Wednesday, January 26, 2011

And the Winner Is............WINTER!

I've raised the white flag. (Or, in this case the red, white and blue one.) I've lost the fight. Winter has won.

In stark contrast to my cruise pictures, here are some shots I took today outside my house. The last one I took inside my house. In fact, I took it inside my oven.

After all, what are snow days for if not for baking brownies?

What are you doing to get through this relentless winter? Any tips involving chocolate will be greatly appreciated.





Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Seduce Me

This post promises to be short and, oh so very, sweet...

I just read the talented Jody Hedlund's post on first chapters and, like all great posts, it made me think. She asks what it is we look for in a first chapter; what is necessary to keep the reader reading?

It's different for each of us, and varies depending upon our age, gender, mood and genre we're reading. But, generally speaking, when you open up a book, what do you look for?

Mystery?

Excitement?


Challenge?


Romance?


Do you like the action to hit you over the head, or do you prefer it be slow and building?


The answers to these questions might stretch farther than what you look for in a great read. Maybe they're indicative of what you look for in life.

What do you seek in relationships, careers, hobbies, entertainment, vacations? What floats your boat, tips your hat, rings your bell?

In romantic relationships, for example, do you like fireworks straight away or, like a kitten, do you prefer to play with it, bat at it, wait for it to surprise you?

Personally, I like the hint of something I can't quite put my finger on. I like a relationship to build slowly over time. I like the flower to open it's brilliant petals slowly. I prefer to sip a full-bodied glass of wine, breathe in a spicy appetizer, lap at a soothing cup of soup, and THEN enjoy the tantalizing main course. (And if I'm feeling especially feisty, revel in an after dinner drink!)

In other words, in writing as in life, seduce me.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

So I'm back to the Velvet Underground... Or, I Went Grocery Shopping and I Liked It

So I'm back to the velvet underground
Back to the floor, that I love
To a room with some lace and paper flowers,
Back to the gypsy
That I was
To the gypsy...
That I was.
Gypsy by Ms. Stephanie Lynn Nicks

Hello, everyone. I'm back! I'm not sure if the PA burbs qualify as the Velvet Underground, but, like Stevie meant in her song, I'm back to the place I love and feel most comfortable, and where I'm learning to live alone again.

Where am I back from? An amazing Caribbean cruise with my kids. Here are a few pics to prove my point.

This first pic is of the beautiful Magen's Bay in St. Thomas.

The second pic is me pointing at a female pirate's booby. Yup, you read that right. Apparently, this nice Irish gal, Anne Bonney, tracked down her runaway husband in the Virgin Islands and murdered him. She also slept with many ship captains and then killed them. She was quite the role model in her day.

Pic 3: Adam & I sharing our first cocktail before we set sail.

Pic 4: Movies Under the Stars on board the Ruby Princess. We watched more football than we did movies.

Pic 5: Ethan, me, and Adam after Ethan's birthday dinner at the Crown Grill - think Morton's Steakhouse at sea.

Pic 6: Ethan and Adam in the Michelangelo dining room.

Pic 7: Ethan - on his birthday! - swimming at St. Maarten after we went helmet diving.

The cruise was filled with many wonderful experiences, including a new book idea. Sitting in the library on board the ship, I watched the ocean pass by and scribbled the first five pages to a new women's fiction story. I'm very excited about it, however, I still have to finish editing my YA novel. According to my editor, this draft may well be "the one" - the final edit before AA takes the book out on submission. So, in order to finish YA Draft 7 and forge ahead on WF Draft 1, I need to get "discipline." Some people get religion, others get milk, I have to get discipline.

Where do I find this so-called "discipline?" Can I save up cereal box tops and send away for it? Buy it on Amazon.com? Find it on one of those late-night infomercials? Is it tucked away next to the gold in the California hills? I'm hoping it's located back in the calm, turquoise waters of the Caribbean, because that's a damn fine place to be. (Which is why, I've already booked my next cruise for later this year!!!)

Along with pondering self-discipline, I learned several important things about myself on this trip:

1) I need to eat breakfast.
I know this sounds like a big, fat "DUH!!!" but I've never been a breakfast eater. My normal schedule is to get up around 8AM and have a protein shake around 10AM. Then, maybe lunch, maybe not, and a big dinner. WHAT an idiot.

So, get this. (To those of you who know me well, you may want to sit down for this next part. Seriously. Consider yourself warned.) What's one of the first things I did after coming home from my trip? I went to the grocery store! (I hear a lot of thuds out there. I hope there are defibrillators nearby.) True story. I went to the grocery story and (same warning applies) I LIKED IT!!! Katy Perry, move over. Kissing girls is nothing. I went grocery shopping and I liked it...

For those of you who don't know me well, I'd rather walk naked in Antarctica or worse, go moose hunting with Sarah Palin in Alaska (where she can see Russia from her house!) than buy groceries.

But there I went. I bought fresh fruit (not the cut-up kind - actual whole melons!!! You can cut them yourself! Who knew?!), brown eggs (from cage-free, vegetarian-fed hens - yup, I'm a card-carrying, liberal tree-hugger), low-fat, whole-wheat English Muffins, and orange-pineapple juice. I also got green and red peppers, cheese, Rosemary crackers, and shrimp (peeled and de-veined) to go with my wonderful red wine habit. (Healthy in moderation, or so me and the Mayo Clinic believe.)

2) My bed should not double as my office. (Don't argue with me. I'm on a roll.)
So, I've chosen to move my lap top down to the kitchen and do my writing there instead of sitting like a lazy bum all day in bed. I also intend to make myself tea. Every day. That's right, you heard me - TEA! (Chai with skim milk and sugar, if you must know.)

For those of you who do know me well, you're probably thinking, "Who are you and what have you done with our spoiled, rotten, lazy, JAP, Debbie?"

Never fear, she's right here; just going through a major life transformation. I'm taking care of myself now. There's no one to blame but me if I'm not as healthy and happy as I can be. And I hate being wrong, so, I may as well try and get it right.

I'm finding taking care of myself is like kissing girls and going grocery shopping.

I like it. ;-)

Thanks to Stephen Powell for the inspiration for this post.

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