Last weekend it rained in So Cal. Mind you, it hasn’t rained here – like that – in months upon months of months. A long time.
During a break in the rain, I took a walk with my camera and caught some lovely photos. Enjoy…
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen the sky with rain-fattened clouds.
Just when you think this cactus, above, is totally dead, it comes back to vivid life.
Aren’t the yellow flowers beautiful?
This arroyo runs through the local golf course near my house. This is the first time I’ve seen so much water in it since the late 1990′s.
This shot, above, had the ubiquitous So Cal palm tree, so I had to take it.
So, yeah. Like many So Cal homes, ours doesn’t have gutters. Someday we’ll get there – but for now, we collect water in used laundry detergent buckets. Both in the front and the back yards. It’s one way to keep the yards from flooding…
Many of my other photos are on my laptop, which is busy being backed up by Carbonite and, so, extremely slow when it comes to photos. I hope you enjoy!
I’m working on bringing Wine Fridays back, so stay tuned. Here’s hoping you have a happy weekend!
Caught between children not yet gone from the nest and an aging parent who wants his child. Neither lay blame (or even think to do so), but the guilt is there, waiting to pounce in a weak moment. Plus the marriage.
The push-pull of need and the balancing act that is required take its toll. And in a totally unrelated yet totally related way, I miss my mom.
I so wish we all lived together, in one house. Grandparent, children, grandchildren.
But that would undoubtedly bring its own heartaches.
So I take a deep breath and think on my blessings.
February is Festival Month at my house. We kick it off on Valentine’s Day for obvious reasons; then it’s my birthday (17), wedding anniversary (23), and hubby’s birthday (26). We try to get in a vacation somewhere during this two-week span, in part because prices tend to be cheaper when you’re talking travel.
Four years ago, we came up to Cambria for a week. Rented a sweet little artist’s cottage for much less than it would cost to stay in a hotel, and we made it our base of operations as we explored the coastal areas (Morro Bay to the south and beachy areas to the north) and Paso Robles wine country. So obviously it was time to come back. One of the things we love to do is take photos, so sit back and enjoy!
The above is one of my favorite shots ever. Tom had woken up around 6am and was racing to get his clothes on and find his camera. I stumbled after him, even sacrificing having my first cup of coffee to get to the ocean on time. We barely made it.
But the hassle was so worth it. This is part of the Lampton preserve, all fenced off. Also in the Marina Terrace section of town.
After breakfast, we headed north up Highway 1 to Piedras Blancas, a beach that is also an Elephant Seal preserve. December to March is when they come to this beach, give birth, and start the mating rituals all over again. They are noisy, sweet, funny and aggressive animals and always worth an hour or two. Or three.
These animals are amazing.
It was time to head back toward Cambria, but the ocean sparkled so that we stopped a couple times to take photos.
And then to add to the animal theme…zebras. Yes, zebras.
And Hearst Castle…from a distance.
It was a lovely day. We went back into town, shopped a bit, had lunch at Robin’s (YUMMY!), went home and napped. Then it was almost sunset, and we had to hit the beach again.
So far this weekend has been magical. Today is my birthday, and we’ll have a slow transition from vacation to home (and taxes). This was the break I needed! If you get the chance, come to Cambria. You won’t regret it.
So, what is one of your favorite, close-to-you and relatively inexpensive vacation spots?
I was brought up watching the Olympics. Winter or Summer, it didn’t matter – we were there, watching, every night or weekend day, celebrating the athletes or commiserating with them. There was national pride, yes, and much joking about the one Ukranian judge who didn’t score appropriately (and I’m making a generalization here, people), but mostly it was a celebration of awesome physical feats of endeavor.
So it is with great confusion that I see people proclaim that they’re not watching the Olympics because of Putin’s policies outlawing homosexuality. I don’t understand that protest.
Yes, Russia is anti-gay. Am I an admirer of that stance? Hell to the no. But not watching the Olympics is, to me, not the best way of having my opinion heard. Not watching the Olympics won’t change Putin’s mind about the policies he’s put into place. Not watching the Olympics will only deprive me of the fun of watching the Olympics.
As a protest, I like what one of my friends is doing. For every day of the winter Olympics she’s watching, she’s donating to the Russia Freedom Fund. What is that? To borrow from their website:
“The Fund is a U.S. tax deductible vehicle for making financial contributions in support of the LGBT movement in Russia and efforts to combat discrimination and violence there based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”
Now that, my friends, is one way to make your voice heard. I know very little about the Russia Freedom Fund, and as always do your due diligence before donating money to any cause.
But if you LOVE the Olympics and you are depriving yourself of the joy of watching the Games in the belief that it’s going to make a difference in the lives of gay people in Russia, well. Maybe you should re-think your opinion on this issue, and watch some winter Olympics before they’re over for 2014. Grab yourself some of that Olympic joy.
Enjoy Sally as she takes over the blog today. She’s a friend of mine and I LOVE this story! Take it away, Sally!
When romance calls for augers, wax gaskets and shop vacs. (Oh, the places we’ll go!)
When it comes to book boyfriends, could you go for one who is good with his hands? I sure could. (And yes, I know where your mind went, Christine. I like the way you think!) But when I challenged myself to write a plumber hero, I had a problem. Well, two problems.
The most obvious—I knew nothing about plumbing.
The other—I wanted my heroine to flush her ex’s ring in a rage, then need to get it back. And let’s face it, romance fiction is not the place we expect to hear a lot about toilets. Some delicacy would be required.
Between the Internet and the ever-handy juvenile nonfiction section of the library, I learned enough to write my way around Kim’s job, solving the first problem. But to strike the right balance of what to say and what to forgo, I relied on critique partners.
Never shy, they leapt into the fray.
“She hired him to fix a clogged toilet,” said one Critique Goddess, in reference to how Isabelle meets the hero at the start of the book. “Wouldn’t she be self-conscious, worried he’ll assume she’s the one that clogged it?”
A reasonable question. I made the change.
The Critique Goddess didn’t bat a lash at any of my choices in either of the two key scenes in which Kim demonstrates his competence as a plumber,. However, one of them did remark, “He’s so sexy! She should be thinking it wouldn’t be so bad if he flashed plumber’s crack.”
Did I succumb to peer pressure and do it? You’ll have to read Flushed to find out.
But seriously, I take full responsibility for any errors, and also any detail that could be considered indelicate. I can only assure that I strive to deliver an entertaining read.
Preferably, one that will make you run hot. Perhaps even feel…flushed.
When it hits the fan, he’s your man.
Kissing her plumber in the middle of her dinner party wasn’t in Isabelle’s carefully-laid plans. But neither had she expected an ambush by her uninvited ex. So when Kim Martin, plumber to the rescue, charms her guests and poses as her new guy to spare her humiliation, she gets carried away.
At first, being Isabelle’s faux beau suits Kim Martin just fine. She’s hot, intriguing and won’t get in the way of his plans to blow town and build a business he’s passionate about. But Isabelle just isn’t cut out to be a good time girl. She gets under Kim’s skin and into his head—and he’s not entirely sure what to do about that.
Isabelle’s been fooled too often to trust a gorgeous flirt like Kim. Yet the more she tries to fit him into a box, the harder he fights his way out of it. Hot, bothered and more than a little flushed, she’s having trouble keeping her hands—or her heart—to to herself.
An excerpt from Flushed:
She sniffed. “Can you get it or not?”
Kim rolled his shoulders and neck. “Let’s find out.” He squatted on the floor by the toilet and looked up at her. “I’ll start simple. Empty the water from the tank. Unbolt the toilet from the floor and have a look underneath. We might get lucky. It could be stuck in the trap right at the floor.” The down view made Kim appear to be all shoulder and leg. And eyes. Those incredible eyes.
She could break furniture with this man. Definitely. She could swing from the ceiling fan with him. And why shouldn’t she? Sure, he was too good-looking to be trusted, but he’d been matter-of-fact enough about his escapades with Jules, or whatever the gym babe’s name was. That meant he wouldn’t lie to her about his other women the way Steven or Daniel had. That was something.
“If that doesn’t get it, I’ll run a camera down the line and see what we can see.”
He was still talking. She didn’t know why. She’d just decided she would revel in the merely physical—go ahead and take the sex that surely wouldn’t disappoint. “Camera?”
He stood up and she could swear she felt his heat, his energy, brushing hers. She realized her heart was pounding.
“Don’t get your hopes up. It takes crappy pictures.”
The bathroom became quiet as Isabelle stared at Kim’s lips. He was smiling. Her body throbbed in response. “Kim.”
“Isabelle?” His voice had lost its professional edge, becoming fuzzy and less sure of itself. She’d always thought she wanted a dominant man. Why was hearing this uncertainty in his voice as big a turn on as the way he charged to her rescue? This was no time for such thoughts. She didn’t need a man touching her heart, not now, not him. On the other hand, if he wanted to touch anything else—anything at all, she thought, pulse pounding—she was good to go, especially if she went right now.
His breathing changed. The charge between them was building.
Then she realized what he’d said. Crappy pictures. She burst out laughing. “That’s awful,” she said. She laughed some more, the stress of the last couple of days making it hard to stop. Kim began laughing too, which only made it worse. Soon she was gasping for breath, falling back against the sink, stomach muscles beginning to ache, helpless. He took her elbow to steady her. She found herself in his arms. Laughing became kissing, which was just as breath-stealing and far more deliciously physical. She couldn’t seem to stop. He didn’t seem to mind.
Sally Felt writes funny, sexy stories about people who have a thing or two to learn about love. Her mission: write decent-guy heroes who are also dead sexy. She is amazing at starting conversations in elevators and laughing for no reason. If she could be any animal, she’d be an otter, because they play all the time. Or maybe a llama, for their lush eyelashes and ability to spit.
Sally is smart enough to live in Texas, where hot is as much about the men as the weather. Still, she thinks bow ties are cool.
So glad to have Sally here today. I love this book in part because of her hero’s name – I dated a man named Kim, once long, long ago and before I snagged my man. Do you like the name Kim for a man? Have you ever met any male Kims? Let’s chat!
So, I added a page here at my blog for my brother, Scott Cunningham. If you have photos of yourself with him, or have something you’d like to say about him, please feel free to leave a comment or email me a jpeg of the photo.
Short and sweet post today! It’s been a good day, though. I got to meet Courtney Miller-Callihan today while I was attending the meeting at East Valley Authors, where she spoke. She’s an agent with the Sanford J. Greenburger Literary Agency.
We talked and I asked her some questions that I’d been wanting to discuss with an agent, and I pitched and it went well so I’ve got to get back to work and finish this book.
Laura Drake is a fabulous author who is leaving So Cal for Texas. (WHY? One of those totally unanswerable questions, lol.) Those of us here will miss her terribly, but wish her bon voyage.
Laura Drake is a city girl who never grew out of her tomboy ways, or a serious cowboy crush. She writes both Women’s Fiction and Romance. Her, ‘Sweet on a Cowboy’ Series, set in the world of professional bull riding, is published by Grand Central: The Sweet Spot (May 13), Nothing Sweeter (Jan 14), and Sweet on You (Sept 14). Her Road Home, the first book in her Widow’s Grove series, is published by Harlequin’s Superromance.
Laura resides in Southern California, though she aspires to retirement in Texas. She gave up the corporate CFO gig to write full time. She’s a wife, grandmother, and motorcycle chick in the remaining waking hours.
Aubrey Madison is starting over. Leaving Los Angeles and everything behind except the scars of her ruined past, Bree sets out for cowboy country. Now she has a new home, a new job-and a new worry: the ruggedly sexy rancher who makes her long for things she shouldn’t . . .
Rough and tumble cattleman Max Jameson has broken wild stallions and faced angry bulls. Yet the redheaded city cupcake who turned up at the High Heather Ranch might be his undoing. Bree has a plan to rescue the ranch from foreclosure that’s just crazy enough to work. But will Max gamble his future on a beautiful stranger?
As those of you who read this feature regularly know, I rarely review the books I showcase here. Not because I don’t love what I read, but because I run out of time! This time around, though, I read devoured the book in one sitting after picking up an ARC from the author herself. Plus featuring Laura was a last-minute decision (that she’s totally unaware of, by the way).
After reading just the first page of Nothing Sweeter, it became a book I was more than happy to sink into. Not a cliche to be found. This is my favorite type of romance; complicated, slow-moving, without a real nasty protagonist (just a guy desperate for some respect). It has a woman running from a past she’d love to forget, a man struggling to keep his ranch and feed his hands, a “bull” market and the color pink, found in the most unlikely place.
The characters are real people; the situation is all-too-believable in this day and age. The way these two rise to the challenges set before them kept me spellbound. I’m so glad this is a series, as now I get to go back and read the first one (The Sweet Spot).
Laura is just bursting in on the romance scene. Do yourself a favor and pick up her books, for this is one writer who will undoubtedly get better and better.
I visited my dad on Saturday. Our visits tend to be short – not because we run out of things to say to each other (two writers talking? Never short of words!) but rather that he gets tired and I’m way sensitive to it, even when he’d rather I wasn’t. At 84, though, he’s allowed to get tired.
We did the usual things. Took a garden tour and liberated several Meyer lemons from his famous tree, and also got quite a few white grapefruit. I had printed a couple family photos, so I helped him put those into frames. And then came picture time.
He’s been having me go through boxes of photos, to see what I’d like to keep. I found several, and then I found the big box. Full of one book and several journals. My Grandmother Hazel’s journals. That just added to all the memories I’d collected that day.
With total permission, I lugged the box to my car and panted, doing so. (I’d added my photos from the batch I’d gone through earlier.) So many photos. So many memories.
Then I came across some photos of Scott. Here are two of my favorites.
And this one…
Carrying the box to my car, I strained under the load. It was a long, old fashioned cardboard file box, and it was full. My dad hovered as I carried it.
“You okay? You don’t need help? Looks heavy,” he said.
I smiled at him. “Memories carry weight,” I answered.
He nodded. “There must be at least fifty years of memories in there.” He was referring to his mother’s daily journals, I know. In those, she poured out everything but in such sparing details, which is a blog post for another day.
But as I loaded the box in the car, I noticed he stood a little taller. “You’re officially the family historian,” he said to me.
And it looked like a bit of weight had come off his shoulders.
Happy to help, Daddy. Any time.
Happy Monday, my friends. What memories do you carry, that have more weight than maybe you want?
It’s a slow journey. This month started out well – the first two weeks, I only took Monday off. The next two weeks were intermittent – sickness in the house. Nothing major for me except weariness and a determination to sleep as long as I could. Difficult when I need to get up and out the door by 6 in order to get my workout in (AND breakfast, AND shower/dress) before I had to leave for work.
Difficult, also, when I’m changing my eating habits. Trying to eat before seven at night (difficult when there are times I don’t get home until seven). Cutting out sugar (this was surprisingly easy – yes, even the alcohol, though I make allowances now and then). Cutting out dairy (not so easy) and wheat for a couple of weeks (this was interesting – I don’t miss it, but I realize now how much I reach for the pasta when I don’t know what else to make for dinner). Oh yeah, and getting at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.
I’m hoping I’ll look like this again soon.
But I’m pretty sure I’ll never look like this again. (See second photo, below. I can’t get the formatting right, sigh…)
I loved this tutu, though for the life of me I can’t remember which ballet this was from…this photo is from a shoot that my dad did for me, with California Ballet Company costumes and backdrop. I was bound and determined to audition for companies across the country, and in New Haven, Connecticut, I got my chance. I like to think this is one of the photos that helped me get my audition.
So, this journey I’m on is a see-saw. Back and forth, back and forth. But I’m happy to say I’m sleeping better, feeling better when I wake in the morning, and I’m slowly losing the pounds. I’m determined to go out of this life (years and years from now, mind you) still standing on my own two feet, dressing myself, caring for myself and my family. Not dependent on anyone but those I love, and them only for love and laughter, friendship and squishy hugs.
Today I have the FABULOUS Nikki Prince on my blog. She and I became Facebook friends, then met at the Orange County Chapter of Romance Writers of America – and it’s been a love-fest ever since. Sit back, and get to know the woman behind the books.
CA: What made you decide to write a novel?
NP: Sheer craziness in wanting to finish NaNoWriMo. It was a challenge to myself. Swagger came about as a challenge to me to see if I could write a New Adult novel in first person.
CA: OMG I totally know what you mean. Wow! To have that as your first push – good for you! So what genre do you write in, and why?
NP: I write interracial erotic romances in contemporary and paranormal currently, and plan to expand into other genres. Why? I love the heroine to look like me and to be in a relationship that represents my relationships. I’m a black woman married to a white man and I love to see different cultures together. Beyond that I like to see the world as not just skin tones. That everyone has something in common.
CA: I SO agree! I love the mixture of skin tones, especially in love scenes. So tell me, is your latest book part of a series or standalone book? If a series, what is the name of this series, and how many books/short stories do you have planned?
NP: This at the moment is just a standalone, although a thought of another book has been in the back of my mind.
CA: Keep thinking, girl! So, if you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
NP: Wow, that’s hard to answer. I love to travel. Anywhere I lay my head could be home honestly. I miss traveling. Maybe one day soon.
CA: I’m SO with you. Love traveling, especially with my hubby. Okay, name me 3 simple joys in your life. (Though I think I’ve got this one pegged!)
NP: My kids, writing and reading.
CA: Yep! Knew it! That’s mainly what you put on your FB feed, lol. Okay, next question. If you could have dinner with any person, living or dead or fictional, who would it be and where would you go to eat?
NP: I would love to have dinner with Edgar Allan Poe and Martin Luther King…wherever greatness like that would want to eat, that’s where we would go.
CA: Wow! Great answers. I wonder where they’d like to eat in today’s world, lol?! So,if you could give just one piece of advice to a writer starting out, what would it be?
NP: To keep trying and don’t listen to negative talk. Follow your dreams, this is your life, this is your book…dream it and write it.
CA: What do you do when you’re not writing? Do you have a Day Job?
NP: I work in a police station on a Community College in Parking Services.
CA: Really? Do you ever put stuff you learn from work into your books? Never mind, we’ll talk later, lol! Name one thing your fans would be surprised to learn about you.
NP: I am really, really shy until I get to know you.
CA: Seriously? OKay, maybe that first time you were a bit hesitant to hug me when I came running up to you…Is there anything else you’d like to talk about?
NP: I’d like to say thank you so much for having me here Christine. It’s an honor and a pleasure.
CA: Oh Nikki, it’s entirely my pleasure!
Nine years, two lives, one love.
We all have dreams. Mine were filled with college and the boy I loved, Cruz Montoya. But all that went up with smoke when he got sent to Juvenile Hall, my sister killed herself, and Dad up and left. My mother, and I use that terminology loosely, became a monster transferring her pains and disappointment, and I became trapped.
Honorably discharged, I’m back in Arlington Heights, the small town that only remembers the black sheep persona of my youth. I could list a dozen reasons for my return, but the only one that matters is Roxanne Waters. I should probably leave her be. I’m not much of a catch, with PTSD and the childhood memories rattling around in my brain. Yet, I can’t walk away. There’s a darkness that surrounds the death of her sister, a secret that’s slowly killing her. I’m going to find out everything. This is the moment of truth: to see if we can make it, or if I’m nine years too late.
Nikki Prince is a mother of two, who’s always had a dream to be a published author in the romance genre. Her passion lies in raising her children as readers, gaming, cooking, reading and her writing. Her mother can now breathe easy about the child who used to get in trouble because she was hiding books everywhere and reading when it wasn’t appropriate.
Nikki’s a multi-published author with several epublishing houses. She loves to write Interracial romances in all genres, but wants to let everyone know to not box her in, because there is always room for growth.
Nikki’s also a member of Romance Writers of America National chapter (http://www.rwa.org) and OCC/RWA local chapter (http://www.occrwa.org) and is a member of the board as Co-Programs Director. She is also a member of the online chapter Passionate Ink RWA, The Beaumonde RWA, and the Rainbow Romance Writers (RRW).