Friday, December 19, 2008

Still Cookin'

It's a black moment in my kitchen, with cookies and meringues cooling, dicing and slicing, browning and whipping, peaking and poaching going on. I pretend I like to cook and play house elf. Don't get me wrong - I love to eat. And this is the time of year when extravagant goodies are not only allowed, they're encouraged. I guess what I don't like is the expectation that it's a good gig, fun for the kitchen slave, and it's expected. As my grandmother once said: "Four hours to make that pie and it's gone in ten minutes. Not doing that again." If only food lasted, like words on a page. Or something stitched up. Or painted. The ephemeral nature of food is what gets me - I want my art to stick around for more than a meal. I so admire people who can stand in a kitchen for hours and come up with one amazing creation after another, unconcerned that it's about to end up in someone's gullet. Or maybe it's just that I want to be the one with the gullet and not the tired feet, LOL. Yeah, that's it.

The lack of Christmas excitement in the stores in a real downer. Normally, I absorb all the rush and bustle like sunshine. Crowds and lines make me smile. Not this season. Finding a parking space is way too easy, and for the first time I can remember, there're no lines of cars creeping into the mall at a snail's pace. Bummer. Where can I get my holiday jollies? All my gifts are wrapped, mailed, or under the tree, so I don't even have that excuse to enjoy the days before Christmas. Come on people, it's not that bad! Christmas should have a surfeit of happy moods and silly singing aloud in the car as the same carol is repeated for the thousandth time. Let's get with the program! Or I may start cooking again, and believe me, you don't want me to do that.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Women and Food

This is a mini-rant of sorts. Since I'm confused, I'd love to have an answer to my Big Question.

Why do women diet at parties? I mean, the point of a party is good food, good friends, and lots of both. I swear, I see women nibbling on celery sticks, and I want to strangle them. Why go to the party if all that lovely food makes you miserable? The host or hostess goes to a ton of trouble to prepare juicy morsels, and women act as if the tables are laden with poison.

Now men, they eat. No issues with seconds or thirds. I'm with the guys on this one. Diet tomorrow. Eat an apple for lunch. But don't insult the hostess by acting as if her lovely food was designed to kill you. It's all an act, anyway. We know you go home and stuff your face with potato chips because you're so danged hungry.

There, mini-rant complete. Can you tell I'm not happy at all with No Nascar? Hanging in there, barely. . .

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A Good Book and Eclairs

I just finished a mystery titled WALK IN HIS MOCCASINS by Craig Johnson, and boy howdy, did I love it. Wish I'd written it.

Many years ago I wrote a manuscript on spec about the Children of Dust, and my then-agent told me it'd never work because it was ancient history and no one cared about Amerasians anymore. Since it had murder, intrigue, and music, I figured there were other selling points, but she didn't see it that way. I may drag that book out of dust bunny hell, if I can find it, and re-read it for the heck of it.

Now, I'm not giving away Johnson's story, but it involves a Child of Dust. Go forth, buy the book, and plan a day or so to enjoy it. Give it to yourself for Christmas.

The Christmas decorations are slowly finding their way around the house and yard, I'm picking up the Frazier fir tomorrow, and if the darned leaves will ever stop falling, it'll start feeling like the holidays around here. If the ancient oaks and maples all over our property weren't so gorgeous the rest of the year, I'd be tempted to commit tree murder and have them removed. I can't remember a fall where the leaves are still coming down in December as they are this month. My love-hate relationship with them is now full-fledged hatred.

My oldest has a birthday tomorrow, making me feel very old and nostalgic. Just today, I was remembering her terrible-two stage when she was hell on wheels. Hmmm, the more things change, the more they stay the same??? The good news is, she's a feisty woman with her own mind, which means we did our job raising the young 'un.

Made eclairs today. It was the only viable alternative to raking and moaning about it. With no January Nascar testing in Daytona allowed this year, I'm complaining to beat the band about that AND the leaves. Guess that means I have to write harder to keep my mind off the no-Nascar horror of these months with no racing.

Or eat eclairs. Hmmm...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Can't believe it's been ages since I posted. The good news is, I've been writing like a fiend. Still working on stuff that's in the 12th draft mode (I hate this book at this stage), taking breaks now and then to watch the Chase for the Cup on the weekends (the truck racing is by far the best this year), and to rake leaves. Ahhh, yes, the eternal hell called leaf raking. I feel like such an idiot dragging leaves off the lawn and out of the flower beds. They're beautiful, for one thing. Carpets of yellow and orange - quite lovely this year. But since they'll kill my very expensive grass, I keep at 'em. Kinda like picking up after toddlers - a tedious, odious, neverending job, but someone has to do it. I console myself with thinking it's great exercise for those upper arms, LOL. Not sure if it is, but I have to give myself some motivation.

BLOOD CHOCOLATES has me at the keyboard when I give myself a break from revisions. What a lot of fun it is to write. I'm keeping Andrew Gross' TEN WAYS in front of me - 1)Pace 2) Think in scenes 3) Tight first POV (I break this rule regularly, but it's fun in first POV) 4) Riveting opening 5) Make the reader care 6) bad guys you want to hate 7) Four memorable scenes 8) the Big Hinge (book shifts tacks) 9)Widen what's at stake and 10)plot, plot, plot in detail.

The last one is a bone of contention with many of my writer friends. They feel as if the magic disappears if they plot in advance, because they already know the ending and that's no fun. I've learned to let go of the minutiae and focus instead on the theme (always!), the characters' growth, the internal and external conflicts, and the Journey. I know the last chapter before I start, but it's allowed to change if the characters insist upon a different ending. I agree with Gross that you need your four pivotal scenes before you start out, as well. They give you plot points to build towards, and thus, your pacing.

I'm amazed at the new Dean Koontz novel, YOUR HEART BELONGS TO ME. It's so different - in a very good way. A romance in its heart, it's about the corrupting influence of unfathomable wealth. Who knew Dean Koontz understood women as well as dogs?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Almost Halloween

How did October slip away like this? When I went through the candy aisles this past weekend, huge holes greeted me. Yes, I'm late buying the Halloween goodies, and I can't believe it. Half the fun is leftover chocolate and other decadent treats I don't stock in the pantry the rest of the year. Now I have to find my Harry Potter costume so I can greet the children. I love Halloween fun - not as much as my husband, who lives to scare toddlers. Last year, he and his Dementor costume sent a few screaming into their parents' arms. One sick puppy, my beloved.

Martinsville's race two weekends ago was a bust - I was too ill to enjoy it. Being sick in a hotel is just no fun. At least we got to see our daughter at Va Tech and enjoy the lovely mountain scenery. Fall in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains is simply gorgeous.

So - on the writing front: finished the start to a different kind of story for me. It's going to be a Sleeping Beauty thriller, tentatively titled BLOOD CHOCOLATES. That's the plan for the moment. Got the first 30+ pages printed out, now to outline the rest of it. I always need that long warm up to discover the characters and decide if I like them enough to live with them for the next year. Still proofing the Golden Oars and trying to cut some more from its 428 pages. Playing with Saving the Sun God. It's getting there. Need more time. Maybe if I didn't go racin' or put up Halloween decorations, I could squeeze out more hours. Hmmm...don't think that's gonna happen.

Now it's up to the attic to find the costumes. Happy Halloween, everyone.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Richmond Race Pix

Finally, some pictures from the September race in Richmond. What a great day! Not under the lights, but still and all, a fun time.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

'Dega and the Importance of Friends

Can't wait for the Talladega race today. Hope it's as exciting as they come and that the best car wins. However, at 'dega, that's not always a given. It's who your friends are that count for more than horsepower at the restrictor plate races. Witness Kurt Busch and his teammate, Ryan Newman last February at Daytona. Busch came through at the right moment, just when Newman needed him the most.

Writing friends are like drafting partners. They tell you, with unvarnished honesty, when your idea for a new book is so far-fetched, you may as well waste your time washing the kitchen floor. They push you to finish the monster that just won't end. They buck you up when the writing is mired in six feet of storm muck, and when your agent doesn't like a single idea you've pitched for the past six months. Best of all, they understand what writers do and the cost it exacts. Sometimes, it's a choice between retreating into the fictional world and the one that exists outside your office door, and they let you know when you're making the wrong one. God bless all writing friends. It's a tough job, and no one has to do it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Dithering and Driving

I have no idea what's going on. I just can't focus. I'm revamping the plot, the characters, the whole dang shootin' match on a book that I've got to get out, and it's crazy. I think it's because the book is very different for me, and I keep searching for my voice in it. More plot than character-driven, it's hard for me to find writer nirvana when I don't feel as if the characters are as lively as the action part of the story. Action CAN be a character-driven, but mine's more plot-driven. Sigh. When will I learn to stick to what I know I can pull off? I guess it has to do with my boredom level - if I'm not learning as a writer, why bother? Slapping off a book with my same old tricks bores me to tears. Hence, the insecurities. Dithering is a perfectly good word. I hereby claim it as my own.

Martinsville is coming up in a few weeks. Looking forward to the toughest short track on the circuit. Dover last week was a darned good race at the end. We have a fondness for Greg Biffle in our house, mostly because he's been nicknamed "The Biff," and our feline child is also a Biff. The real mystery is how Kyle Busch's karma did a one-eighty, and he's now 12th in the Chase. Hmmm. Maybe it's all those negative vibes aimed his way by the #88 fans.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Richmond, ESPN, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

September really truly is the New Year. It's as if the instant the humidity lessens just a hair, Southerners gear up for the serious work. I'm still enjoying the heat, but now and then, a cool breeze gives the oaks a run for their money, and I stand there, thinking "fall really is coming. Time to get the bulbs in for next spring."

The Richmond race was a doozy. First, the track moved everything to Sunday, and while their website and phone info line promised updates by six p.m. on Friday, they didn't do so until after 7. So of course, my hubby and I were in line for a parking lot on Friday, when a policewoman told us the race had been cancelled. Wasted a ton of time, which is not amusing at all. When we made it back to the track on Sunday, we had no idea driver intros were at 12:30. All we knew was, track time was 1 p.m. Poor communication from the track, but the good news is, the race was wonderful, even without the lights. We couldn't stay for the whole thing, however. Many people in our section had to depart early as well - planes were leaving, kids had to be back in school Monday, etc. And we totally missed the Nationwide race at 7 p.m. We too had to hit the road, so we didn't get to see the Tony Stewart/Jimmie Johnson showdown. Bummer.

Later, I saw the clip on ESPN of Tony tossing his steering wheel and harping at Zippy when the race was finished. ESPN didn't broadcast Tony's immediate apology. Why? They want controversy. Stirring the pot ups ratings, is the only explanation I can find. All that fuss over Hornaday's steroid use for his Grave's Disease symptoms makes it sound as if Hornaday is a cheater along the lines of baseball players who bulk up to hit home runs. Wrong. As Hornaday's team owner, Kevin Harvick said, if Hornaday doesn't take the synthetic steroids, the man is dead. But no, ESPN doesn't hype Harvick's soundbite. Now ESPN is after Junior. Interesting that Tony and Junior have taken ESPN to task for editing soundbites to make people look bad. I wonder why there has to be an adversarial relationship between the company that broadcasts sports and those who are the stars. Is it a given in our society that we have to hear the down-and-dirty about those who seem to have it all? If there is no muck, well, ESPN will manipulate it so there's some to spread around. Bad move. Very very bad move.

On an uplifting note, I'm reading all of Dr. Martin Luther King's speeches I can find online. What an amazing man. His eloquence, his erudition, his love for all mankind, show forth with every word. A writer can learn a lot from his prose as well as his activism.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Back to Work

Took some time off to haul the youngest and all her stuff to college last week, then decided on a lovely drive up to Chicago. Had some fun, enjoyed new scenery, met old friends. Came home feeling like tackling the rewrites again, only this time, I realized I needed a major plot shift. Upping the ante will require research. If the government is tracking my computer, they're probably getting the handcuffs ready. I hereby declare my family doesn't know anything about this book but the title, LOL.

My husband is the one who mentioned government snooping into computers used by civilians. While I'm not normally paranoid, he probably has a point. I wonder how many writers delve into Internet realms the government doesn't want us to see, much less understand? We have vivid imaginations, but reality helps tone us down unless we're into science fiction or fantasy. Of course SF and fantasy could easily dive into a reality we don't know about right now, but it's in the sphere of possibility.

How afraid do we have to be of where we find our research? Interesting to even think of it as an issue.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Time and all those Cliches

Can you believe summer is almost over? My youngest heads back for the dorm this week, and we're going to be sorry to wave goodbye. Next summer, she has plans to study Mayan architecture in Mexico and Guatemala for three months, so we won't be seeing much of her. Sigh. I guess that's what happens when they grow up, they don't come home much. Does that sound like a cliche? Guess so, but there's a truth in the core of every cliche.

Speaking of cliches, I've come to admire them. Yes, I know they're considered anathema in the writing community, but I like the way they're a universal shorthand. Everyone knows what a cliche means. (And I do know there's an accent at the end of cliche, but this program won't add it automatically, and if I do, it looks weird.) Take a Cinderella story, for example. No matter how complex I write it, or the twists I add, or if I make the hero a Cinderfella instead of an Ella, everyone knows what to expect from the core of the story. True love triumphs over trickery no matter what. I like being able to label my stories with myths, to cull themes from the classics (and I'm including the Bible here). That way, I know the heart of the story won't stray.

Straying far from home, we're headed for Chicago this weekend, so no Bristol race for me. Darn. Love Bristol. Will get it on Tivo and enjoy it when I get home. Hope A.J. and David Ragan have a good run. Still rootin' for the kids!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Hot, Hot, Hot

David Ragan, A.J. Allemendinger - go for it, guys! They're both young men on a mission, and driving the wheels off their cars is working well these days. It'd be fun to see some new faces in the Chase, and although A.J. isn't even in the top 35 yet, Ragan has a real shot at the top 12. It's fun to see the Old Guard getting nipped on its heels by the whippersnappers.

It seems that everything around my house takes longer and longer in this awful heat. We should make it a law that during August everyone must kick back on the porch swing, fill up the lemonade pitcher, and pile the good books on the table to share with anyone who drops by for a fresh icy glass and a chat. I've been reading the huge stack I stockpiled after Thrillerwriters in July in NYC. They're fun reads, and I'm stunned at the depth of talent out there that I never knew existed. Been working on my own stuff but it's slow going. I'm not terribly motivated when I'm sticky and the air conditioner hasn't shut off in two weeks straight.

Interesting problem: I'm converting a manuscript from first person, present tense, to third person, past tense. The first person POV gave me a very deep character, something I like. But it slows the action in the story. So far, I've compressed thirty pages into eleven. Hope I'm not cutting the soul out of the story, but I don't think so.

So much for work. Who's up for lemonade and sugar cookies?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Six Mistakes

I could start with the Brickyard race yesterday and do a Tony Stewart impression about the tire debacle, but everyone else is doing it. It's so not cool to be one of the pack, so I'll let it go. Wish A.J. Allmendinger had won - the lad raced in the top 10 all day, and at one point was second. That would have been quite a story. The best thing we can do is pretend the race never happened and look forward to Pocono. All I can say is, I'm so grateful we didn't drive to Indy for the race this year.

Actually, I'd like to review Joseph Finder's "Six Mistakes" talk at ITW. He made great points about how a book can go wrong. Mind, these notes are what I got out of what he said, so nothing is verbatim and may, in fact, be way off base. But this is what struck me as worth writing down:

First, ask yourself if you have a passive hero. A hero has to advance the story and change things. Well, Duh! But you'd be amazed at how often I see this mistake in beginners.

Second, don't write a long setup. We writers like to introduce everyone with infinite care, but Finder' s point is that we can get to know the characters through action.

Third: Don't start the story too early. (A personal note: I have to do this, because I need about forty page to feel comfortable. But I cut those forty pages in the first rewrite. I know it's a waste of time, but that's how my process works.)

Fourth: Avoid the weak second act. Things must escalate. The hero has to fail then recommit to the struggle. Introduce subplots in Act II.

Five: Predictability. Don't underestimate your readers. Don't let them figure it all out. One of my observations: a very well known suspense writer makes this mistake. I can tell you before I turn the page what the next scene will hold and what's going to happen. Can't finish any of the books because they're so predictable.

Six: Lousy endings kill a book. Make it have symmetry. Don't make it too short. Add a good twist if you can, one that arises from the seeds planted before in the story. Then don't linger too long at the party.

Seven: (a bonus) Don't show off and lay out all your research just because it's cool and you went to all that work. Use just enough to show that this is the real world.

And general observations from Mr. Finder: don't make the mistake of having all plot and no people. No one cares about abstract threats. Back story dumps are anathema - add the back story in tiny slivers, giving the reader a reason to care for the characters. Avoid boring action scene. Make them exciting or leave them out.

Very good talk. You can buy CDs of this one, as well as the others, from ITW.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Sword's Reach

James Rollins threw out a quote I've never heard before - A war is only as far as your sword can reach. What a good concept for writers. Start small and keep it intimate as you ratchet up the tension. His example was perfect. A surprise is when the characters are chatting and eating at a restaurant, then suddenly, their table explodes. Suspense happens when they're chatting, etc., and the omniscient eye shows a ticking bomb under the table. His take is that the core of action is not physical, it's emotional in its context. Is the protagonist a coward, and it's hard for him to wade into battle? Or does he have a moral objection to battle, like the Gary Cooper character in one of my favorite movies, Friendly Persuasion. Or John Wayne in The Quiet Man - a boxer who killed his opponent in the ring doesn't want to fight, not ever again, but ultimately has to. Again with Gary Cooper in High Noon - he will lose his Quaker bride if he stays to fight the bad guys, but if he doesn't, they'll come after him until he's dead.

Gonna work on this one.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Thrills and Chills

Sorry I've been MIA for a couple of weeks. Spent last week in NYC at Thriller Fest, and before that, a whole week panicking about going. Big cities always suck the energy out of me as effectively as a vampire latching on my neck (no, it hasn't happened, I'm a writer, remember?). So many people, all of them walking quickly and bumping into me as I meander and stare like the country bumpkin. So much noise. I survived, as you can see, and came home invigorated and ready to get back to work.

Thriller Fest was amazing, to put it simply. Great panels, great writers sharing craft, great people in the audience. Lots of Advanced Reader Copies. Because I was dumb enough to bring a small suitcase (didn't want to haul it all over the place), I could bring home only a few. The one I read on the 7 hour train ride back was truly a thriller. Couldn't put it down. Comes out in September and the title is The Archangel Conspiracy (I think, I'm horrible with titles) and the author is C.S. Graham, a pseudonym for a husband and wife writing team. When this mass market paperback hits the shelves in September, run, do not walk, to your local independent bookstore and snap it up. Filled with political intrigue and a gusty heroine, you'll keep turning the pages if you're anything like me.

When I'm less zapped, I'll post some of the nuggets I pulled from the TF workshops.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Casey Mears and What's Next?

Pity Casey Mears. Thirty years old and he’s a failure. Kicked out on his tush by the dream team owner, a friend of his family’s for years. Santa-faced Rick Hendrick, he who acts like a father to Junior, uncle to JJ and Jeff, found Casey lacking. One win isn’t enough. Santa isn’t bringing any toys for the black sheep child this year.

Other factors probably come into play as well. Kellogs may not want to sponsor a father who isn’t marrying his baby’s mama. Sure Jeff and Ingrid had Ella in the oven when they said their vows, but they did the traditional thing and got married. JJ’s lovely wife exudes class. Casey’s situation just isn’t the image a powerhouse team wants to project. So Casey had to go. Family cuts ties with loser youngest son. Boy, it’s tough being Casey Mears this year.

The good news is, he still has the Mears name. He's a decent driver. Life will even out after this year's turmoil. I'm still hoping he does the right thing to give his baby a father who stepped up to the plate and manned up.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I adore gardenias. And this year, they've been blooming in an embarrassment of abundance. Don't know if it's the wet spring or the current heat wave causing the gardenias to bloom like there's no tomorrow, but I've been able to fill every room in the house with a bowl full. How can anything be wrong with the world when there's a scent like that?

I continue to be surprised that the press hasn't gone after the Mauricia Grant story. Bloggers are doing most of the talking, and as this blog goes to show, most of them (moi included) are talking out of their hats. Where's Nate Ryan's in depth reporting? Why hasn't Jenna Fryer done some heavy digging? As someone else said, maybe this lawsuit is seen as "so what do you expect from Southern rednecks?" The corollary to that is: who cares? I care, and so do many other people who love Nascar.

I'm reading Phillip K. Dick's stories, one after the other, and can't believe I didn't discover him before now. What a clever, clever writer.

Monday, June 16, 2008

In a Stew

Watching Rick Hendrick glow and Jr get all gushy after winning in Michigan helped calm me down just a hair. Glad he won a points race this year. Happy for Tony Jr. Feel-good moment. But. . . you knew there was a 'but' coming, didn't you?

Having watched Brian France on Nascar Now pontificate that the Nationwide track official who has filed a discrimination law suit against the juggernaut known as Nascar NEVER complained about her treatment had me ready to rip into the TV screen. Come on, people, do you think we're stupid? Of course she took a lot of flack. She's a woman, she's black, and she was in a position out front where she'd be a target for that sort of idiocy. And yes, I believe she complained to her superior, who made sure she was fired. What's worse is, I have a feeling if she'd been a little older, wiser, and able to put those nitwits who hassled her in their places, she'd have taught them a lesson or two. Just maybe. I remember my days in law school when we five women out of a class of a hundred men took our hits. But we shot back. The guys spread Playboy all over the student lounge to embarrass us, we bought Playgirl magazines and added them to the pile. Oh, and did a lot of pointing and giggling. When the men started in on the really dirty talk, trying to get a rise out of us, one of us would say "Your mama know you're talking like that? 'cause if she doesn't, I'll be happy to let her know." We persevered because we weren't going to let them run us out of law school. My bet is, Mauricia Grant did the same thing - thought she could tough it out, until they fired her and all bets were off. I repeat, how stupid does Brian France think we are? Pay the woman, make the settlement confidential, then start cleaning house of the worst offenders.

I adore good ole boys - know quite a few. Their hearts are golden, their language less than proper, and they'll do anything for anyone in need. Shirt off the back time. The coneheads who hassled the Nationwide official aren't good ole boys. They thought they could get away with talkin' ugly and being mean to a young woman who deserved better. No proper Southern mama taught her son to behave like that. Shame. And shame on those who covered it up.

Monday, June 02, 2008

My (Fairly Recent) Conversion, or How I Lost All Intellectual Pretensions

My husband asked if I’d like to see the new Indiana Jones movie tonight. Thought a sec, then replied that I considered the first ones dumb, so I’d pass. He cocked an eyebrow. Okay, I admitted, maybe I’d reconsider. After all, I gave up all pretensions to intellectual superiority when I dove headfirst into NASCAR and its attendant circus. When did I choose to hide my Phi Beta Kappa key to wear a Kevin Harvick T-shirt and Ward Burton earrings? What possessed me to put down my Tom Friedman book for NASCAR Scene?

The tale is not an old one in terms of time. Sometime in the fall of 2005, I think it was, my agent asked if I’d be interested in writing NASCAR books for Harlequin. Easy, she said. Knock 'em out with your eyes closed. Never one to turn down the option to make money, I figured I’d watch some races on TV and get the lingo down pat. My husband, a racing fan but not of NASCAR, suggested a fall race at a small track, Richmond. He’d heard it was a good show. Pick up on the atmosphere. Get authentic. Okay, I said. Richard Petty, when I checked online, was appearing at the Fanzone. I’d heard of Petty. Funky hat and dark glasses. Bone-thin with a real drawl. Cowboy boots. Maybe I could ask him a few racing questions. (Remember my intellectual pretensions. . . )

Little did we know tickets were scarcer than diamonds in the disposal. But my husband, working his magic, scored a couple. We showed up. Not long before the race. Mistake number ONE. Engines crank up. My hearing exits track right. Nothing to protect our ears. Mistake number TWO. Then it happens. Magic strikes. The bleachers shake as the cars circle the track behind the pace car. Vibrations work from my soles to the top of my head. Good heavens, I'm getting excited. Crash number one and I’m hooked. On my feet screaming with everyone around me. So much for my doctorate degree. I can’t wait to hit the fan trailers and snap up all the gear I can. Mistake number THREE. Wait until you pick a favorite driver, THEN shop.

We buy good ear protectors, a scanner, spread our fan purchases out over several tracks, learn to get there early and set up our tailgating goodies. We are NASCAR junkies. Order premium TV to get the SPEED channel. Go to the Daytona 500. Ask for tickets to Martinsville for Mother’s Day. Season tickets to Richmond. Oh yeah. Big bucks.

And I never did write those NASCAR romances. Too much NASCAR, not enough romance, LOL, for Harlequin. Still, I’ve used some race lore in a couple of books, most recently in a futuristic where the Racer Clan figures prominently. It’s called LEGAL KILL. And there’s not a romance in sight. Well, maybe a hint. What does that say about my take on NASCAR? Hmmm. Gotta think about that one.

Maybe we’ll go see Indiana Jones tonight, after the long-delayed Nationwide race in Dover. No one cares about a Phi Beta Kappa key or a doctorate at either one. Thank goodness.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Summer and Slowing Down

Digging up bulbs, planting new hostas, and generally playing in the yard sucks me away from the computer as surely as a vortex down the drain. After thirteen straight weekends of rain, the past one was glorious. I even tackled the moss on the brick patio. Now that's looking for an excuse to stay outside in the extreme, LOL. No movie, no party, no sale can lure me away from a work in progress, but lovely sunshine and a yard can do it every time.

I need to get LEGAL KILL in shape before the Thrillerwriters conference in NYC in July. That means the fanny has to stay in the chair. Three weeks of family stuff played havoc with my schedule, but it's time to get back into the routine. We writers have to come up for air now and then. I've had my fun, now it's back to work.

How do you get yourself psyched to work when the weather is wonderful after a long cold winter and a wet, miserable spring?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Diplomas, Dolls, and a Diatribe

She's a college graduate. Diploma in hand, tassel switched to the other side, drama honor society drape in place, she's posed and smiled and said her good-byes to faculty and friends. She has a BA in History, minor in Film and Photography, Drama. Anyone want to hire a smart, educated young woman?

Rain held off long enough for the two hour ceremony, outdoors under ancient oaks, to run its course. Unfortunately, the bozos sitting behind us didn't run out of chatter. Talk, talk, talk, through every address, until my husband had to turn around and say something to shut them up. That wasn't the worst, however. One of these charming idjits brought a blowup sex doll to wave in the air at the graduate they'd come to celebrate. Mind you, this is a women's university, and this doll was garish, tacky, and embarrassing. Why bring it to graduation? Just so you can insult every woman there who'd worked hard to earn her degree? My youngest child took matters in her own hands. A pair of manicure scissors did the job. The idjit spent a lot of time trying to blow it up again, which meant he wasn't talking. Both pluses. My children are geniuses. I'm so glad we've raised smart girls.

Remember my rant about manners? Want to take bets these yahoos weren't from the South?

Now I get to watch the All Star Race at Lowe's on Tivo and relax for a bit. Life is good. Even better, it's time to get back to the writing. I'm a happy woman.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Our oldest, Skyler, is graduating from college this coming Sunday. Can't be possible. I was changing her diapers just yesterday, sigh. It's amazing how the little nippers grow up, isn't it? I remember someone telling me to cherish those long, hectic, crazy days when they were babies, and thinking to myself, yeah, right! Now I'm there, giving the same advice to new moms, LOL. Oh my, how unoriginal.

The amazing part is, they've grown up to be intelligent, nice, creative young women. They'll go far in life, I have no doubt. My hubby and I always reminded ourselves that our purpose was to raise independent adults who could balance their checkbooks and fly away from our nest with complete confidence. Think we got it right.

Whenever I finish a manuscript, I feel the same way. Will it fly by itself? Will it land in a good home? I've done my best, I can't do anything more to ensure its success. Sending it out is a bit scary, as it is for any mom letting go of her child for the first time, but there's no point in clinging to it. The world awaits.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Running out of Talent

Kyle Busch loves to run a loose car. Makes amazing saves. Exciting to watch. Only problem is, he got loose under Junior and threw the Heir Apparent into the wall in Richmond. I was there. Beer cans hit the track. Fans began leaving in droves. Then out of nowhere, Clint Bowyer slipped past Busch, who was fighting off Mark Martin, to win. Talk about excitement. Good racin'. Glad I was there. Now, it's back to Real Life. Sigh.

On the up side, I'm getting ready to welcome home les enfants from school for a bit. One's off to summer school for first quarter, the other into a job. It'll be the first summer we'll be minus both children at once. Seems like only a few months ago that I was hauling girls to the pool for swimming lessons, to summer camps, tennis lessons, and the library. Wow. Empty nesting to the max has now arrived.

Speaking of driving loose, when the writing is loose, it's as wild as a ride on the track. All over the place with nowhere to land but trouble - not a good thing with a book. Hmmm. LEGAL KILL is a bit loose at the moment. Gotta get the wheels under it.

Friday, April 25, 2008

A Mini Rant about Manners

I've been thinking about this for a while. After reading a Garrison Keillor column about the lack of manners in today's society (Yeah, let's hear it for manner lessons preached with humor!), I decided to list my own personal peeves. Sounding peckish here (a lot of "p" words, hmmm...), probably because I'm not sleeping. Always happens when a story grabs me by the brain cells and won't let go. Enough of me. Back to the manners thing.

One of my favorites is the cute young thing who insists on calling me by my first name. She could be a receptionist in the dentist's office, the insurance agent's front desk person, or the cashier at the bank. Young enough to be trainable, I hope. "We can see you at 11 a.m., Tracy. Dr. Goodteeth just had a cancellation." Now, if my tooth hadn't just cracked in half, I'd set her straight. Rusty (Dr. Goodteeth) and I have been together for twenty odd years now, and I don't care if he calls me Tracy. But this twenty-year-old chit of a girl needs to address me as a young whippersnapper should address her elders. In the South, "Miz Tracy," is just fine. "Mrs. Dunham" is more correct, but I'll let that slip. Even, "Ma'am, the doctor can see you..." works in the South.

I have been known, much to the chagrin of my spawn, to correct said young whippersnappers. In a kindly manner, much as a grandmother would use. "Sweetie, I'm old enough to have changed your diapers. In these parts, unless I did change your britches, you may address me as 'Mrs. Dunham.' If I did change your panties, and I'd remember if I had, you are permitted to call me 'Miss Tracy.' " My children, of course, are crawling into a hole in the ground. Believe me, they know better. They address their elders with proper respect, or they'll hear from mama.

My husband, I must preface this rant, is a very good man. A man of inherent good manners and much grace, including infinite kindness. He'll stop to pick up strangers on the street who are gesturing desperately for a ride. He offers jobs to those people standing in the median strip with signs saying "Homeless. Hungry." And he buys them lunch if they are willing to work for a him. (Only one man ever took him up on his offer.) But, as a native of Chicago, he didn't learn to say "Yes, ma'am. No, ma'am." I knew this when I married him. Along with his hatred of fresh tomatoes (sigh), it's his only failing. I was, however prepared. Our family repeated the following iconic story often.

My mother, during her childhood pre-WW II, lived for a year in a Chicago suburb. Her parents, being proper Southerners, taught her to say "yes, ma'am," etc., when addressing her elders. One day, her teacher sent home a note from school saying "Judith must cease speaking like a servant when she talks to me. "Ma'am" is a sign of servitude and inferiority."

My grandmother's wrath and outrage would have been a sight to behold. Wish I could have seen it. As the story was repeated quite often to describe the loutishness of Yankees, I grew accustomed to its moral. Yankees don't know diddly about good manners and the proper graces. Other Yankee peculiarities came to the fore in other stories. Being invited to dinner, then told to bring a "covered dish" of a certain type. Who invites guests to dinner then insists they feed themselves? Only Yankees. I could go on, but you get my drift. There's a social divide that has nothing to do with geography. It's all about manners.

When someone provides a service and one thanks that person, the common response today is "no problem." I want to stomp my foot and ask what happened to "you're welcome." Or even, as was once common in the South, "my pleasure." Yet today the South is slipping into the maw of a mannerless morass. I fear it's the fault of all those Yankees who've moved down here and bought their newMcMansions and expect to fit into society because they drive Beemers. I wish someone would tell them it's not going to happen. "Society" in the South is still ruled with the iron fist in the white glove by ladies who may not have two nickels to their names, but their grandmother's pearls are heirlooms still worn today, their sterling came down through the family for generations, and they were educated at Miss Jennie's, as were their mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers. And Miss Jennie's doesn't accept girls without the proper pedigree and impeccable manners.

Manners will get you places, my mama and grandmothers always preached. I still think they're right.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Short Track Season and Gettin' It done

The writing flows, the futuristic has me guessing (I love it when a story surprises me), and I've finished judging the contest entries I agreed to judge way back when I thought I'd have time. It's too wet and rainy out to do yard work, so I'm pretty much keeping the hands on the keyboard. Last weekend's Nationwide race in Mexico City didn't hold my attention, so I saved four hours there! Yep, keeping the fanny in the desk chair is paying off.

Since it's a week and a half until the Richmond races, this is good. Once next Monday hits, I'm going into tailgating overdrive. Gotta get the race gear loaded, menus planned, and the flags ready to fly from the flagpole on the truck. After seven straight weekends of rain, I'm praying we're done with this batch of wet, and we'll finally have a lovely Friday and Saturday for racin'. The racing gods owe me a good one after the rain and cold in Martinsville.

It's all good from here on out. . . the cold weather is history, the trees have leaves, and I'm ready for summer and summer's races at my local short track.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Life Intervenes

Sigh. The writing has taken a step back because I've been inundated with . . . life. Too many volunteer activities turning into full-time jobs. I need to step back and let the distractions fall into the shadows while I turn the light up on the writing. Revisions, new stuff, queries, the business part of writing, take a lot of energy and time. I must learn to say NO to the other stuff, although I believe strongly in giving back to nonprofit organizations that need help.

Then there's the four hours I wasted this morning. The state bar association won't like me saying this, but I just killed brain cells in a continuing legal education seminar on ethics. Yeah, ethics. If I don't have ethics by now, I think it's a lost cause. Five hundred men in bow ties and dark suits give off vibes that aren't pleasant, particularly when they're stressing over such life-altering topics as metadata in attachments and accepting credit card payments for trust accounts. Yes, moving, stirring, soul-searching topics.

Tomorrow, I'm ignoring email, forgetting today, working on my book, and getting into a better place, LOL.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Spring, Texas Wrecks, and Blessings

I'll bet Michael McDowell is counting his blessings,big time, after barrel-rolling eight times after hitting the wall during qualifying yesterday. If anyone has any complaints about the new car, I suggest you keep them to yourself. The SAFER barrier and the new car saved the rookie driver's life, hands down. Enough said. He'll be racing Sunday, in another car of course, and I'll bet he'll remember every second of that race because he almost wasn't in it.

The rains have continued their weekend appearance, the tulips are up, my lilies of the valley are spreading like wildfire, and the azaleas are just gorgeous. Happy days are here! I'm still working like crazy to cut some hundred-odd pages from DEAD CALM, but it's downhill from here. As Michael McDowell is probably saying, "Life is good."

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Cold, Rain, Wind, and the Race Fan

Boy howdy, was Martinsville a true test of fortitude for race fans. Sleet awoke us early on race day, and while it gave way to rain, the weather didn't offer us much of a break. Forty-one degrees and a steady drizzle, combined with a stiff wind, scattered a ton of fans before a hundred laps were completed. If the race hadn't been so good, we would have left as well. Took two days for me to feel my feet again. Fan Fest with Tony Stewart was a hoot - he's funny and self-deprecating, and totally himself. Even better, the tent where the fest was held provided some protection from the wind. I seriously considered staying in it and watching the race on our Fan View, but what kind of die hard fan would that make me? So we toughed it out in the stands and were rewarded with one heck of a race.

Now it's time to crack down and get serious about cutting 120 pages from the Golden Oars mystery. Forty pages down, eighty to go, but I'm seeing holes that need plugging. Sigh. That means adding chapters. Keeping it under 450 pages is going to be a trick, LOL. That's the trouble with writing "long," it never feels right to cut. A main subplot has to go, and while I'm not happy about it, it's already in the "delete" pile. By the way, has anyone ever heard of a rose named Fred? It's a favorite joke in this book, but it had to go away to make room for a red herring. Someday, it'll show up again, and I hope everyone else laughs as much as I did over it. Can't claim credit - my co-author, Kat Jorgensen, came up with the hilarious set-up and Fred the rose. Gives you an idea of how zany this book is. . . .

Looking forward to the Richmond race in May. Here's hoping it's warmer than Martinsville.

Friday, March 28, 2008


Heading out soon for a weekend of racing at Martinsville, one of my two favorite tracks. It's a little track (about a half mile), built like a paperclip, and full of beatin' and bangin' in a normal race. I'm so looking forward to this one, even if Ward Burton isn't driving this year. I'll be flying his flag (the #4 Morgan-McClure car that's no longer sponsored and thus, not running) anyway. Some of us hang on longer than others, LOL. Busy packing up the racing gear, the Fan View (cool gizmo!), food, seats, and expecting a good time.

I've been examining the effects of class on a future society in a new story I'm playing with. Although Americans consider themselves classless, and the Brits see us that way from what I hear, that's not the truth. While the British and say, Indians (as in Eastern Indian, not Native American) have distinct caste or class systems that persevere despite changes within society, ours are more subtle, based upon economic brackets and racial stereotypes. What happens when those divisions become ingrained and unassailable a hundred or so years from now? What if there's a rebellion to overthrow them? What if the rebellion isn't warfare, but more subtle, as in forbidden intermarriages? I have no idea where this story originated (well, actually, I do) but it's so far from my norm, which is a character-driven tale, that I'm learning a lot about myself as a writer as I work on it. Plotting has been a real eye-opener. Normally, my stories are driven by internal conflicts, but this one hinges on a huge external conflict, and the effect it has on the characters. It's hugely challenging and fun at the same time.

Hopefully, I'll get some good pix from Martinsville. Talk about a classless society - race fans are the epitome. The only hierarchy hinges on if your driver is winning or tanking. Then there's either shared glee or a lot of head-shaking and heavy sighs.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Having Fun - New Blog

For the life of me, I cannot figure out how to show a link to a new blog I'm doing with two writing buddies, so I thought I'd post the info here. If you want some straight-from-the heart writing information, posted by three seasoned writers, check out

We've spent years talking about writing and figured it's high time we shared. Take a peek, let us know what you think.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Leveling the Playing Field

I read in today's paper that David Reutimann, he of the #99 Nationwide car, said he'd willingly forgo points and money if more money went into the pockets of the Nationwide regulars. He is not a NW regular, having a seat as well in the #44 Cup car. (Go David!) At first, I thought, "gee, why would he say that?" until I saw the broader picture.

As long as Cup regular drivers dominate and win in the lower level racing series, those cars that come from smaller garages without the resources for wind tunnel testing and fancy engineering will finish farther down the food chain. Less money equals fewer dollars to pay for good equipment which equals poorer running cars which equals. . . . You get the picture. The classic vicious cycle. If the racing is dominated by Cup cars and Cup drivers, the series will die. Who wants Cup Lite? If there's no Nationwide series racing, those Cup drivers who enjoy it, like David Reutimann, Carl Edwards, and Jeff Burton, won't have anywhere to play without the pressure of the all-important Cup points.

Establish a hierarchy now. Regular Nationwide cars coming from stables with no Cup contenders get more points and more money. Nourish the little guys. They'll get stronger when there are more bucks to pour into their cars, and the whole series will flourish. Good for David Reutimann for saying what he did.

In a way, it's like publishing. Big names, big stars get big bucks. As well they should. But the more they're paid, and the tighter dollars become in the publishing business, the fewer dollars trickle down to the midlist writers. The writers who fill the shelves and have devoted followings, just not in the millions. The writers who are the backbone of the business. Not everyone wants to read Hillary Clinton's book, paid for with a huge advance. A seriously dedicated group will always run right past the displays in the front of the store for the mystery section or any other genre buried in the back corner to see if there's a new gem from ____________. (Fill in the blank with any name.) As publishing pennies get pinched, these books will disappear. Didn't sell enough, will be the reason. The truth is, the print run was tiny to begin, and no money went into publicity. Do we want our reading dictated by money paid to "names?" Hmmm. Kinda similar to the situation in the Nationwide series, n'est-ce pas?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Spring, Writers, and Distractions

The forsythia has finally dotted my yard with its brilliant yellow blooms, the daffodils are hanging in there despite a high wind, and I do declare, the red buds are out. Yeah! There's hope!

This time of year is dangerous for a writer. I have a ton of work - rewrites, new stuff - to do, but outside my office window the yard is singing its siren song. (How's that for alliteration, LOL?) I want to move some plants, dig up a couple of Lelands that are thoroughly dead, and generally play with dirt. Keeping my fanny in my desk chair is taking a ton of will power. We'll see how long it lasts...

I've been thinking about writers and communities. Many of us seek out others who are like us - buried in story ideas we barely have time to sketch onto note cards before another plot pops into our heads. It's crazy, living in your mind with fictional people, for hours every day. Crawling out of our manuscripts takes time and planning, and is perhaps the hardest thing we do for ourselves. My husband knows when the writing hasn't gone well that day, and is a smart enough man to say encouraging words and commiserate with complete sincerity. His creative streak understands mine, which is why we've been married many a year now, I'm sure.

Talking with other writers never fails to energize me. Creative people "get"it. The dichotomy between the non-crazies (people who live normal lives) and those of us who are a bit "touched," as we say in the South, never fails to surprise me. It's reached the point where I try NOT to tell people what I do whenever I'm asked in a social setting. Either I get a glazed look like "are you lying?" to "have you ever published anything? No, really, I mean anything good" to "why would you want to do that?" and "I read some dirty words you wrote, how could you?" (Well, it wasn't ME, it was the fictional character, and it was part of who she was, you idjit!) That's my rant for the day, and no, not anyone can write a book. How many wannabes have started chapter 1, only to crash and burn by page twenty? You can't imagine.

By way of distraction (and there are many besides my yard, my children, and my beloved), I've become hooked on a NASCAR blog dedicated to analyzing television coverage of the sport. hosts a dedicated group of racing fans who aren't afraid to speak up about what they like and don't like on Speed TV and ESPN, not to mention Fox and TNT. It's like having a heated discussion with people who pay attention to how the sport is covered. It has certainly opened my eyes to another world about which I knew nothing. Imagine programming execs paying attention to what the great unwashed masses want? Miracles do happen, it seems.

Since this is the season of miracles, Happy Easter to one and all.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Not Talking about It

Cheating, the encore. I started to rant and rave about the governor of New York and his poor, beaten-looking wife ("Honey, I need you to put on your sincere suit and your good pearls and back me up when I confess, because I got caught by the Feds, to paying for high-priced hookers."), but it's just too ugly. Too sad. I hope spouses everywhere learned a lesson from this. You can't hide evil. It will be exposed.

I'm working on something new, while I still fiddle with rewrites on LOLA and DARKROOM. For once, I'm working off a theme and not the characters. It's a futuristic story and in it, lawyers are hired gladiators. Reaching age 30 is unheard-of. The characters came to me fully clothed, living, and breathing, but the theme spoke even more clearly. I've always been impressed by Barbara Kingsolver's approach to her books - she starts with the theme and builds a story around it. Never was able to do that myself. But I'm writing that way now, and it's happening. The proof, as they say, will be in the pudding, if I can sustain the story this way. It's fun so far.

The Golden Oars mystery, the first in a series my good friend Kat Jorgensen and I are writing, is drawing to a close. We have way too many pages, a ton of good stuff we'll have to cut, but that's the nice part about planning a series. We can use the goodies in another book. The four crime-fighting middle-aged to octogenarian members of an all-women crew team turned out to be both funny and poignant. We love them, and hope to find them a good home. (As in publishing house, not retirement, LOL.)

Friday, March 07, 2008

Cheating and The Clean Cut Kid

Carl Edwards, he of the super abs, aw-shucks grin, sparkly white teeth, and on-the-surface-sunny attitude towards life, has been docked 100 points, lost his crew chief for six races, and seen a hundred grand fine levied against Bob Osborne, his crew chief. Jack Roush, the Cat in the Hat, lost a hundred owner points, plus his driver, Carl, had the ten extra win-points for smashing the field in California last weekend ground down the dispose-all. NASCAR is proving it's made of stern stuff, a refrain that has been heard a lot since Daytona 2007. Was the penalty appropriate for a lid missing off an oil tank in the #99 car? Hmmm. Roush's guys say the bolt that held it down came off, as did the lid. Accident. No harm. No foul. Roush's Geoff Smith says NASCAR is cutting off hands for stealing a penny. Rusty Wallace on ESPN's Nascar Now agrees -says it wouldn't help the car's on-track performance a bit to have a missing lid.

Then why was a photo of the car, with a backflipping Carl in Victory Lane, circulated by email around the NASCAR garages? The picture clearly showed the missing lid, and the crew chiefs and car chiefs all knew what that meant. Only Toyota has given specifics, because it tested, in Germany, a car with the lid missing, and got about 170 lbs. more of downforce. And downforce means a faster car with better handling. It'll stick like glue to the track and go where the driver steers it.

Did Osborne think NASCAR wouldn't notice the missing lid? Not care? How can anyone be so clueless and be a crew chief? This sort of thing doesn't help Carl Edwards a bit. A lot of fans still remember his on-camera act when he threatened Matt Kenseth last fall in Martinsville. The good ole Missouri boy morphed into a snarling, fist-pumping jerk. Maybe he was having a bad day (well, duh, yeah!), but don't act like the Hulk in front of a camera with a Speed reporter holding a microphone in Kenseth's face. You're bound to get caught. And he did.

And so did Bob Osborne. Play it straight, guys. Cheating isn't the right way to win. NASCAR has taught that lesson over and over - when will you get it? My parents taught me that lesson at a very young age, and I've never forgotten it.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Black Screen of Death

Many computers and I have traveled these perilous roads of the Internet together. Starting way,way back when Dells were user-friendly and WP was the word processor that came with them, I've been present at the slow demise of too many of these incredible and totally mysterious creatures. They hiccup, they cough, they slow down, they slowly grind themselves up in the morning, until I give up. Sending them to the attic, the boneyard of dead computers, happens when I just can't figure out why they aren't working like they used to, and I've spent too much money on experts who can't tell me either.

The HP laptop from hell gave me no warning. Not a blip on the screen. I was writing away, (thanking my lucky stars I'd just backed up the last half hour of work on the jump drive) when the screen flipped to darkest black. Outer space, no stars, no galaxies, blackblack. This is the same laptop that, when it came out of the box two years ago, dropped keys, and HP told me it was "user error" and they wouldn't replace the keyboard unless I paid them big bucks. Stellar customer service. I should have known it was an omen. But for two years, I've written books, downloaded to my itunes, and ignored the HP's failings. And this is how it pays me back.

Of course I didn't have everything backed up. The HP is at the shop now, and if my guru can't get stuff off the hard drive, I'm sunk. Into the deep. No air tanks. The latest version of LOLA, which I've been rewriting over and over to get it right, isn't on the jump drive. I know, I checked. I deserve what I get for being so stupid, but sheesh...I never expected an instantaneous black screen of death.

I think I'll work on taxes. That should make my day complete.

On another grumpy note, I have to say, I hated the movie that won the Oscar for Best Picture. It's the only movie last year I wanted to leave before it was over. No hero's journey, nothing redeeming, nothing but unremitting violence that exceeded even my pretty tolerant limit.

I should go back to bed and pull the covers over my head, LOL.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Been a while...

I guess I've been basking in the joy of the start of a new racing season, which is a pretty lame excuse for not posting. Still, Daytona was a good race. Not the heartbreaking ending last year, when Harvick nosed out Mark Martin, but no complaints here. Kinda ironic that Kurt Busch pushed Newman past Tony Stewart, given their contretemps earlier in the week and subsequent trip The Hauler Where Bad Boy Racers Go.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

It's almost that time again!

Yes, I can almost feel the stands trembling, hear the engines roar (tho the COT just doesn't sound the same, sigh), smell the exhaust fumes. Daytona's Bud Pole Shootout is this Saturday, and starts the new year of NASCAR racing. I'm psyched. Even though Ward Burton doesn't have a ride, I'm ready to roll. We're not going this year - other obligations have intervened - but at least we did FanFest in January with the testing as a bonus. I'll be pulling for all the underdogs - Ken Schrader in BAM's car, David Reutimann (go David!), and for Boris Said to get the pole. He deserves it, after losing it last July to a thunderstorm that forced qualifying to wash out with him sitting on the pole. Being outside the owner's points meant he had to go home after a lightning fast qualifying run earlier in the day. Bummer, she said.

So, I finally figured out this digital camera. Can't seem to make the video I did while running the Daytona track work except on my computer, so it's not going to show up. Believe me when I tell you, the track is bumpy like crazy around turns one and two. A real rollercoaster. At a measly 120 mph in a standard Impala SS (very cool car), my stomach hit the roof of my mouth. Add about 70 mph more, and I'll bet it's downright scary for those of us with common sense and no death wish. The guys out there driving those speeds probably think it's a ton of fun. And that's why they earn the big bucks.

I'll post pictures of the track and fanfest - you might be able to pick out Robbie Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Casey Mears, Carl Edwards, David Reutimann, and Greg Biffle. It was night, so lighting was minimalist. I have another batch of pictures with Jeff Gordon, Juan Montoya, Reed Sorenson, and Jacques Villeneuve, which I'll try to post later.
On a writing note, 22 pages yesterday! Yes!!

Monday, February 04, 2008

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

Oh my oh my - just by chance, I stumbled upon The Ghost and Mrs. Muir on TCM the other Sunday, just before the Super Bowl. I was in the throes of pulling together a big bowl of homemade potato salad, needed more sour cream, the grocery store was a nightmare, and feeling generally tired of the whole Big Game Party scene, when I saw that the movie was starting. Grabbing my hubby, who only remembered the TV series (which I never saw), I plunked him down beside me to watch. I've never forgotten seeing the flick on TV when I was about 13, I guess - it was instant adoration. Gene Tierney was lovely, Rex Harrison sexy, and a ghost story to boot - what else could a girl want? That was all I remembered, and watching it again lo these many years later, I had to laugh. Looking back while enjoying the movie all over again, I know what caught my fancy all those years ago - the notion that one could write a book, walk into a publisher's office, and leave three hours later with a contract and advance large enough to buy a house overlooking the sea. Plus, it was an impossible love story. If only I'd known when I was 13 what I know now, LOL, about publishing and writing. However, this time around I noticed the witty dialogue, how it defined the characters so clearly, and how much I miss that sort of art in newer movies. Next thing you know, I'll be sounding like an old fogey! Oh, and the lighting - just perfection. If you get a chance, watch it.

On a literary note, Leigh Wyndfield has a book launching today. SECRET OBSESSION is marvelous - I read it in draft mode and was sucked into the very original romance to such an extent, I remember it vividly a year later. Set on an island off the Outer Banks of North Carolina, it has a setting and characters you don't see in romances today, especially the sexier ones. This one has just the right amount of hot for those of you who like your romances that way. I highly recommend it.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Moon of Lost Objects Found

I have no idea what to title this post. I've been up to my eyeballs in edits (Lord help me), alternately turning up the thermostat, then turning it down, practically running through my morning (now afternoon because I mistakenly believe it's warmer outside) walk (it's still cold out there!), working on tax stuff (not really, but I know where the box is with the receipts, LOL), and finding lost objects. I'm not kidding - came home from Florida, and couldn't find a darned thing, including my house keys and my fav bedroom slippers. Now, however, they're all accounted for, including a pendant for a necklace I misplaced years ago. I'd assumed it had been vacuumed up long before this. I guess I can name January "The Moon of Lost Objects Found." Been reading the books I have to judge for the RITA award. Interesting batch. Watching Gordon Ramsey bully restaurateurs into being better businessmen, and realizing that we artistic types don't like the business side of what we produce. Well, I do, but I think I'm probably the exception. My daughter the foodie turned me on to Ramsey, who I initially thought was a foul-mouthed bully, but I'm beginning to see the method in his madness. Personally, I'd do him bodily harm if he talked to me "that" way, but he has a knack for exposing the lazy, the arrogantly foolish, and the poseurs for what they are.

Ah, I now know what to title this short entry! I keep telling myself, the daffodils are coming, the daffodils are coming. . . .

Monday, January 14, 2008

Daytona Testing and Sun

We're back - some of us are more sunburned than others, but the good news is, we soaked up rays and watched the COT testing at Daytona until we were about to OD. Fanfest was a hoot - Gordon (both Robbie and Jeff) kidding around on a stage, Jimmie Johnson complaining he spent too much time on the couch stuffing his face over the break, and David Reutimann wishing plaintively he were in the top 35 and had the guaranteed car problems and that was all. Mark Martin looking like a munchkin with a big grin. It was all good.

Confession time: I goofed off. Read some of my TBR pile, including a stack of Sue Grafton I've been saving. It felt like eating Schwan's ice cream non-stop - but boy howdy, was it fun to do nothing but read someone else's work. I think I managed to turn off my inner-editor at least part of the time, LOL.

Will post some pictures once I figure out how to upload them from the camera I received this Christmas. My children were tired of being the officially designated Nascar photographers, so they insisted I learn to do digital. I guess it's time...