"It was imprudent of us, in the first place, to become authors. We could have become something regular, but we managed not to.
We were lucky, but we were also determined." Roy Blount Jr

"I don’t change the facts to enhance the drama. I think of it the other way round, the drama has got to fit the facts,
and it’s your job as a writer to find the shape in real life."
Hilary Mantel

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Boxing Day

Life became rather intense in the run-up to Christmas. We had guests from England, which was an enormous pleasure in terms of planning, preparing, and partying. I had lots of free time before their arrival, and spent it quite happily in the kitchen.

I decorated Ruth and Jewel.

And myself.

We and our guests went to church on Christmas Eve.

We woke to a dusting of snow on Christmas morning, just enough to call it "white" as we hosted a brunch. Our Friends From the North Country joined us and our English friends, whom they had met in Bath two years ago.

We had an English Christmas cake at teatime (with 2 layers of icing--marzipan and royal!)

We feasted on roast lamb and delicious accompaniments in the evening.

And we flamed the pudding.

We watched a film, played board and card games, walked dogs, dined out, opened and admired gifts. Some funny, some touching, all amazing and surprising.

Our company departed a few hours ago. Now the Chap and I and the girls await a winter Nor'Easter called "Euclid," he's supposed to be bringing anywhere from six inches to a foot to a foot-and-a-half of snow. It's about time....

Monday, December 10, 2012

Tree Time

We found it on Friday, at a friend's Christmas tree farm--located on a mountaintop. Very breezy up there in the heights! So many excellent choices that we took a long time deciding.

By Saturday afternoon, it looked like this:

Among the additions this year are London acquisitions, a sparkle mouse and Her Majesty's official Diamond Jubilee ornament, purchased at Buckingham Palace in September.

As usual, Queen Victoria ended up near the sock monkey. And a hedgehog.

Even after a day of decorating, I had enough energy for a crazy Christmas party, over the river (and over it again) and through the woods at a friend's house. Marvellous food, friends old and new, festivity.

There was a Christmas gift exchange. The Chap and I really scored--a very nice bottle of red wine, plus a box of fine foreign cooking spices.

We are troubled by the dearth of snow. Soggy weather lately, not very Christmas-y. The Chap says it will change.

Appointments and meetings from tomorrow through Tuesday..Our Friend From the North Country visits at mid-week. The Christmas gifts that must be sent by post are wrapped and ready to be boxed up. The holiday cards were ordered early and will soon go out--today the dogs wrote their annual Christmas letter.

Monday, December 03, 2012

November remains a blur--largely due to my participation in National Novel Writing Month. I succeeded in writing 50,000 words of a novel--plus a little bit more--on the 29th, and became a validated and certified "winner"! It was a great chance to do something I've always sort of thought I might like to try. Because of travel and other events, I was never able to commit to the full month. And I really needed all that time. There were only 2 days that I didn't write anything at all. Most days I met my quota and some days I exceeded it.

We had a little snow in November. Here's the male cardinal adjusting to the change.

We had warm, pleasant weather in the latter part of the month...then another small snow event on the 1st of December, after enough cold weather to make ice on the little lake. Yesterday it warmed up, creating a thick and very dramatic fog. I shot this photo on the way back from church. A huge flock of wild ducks (many more than appear in the picture) were standing on the rapidly melting ice, or paddling around. They quacked at me!

Last night I attended Handel's Messiah at the big Episcopal church downtown--an annual pilgrimage. Same soloists as last year. Wonderful, marvellous!

Still getting my life back on track, after being in hibernation throughout November. I do need to finish the novel I was writing, but I'm enjoying catching up on reading and Christmas preparations. And the parties begin this weekend!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Painted with Frost

Rose leaves


We had a very pleasant but extremely quiet Thanksgiving at the Lodge. Humans and canines were all well fed and appropriately grateful for our many blessings.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Week

There was an election on Tuesday. Therefore, a repeat of a fave photo.

Many former colleagues from my time in the Legislature have been returned to their positions. I'm very happy for them, and for our state.

On Wednesday, we had our first snow. Only 2 or 3 inches. Very pretty. Didn't last.

On Thursday, a Diocesan Council meeting, one of the best of the year. Went out to dinner afterwards with a FFTLR (Friend From the Lakes Region.) Like our FFTNC (Friend From the North Country), she's also a priest.

My Sweet (Tea) Olive is blooming. Those very tiny white flowers fill an entire house with their scent. Magical! Miraculous!

The Christmas Cactus given me by our FFTNC and her husband nearly a year ago is doing its thing, too.

On Friday, the girls were battling for "the sunny spot" in my office/library.

Yesterday the diocese hosted a celebration for our Bishop, who retires at the first of the year. Lots of people came from all over the state---and beyond--to wish him well. The President (that dude with me in the top photo) sent a letter of congratulation, as did the Governor (whose letter I read). There were many testimonials, gifts, delicious food, saw lots of friends and made new ones. We spent the evening continuing the fellowship at a friend's house. When we got home, Ruth knew I'd been with Another Dog, and I think she knew it was a Border collie. Jewel seemed less freaked out.

Large crowd at church this morning for our Veterans' Day service.

My participation in National Novel Writing Month is going well. I'll be playing catch-up today, because yesterday is the only day I didn't make my quota--in fact, I didn't write at all. But there is absolutely nothing on my schedule this week, so I felt all right about having some fellowship and relaxation time.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Boo! I'm back!

October had its way with me...not only did it pass in a flash, it was a strange combination of settling in again after the trip, closing up the cottage, a spate of diocesan events and gatherings, and a Lodge-related project.

And last week I published The Islanders Series, now available for Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and more e-readers to come.

Frankenstorm, aka Hurricane Sandy, swept through our region. Lots of Granite Staters lost electricity but we did not. Every time the lights flickered, we expected to hear our generator kick in, but it never happened. Our NY, NJ, DC, VA, CT family and friends seem to have come through unscathed. But oh, my, it is so painful to see the carnage.

A couple of weeks ago we had an earthquake--not much more than a 4 on the Richter scale, but extremely jarring. The Chap and I were standing in the kitchen when it happened, and felt the Lodge shift above and below us.

In honour of Halloween, here's a scan of a fridge magnet featuring artwork by the Chap's great-grandfather, a noted Salem newspaper editor and colunmist, artist and cartoonist, naturalist and ornithologist:

I simply haven't had time to deal with the comments issue and probably won't any time soon...I've signed up to participate in NaNoWriMo, (National Novel Writing Month) which lasts all of November. I'm hoping to finish off my contemporary novel. Wish me well!

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Home Again

It's lovely returning to autumn foliage and happy, cuddly dogs.

While in England--in countryside and in London--I took hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of photos. I'm sharing only a few here, but perhaps I'll put together a public Facebook album or something. Re-entry to normal life is always a curious and hectic process!

Our usual digs in London are only a few steps from this townhouse where P.G. Wodehouse lived, and which he supposedly assigned to Bertie Wooster.

Bernard Cornwell, dinner speaker at the Historical Novel Society's conference. (He was side-splittingly hilarious!)

This year's red callbox photo--at night, no less. In Shepherd Market, after a wonderful dinner of Spanish tapas and wine.

All dressed up for the conference banquet.

The Chap standing in front of his former London dwelling. This time it was his turn to lead the tour down Memory Lane.

After our stay in the countryside, seeing friends, touring National Trust properties, and wandering through beautiful gardens, we had a similarly fantastic time in London. We saw three palaces--Buckingham, Hampton Court, and Kensington (the latter two for research), art museums, writers' conference, restaurants, shopping, seeing more friends.

And as usual, on the homeward flight we were already discussing the next visit...

Friday, September 28, 2012

On Tour

First of all, my comments area is gone. The widget I've been using goes out of business on 1st October, and till I get another the feature is entirely disabled. Sorry about that, but this blog doesn't generate that many comments anyway--except for spammers who slip them into older posts. During time in England, I've been busy. Here I am... with Jane Austen's writing table

hugging shrubbery in Hampshire

revelling in roses

visiting Buckingham Palace (without Alice)

returning to Hampton Court.

More later. I'm about to be quite busy with a writers' conference.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Author Talk

That's what happens when my friend Tess Gerritsen and I get together. The husbands managed to survive...plus we all got caught up on non-authorly news.

It was a gorgeous day in Portsmouth and a fab start to the weekend. I went almost directly from the Seacoast to the Lakes Region. The Chap joined me at the cottage today. Not really sure how long we'll be here. It's blustery and cool--but sunny--and the wind is carrying a change of season.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Anniversary

Eleven years. The passage of time hasn't numbed the pain, or my awareness of how it altered my life and my perspective. And how it hasn't.

This morning I woke alone--as I did then--at the lake cottage instead of the Lodge. The Chap is safely and securely at home, not on a business trip and isn't cut off from me by closed airports and airspace. We'll be together again in a matter of hours.

And again, it's a typical September 11th--the identical "severe clear"--cloudless blue sky, bright sunshine--that I remember so well. How could something so dreadful, so unimaginable, happen on such a beautiful, pristine day?

This year the anniversary falls on Primary Day and later I will visit my voting place. There's a comfort in being able to exert the freedoms I still enjoy as a citizen of my country on this day of remembrance and reflection.

Now as then, I appreciate the comfort provided by the presence of dogs. As we folllowed our usual route this morning along the tree-lined road, they were contented, unaffected by events past or present, trotting along, interested only in the next peculiar scent on the ground, or squirrel leaping from tree to tree.

The rest of this day will be full and busy, so I'm grateful for this quiet morning solitude. It feels much calmer and pleasanter than it did eleven years ago. But sad, too.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Latest Release

A week ago--while I was luxuriating in Maine, in fact--I re-published a backlist novella as an Ebook. It's available exclusively on Kindle for 99 cents, and contains a bonus sample chapter for The Proposal, currently on sale for $2.99.

"The Apple Blossom Bower" was originally published in an by-invitation anthology with some big-time authors of the genre. We all wrote for the same publishing house (Penguin/Signet).

I had a short deadline, which came at the same time we were moving house from Colorado to New England. As often happens, I chose to set the tale in a location I knew rather well and loved a lot--the South Coast of Devon. I was a student in Exeter for a time, later had friends who lived in Dartmouth. I've chased ponies on Dartmoor from time to time, and like to delve in to local smuggling lore.

The region is especially lovely in apple-blossom time. It also produces a lot of the cider I so happily imbibe.

So, I mashed all that together, and made a story.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Way Life Should Be?

That's one of the slogan of the Pine Tree State, also known as Maine.

For the second weekend in a row, we had the chance to spend time with friends with whom we have England connections and writing connections. They live in London and have a summer house in coastal Maine, less than 2.5 hrs from the Lodge.

After some catching up at the house, we headed off to the dock at Five Islands, where the teenage boys like jumping off the pier into frigid waters and the predatory seagulls look like they might yank the lobster roll right out of your hand and the boats arriving at the wharf are there to unload more lobsters.

Then it was on to Popham Beach...not the State Park one but the other one.

We had a lovely walk along the long, long beach. The Chap inadvertently stepped on somebody's beach art.

The beachcombers create interesting structures with driftwood.

I remember this house from last time. It appears to be vacant. I suppose the right person hasn't come along. The right person would need a boat, because it's on an island.

We headed back to the spot we'd claimed on arrival and sat down to watch passing boats and seals and cormorants and a distant eagle and beach dogs. And the chaps of all ages headed for the beach shop and bought ice cream cones and frappes. I requested Moose Tracks but my Chap's Peppermint Stick was delicious (he let me have a taste.) We had to eat our cones quick, before the contents melted.

The sunset sky was spectacular. Unfortunately I don't have photos, but I doubt they'd have done it justice anyway.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Saturday at the Farm

The Chap and I have a friend who is a priest and canon, a writer and potter. On Saturday we went to lunch at his farm.

His dog, much larger than my girls!

Before and after lunch, we and the other guests had a chance to throw pots in our hosts studio. This was my first time doing it, and my hopes weren't terribly high.

But with good guidance and instruction, I had caused to be pleased with my efforts.


It joined the other drying pots, awaiting the glaze (a celadon colour) and firing.