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04 Apr Tornados and Winners

First and most important of all, I want to extend my thoughts and prayers to all my fellow Texans who are coping with injury and property damage in the wake of our violent tornados yesterday afternoon and evening. The storm passed right over us here in Coppell (and the tennis-ball-sized hail crashing into the roof certainly terrified the doggies) but (pending a professional roof assessment) we have only minor damage and a few tree branches down. My release-day booksigning was cancelled and rescheduled for Thursday. Looking around at the havoc wrought by Mother Nature certainly puts one’s book-release stress into perspective!

ETA: After inspecting everything in the daylight this morning, I find my poor little car, Willow-the-Skate (and of course there is a story as to why he’s named that), has a huge star-shaped crack in his windshield, and won’t be driveable until it’s fixed. Unfortunately he was totaled after another of our Texas hailstorms, so no insurance to help pay for it…

The Broadcasting Legend™ has chosen the winners of the three Flower Reader bookmarks. They are:

Terry Martini
Liz Michalski

Congratulations! I’ll be emailing each of you privately to get your mailing addresses.

A note to readers of Dear Reader and AuthorBuzz. There’s an offer this week for The Flower Reader, and to my horror my ISP abruptly announced (with only two days’ notice) that it was doing a “Server Performance Upgrade” and taking my website (including my email addresses) offline for several hours. This was scheduled to happen last night around 1:00am MDT, and last for an unspecified length of time. So if you tried to email my special “flowers” email address in the night and your email bounced, I’m so sorry! Everything is working now, so please try again, and I apologize for the inconvenience.

I’m guesting today at Tina’s Book Reviews, with a post about the real silver casket that inspired the story of The Flower Reader. History! Pictures! Another chance to win one of these beautiful limited-edition bookmarks, plus a free book! Don’t miss it. 🙂

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27 Nov Saturday I-8

Saturday almost got away from me again. (I know, it makes it sound rather like a restive filly.) Anyway, there’s not much to report for this past week—the Broadcasting Legend™ and I had a quiet Thanksgiving at home, just the two of us. Both our families are so far-flung—from Washington state to Nashville to Illinois and Indiana. And it was a little difficult for me to face the first Thanksgiving without my dear mother—so many of the traditions and recipes I’ve always cherished were hers. Next year I will pick up the threads again.

I worked on The Silver Casket through the week. I have a wonderful, detailed outline (I am an outliner down to the ground), but in one scene the story just took the bit in its teeth (to continue my equine references) and surprised me with a scene utterly unlike anything in the outline. It accomplished the same thing in the end, but the process was not at all what I had expected. I do love those moments.

Good news this week—I’ve been invited to speak at the Historical Novel Society’s 2011 conference next summer, on the “Debut Novelists” panel. I’m thrilled. The conference is going to be in San Diego, June 17-19, 2011, and I can’t wait. It will be my first conference! One of the author guests of honor is Cecelia Holland, one of my own favorite historical novelists of all time, and who read the manuscript of The Second Duchess and gave it a terrific endorsement. I am only afraid I’ll be reduced to fan-girl babbling.

A cold front has come through and our seventy-degree weather is a thing of the past—it’s even getting down below freezing overnight. The beagles follow the patches of sunlight around the house. Here is Boo, all warm and comfy on our guest-room bed. You can see how he rumpled up the pillow and coverlet to make himself a perfect sunshiny nest:

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08 Sep Fun with Hermine

It’s pouring rain this morning, as the remnants of Hurricane Tropical Storm Tropical Depression Hermine blow through the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. I let the doggies out as usual and Boudin, sensible beagle that he is, did what he needed to do and came straight back in the house. Not so our Cress. She caught a scent (the second generation of 2010 bunnies is presently running rampant through the neighborhood) and tracked it from one end of the yard to the other for a good hour. Eventually, this little tri-color drowned rat showed up at the door:

Look at her eyes! Bunny-scent is like crack to beagles, I swear. Anyway, she was soaked through and had to have a good toweling (three towels’ worth).

Meanwhile, our poor parched yard is gratefully soaking up the rain that Cressie left outdoors. Hermine should be here for the rest of today and tonight, and taper off tomorrow. I do love writing on rainy days and sleeping on rainy nights.

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21 Mar Spring? Where?

Today is the first day of Spring, tra-la. We woke up to this—an extremely unseasonable blanket of snow. Brrr! Boudin, a sensible Cajun doggie, refused to go out in the nasty cold wet stuff. Cressie, on the other hand, with her Canadian heritage, bounded out happily. Here you see her sniffing those special snow-enhanced smells. (We did eventually coax Mr. Boo out for a brief pit stop.)

On the far right, note the white tubs we put over our tender new rose plants to protect them from this outrage. At the top leftish-center, see the little chartreuse balsa-wood birdhouse the house wrens love so dearly, heaped with snow on top. Poor shivery wrens. Ah, the joys of spring at Casa Loupas.

Our pear trees have been denuded of their blossoms and look so sad I couldn’t even bear to take a picture of them. Who knows if they will have the heart to bloom again this year?

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11 Feb I Suppose This Means…

…we don’t get a walk today, Mama? I mean, it’s just a little snow. We like snow! Really! There are lots of good smells to smell under the snow. We won’t be cold. We have fur coats! Please, Mama? Please, just one little short walk? Pleeeeeeeaaseeeee….?

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26 Apr Leporid Adventures

This morning the Broadcasting Legend™ happened to look out our front window, and this is what he saw among the plantings:

How much is that bunny in the window?

He called the doggies. (Who could resist?) Chaos ensued. It turned out there were actually two bunnies under the bushes. They calmly went on eating our tender new calla lily leaves as the dogs howled their heads off inside and I tried to fight my way to the window to take pictures. We have three or four generations a year of rabbits in our neighborhood, and by now I suspect the “Pay no attention to the man beagle behind the curtain window” gene is bred into them.

A fine start to a gray, stormy Sunday.

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28 Mar Frost and Stargazer

Innocent windowfrost--I think!It’s a good thing I’ve been procrastinating about putting in my spring garden, because winter isn’t going out gracefully—we are actually supposed to have frost tonight. And after reading my friend Claudia Gray’s new book Stargazer, I will never look at frost in quite the same way.

Stargazer is the sequel to Claudia’s kickass debut novel, Evernight. It continues the tale of Bianca Olivier, a sixteen-year-old not-quite-vampire (which is a story in itself—Claudia’s vampire mythology is unusual, detailed, and perversely logical), now a sophomore at the exclusive, darkly gargoyled private academy Evernight. I won’t spoil the story, but I will say Bianca now faces vengeful icy wraiths, vampires-gone-bad (What? You thought all vampires were bad? Welcome to Evernight), haunted humans and the fanatical guerrilla cult of vampire killers, the Black Cross (imagine Sarah Connor and crew chasing vampires instead of Terminators). And you thought when you were in high school you didn’t fit in.

Poor Bianca. On the other hand, she does get to be one point of an intense love triangle—with the other two points being her true love Lucas Ross and the delectable 300-years-young vampire Balthazar More.

The ice wraiths are scary critters. Imagine frost forming as you watch, faster and faster, creating feathers and curls on the windows, thickening and crackling and overrunning an entire room until the air itself freezes, the floor paves itself over with ice and glittering stalactites fall from the ceiling like huge silver spikes. Brrr! Thanks a lot, Claudia. Heh.

Fortunately we’re just going to have a little frost. I think.

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10 Feb The Cloud Moon

The full moon of February 9, 2009, photographed through a haze of clouds at Casa LoupasThe February full moon was last night. As you can see, the February stargazing score is now clouds two, Elizabeth zero—all I saw was a fuzzy-looking disk (no, that’s not the camera, it’s the clouds) high over the gables of our house. This full moon is usually called the Snow Moon or Hunger Moon. Colonial Americans called it the Trapper’s Moon and in medieval England it was sometimes called the Storm Moon. The Chinese refer to it as the Budding Moon (and some of our trees are already budding—it’s in the seventies today, although we’re under a tornado watch at the moment) and the Celts called it the Ice Moon. This year I’m calling it the Cloud Moon!

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28 Jan Flat Stanley and the Ice Storm

flatstanleyliliesI am going on adventures with Flat Stanley for a very special little girl (you know who you are). Last night we had one of our every-few-years-whether-we-need-them-or-not ice storms, and so of course Flat Stanley had to go out and explore. He found a mass of tiger lily plants with their leaves curled up like tangles of green-and-gold ribbons, spangled with ice.

Fortunately the sun is out and the ice is melting. I’m going to have popcorn for lunch and think up more fun things for Flat Stanley to do. Any ideas?

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27 Jan Freezing Drizzle

The temperature’s just at freezing and dropping, and it’s spitting rain. The doggies come in with little semi-solid icy beads on their coats. They do not approve. Neither do I.

A good day to stay inside, drink coffee, and write. I’ve had a couple of crazy-ish days (crazy in a good way, which I’ll expand on, I hope, in a few days) and I need some time to be alone and sink into the past.