Archive for January, 2009

24
Jan
09

A Little Leaven

In a letter to his church at Corinth, the apostle Paul told the people, A little leaven leavens the whole mound of dough. That’s so true, isn’t it?

 

Every day is made up of hundreds of thousands of moments and experiences, some of them good, some of them not so good. Ever notice that when someone asks how you’re doing, the answer will depend on what kind of leaven is in your bread on that particular day?

 

Early last week, a co-worker took the time to seek me out first thing in the morning and compliment me on the outcome of a project I’d been struggling with. Her  kindness set the tone of the day. It lifted my spirits like yeast to bread and put a positive spin on everything that happened for the rest of the day. I felt appreciated. Life was good.

 

Three days ago I signed a contract with Black Lyon Publishing for my new contemporary romance, Shadow Lake (coming this spring!!) My publisher was lavish with her praise. I don’t mind telling you, my loaf rose to the top of the oven.

 

And then…

 

Yesterday one of my books received a horrid customer review on Amazon. I hesitate to even call it a review, because it felt more like an attack. I’m not opposed to criticism. Without it, how would a writer ever learn? But this person went above and beyond, even going so far as to say it was “the worst thing I ever wasted my time on.”

 

Egads!

 

To put another spin on Paul’s words, a little arsenic poisons an entire vat of soup. Though that particular book received rave reviews from pro review sites and customers alike, the woman’s harsh criticism stayed with me. I couldn’t  quite shake it off. It colored everything in my day a cold, dark shade of gray.

 

Have I discouraged someone with my words this week? Have I made a thoughtless comment and darkened someone else’s day? God, I hope not.

 

Words are like leaven. It is our responsibility to use them wisely. As writers. And as human beings. 

 

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16
Jan
09

A Rainbow of Romance

Lately I’ve been playing with a new story idea and it’s got me thinking about color and what a big part it plays in the writing of a romance. I never really thought about how heavily I rely on it, not just for physical description, but for those subtle nuances that I just can’t quite create in any other way.

Take red. The color of passion as well as fury, red simply will not be ignored. It’s the rich kid’s convertible, the bad girl’s lingerie. Red rimmed eyes have been the result of many a wife’s fights with her husband, many a husband’s night out with the guys.

 Orange calls to mind crackling campfires and funny-faced pumpkins. Unlike red, orange seems to have a ‘take me or leave me’ attitude. It’s the color of an eccentric grandma’s hair, of the ditch lilies that grow beside a country road, basking in their own brilliance, just because they can. When I’m in need of a character that’s offbeat and quirky, more often than not she wears orange.

Yellow is, to this writer’s mind, the most fun filled of colors. It’s a field of sunflowers, or a butterscotch sundae. Yellow is a wide-brimmed sun hat, a child’s bouquet of dandelions. My happiest scenes are often sketched on a backdrop of sunny, yellow days.

On the darker side of the spectrum, there are hot chocolate eyes, and nights as spooky as black cats. There is the steel gray silence that follows a lover’s quarrel, the deep blue calm that comes with forgiveness.

Color. What would a romance novel be without it?

06
Jan
09

On losing a friend…

Spot   October 14, 1994 - January 5, 2009

Spot October 14, 1994 - January 5, 2009

 

I put it off for longer than I should have. I’d known since July, when Spot started dropping weight, when she stopped sleeping at the foot of our bed because the jump was just too much effort, that her time with us was short. I put her on medicines to control the diabetes and the thyroid condition. I switched to moist cat food because it seemed easier for her to digest. When arthritis set in, in late October, the Cat Lady made Spot a little fleece-lined bed and we set her up in a cozy corner by the fireplace.

 

It may seem like a lot of trouble to go to for a tired out old cat, but ’round here our pets are part of the family. My husband’s cat, Spot was here when I moved in. For the past seven years her presence has been a natural and comforting part of this country life of mine, like the whispering creek and the big, shady trees. Her warm, rough tongue has more than once served as an alarm clock when the power went out in the night (how do cats know, anyway?) and her warm, furry body warmed my feet on many a cold winter’s night.

 

When we found J.J., three weeks old and motherless in the woods and brought him inside, Spot took it in her stride. When Lucille burst onto the scene with all her puppyish exhuberance, two years later, Spot flicked her tail and gave me a look that said… Here we go again. Not a very good playmate, Spot often returned Lucille’s affections with a swat at the nose or a good telling off but still, they had a bond. Lucille has known for longer than I have that Spot’s time on earth is short. She seemed to understand that Spot was no longer able to clean herself, and took the job on herself, licking her from nose to tail at least a couple of times a day. Or maybe it was just her way of offering comfort. I’m constantly amazed at how compassionate animals can be.

 

Two weeks ago the Cat Lady came to help me give Spotty a bath. She washed her and fluffed her dry, keeping her calm as only a cat lady can. As she was leaving, she said, “It’s time. You know that, right?”

 

Yesterday we dug a hole in the frozen earth, and today I laid my dear friend to rest.  I know I did the right thing, but still, it’s hard. I have trouble with goodbyes. Always have. But if loyalty, compassion and kindness find their way to heaven no matter what form they took on earth, then I’m convinced this gentle soul has found a patch of sunshine along some golden lane, and I hope, the gentlest of hands to hold her. Until we meet again.

05
Jan
09

Read any good books lately?

I sure have!

8 Sandpiper Way by Debbie Macomber

8 Sandpiper Way by Debbie Macomber

 

This delightful story is the eighth in a series that takes place in Cedar Cove, a small but bustling city in beautiful Washington state. The story is populated with vibrant and colorful characters and each new chapter provides a glimpse into their complex and interesting lives. The citizens of Cedar Cove are hairdressers, housewives and artists. Living, breathing people, they decorate Christmas trees, argue with their husbands, and shop at Wal-Mart. They have seen both sorrow and joy, and Ms. Macomber is a master at portraying them at their best, worst and most human. Their small town values of home and family shine through and though some of their stories don’t necessarily end on a positive note, the overall tone of the book is optomistic.

My only complaint is that the book had almost too many characters to keep track of and the sheer volume of stories within this story was almost mind boggling!  Even so, I enjoyed this book immensely and have a feeling I’ll be returning to Cedar Cove in the very near future. 

How about you? Read any good books lately?