To Love a Scotsman

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If you read my blog, you’re aware I’m reading the Outlander series. Time traveler Claire meets Jamie the Scottish Highlander in the 1700s.  I’ve also read other historical novels with a Scotsman as a lead character for comparison.

Here are the things I’ve learned about these men.

They always wear their plaid. It involves much draping around the body with a brooch as a finishing touch. Taking it off is much easier. Just loosen the pin and the entire outfit falls to the floor. Very convenient.

Speaking of convenience, the plaid can be used as a sleeping bag and even wrap up two people for warmth and comfort. Also, since the kilt is made a certain way, when nature calls just lift the skirt. (P.S. No underwear.)

The men love to say “verra” a lot. I think you can figure out it means very. The word pops up a lot as I read. I sometimes find myself slipping and using the word when I speak.

The Scots are either dark-haired, handsome and strong or red-haired, handsome and strong. What’s not to like?

They speak Gaelic. I’ve tried to phonetically sound it out as I read but finally stumble over the words until I, hopefully, get to the translation. The women in the book are usually English so they have no idea what their man is saying. They usually think it’s something quite romantic or complimentary. He could be telling her, “I’m going out to shoot a deer and I’ll be back in time for supper. After that you can help me skin and prepare the animal.”She nods, smiles and fawns all over him because it sounds so wonderful. He leaves thinking he has a pretty awesome wife.

The men end up using their dirk in some way. Now, it’s not what you’re thinking. A dirk is a knife they carry at all times. It may be used when fighting to defend oneself or kill food for dinner. It comes in verra handy.

So how could you not love a Scotsman? He is a perfect heroic figure for a romance novel or a historical book. And as you can see, I’ve learned a lot. Reading can take you so many places. I’ve enjoyed meeting-and loving-these Scotsmen.

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Three Strikes and You’re Out

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This post is not about baseball. I wish it was but there was no way to tell you who won the game yesterday. Our cable was out. And our phone. And our internet. So much for getting one of those packages. When the company loses the connection, goodbye everything.

I usually post on Mondays (creature of habit) and couldn’t get on-line. My whole world started to crumble around me. No access to anything. Really? I know some may say, just use your phone. But I don’t have a smart phone yet. I call mine a dumb phone. Soon I’ll be in the 21st century. I’ve designated the phone as a Mother’s Day gift.

So in the meantime, I was disconnected from the world yesterday. The internet was the first to come back, but everything went so slow it wasn’t worth being on the computer. One good thing came out of it–no telemarketing calls to interrupt dinner. Finally the TV came back around 9 pm.

Back in the real world again…or was I? In the good old days, dad would adjust the antennae on the TV, not having to rely on cable or even know what it is. We didn’t have computers so I’d probably be reading a book or playing outside. And the phone? I don’t remember it ever not working.

My husband called the cable company and found out there was an outage. They asked if he’d like to receive a call when power was restored. This morning the phone rang. Caller ID showed the name of the cable company. I answered to hear a recorded message. My phone, internet and cable were restored. Really? I knew that last night. Welcome to the 21st century. 🙂

Speed Readers

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To all those fast readers out there, I’m in awe of you. I’m not one of you. I hope I don’t sound jealous, but I would like to know how you do it. I know many people who have full-time jobs, houses to run, kids to care for and write on the side. And after all that, they have time to read.

Please tell me your secret? Do you skim? Skip pages? Read the first line of each paragraph? I’ve tried those methods and end up going back and rereading again!

I met a fifteen year old girl who read 2 books in less than four hours and was already on her third. She told me she skims over certain words like a, an, the. I could see myself hunting these words down instead. She said there’s a test on line to see how fast you can read. I’m too afraid to take it.

Book reviewers, I don‘t know how you do it. You read and review countless books. If I read two a month, I’m ecstatic!

If anyone wants to share your secret, I’m open to suggestions. I want to read more. I really do. Except when it takes up the better part of my day. I want to have time to write. I have to squeeze all the chores in. In fact, I should be grocery shopping right now. How do you do it?

I guess I should accept I’ll always be a slow reader. But to those of you who aren’t and demolish book after book you have my admiration. So many books, so little time. I guess I better get started.

Edits and Craft Shows

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I’m in the middle of edits for my new book. It’s exciting and scary all at the same time. I learn so much with each new editor. I always feel I finally have the editing process mastered. But, I don’t. (A side note to authors: No matter how you publish your book, you need a good editor!) Thankfully my publisher provides them and I am so grateful for that.

I know I write for only a small group of readers, and question why I keep doing it. Well, I do know why, I can’t stop writing. But sometimes it feels like a thankless job.

A few weeks ago, I set up shop at a craft fair. Before the doors opened, a young girl, who seemed to be about fifteen, strolled down the aisle. She stopped in front of my table and studied the books. She told me she loved to read and might come back and read mine. I thanked her and smiled while inwardly did a happy dance.

Fifteen minutes later she came back and asked if she could read some of the book. I told her to go for it. I sat and watched her read, set the book down and walk away. The earlier dance party in my head melted away.

Next thing I knew, she was back. Money in hand, she bought the first book of the series. She said if she liked it, she’d come back for the other two. She was a fast reader she informed me. Again, I nodded and smiled, but inside my heart raced. My mind was all over the place, “What if she doesn’t like it? Please like it. How long did she say it takes her to read a book?”

She helped her mom at a table further down the row. My niece, who kindly volunteered to sit at the table with me, spotted her reading. I couldn’t look. “Is she still reading?” I’d ask every now and then. “She has her head down, so yeah,” was the answer.

It was sweaty palms time. Would she be back? Would she buy the next two? I didn’t care about the money. I wanted her to like the book. Halfway through the craft fair, the girl made her next appearance. “I finished,” she said.

Heart pounding, I wanted to grab her and say, “Tell me everything! What did you like?” My niece calmly asked, “Who was your favorite character?” “Lindsey,” she replied. “Oh, interesting choice,” my niece answered.

Lindsey is my main character’s best friend. She is a good choice. Strong, determined, loyal.

Again, she walked away. My heart was now in my throat. Five minutes later, she was back, money in hand. “I want to buy the other two books.” The happy dance was back. She liked it. She really liked it.

We had a good conversation. I feel I can add her to my tens of fans. (That’s not a typo.) So thank you, fifteen year old girl from the craft fair. I will continue to write and hope someday more readers like you will find my books

It Finally Happened

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Buy Now at Black Friday Prices

Black Friday Preview Sale

Black Friday Prices Let’s Start Early and Save

Don’t Wait for Black Friday Save Now

Black Friday Now

Get Black Friday Prices Early

The Wait is Over! Shop Black Friday Deals Now!

Isn’t the idea of Black Friday to shop on one day? Friday? I knew it would happen. The sale already crept into Thanksgiving night and now it’s become a whole week’s worth of shopping. Just look at the headlines above. They were taken from ads in the Sunday paper and emails I received…before Thanksgiving.

First, let me be clear, I am not a shopper on that day. I stay home and put up the Christmas tree. But those of you who are, you have my most sincere sympathy. The thrill of the chase, the golden apple is being taken from you. Why get up early or stay out late when you can shop all week?

Good job, corporate America. You’ve watered down one of the best shopping days (for some people) of the year. I hope it comes back to bite you.

And by the way, I also hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving enjoying family and friends, which is what the week was about.  Really, it was.

Who Do You Look Like?

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I remember standing in my paternal grandmother’s living room being asked that question. Her neighbor came over to visit, took one look at my older sister and saw the family resemblance. She gazed over at me, studied me up and down and asked the question, “Who do you look like?”

I was quite young at the time, maybe five or six, and refused to answer. My mother always referred to that reaction as being a stubborn Swede. Stubborn Swede or not, I didn’t like the question. What did she care who I looked like? My sister was my sister and so what if we didn’t look alike? If I had the nerve I do now, I might have answered, “the mailman.”

Maybe that’s why, to this day, I have such trouble describing people in my novels. I’m always stumped when it comes to descriptions. I’m aware people want to know the color of the romantic lead’s eyes or the hero’s hair color. Is the character tall or short? Lean or has muscles? Then it’s on to the lead female character. Full lips? Flowing hair or cropped short? I could go on and on.

Descriptions are important in a novel so I started a folder of character traits. Whenever I come across one I like, I add it to the list. I found a website that describes eye color, not just the green, blue, brown but all the shades in between. Definitely a keeper!

All authors have their own personal stumbling blocks. Mine happens to be descriptions. It carries over to scenery and clothes, too. To help the process, I study pictures, close my eyes to envision my character, and write and keep rewriting until it flows. It’s a type of writer’s block and can halt the whole writing process.

I guess you’re wondering if I ever gave that neighbor an answer. I’m sure my dad wasn’t too happy with my silence and prodded me to speak. I remember that day as clear as if it was yesterday. I finally did answer the question, “Who do you look like?” I looked her straight in the eye and uttered just one word, “Me.”

Squirrel Mania

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What’s up with squirrels in the fall? What’s going on in their little minds? I swear they have a death wish. They dart out in front of a car at a moment’s notice.

I could write a story about them. It couldn’t be a  cute little children’s book because there might be a lot of blood and gore like a horror story. Spy novel? Mystery story? Possession? There are endless possibilities. These squirrels aren’t for the fainthearted.  They are little daredevils.

My husband thinks the squirrels are doing performance moves, like in the Olympics. They get scored on how well they did. He’s positive there’s a row of judging squirrels set up along the side of the road holding up scorecards.

The strange thing is that squirrels only do this in the fall. They also sit in the middle of the road and when they see a car coming, they don’t budge. They’re like deer in the headlights. Then, suddenly they dart to the edge of the street as if they figured it out. But wait, they turn on a dime and are right back in front of you. Some enjoy the “go, left, no go right, oh, I mean left again” routine. I feel they’re taunting you to hit them. Sometimes they sprint out from the side of the road at the last minute. That move I call the death wish.

In reality, there is an explanation. I just read an article in the paper about this phenomenon. Squirrels travel farther from home in autumn, looking for acorns and water supplies. They are not familiar with their surroundings. When they reach pavement or asphalt they become disoriented. So there’s the truth.

Still, I’d like to think there’s something more going on. When fall arrives, a brain cell ignites, giving the squirrel the ability to harass the humans of the world. They play with your mind, teasing you to hit them and feel guilty for the rest of your life. Maybe they’re hoping for a squirrel sanctuary to be built in their honor. Who knows what goes on in their little minds?

Whatever you think of the squirrel phenomenon, please keep your eye out for the little critters. And maybe next time you see a squirrel in the road,  you’ll want to create your own story, your own explanation of Why the Squirrel Crossed the Road.