Monthly Archives: September 2011

Good Bye Old Friend

Attended a memorial ceremony for an old friend today. I knew half of him, or I guess I could say 1/3 of him, since we knew him for only 1/3 of his lifespan. We met him as an architect, and later knew him as a musician and owner of a recording studio, and great collaborator. Truth was, he was always a musician. I don't think I ever was greeted with anything but a smile from his face. Even when things were tough, even when news was unexpected or particularly bad. He had a way of showing up or just being where I was from time to time. Like a cool drink of water, he was a pleasant distraction from things all in their places with bright shiny faces. Don't know how better to put it than that.

Every once in awhile someone who thinks so outside the box comes along and it just redefines everything. We came from two different worlds, yet he understood both of them. He knew about my world, but chose to live in his. He never forced his friendship on anyone. Asked lots of questions. Always believed in miracles. You could easily dismiss him as irrelevant and he wouldn't mind, really. Life was for living, not measuring or evaluating.

He leaves a hole in the fabric of the universe.

In the early years, he lived in a big house in a woods. That place is now Dogbone Park in Novato. The house is gone, but we stood in the place where it still is–in the memory of everyone who lived, played, wrote and performed music there. Grey-haired members of his old band and their manager came to pay their respects. Ex-wives, girlfriends and girlfriends he wished he had all came. Children and grandchildren. We told stories and watched the Native American blessing of welcoming him back to walk among us and look over our shoulders. And we all told him we loved him, each in our own special way, which is how he would have wanted it.

I think he came back and joined in the celebration.

The words on his memorial handout are so fitting:

I'm sailin' away to a promised land…
Aint' nobody gonna know where I am…
I'm cut loose, I'm free
There's no one here but me.

There are a lot of good people up there who will make some awesome music. I'm sure he'll just show up, not say too much at first, pick up his guitar, and fit right in.

Rest well, Tor.


French Laundry’s Gardens

My husband and I jumped in the car, drove over the hill to Yountville, and strolled through the French Laundry's vegetable garden. I have always loved that place. Have you ever eaten at a restaurant that costs on average $1200 a meal, and didn't have a sign out front? Supposed to be the most expensive place to eat in the US. The No. 2 is in NYC.

Don't get me wrong, I would love to be able to eat there again. I have enjoyed it several times. But this time around, my feast came in the form of eye candy. An avid organic gardener for 40 years, I love to watch how plants grow, especially plants that bring health and vitality and contribute to a meal costing $1200. That does get my attention.

I view gardening as the next best thing to having children or great sex. And those two are tied for first. I've enjoyed getting dirty every day now for four decades. It's part of my DNA.

Seeing a well-tended garden brings me to tears, and Saturday, I must admit, I had a hard time talking. I smelled the tomatoes (since I didn't have permission to pick them) and the fresh basil. I looked at the roots of the bush beans to see how close they planted them. I looked at the seed potatoes they had just dug up. I even looked at their 8′ tall compost pile I was tempted to rifle from. But, I am not a thief. I reveled in the joy of growing things and how unfettered they displayed their wonderful, magical finery.

In the greenhouse, they had tomatoes staked up and growing like vines, held by twine and clips. Those snaky things at the bottom of the picture are vines that had been pruned, and probably would stand 12′-15′ tall if righted.

Between the rows they had sod. My gardener's delight burst forth when I exclaimed, “You can pick veggies in your bare feet!” How nice to be standing on something green, picking food your body will enjoy. The moist sod keeps the soil damp and weed-free.

I even enjoyed seeing their new little Frizzle chicks, exploring their own part of heaven. I could understand why someone planted savoy cabbage for them to nibble on.

Some years ago, I spent a Mother's Day up in Washington State with my roommate from college and her family, who were in the nursery business at that time. We put a long table down the center of the greenhouse, and had ourselves a feast, with rows of blooming plants. The aroma from their flowers almost overpowered the smell of the wonderful food we ate that day.

I think that if God ever gave up running things, he'd manage an organic farm. And he'd have office meetings in the greenhouse. And talk about redemption and all things new. Where it is inspiring to just be alive.

Isn't this really Heaven on Earth, after all?


Expect Miracles

I am filled with gratitude beyond belief. Maybe this is supposed to be my natural state of being.

Someone is definitely looking out for me. Even woke up on Wednesday after a pedicure. There were sparkles on my toes.

My future's so bright I'm gonna need shades, to quote Steely Dan.

Boy has it been a long time coming.

I'm even starting to love my editing.


Heavenly Lover is Here

I found out the hard way that the title of your Indie-pubbed book does make a difference. I loved the title of my paranormal romance, Angel. It finaled in contests under that name. I liked the simplicity of the one word title. But, I was ignorant.

I've talked with several other author friends of mine. Tina Folsom has been a good friend, crit partner, and my tech guru for the past three years. If you haven't read Tina”s books, you are missing a great author. You can see her interview on my  5/26/11 blog:

Welcome Author Tina Folsom

More important than her obvious writing talent is the fact that she is about the hardest working writer I know.

I explained that Angel wasn't coming up on the Amazon and B&N sites. People had to remember my name, and search by that. Okay for my friends and family, not so good for new readers. No one had ever told me this.

My erotic short The Stimulus Package sells because of where it comes up on the searches: right next to a book on why men cheat in Washington DC, the Presidential Stimulus Package, and a stimulus package for church organizations. I am clueless why they chose this title. I think the title for an erotic short is catchy. Nobody knows who Angela Love is, or is searching by her name (yet, she says as she winces).
Kindle: The Stimulus Package
Nook: The Stimulus Package

So, now we will see. Tina helped me get the book up and loaded. It takes a few days to populate, but hopefully next week it will be more prominent.

The other myth that I've wondered about is the .99 myth. Head to head, even though Angel is right around 100k words, the Stimulus Package still outsells it 3 to 1. I've just stopped that .99 pricing. I mean, it's 100k words. It didn't feel right and honest to undercut traditionally published authors who are required to sell their books, even their Kindle books, much higher. I just paid $8.99 for a Kindle version of an author I really wanted to read. I'm supporting the industry.

At the higher price, the rankings have dropped like a stone. But I'm going to leave it that way, for now. It just feels right, somehow. Compared to my other sister and brother writers, it is still cheap. I worked hard on that book. Rewrote it some 50+ times. I've vetted it just about every way I can, and now it's the public's turn.

At the end of the day it isn't about rankings, but visibility. I'm just looking for a chance to break in the door with something I'm proud of. Everyone says you can't have a blockbuster first book. I now understand there will not be an exception made in my case.

Kindle:  Heavenly Lover (A Guardian Angel Romance)
Nook:  Heavenly Lover (Paranormal Romance / A Guardian Angel Romance)

What about you? When you buy, how do you search? How do you find the authors you read? If you are a writer, have you experimented with book covers or titles? I'd like to hear it.