Monday, July 28, 2008

Finding the Write Book

My daughter and I dropped into our favorite book store a few days ago. She was looking for a travel journal and I needed a new purse-sized notebook. Pricey little items.

And have you noticed that journals and notebooks filled with blank pages cost more than a lot of books filled pages of words? Words, I might add, that someone spent hours and hours stringing together to create a story.

This is the notebook I bought. Isn't it fun? It’s also reversible! I can use the “All Work” side to jot notes about writing and research. Then I can flip it over to the “All Play” side and write reminders about things like my friends’ book and movie recommendations. I also like it because the girls are a lot like the ones on my website.

Not the greatest photos, but I'm not the greatest photographer and I don't have time to retake them. I probably shouldn't have spent time taking these!

Before I sign off, here’s a reminder that it’s conference wrap-up week with the Wet Noodle Posse. Here is what's being planned:

Monday: Not going to the conference this year? Maureen Hardegree will help you cope.

Tuesday: MJ Fredrick leads a discussion about this year’s Rita books.

Wednesday: Join MJ again today as she gives a virtual tour of San Francisco!

Thursday: Making History—Delle Jacobs reports on the Beau Monde and Hearts Through History
chapter events at the conference.

Friday: Noodlers’ August Book Releases and Q&A Day

Many Noodlers, including yours truly, will be attending RWA’s National Conference in San Francisco. If you're attending the Literacy Autographing on Wednesday (5:30 to 7:30 pm) at the San Francisco Marriott, be sure to introduce yourself.

Happy reading, happy writing.

Until next time,

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sunday Fun—Packing and Unpacking

I am the world’s worst packer. Seriously. As we speak, I am already unpacking, and I haven’t even gone anywhere.


In a few days I’m heading to San Francisco for the Romance Writers of America’s annual conference. It's an important conference, so I need to get this right.

Business/dressy for daytime. A couple of cocktail dresses for dinners out. Oh, fine. I’ll have a cocktail, too. Two glam gowns for special evening events.

Dressy shoes. Comfy walking shoes.

A jacket in case it gets cool. A couple of lightweight sleeveless things in case it gets hot. Speaking of weather, maybe I should toss in an umbrella.

My biggest problem isn’t the weather, though. It’s making decisions. How do I know what I’ll want to wear on Thursday? It’s Sunday. I haven’t even figured out what I’m going to wear today.

Yes, that’s right. I’m still in my PJs. I’m worried that if I get dressed, I’ll decide that what I’m wearing has to go in the suitcase, and then where will I be? Packing in my skivvies, that’s where. So PJs it is until I get this figured out.

My next biggest problem is that I’m a compulsive overpacker.

This isn't my luggage, but it could be.

If I take one pair of neutral-colored pants, I can wear them several times by mixing and matching tops and jackets. Makes total sense, and cuts down on the number of things that have to go in the suitcase. But what if I spill something on them? There’s a very good chance of that happening—but please don’t let it be my cocktail. So in goes a second pair of pants. Maybe a third. Just in case.

This keeps up until I’ve exceeded the suitcase’s maximum capacity. Then, after struggling to get it zipped, I realize I’ve forgotten one thing. Extra space. I need room to bring home some souvenirs, and all the free books handed out at the conference.

So I’m already unpacking, even though I'm still at home, but I really do need that extra space. One thing's for sure. The umbrella is definitely not going with me. If it rains, I can always buy one when I get there.

Until next time,
Lee (aka World’s Worst Packer)

Friday, July 25, 2008

Friday Food for Thought—Grilled Vegetables on Skewers

Last Friday I promised the recipe for grilled veggies, and here it is.

Many kinds of vegetables work well on the grill. I like to experiment and sometimes I just end up using whatever happens to be in the fridge, but I always go for a range of colors. Here’s a list of my family’s favorites:

bell peppers—green, red and yellow
cherry tomatoes
yellow summer squash
chunks of sweet red onion

Wash the veggies and cut them into serving-sized pieces. I like to arrange the pieces in alternating colors—after all, presentation is important! For more flavor, we always marinate our skewered vegetables.

3 or 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 cup of olive oil
3 to 4 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon of dried crushed basil
salt and pepper

Whisk the marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Place the skewers in a shallow pan, pour the marinade over them, and refrigerate for at least half an hour.

Grill the skewers until the vegetables are tender but not overcooked. They’re delicious, so I’m sure you’ll enjoy them! If you have suggestions for other vegetables that work well on the grill, please share them!

Until next time,

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I’m Blogging with the Harlequin American Authors Today

Want to join in some light-hearted summer fun? Come on. I’ll meet you over at the Harlequin American Romance Authors blog!

See you there!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tuesday News—If You’re Going to San Francisco . . .

. . . please come to the 2008 "Readers for Life" Literacy Autographing sponsored by Romance Writers of America. It’s open to the public, and it’s free!

Wednesday, July 30
5:30-7:30 pm
San Francisco Marriott, Yerba Buena Ballroom

Click on this link to see a list of the more than 500 authors taking part in this event.

Will I be wearing flowers in my hair? Probably not! But I will be signing copies of The Man for Maggie and With This Ring. I hope you’ll stop to say hello!

And finally, this Thursday, July 24 is my blog day with the Harlequin American Romance Authors. If you drop by and leave a comment, you'll be automatically entered in our July contest. Prizes this month are autographed copies of The Fake Fiance by Megan Kelly and With This Ring by yours truly.

Until next time,

Monday, July 21, 2008

This Week with the Wet Noodle Posse

Conference fun continues this week with the Wet Noodle Posse.

Monday: What Not to Wear—Priscilla Kissinger, the WNP’s very own style guru and 2008 Golden Heart finalist, offers fashion tips for RWA’s national conference. As my daughter will attest, I’m pretty much a walking fashion disaster, so I'll definitely be paying attention to this one!

Tuesday: Delle Jacobs has great advice for preparing your pitch to an editor or agent.

Wednesday: Join Mary Fechter for some penny pinching tips, based on her past conference experiences.

Thursday: Janet Mullany shows us how to remember names and faces in the sea of oh-so-many.

Friday: Q&A Day
Until next time,

Sunday, July 20, 2008

In the Company of Writers

I love to hang out with friends, especially when those friends are fellow writers, and that’s what I did yesterday. Meg Fraser hosted the Vancouver Island Chapter of Romance Writers of America’s annual summer picnic. Meg has just moved into a gorgeous home—I’ll tell you more about it in a minute—and she is a hostess extraordinaire. And as a special treat, her husband left a box of chocolates for us. Let me tell you . . . even a small group of women can make a sizable dent in a box of chocolates!

Here we are (from l. to r.): Daniela Hewson (chapter president), Susan Lyons (Kensington author), Tara Bisgrove, Meg Fraser, and Rachel Goldsworthy (chapter treasurer). I’m the one behind the camera. The vivacious Bonnie Edwards, another Kensington author, joined us after lunch, and after this photo this was taken. That’s the Strait of Georgia and the faint outline of the snowcapped coast mountains in the background.

Our potluck lunch ended up being salads and desserts, which everyone decided was pretty much perfect, especially accompanied by the four Cs—conversation, camaraderie, chilled white wine, and chocolate. We ate and sipped and chatted, periodically distracted by views of the garden and the strait, and the ravens and bald eagles soaring overhead.

Meg has a glorious back garden. Instead of lawn, there's a gorgeous array of shrubs and perennials, many of which were in bloom. A pathway winds through the garden and down the sloping back yard—perfect for a stroll and a close-up look at all the plants. It’s all surrounded by a deer- and rabbit-proof fence, thoughtfully constructed by the home’s previous owner.

An altogether wonderful day in a perfect setting. Many thanks to Meg for hosting us, and thanks to all for the friendship and fellowship.

Until next time,

Friday, July 18, 2008

Friday Food for Thought—Grilled Jumbo Shrimp

Most of my favorite recipes are quick to prepare and only require a few ingredients. I also prefer to cook "from scratch" because the ingredients tend to be fresher. My family loves seafood, so I thought I'd share another of our summer barbecue favs for grilled jumbo shrimp. Here's the recipe.

1 to 1.5 pounds of fresh jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined

3 limes
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tablespoons of olive oil

To make the marinade, wash the limes and finely grate the peel into a small bowl. Squeeze the limes and add the juice to the bowl, along with the minced garlic and olive oil. Set aside.

Skewer the shrimp—three to five per skewer makes a nice serving—and place them in a wide shallow pan. Whisk the marinade and pour it over the shrimp. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 10 or 15 minutes. Turn them once so they're evenly coated.

Grill the shrimp for about 2 minutes per side, or until they're pink and opaque. Be careful not to overcook them!

Garnish with lime wedges, serve with a salad and grilled vegetables on skewers, and enjoy!

Until next time,

Note: frozen and/or precooked shrimp work well. Thaw frozen shrimp under cool running water. If they’re precooked—they'll already be pink if they are—reduce the cooking time to about 1 minute per side, just enough to heat them through and get them nicely singed from the grill.

PS: Next week I'll post a recipe for grilled veggies.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Tuesday News

I’m still working on my next Harlequin American Romance, Halfway to the Stars. That’s the working title, which is almost certain to change, and it’s set in the beautiful city of San Francisco. Now that it’s so close to being finished, I’m starting to get excited about writing the sequel, Gateway to her Heart. And yes, that's also a working title. I can't imagine my editor wanting to keep either title, and I'm not all that crazy about them myself.

Arrgh! Why is so difficult to come up with great titles?

On the personal front, in June my son completed a BFA in Jazz Music. This week he received a letter from the university, congratulating him on making The Dean’s Honor List! Needless to say, I’m as proud as a mom could possibly be!

That’s it for this week's news.

Until next time,

Monday, July 14, 2008

This Week with the Wet Noodle Posse

Conference chatter continues this week over at the Wet Noodle Posse. Here’s what to watch for:

Monday: Diane Gaston gives us survival skills for the RWA National Conference

Tuesday: Golden Heart finalist Priscilla Kissinger talks about What Not to Wear: Packing for Conference

Wednesday: Esri Rose chats about conference activities for non-joiners, newbies, and self-promoters

Thursday: If you look after your feet, your feet will look after you. Janet Mullaney tells all.

Friday: Q&A Day
Until next time,

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sunday Fun—What Not to Wear

You might not be able to tell from looking at me, but I have my own personal stylist. My daughter. Lately she’s been helping me sort through the things in my closet and decide what to take to a conference, and what not to take. And one thing I can always count on from her is a brutally honest opinion.

I have a navy and white suit that I really like—I’m wearing it in this photo from my website—and I always get a lot of compliments on it. To which my daughter replied, “Yeah, from other frumpy old ladies.” You gotta love a kid like this! So, for sure the pants will go into the suitcase, but the jacket may have to stay at home.

I also have this little red dress that I really like, and I’ve lost a few pounds so it fits again, but my daughter says it makes me look like I haven't shopped since the '80s. Okay, so it does have shoulder pads, but on the positive side, I don’t have big hair and I haven’t worn stirrup pants in two decades. Those are good things, right?

I am very much looking forward to the conference and I know that with my daughter’s help, I’ll even manage to look presentable and professional. But when she isn’t looking, I just might sneak this red dress into my suitcase. Shoulder pads and all.

Until next time,

Friday, July 11, 2008

Friday Food for Thought—Grilled Salmon

TGIF! Four letters that everyone can relate to. The work week is over for most of us, and two days filled with possibilities lie ahead. For me, the weekend is all about family, friends, and food! It's the perfect time to entertain, and to put some extra thought and effort into what we're serving for dinner.

We barbecue year round at my house and grilled salmon is a family favorite. We prefer sockeye because it has such great color and texture, but any variety will do.

Lee's Grilled Salmon

4 salmon steaks or filets


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 tablespoon grated orange rind
1/3 cup orange juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoon paprika
salt and cayenne pepper to taste

Combine all of the above ingredients. Marinate the salmon in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Grilling time depends on the thickness of the steaks. Flip them half way through the cooking time so you get an even finish on both sides. Serve with grilled vegetables and your favorite summer salad.
The marinade gives the fish a zesty, dark-red coating. I hope you enjoy it!

Have a wonderful weekend. Until next time,

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Tuesday News—July’s Harlequin American Romances are out today!

Ah, July! Summer’s finally here and it’s the perfect time to sprawl in a hammock or curl up under a beach umbrella with a good book or two . . . or four! Starting with this month’s releases from Harlequin American Romance - Smoky Mountain Reunion by Lynnette Kent, Hannah’s Baby by Cathy Gillen Thacker, The Fake FiancĂ© by Megan Kelly, and Trust a Cowboy by Judy Christenbury.

And be sure to check out Megan Kelly’s interview, posted yesterday on the Harlequin American Romance Authors’ blog.

Happy reading!

Until next time,

Monday, July 7, 2008

This Week at The Wet Noodle Posse

Here’s a sneak peek at what the Posse is up to this week.

Monday: Mary Fechter chats about attending RWA’s National Conference as a Golden Heart finalist

Tuesday: conference advice from Theresa Ragan

Wednesday: Delle Jacobs on whether or not the conference can make or break your career

Thursday: networking with Trish Milburn

Friday: Q&A day
I hope your Monday is the start to a great week!

Until next time,

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Sunday Fun—A Fawn is Rescued

Okay, I have a confession to make. I am addicted to animal rescue stories. Especially if the animals involved are babies. There’s just something all warm and fuzzy about these stories, and they make me feel all warm and fuzzy. What can I say? I’m hopelessly hooked on them!

I recently came across this story about a couple in Texas who rescued a newborn fawn. The mother had been hit by a car, but baby Jet is now eight weeks old and thriving. In addition to living with his human foster parents, Jet shares a home with several cats and a Great Dane. [Note: this web site has lots of fun photographs. It may be a bit slow to load, but it's worth the wait!]

Jet’s foster mom posts weekly updates about his development, and about what life with a baby deer is like. She’s also an artist, so be sure to check out the rest of her site. If you’re anything like me, I’m sure you’ll be going back for your weekly animal rescue fix. I hope you enjoy it!

Until next time,

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Belated Happy Fourth!

I completely forgot that yesterday was the fourth of July. I guess I'm still recovering from Canada Day. I hope all my American friends and family had a wonderful celebration!

More later.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Tuesday News—Happy Birthday, Canada!

Canada is one hundred and forty one years old today. To everyone who’s celebrating Canada Day, enjoy the parades and barbecues and fireworks!

Starting this month you’ll have a chance to get better acquainted with the Harlequin American Romance authors. Each month two author profiles will be posted on the Harlequin American Romance Authors blog. This month we’re featuring Megan Kelly on July 7 and Laura Marie Altom on July 14. Be sure to check them out!

July is conference month at The Wet Noodle Posse. We’ll be chatting about conference-related topics, and then several Noodlers will be blogging live from the Romance Writers of America’s National Conference in San Francisco, July 30 to August 2! This week’s topics are:

Tuesday—Mary Fechter: July introduction to”Prepping for Conference”

Wednesday—Get Your Head in the Game: Prepare for Nationals with Maureen Hardegree

Thursday—Business cards byTerry McLaughlin

Friday—Q&A Day and new Noodler releases

Have a wonderful day!