Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Lean Christmas and other lovely things . . .

This year has been tough--the toughest I can remember as an adult, and still, there is so much to be thankful for. This poem really touched my heart, and I hope you enjoy it. Here's to hoping you and your family find love in the empty spaces, and find a way to pass this love on to others. . .

Merry Christmas,

Christmas 1963
Joseph Enzweiler

Because we wanted much that yearand had little. Because the winter phonefor days stayed silent that would callour father back to work, and hekept silent too with our mother,fearfully proud before us.

Because I was young that morningin gray light untouched on the rugand our gifts were so few, propped along the furniture, for a secondmy heart fell, then saw how largethey made the spaces between themto take the place of less.

Because the curtained sun rose brightly on our discarded paper and the thingsthemselves, these forty years,have grown too small to see, the emptinessmeasured out remains the gift,fills the whole room now, that whole yearout across the snowy lawn.

Because a drop of shame burned quietly in the province of love. Because we had little that yearand were given much.

"Christmas 1963" by Joseph Enzweiler, from The Man Who Ordered Perch. © Iris Press, 2004 (buy now)

Friday, December 12, 2008

December Moon

It's been an odd year, ending with an odd month, when the 81-degree afternoon melted into a bitter cold evening, granting us a rare December snowfall. The moon rise this evening was breathtaking, large and full and swollen with the end of the year, the largest moon we will see for at least another year as it draws near the earth in its orbit.

My grandfather called this the Twelfth Moon, his name for the moon at the turn of the year, but other people, other tribes know it as the Cold Moon, the Bitter Moon--the Snow Moon. It is not often we see the Snow Moon here in the south, so I will snuggle beneath a blanket with the cat, basking in the golden glow of this Snow Moon, and know that other people, other tribes, will do the same.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Oh, the weather outside is frightful . . .

So, I'm dancing around to Harry Connick Jr.'s Christmas play list making five dozen sausage and cheese balls for the ARWA Christmas party. Cookies for Jess are packed and ready to go, I've got curlers in my hair, and it starts pouring down rain.

Can't get out of the driveway, and now I'm stuck with a bazillion delicious sausage balls and two-dozen cookies. I wisely put the cookies in the freezer, but I'm sad to report that there are now only half a bazillion sausage balls. By the time Law and Order was on, it'd started snowing big, fat, fluffy flakes, and get this, there was thunder and lightning. I've never known it to snow with a soundtrack . . .
Next thing I know, the kids next door came pounding on the door wanting to know if they could "Have my snow."

Well, I wasn't using it, so I told them to feel free, take as much as they wanted, but please take it from my driveway. So, I'm a little opportunistic . . . I wonder if they like to mop floors . . .

Sadly, I missed the party . . . but I hear a good time was had by all, except those of us who couldn't get out of the drive way, those of us on deadline, and poor Farrah, who drove around endlessly looking for the party. I too, Farrah, am directionally challenged . . . I feel your pain, sistah.

I hope everyone got home all right, and see you in January.

Friday, November 28, 2008


by Mary Oliver
It doesn’t have to be the blue iris,
it could be weeds in a vacant lot,
or a few small stones; justpay attention,
then patch
a few words together and don’t try to make them elaborate,

this isn’t a contest but the doorway
into thanks,

and a silence in whichanother voice may speak.

Thirst: Poems
by Mary Oliver

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Puss n' Toots

Atticus does not like camping. I'm not surprised, since he's a cat, but he throws such a fit when we leave him that he acts like he's going to commit kit-icide. Or, at the very least, homicide when we get home. If it ever comes to that, I am certain it will be a slow and painful death, based on the way he treats mice, lizards and all other now-tailess creatures that live near our house.

To demonstrate his dislike, he commenced to farting right after we began our trip. This may be due to nerves, but is more likely that fact that R fed him Cheetos from Subway. The cat seemed to really love Cheetos. We all love Cheetos. Second only to bacon, it is the food of the Gods. There's nothing better than the lingering effects of orange Doodle Dust and the salty sweet smell. But the sad fact is the puffy perfect little treats don't smell nearly as yummy when the residuals are coming from the back end of a kitten, no matter how cute that kitten is.
The only consolation is, that before he unloaded each Cheeto bomb, he would climb over on R's lap and let'r rip. Is this a male bonding thing?

I worried about his reaction to the cattle, since his favorite prey at the house is the dog and the big honking herd of white-tailed deer that meander around the driveway. I could just see the bull flinging his orange and white kitty butt across the fence.

It was a moot point, however, as the mere sound of the bawling cattle sent him into fits of Cheeto farts, and caused him to streak under the bed, yowling and growling until R lured him out with, what else? Cheetos . . .

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Fun Stuff for Christmas

Okay, so here's some cool stuff for the writer in all of us!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Free at Last, Free at Last: Landslide for a Brand New Day!

After eight long years under a virtual dictator, we are free at last, free at last! Celebrate. Kiss your honey. Call your friends. Take a breath.

Because now the real work begins. Barack has done an amazing thing. We have done an amazing thing. But freedom comes at a price. And what we choose to do with that freedom is up to us.

The Bush years have been progressively worse for all of us--in our state, in our country, in our world. And when we dared to protest, we were called "unpatriotic" and "uninformed."

For my part, I did not go buy duct tape. I did not go buy plastic sheeting, nor did I do my "patriotic duty" and go shopping. Somewhere along the line, I stopped writing. But I did something worse. I went underground, listening to the soft animal inside me turn into a howling, starveling wolf, and I did nothing about it.

We had a chance to come together September 11, and we blew it. Now, we have a chance again. I have let the starveling wolf loose. I have made friends with her, and she and I intend to make a difference. I believe in Obama. We have a long way to go. Prop 8 was a disaster in California. Republicans once again own Texas. Though nationally, we won in a landslide of electoral votes, we didn't win by much of a popular margin. We have a lot of work to do. Wake up that starveling wolf. Take a stand.

I believe in Obama. I believe in myself. And I believe in you, my friend. Let's do it. Let's make a better America.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Change is not for Pussies

Kittens for Obama

Don't be a Pussie. Vote for Change Or I Keeeel You . . .

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Not Gonna Take It Anymore

I have an admission to make. In the past, I have been silent when the lady at the grocery store and various other miscreants have made jokes and said outrageous things about Obama.

I was afraid someone would key my car, or *gasp* think I don't belong.
Not anymore. I was at the gas station today, and a woman said, "Wanna hear an Obama joke?" and I said, "I voted for him. Still want to tell me?" Then I proceeded to tell her why I voted for Obama, which went over like an unleaded balloon. I know I probably didn't change her mind, but I planted a seed.

I wear my Obama shirts everywhere these days, and they always gets comments. I went to the local chamber of commerce to pick up information on upcoming holiday events, and the lady at the chamber of commerce sneered at my shirt and said, "You know, he doesn't put his hand over his heart when he says the Pledge of Allegiance," whispering like our next president was trying to spread the plague.

I stood there, staring at her. "You know that for sure?" I said. "You've actually been to a place where Obama was saying the Pledge of Allegiance? Wow, I wish I'd been there. I'd have asked for his autograph."

At the freaking chamber of commerce she said this. I thought the chamber spoke for all its citizens, and sorry, gang, that includes me. Where do these people get this stuff?

After that, I made my weekly trek to my town's teeny tiny grocery store, where an older gentlman with a Vietnam Vet cap kept staring at me. Since I try to ignore people who stare at me, I briefly checked to make sure my shirt wasn't unbuttoned, then I went about my business, looking for late-season strawberries that didn't look stricken with mold or other off-season biohazards. At the checkout, that same gentleman tapped me on the shoulder, and he said, "I appreciate your courage. I voted for him too."

Wow. How bad is it when a Vietnam vet tells you that you have courage for wearing a tee-shirt? I hugged him, took off my Obama button and gave him that, my telephone number, and told him if he ever felt alone, he could give me a call.

I am ashamed of my previous silence, and I wish I'd had the balls to stand up to these uninformed people for the past few months, rather than the past few weeks.
I'm here in the Hill Country, deep in the heart of Texas. I am a democrat, and I suspect I'm not alone.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Trying to look at the bright side

So, I've been making calls for Obama, but every time I see the news I just want to scream. As art begets art, I'll let the Goo Goo Dolls do the talking, or singing (or crying) for me. Please. Vote.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Winter shivering in and sadly loving Mary Oliver

There are Canadian geese in my yard. They've stopped off, I think, on their way south, or this is south for them, and I'm glad to have them. They honk and flap, and attacked the cat, who, in fairness, attacked them first.

I love it that they're here, but sad, too. Soon, the monarchs will come, a stop over for their winter nest in Mexico. I've planted butterfly bushes for them. They will come and the hummingbirds will leave, and winter will shiver down from the north and will settle over the lake in a cold, gray fog, and I will be another year older . . .

Wild Geese
by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

from Dream Work by Mary Oliver
published by Atlantic Monthly Press
© Mary Oliver

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Sarah Palin is stealing my words & my sleep

Ya know, I always respected John McCain until he pointed at Palin for his VP pick. And I'm insulted that he thinks Palin can "replace" Hillary, as if women are as interchangeable as the stick figure on the bathroom door.

I can't even describe the disrespect I have for this woman, and every time I see her, I have nightmares.

And then, one of my readers wrote to tell me she thinks Palin is quoting "folks-isms" from Cauley. Would that she were, maybe she'd make sense.

The thing is, our country is in deep trouble, and we need change, for ourselves and our children. But not the kind of change McCain/Palin would bring--the kind of change that will drive us deeper into war, deeper into debt, and deeper into depletion of our planet, our home.

The only good thing that has come of Mrs. Palin's pick is Tina Fey.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Meet Atticus the Meany Cat

So, my writer pal Jan Yonkin called me almost two months ago and said, "Hey, do you want a kitten?"

My first thought was, no, not really. We just moved out to the country and I'm still missing Tahoe so bad I can't stand it. But something compelled me to come get him. Jan found kitty out in the garden, yowling his little head off, and he was emaciated, dehydrated and completely feral.
Well, Jan's guy, Dale aka "The Cat Whisperer," never met a cat he couldn't cajole, and soon the little kitty was eating out of butter tins and letting him hold him.

The deal breaker was when I heard kitty-boy purring over the phone. I was a goner and he found a new home.

He's not the timid puss hiding in the petunias. He is adapting well, and has taken over the house, yard, block and neighborhood. I had to put a jingle on him so he would stop terrorizing the wildlife. He's doubled his weight, but is still small, but he pounces the deer and the dog and me and anything else he can get his little paws on.
My thanks to Jan and Dale--Atticus is a lot of fun to play with. I named him Atticus, hoping he would take on some of the attributes of Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird, but I suspect he might be taking after Baby Stewie on Family Guy . . . out to take over the world . . .

Monday, September 15, 2008

Stepped on a crack & a whole mess of crap . . .

So, I've moved, getting all settled in, and boom. I fell. It was one of those falls that is totally stupid, but it still happens in slow motion, where one moment you're walking down the steps and the next moment you're having a close encounter with the floor.

I was sure I'd fractured my tailbone. Nope. Not me. I have broken three bones in the sacral part of my spine. Yep. It looks like a string of mishapen pearls hanging loose on a string of raw nerves. Which, incidentally, is the way it also feels--except those nerves feel like they've been burned with a raw poker.

So, I'm laid up in bed on serious painkillers and am finally in some kind of shape to sit up (thanks, Emily, for the food and the cushy thing to sit on) and am back at email, and of course, writing. If you've emailed me or called me, you have my apologies. I am coming back. Really.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Hooray for La Feria Teachers!

I was recently honored to chat with the teachers, librarians and principals of La Feria ISD, which, I thought was near Corpus Christi (about 4 1/2 hours away) but it turns out it's waaaaay south. It took me and my Romance Writer Pal Emily McKay oh, about 12 hours, including getting lost on the loop in San Antonio, (around and around and around--I'm pretty sure the engineers who designed Loop 410 did so on a cocktail napkin at a happy hour at the Stagger On Inn).

Those of you who know me know that I have no concept of time or distance, which makes me a pretty crappy employee, but I've heard it makes me an interesting date :)

The teachers were totally worth the traffic ticket outside Raymondtown and Emily accidentally drinking her contacts which were kept safely in a Dixie cup beside the sink at the La Quinta. Well, all that stuff actually happened to Emily, but she is a very good sport and assured me that yes, she'll go on a road trip with me again, but we're going to actually look at a map next time *sheesh*

After our 12-hour trek through lots of long, straight, very sunny roads, we finally got to the Harlingen La Quinta, but we were so late that they gave away our two-queen bedroom, and we had to sleep (all four of us) in a king size bed. Trust me. I am no treat to sleep with. I sleep like a WWF wrestler, and am non-discriminate on who I kick, swing at or steal blankets from. Sorry gang.

A big shoutout to Rhonda Crow, who I actually met at the Texas Library Association last year, Sherry Stewart for putting my name in the hopper and Cindy Torres, who made it all happen. And, in one of my flakier moments, I totally forgot to take pictures of my new La Feria pals! Luckily, Rhonda sent me a pic of her and a little one from TLA, so I have something to show you. It makes me smile to see my pal Tahoe again. Gosh I miss him, and teared up a little (okay, I cried like a baby) during the talk.

But, hopefully, when the La Feria gals and guys come up for UIL, I'll treat them to happy hour at The Hula Hut (Woo Hoo!), and we'll get their picture there :) Stay tuned . . .

I thought a lot about the teachers of La Feria all summer, and talking to my writer buddies about what I wanted to say there, what I could possible tell the teachers that would be at all useful. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that writers and teachers have a lot in common.

Emily has a theory that children with questionable names should be assigned social workers at birth. You know the kind of names I’m talking about. Tater, Sir Gary, because—and I quote—his father was the King of Africa, and my favorite, "Delishous." Who in their right mind would name their daughter Delishous? Chris Rock said his only job as a father was to keep his daughter off the pole. A name like Delishous is going to make it that much harder.

We had a wonderful morning at La Feria, despite the fact that we got lost *again* and wound up at the border of Mexico on the way to La Feria. Luckily, our chief navigator made himself available via iPhone in Austin, and got us out of customs and safely into the parking lot.

We had a great time, and then the English Department graciously took us to lunch at a delightful little Mexican joint called The Coffee House. Then we headed to the beach before we headed back home.

On the way back home, we ran into a checkpoint complete with drug dogs, and I leaned out of the car and said, "We are heading to Corpus Christi, right?" The completely charming and very cute border patrol guy said, "No ma'am, welcome to Mexico." Smarty pants. Good thing he was cute, because he wasn't very funny. He told us how to get to the beach, where we proceded to have a ball.

All in all, the teachers of La Feria made my summer, and I tip my tiara to them and all the Texas teachers as they start the school year. Thanks, La Feria, my heart is with you, and see you at UIL!

Love, Kit

Friday, July 18, 2008

New digs, tigers, birds and bass, oh my!

So, we finally, finally got moved, got internet (such as it is *snort*) and I'm back online and (hopefully) have phone service. We're out in the middle of nowhere, which I love, except for the woeful lack of human and or technological contact.

On the other hand (or paw), there is flora and fauna aplenty. The roadrunner babies are so ugly they're cute, and Mom and Pop are scurrying around, threatening humans, "bathing" in the dust, and of course, catching yummy lizards for their unfortunate looking offspring.

R shot two *ick* water mocassins (yes, they're poisonous), which has caused me to think twice
about writing with my feet dangling in the river.

And, we have a new addition to the family. It took a long time to name him. The choices were "Oliver"--for Oliver Wendell Holmes, because this cat is a real talker, "Dashiell" for Dashiell Hammett, because Hammett's one of my favorite writers, but it turns out new kitty's name is "Atticus" because he's a natural born predator, and I'm hoping he won't murder the mocking birds, road runners, king fishers and other birds that hang out here. Although, he's welcome to any of the mice he can get his claws on. He's been stalking the deer, though I doubt they're worried . . .

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Capture, Care & Feeding of Agents

So, because I know from my own life experiences how important an agent is, and what happens when, due to circumstances beyond my own control, agents don't work out, I'm teaching a class on the good, the bad and the downright ugly truth on how to get a GOOD agent.

In my years of writing and dealing with agents and writers who are way better than me, I've compiled a class of things you MUST do before you go to conference, what to do while you're there, and what to do after the fact.

And whether or not you're going to conference, the Agent Quest is one of the most important adventures you will embark on in your career as a writer.

So, here's the down and dirty scoop on All Things Agent:

This class is an interactive To Do List from agents, editors and
bestselling authors on how to get your foot in the door and what to do
with your foot once you're in.

INCLUDES: *Agent Tips* from Super Agents Jenny Bent, Andrea Somberg,
Celeste Fine, Kelly Harms, Jessica Faust and Donald Maas

*Editor Tips* from Wonder Editors Jennifer Enderlin (St. Martin's),
Lucia Macro (Avon) and Kate Duffy (Kensington)

*Topics covered include:*


1. The One Thing You MUST Do Right Now!
2. Pre Conference Prep
1. Get Your Bio, Baby
2. Brand Yourself
3. Pitch Perfect (Includes Winning Sample Pitches)
4. Query Quest (Includes Winning Sample Queries)
5. Research Like You Mean It
3. What Should You Look for in an Agent?
4. Do You Even Need an Agent?
5. How do You Know Which Agent to Approach?
6. Questions, Comments, and HELP!


7. Five Questions You Must Ask Your Potential Agent/Editor
8. Query Critique Volunteers
9. The Business of Getting an Editor/Agent
1. To Blog or Not to Blog
2. Pre-pub Publicity
3. The Least You Need to Do
10. Conference Strategy
11. What To Pack (Business Tips for Writing Babes)
12. Confidence Becomes You
13. Exit Strategy: The Five Things You Need to Do Post-Conference

Monday, June 9, 2008

And a Roadrunner in an Oak Tree . . .

So, we're moving. For real this time. I think. And this time it's back out to the lake where I belong, with the flora and fauna. And speaking of fauna, R called from the property where a male roadrunner was busily building a nest for his beloved. I've never seen a male roadrunner before, and so I promptly googled this feathered
fellow and discovered they (like most birds) are more colorful and prone to preening than the females. I've known guys like this. They do not make good mates.

The male roadrunner, however, apparently makes a pretty good mate, as R reported that the male was running back and forth, building a nest in the scrub oak at the front of the property. The tree is right on the driveway and not far from the power pole, so apparently this fellow, while beautiful, does not have a sense of location. Look closely at the middle of the photo and you can see her tail feathers sticking straight up in the air at the left, and her body is a U shape, with her long beak poking straight up on the right. In the second picture, look closely at the center and you can see her eye.

After much running about with twigs and sticks, R reported that a female hopped up on the rock underneath the tree to watch the hubub, when the male raced back over the driveway carrying a large green lizard. He hopped up on the female, dangling the dead lizard over her as he had his way with her. When he was finished, he offered her the lizard, which she promptly swallowed whole. Dinner and a date. What a guy.

After further googling, I discovered that, according to Audobon Magazine, this dinner and a date thing is a roadrunner pickup line. According to Jim Cornett, emeritus director of natural science, "“A lizard or a rodent represents the richness of the environment, and it is an important motivation. It says, ‘Hey, baby, I brought you a lizard. It’s good out here. Let’s make a home.’ ” I'm not making this up.

At any rate, I still have not seen this Mighty Lizard Killer, but I have seen his wife, who was dutifully sitting in the too-small nest *it looks like a fixerupper to me*. Here are two pictures of her, one where you can barely see her, and the other a closeup, where you can clearly see her terrified eye peering at me to get the hell away from her. So I did. Far be it from me to foul up a fowl nursery.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Hail yeah it's rainin'

Hail yes, it's rainin' again. And hailing. And tornado-ing. Just when I got the title for Tahoe's book, American Mutt, all heaven busted open. I'm not sure if that's a sign or an omen. I'm going to take it as a sign until further notice. I heard the proverbial roaring, and sure enough, we had a huge, giant funnel cloud threatening to rip us all up and dump us in Kansas. People say that tornados sound like freight trains, and I suppose that's the closest thing you could compare it to, but it is the most ghostly sound you could ever hear. Tahoe always loved the rain. He wasn't afraid of lightning, but he was a good cuddler.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Life after Tahoe

Thank you so much for all of you expressed sympathy for Tahoe, and especialy to Writer Pal Julia London, who kindly made a donation to the ASPCA in Tahoe and her girl Maudie's names. Check out Julia's ode to her pup (it's very funny) on her About Julia page.

I've been writing the book about Tahoe, and I want to do some sort of fundraiser for homeless pets. As with all of my books, a portion of the proceeds go to a charity, but I want to really make a difference with this one.

and am open for title suggestions if you'd like to chime in. The working title, for right now, is Love Tahoe. It's the good, the bad and the ugly (on both of our parts).

So, I'm going through the things that belong to Tahoe--his favorite blanket, the rhinestone collar my mother gave him, and Purple Man, this horrible looking fuzzy squeak toy that, even when bald, Tahoe found a way to rip more purple hair out of it's demented little head. I wish I'd videod it. He took great glee in holding Purple Man between his front paws and yank out a mouthful of hair. turn and spit it out. It was methodic--chew, pull, spit, repeat. Now, if I could have only taught him to vacuum . . . and as I sit here, holding Purple Man, wondering what to do with the bedraggled little thing, it occurs to me that Tahoe is not gone. Not really.

More on that later.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Love, Tahoe

Tahoe died.
He was fine and then he wasn’t. And then he was gone.
Joan Didion said that life changes in the ordinary instant. She was right.
The instant itself was almost ordinary. He howled twice (ordinary for him) and then he laid his head in my lap (ordinary for me) and then he died.
In an instant.
An instant that has changed every ordinary aspect of my life.
When I wake up, Tahoe is not here waiting for me for our morning romp in the yard.
When I write he is not here, curled on my feet, his soft ears near my knee where I can absently stroke him while I’m trying to shape words into something coherent, readable and hopefully poignant.
He is not here when I go to the grocery store to pick up milk and eggs and always a treat for my guy, who is always in the passenger seat, riding shotgun.
Tahoe is a front seat dog and even when mortally ill, would not tolerate the backseat.
He is not here for our nightly snuggle, the one that eases off the day’s tension, melts away any residual anger or hurt or angst that others have visited upon me, and more importantly, those that I have visited upon myself or others.
He’s gone.
I still can’t believe it.
For 15 years, he has been a part of my life. Of my heart. Of the essence of who I am, and who I mean to be.
As I wait for the vet to deliver his ashes, which I will keep on my desk, I have to remind myself not to keep glancing out the wide window, as I do every fifteen minutes, where he is not patrolling the backyard, his beautiful face pointed to the sky, sniffing for the neighborhood news he always found in the wind.
He is gone.
And if he is gone, why do I still feel his presence?
Why do I still feel those soft ears that I stroked a thousand times a day? A phantom pain from a part of me that’s been ripped away. In Joan Didion's instant.
It's all those instants--those ordinary instants--that get me when I least expect it.
The instant when I brought his tiny, flea-ridden, coccidia-infected, fuzzy body to the man who would become his vet.
With his little puppy teeth, Tahoe bit him. Hard.
At the instant of fresh pinpricks of blood, Dr. Pete informed me that Tahoe would never be a good pet, and his breed were generally not good dogs.
He was right.
Tahoe was never a very good pet.
And he wasn’t much of a dog.
But he was a hell of a friend.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Insomnia Is Not For Sissies

Okay, so once again it is midnight and my alarm clock is just sitting there on the nightstand, mocking me with its nasty little blinking LCD.

And once again I am lying awake, wondering if it's too late to go back to sleep, calculating how much time I have left to sleep if I can get back to sleep in the next ten minutes, and sending evil thoughts to my spousal equivalent who could sleep standing up if the need ever arose.

Sleeplessness is nothing new for me. Some of my earliest memories are of lying awake, tossing and turning and praying to pleasegodpleasegodpleasegod let me fall asleep, all the while remaining wide awake. In the course of those early years of insomnia, I tried to take the sage advice of my elders. My mother advised me to, "Close your eyes and think of Jesus."

Maybe the Jesus Thing would have worked if she hadn't been raised Catholic, and had a crucifix with Our Lord and Savior bleeding to death hung at the end of my bed. This did little to assuage the sleep demons, and in fact, incited guilt and fear and more reasons to lose sleep.

My grandmother used to tell me to close my eyes, then she would brush her calloused thumbs over my closed lids in a rhythmic, slow slide that often did send me off to la la land. Alas, these days I don't know anyone with calloused thumbs, aside from One Legged Bob (he holds up a sign at the corner of Braker and Mopac proclaiming his One Legged-ness). While I often give him a dollar on the way to work, inviting him to my home to rub my eyes would probably not be relaxing for either one of us.

I'm pretty sure this is not a condition that plagues only authors, although Sara Bird recently told me that she takes half an Ambien and falls right to sleep.

I think that's wonderful. But Ambien has been known to cause certain members of my family fall into a deep and peaceful sleep only to wake up naked in the rose bushes. Of course, that person also knocks the wonder drug back with Grand Marnier, but who's to say that that's what causes the Naked Thing?

Better to be safe than sorry--no Ambien. My little desperate housewife neighborhood couldn't handle that kind of pressure.

During these long moments of sleep-deprived dementia, I worry. I worry about the world peace, starving children, the new book I'm supposed to be writing, and the books I've already written, even though I know there is nothing I can do about them now. This thought pattern usually devolves into worrying about where I put my keys earlier, if I remembered to lock my drawer at work and the difference between infer and imply.

It is in these moments that flashes of brilliance befall me, and I jerk upright in bed to scribble them down before I forget. Of course, the night's Flash o' Brilliance is rarely as brilliant as I thought, and that's only if it's actually legible.

So now I have two more things to worry about tonight: The fact that I'm not as brilliant as I think I am, and now I have ink stains on my sheets.

Insomnia is not for sissies, but it is, apparently, for whiners.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Stuff I've Written (as opposed to stuff I wish I'd written)

Okay, so I'm getting back into freelance writing thing, which means rooting through Google, old files and all other venues that have provided a financial platform for all the tiny thoughts that glom together in my brain--occasionally in coherent, if not witty and intelligent, fashion. Here are some of my favorites . . .

This was a cool assignment from Writer's Magazine, that required some cool interviews, some semi-cool research, and only two-and-a-half bourbon and Diet Cokes.

As for stuff I wish I'd written (not including anything written by Dorothy Parker, Lillian Hellman, Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett): The Secret Life of Bees, Out of Africa and I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.

There are more to this list, but these are my trusty shelf of Always Reads that I save for when times get tough, like when I'm selling a house, or moving, or something is canceled, ie West Wing and Calvin and Hobbes.

What are your Always Reads?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Aaarrrggghhh! I'm selling my house!

Okay, so I know there are a million things worse than selling a house, and I realize this because trust me, I've been through all of them. So, we get a contract, they want us out by April 25th *that is not a typo* and then last night they back out. I'm still in shock. We were getting all our stuff into storage, buying an RV to live in, and the suckers backed out.

So that I don't go into an all out coronary, I am regrouping. And, I've made a major, difficult decision.

I am *gasp* selling my stuff.

There's something to be said about downsizing, especially since everyone in my family is fundamentally opposed to it. When I say they're opposed to it, what I mean is they ask me to store all their stuff. Enough stuff already! Yes, it's good stuff, and yes, it brings back many happy memories, but
enough is enough!

It was painful, but I sold all of my bookshelves today, and am in the process of putting all my other stuff on You don't realize how hard some of this stuff is to part with until people start putting their hands all over your stuff,
then start loading it into the back of their mini-van. I feel better about the bookshelves because they went to a good home--a four-year-old little girl clad in SpongeBob jammies, who climbed into the bookshelves and asked me if she could have one of my books. I get asked this a lot, but not often from a dimpled, tow-headed four-year-old who got out of bed to come see my bookshelves.

Since some of you have asked me what I'm letting go, I will post here, along with the story behind the stuff, because, if you are a writer, you know there is always some Big Thing attached to each and every thing in your head, heart and house (all of which could be called the same thing imho).

So, Here's the chair I sat in R's lap as he asked me to move in with him. I'm asking $50. And one of the two file cabinets that I stored all the research for both Scoop & Dead Copy. (Those are going for $10 each). The lawn chairs I bought for $90 each, but am letting go for $30 each because where I'm going I'm not going to have a yard for a long, looooong time. Then there are my grandmother's suitcases, all three for $30, and the cow skull I got in Mexico to celebrate my divorce from the King of the Rednecks (look for that book soon). Make me an offer on the skull. But I will tell you, it has really good mojo. If any of this looks interesting, shoot me an email and make me an offer. I'm off to go on a photo safari to get rid of more of my stuff...

And btw, the house is for sale too.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

The Axis of Eagle, and The Big Dig

Okay, sorry for the pun but I couldn't resist. Being at home sick with the election process burrowing into my brain like hormonal wood tick has gotten to me. But there were axis, and eagles and a dig site the size of the neighborhood HEB. And so goes the weekend.

I'm still sick as a dog
(I coughed and blew my nose so hard this week the doc says I actually blew a hole in each of my ear drums--now when I blow my nose, I hear this horrible whistling noise), but, I got some good writing done and managed to get out of the house after being in bed for a week and a half to go feed the cattle and see what the dredger did on the lake property. The calves are big and getting bigger, but still so cute, and Opa got 12 more calves, so a big time all the way around. R loaded up the feeders. I helped, of course, by cheering him on and playing with the calves. It's tough work, but somebody's gotta do it.

Next, we dropped by for a visit with the eagles. They were there together, steadfast, protecting their nest like a sweet old married couple. A whole group of people were lined up by the road, chatting and making friends over wildlife. I can't help but think there's a metaphor in there somewhere, but I'm sick. I'll look for it later.

Later, at the property we saw Canadian Geese that had migrated down from the land of Universal Healthcare and affordable medicine. As an aside, geese, like Bald Eagles, also pair for life. I'm sensing a theme lately . . .

Later, we saw the biggest Axis deer I've ever seen. Like the Canadian Geese, the Axis don't really belong here, but are here on a work visa to entertain the likes of us. His horns were at least three feet long! When we first saw him, he was on his hind legs knocking down branches to eat the leaves. It was an amazing sight.

The only bump in the weekend was the job the dredger did. I was really disappointed to see the progress on the digging out the mud, muck and flotsam that stormed into the cove during the flooding last summer. The water raged down the canyon so hard it rammed a slab of concrete that was bigger than a Prius into the middle of the cove and sat it up on it's edge like Stone Henge. I guess we should be thankful it's not submerged where someone could hit it. Or dive on top of it.

The only disappointing thing (but it was a BIG disappointment) this weekend was that the dredger guy shoved all that dirt up toward the island, so instead of the channel being deeper, it's actually more shallow. I'm so disheartened, and I just want to send him the page in Websters that says, "Dredge: shipping transitive and intransitive verb to clear, deepen, or widen a waterway, especially one intended for shipping, using a dredge."

I really want to growl, "What were you thinking?" and "We want our money back." *sheesh* So, next weekend, we're getting out the shovels. I'll bring the beer if you'll bring the backhoe . . .

So, back to the digital grindstone tomorrow. I've been off for almost 14 days, but being laid out with a cold doesn't seem like much of a rest . ..

Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Eagles are Back!

The Bald Eagles are back! If you haven't seen this astonishing sight, you should pack yourself a lunch and some cold co-colas, bring the binocs and settle in to quietly observe the pair of big birds hunting, fishing and feeding their eaglettes.

Each year the birds come back, build on to their already enormous nest and start hatching their young'uns, and each year we line up to watch as Mama fluffs in the nest, and Daddy makes breathtaking sorties from the highest branch, circles the horizon and comes back with dinner--rabbits, snakes (ick), and the occasional but thrilling fish. These are the same two eagles that come every year, and as a special note to my romance-writing friends, eagles mate for life. A good example as the National Bird if we can follow :)

Last weekend I saw two scruffy looking little poults, but I couldn't get a picture *guess who's asking for a better camera for her birthday*
If you go, remember not to disturb them, it is, afterall, their nursery, and it's against the law. And it's not very nice.The Llano eagle nest is about 100 yards off of Hwy. 29 halfway between Llano and Buchanan Dam.
Click Here for Map to the Eagles
(Warning! Clicking this button is a promise that you will not be mean to the eagles!)

Fun Eagle Facts:

  • Eagles mate for life
  • The Llano Eagle nest is the furthest west nest recorded in the state of Texas.
  • The Eagles usually stay through February
  • The female Eagle's wingspan ranges from 75" to 90."
  • She can fly 20 to 40 mph
  • She can dive at speeds exceeding 100 mph.
  • Bald Eagles weigh between 10 and 14 pounds
  • They live an average of 15 to 20 years.
  • Photo of the eagle in flight is by Bob Owens at San Antonio Express News.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Holy Cow! I'm in Southern Living Magazine!

So just when you think life can't get any better, or busier, it up and does. Recently, a reader emailed me to tell me I'm in Southern Living!

Of course, I didn't know it, nor did I quite believe it, but there I am, plain as day, signing books at Girlfriend Weekend! And listed as a "Writing Star of Texas!" . . . whoo hoo! (for you Yankees, that means, "Hooray!")

Yeah, that's me, ponytail and all, signing books and looking like I don't know what the hell I'm doing.

And cool too is the fact that two of the three of my biggest backers, Tahoe and my mama, are right there with me, helping me with marketing (*snort* "Buy my daughter's book or you'll rue the day . . ."--thanks Mom :).

It was a fabulous weekend, I got to meet, have lunch, drink bourbon and Diet Coke with Sara Bird, Carol Dawson, Cyndi Hughes, David Marion Wilkinson, and THE fabulous Sam Barry of Harper Collins who still owes me for the tiara he swiped during the downing of said bourbon and Diet Cokes. We'll talk later, Sam :)

And of course, the pinnacle of the party was the "Queen of All Things Literary & Sparkly," her ownself Kathy Patrick! It was a weekend from heaven, aka an East Texas Book Festival, (until Tahoe got sick, which is a totally different story *thanks again, Mama*), and I urge you, if you get the chance, get yourself and your BFF a good heaping helping of southern literary fare at this year's Girlfriend Weekend, and make sure you snag a copy of Kat's new book,
The Pulpwood Queens' Tiara-Wearing, Book-Sharing Guide to Life. And a great big Texas smooch to Gary D. Ford, for a great Southern Living article!

On a very personal note, thanks to Sara for encouraging me to write down my adventures of living, loving and surviving a redneck. More on that to come. . .

And thanks to everyone for writing to ask when the next Cauley book will be out. More on that soon.

Barnes & Noble Round Rock Signing

Barnes & Noble Round Rock Signing
My friend Pantera with Tahoe & Me

Tahoe and a new friend at the signing