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Monthly Archives: July 2011

Interview with Delilah Devlin

Hop on over to http://ravencraftrealm.blogspot.com. and see my interview with Delilah Devlin, and read a free excerpt. Also read a free excerpt from Tina Folsom's new novel, A Scent of Greek: Out of Olympus. There are freebies, and a chance to win prizes.

We are having a ball over here at RRR, with our Grand Opening celebration. Come join the fun!
2

Kate Douglas-I’m a Fan!

Kate Douglas was interviewed today on another blog I am a part of: http://ravencraftrealm.blogspot.com. I got to spend some time with her recently in NYC and she was a kick. Both of us traveled all the way from California, and I wanted to meet her, knowing she was going, and knowing she is from my area here.

We ran into each other in the elevator by accident. How fun it was to have lunch together, view the Pompei exhibit and just talk writer talk.
And about our families.

This doesn't happen in every profession, or in every writer's group. I've heard of groups that become so exclusive, that newcomers can't get a start. With Romance writers, in general, they are a great group of people who are so willing to share their path to success.
Kate has some 23 books out now. With the digital age upon us, some of her books will be immortal, and those that aren't, probably will have life breathed into them in the near future. We talked about (she mentions this in her interview too) the comments from others like, “When are you going to get a real job?” not hurting as much as it did. But it did bother her when she was starting out.
The profession I left to become a full time writer was fun, exciting, and the money was good. However, it didn't feed me in ways writing does. I do use everything I learned to be successful in that profession, and apply it to my new writing career.
I don't have permission from Kate to upload her novel covers, but let's say, they're fun and very provocative. Her Wolf Tales is now in it's 12th book. No wonder she lives in that world as much as she lives in ours.
Congratulations, Kate, for such a glorious career, and for being such a decent human being.
6

It All Started In A Garden

My love of gardening has spanned over 40 years. I love the seasons, every single one of them. In Northern California we get to garden year round. I find it relaxing, soothing, and something I just must do every day.

There was a time we thought perhaps we would have to move, and honestly, leaving behind my garden was harder than leaving the house or the privacy we have here. No neighbors. I can water my garden in my nightie. Or worse! It is the only place I can be seen in a bathing suit. I like to get dirty, to dig and prune and support new life.
I don't even mind that our sprinkler system hasn't been repaired since the house fire that destroyed most of our dwelling and surrounding trees. And it was headed up the hill, and could have easily taken acres. We border a great Merlot vineyard owned by Jess Jackson. My hope was for some day to have a few vines of our own.
Gardening has taught me two things: patience, and serenity. Some things grow with lots of sunlight, and other things need shade and low temperatures. I learn what grows well where the more I work the garden. I try new things, new varieties. I dead-head and work with the old plants that send babies back as volunteers year after year. It's been several years since I've planted a calendula, or a hollyhock, or Shasta daisy. They just keep sending their offspring back to me to grow and delight everyone.
I have over 40 rose bushes. My favorite? Chrysler Imperial. I dare you to find a more sweet rose-smelling red rose. Mr. Lincoln comes a close second. Perfumed Delight, Peace and Chicago Peace are also favorites. And for yellow: Gold Medal. For a climbing rose? Joseph's Coat.
I enjoy my seasons in the garden just like I enjoy my seasons with writing. New stuff that has to be pruned. Old stuff that has to be dead-headed and revived, or cut completely. Training plants so they grow strong and give longevity, like writing that is strong, but could be made stronger. Fixing a story line so it holds up and supports a great bloom of a plot twist or character surprise.
And patience. Everyone wants to be an overnight success. To write every day and have people begging for more. To have your agent say “this is the best thing I have ever read!”
And in between those times (which exist in my dreams and daydreams, while I'm sitting in the garden enjoying the color) I just write. I write about my Guardian Angels and my SEALs and my vampires. And love blooms in the gardens of the heart.
Because, after all is said and done. That is really what I do best, and what I enjoy most of all.
What about you? Do you garden? What do you love about pruning your prose?
2

NOT ALL WHO WANDER ARE LOST

I found this saying on the back of a van at Hook & Ladder winery in Santa Rosa off Occidental Road.

Life is about things that happen while you are doing other things. John Lennon said it much better than I have, but it's true all the same. We raced out there to pick up a bottle of Palo Alto Firefighters Pepper Sauce. Their motto is “Service Through Courage.” We used this wonderful sauce to BBQ 10# of tri tip on Sunday night for a big family party. There was barely a scrap left.
Here's how you can order your very own: www.paloaltofirefighters.org. All proceeds go to charity. And while you are at it, if you come up to Sonoma County, you must try the Hook & Ladder Cabernet. A good, clean red that went so nicely with the meat, I'm going to start believing in predestination again.
So focused were we about getting this sauce that these words attached to the hatch of a mini SUV caught us completely by surprise. I got to thinking, on the way home, how my wanderings had brought me to this time and this place.
I've shared recently that I began my writing journey in part because our house had burned down and many things were lost to me forever: my great great grandmother's hair – a long braid that was exactly the texture and color of my own; the box she brought over with her from Scotland, lovingly made by her father. It stored all her worldly possessions. She was 14 and came to a family in Chicago to become a nanny. Her father made this box not knowing if he would ever see her again. And we suspect he never did.
Her guts and strong determination to make a life for herself gave me life. Her wanderlust, her desire to go out there and just fish in new waters gave me opportunities to live and now become a writer to tell those stories. And though her box is gone, her doll is gone, sewed with her mother's own hair, they will live forever in my memory.
She was a wanderer, but she was not lost. Just like me.
The president of a very large company I worked for had taken the time to befriend me, and when he found out about my fire, sent me a package. It was a handmade wooden box, like a jewelry box, from about the middle 1850's, that he and his wife purchased in an antique store in Austin. He said, “I cannot give you back your great grandmother's box, but perhaps you could adopt this orphan box.”
And I have. It houses thank you cards and little mercies I run across every day. If I am a little blue, all I have to do is look at that box, read some of the letters and mementos housed there, and feel the pulse of good energy flow through my body again. What is lost can be regained, although not in the same form. Perhaps a better one.
What about you? Are there some days you just feel like getting in the car and driving until you run out of gas? Or, taking a plane trip to some place new? Or watching people at a coffee house?
And isn't that one of the great things about writing? We get to live in a fantasyland of our own creation, and work like a dog until we get paid to do it.
I call that pure heaven.
4

Book of Mormon

My RWA chapter mate, Sherril Green, and I attended the Book of Mormon at the RWA Convention last week in NYC. We kept looking at ourselves as the production ran, “Did they really say that?” I kept looking around to see if the police were going to come in and shut the musical down.

But it was dead on funny as heck. We were surrounded by several celebs, Katie Couric, Mario Cuomo and a couple of comedians I recognized from late night. Pictures are strictly prohibited in the theatre (we snuck this one in and got chewed out for it), but there was a long line of those that got their picture taken with these famous (sometimes infamous) people.
The show was a delight for the eyes. We sat in row 3, center section. We didn't ask how he managed to get such great tickets, but he did.
The costumes were innovative, the acting and dancing over the top. Scenery was first rate. My favorite was the decaying donkey carcass one of the actors pulled across stage.
I'm told there are people of Mormon faith who laugh right alongside us. And I hope that is the case. My church has been made fun of too. Afterall, it's just entertainment.
This play ended on an interesting twist I did not predict. In fact, I liked this show BECAUSE I never knew what was going to happen next. It's been a long time since I've attended an event where I was thoroughly charmed, and kept in suspense the whole time.
Great job!
2

Mingling with Superstars

Just by chance, there was an open seat next to Sharon Sala for our luncheon. She's very soft spoken in a room of 2000 other women, munching down on our salads. Blessed with having the same first name, she promised to remember me.

When she gave her acceptance speech for the Lifetime Achievement Award (the nice big gold statue she's holding), I got to hear the strength of this woman and her tough determination to “turn my family's tradition of storytelling into a career.”
Both she and Sherrilyn Kenyon are of Cherokee descent. I'm only descended of vikings and rogue Scotts, some of whom lost their heads (as in Mary). What was most fascinating was her story of the wolf, and how this wolf “marked” her, according to old Cherokee legend.
As a child, she used to walk home from the bus stop, and her family dog, Buddy, was there to escort her both ways. One day she noticed a lone wolf that followed through the woods, parallel to her, and how Buddy growled and his hackles stood up even on the days when she didn't see the wolf. She knew he was there. And Buddy was doing his job to protect her. I think she said it happened one entire school year (she was 6 I believe).
Years later, she mentioned this wolf to a Native American elder, who told her this meant she was “marked” for greater things. That there was a purpose to her life. Something great would happen to her. And she's taken that to mean she was destined to tell the stories like the ones told to her by her great grandfather, her grandfather and father before her.
This rich storytelling tradition was the thread that has bound many generations of her kin together, connecting forever the living and the dead. The stories remain. They will always remain. They are truly immortal.
At lunch I asked her where she got her inspiration for her first books. She looked at me square in the eyes and said honestly, “Bad marriage.” She later found her high school sweetheart and was happily married until his passing, had babies and told her stories. Her granddaughter attended one of her book signings and, after watching people come up and speak to her over and over again, probably gushing (my editorial license here), her granddaughter turned to her and asked, “Grandma, are you famous or something?” To which Sharon responded, “I don't think so. They just like my stories.” Her granddaughter replied, “No, Grandma. I think you're famous. More than Brittney Spears.”
What about your stories? Are you marked for greatness? Are you giving the world the benefit of your wonderful stories–some carved from stone and some forged in fire?
2

Don’t Give Up

I had a full day yesterday. We had the keynote luncheon speech by Sherrilyn Kenyon and today I got to talk with her for a few minutes and get her to sign her book.

She has been on the NYT Best-Seller list 16 times. That's a writer who has a lot of dedicated readers.
But life hasn't always been easy for Sherrilyn. Her grace and courage, in the lean years, in the years when she was building her career and during the setbacks are what make her so great. Did you know she was homeless at one time, with a new baby born with lots of medical problems and hung out in a hospital waiting room with her baby because they wouldn't kick her out? She almost gave up writing, didn't even have the money for a stamp to send off a query letter, and carefully stole one of two stamps her husband was hoarding in his wallet. That query letter changed her life.
She talked about getting an editor rejection letter (I paraphrase): “Don't ever submit to this house again. We will never be interested in this author's work.” Instead of giving up, it fired her on.
Some things really hit home for me. We all think we have more than our fair share of grief and bad luck. But she doesn't even stop much to think about it. As she said better than I ever could, “You can measure a person's talent, but you can't measure the fire in their soul.” She wanted it. She wanted it bad. And her dream came true, in spite of some odds most people wouldn't ever recover from.
I like this quote too: “If you sit by the river long enough, you'll see the bodies of your enemies float by.” I take that to mean, if you keep working hard, the defeats in your life will be washed away by the fire in your belly, the desire to become a successful best-selling NYT author.
You see, I think Sherrilyn would agree with me. Adversity doesn't make a person. It reveals a person. You don't overcome your obstacles, you outlast them.
What about you? How do you outlast the obstacles that keep you from being the success you could be? How do you keep your locomotive going so you are unstoppable?