Posted on 12/26/14
My cats were born in Uganda. And it’s kind of cool to think that they’ve been somewhere I have never been and probably won’t ever visit. I adopted them from a person who had them transported all the way to the United States from Africa. So my cats are immigrants.
They were originally given names that I thought were idiotic for African cats. One of them (a girl kitty) was named Tigger, and the other was named Punkin. These names are cute, but c’mon–these cats were born in Africa. They should have African names. I promptly renamed them Simba and Pakka. Simba is the Swahili word for lion or tiger. And Pakka is the Swahili word for cat.
Simba (AKA Tigger) has a starring role in Last Chance Family. And Pakka (AKA Punkin) is the kitty in the short story entitled “I’ll be Home for Christmas,” which appears in the anthology Small Town Christmas.
Posted on 12/19/14
I am an avowed cat person. Cats size me up and know that I’m an easy mark. The Georgia Good Ol’ Boy, not so much. In fact, when I first married him, he had no use for cats. But that all changed when Oliver North came along.
We adopted Ollie from the local shelter when he was about five weeks old. And he lived with us until he was 18 and finally gave up the ghost. He was the strongest, healthiest cat I ever owned. He could climb up twenty or thirty feet into the big maples in my front yard, and we never once had to call the fire department to rescue him. He was fearless. And he was definitely the Georgia Boy’s cat. In fact for almost two decades he slept between us.
My dear husband often cuddled him as if he were a teddy bear, providing many “awww moments” for me. But in all those years sleeping between us, Ollie always pointed his sharp little claws in my direction while my husband got to cuddle his soft back. The message was clear. The Georgia Boy belonged to him and I needed to keep my distance. To Ollie, I was merely staff, assigned the daily job of feeding him and not much more.
Posted on 12/12/14
I am undergoing a kitchen renovation. The Georgia Good Ol’ Boy is doing this on his own. Anyway, a few weeks back, he had to dig a trench in the concrete to run some plumbing and then he back-filled the hole with fresh concrete. He screed the patch and then we went off to a ball game. When we came back, we had our kitties’ paw prints immortalized in concrete.
Posted on 12/9/14
I have a limited number of 2o15 pocket planners that I’m giving away on a first-come, first-serve basis. Just fill out the form below with your name and U.S. mailing address and I’ll get you the calendar before New Years. I have only about 100 of these left so don’t delay.
Posted on 12/5/14
We used to live in a townhouse that had a stairway that came up from the ground level to the living level, right up the center of the house. There was a railing around the stair at the top that the cat could snooze on. One day Obi was awakened from his snooze by a fly. I should mention that Obi was a champion fly catcher, rivaling Mr. Miyagi from The Karate Kid.
Anyway, this fly buzzed Obi and then landed on the wall between the stairway railings. Below the fly was a one-story drop to the ground. Did this deter Obi? No way. He took a flying leap at the fly, which escaped, leaving Obi with claws extended as he slid down the wall and dropped all the way to the ground floor. There was priceless, Wily Coyote moment when Obi realized that he’d taken a leap into mid-air without thinking about the landing. He was unhurt in the fall, except for his pride.
Posted on 11/21/14
I hate to admit this, but not too long ago I had a serious mouse problem. My cat had gotten very old and the mice moved in on him. When he finally passed away, we adopted two rescue cats who are born mousers.
One morning I woke up to the sound of eek-eek coming from my living room. I got up and went to the hallway which has a view of the living room below. And there were Simba and Pakka, my ferocious African cats, playing mouse hockey.
One cat was the goaltender on the east end of the living room and the other was set up on the west. The mouse was the hockey puck. Needless to say we took the mouse outside and let the cats have their way with it.
I like cats way better than mice.
Posted on 09/11/14
I toss around the word “hero” on a daily basis. I use that word to refer to the male protagonists of my books. But sometimes it’s important to step back and think about the real heroes — those people who made the ultimate sacrifice in order to save someone else.
On this day, I always take a moment to say a prayer of remembrance for the crew and passengers on flight 93, who may well have saved my life 13 years ago. On September 11, 2001, I had a ten o’clock appointment on Capitol Hill. That morning at 9:30 I was standing at what was supposed to be ground zero for the fourth and final hijacked plane.
I cannot imagine what would have happened if flight 93 had reached its target — the U.S. Capitol Building. I might have been hurt or killed. I certainly would have seen terrible things. And I know the two-hundred year old Capitol Building with all its history and artwork would have been utterly demolished. My life would have changed in profound ways, assuming I survived.
But the heroes on 93, who gave their lives, made sure none of that happened.
I think that hallowed ground in Shankesville, PA is often overlooked, when we remember this day. But never by me.
So, please, say a prayer for the heroes today. And never forget those who selflessly gave the last full measure to protect our capitol.
Posted on 08/8/14
Well, sort of.
Mom was born in Hampton County, South Carolina almost 100 years ago. Her daddy was an engineer and she was the youngest of six children that survived infancy. She had lots of interesting stories to tell about living way out in the boons. I admit that some of her stories have ended up in my books. Mom’s life growing up in the deep south always seemed way more interesting than mine. Which was sort of funny, since I grew up just miles away from the New York City line.
I was told that Mom once had a thick southern drawl, but like the Georgia Good Ol’ Boy I married, she lost it living up in Yankee land. Mom was a sweet woman. And most of the time, she wasn’t all that different from the other Moms in the neighborhood.
But other times, not so much.
I have one particular memory of mom where her southern came out in spades. It was wintertime. And she woke up to find the squirrels feasting on the bird seed she’d put out in the feeder. Coming from the South, a squirrel was considered a varmint as far as she was concerned. She was not interested in feeding the squirrels.
So she put on her mink coat over her pajamas. (Picture a beautiful champagne-colored 1960s style mink that would be so not PC in this day and age.) And she stepped into her rubber galoshes (there was snow on the ground). And she grabbed my older brother’s BB gun. She stepped out onto the side patio and began simultaneously taking pot shots at the squirrel while cussing up a blue streak. I was impressed. I had no idea that Mom knew how to work an air rifle. (Or to curse like that, either.)
She didn’t hit any squirrels, which I think annoyed her. This probably explained why she offered my brothers money for every squirrel they killed. Although the boys were not real good shots either. In the end, Mom gave up trying to feed the birds.
This memory came back to me just the other day. The Georgia Boy and I were sitting on the back deck, having some adult beverages and enjoying our bird feeders (which are squirrel proof, thank you very much), when what should come into our yard but two young bucks.
Now maybe where you live seeing deer is a regular sort of thing. For me, it’s not. I live just a few miles south of the nation’s capitol. A major north-south rail line runs near my house, as does I-95 and the Capitol Beltway. The presence of these deer, sort of explained two things: 1) the coyote that we’ve seen recently, and 2) the mystery of the disappearing portulaca in my front yard.
Up until I saw these critters, I was pretty sure I had a crazy neighbor who was cutting down my portulaca. It looked like it was getting regularly mowed with a weed-whacker. But I immediately realized that my plants had fallen victim to hungry deer. I was quite annoyed.
I expressed this annoyance to the Georgia Boy, who took matters into his own hands, so to speak. He put down his beer, picked up a rock, and threw it at the deer.
They were as unimpressed by his rock throwing as the squirrels were of my mother’s aim with the BB gun. Those deer were so tame he had to get right up on them to scare them away.
The very next day, he told me that he was borrowing a friend’s pellet gun. Then he muttered something about maybe he should just go out and buy himself one for deer emergencies.
Yep. I always said that my mother and my husband were kindred spirits. The Georgia Boy proved it this week.
So do you have varmint troubles? And since I’m not a gun person, myself, I’m interested in any ideas anyone has about how to keep the deer out of my portulaca.
Posted on 08/1/14
Read-A-Romance Month begins today, August 1. I think August is the perfect month for a celebration like this. I always take a few weeks of vacation in August, and my idea of the perfect vacation is sitting in a hammock with a good romance and a pitcher of lemonade or sweet tea nearby.
In fact, as I look back on my summer vacations, many of them spent visiting kin who lived in the little town of Denmark, South Carolina, I have to say that I spent a lot of hours in the hammock. I also employed rocking chairs and lawn chairs. But there was one constant – I always had a book in my hand.
Now, I admit that when I was younger – about ten – I wasn’t reading romance. I was trying to keep up with my older brothers who were plowing their way through Edgar Rice Burrough’s series of Martian stories, featuring the daring hero John Carter and his lady Deja Thoris. I truly believe that the boys enjoyed all the bloody battles that took place up on Barsoom, but I was mostly interested in the love affair between between John and Deja.
My Aunt Annie had some pretty strong views about a girl of 10 reading paperback books with lurid covers like this one. She didn’t think they were appropriate for my age or gender.
So one summer (I was 12), she handed me a copy of Jane Eyre. Ha! What irony. She may have thought she was handing me a classic, but, let’s face it, Jane Eyre is basically a Gothic romance. And I fell in love with the overbearing, misguided, and utterly tortured Mr. Rochester. And to this day I love a tortured hero. This book changed my life!
So I am forever in debt to my Aunt Annie for recommending a romance to me when I was 12. And isn’t that really how many of us get started? Someone recommends a book and you discover a life-long passion for reading.
I’m going to make a few book recommendations right now, in celebration of Read-A-Romance Month. All but one of these are relatively new authors, independently published or published by small press. I love them all.
- Bev Petterson writes romantic suspense and mystery set in the world of horses and horse trainers. Honestly, every time I pick up one of Bev’s books I get lost in her world. I recommend starting with Jockeys and Jewels.
- Elizabeth Langston writes YA romance. Her Whisper Falls series combines time travel and an 18th century American setting. I couldn’t put these books down, and I don’t usually read YA. If you love a good time travel story, this one is worth the read.
- LaVyrle Spencer. Unlike my previous two recommendations, LaVyrle Spencer is not a new or independently published author. She was one of the leading lights of romance in the 1980s and 1990s who helped the genrego mainstream. She’s a member of RWA’s Hall of Fame, but, because she’s retired now, many younger writers and readers have not read her books. Her titles are being reissued in e-book form, so it’s a great opportunity for readers to rediscover an amazingly talented author. My personal favorite of her books is The Gamble, a historical romance set in America just after the Civil War.
The organizers of the 2014 Read-A-Romance Month have presented romance authors a series of questions this year and they are asking each of us to provide answers. As you hop around various webpages discovering new authors, these questions should be fun to read.
Q: Describe the most daring, adventurous, or inspiring thing you ever did.
A: I’m not a very daring or adventurous soul. This is why my idea of fun is sitting in a hammock reading a book. I get my adventure vicariously. However, the Georgia Good Ol’ Boy (AKA my husband), took up sailing late in life and roped me into becoming his crew in a two-man racing dinghy. We raced that boat for several years. And, yes, we did capsize it as you can see.
Q: Tell us about your journey to becoming a writer.
A: I always loved words. Even before I could read, I remember pestering my momma to teach me how to read for myself. And then when I was in second grade, I had to write my first paper about the pilgrims. I think the teacher wanted a couple of sentences. I wrote several pages, with a whole story that involved toil and trouble as the pilgrims sailed through rough seas heading for the New World. When I was finished telling my story, I remember turning to my momma and saying, “When I grow up I want to be a writer.”
Q: Tell us about A Book that Changed Your Life.
A: Well I sort of already did in the blog post above. Jane Eyre definitely made an impression.
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So, who would you recommend for Read a Romance Month? One lucky commenter will win a copy of Inn at Last Chance. Winners will be announced on September 1.
Posted on 12/2/13