Well, one and all, I'm happy to announce that Ambrose the cat from "The Nine Lives of Christmas" may be poised to become a movie star. This book has been optioned for film and right now it's looking like a year from Christmas we'll be watching as Ambrose works hard to keep his 9th life by bringing together a commitment phobic fireman and a shy cat whisperer. Of course, we'll keep you posted.
Recently my husband Gerhardt and I got in a discussion about people we admire. A few special people came to mind right away. Interestingly enough, they weren't world figures like Mother Teresa, Billy Graham or Oprah. They were people who have been a big part of my life, people I've observed close-up for many years, people I've seen making a difference in their own small sphere of influence.
My mother and grandmother came to mind - both amazing women who had an impact on their families and communities. I'll never come close to being the woman they were but with what's left of my life I sure want to try and come close.
And then there's my big brother. Oh, where to begin? He's the patriarch of our family and has hosted huge family gatherings at Christmas for as long as I can remember. (And gigantic extended family picnics!) After our parents died he and his amazing wife took on Thanksgiving, too. Over the years, in addition to raising their own children, this couple has taken in foster kids, coached sports teams, and generally been there for anyone and everyone who needed a good meal and a helping hand. Anyone with no place to go during the holidays was always welcome at their table. Now a great-grandpa, my big bro is taking voice lessons and going to vocal competitions (in between helping his kids with their various home improvement projects). And he's showing up at his baby sister's book signings in goofy costumes! I always loved the character of George Bailey in "It's a Wonderful Life" - maybe because he reminds me of my brother. Only my bro never loses his temper!
Then, of course, there's my husband. He's always there in a crisis. He's like the Rock of Gibraltar with legs. He's hugely supportive of everything I do and he hates it when I leave him to go off for girlfriend weekends.
None of these people are perfect but they are wonderful. I hope someday someone will say that about me, too.
And how about you? Who do you admire?
Well, sort of. Last week I attended the national Romance Writers of America conference. Me and a couple thousand other romance writers. It's a great chance to learn about the craft and business of writing and to see old friends. I also get to hang out with my publisher and agent and generally pretend I'm hot stuff.
I was certainly hot this time because Atlanta in July is an oven. No wait, more like a sauna. My hat is off to your Southern folk. I don't know how you all stand that heat!
I certainly didn't, especially when I wound up having to run an errand and couldn't get a cab and had to walk a mile back to the hotel. This turned out to not the safest walk I ever took. Found myself in a neighborhood where I plainly didn't belong. One nice man asked me where I was going and then informed me that I should be there. This I had already figured out. He ended the conversation with, "Don't do that again." Thank you, sir. I won't. Still, in spite of my scary adventure, I thought Atlanta was a pretty city. Saw the house where Margaret Mitchell lived and now I must read "Gone with the Wind" again.
Speaking of being gone with the wind, my camera went ... somewhere. Which is why there is no picture accompanying this blog. There is a new camera in little Sheila's future. There is also an iPhone so I can look up cab companies when the one I call refuses to answer the phone. Like Scarlett said (or would have said if sh
I seem to have lost it! My schedule has gotten completely out of whack. We've been so busy this summer going here and there that, well, I'm never here. And even on "vacation" I've been hauling work with me.
This is getting old. I really want to be like the butterfly in this picture and stay still for awhile. Sit on my back patio with some of my neighbors and visit. Breathe. I think I'll have time to breath for a week in August. Maybe. Or not until September. How long can a girl hold her breath? Hmmm. Like my friend Liz keeps telling me, I need to slow down.
I know I'm not the only one. We Americans are such a busy bunch! But I'm not sure we were intended to spin like tops. If we were God would have designed our feet more like ballet slippers so we'd have a nice pointed end on which to spin.
How about you? Do you ever feel too busy, like you're doing too much too often? There is a simple (but not easy) solution to that. Stop. Stop saying yes, stop trying to do it all.
I think I'm going to start taking the advice of my old pal Jody, who, come December, when life can get even more crazy with parties and children's choir concerts and shopping and you name it, would mark off certain days on her calendar for family down time.
I'm not going to wait until December though, or even September. I'm going to start this month, next week, as soon as I'm home from my writer's conference, and mark off some do nothing days. And by do nothing I mean nothing, nada, zip, nuttin, honey. Starting with Sundays. (Often referred to by Christians as Sabbaths. Obviously, if you're Jewish your day of rest falls on Saturday.) A Sabbath is supposed to be a day of rest, a day off, but often even on our days off we're usually busy going somewhere, doing something. For the rest of summer though I'm going to spend my Sunday afternoons drifting on the lake with my hubby or curled up with a book or watching a chick flick. I'm not going to go anywhere... unless somebody invites me over for dinner. And speaking of, I'm not even going to make dinner. Fruit and cheese and crackers or leftovers can do us just fine. (I used to do this no cooking-relax thing. I'm not sure how I got away from it!) I may even take another day off mid-week. Or at least half a day.
Summer's going to be gone before I know it. I think I'd better slow down and see the butterflies! Balancing work and rest is not an easy balancing act for me, but I'm determined to perfect it.
How about you? I hope your summer is going great and I hope you're getting to not only see the butterflies but smell the roses, too.
Loading Gerhardt's prize was quite a production!
So, who all loves a road trip? Me, me! Well, sometimes.
Actually, I hadn't taken a road trip since I was sixteen and went to Yellowstone with my family and on the way learned I had a grandmother still living that I'd never met. But that's another story!
This road trip was for a specific purpose... to pick up a rotating pool table Gerhardt had purchased on Ebay. Some friendly Canadians in Toronto had been kindly storing it for us all winter. Now school was out for Gerhardt and it was time to go collect his prize.
Gerhardt made out like a bandit in this deal because he not only got his pool table, he also got a truck out of the deal. And what did little Sheila get? Adventure. I think I've had enough adventure to last me for awhile.
Sheila with her goody basket.
Don't get me wrong. It wasn't all bad! While in Toronto I was able to visit the main offices of my publisher, Harlequin. Wow, what a treat! And what a great company! Everyone there was so darned nice. If I wasn't a writer I'd want to work somewhere in that office. People who work for this company simply never leave. It's a great working environment. And let me tell you, they know how to treat their authors well. I was delighted with the beautiful gift basket they had waiting for me at our hotel, had a lovey dinner out with my fabulous editor Paula Eykelhof, got to meet the people in the various departments who work so hard to bring their writers' books to life, got to do a conference with the New York office, have lunch with a bunch of the gang, and chat with CEO Donna Hayes, who is amazing. I was given the opportunity to do an in-house book signing where we gave away signed copies of my newest book WHAT SHE WANTS to the companies many employees (the company takes up 5 floors of the office building it's in), and was presented with a Tiffany pen. I don't think I'll ever be able to bring myself to use it, it's so lovely!
Later in the day I had the opportunity to meet with Anna Pingitore and her book club. These ladies were lovely to visit with and by the time we were done I felt like I'd found new friends.
From Harlequin, it was on to pick up the treasured pool table and get to know Richard and Marika who had been housing it. What a great pair! We had so much fun visiting with them, checking out their huge and impressive veggie garden and chatting with their neighbors it was hard to pull ourselves away. We may just have to go back so we can enjoy that Italian dinner Marika promised us. Oh, and do need to hand out with Anna's gang in Little Italy.
I learned a few things on this road trip. One: My technology must be updated. So frustrating not to be able to share pictures on Facebook or take advantage of Google Maps when we hit Canada. Which brings me to... Two: Buyer Beware. We purchased a new Garmin on sale from an outlet site online that should have been trustworthy. Purchased the one with lifetime map updates and maps of Canada. It even said maps of Canada on the box. But when we hit the border.... yes, I bet you can guess what happened. Talk about stress! Three: Don't trust all online reviews on motels/hotels. One of the worst places I ever stayed in (we dubbed it The Bates Motel) supposedly got good reviews. I'm wondering who they bribed. Unclean, torn blankets on the beds, seedy. It was a huge place and had probably been something in its day... twenty years ago! The police and medics came to haul away some unfortunate man in the night. Gerhardt didn't tell me because he figured I wouldn't sleep. He was right! Actually, if I'd seen that they would have been hauling me away... for husband abuse. Not every place we stayed was like that (fortunately for Gerhardt). But I have concluded that if we ever do this again (what am I saying?! We won't!) we'll be allotting more money for lodging. Four: Always bring along bug repellant. Saw the beginnings of the mighty Mississippi River in Minnesota and got attacked by the state bird: mosquitoes. A little bit of Avon's Skin So Soft would have done the trick.
As you can see, all's well that ends well. Here's Gerhardt with his prize. And for more pics (like the women's room sink in Montana that looks like a urinal), check out the pictures page.
The other night Gerhardt and I watched a new TV reality series called "Brooklyn D.A." One of the cases involved a woman who, at 51, had gone in for liposuction and wound up dying from the procedure. (If you want all the gory details I'm sure you can find the episode on line.) We the viewers were showed pictures of this woman and she was lovely. It made me sad to think that she lost her life over a bit of dimply fat. I have no idea how often this happens, but if it even happens to one woman that's one too many in my opinion.
And it made me really sad to think that so many of us American women as we age feel the need to go to extremes to fix and repair our looks. Of course, we all want to look attractive. I get that. And I have to admit, I'm not happy about the dirty tricks Mother Nature keeps playing on me as I get older. (I thought we women were supposed to stick together!) But, no matter how hard we fight it, eventually, we will age. None of us at fifty looks exactly like she did at twenty. But do we need to? And to what lengths are we willing to go to try? And why? Why are we so horrified to look in the mirror and see an older face?
I blame it on our sex saturated, age-biased culture. I think, for the most part, America is not a country that venerates its older people. We often make jokes at our senior citizens' expense or we ignore them. Old people. What do they have to offer? Other than a wealth of experience and wisdom and a listening ear? Gosh, I guess not much.
Would I like to be young again? Well, yeah... if I could know as much as I know now. Do hate wrinkles? You bet. But I can think of so many more worthwhile ways to spend my money than a face lift. So I'm just going to keep trying to age gracefully... and healthfully. And be thankful for each new day and each new life line that proves I'm living my life well.
Memorial Day at the ocean kicked off garage sale season and, in spite of the rain, we were there to help with the kicking. As many of you know, I'm a big fan of garage sales. I have this theory that, if you wait long enough, you can get anything you want or need at a garage sale. Over the years I've seen everything imaginable for sale from cars to laundry soap. And boy, have I found the bargains: brand new Victoria's secret powder, new clothes with the tags still on, Gucci sandals and purse, a sofa, a gorgeous solid wood cabinet for our TV.
From the coffee table to the beds in the guest room to the kitchen appliances, our beach place is almost all tricked out with garage sale finds. When we were putting our son through college one of the ways I earned tuition money was by picking up cool items at garage sales and selling them on eBay. Boy, did I love doing that. I have to admit there were a few items I wish I'd kept, like the adorable Harry and David cookie jar shaped like an ice cream truck. You opened it up and inside was a little Popsicle laying on the floor. It was so cute. What was I thinking? Oh yeah, I was thinking I had to pay that tuition bill. I still think wistfully about that little cookie jar, but I'm sure it went to a good home.
If you're on a budget shopping this underground economy is the way to go. At garage sales you'll find play clothes for your kids and maybe even some work clothes for yourself. You'll find games galore and that espresso machine you've been wanting. You'll find pots and pans and small appliances, mugs and dishes and enough candles to get you through a whole winter of power outages. And you'll find fun decorations. The summer centerpiece you're seeing is made up of garage sale goodies I've picked up. Later this summer that little pitcher will be full of little flowers.
I have now reached the point where there is nothing I need. But that won't stop me from checking out garage sales this summer because there might be something I want. (Heehee.) What about you? Will you be out
And the winner of the gift basket it... Irene!
I had a great time today at the Barnes & Noble in Lakewood, WA. This was my final event celebrating the release of "What She Wants" and it was a great way to bring this season of Sheila sightings to a close. A big thanks to some of the ladies from the Round Table Readers Group who showed up to make sure I wouldn't get bored. These women support their authors, let me tell you. And tha one of the reasons I love being a writer. I get to visit bookstores and meet wonderful ladies like these!
With the Royal Ladies in front of this year's float
I had a fabulous Mother's Day weekend up in Leavenworth, Wa, the inspiration for my fictional town of Icicle Falls, this weekend. In addition to getting to hang with my daughter and her family I got to meet readers, make new friends and hang out with local celebrities like Heidi Forchemer, this year's 50th Royal Lady of the Autumn Leaf Festival and my friend Pat Rutledge, a former Royal Lady and owner of A Book for All Seasons. (Pat was the inspiration for one of the characters in the series.)
Goofing off with my daughter at A Book for All Seasons
Every day should be a celebration and every celebration should be unique. Between the parade fun and our girl time on Saturday afternoon making high heel cupcakes with the granddaughters I'd say we accomplished that. What do you do to make your celebrations special?
Sheila & Kathryn Falk.
Last week was my first visit to Kansas City and my first time at the wildly popular Romantic Times conference sponsored by Romantic Times Magazine, affectionately known as RT. I had a fabulous time and met a ton of wonderful romance readers and writers. I also met some of the movers and shakers in the industry like the legendary Kathryn Falk, who is the founder and CEO of the popular magazine (loved her!), and her managing editor Liz French, who was so very nice.
Let me tell you, romance writers are not only creative and friendly, they're also very smart businesswomen and I came away inspired and energized. Well, mentally energized. Today, I'm pooped! It was a busy time, with workshops, parties and the big blow-out author signing party on Saturday. And I almost did it all. Missed a couple of parties and didn't get my picture taken with any of the gorgeous male cover models who were strutting around. Maybe next year ... because I'm for sure going next year! I have a few pics here on the blog page and you'll find more over in the photo section. I love what I do for a living!