Love is in the air!

Winter is a time of blustery winds, warm blankets, and book friends to fill your heart.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Soaps

All my life I've had a love/hate relationship with the soaps. 

When I was in elementary school every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday we were sent home at noontime for lunch. Then we were expected to return to school at one. (In those days we all walked, and parents did not accompany us. We were expected to walk both ways on our own, even in Kindergarten and First Grade. A scary prospect to parents now. Sorry to digress.) 

All the other kids would go home and watch a children's show that was broadcast during that time, and they would talk and laugh about it when we returned to class. I, however, went home to my grandmother watching As the World Turns, Love of Life, or A Guiding Light. 

No matter how much I begged and pleaded my mother and grandmother would not change the station.

I hated those shows.

Then came Dark Shadows. I had to go to work everyday directly from school. And every morning everyone in school would be talking about Dark Shadows. (There were no DVRs back in the Dark Ages.)

Then I had babies and I worked nights so that I could raise the babies during the day. My stay-at-home friends introduced me to Erica Kane and the delights of Pine Valley. Soon I began watching One Life to Live and General Hospital too. They gave a nursing mom a voyeuristic view of the "world". Ryan's Hope! I loved all the Ryans and I used to be able to rattle off all of Delia Reid's married names. I am still in mourning for Ryan's Hope and ABC took that off the air 26 years ago!!! (They are not my favorite network and if they didn't have Castle and Once Upon A Time I would never watch them.)

Several years ago I went cold turkey and stopped watching all my daytime soaps. Even though I no longer watched them, it was comforting to know I could turn them on anytime I needed to see my friends. Because when you watch these shows they become people you care for. (There is nothing worse then when a show brings a new writing team in and they change how the characters respond.)

Since ABC took All My Children and One Life to Live off the air I have never watched another daytime show on ABC. (I know how to hold a grudge.) There is one exception. I return every year for the revival of the Nurse's Ball on General Hospital. I love to watch the actors sing and dance.

Did you or do you watch a soap? (Be careful with your answer, shows like Scandal and Revenge are soaps.)

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Are They For Real

I have become a catalog shopper. Most stores don't cater to my style or size. I would make my own clothes, but I am too lazy. Plus I would probably end up with all Renaissance gowns and velvet cloaks.

Yesterday I received a shoe catalog. To be honest, even though I am probably destroying my image of being a girly girl, I'm not that into shoes. I'm a barefoot hippy from way back.

Although I prefer to be barefoot, I am in need of shoes, so I thumbed through the catalog while I enjoyed a nice cup of tea.

It's a good thing I was drinking a calming cup of Chamomile tea, because it is probably the tea that kept me from going into shock. For a simple pair of flip-flops they wanted $79.99! Sandals started at $149.99.

Has the whole world gone mad, or is it just me?

I guess I will stick with my four year old, clearance sale L.L. Bean sandals. (Still comfy after all these years.)

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Importance of Conferences

I am currently riding the high I get from attending a great Conference. I am fortunate to be able to do so.

This year I attended with my beautiful daughter author Amanda Torrey. 

Amanda and I carefully decided on the workshops we both wanted to attend. When there were two workshops scheduled for the same time period that we both wanted we split up and went to different ones and shared our notes later. (There is so much to share we will have a lot to talk about on the ride home and for the next few weeks!)

We even dragged a friend or two into the workshop split/share program. (Amber Skyze was one of them!)

Yes, it is fun to sit with a friend in a workshop, but one of the great things about a Conference like this, is that you are never alone in a workshop. You may not know the other people there, but you all have a common interest and it is a wonderful opportunity to connect with new people.

The reason writers conferences are important are multiple and multifaceted. Every author has her own (or his) reasons for attending. One of the foremost reasons is the sense of community we, as social animals, so badly need. Writers work alone. Writing is not something you can do as a corporation, unless you are a comedy writer on the Dick Van Dyke show. Even the most introverted writer needs to feel she belongs to a bigger community. She needs to be among her peers occasionally. She needs to be reminded that she may dwell in a dark cave most of the time, but there are special occasions when she can join others in a communal dance around the bonfire. 

Then there are the workshops! It gives the writer (established and newbie) a chance to learn something new or to hone old skills. 

Many a good and lifelong friendship has been formed at Writers Conferences.

And writers, especially romance writers, are great at sharing information with each other, and helping our sisters and brothers in the trade out. We are not in competition with each other, we complement each other. (For example, if someone loves Recency Romance and they love Georgette Heyer books, it is natural that she will also love Jane Austen. There is no competition, their books make excellent reading, even back to back.)

If you are a writer, I highly recommend you attend a writing conference. If you are not a writer, you should visit the book fair that every writing conference holds. It is a wonderful chance to meet the authors and to find new books.

The first book in Amanda Torrey's Healing Springs Series is FREE. If you haven't read it, you should get it today. The entire series is

a not to be missed read. (I lifted the following covers from Amazon, the Look Inside feature will not work here, but if you click on the link it will take you to Amazon and give you a peek inside.)

Amber Skyze pen is scorching hot! Don't you love this cover? Check out this and all of Amber's books. 

This is one of my favorite Georgette Heyer books!

And this is my favorite film version. If you haven't seen it, Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy is to die for! (If you have seen it, watch it again, the swimming scene is well worth it.)


See you again soon, here in the Spell Room.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Spring Ramblings

Spring is here and I think it may be safe to say it has taken hold. Although, I do live in New England and this year winter hasn't wanted to leave, so it may still have a surprise of two in store for us.

I live in a neighborhood that has sidewalks. True we hadn't seen them since last December, but as soon as the time change went into effect, I started walking to knitting club. (I didn't want to walk in the dark because around here, people get hit by cars and the perps never get caught.)

The first week I had to walk in the street because the snow had not receded enough for me to be able to find the sidewalks, but the following week I was able to find half of the sidewalk, and now there is only snow left under some trees and in pockets in people's yards.

I do have to say, when you are walking without a dog on a leash people look at you strangely. I'm afraid walking to do errands, or just for the joy of it, has gone out of style.

Random thoughts on Spring!

I have noticed a lot of porches on my travels, but I never see anyone sitting on them. They might have a rocker or a porch swing on them, but they seem to be there only for decoration.

Whatever happened to people sitting on their porches, entertaining their friends, talking to their neighbors, or just plain knitting. I have always wanted a nice porch with a rocker so that I could sit and knit and watch the children play and the people zooming down the road.

This is not the house, just one I like. Notice the porch is hidden behind the blooming bushes.

I did see an oddity in my rambles last week. A man was out in his front yard playing catch with his son. Most of the houses around here are cookie cutter houses, with unused porches and small patches of yard in which you never see anyone playing, especially not the children.

The ball playing was taking place in the yard of one of the oldest houses in town. It apparently had been the "big" house back in the day. It has Corinthian columns holding up the porch roof. A wrap-around porch, the kind with a circular area on the corner where you could place an entire suite of wicker furniture. It also has a sweeping front lawn. Dad and son were playing ball in the front yard.

It brought tears to my eyes, and reminded me of the things so many people are missing in their rush to gain.

Do you think they realize what they are losing and is it worth the gain?

Summer is right around the corner and will bring brilliant green.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Frustrated Writer

I would like to say that being a writer is all sunshine and roses, but that would be a lie.

The only career I have ever wanted since I was a child, in fact since I first learned how to read, was to be a writer.

I had dreamed of living in a cabin in the woods where I would write my books, which would be instant hits, and I would occasionally go to a party or two that my publisher threw in my honor. 

In between books I would be a world traveler. 

The words would flow from my fingers onto the page.

I read The Writer and Writer's Digest every month and began learning parts of my trade there weren't taught in English class. I took typing in high school so I could work the mechanics better.

From articles that I had read I learned that writers worked from home and lived in sweats.

I couldn't think of a better plan. One day that would be my life.

However, my plans were delayed due to motherhood and taking care of my grandmother. The sandwich generation skipped my mother and landed straight on me. 

Now the issue with supporting and caring for others who are dependent on you, is that they like to have a secure roof over their heads, food on the table, and clothes on their backs. Those are things most newbie writers (especially back in the days of all books being published in paper) cannot afford to do without a day job. Well, I had a day job and a night job, and the writing I did was not enough.

Years later, the tools of my trade have switched from manual typewriters to word processors to computers. Long gone are the days when you had to retype each page until you had a relatively clean copy. 

But the trade-off is having various companies hi-jack your computer for updates that you neither want nor need. 

That happened to me last night. I had finally gotten into the rhythm where the words were flowing from my fingers. Then the screen went black!

The laptop would not turn back on.


I had to unplug and remove the battery before the stupid thing would come back on.

When I finally got back into my document and gone were hundreds of words. Hundreds!!!

I was so discouraged I shut the damn thing off and watched John Stewart and Perry Mason.

Here's to hoping the words come back today. Otherwise Microsoft is in the doghouse. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

What the . . .

On Saturday I attended a memorial service for a dear friend's brother. I dressed in what I considered an appropriate manner for a visit to a church. (My dear old sainted Granny would have approved.)

On my way home I had to pass a certain chain store. On moral principles I don't like to go to that store, but as a matter of practicality, I must. I needed some storage boxes. (It's time to start putting away the winter stuff!) So I pulled into the parking lot.

I had to park at the far end of the lot, but even the high winds didn't cause me any dismay, since I like the wind. It just meant I had to hold my long skirt down, and I left my cloche in the car. 

Yes, Saturday was the day before Easter, but even that doesn't explain the chaos in the store. The shelves were in disarray, the aisles were impassable, the people were rude. The store was understaffed.

Plus they didn't have the size boxes I needed!!!

However, none of that deterred me. I managed to find several unplanned items to buy. I arrived at the check-out registers and as I pushed my cart into line a nasty empty-handed woman ran in front of me and her much slower husband followed a few moments later with a filled shopping cart which he shoved between me and the woman. He couldn't fit and he stuck out in the aisle  like a bully shoving his way into the lunch line in middle school. (It was an express line.)

They were ruining my good mood. (In spite of the solemn occasion I had attended, it had been a pleasant day to spend remembering the past with friends. The sun was shining. I was out of the house alone!!!) In order to curb my impulse to be rude to the nasty line cutters, I moved over to another line.

I was friendly and smiling at my cashier. To my amazement and what is probably a once in a lifetime thing, (for that store) all my items rang up at the correct prices, and I was leaving the store still happy.

As I approached the doors a worker in a blue shirt stepped forward. I was surprised because usually they greet you on your way into the store, not out of it. I smiled at the woman and would have kept walking, but the woman approached me and apologetically asked to see my receipt.

I smiled at her and though mystified, I complied.

I didn't have any electronics that would set off the buzzers. I didn't have any big ticket items. (The most expensive thing I had bought was a fairy tutu and wings for my Little Princess.) And my purse was so small I could barely fit my NOOK into it. But I pulled the receipt out of a bag and showed it to her.

In the meantime, all the people who were shopping in their pajama pants or holey sweats walked by unmolested by the greeter.

Had I been picked to be inspected because my silky skirt and combed hair weren't normal wear for the store?

Was this reverse profiling?


Saturday, April 4, 2015

Crisis of Confidence

Wow! I knew it had been a long time since I last visited the Spell Room, but I was shocked to see how long it's been. 

Last night I spent a couple of hours on the phone with a friend of mine. She is a good writer, but she has a busy work schedule,  a lot of family stuff, and a crisis of confidence.

Unfortunately, it is a subject I know only too well.

Crisis of Confidence!

We all suffer from it from time to time. No matter what it is we do, at some point in our lives we all must face our fears.

And that is what a lack of confidence boils down to.

You may ask, what do writers fear? Here is the short list.

Will my readers like my story? My Characters? Will my book be any good? Will it be as good or better than the last book? Can I finish this book? Will anyone want to read my book? Will it sell?

These are not questions we can easily answer, and in fact, they can't be answered until we write the damn book.

As they say, the proof is in the pudding.