Springfield were:  "overweight man without a shirt mowing the yard"; "car with one headlight"; and "kid on a skateboard".

Romance is where you create it; the loving feelings it generates benefit the whole family.  Sunday drive.  Picnic.  Scavenger Hunt.  Dollar Dates.  So many ways to spend time together and love each other.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Gift

What says love more than four new wheel covers?
2002 Toyota Echo 14" Wheel Cover
That's right - four shiny new wheel covers for my Echo.  I am Queen of the road in my little buggy now.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Facebook | Your Photos - No Penalty for Love Launch Party

At long last, the Launch Party Pictures! Facebook | Your Photos - No Penalty for Love Launch Party

Grilled Cheese by Candlelight

Yes, even the humble grilled cheese can be romantic.  We have been eating out a lot lately - all through our Minnesota vacation and since we've been home I've cooked very little.  We've had a lot of cold cereal suppers and lunches out.  Tonight, the refrigerator being nearly empty, we had grilled cheese.  But, this wasn't any grilled cheese.  This was romantic grilled cheese!

Step 1:  Make a pretty green salad - include fresh basil if you've got it because nothing tastes more like summer than fresh basil!
Step 2:  Pick more fresh basil - it's going on the sandwich.
Step 3:  Pour some marinara into a container to nuke.
Step 4:  Set the table with cloth napkins and candles.
Step 5:  Make two cheese sandwiches with basil leaves (I used Swiss cheese).  Lightly grill one side, then flip.  While the second side is getting toasty gold, lay another slice of cheese on top of the lightly grilled slice and top with another slice of bread (if this is getting to be too many calories for you, use light bread).  Once the bottom is perfection, gently flip the whole thing over to melt that last slice of cheese and toast the top piece.
Step 6:  Light the candles and nuke the marinara.
Step 7: Start the music (Bruce chose Josh Groban) and cut each sandwich in quarters.  Arrange around a small dish of marinara.  Garnish with a couple more basil leaves. Serve with a smile.

Dessert was a truly yum 100 calorie Skinny Cow Chocolate Truffle ice cream bar - so worthy of candle light. Simple, satisfying, sweetly romantic.  Ahhh.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Thank you, Lia Brown, editor at Avalon!  Love Under a Dark Sky by Shellie Foltz to be published in early to mid-2011!!!!  See the trailer above for a few hints of what's coming your way!  

Sunday, July 4, 2010

For Lucas and Jennifer

Lucas and Jennifer
Lucas and Jennifer:  This is for you - with love.  Mom

Two Harbors 2010

Our favorite summer destination. Breakwater House was built in the early part of last century. What a great place to stay! Natalie handled it all like a champ. She loved walking by Lake Superior and sniffing some sort of weed along the paths that we must not have in Missouri. It was sure different having little four paws along, but well worth the extra efforts to accommodate her. Year four and many happy returns to Two Harbors! Two Harbors 2010

Having a Good Clear Out

The Cast of As Time Goes By

As Time Goes By became a fast favorite for me when I discovered it on PBS one Saturday night years ago.  Back in the days of VCRs.  I got hooked from the moment I caught Jean and Lionel, Judy, Alistair, and Sandy; not to mention Rocky and Madge and the indomitable Mrs. Bale.  The last time I loved a British sitcom was in college - a vulgar show in the '80s called The Young Ones.  I should be ashamed to admit it, but I do own the boxed set and do get it out every now and then to watch.  Only when Bruce isn't home, though.  He hates it.  BUT, he does enjoy As Time Goes By and even encouraged me to replace our worn out video tapes of it a few years ago with the complete dvd set.  A bargain at any price as many times as we've watched the series all the way through.  In fact, recently Bruce suggested we watch it from beginning to end again this summer.  I think it's a wonderful plan!

In one of the episodes, Jean is having a clear out.  If I hadn't been watching I wouldn't have realized it just meant cleaning out the closet (or cupboard, or whatever).  Lionel took this to mean that something was wrong - in his experience women had clear outs when something was bothering them.  I do find a good clear out to be therapeutic, but I also find it to be fun - in the right frame of mind.  My clear outs tend to come at the end of Christmas vacation from school after the tree is down and before the new year.  Last winter my kitchen got cleared out and, amazingly, the cupboards still look nice and "rationalized".  

Usually, I plan for my clear outs.  You know, build up to them.  Last week, however, I had one sort of sneak up on me.  After staying at Breakwater House in Two Harbors for a week, I decided our house could have some of the features about that one that I really enjoyed.  Namely, a more open and airy feel to it.  So, I transformed my library into a breakfast room and the dining room became a little sitting area which my mother says is called a "morning room".  I had fun choosing the cushions and deciding which pictures would hang in which rooms once the change was made and did it all for relatively little money.  But, when it came time to sort through all those books in the library and decide which ones to leave out and which to store, when it came time to figure out how we were going to keep compact discs that had been stacked inside little peach crate tables that were going for other uses now organized and accessible, when it came time to deal with the years and years of magazines I'd accumulated . . . well, let's just say a lesser man would have said, "This was your idea, not mine" (or something profane) and walked away.  Instead, Bruce helped me.

I like that he takes an interest in our home.  I like that he's pleased with how it looks and feels.  I like that he doesn't complain when I want to change something.  He's not an eager project-taker-oner and there are certain things he'd just as soon not do, like painting.  But, I've never known him to be a brute about anything I wanted to do.  He may drag his feet a little sometimes, but when it comes down to it, even if I can't, for whatever reason, do the things it takes to make an idea work, he helps me get it done.  In the past twelve years, he has endeavored to hang checked wallpaper for me, paint a whole lot of kitchen cupboards a rich orange maple, carry cinder blocks to the second floor to build a desk tall enough that I could see out the dormer window while sitting at it (then move them from the second floor to the basement some years later when I grew tired of the desk), maneuver innumerable heavy pieces of furniture up or down a narrow staircase that curves at the top, and transform the room that was Lucas' dark dungeon bedroom into a beach room complete with new ceiling fan blades and pulls while I was away at a conference.  He has hauled at least a hundred bulging bags of clothes and shoes from my closet to the car trunk to the Salvation Army donation box, drilled holes in the top of an old table on our porch to anchor down a pretty little Christmas tree that kept blowing over in the wind, and hosted dozens of open houses without a complaint.  

I see men who are ugly about their wives' little projects; who sometimes are flat mean about having to be involved in some kind of home project.  If Bruce gets bored (and I'm sure he does) with my myriad and only sometimes ludicrous suggestions of how to improve our home, he never shows it.  He's learned the art of letting me talk it through.  Probably he's hoping I'll talk myself out of it, but if I don't, he's right there to help and encourage.  And always to praise the efforts when we're through.

As time goes by, I find out more and more things to love about the man I love.  As time goes by my heart becomes more and more satisfied with our life together.  As time goes by, I learn how beautiful love can be and how precious it is to trust your husband with your thoughts, your hopes, your fears - even if they are silly ones like, "But what if we move the table down the hall and I hate it?"  His answer is, "Live with it a year and if you still don't like it, we'll move it back."  But, I know he'd do it that same night to just please me.  

So, all this to say:  having a clear out is a great way to spend time together.  You find things long forgotten, you problem-solve together giving each other a chance to shine and be the hero, you get to stand back when you're done and experience that satisfaction of working together for a common goal, and you get to crash in each others arms that night too exhausted to do anything but watch a favorite something together.  Who knew clear outs could be so romantic?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Announcing a New Blog

For those of you who are fairly regular readers of Life as a Great Romance and who are Christian, you might be interested in a new blog I've launched:  Live Quietly (okay, the web address is livequiet, not livequietly, but that url was already taken; however, I couldn't bear to have a grammatically incorrect title on my blog).  While Life as a Great Romance is designed to inspire the feelings of romance and beauty, to make suggestions for how you can experience romantic living whoever you are, Live Quietly is specifically geared toward a Christian audience and is meant to help readers cultivate the quiet life we're admonished to live in I Thessalonians 4:11-12.  I'm pretty excited about it.  I've posted twice and hope to every day.  Please join me there and be sure to leave your comments!

Correction and Apologies

I wrongly attributed the Christian Chick Lit post to Sarah Pulliam Bailey.  The author of the post is Ruth Moon and Ms. Bailey edited it.  Thanks for letting me know!


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Christian Chick Lit

I just read this outstanding post on Her.meneutics (a blog I wish I remembered to read more often than I do, because it features the writings of some of the most outstanding Christian thinkers of our time).  The question posed by Sarah Pulliam Bailey is one I've grappled with as a writer.  My novel, No Penalty for Love, and the subsequent work now under consideration, are what is termed wholesome romance.  In fact, in the editing stages I was asked to remove some of the pointedly Christian scenes in the novel because this is not what the secular publishing company did.  As Bailey says, it was a matter of subtraction.

Funny that just this morning I was praying about writing.  I feel pressured, from the outside sometimes and from within at other times, to write Christian fiction.  It shouldn't be a problem.  I loved writing the plays for Stained Glass Theatre.  As a Christian, the work should just be an extension of who I am - just like when I read something I bring a Christian worldview to it, when I write I do the same thing.  The trouble is that predominate formula Bailey speaks of that treats faith in God as something of a "golden key" or "get out of jail free card".  It absolutely is not!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Ah, Audrey

Do you and your loved one have a song?  Ours is The Street Where You Live from My Fair Lady.  It's the show Bruce took me to see on the night he first kissed me.  Ahhh.

We laugh at the line in Sleepless in Seattle:  "You don't want to be in love.  You want to be in love in a movie."  Well, who doesn't?  Swelling music.  Carefully crafted words.  Beautiful scenery.  Gorgeous costumes.  And people who look like Audrey Hepburn.  Ah, Audrey.  If I could look like anyone at all besides myself it would be Audrey.

Last night we went to see My Fair Lady at the Gillioz.  I was a little concerned because during the overture the man down the row from me was whistling along and humming and going "bomp, bomp, bomp" along with the tunes.  But, as Audrey always does, she worked her magic from the screen and he hushed, swallowed up by beauty.

I think that perhaps my favorite Audrey movie is Roman Holiday.  She even looks terrific with short short hair.  Then, there's Breakfast at Tiffany's which, I have to admit, I did not like at all the first time I saw it.  But, I tried it again and also saw it at an outdoor theater in Eureka Springs where they had an Audrey lookalike contest (okay, the entrants were mostly men, but when you're trying to be Audrey you can carry it off - maybe).

I read once that her son said Audrey always took an afternoon nap and when she awoke ate one small piece of chocolate.  How lovely.  How genteel.  How Audrey.

The movie last night got me thinking about how there's not really a clear definition or universally accepted image of feminine anymore.  We're very casual.  I am very casual.  But, when you see those old movies, doesn't something in you just yearn to put on a string of pearls and a dress?  To walk like you're carrying a teacup on top of your head?  To laugh politely and say things like "charming"?  Not that I want to give up all the advances we've earned as women, but once in a while it would be nice to feel like Audrey looks.  Utterly feminine.  Dewey, sweet, romantic.  I think it would be charming.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Take Me Out to the Ballgame - If You Must

Lord Stanley's Cup has been won.  Summer has officially begun.  Now, take me out to the ballgame.

Though sports were never high up my list - in fact, I used to become quite irritated with people who were sports fans - I have come to appreciate them since I got married.  I knew Bruce enjoyed sports and so one of the first things I did when I thought we might be getting serious was to check out a book on the basics of football so I could have at least an understanding of what was going on when we watched.  Translating what was in print to what was on the field, though, was just not happening for me.  It was several years later when I decided it would be nice if I would watch the Superbowl with him that I sat down for parts of some of the Sunday games and asked him to explain some of the plays.  Unlike Bruce's attempt at humor at the first football game we attended together when he told me the players in the odd-numbered jerseys were running backs and they had to run backward in the game (how dumb did he think I was?), he explained as I asked and over the course of the season I learned enough to be able to watch the Superbowl that year and "get it".

One of the first presents I got Bruce after we were married was tickets to a St. Louis Blues game and a Blues jersey.  Extravagant for a first-year teacher with student loans to pay, but I really wanted to please him.  Though it pains me to admit it now, I was not struck with the game.  Our seats were high up and I really couldn't understand what just looked like a bunch of scrambling on the ice.  (If you want to know my real first impressions of the game, read Patricia's impressions in No Penalty for Love - yeah, that's me, sitting there wondering what is going on and why everyone is so enthralled.)  Because I was so unimpressed, I went a little begrudgingly to my first Missouri State University Ice Bears game.  The rest is history on that one - I love hockey now!

But, since the Blackhawks beat the Flyers last night, we've settled into baseball season which is my least favorite sport.  Try as I might, I just can't relax for fear that I'm going to get hit with a foul ball!  But, I realize the odds are against that happening and Bruce enjoys the leisurely pace of summer's greatest pastime (or so it's called - my own greatest summer pastime is reading a Grisham novel on the deck with a glass of iced tea), so I go.  Tonight we're going to watch the Springfield Cardinals play the Tulsa Drillers.  In July we're off to St. Louis to see the Big Birds play.  The new stadium has been open for something like five years now and Bruce has wanted to see it since it opened.  I bought the tickets for his birthday, but couldn't wait that long to give them to him.  If you go on the Cardinals' website and look at a view from the seats, you can see what we'll be seeing:  a gorgeous skyline with the Arch just past the scoreboard.  Pray for no rain!

My point is that romance can be found anywhere.  Even at a sporting event.  Sometimes learning something new because you know it would please your loved one is a nice thing to do.  Sometimes you even discover a new interest yourself (or, in my case a new interest and inspiration to write).  What is your loved one interested in that makes you roll your eyes and wish you were dead?  Learn something about it just to please him.  Comfort in a relationship is great - being at ease with one another is much to be desired!  But, a little stretch now and then can put a spring in your step and a song in your heart:  Take me out to the ballgame!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Be Careful, Little Hands, What You Tweet

I started reading an article in the ALA magazine last night and I'm still thinking about it this morning.  It said that Twitter has given the Library of Congress permission to archive its Tweets.  The claim was that the Tweets provide valuable information into our culture.  So, I started wondering what the 40 or so (?) Tweets I've published over the past year or so (?) say about me.  How much of myself and my cultural values can one glean from reading 140 characters of type composed out of boredom, mainly?

Monday, May 24, 2010

How it's Spelled and What it is

That's Fu Manchu.  A mustache that grows down along the sides of the mouth to the chin or below.  Originated with a character in novels created by Sax Rohmer.  Wanna see what was cool back then?  Check it out (along with many other mustache styles) at .  Famous Fu Manchu 'staches include Joe Namath (note, he also wore panty hose in 1970s commercials) and Hulk Hogan.  Yeah, this bad boy is not ever going to make it onto the faces of one of my romantic heroes!  Yuck!

Lovin' Me a Love Song

Okay, I'm a nerd from way back.  Let's just get that said right up front.  I know it.  I'm not ashamed of it (anymore).  And we true nerds can never be de-nerdified.  So, if you look in my car you're going to see the following compact discs:

1.  Trock On - a compilation of songs by bands named for Dr. Who things and about Dr. Who things;
2.  Chameleon Circuit - a super-terrific Dr. Who album, highly sing-able and very funny (to those in the know);
3.  Aaron Jeffrey - the c.d. replacement of my mid-90's cassette tape with one of the most awesome songs showing the harmony of God's word imaginable ("He Is" - it's the last track); and
4.  Any or all of the following:  something by Barry Manilow, something by Rod Stewart, a compilation of Love Songs by various artists from various eras, and Kenny Loggins.

The cooler c.d.s in my car belong to my husband. 

Being the oldest child in my family, I didn't have the benefit of learning to be cool by having an older sibling.  Kelly, my best friend and neighbor when we were little girls, had two teenaged brothers.  My family listened to Tanya Tucker and Willie Nelson, so I listened to Tanya Tucker and Willie Nelson.  Kelly listened to The Guess Who, watched Solid Gold, and followed a local band called Fool's Face.  In elementary school!

Aunt Joyce and Uncle Larry bought me my first "cool" record album (to me, they were just absolutely IT as far as cool - Larry had a fu-manchu [okay, I've never tried to spell that word before and I'm sure that's wrong] mustache and Joyce was always so pretty - they had college aged foreign exchange students living in their home, sponsored the youth group at church - they were just cool).  It was my tenth birthday party and they bought me Debbie Boone's You Light Up My Life album.  Okay, it wasn't The Guess Who, but still, it played on Top 40 radio stations and was NOT going to be heard at the KTTS Listener Appreciation shows I attended with my parents.

So, I got my first cool record album and what did I do?  I turned it into nerdy.  I followed it with an obsession with The Osmonds (remind me to blog sometime about seeing them in concert at the State Fair - I wore purple jeans because it was Donny's favorite color) and Barry Manilow.  The only 8-track I ever called my own was Donny Osmond's Disco Train.  I have a pretty complete collection of Manilow albums and a hefty number of Osmonds plus a few from later years including Dan Fogelberg and two Randy Travis representing a brief lapse into the country scene.  They're mixed in among Bruce's ELO and Deep Purple.  I've just always been a sucker for love songs! 

The best of the best for a nerd like me include:

1.  Weekend in New England (Manilow)
2.  The Old Songs (Manilow)
3.  Merry Christmas, Darling (The Carpenters)
4.  Hard to Say (Fogelberg)
5.  When October Goes (Manilow)
6.  She Should'a Been Mine (Manilow)
7.  Not What You See and I Miss You (Manilow)

Now, just to solidify your picture of me as a nerd, know that I also like soundtracks to musicals.  My favorites are The Sound of Music (because Christopher Plummer was one of my first crushes - what little girl doesn't want to grow up to be a nun in order to find her Captain Von Trapp?), Fiddler On the Roof (do you know the song Do You Love Me??  Awesome!), and, of course, Phantom of the Opera (favorite lyric:  "Say you'll share with me one love, one lifetime.  Say one word and I will follow you. . . Anywhere you go let me go, too.  Love me, that's all I ask of you."  - Oh, can you just feel that orchestration swelling in your chest?!  This is one I sing off-key at the top of my lungs while driving, so if you ever see me at a stop light looking as if I'm having a heart attack, just know it's the Phantom.)

Now, I don't want you to think that as I grew I didn't expand my tastes.  I did.  Widely.  In fact, now I would consider my favorite artist to be Michael Franks.  He's a jazz vocalist who writes the most luxurious and sultry lyrics I've ever heard.  Really, really romantic.  Look him up.  I love jazz music and I find even the instrumentals to be deeply moving, satisfying.  But, the poetry, the lyric - ah.  Therein is romance. 

Sing it or say it, be it Shakespeare or Sinatra.  There's a world of knee-knocking, head-spinning, heart-palpitating, palm-sweating, breathlessness in the right turn of phrase.  I wonder what's on the radio right about now?


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Natalie's First Vet Visit

The dogs I had before Natalie were all family dogs - Mom, Shawn and me.  I was referred to as "Sissy" - as in "Come to Sissy" or "Go wake up Sissy".  With Nattie, I became Momma.  It's great, except it also means that I'm the one who has to take Baby Girl to the vet for her shots.  Fortunately, Daddy was good enough to come, too. 

I'm a firm beliver in the power of prayer and I also believe that God, the Creator of all things - including sweetest Nattie - cares deeply about His creation.  So, I prepared for Natalie's visit to Dr. Brown by praying for her.  But, like so many prayers, what started as for her quickly became for me.  And for Bruce.  I tell you, we were both as antsy as could be about taking her to get her shots!  It was ridiculous! 

Natalie, if you remember, was a stray when she was taken in by Ship to Safe Haven in February 2009.  We adopted her in July.  She was up to date on all her vaccinations and has been healthy since we brought her home.  But, the charts showed it was time for Rabies, Bordatella, and Dystemper shots.  We were concerned because Miss Nattie is very. . . well, anxiety-ridden, I guess is how to put it.  She's wary of people - all people - other than us.  Even when my mother comes for a visit Natalie barks and backs up across the room before finally bolting upstairs and barking from the top.  She does this with everyone.  So, the thought of taking her to a vet's office was not a happy one.  I envisioned our sitting in the lobby, Natalie skidding all over the linoleum floor, barking and backing and causing a scene.  I imagined when the vet came in she'd bark and growl and twist in her harness and cause an even bigger scene.  I feared she'd be upset with us afterward and not want anything to do with us.  I worried she'd have a reaction to the vaccines - didn't matter what kind - I was worried about everything from mild joint aches to hives.

We arrived in this gorgeous Animal Care Center and were taken straight back to the nicest little exam room.  Natalie was fine with the nurse who escorted us there.  We were left alone to fill out paperwork and the same nurse came back.  Natalie decided to growl.  It wasn't really a threatening growl, just a low kind of "I don't like this very much" kind of growl.  Then, it came time to weigh her which required we hand the leash off to the nurse.  Nattie was having no part of it.  She would NOT go with the nurse.  So, I picked her up and handed her to the nurse who took her to the next room to weigh her.  It was nothing more than a couple of minutes, I'm sure, but it felt like a long time and every noise we heard we worried what Natalie was doing back there.  Running amok with her leash trailing behind?  Leaping off the scale?  Worse?

She came back through and wagged her tail at us once we were left alone again.  The next wait seemed interminable.  There was a beeping sound that we heard each time the exam room door opened and for some reason I think it beeped ten times at least before someone actually came through.  When Dr. Brown entered he was quite a shock to our quiet little girl.  He's a delightful man, but speaks up and is quite expressive.  Bruce and I keep a really quiet home, so Natalie's used to the sounds of NPR or a favorite of Bruce's c.d.s, things like that.  I mean, one time we were watching NCIS and Natalie was laying on my lap.  McGee opened a cupboard door and a monkey started screaming.  Natalie's head popped up and she looked at that screen.  Her ears were high.  The monkey kept screaming.  Before I could say, "Bruce, press Mute," Natalie darted around the corner, out of the line of vision and it was a week before she'd go anywhere near the television again.  She is a very civilized dog.  Anyway, long story short, Natalie's healthy and nearly three hours later is showing absolutely no signs of any adverse reactions - either physical or psychological.  Praise God! 


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Calling Senator Champion

Tonight I placed my first ever call to a Senator.  I'm getting radical in my old age, I guess. 

If you'll recall, I attended a meeting back in December to get training to gather signatures on a petition to put an initiaitve on the November 2010 ballot to regulate puppy mills in Missouri.  I gladly donated time to gather signatures and, though I didn't do as much as I personally could have or maybe even should have, the final count was nearly twice the number of signatures needed in order to get the issue on the ballot (about 100 of which I gathered myself on some early Saturday mornings). 

I learned today that a group of Senators working with special interest groups are trying to prevent that legislation from even reaching the ballot - in essence, silencing the voices of over 190,000 voters in their state who asked by their signatures that the initiative be brought to vote and nullifying the state constitution that gives the citizens of Missouri the right to vote - by considering proposed HJR 86. 

If you are a registered voter in Missouri, I urge you to go to the ASPCA Advocacy page at and read for yourself what is being proposed.  Then, pull on your big girl britches like I did tonight and telephone your Senator's office to respectfully request that he or she oppose such legislation.  Be sure you give your name and address so the office will be able to verify that you are a constituent of the Senator's district.  This site has a function that will provide you with the name and number of your Senator if you don't know who that is.  Or, you might find the name here: 

Dan Clemens - District 20 (covers: Christian Co; Webster Co; Douglas Co; Greene Co)- (573) 751-4008

Jack Goodman - District 29 (covers: Ozark Co; McDonald Co; Barry Co; Stone Co; Taney Co; Lawrence Co.) - (573) 751-2234

Norma Champion - Springfield,Mo. (573) 751-2583

You can also listen to a radio spot here:

Whether or not you're a "dog person" - you do have the right to vote.  Make that call.  Believe me, if I could be brave enough to do it, you can!  Make your voice heard and make a difference in Missouri.


Friday, April 23, 2010

When Life Comes Together Like. . . Like. . . Like a Music Video!

Don't you love it when life just comes together?  This year I volunteered to be part of a technology cohort for Library Media Specialists in our district and I got information recently on a website to create short videos.  Well, I've had the most FUN making all these little 30-second videos for school (check out my book trailers for some of the 2010-2011 Gateway Nominees I've been reading at ) I thought I should try my hand at it with some personal things.  The obvious choice to start with:  my launch party.  Were you there last November?  Here are the highlights.  Enjoy!

Create your own video slideshow at

Sunday, April 18, 2010

How Do You Spell Relief?

Do you remember the old Rolaids commercials?  "How do you spell relief?  R-o-l-a-i-d-s." 

I'm facing my 42nd birthday this Tuesday.  No biggie.  Mostly right now I'm jazzed about the beautiful spring we're having wondering how you spell the name of that gorgeous flowering shrub that's just started blooming all over town.  Rhodedendron?  Maybe.  Anyway, they are brilliant and all over the place!  In fact, all the flowering trees and shrubs have put on the most wonderful show this spring.  After a long, cold winter, that's how I spell relief:  s-p-r-i-n-g.  Whew.

Also, I'm really jazzed about young adults.  As I'm sure I've mentioned in the blog before (because I'm mentioning it every time I turn around and see someone standing there lately and because I'm signing off on so many emails these days with "Go Falcons!") I'm going back to high school next year.  So, I've started reading the 2010-2011 Gateway Nominees and I'm having a blast!  Also, I've begun writing a new novel (at last!) and have a writer at the New York Times to thank for the inspiration. 

Reading so much YA (not to mention reading a not so nice blog review of No Penalty in which I was the writer of something like "boring and oh, so chaste dating descriptions") kind of got me thinking that I might like to try my hand at the YA myself.  After all, in writing No Penalty I had a lot of fun creating Able and was particularly proud of that character.  So, why not write more like him?  Turns out it was, if it turns out to be nothing else, a great jolt to the creativity, because I've been finding myself thinking about my characters and my story more than any other project I've started and subsequently quit on in recent months.  Yippee! 

Between reading Gateway Nominees, joining YALSA, ordering The Big Pink Bible of Teen Services, and thinking and thinking and thinking about the high school scene where I'll be next year I'm feeling vibrant and alive again.  Say what you will, but teenagers, while sometimes surly and sometimes downright rude, are full of life and it's refreshing to be around that.  So, yeah, Go Falcons!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Waiting for Rejuvination

There's an old song with the line, "They say it's spring that's made me daft as a daisy".  I'm feeling pretty daft these days.  Daft and so tired!  I don't know if I'm so inflexible that the time change is still throwing me or if it's that over Spring Break I slept in until 8:30 and now am getting up at 6:00 again.  At any rate, I'm pretty much a zombie.  I'm waiting for rejuvination.

Tomorrow is Good Friday and Sunday is Easter.  The season reminds us of the wonderful reality of resurrection, of new life.  I'm grateful for that reality.

It's funny how my mind has been so busy lately and yet I am having such a hard time writing.  I want to so much I can taste it, but I sit down and. . . nothing.  Or at least too little to really work with.  I feel like McGee on NCIS when he wouldn't own up to his (dare I say it?) writer's block.  I remember I had this problem before.  It was after I knew Stained Glass Theatre was going to do my play Welcome to Joe's.  There was this huge gap of two years between the time they accepted the script and the time they produced it.  I was so anxious about seeing Joe's happen that I wasn't very productive on anything else.  Then, as soon as Joe's closed I dashed of Related Spaces in nothing flat!  After Related Spaces played, I wrote No Penalty.  After No Penalty was published I finished the one that's setting at Avalon now.  In those times of waiting, I find that's all I seem to be able to do.  I guess it's that wish for life to be in tidy packages.  One project completed before another is begun.  It doesn't work that way.  I've got to pull my head out of the fog and get busy!

Spring is supposed to be the most romantic season.  I'm looking forward to some of  my favorite springy things to rejuvinate the romantic in me.  Maybe you could try these, too!

1.  Eat breakfast outside.  Bruce and I eat on the porch when it's light enough and warm enough because we can watch walkers and dog walkers go by.  We always laugh that people are saying, "Look!  They're eating on the porch!  Weird."
2.  Fill the birdbath and watch for visitors of the feathered variety.
3.  Do what my editor Chelsea did:  wear yellow to celebrate spring!
4.  Sip a glass of iced tea with lemon and mint.
5.  Read some Nikki Giovanni poetry.  It's fun.
6.  If you live near a college campus, walk on over and stroll around.  Take in the sights and sounds:  frisbee on the lawn, touch football in the stadium, bicycles on the brick bike paths, music drifting out of open dorm windows, bulletin boards announcing auditions for summer theatre productions, the fountains.
7.  Paint your toenails - but not if you're a man, please!
8.  Pick out one bird's song and listen for it every day near the same time.  We have one around here that I call "Our Little Singer".  I can never find him, but his song is quite distinct.  I think I figured out what kind he was last year, but have forgotten since.  He sings, "Oh, sweet Canada, Canada, Canada."
9.  Get your bird books off the shelf and figure out what kinds of birds are visiting and singing all around you.
10. Breathe deeply (if your allergies allow it) - take in the scents of lilac and fresh green growing things!

Cheers to you and cheers to spring!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Shame on Me!

I'm so ashamed of how I've neglected my blog!  Do you see the date on the last post?  However, if you go back to the archives you'll see that somewhere around the time school started I predicted this would happen.  Not with the blogging so much, but with writing period.  I know me.

For those of you who haven't heard the wonderful, wonderful news yet which every single time I think of it I smile. . . I got a new job!  I'm still going to be working in the school library, but (and it's a BIG BUT) it will be a high school libray!  Not just any high school library, but my own alma mater's library.  I'm so, so excited about it.  I just can't help but think this will make a world of difference to my emotional and mental states - energy level's just got to go up in those places!  I know, you're thinking how can a school librarian job in the elementary be so draining anyway?  Let me just say, you have to be there to understand.  I never would have supposed.  Not that I expect my new spot to be a cake walk, but just being back among the high school students with their energy and excitement and all their adolescent "stuff" - the football games, the band practices sounding out across the campus in the morning when I arrive to work, seeing my students really shine in things like drama and choir and speech and all those things.  It's a world unto itself and I've missed it!  I'm going home!

So, my mind has been occupied - previously wondering what if anything would be posted, then agonizing through the two weeks it had to stay posted, waiting for the interview, waiting to hear - and now just trying to stay focused on the present because there are, after all, ten weeks of school left until summer. 

In the meantime, I did speak with the new editor at Avalon and she assured me that my latest manuscript (oh, when will there be another one?) is still "very much on the radar" but that they are running six to nine months behind!  So, the waiting goes on.

Tomorrow I'm going to hear someone from Dusty Feet speak.  My cousin Courtney emailed me about it.  When I went to the organization's website, I saw a name and face I knew that I knew.  Nate Kaunley.  He is, as I thought I remembered, a graduate of the first high school where I taught.  Anyway, I'm anxious to hear about the organization.  You can visit the site at or, if you're in Springfield, come to Q on Commercial Street tomorrow (Sunday, March 28th) at 1:00. 

I vow to try to blog more often.  I vow to try to make better use of time and write more.  I vow to return to the roots of the Life as a Great Romance blog and offer some great springtime suggestions for living the romantic life.  Spring, after all, is the season for love.

Friday, January 29, 2010

What to Do?

Oh, it's agony!  Starting something, setting it aside.  Starting something else, thinking better of the first, setting it aside and going back.  Deciding it's not so great after all and bogging down to do nothing.  What's to do?  Watch Dr. Who, I guess.  In the name of inspiration, of course.

The other day I had a brilliant idea for a new book, so I set aside the one I'd written a chapter on and never gotten back to.  The new idea produced a whopping one paragraph.  It's a week later now.  Ugh!  I think my muse has been captured by an evil alien empire and is being held captive in an icy world somewhere.  Doctor!  Help!

Seriously, though, it's part of the process.  Not a pretty part, but a part nonetheless.  I try not to get too upset by it because it always works out fine in the end.  I think that, just like with life, the hard parts, the parts when you feel like you're in a holding pattern, those are the parts that produce character.  In this case, I just hope that character is a best-selling romantic heroine - or something  like that.  Sometimes I wish I was smart enough to write sci-fi or at least a good mystery.  My brain just doesn't work that way, though, even though I enjoy reading them.

I heard from one of the new editors at Avalon today and my newest (complete) manuscript is "still very much on the radar" with them; however, with the turnover in personnel and high volume of submissions they are running behind.  So, fingers crossed - still.  In the meantime, I do have another book signing scheduled.  This one is at Barnes & Noble on February 6th from 11-1.  I'm looking forward to it.  It's to feature other local authors; I thought it was so nice to be invited!  This time the bookstore is providing the books for sale, so it won't be a consignment sort of thing like it was at Borders.  Makes me feel professional. 

January slipped by without any suggestions from me for romantic things to do.  Anyone out there have any winter romance ideas?  February, of course, boasts Valentine's Day - a natural for romance.  But what do you do that helps you find beauty and lead the romantic life this cold, cold season?  Let me hear from you!

Stay warm!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Pens and Petitions

Pens:  Barnes & Noble has invited me to be a part of a book signing featuring local authors in their S. Glenstone store here in Springfield on Saturday, February 6th from 11:00-1:00.  Looking forward to it!  Come out to see me - I promise a free bookmark and some chocolate.  Mmmm chocolate.

Petitions:  In the meantime, please contact me if you are a registered Missouri voter.  I'd love to have you sign a petition to get proposed legislation on the November ballot which would regulate large puppy  mills.  More info at .

Monday, January 4, 2010

I've Been Reviewed

This is the first review I've seen of No Penalty for Love .  Check it out.  (For those of you as inept as I am with technology, you click on the title for this entry and it will take you to the blog where you'll read the review.)