Posted in Adventure, Books, Education, Road Trip, Teenagers, Writing

End Of Summer Blues

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My youngest son started his Freshman year of high school yesterday. His brother will start college in two weeks. And I will go back to work at the elementary school on Thursday. A lot of people complain about school starting so early. They didn’t go back until after Labor Day. The reason for the early start is to finish the first semester before Christmas break. Which means no studying for finals over the holiday. No major projects due the day after New Years. I’m good with that.

The hard part for me isn’t the day on the calendar. It’s all the things I was going to accomplish over the break. Cleaning out the closets, re-covering the patio chairs, redoing the second shower that has been unusable for months. Staining the deck. Finishing the second AND third books in my Swift River Romance series.

Add in a family vacation, which could be our last with our oldest son since he’s taken a job as a whitewater guide and will be working the whole summers for the foreseeable future.

Let’s see, what did I accomplish this summer? Besides catching up on my sleep?

I finished the second book, while we were on our family vacation. We took a road trip to Jackson, Wyoming. We were able to stay at our cousin’s place in Wilson, we took day trips to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, and the boys were able to explore bike trails in the area while I worked in the shadow of the Tetons.

 

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And I ordered the parts for the shower, calculated the tile needed, and I’m in the process of trying to figure out what to do about the fact that the tile we have is about eight square feet short of what we need. And since the tile I want to use is about ten years old, it’s going to be really hard to get an exact match. I’m thinking I’m going to have to find something in a similar texture but a different color. Darker, maybe. Then there’s the demolition of the old tile and getting a plumber in to do the inside parts of the shower so I can tile the walls after ward. It’s going to have to be a weekend warrior project.

I attended the Romance Writers of America annual convention in San Diego. Had a wonderful time meeting other authors, taking workshops on craft and finding my readers, meeting with my publisher, and celebrating the world of Romance.

My fifth book, Swept Away, was released. This is the first of three books in the Swift River Romance series.

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I went through the editing process on In Too Deep, the second book in the series and I’m working on Diving In, the third book.

I’m working on a proposal for a new series.

We have taken a couple of trips down the American River in our ancient raft. We even got to see our oldest son while he was working and did our best to embarrass him by asking if he remembered his sunscreen when he paddled past us.

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We attended a wedding and a Bar Mitzvah. We’ve taken a couple of day hikes, gone swimming, and spent some time at our family cabin near Mt. Shasta.

So I guess it was a good summer, even if it felt too short. I have a feeling they’re only going to get shorter.

 

Posted in Adventure, Road Trip

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

I recently got back from a family vacation to the Washington D.C. area. It was the first vacation I’ve taken in years that didn’t involve any writing. Not even on the plane. I barely had time to post to Facebook that I was actually standing in front of the Gutenberg Bible.

I did stop by the Books-A-Million Store in D.C. to get a look at my books in a real bookstore. It was pretty cool, and kind of surreal to find the books I had written sitting on a bookstore shelf. The employees were really nice and they were thrilled to talk to me about my books and have me sign the copies they had on the shelf.

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The rest of the trip was spent walking and doing all the touristy things.

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The White House

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The Lincoln Memorial

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The Library Of Congress where I did see the Gutenberg Bible.

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Pretty amazing.

We also went to Mt. Vernon

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Washington Monument

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Gettysburg and the Arlington National Cemetery but I didn’t take pictures.

We spent a lot of time walking, riding the subway, and waiting in line with thousands of school kids, or as my soon-to-be-Senior son looks down upon, upcoming Freshmen.

We did catch a ballgame at Camden Yards. And since the head groundskeeper is a woman and the heroine of my next baseball book is also a grounds keeper, I guess I did work after all.

A good thing, since I got my next round of edits on my fourth book when I landed at LAX.

Vacation is over. I’ve got editing to do, emails to catch up on, and a few blog posts to write for my upcoming blog tour for my third book, Making A Comeback, which comes out on July 7. That’s in two weeks. Better get busy.

Posted in Road Trip, Teenagers

Road Trips

The San Francisco Giants started a long road trip with a three game sweep of the Atlanta Braves. I went on a two and a half road trip with my family and the El Dorado High School Ski & Board team.

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Sixteen years ago, the Giants were also in Atlanta, and on May 3, 1998, they faced Tom Glavine. He was always tough on the Giants, and as he was recently inducted into the Hall of Fame, one of the best pitchers of his era. But I woke up that morning knowing it was going to be a special day. Sure enough, behind Rich Aurelia’s two home runs,  a solid start by Danny Darwin, and a Save by Robb Nen, the Giants were victorious. Then it was time for me to go to the hospital to give birth to my first child. Yes, I waited until the game was over before heading to the delivery room. I had gone to Opening Day three weeks before, hoping to go into labor during the game, but my son had other plans.

This was the first year since he was five that he didn’t have a baseball game on his birthday. He’s moved on to football, skiing, and golf. He was supposed to go to a ski camp last weekend, but a late season storm forced them to move the camp to his birthday weekend.

His dad was on the ski team when he went to the same high school. It’s been great seeing him relive his glory days and contribute to the next generation by assisting the coaching staff. We took the whole family and one other skier down to Mammoth, CA. A four hour drive down the eastern Sierra was made more interesting by the conversation between my 16-year-old, his 11-year-old brother and the Senior who drove down with us. They discussed everything from video games, ancient civilizations, whitewater rafting, and music.

After having to detour over Spooner Summit when we discovered Nevada State Route 207 was closed, we met up with the others in Minden, NV. We made good time the rest of the way, getting there around nine. Since the directions to our condo were coming from the South, we put the address into our phone, but Siri took us the wrong direction. We drove around trying to find the street, but the carved wood street signs, while quaint and rustic, were hard to read in the dark. Making the third trip around the block, we came upon a rather large bear. I tried to get a picture, but I worried the flash would spook him and he’d come charging toward our car. We decided it would be better to take the teenagers to their condo and we’d try to figure out where we were staying from there.

By following the e-mailed directions, we found our condo, on the opposite side of the main street than Siri tried to take us. Earlier that day we were making fun of people who didn’t know how to read maps and relied solely on their phones to find places.

For two days, the teenager and his dad spent the mornings learning how to race slalom and then they had some free skiing in the afternoons. My younger son joined them on Sunday and he got to race the course right next to where the Team USA was training. I worked on revision of the next book, hopefully Book Three, and listened to the baseball games on my phone. For some reason, being halfway between the Giants and Dodgers stadiums, the only game I could find on TV was between the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals.

Saturday was my son’s 16th birthday, so while he was skiing, I baked his birthday cake. I’d packed the cake pans, batter bowl, mixer, and I’d even remembered the parchment paper to line the cake pans. What I didn’t bring was something to put the cake on. So I had to go back into to town looking for a cake plate or something to place the layer cake on.

It was great weekend.

Here are some pictures my husband took on the mountain.

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My Blog Tour Continues. Click on the image below.

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Posted in Baseball, Road Trip, Writing

What’s Your Walkup Song?

Baseball is a team game. But it is played by individuals. And each player has his own personality and story behind their swagger. A custom at Major League Baseball games (and Minor League, too) is for each player to chose a song that is played before each at bat, or for the pitchers, when they take the mound.

If you want to check out the San Francisco Giants player’s walk-up songs, here is the link. I hate to admit I don’t know a lot of these artists. But I’ll bet I recognize the songs once I hear them.

So I got to thinking, what would my Walk-up song be? If I were to play a song that sums up me as an author?

While I was submitting to agents, editors, and contests, my song would have been “The Waiting” by Tom Petty. It felt like asking someone to prom on the first day of school and having to wait until Spring for their answer. At least in most cases, you could submit to more than one publisher or agent. And dream of having to send out rejection letters of your own.

When receiving rejections, I kept my spirits up by singing, “Even The Losers” by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. Yeah, I’m a Tom Petty fan.

When we start a vacation, especially a road trip, I always start the trip off by playing Jimmy Buffet’s “Cheeseburger in Paradise.” It’s been a tradition since our Honeymoon.

After getting a harsh critique or getting stuck in my writing, I think of “After The Thrill Is Gone,” by the Eagles. But then I play “Get Over It” and get back to work.

So if I had to pick just one song that sums up my journey from aspiring to published author, it would have to be Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.”

Posted in Random, Road Trip

Lost In Suburbia

I have a terrible sense of direction. I can’t judge distances or give directions. When I started my job as yard duty for parent drop off, parents asked me how to get to the back parking lot. I’d been driving my own kids to that school for a decade and I could not remember the name of the street I drove down 180 days a year.

I resort to grunts, gestures and pointing, trying to describe how to get somewhere in my town where everything is actually uphill both ways. Don’t call me to get directions to my house, I’ll just come downtown to meet you.

My son had a doctor’s appointment with an allergist. Our new insurance isn’t local, so we had to drive to Roseville. I have never, ever, gone to Roseville without getting lost. I can’t find the mall. Part of the problem is that I try to avoid freeways whenever possible. Especially since the GPS takes me several miles out of my way to get on a road that has a bajillion stoplights to backtrack to where I’m going. There has to be a shortcut. And there is. But there are also about a bajillion shopping centers that look exactly the same. And they all have the same stores, and restaurants. So I turn in by the Game Stop to check my GPS only to find out I’ve gone too far. But I can only make a right turn and there is no U-turn, so I take a left, into another shopping center with a Game Stop and a nail salon and a Starbucks. But I have no idea how to get back on the freeway, and do I want to go North or South to head West? Or is it East or West to head South? And why is it that I hit every light green when I want to check my GPS to see if I’ve gone the wrong way?

I actually had to pull into a 7-11 to ask for directions to get back on the freeway. But the clerk was like me, she couldn’t give directions without making the motions. The guy behind me offered to have me follow him. Which was a good thing, because there were three different right hand turning lanes. I would have taken the wrong one and ended up in Sacramento before I could have turned around.

I made it to the freeway and was able to meet my husband for lunch. I decided to stop at Target. Then I got lost again trying to find my way home. Do I go North or South to go East before I can go South? It wasn’t until I got to the river that I felt like I knew where I was going.

I’m just thankful for Amazon, so I don’t have to try to find the mall.

Posted in Road Trip, Writing

Road Trips and Writing

I went camping again last week. This time with my family. My husband started a new job on Monday and we wanted to take one last trip this summer. We decided to get away to the coast and do a little camping.

We loaded the car and hit the road after picking my oldest son up from football practice (we did let him shower first) and we headed northwest to Ft. Bragg. We weren’t exactly sure which direction we would take, we could take the straight route through Petaluma and up from there, or we could head north and drive over to Clear Lake and head east. We decided to take the alternate route through Clear Lake. We drove through parts of California we’d never been too. Through some farm towns that we’d only heard of as signs on the highway. (So that’s where Esparta is). We drove by the Cache Creek Casino. Not sure why people would go all that way, but they do have some good concerts. Then again, growing up in Tahoe and going to college in Reno, casinos are usually my last choice for a destination. (Unless it’s for 99 cent ham and eggs at two in the morning. Do they still have those kinds of deals?).

We arrived in Ft. Bragg around six. We had our tents, we had our cooler packed. What we didn’t have was a guide book for campgrounds. And our internet was spotty up there.  We drove past a state beach, but didn’t see a sign for camping. As it got later, we decided to look for a hotel and figure out the camping thing the next day.

We stopped in at one place right on the beach, but they only had one room left. With only one bed. Not going to work with four of us. But the desk clerk recommended Don and Dottie’s place- the Travelodge. They’d recently remodeled and we were able to get a two room suite for a reasonable price. They even had a rollaway so my two boys (15 and 10) didn’t have to share a bed. Bonus.

We were given recommendations for dinner, and a map, which I left back at the room. We found a place right on the water and had a great view of the boats coming in from the day’s fishing.

We went to Glass Beach the next day. The boys loved hiking around on the rocks, my youngest without shoes. I swear the boy had no nerve ending on his feet, he’s always running around barefoot, climbing trees and such. We looked for  crabs and sea anemones and other such sea critters.

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Then later that morning we found a campsite at a state park in Mendocino. We stopped in the visitors center for tips on things to do and the ranger gave us a great spot to park for the beach. On a perfectly gorgeous day, we stumbled upon this998425_694322137248708_320223174_n

 

An artistic structure that provided just enough of a wind block that I was able to pull out my laptop and work on a scene I’ve been struggling with on my current WIP. The teen hit the water with his boogie board, skim board and he ditched the wetsuit after a while. The younger boy dug a cool trench he later covered with sticks for a fort. We couldn’t ask for better weather, the beach wasn’t very crowded and it was almost perfect except for the beesting. The good news, I’m not allergic. But it hurt, and the swelling showed up the next day.

We camped that night and it was a little chilly once the fog rolled in. But a hot shower (once we dug up enough quarters) and all was good. We decided to go inland for the day. We wanted to see some redwoods since the last time we tried, my youngest son ate raisins and M&Ms out of a bag of trail mix and broke out in hives. We found out later he’s allergic to nuts.

We made it to Hendy Woods State Park, but decided not to camp there. The road leading in was lined with Poison Oak. My teen is very, very sensitive to it and had a really bad reaction to it the last time he got it. We ended up in the ER when his arm swelled to the size of my thigh- three days after starting the prednisone. We did take a hike through the redwoods, and my son washed his legs with dish soap as soon as we were done. No poison oak on this trip.

We drove over to Boonville, just because we’d never been there, but had their beer. They were one of the first breweries to put craft beer in a can. It was hot there. About 97. So now we had to decide. Head back home or go back to the ocean. We decided to go back to the ocean.

We took the road that wound through the mountains. Kind of a scary road, not just because of the 16 percent grade, but the “farms” with razor wire and very serious NO TRESSPASSING sings. Did not want to break down on that road and stumble upon an herbal garden.

We got to Point Arena, and it was 30 degrees cooler, and overcast. But beautiful. We walked out on the point and watched the seals or sea lions lounging on the fantastic rocks. The geology of the coast up there is spectacular. Layered rocks almost vertical due to seismic activity. Beautiful.

We ended up our last night camping at Bodega Dunes state park. We found the perfect campsite with this tree.

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Yes that’s my son. Barefoot, of course.

We take a lot of road trips in this family. But we rarely make reservations. We usually end up finding something unexpected and spectacular. My writing is the same way. I’m a pantster all the way. I have a destination in mind when I write, but I can’t plot out a story in advance. I have to get on the road and see where it takes me. Sometimes I make a wrong turn and have to backtrack, but mostly I end up surprising myself and finding out it’s better than anything I could have planned.

Posted in Adventure, Road Trip

I Survived An All Girls’ Camping Trip

 

With my two kids away at a sleepover fine arts camp, and no Giants baseball because of the All-Star break, I went on a two night camping trip with a group of women I work with. We are all educators, some teachers, some para-educators, all of us dedicated to the kids we work with.

I joined the staff almost two years ago, after being a parent volunteer for years. One of the things I loved about the school, was the sense of community. It was obvious from the first Kindergarten information meeting. When they told us there would be a first day of school coffee and donuts for parents, I knew I was somewhere special. No crying mommies peering through the classroom window. There was a place to go and share our anxiety, coffee and pass the tissues. It was also a great way to get involved in the school community. Now that my babies have moved on to high school and middle school, I’m just staff.

And what a great group we have. We drove to Tahoe Monday afternoon. Set up three tents and brought out the appetizers. We had everything from salad to sushi, homemade salsa and guacamole, chicken wings and fruit kabobs. And wine. Of course, there was wine.

We walked to the beach, put our toes in the water and proceeded to catch up. There is nothing like the sound of women laughing. I love my boys, love guys in general. I’m a romance writer, so of course, I love men. But sometimes it’s nice to just be a little bit girly. To laugh and giggle, and discuss the benefits of a man in uniform.

We built a fire, made S’mores and put up cute daisy lights on our tents. We discussed our kids, our jobs, our husbands. We took kayaks out on the lake, almost stepped on a crawfish, and managed to avoid any mishaps. We did almost get lost coming back from the bathroom, but we had the daisy lights to guide us back to our campsite.1003013_690426777638244_1992954508_n