Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Writing and Real Estate

First, thanks to Joan Maze for her thought-provoking post yesterday, and to everyone who dropped by. As you'll see below, we were busy while she played host at Terry's Place.

Yesterday, we signed a contract on what we hope will be our new home. As with the selling process, however, nothing is a done deal. Our first and highest hurdle will be the inspection scheduled for next week. Sellers are supposed to fix anything the inspector finds wrong, but there are always loopholes.

If I compare it to the publication process, we started with the query. We told the Realtors what we wanted in the way of size, location and price range. They (or their computers) came up with possibles. We could view these on the web and decide if we wanted to see them in person. In the submission process, this would be the equivalent of an agent or editor asking for a partial.

Once we narrowed the choices, we went out for up close and personal looks. As expected, every house had its good and bad points. While you might snag an agent's attention with that query, once you send pages, your writing talent and the story itself take over. One house had an impossible floor plan. Another had cramped space. Others didn't have enough items on our wish list to make the cut.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Stepping Out of the Box

Today my guest is author Joan Maze. Please welcome her to Terry's Place. She's going to explain why she can't seem to fit her writing into a single genre.

I’d like to thank Terry for the opportunity to appear on her blog. She has had quite a variety of interesting guests, and I feel honored to be among them. Today I will talk about breaking out of the box, spreading your wings.

On Monday, March 22, I talked to a middle school, 6th grade class about my first published novel, Murder By Mistake which, though it is a mystery, is actually my first departure from my original “straight mystery” genre. I am now, however, back to working on what I’d call a straight mystery again, though it is also a thriller. Suffice it to say it seems to be no longer possible for me to write something that fits in only one genre.

Have you ever wanted to do something different, perhaps take a big chance – do or die?

Well, I’m not talking about sky diving, climbing Mount Everest or anything else death-defying. I’m referring to writing in a genre that you’ve never tried before. It isn’t life threatening, but it can have a giant effect on your writing career.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Unexpected Responses

What I'm reading: The Last Assassin, by Barry Eisler

Thanks to Jess for the extra weekend posts. By the time this is posted, she's probably already had dinner, and I'll be getting everything together to go to my other daughter's house where I can work in a real kitchen.

Yesterday, we enjoyed a family day with our son and grandson. We went to the zoo, one of his favorite places. However, his pleasure seemed derived from the unexpected. He loves the giraffes, and the zoo has (I believe) the largest collection of any zoo in the US. We arrived just as they were releasing the herd from their night quarters into the outdoor paddock. After a moment or two watching, grandson decided it was more fun to play with the snow that clung to the paddock rails.

As we continued, the question was always, "Do you want to go see the … (insert animal name here)?" and the response was always "Yes." But along the route, even in full view of the elephant, tapir, okapi, or whatever, he was more interested in the "other" stuff.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

And onto the Fish Course

And, as I promised yesterday, here's the recipe Jess found on line for Gefilte Fish. I'll be making a whole lot of macaroons before I tackle this one. If you're looking for her pictures of Wales, they're on Friday's post.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

That Recipe You Requested

If you're looking for Jessica's shots of Wales, scroll to the next post. Someone requested her recipe for macaroons, which I'm posting below. And for the record, I did find a small "Passover" table at the local Safeway, which still had several varieties of macaroons, so I won't be faced with creating my own in my non-kitchen.

She also added a recipe for gefillte fish. I'll post that one tomorrow. More power to you, Jess.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Field Trip - Wales

Yesterday, we talked about the creative process. Daughter Jess has some of those 'creativity' genes, which are manifesting themselves in today's post. Let's go to Wales, everyone!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Elephants and the Creative Process

Thanks and Welcome! to my new followers. So glad you're joining us here at Terry's Place. And thanks from my parents for all the good anniversary wishes.

Frequent visitor to this site, Elizabeth Spann Craig, spends some time each day on Twitter, giving references to blogs about the writing craft. I followed one of her links to this site about writing a first draft.

There's some good advice here, as long as you don't feel too restricted and regard them as hard and fast "rules." Anyone who's followed this blog for any length of time knows I don't like rigid rules.

The other night, our landlords invited us up for a glass of wine and some conversation. As I mentioned a while back, she is a sculptor who works primarily in stone. She mentioned that it was interesting that we were both artists.

Frankly, I'd never considered myself an artist, but we discussed our creative processes. There's an old saying that in order to carve a block of stone into an elephant, you simply chip away everything that doesn't look like an elephant. In writing, you keep adding until you get the elephant.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Connections - and a recipe

Thanks, Galen for that informative post. The query process is daunting enough. Good to know there's help out there.

First – a Happy Anniversary to my parents, who celebrated their 65th anniversary on Monday. They've been a phenomenal role model, and I wish them another 65!

Connections are great. As most of you know, hubby and I are ensconced in a tiny rental while we hunt for a real home. That means a lot of togetherness and tolerance. Yesterday, I hooked up with a couple of Colorado writers for lunch. It was wonderful being able to talk to people who not only understand what it means to be breaking into the crazy business of publication, but are in it with you. The hubster understands, but he's heard it all.

So over an Olive Garden soup and salad lunch, we could blather on about getting agents, getting rejections, conferences, writing groups, what books we love, what books make us wonder how they got published, and on and on. (Hey, the soup and salad are unlimited refills! Plenty of time to gab.)

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But being able to have those connections with people who "get it" helps get me centered and motivated. And it's something to consider when you're creating scenes for your books. Your characters should have some way to make connections, to be able to hang loose and have someone understand them.

For my cops, they've usually got partners to bounce things off of. For my upcoming release, Nowhere to Hide, my heroine is new to town (and I wrote this LONG before we'd even thought of moving). I had to create a connection for her, both to spare the reader from interminable passages of internal monologue, and to reveal some of her personal "secrets" that tend to surface in girl-talk. Especially over ice cream. And, one hopes, by the end of the scene the reader knows more about the character, and the character is able to move forward.

As for our life here:

The forecast says there could up to a foot or more snow by the time you're reading this. We went to the grocery store to fill in a few blanks—we tend to run out of salad very quickly, and with limited storage space, we haven't done any 'serious' shopping beyond the basics.

However, we did borrow a crock pot from our daughter and bought the ingredients for a family favorite: White Chili. It's very simple to prepare, and yummy. It was originally a stovetop/oven recipe, but since I did so little with the oven in Florida where there was no point in adding heat to the kitchen unless absolutely necessary (or on one of the 5 cold days of the year), I simply threw everything into the crock pot, and the results were fine.

I figured I'd share it today, so maybe some of you can enjoy the enticing aroma the way we'll be doing. In a space this small, there's no escape!

1 medium sized onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 t ground cumin
2 whole large chicken breasts, skinless, boneless, and cut into 1 inch
1 can (15-19 oz) white kidney beans (cannellini), drained
1 can (15 1/2 -19 oz) garbanzo beans, drained
1 12 oz can white corn, darined
2 4 oz cans chopped green chilis
1 1/2 - 2 cups chicken broth

Stick everything in the pot.
When chicken is tender, it's done. Adjust liquid to taste.
To serve, stir in some hot pepper sauce, to taste, if desired.
Add 1 c. shredded Monterey Jack cheese; garnish with parsley.

The crockpot I had at home had an "auto-shift" feature, so it would cook on high until things reached temperature, then kick down to low until you turned it off. I think this one is just "low" and "high" but it's not like we're going anywhere, so I should be able to handle that change.

And while the chili is cooking, I have some good reading material. For those of you who suggested a 'vacation' after Monday's post, this will be it.

What are your favorite "stuck in the house" pastimes?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Are You Ready To Query?

Today I welcome Galen Kindley to Terry's Place. We 'met' on the blog circuit, and he's sharing some great advice based on his own experience with us today. (Please note, although Galen is discussion a resource that includes fee-based applications, I neither endorse it nor receive any compensation. Consider me a neutral party here.) Welcome, Galen.

Before I launch into the world of things Query Tracker, I’d like to thank my hostess, Terry, for graciously allowing me to post on her blog. Not everyone has such courage, and she’s to be greatly admired! Thanks, Terry.

So, you’ve written the great American novel. Congratulations. Now what? Oh, yes, you need to get it published. For that, you’re very likely gonna need an agent. This isn’t always true, of course; I’m published, but have no agent. Still, if you want to launch your writing career and get your work before larger publishers, an agent will be key.

Finding an agent, however, isn’t as easy as finding a lawyer or Dentist. Sadly, they pick you. But, before they can pick you, they have to know about you. That’s where your query plays a role--and where a very cool web tool can help.

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You should consider, and I wholeheartedly recommend, joining the web site, Query Tracker. Query tracker is a 2008 and 2009 winner of the Writer’s Digest, 101 Best Web Sites for Writers award. Joining is free and opens the door to its regular features. Its premium features cost only $26 per YEAR. In my view, that’s a bargain at twice that price. For the curious, this link opens to the page that compares premium features with the regular or free features.
But, maybe you’re a skeptic. Before you join anything, free or not, you want to know what you’re gonna get. So, very reasonably you ask: “What makes Query Tracker so great?” Good question, thank you for asking. Here are a few things it can do for you…

• Provides key data (contact information, genre, web site) for 1276 agents and 127 Publishers. That’s right, no Googling for agents or buying books that are out of date before printed. That alone is worth $26 bucks.

• Allows you to search for agents by genre and other essential qualities--name, location, agency, etc.

• Allows you to save, sort, organize, and prioritize your specific list of agents. Note, please, you can construct a unique list for each book you’re working on.

• Provides a database of comments about agents from folks who have queried the agent…learn from what they encountered with their query. You can also use this feature to ask other members questions about specific agents.

• Provides a deep database of statistics for you to see exactly what your target agent has requested in terms of manuscripts, when, how long it took him or her to respond, and other interesting items to help determine if this is an agent with whom you might connect.

• Provides a spot for you to record who you queried, when, and a copy of what you wrote.

• Track (as the web site name implies) each query you send and store a copy of that query with the info for that specific agent.

• Record the results of your query.

• Join the forums for advice, counsel, and lots of crying on sympathetic shoulders.

• Post your query for advice and feedback from authors in the query forum.

• And, as they say on the Ginzu Knife commercials, much, much more.

This link opens the Query Tracker list of videos that explain in greater detail how the system works, what you can do with it, and what it can do for you. Query Tracker…at a minimum, it will help you bring order out of a chaotic process and provide a sense of structure to what can be a debilitating experience.

Galen Kindley blogs Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at Imagineering Fiction. Finding his book, Betrayal, a home is how he became familiar with Query Tracker.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Juggling Act

What I'm reading: Original Sin, by Allison Brennan

Yesterday, I sent the last of my submissions off to the editor who requested it. Working on three projects, even though they're all completed means being able to switch mental gears. I confess, it's not a skill I'm particularly proficient at (although the hubster would claim that my brain can't follow a straight thought for more than ten seconds before it veers off down a side road). I have to deal with one at a time, or I start mixing my manuscripts.

The projects:

1) Where Danger Hides. This is the "sequel" to When Danger Calls, and is in the early stages of the editing and production process for its June, 2011 release from Five Star. A long time in the future, to be sure, but the manuscript was finished two years ago, and I've written 3 other books since then, so my memory of the details and characters is dim. Once I get the actual manuscript with editorial comments, I'll tackle it, but in the meanwhile, I have what the publisher calls "Ancillary Materials" which include coming up with things like jacket blurbs, synopses, and some beating the bushes for authors willing to do cover blurbs. That's an entirely different topic, to be sure, with pros and cons on both sides, and something to be discussed another time.

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2) Rooted in Deception. This is a romantic suspense, one I finished at least a year ago. It's another book featuring Blackthorne, Inc., but it's written as an independent stand alone. I had put it on the back burner while I dealt with Where Danger Hides, but decided it made more sense to try to find it a home rather than wait for the publisher of the other two books, as their schedule is more like an 18 month to 2 year gap between releases. While I was at Written in the Stars, I realized that because this book was a romantic suspense, I ought to be pitching it.

I made a quick search through the files I had with me (remember, we were in transit at that time) and found some draft synopses, and what I hoped was a relatively recent version of the entire manuscript to familiarize myself with the characters and plot. And the folks I pitched it to requested either 3 chapters or 50 pages. I updated the draft synopsis, re-read and tweaked the partials and sent them to 2 of the 3 people who'd requested them. The third wanted hard copy. This had to wait until we found our rental, hooked up the PC and the printer. Before I mailed it, I wanted to take one more look. And when I did, the inevitable typos and other glitches appeared. I can only hope they're minor enough to be overlooked by the first two. Doing a full-manuscript edit in case I get a request for the full is definitely something I should be doing.

3) Deadly Secrets. This is my newest work, my first venture into straight mystery. It's the book I'm most familiar with, and the one I prepped myself to pitch at SleuthFest. Most requests were for partials, but I had one for the complete manuscript, and after what happened with the other manuscript, I didn't want to send it off without reading it again. My technique, which I've discussed here before, is to do edits on hard copy, and to make it look as different as possible from the on-screen version. I print in a different font, and format it in columns, which gives it an entirely new look and 'fools' my brain so I can catch repeats and possible plot issues. Reading it quickly, like a real book helps keep the plot points on track. I didn't find too many things that needed tweaking, thank goodness, and sent it off. I wonder what gremlins will attack it as it zips through cyberspace.

Now it's waiting. And wondering what to do next. Both new projects are part of a larger whole. At least I'd love to have that be the case. Because if I can focus on an established character set, it's like working with old friends. But if neither gets picked up, there's not much point in writing the next book in the series, which is frustrating, because I'd love to throw another case at Gordon, or write Grinch's story.

Do I start a brand new project, totally unrelated to anything I've done before? And in which genre?

I suppose the smart thing to do first will be to put anything new aside and wait for the edits, and tackle the Ancillary Materials. And it'll be a lot more fun than doing taxes, which is the other project I'm juggling.

And speaking of submissions, you'll want to come back tomorrow when my guest, Galen Kindley shares his preferences for the query process.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Springtime in Monument

Weather is variable, wouldn't you say. Thursday afternoon vs Saturday morning.

(Click to enlarge)

A garage is a must for our new house.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday Field Trip - More from the Everglades

Although it was nearly 70 degrees today, there are winter storm warnings for tomorrow and Saturday, with snow, whiteouts and temperatures down into the teens. I thought it might be a nice change to share some more of Jason's Everglades pictures, in case there are more folks stuck in the snow. My cousin reported being without power for 97 hours in New York.

Sunset at Pa-Hay-Okee


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Purple Gallinule

Great Blue Heron

Wood Ibis

Snowy Egret

Double-crested Cormorant

Little Blue Heron

Another sunset at Pa-Hay-Okee

Thanks once again, Jason. Be sure to visit his gallery.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Peeling Away the Layers

We're still getting into things here at our rental. I know a lot of the comments left on Monday said the apartment was "cute" or "cozy." Appearances aren't always the same as reality. While we're going to do fine here, I thought I'd use these temporary quarters as an example of how first impressions might not be the same as what happens when you deal with making things work. (and on the slim chance that the property owners read this, we really like the place! I'm just tying it in to writing.)

In writing, characters should be like artichokes. You don't get to the heart until you do some serious work peeling away the layers. What the reader sees, as well as what other characters see when they meet a character, be it protagonist or a secondary character, will be superficial at first. Perhaps the character was too good to be true, and as time goes on, faults are revealed. Or maybe it's the other way around. An unlikeable character turns out to be golden inside.

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This apartment was where the owners' son and his wife lived after getting married. My guess is that they hadn't accumulated a lot of "stuff" yet, and with parents living upstairs, sharing meals, borrowing essentials, etc. probably was part of their lifestyle. Of course, this is pure speculation on my part, but after two days of trying to squeeze our possessions (and we brought with us only what we thought we'd need before finding a house and getting the bulk of our belongings out of storage), I can't help but try to imagine what the previous tenants were like.

One guess: They were tall. I'm 5-4, which isn't THAT short, but almost everything is up too high for me to reach. Cabinets and closet shelves are deep, which makes getting into them that much harder. Had to buy a stepstool.

Another difference I've noticed as we continue to discover more about this place: the artist owner probably wanted to make the place attractive, which it is. However, there's more "d├ęcor" than "storage" and we've already given her back some extras that serve no function for us. When I was buying furniture for our home, especially when the kids were growing up, everything had to have hidden storage in order to make the cut. Coffee tables, night tables, end tables all had drawers and shelves. Since flat surfaces attract clutter, I preferred having hideaways for accumulations of stuff. Perhaps she should have thought "boat".


The bathroom is beautiful. Small, but efficient. However, the single sink is set into a counter, with no vanity beneath. Coming from a master bath with two sinks with cabinets under each one and six drawers (which I didn't even have to share, given the 3 baths in our former house), it's a jolt not having everything easily accessible. There are shelves above the little LG washer/dryer, and that's where most of the stuff goes. The box I'd packed my bathroom "stuff" in sits on a shelf, and I move the whole thing to and from the counter when it's time to deal with hair and makeup.

We're still finding better ways to arrange things for maximum access, but it's pretty much understood that if you need something, odds are you'll have to move something else to get at it. And it's forcing us to put things away right after we use them. For the "before" version of the following photo, check Monday's post.

How do you reveal characters to your readers? Do you show them the whole picture, or peel away the layers. Readers – how much do you like to know about characters when you first meet them?

Tomorrow, it's another Friday Field Trip. I can't decide whether to share more pictures my son took in the Everglades, or the ones my daughter sent of Wales, since it was St. Patrick's Day yesterday, and Wales is closer to Ireland.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

And a St. Paddy's Day nightcap

Can you read the fine print on the label? You might have to click the image to enlarge it.


Terry Odell
sent from my Blackjack

What Day Is It?

Thanks to Marianne for her post yesterday. And for the memories. And, after all, doesn't aging beat the alternative?

What with the move, time and dates have blurred. We moved through two time zones, then hit daylight savings time, which effectively negated one of them body-wise, although I'm still adjusting to the fact that it's two hours earlier here than back in Florida.

Speaking of the time zone shift, for those on Eastern time, which seems to be a majority of my readers, I know my blog posts must seem "late." I schedule them in advance, but I still don't like to put them up too much earlier than I get up, because I don't trust them to be glitch-free and like to be able to fix anything that might not be working. I know the 'feel' of my blog crawling, which I'm finally starting to get into again, is different because I'm always coming in late to the party.

Another switch. Normally, I'm up early and if there were things to do, I'd want to get them done before the heat of the day. Here, it's the reverse. It's noon or later before things warm up. I know I'm speaking from about 1 week's worth of experience, but I think there will be a lot fewer days where it's unbearably hot and if you're not inside by ten AM, you'll melt.

But once again I digress.

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It dawned on me that it's St. Patrick's Day. Now, this isn't a holiday ingrained in my ethnic heritage, but I think most of us are eager to take advantage of any reason to celebrate. Especially when food and drink are involved.

I asked my daughter, Jess, who lives in Northern Ireland, what the celebrations are like over there. She said parades, lots of beer (Guinness, not green), and concerts.

The food isn't special, she said. More likely to find Irish stew, lamb, potatoes. Maybe champ or colcannon (mashed taters with green onion or cabbage & ham,
respectively). Wheaten bread. What they don't do is corned beef & cabbage.

In our little non-kitchen, it's doubtful I'll be doing anything special for the holiday as far as cooking goes. Maybe we'll go find a place that has Guinness on tap.

Meanwhile, on the writing front. One of the agents I met with requested hard copies of my submissions. Since we didn't have a printer, she's one of the last on my "to send" list. The hubster hooked the printer up yesterday, so I ran off a copy. And read it. Despite the fact that I'd gone over this at least three or four times since the materials were requested, I still found glitches. Minor typos, awkward wording. Nothing (I hope) that would send it straight to the reject pile, but frustrating nevertheless, to know that I've sent an inferior digital versions to other agents and an editor.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Where have the years gone?

Today my guest is Marianne Stephens. As a Baby Boomer, she finds herself wondering how life has gone by so
quickly, and focusing on what still awaits. Give her a warm welcome as she discusses a topic that affects all of us.

I look at myself today and wonder how those extra pounds cemented to my body ever got the chance to take up permanent residence. And, the gray in my dark hair? When did that start? Frown lines? Wrinkles? Aching knees and body?

When I was young, I couldn’t wait to turn 16. Then 18. Then 21. Then, 30. After that, I was just too busy raising a family and teaching to worry about age. When I turned 50, I actually felt surprising good. It was turning that dreaded 60 that depressed me.

All the fun emails people send me about “remember when” are entertaining…and things I do remember. My memories of growing up before I got married now seem so distant, as the years I’ve been married outnumber the years I was single.

When did I get so old?

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I, like everyone else, remember certain important things from my past. Growing up and going to school. Saying the Pledge of Allegiance. And, saying the “Our Father” prayer in school because it was perfectly acceptable to do so. I remember leaving school early every Thursday to walk to religious instruction, and no one mentioned the fact that a public school allowed this early dismissal for religious reasons. It just happened.

I remember gym suits and respecting teachers. Dressing appropriately was important and not something argued about. Nothing was said about “free speech in dress”, long hair for boys, earrings, makeup, etc. We followed rules and did as told. Air raid drills were common in schools. Getting into trouble meant your parent would meet with the teacher and you’d be disciplined.

I remember where I was when President Kennedy was shot, and how I’d told my mother that morning that I’d had a “vision” he was going to be killed. Eerie thought to have, and worried me for months. How did I know that would happen?

I remember the deaths of loved ones, the marriages and births of others.

I remember being in a car accident and falling out the door (no seat belts then) and thinking to myself, “I’m dead.” I vowed not to drive again but did.

I remember how important school studies were, and how we all needed to take a foreign language to get into college. Driving was a privilege, not a demand. Working was important, and you never left a job without giving two weeks notice. Unheard of. Not ethical. Not done.

I’m a baby boomer, and life is so different now. But, I’m older, and can sit back and watch as I reflect on what was, what is, and ponder what will be. Medicare age is fast approaching, and that will bring a new installment in the book of my life. Can I be that old?

My 40th High School reunion is this October. I’m looking forward to seeing old friends again. When once we talked about college hopes, careers, marriage and raising families, now we’ll talk about retirement, health issues, and grandchildren.

I taught for years, then began my writing career “late in life”. The sensuous or erotic scenes I write I’d never have written before. But, I’m older now. At peace with myself. Not out to please others or prove anything to anyone as to what I write. I do it for me.

I think about a scene from the movie “Fried Green Tomatoes” where the character played by Kathy Bates waits patiently for a parking space, only to have two young women zip into the spot before she can move her car. She tells them she was waiting for the spot, only to have them tell her that they’re younger and faster.

First instinct would have you angry but accept rudeness from younger, flighty people and search for another spot. In this case, however, the character rams her car into the younger girls’ car a few times. When they scream at her, she replies that she’s older and has more insurance.

I love that scene. It reminds me that I’m older, don’t have to give a damn what others think, and can do as I please (within the law, of course). I no longer shrink back into a corner of silence if I don’t agree with others more vocal. I speak my mind, if I feel I need to.

With age comes the wisdom to know when to speak, and when to shrug it off and walk away. Picking my battles keeps me sane, and preaching to deaf ears gets me nothing but pain. Life has changed, the rules have changed, people have changed, but I’ll roll with the punches…as long as you don’t get in my way and irritate me.

Then, be prepared to hear me roar. I’m older now and not afraid to speak.

For more about Marianne, visit her website. For her mainstream romances, look here and here.

In addition, Marianne writes erotic romance books as April Ash. Find them here.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Home Sweet (Temporary) Home

What I'm reading: The Medusa Game, by Cindy Dees

The adjustment continues. As we crossed the border into Colorado last week, I had one of those chest-tightening moments and a feeling of "this is real". The mountains are gorgeous, and although I can't predict how I'll react to a lengthy winter season, right now the climate is totally acceptable. We've seen snow and sunshine, and I happen to enjoy dressing in layers.

If phase one was the drive across the country, then phase two was finding temporary quarters. We've been staying with our daughter and her husband, and they have a very nice, very large home, but since house-hunting is likely to be a lengthy process between finding, contracting, and closing, we wanted to find someplace we could stay.

Ideally, we wanted something furnished, and something that would rent on a month-to-month basis, since we have no idea how long we'll need it. Those options appear to be few and far between around here. But we did find one option that met these criteria, so we drove out to take a look.

It's part of an artist's home. She's a sculptor who works in stone, and she has a studio on the lower level of her house. She's also got small "inlaw" quarters, small being the operative word. "It's only temporary," hubby said when we looked at it. "No problem."

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We'll see. We came from a 5 bedroom, 3 bath house. We've transitioned by living in hotel rooms en route, although we've had almost a week in our daughter's house to get used to being able to spread out again. Now, for an indeterminate amount of time, we'll be living in a 1 bedroom, 1 bath "apartment." It's not part of a complex, which was a plus for hubby. And it's in a very nice wooded setting. But the main space is comprises a couch, a chair, a narrow table with 2 stools and a "kitchen" which is a counter with a sink, and a fridge. There's a microwave, a hotplate, and in the closet, a toaster-oven. A total adjustment in cooking is required.

On the plus side, we don't have to buy furniture, or towels, or linens. Pots, pans, dishes, glasses, silverware—even plastic storage containers for leftovers are included. Phone, heat, water, tv and internet are all part of the package. There's even an iron and an ironing board (not that I'll be using either very much), and a vacuum cleaner. A washer-dryer combo that should prove interesting. They're very popular in Europe, and it should be nice not to have to remember that there's a load of clothes in the washer that's been sitting there three days because you forgot about it and never put it in the dryer.

Since none of the other places we checked into ever resulted in returned emails or phone calls, we decided to use the bird in the hand method and signed the rental agreement. My PC needs a wireless card so I can use it for Internet tasks as well as routine work, so we went to Staples and bought one. We also saw a very inexpensive computer stand, so we bought two of them. Hubby will set up in the "living room" and I'll make a corner of the bedroom my office. The bedroom is a very decent size, and the tv is out in the living room/kitchen, so that decision was pretty much a no-brainer.

I'm sure you'll be getting regular updates on the process of adjustment as well as reports on the house-hunting progress. Meanwhile, I've been sending my submissions to those who requested them at the conferences, and working on the Ancillary Materials forms for my next Five Star book. Keeping 3 books in my head is a challenge, and I don't think it would be much easier even if we weren't moving.

Compared with the stress of selling our house, packing, dealing with 2 conferences, and driving 1896 miles, I'm feeling pretty good!

And I'll be getting some better insights into what should be going on in my characters' heads when I shove them into cramped quarters as a way to elevate the tension.

Tomorrow, my guest is Marianne Stephens, who will be discussing something we can't avoid -- the passage of time. See how she handles it.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday Field Trip: The Everglades

While we were traveling from Florida to Colorado, Jason was doing the reverse. Since I haven't had a chance to do much Colorado photography yet, I thought I'd share some of his wildlife pictures from his trip. I think you'll agree, he got some great shots.

This batch was taken in Everglades National Park. The critter to the right is an anhinga. Usually, you see them with their wings fanned out (they don't have oil glands, so they have to dry their wings after they dive for fish). This one seemed as interested in Jason as in getting dry Or maybe the bird just wanted some privacy.

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These are only some of them. You'll have to keep coming back to see more. Or, you can visit his website and see all the different places he's been. Plus, he caught a great shot of an anhinga chowing down on a fish. I left it off this page in case there are those who prefer not to see the reality of life in the wild. But you can see it for yourself here.