Archive for November, 2012

Life: Dressed in Holiday Cheer

Sunday, November 25th, 2012

 

Cartier in Holiday Wrapping, 2012

 

Yesterday I took a little break from working on my current paranormal romance to make my yearly pilgrimage into New York City to see the best and brightest of the holiday windows.  I always see Bloomingdales, Barneys, Saks, Bergdorf Goodman, Lord & Taylor and Macy’s.  This year you can’t beat Bergdorf Goodman’s BG Follies the sheer flash and style.

Bergdorf Goodman’s Holiday Windows – BG Follies 2012

 

Lord & Taylor’s miniatures of New York charmed the crowds and me.  Macy’s windows are full of nostalgia and charm with a sprinkling of Macy’s more interesting history scattered on the windows.

Lord & Taylor Window, 2012

The cold and wind forced us in and what better place to stop than The Rock, Rockefeller Center.  The basement has lovely restaurants and a great view of the skating rink where Santa went gliding by.  He later stopped in to grab a cup of Joe at the restaurant where we were eating.  I’ve never seen the scaffolding on the tree before as the workers are stringing the lights.

Santa on Break, Rockefeller Center 2012

One of the happiest surprises of the day was seeing that the main branch of the NYC Public Library had a special exhibit on Charles Dickens.  Seeing the first editions and some of his personal affects was really special.  Did you know that he had a collection of books with fake labels above his mantle with titles like Interviews with Nobody, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2.?  There is also a tin type of the inspiration for Tiny Tim on display.  This exhibit is well worth a stop if you are in Midtown.

Dickens Exhibit in the NY Public Library

I wish I could capture the buzz of the crowd, the lovely music of the Salvation Army’s band outside Saks Fifth Avenue, and the smell of roasting chestnuts that wafts from the street vendor’s cards and the mad crush of people shopping on the main level of Macy’s department store.  But some experiences must be had for one’s self.

I hope you make it to NYC this holiday and if not, than one of these holidays.



My Books: The Book of Many Interruptions

Sunday, November 18th, 2012

Pop the cork. The manuscript is done!

This will be a short post as I am running on glee and elation which is tenuous at best.  The manuscript of many interruptions is on its way electronically to my editor and I am ready to celebrate.  This is the draft of my next Harlequin Nocturne, a dark paranormal romance.  If you are curious about the plot, here is a sentence on the story: A werewolf must choose between his duty to a comrade and his love for the female vampire his is sworn to capture.

The story is due tomorrow so I made this deadline by only hours.  The sheer relief is uplifting, a feeling like no other.  As is my custom on completion, I’ll be taking my neglected husband out for dinner anywhere he likes.  So much of the business of publishing is outside my control.  But I can control my writing and my submissions.

I call this the manuscript of many interruptions because this one project seemed plagued by more than the normal distractions such as revisions on two other books, a Harlequin Historical, THE TEXAS RANGER’S DAUGHTER, February 2013, and my final Nocturne in THE TRACKER’s series, BEAUTY’S BEAST 4/2013.  There were Dear Reader letters to write.  Story information needed to help the cover artist do their work.  Copy Edits to on both books stopped my progress again and so on.

Then there were the weird interruptions, like Hurricane Sandy.  She knocked out my heat and lights for three days.  I charged my computer using the car jack and wrote wearing a coat.  When it got too cold, I retreated to the public library to enjoy their heat, electricity and, oh joy, the Internet connection.  In between writing, I helped drag branches away and sawed trees into portable bits.  The Internet connection, television and phone were out for five more days.  So I used my smartphone for research and periodically scanned the street for repair trucks from my cable provider.

Anyway…this book was uphill both ways.



Research: Veteran’s Day & the US Marine Corp

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

US Marine Corp is featured in my next paranormal romance for Harlequin Nocturne

This is only the second time that I have used a specialist to help me in my research.  In both cases I just knew that without the experience of someone who had been there I would screw something up.  My first expert was a man who researches grizzly bears.  He helped me tremendously in getting my facts straight for my Nocturne series, THE TRACKERS, and answering the questions that you can’t find anywhere else.

Now I have a Marine, a Leatherneck, a Jar Head, a Devil Dog.  Because the story I am currently writing for Harlequin Nocturne features a Marine Werewolf.  This retired Marine has made sure that my hero has chosen the correct personal side arm (a Magnum .45) and been patient with questions such as, “Do Sergeant’s ever lead a Fire Team?  And “Does ‘Rear Echelon” mean the commanders who are not in the fight?”  I also now know that a Sergeant is not a ‘junior officer’.  It is tough when your ignorance is showing but better for him to clean that up than for my readers to slap their head while reading my story and then throw my book across the room.  I’ve also picked up some very colorful slang.

My Marine even sent me a YouTube video on how to enter a room.  Very scary stuff.  But he wasn’t afraid of the really scary questions like “what color is a Marine’s underwear?

Answer:  It depends on where you are and what you are doing.  They could be tan, olive or white.

As I said, you want to get this research right!



Life: A Visit from Sandy

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

 

Monday afternoon the winds began to rise and the big eighty foot trees that ring my property began to dance.  It is an awesome sound and sight to see these still giants bend and bow and tangle their branches.

Trees Down Everywhere

At dusk I stood in my office and watched the transformer up the street explode in a shower of green sparks as brilliant as any Fourth of July display.  After the showers of sparks, I saw an orange flame.  Everything went dark.  It was not until Tuesday afternoon that I discovered that a pine tree had fallen across the road and taken down the power lines.

Fixing the Hole

The house went still as lights and refrigerator and heat all clicked off.  I wondered how cold the night might be.  The winds still arrived in gusts and I hoped the trees would hold.  One didn’t.  I watched in shock as it blew and then realized it was not blowing, but falling towards my neighbor’s home.  The wind blocked the sound of splitting beams as the trunk cleaved the end of their house in two.  Landing between the end wall and the bedroom, the trunk snapped the main support beam making the side wall tilt and the chimney lean.  I prayed their family was on the ground floor.  Remarkably they still had lights since the blackout ended at my house.

Blackout in my Livingroom

After seeing that, my husband and I retreated to the basement.  I hoped that falling trees would miss us but if they fell I wanted to be below ground level.  That night we slept in the living room, away from the largest trees that ring the upper floor, tucking in tight to the support wall between our kitchen and living room.

 

The next morning we woke to a cold intact house.  We spent the day helping our neighbors cut branches and cover what we could of the hole in their roof with a blue tarp.  It has been seven days and no one has come to remove that tree from their home.

The city removed downed trees.  Neighbors who haven’t spoken in months exchanged news.  We used our crank radio to hear what was happening but I still have not seen any images except the ones in the newspapers.  We cooked on our gas stove, which still worked and wore winter coats to bed, retiring early and rising early as our ancestors used to do.

The public libraries became centers of activity for charging electronics and connecting with loved ones via the internet.  Every outlet was taken with a cell phone or laptop.  Grocery stores reopened but quickly ran short of ice, batteries, matches, candles.

On Thursday, at two in the morning, I woke to the sound of our security alarm engaging and giving a warning that it would sound in 90 seconds.  I ran around the house looking for the remote and flicked it back off before the siren sounded.  The power was on.  The heat came up and I breathed a sigh as I removed my scarf and hat and went back to bed.

Now the gas lines stretch for miles and I hear from a neighbor that people are fighting at the home improvement stores over lumber and plywood.  Some communities are alive with open restaurants and movie theaters while other communities are dark.  Like the storm’s destruction, the recovery is random but real recovery will take many months.

It is hard to have your foundation of safety so thoroughly shaken.  It is hard to be patient as your neighbor’s blue tarp flaps over the hole in his roof.  But it is good to see the sunrise fill your home with light after a cold, dark night.  And it is good to see people working so long and hard to set things right.

One of the authors I follow on line Tweeted on Tuesday that Sandy would ultimately be a blessing.  At the time, sitting in the cold and dark with my smart phone battery draining away. I felt very much like wringing her neck.  Honestly, I still do.  But there have been moments of peace and gratitude and glimmers of insight mixed with the sorrow and the fear.

Sandy is no blessing.  But I do have many blessings to numerous to count.