Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas is Coming

With yesterday's sleigh ride (thanks to all participants!) and this morning's chilly temperature (currently 34 degrees outside!) it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here! That brings to mind all that's left to be done:

* Last minute gifts
* Last minute groceries
* Finish the ridiculous christmas Boldcards!

So, what's a busy mom to do? Here are some quick tips on how to finish without pulling out the last bit of your hair! so you can actually enjoy some of the pre-holidays this season.

Last Minute Gifts
This year, pay close attention to those holiday panic gifts you purchased while waiting in line. Don't hesitate to return them. Do you really need to gift every relative with a gag gift? or a pen topped with a blinking light? No. Take the time to rethink the "extra" gifts that you purchased just for the sake of the sale. It was only 4.99! you say. Well, that's a latte at Starbucks for you, on your way home. Or half the price of a pizza, for that night you just can't bear to cook. Better yet, by the time you've returned all 6 of them, that's a matinee movie with popcorn for you and your kids! Lots of little dollars add up quickly, and this year the thoughtful gift will go a great deal further than the panic prizes.

Last Minute Groceries
We all have to grocery shop for the staples - each and every week. So, this week while you're picking up your milk and eggs, grab some extra holiday baking items to store in your cupboard in case the mood strikes. Here's a quick list of holiday baking/last minute entertaining items that I like to keep on hand at this time of year:
  1. 1 or 2 cans sweetened condensed milk
  2. 1 or 2 cans evaporated milk
  3. 1 bag powdered sugar
  4. 1 bag brown sugar
  5. 2 packages chocolate chips
  6. 2 packages Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie mix
  7. Almond extract & Vanilla extract
  8. Food Coloring
  9. Apple cider
  10. Cinnamon sticks
  11. Hot Cocoa mix
  12. Mini Marshmallows
  13. Taco Chips & Salsa
  14. Brie Cheese
  15. Craisins
  16. Walnuts
  17. 4 pack of crackers
  18. Extra unsalted butter
  19. 4-6 bottles of "good" - not "great" wine (I'm partial price wise to the Yellow Tail Cab-Shiraz, Shiraz, and Cabernet.)
  20. Frozen chopped spinach
  21. Artichoke hearts
  22. Cream cheese

With these items, you have all the elements you need for impromptu baking of holiday cookies, frosting, and serving up a quick appetizer and coctails for those caroling neighbors who drop in for some unexpected holiday cheer! Here are some ideas. But tell me, can you think of anything else you can put together with these on hand ingredients?

I get:

Stuffed Brie baked with cranberries will delight any crowd.

Quick Artichoke Dip is both tasty and impressive.

Chips and Salsa go with everything.

Fudge. Yikes. Both brown sugar fudge, and the traditional chocolate kind.

A Sugar Christmas Cookie party to please the kiddos!

Let me know if you have any other brilliant ideas from this exercise. And PLEASE tell me if I've left anything off my shopping list.

Finally, for Finishing the Ridiculous Christmas Cards:

It's happened again. I've created our family Christmas card, as Perry relies on me to do. However, in so doing, I've also created a project for the girls and I (one that they bored of within the first hour), and a headache for myself. So, at the prompting of my FaceBook friends, I have come up with a delightful cheat for all that you would love to send cards to, but don't have the dinero for extra stamps, or time for sitting and stuffing envelope after envelope with holiday cheer. And to you over achievers who finished your task after Thanksgiving, I have choice thoughts for you that I will keep to myself. Largely based on jealousy for your superior time management skills.

For the rest of us, here's a time saving tip! Post your christmas card .jpg online! e-mail it to friends and family overseas. Add it to your FaceBook profile, so everyone can see your little ones as they stayed still enough for the perfect pose, or a photo collage for those of us whose little ones WOULD NOT stay still enough for the perfect pose. Or were crying on Santa's lap! Not the right message for a happy holiday.

Let me know your time saving tips! I'd love to add them to this next year of living on less... as we all adjust to this new depression mentality - there's no need to be depressed! we just need a new way of thinking.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas Sleigh Ride is Here!

Welcome one, and welcome all! Sorry we're late for all you east coast Christmas Riders! I'm still on my first cup of coffee out here on the west coast...wait! What's that I hear?

The jingle jangle of bells? The thunder of hoofbeats? The shoosh of the sleigh, flying across the snow? It's here! Christmas time! and Christmas weather to boot, which is a feat here in sunny Southern California. So read on, gather a recipe to fold into your holiday treats, and my first gift to you all is a chance to pick up my short romance, an inspirational Free Read - Tessa Takes a Chance, available from The Wild Rose Press.
No matter the time of year, Southern California is usually the land of sunshine and flowers, of beach walks and barbecues all year long. However, the cold, thick clouds have moved in. The day is gray, wet, and calls for a hot mug of cocoa and a crackling fire in the fireplace. It's the kind of day that reminds me of my mom, of being cared for so completely, of decking the halls and singing our favorite carols, and listening to my father's deep, gravelly voice as he reads us the Christmas story, and reminds us of the reason for the season. So curl up and let's talk about our favorite holiday traditions.

I'm the mother of two little girls, ages 4 and 3, and the most amazing thing has happened this season! My oldest asked when they were getting their advent calendars. She's been singing Rudolf and Frosty. We settled in to watch the first Christmas movie of the season at our house, The Polar Express.

Then, of course, we roll up our sleeves for some good old fashioned holiday baking! a feat, with such little ones. The house is filled with aromas of melting chocolate, baking cookies, the kids are covered in flour, powdered sugar, and sticky whatnots that I do my best to ignore. That's when I think about what I remember about growing up under my mom's roof. I don't remember a sparkling kitchen. I remember my mother, who accidentally quadrupled a batch of spritz cookies, and her bribing us to frost about 400 tiny christmas tree cookies. We frosted that year until we didn't even want to sneak a taste!

And, for our Sleigh Ride Song of the Day - I must recall the sturdy, towering, warm embrace of my father telling us the Christmas story, on a cold night in Bethlehem. I often wondered what Mary must have thought, following her husband in such wretched conditions. Such faith is wonderous to me.

Finally - for the bakers & candy makers out there... At our house we've already made the gingerbread house, the sugar cookies, and the first batch of holiday fudge. Unfortunately, making horrible fudge is one of the traditions around here, too. You'd have to know my sister to understand. She's the candy maker of the family, I'm the baker. BUT, this year, with the help of, I've finally mastered the art of fudge making. So, my final gift to you is the best butterscotch fudge I've ever tasted.
So, add your favorite recipe here! and guess the song, collect all of them for your chance to win!

Tessa Takes a Chance, Free Read! now available
at The Wild Rose Press

Coming Soon:
By Another Name, April, 2009
All or Nothing, Spring, 2009
And so, here is your Christmas Song Clue: (CONTEST RULES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE POST!)

"Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you've delivered, will soon deliver you."

Send your guess to the song! then hop along to for your ride tomorrow!

ABOUT THE CONTEST: Spread more Christmas cheer, everyone hosting the CHRISTMAS RIDE came together and we’re giving one lucky person a $75 Wild Rose Press gift certificate!
To enter, simply:
  1. review each day's blog post
  2. identify the carol
  3. make a complete carol list to submit after the final blog post on Christmas Eve.
Send it to by midnight, CST Dec. 31st 2008!
Start at P.L. Parker's Blog to begin the Blog Ride that connects all the blogs and all the carols. Visit each blog to hunt for the clue to the carol of the day!
Hop along to for your ride tomorrow! Ho Ho Ho and off we go!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

God's greatest gift - a big sister...

I had a special opportunity to gaze into the huge, amazing heart of my big sister, Paige Day. For those of you who don't know her, Paige is an amazing woman. She's been through the fire and come out on the other side. She's raised three amazing children, survived an abusive, alcoholic first husband, she nearly lost her soul-mate in a motorcycle accident, and she is the strongest woman I know. She is the stuff that romance heroines should be made of. She never quits. She never surrenders. She is eternally faithful to God. She is the kind of woman I strive to be.

Here are some random thoughts that I came across on her facebook page today, and I pray she doesn't mind! but I'm sharing them in today's post. My heart bursts with pride for my big sister, who has always ALWAYS taken care of me. Even when it broke her heart to do so, she's always told me the truth. With my big sister, I can share my deepest secrets, my darkest fears, and my wildest hopes. She is the extrovert this introvert has always striven to be. She is the lead role in the school play while I was the towns-person in the background. She is the soccer star while I cheered on from the sidelines. She is the reason God made me more of a fan, and less of a competitor. I continue to cheer for her every day.

I pray that my girls have a relationship as strong as ours. So, without further ado - here are 16 things about my big sister. My best friend. Some of them I knew, and some of them dampened my eyes, and stirred my soul...

Paige Day at 7:54am December 16
  1. I have enjoyed growing up with my kids.....
  2. I love being a paramedic and a firefighter
  3. Tucson really feels like home, even though I love the different seasons
  4. I have a dragon tattoo on my back (it's way cool, my husband drew it)
  5. Living through Mark's accident and getting our family through it was the hardest thing I ever did
  6. I love roses
  7. I love animals (from fish to dogs, turtles, lizards, rats.....we have them all)
  8. I am starting my master's degree in January
  9. I can't believe I am 41 when I still feel 18 on the inside
  10. I knew I was a grown-up when I started having extra lightbulbs in the pantry for replacement
  11. I love to watch football
  12. I bought a book to learn about the rules of wrestling so I could support my boys.
  13. I love to play American girl dolls with my daughter
  14. When I run it is my favorite time to pray and sort out my life
  15. I love Christmas and get as excited about Santa as the kids......
  16. I think snow is beautiful

I love you, Paigie. Thank you for sharing.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Out of the mouths of babes...

Okay, so I had to share this with you all - as the honesty of kids floors me on a regular basis. Take Ellie, who told me the other day she had Jesus in her heart, and was wondering how he could get out!

Anyway, here is a chain mail I got today... enjoy the read...

-You got to find somebody who likes the same stuff. Like, if you like sports, she should like it that you like sports, and she should keep the chips and dip coming.
-- Alan, age 10
-No person really decides before they grow up who they're going to marry. God decides it all way before, and you get to find out later who you're stuck with.
-- Kristen, age 10

Twenty-three is the best age because you know the person FOREVER by then.
-- Camille, age 10

You might have to guess, based on whether they seem to be yelling at the same kids.
-- Derrick, age 8

Both don't want any more kids.
-- Lori, age 8

-Dates are for having fun, and people should use them to get to know each other. Even boys have something to say if you listen long enough.
-- Lynnette, age 8 (isn't she a treasure)
-On the first date, they just tell each other lies and that usually gets them interested enough to go for a second date.
-- Martin, age 10

-When they're rich.
-- Pam, age 7
-The law says you have to be eighteen, so I wouldn't want to mess with that.
- - Curt, age 7
-The rule goes like this: If you kiss someone, then you should marry them and have kids with them. It's the right thing to do.
- - Howard , age 8

It's better for girls to be single but not for boys. Boys need someone to clean up after them. -- Anita, age 9

There sure would be a lot of kids to explain, wouldn't there?
-- Kelvin, age 8

And the #1 Favorite is.........
Tell your wife that she looks pretty, even if she looks like a dump truck . -- Ricky, age 10

Monday, December 8, 2008

Wow! Take a look at Wowio!

I came across a read today which I can't put down. And, what's more, it's an E-book, downloadable for free from

I'm suddenly a huge Jack Cavanaugh fan. I've never read the story about how the Bible was ultimately translated out of Latin, and I find myself entranced after page 1.

Review to come!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Christmas Sleigh Ride! Hop on board for your chance to win!

And WHO wouldn't want to hop on a sleigh ride FULL of fun, sassy, and savvy romance writers?

Here's your chance to win a $75 gift certificate, plus one of 25+ other prizes. All you have to do is guess which Christmas song each author has chosen by the clues they give.

Just follow the blog train each day to its new the song of the day and keep track of them. On December 24th, you'll learn where to send your song titles to so you'll be eligible to win the $75 The Wild Rose Press Gift certificate. In additional, posting a comment on the daily blog will make you eligible for daily prizes! Here's a list of where to start.

They've already held their daily drawing, but checking out their blogs and discovering their song will get you in the running for the the $75 G.C. Good luck and have fun!

FYI: There are TWO different posts at The Wild Rose Press, one on the Dec.1 and one on Dec. 4th. So be sure to look for both of them.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Our Juggling Act

I was recently asked how I can do it all. By "it" she meant: write, be a wife, be a mother, and be full time employee.

The truth is, I'm not sure. This morning, for example, I got up at 5 with Perry. We spent some quality morning time together, I sent him off to work, and started going through my final edits for All or Nothing. Quiet music, coffee, a fire in the fireplace. I managed to get through almost 10 pages before I heard the voice from upstairs. "Momeeeee! I want yooooou!"

Now, my daughter is snuggled up next to me, watching Nick Jr. and deciding what she wants for Christmas. Seems like a good time to blog. Check facebook. And do any number of things. Suddenly, she realizes that she wants me, and grabs my arm. I put the computer down and we snuggle, watching the rest of Wonder Pets. The computer waits. The final edits to All or Nothing are quickly saved, and set to the back burner until tonight, after everyone goes to bed. That's the way it has to be.

Being a working, writing mama, I have involved myself with a wonderful group of women in the same boat. We offer each other encouragement, enthusiasm, and support when things go awry, as they inevitably do. Were it not for this support group, I'm not sure I'd be able to keep writing, or have the creative energy to even try. And the introductions to this group all stemmed from becoming part of The Wild Rose Press (TWRP) garden of authors.

The owners of TWRP can be credited by encouraging authors and readers to communicate with one another through message board posts, scheduled chat sessions, and online social networking sites. However, I doubt that they envisioned what a phenomenal creative environment that they were planting. We all have a common goal. I know, through my frequent communication with my world-wide network of author friends, that there is a common thread that runs through us all. We write because we always have. We write because we love books. We love to read them. We surround ourselves with them.

As the medium grows and changes into a digital format, with a new revolution in the development and encouragement of the short story, each submission becomes an online crash course in creative writing. At TWRP, I've been paired with three amazing editors. Each submission, I've learned how to be a better writer. And, All or Nothing has just improved because of what I learned writing and submitting Tessa Takes a Chance, By Another Name, and another story still in the works for resubmission, Solstice Moon.

And, through it all, I've had to learn balance in my life. How does a working, writing, wife and mother balance her day so that none of the plates she's juggling crashes down around her head? I attribute my success in all categories to my project management experience. My life has become my project. Each day requires planning. Each week requires goals in every area. Each goal requires prioritization. Because it is categorically unacceptable to let any one of the important plates in the air fall. Not my kids. Not my husband. Not my job. Okay, sometimes the housework goes to the dogs. (And by that, no, Millie doesn't pitch in and do the vacuuming!)

This is an ongoing adventure, a roller coaster that I don't want to get off. So, how do you do it, my writer friends? How do you keep your plates in the air?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Totally Cool

Good morning, all!

This just in! By Another Name is going to galleys! Woo Hoo! I just got word from my fabulous Senior Editor, Nicola Martinez. Most exciting to reach this point. This short story was a blessing from the get go. Easy to write, it flowed from my fingers. Those are the best. I have, in the past, said that contemporary shorts are my "cheats." In fact, I now believe it's my therapy. What's more therapeutic than weaving a little redemption love story? Can these little snippets make the world a better place? I think so. Why, you ask?

Because I believe in happily ever after. I tell the girls that their daddy and I are living ours, and they are our little princesses who someday will have their own. After college. After grad school. After they develop into strong, confident young women, which seems to be a recurring theme with my heroines.

So, this is almost Thanksgiving day. I braved the grocery store last night, thinking I'd be all sneaky and get my holiday groceries ahead of time. Along with half of Temecula. Aye, yai! yai! Anyway, the fridge is packed. We've opted for a free range turkey, never frozen rather than the traditional block of ice to sit in the sink for a day. This year, recovering from surgery, and still unable to lift more than 10 lbs - a fact I forgot BEFORE I went to the grocery story - so, today, Perry's going with me before we brave Costco together. Lord, we must be crazy.

At any rate, have a happy Thanksgiving weekend. Good luck braving Black Friday, for you kamakaze shoppers out there! Many blessings, and safe travels to you and yours!


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Final Edits are Rolling In!

When it rains, it pours. I say this as if I know. I live in sunny, southern California -- and we all know it rarely, if ever, rains here.

At any rate, I have that rainy day feeling. The high, thin, gray clouds are rolling in ahead of the so-called storm that's been forecast for our area. AND, if that isn't enough of a hint, this week saw both of my current manuscripts (MS#1 - All or Nothing, and MS#2 - By Another Name) were returned to me for my final touches. Raining. Pouring. Both due by early December. And Thanksgiving and Christmas are just around the corner!

GULP. This means, hands off! only make a change if it's ABSOLUTELY necessary. The pages are basically laid out. All or Nothing looks like a book. It FEELS like a book. By Another Name reads beautifully, if I do say so myself. I'm like a proud mama, seeing my babies come of age. They're almost ready to meet society. And that's going to leave me without a full length project.


I've started and stopped Castles by the Sea about 89 times. I bailed out of NaNoWriMo this year. I just didn't have the energy, even though I did have the time. Now, I need to find a new focus. A new place to throw my energy, my spirit, and my heart. I prayed for inspiration, and now I have it falling out of my ears. In a conversation with my editor. In a song. In a child's tale. In a verse from the Bible - Romans 12:12. And, of course, in seeing the Twilight revolution, and knowing that there must be something better to offer teenage girls than that. Not that it isn't great that kids are reading. But... AND I can't really say, as I haven't read the stories yet myself. But does it leave them edified? better kids for having read such a story? maybe. After all, it's a love story, and what's better than that?

Again, there is much to be plotted and planned. But, again, I have time. Hopefully, about the time All or Nothing goes to print, my next novel will be starting its journey to publication. I'm blessed to have an opportunity to write, a publisher who believes in me, and the heart to pour out onto paper.

Someone once told me that if I published a book, he'd buy me a ranch of my own. Soul ties are powerful things. We went down different paths, and if the ranch is in my future, the good Lord will keep whispering great stories in my ears. I just thank you all for reading, for believing in me, and the best -- I pray -- is still yet to come.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Spend Some Time in The Shack

The Shack The Shack by William P. Young

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book intrigued me from the word "go." Working as I do for R. R. Bowker, I keep my ear to the trades, plus as my friends know, I'm a new novelist - - so any story of how a new author becomes published is of interest to me. ESPECIALLY this one. Windblown Media blew my mind. Way to go, guys.

At any rate, I was intrigued by the fact this book couldn't find a home at a "traditional" publication house, but hit the world with such powerful timing. No matter how this book found the shelves, demanded distributorship, and now can be purchased everywhere from Walmart to Costco, I can't tell you enough how I suggest everyone read it. The funny thing, I found myself recommending it to others before I even purchased my copy. And that, I think, is testament to the power of word of mouth.

First and foremost, the story of Mack. Man, as a Mom -- the trials that Mack and Nan went through as parents leveled me before I even picked up the book to inspect the cover. I, as a rule since becoming a mother, refuse to watch my once favorite show, Law and Order SVU. I stay away from movies like The Changeling, even though I know at one time I would have eaten that up. But after encouragement of a friend, I started reading. (Simultaneously, as it turns out, with my Mother -- which I find cosmically cool.) Once I started, I couldn't put it down.

All spoilers aside - because I wouldn't do that to you, Mack, Papa, or Willie - this story shows the heart of God in a way I've rarely seen. Wrap The Shack up and give it as a Christmas gift, to yourself, and others. Read it for the heart in which it was written, whether you choose to agree or disagree with its philosophy. You won't regret the journey.

View all my reviews.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Constructive Criticism

One of the most helpful books I've ever read is Dale Carnegie's "How to Stop Worrying and Start Living."Sure, everyone says "How to Win Friends and Influence People" is his best work. I tend to disagree. Though I honestly couldn't tell you the majority of what is in that book. What I do know, is that it changed my life -- it taught me how to be critiqued - which is imperative for my growth as a writer. Who knows what else Mr. Carnegie expounded upon. This is what impacted me, at that low point of my life, and what I can share with others as a turning point towards a better day in mine.

What's changed in my life since I read that book? Back then, I was in a crappy relationship (read UNDERSTATEMENT, and fodder for many villains in my stories), I was trying to make extra money selling soap. I honestly was miserable, but I longed for a career as a writer of fiction. I longed for love and for friendship and a home and a family that loved me.

Well, let's see. About 14 years later, (oh Lord! feeling REALLY old) I'm happily married to my soul mate (the very saying would make him cringe), I have two lovely daughters, a great "day job" career - if they'll still have me (going to see when I can go back to work tomorrow!), and I am a working Author of romantic fiction. I also have befriended numerous authors, editors, cover artists, and publishers, who are all working to define this new dawn of the Print on Demand publishing industry.

Perhaps I have my head in the clouds with aspirations of being a full time writer, but realistically, I know that is several years in my future. Right now, I'm in writing boot camp. I'm learning from my editors at TWRP - I'm on my THIRD! now working with the Senior Editor of the White Rose Line. (Hi, Nicola!) I've been brow-beat, lovingly guided, and instructed on how to improve my writing techniques on everything from: Showing - not telling, maintaining proper POV, getting rid of the dreaded words: was, felt, seemed, etc. which I'm still working on. And so many other points. They are basically bad writing habits that many of us fall into -- I'm sure you notice I have a comma problem. Apologies to that regard. I tend to comma splice when I'm thinking. Crazy.

What I can say is this. For aspiring writers out there: if you ask for criticism, be ready to take it in for the spirit in which it was given. Your manuscript will return to you, bleeding and ripped through with "suggestions" and "pointers" on the errors of your ways. Your editor is now your partner, with an equally vested interest in your success. Make no bones about it. It is the hardest thing you've ever done.

I was given an excellent piece of advice by one of my writer-buddies. She told me to breathe. Then, read through the entire thing - absorbing all of the comments. Then, pick up a pen and make your notes. Develop your tricks. Use find and replace. But, pay attention to what they say and don't assume your first pass is your best work. Give your editor's comments the chance they deserve, and soon you won't believe what you were capable of producing.

The back and forth can be difficutl. Honestly, your baby -- your precious pages -- will be the bane of your existence by the time it goes to galleys. But, having it go to galleys?!?! Having your story receive a gorgeous cover?!? an audience to read your words?!?! That's my idea of heaven on earth.

Wine Tasting in Temecula

So, you want to go wine tasting in Temecula, California - but there are so many wineries - what's a wine lover to do? Tell me - are you interested in a few tastes at really great wineries? or are you interested in eating a great meal as well? Either way, your palette won't be disappointed.

Due to our unique climate, Temecula is most amenable to the Italian reds. A climate that is warm in the day, cool at night, with the ocean breezes and misty mornings, which I have been told is the perfect combination for the Sangiovese, Syrah, Cabernet, and Barbera grape varietals. What does this mean to you? It means that one does not need to drive eight hours up the coast to Napa or Sonoma to taste fine wine or to fill your cellars with pricey "brand names." A tour of Temecula Wineries is just the thing to get you in the spirits for this holiday season.

The best day to go wine tasting is Monday through Thursday. Come on a weekend, if you must; but wine tasting on a weekday will all but guarantee that you will actually get more out of your tasting experience than arm-wrestling with a limo full of tipsy bachelorettes jockeying for elbowroom at the tasting bars.

For the most relaxing, yet sensory experience - I highly recommend starting with an early lunch at Ponte - one of my favorite outdoor lunchtime spots. GREAT food, excellent wine pairings. Then, you can either taste at the lovely tasting room there, or move on to some of the others.

South Coast Winery is truly a destination in and of itself. It boasts a fantastic, sweeping landscape - villas where one can enjoy all of the pampering of a 5 star spa - and a heated pool to bask in the sun while sipping Chardonnay. Their dining experience is a must for a night on the town, save for the cheesy player-less piano music - and you can book ahead for private or patio dining. This is a fabulous way to end up your trip if you don't want to drive home. For day tasting, however, the tasting room is a bit cavernous; though their wine is is spectacular, don't get me wrong. I am a huge fan of the Cabernet, the Ruby Cuvee (a sparkling Syrah). Plus, I have many friends who work there, which makes the whole experience quite pleasant.

Wilson Creek, at the far end, just redid their tasting room - I haven't been there, but their dessert wines are delicious. Almond Champagne, and their dessert wines, such as port is a must try. The grounds are flower filled and the tasting room has just been updated.

Stewart Cellars offers a fantastic Cabernet, among other things, and has the feel of one of the "old" Temecula wineries. The staff is quite knowledgeable and you might learn a thing or two while sipping.

On your way out, I'd definitely give Hart a try - it's very small, but OLD Temecula, one of the first wineries, and the owners are usually mulling about. GREAT Barbera - and other rich, Italian reds. Talk about old Temecula!

Remember, always have a designated driver, or look up a ride from one of the many places to stay in town. The Grapeline offers stops at wineries throughout - or you can plan a private tour through

For more information, a private tour, or a tasting-buddy, don't hesitate to leave me a comment!


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

An Historic Day

All I can say is, wow. This is an amazing day. Perry and I stayed up late in the night watching CNN, MSNBC, and seeing how it all came together. We have a new president. Change is coming. Change is needed.

Did you know other countries were beginning to see us as being a hypocritical democracy? After being under the Bush and Clinton leadership for 24 years? When you look at it that way, it's startling.

We can agree to disagree on our politics. We can agree to disagree about the direction that the next president might take the country. But one thing we must agree on - is this time in our lives will be remembered forever.

Monday, November 3, 2008

By Another Name - Book Cover has arrived

Once again, I am floored by the beauty, artistry, and amazement of seeing my name on the cover of this story.

By Another Name, an Easter Lilies contest winner, came from the heart. It's a sweet, romantic story of redemption.

By Another Name, by Ashley Elizabeth Ludwig

What happens when a reformed high school bully falls for the girl he tormented seven years earlier?

When Kade Sinclair crashes into the girl of his dreams, she quickly wrecks his heart. Not one to take no for an answer, he pulls out all the stops to win her over. What he learns changes his life forever.

Rosalee Timmons is coming home. A single mother, new business owner, and the object of the most popular guy in town’s attention, starting over will be the biggest hurdle of her life. She may be hiding behind a new name, but that doesn't heal the old scars on her wounded heart.

When Kade realizes that confident, aloof Lee is actually little Rosalee Timmons all grownup, it seems he hasn’t a snowball’s chance. But when opportunity knocks, he finds a way back into her life.

Will Lee accept an apology seven years in the making, or will Kade give up before she finally gives in?

Friday, October 31, 2008

What Makes a Book a REAL Book?

I'm a member of RWA - and now I'm not sure I'll renew. Thanks to the letter from our new president, it seems that small press and POD publishers are being kicked to the curb. That's unfortunate. For RWA, in my opinion.

If I may quote, our esteemed leader has said that her Theme for her presidency will be " help her writers become career focused." And that POD publishing houses take " risk" in the publishing of these works.

I disagree. Wholeheartedly. Is a working mother who stays at home stuffing envelopes not career focused? What about any other kind of cottage industry, where women and men post items for sale on or slave over crafts to sell online to earn their living. Are they not career focused? Are they paid up front? or do they have to put in a little bit of work ahead of time? Does that make their income any less earned?

My publisher has taken a risk with me, an unproven writer. They've hired a cover designer to design this awesome book cover. They have provided me with an exceptional editor. They are laying out and designing my galleys, for Kindle, for PDF, and for a trade paperback finished product. And they are providing a distribution point, an ISBN number, and outreach to Baker and Taylor, Barnes and Nobel, Amazon, etc. for the online distribution of my book.

Due to my "day job" at R. R. Bowker, I happen to know ISBN numbers are not cheap. I also happen to know that each one of the services I mentioned above comes with a price tag. So, I didn't receive a check for a few hundred or a few thousand or more. Does that mean I am not a writer? An author? or that my book is not a book?

I've seen my publications with a small press as a partnership. A learning experience. I would LOVE to have it develop into a career, but until that point, it gives me a much needed outlet for my creative fervor. Did they purchase my book up front? no. Have they charged me for the phenomenal editorial service I've received? The astounding book cover I've been given? or the encouragement to become a much better author? YES. It's been like writing boot camp. I now have the capability to crank out a short story, conceive a novel with the knowledge that it will find a home. That is worth its weight in gold, in my opinion.

I don't know that we so much need to bow to what RWA feels is a "real book" or a "real author." I think we need to focus on how to prove what we do [Print on Demand Literature] is a valid, viable industry. SO, how do we do that?

One thing we have to focus on is how what we do is in its earliest stages. We are the new kids on the block, like mp3s were, once upon a time. Hmm. Download music? What a novel idea.

So, perhaps our POD publishers need to work with us to revise the contract process so that residuals are higher, more advertising is included with the publications. Or perhpas we need to develop a new romance writer's association - for POD writers. I think perhaps a combination of all three.

I challenge you to see who the new writers for RWA are, every reported month. Half of them are Wild Rose Press authors. And, while the RWA is moving to new headquarters and giving themselves a raise by increasing our renewal memberships, have they considered who their new members are?

One thing is sure. What it means to be a POD author needs to be better defined. I see us as authors in a time like when Louisa May Alcott was just starting out, with the invention of the printing press. Many more doors were opening at that time. There were questions as to what made a woman capable of being an author. We all know what happened there. So, what about now? Where does that leave the product of our blood, sweat, and tears? Who is New York to determine who is a quality writer and who is not?

I propose that we - POD writers - find our own solutions and not throw in the towel.

What do you think?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Holiday Meals...

Heavenly Holiday Roast Beef
Here's an easy recipe that any cook can master. Prepare a feast for your whole family that's a breeze to prepare and delectable for your taste buds.
View more »

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Renewed and Revitalized

I'd like to take a quick moment and thank all of you who read this blog. Throughout my journey to publication, I've made many friends -- and I also have come to realize that there is nothing more important than the friends and neighbors we see every day. The subtle encouragement of the familiar sometimes gets lost... but I've been thinking about this place I live - in suburbia. There's a saying that goes, "anyone can make a friend. Only God can make a neighbor." And when your neighbors become your friends, it makes every day so much more interesting.

Yes, in our corner of Southwest Riverside County, our houses are elbow-width apart. Yes, we all moved into this corner of the world within days of one another. We've seen neighbors come and go. We've watched with despair as foreclosure signs have appeared on streets other than our own. We celebrate each others' triumphs and are there in times of need. I know my neighbors and friends have been there for my family during my healing process.

So I want to say a heartfelt thanks. You know who you are. I was told by a dear friend that I was given the gift of encouragement, which I've never really considered as a God given spiritual gift. But is it? And if it is, I feel even more inclined to use it!

God gives us each a special gift - or talent, as the Bible so wonderfully translates it in the parable. I don't think that is a coincidence at all that the gifts each man received is translated as a talent. Even the man who broke even was a-ok in the Lord's book. But hiding it. Wasting it. That is unacceptable. God would rather us go out into the world, try and fail, than hide away in our basements.

My writing adventure is just that. I'm not publishing with a huge house, that's true. But The Wild Rose Press houses some wonderfully talented writers - (I'd say women, but I know one or two of them are actually men writing inspirational romance. Ladies, how awesome is that?!?!) Who doesn't want to know what kind of hero/heroine relationship a man can put together?

I'm rambling now, on a roll. Thanks, Elissia! :) Still - the point remains, I am revitalized by knowing that you all are out there, cheering for me. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Don't waste your talent. I'll do my darndest not to waste mine. And we can all celebrate together.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Back in the Saddle

Good morning, friends! It's football Sunday, and you wives of Fantasy Players know what I'm talking about.

I'm resting and recovering - after being significantly fussed at by my doctor. What did I expect? I'm the mother of two kids under the age of 5. Of course I'm doing too much. Just sitting here, resting, listening to the herd of wild buffalo running around upstairs while daddy is changing bed sheets - I'm cringing. But I'm not running up to take over. Or even crawling up. I'm resting. With half-crescents in my palms from squeezing my hands too tight. But he's doing it. And he's wonderful. God bless him. REALLY. He needs all the help he can get!

At any rate - the big news is the contest entry. My story, "By Another Name" won one of three contracts for The Wild Rose Press Easter Lily Contest. It will be released in April - I need to get out the contract, the manuscript information page, and everything this week. I'm hoping Kimberlee Mendoza will do another lovely cover for me. :) Shameless plug, Kim, if you're listening!

That shot me to the moon last week. I'm waiting on two other entries - but am back to writing new and interesting stories. I have a project with a dear friend I'm fleshing out, as well as rewrites for Castles by the Sea and the final Final final? edits for All or Nothing. Elizabeth is giving me a run for my historical money. God bless editors - and the writers who do their bidding. ha ha. She's a fantastic editor and I'm in boot camp every time she shoots me an email with a question, request, or added bit of historical tidbits to make the novel soar. So, this author is beaten. The few things I was clinging to, I've let go, following her superior advice, letting go of my stubbornness and following her lead. Authors, be thankful for editors as diligent as mine. :)

At any rate, I'm looking forward to sending her Castles, so that she can see how much she's taught me. Total rewrites are a chore, but when you put the tools you've learned into play, hopefully the revisions won't be nearly as painful. If I can get A or N out by a year from my contract date, I'll be lucky.

SO- thanks everyone for your well wishes. I'm going back to watch some old Ginger Rogers flicks for my "research" - while the kids "help" their dad. Better get in what I can before the Chargers game starts! Until next time,


Friday, September 26, 2008

Notes before taking some leave...

Good morning - all. Friends, fans, and family... I had a few minutes with my morning coffee and almost picked up my journal - but decided here was as good a place as any. We're about to go through some changes at our house. I'm off work for awhile, as many of you know... but before I go, we're taking our little trailor down to the beach for a relaxing family weekend WITH FRIENDS this time.

This should be fun. For once, it's Perry's group of work friends we're going with. I'm truly looking forward to meeting these people he spends time with. I've been promised many hands to help with the girls - which should be great - and I'm frankly looking forward to parking myself in a lounge chair and watching the waves, having a few glasses of wine, toasting marshmallows, and listening to laughter and great music... quality time with no computer. Ha! no phone (save for the cell to call my sis/bro in law when we have a trailor "emergency") and just "roughing it" together.

Life is good. I'm set for surgery on Monday, and will be in recovery a bit after wards. Don't expect much from me until middle of October - when my birthday extravaganza begins! :) Mine and Ellie's. This year will be cause for great celebration. We have our wonderful girls, our friends who have been coming out of the woodwork to lend their support and their good wishes. I'm genuinely blessed, and finally feel at home in this little town of Temecula, California.

Will I ever consider myself a non-Arizonan? I don't think so. It's the home of my heart. But, being able to take an easy trek to the beach for a few days is a joy that I always longed for. I've got a husband who loves us so well. And mom and dad are coming out to lend a hand. All is good. So, here's to a quick recovery, time to work on "Castles by the Sea" -- my WIP that's in rewrite now. And some enjoyable time researching the 1930s - one of my favorite periods in history.

Love and blessings to you all... and I'll catch up in a week or so... Meanwhile, good reading, and good writing to you, all!


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Book Review - The 10th Gift

The Tenth Gift The Tenth Gift by Jane Johnson

My review rating: 4 of 5 stars
Jane Johnston's the 10th Gift is an amazing first person adventure into the life of a young woman, on the verge of falling apart. Her long-standing affair at an end, she is bound to her ex-lover only through the pages of an antique book - her parting gift. What she finds is an invaluable treasure: the story of a young woman from 1625 who is kidnapped from the Cornish coast by Barbary pirates to become a Christian slave.

Soon consumed by this story, she finds herself rootless, homeless, and following the young Catherine's trail to the coasts of Moroccco. She learns that there are two sides to every story, and that true love can find even those who've made mistakes.

Not just a romance, it is a mystery frought with intrigue and well researched historic detail. She maintains a fast pace for all of her characters, even though the story flip-flops back and forth between time periods, and locations. It is a highly recommended, entertaining read.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Edits complete - Double Phew!

All or Nothing edits are DONE! DONE DONE DONE.

I'm so exhausted.

One more read straight through and then Elizabeth can have it back. Fingers crossed that this time it'll go to galleys!

Show Don't Tell

Here's a hump-day question for you lovers of romance.

Would you rather your husband SHOW you he loves you, or TELL you he loves you?

I've been pondering this one this afternoon - as I am a romance writer, and I have a husband who is a shower. He tells me, too, yes. But sort of in that robotic way. The obligatory "I love you, bye" kind of way.

Now, for those of you who know him, he is a first generation American, born to Germans straight off the boat. Germans are very stoic sorts. They're gruff. They're a happy bunch when they've had a few brewskies. They're also not terribly lovey dovey. HOWEVER, back in the day, we were a schmoop-fest. Things change. Kids come. Diapers. Years of spit up in the hair. Later, up all night with sick tummies and snotty noses. The romance is sure to dim somewhat.

So, is it better to have your lover SHOW you they love you - by pulling some weeds? doing dishes? playing with the kids so you can take a night off? bringing home takeout?

Or would you rather a sudden, unexpected heartfelt hug to all the soap bubbles in the world? This tired mommy wants to know, what works for you?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Who Needs Sleep?

I vaguely remember what it was like to sleep through the night. Or, I should say, I remember waking up feeling refreshed, and less like I was punched in the face. :)

I think the difference between adoptive mommies and mommies that went through the biological process is that preperation the Lord gives you with not sleeping before the munchkins arrive. Personally - I slept like a log through R's entire delivery. Didn't even know she arrived until 10 hours later. *sigh* I wanted so badly to be there. Consequently, I didnt' put rachel down or sleep without her for probably 9 months, when she became determined to walk and no longer required a sherpa. HA.

With E, my DH and I drove back and forth to Anaheim 3 times the night of her labor, returned home to sleep once things were settled, then awaited the call - which of course came at 4:30 am that E was rapidly on her way. I was able to help in the delivery room - which was a blessing I'll never forget. ANOTHER STORY. I'm going to cry - and that's not the reason for this post.

I've also heard about adoptive parents with older kids - who have night terrors or trouble sleeping at all. I can't imagine what that must be like. To know your baby had such a hard time while you were waiting so desperately to bring them home...

Today, I was mulling over how parents cope with sleep. Do you have a "family bed?" or do you cherish your pillow time and relegate the little ones to their own rooms? R didn't sleep when she was a baby. That kid would wake up and want to play. She didn't sleep until I had E around, and then I guess she gave up on waiting for me. Now, she sleeps like an angel - and only rarely appears at my bedside in the night.

E on the other hand is having issues again. She hasn't wanted to go to sleep without one or both of us in her room. She's been scared of shadows. She's been needing water. She's been coming up with any excuse possible to delay the inevitable. SO, Perry had the brilliant notion this week to tell her -- you dont' have to try to sleep. Just lay back, close your eyes, and think of your favorite things. Sleep will find you. And, IT WORKED. I couldn't believe it. She stopped wandering the halls. She stopped screaming for me. She actually has slept through the night for three nights in a row.

Is there light at the end of the proverbial tunnel? Of course, we're going out of town for Labor Day Weekend - so all this hard work will probably be tossed out of the window. *sigh* BUT, I'm hopeful. I've slept through the night, and it felt GREAT!

If anyone has any sleep tricks they have to add, please do so!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I should be...

I should be doing the final edits on All or Nothing.
I should be writing a chapter on His Darling.
I should be reading something to improve myself in some manner.
I should pen an article for Constant Content that I've been mulling over.
I should be getting things ready for our Labor Day trek to Laguna.
I should be... sitting right here, listening to the birds sing, enjoying a gorgeous Tuesday morning.

It is a beautiful morning, too. The sky is just brightening to that pre-dawn, orangey-blue. And since when was it pre-dawn at 6:48 a.m.? The huingbirds are battling for position at their feeder. I really need another one. There are as many as eight out there, darting around like fighter jets. The birds are enjoying their feeders. The fountains are just getting started, with our latest edition - either "Shiney" or "Peek-a-boo" - whoever it was that decided to stay in our pond - is floating with his head up, like he loves to do. We have one red eared slider turtle now - the other decided to abandon ship or was absconded with, we're not sure which. We've thus far managed to convince the girls that we still have two. LOL.

Anyway, my goal is to finish the edits on A or N by the time I get out of here on Friday, so I can do a final run through on vacation. Ha! what a vacation. Rereading a story I've read a million times over. Maybe I'll read it backwards. I heard people do that sometimes. Pick each page apart individually, of its own accord.

What can you do to keep your story fresh? Any ideas? Back to edits. *SIGH*

Did I mention?! Ellie slept ALL NIGHT LONG in her OWN BED. And she's still asleep at 6:53 a.m. Lord, am I ever pushing it. I'd better go or I won't get even a page done.

Have a great day, everyone!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Feeding a Finicky Family

Okay - in 4 1/2 years, I still don't have this right. Meal time is stress time at our house. At least for me. Maybe it's because I work from home, so I'm here. Though if I were in an office, I wouldn't be thinking that there's nothing started for dinner at 3pm - but, since I'm right upstairs, I'm already consumed by the notion that 6 o'clock is approaching and nothing is defrosted.

I have to ask. How do you all decide what to do for dinner? Do you have the same 5 or so meals you cycle through like my mom used to? Or do you experiment and try new recipes? Does everyone eat the same thing at the same time? or do you try and cook for the kids and have "grown up food" for you all?

I have an issue with a husband whose mother raised him on meat and potatoes. When I serve him chicken piccata he blanches! give him a salad of any kind, and he looks at me like I've asked him to eat one of the bushes in the backyard. The man was never more excited than when I made chicken strips and fries for the girls. WHO KNEW?!

I've since stopped trying to impress him with my cullinary skills, and am turning my attentions to my finicky 4 year old. I've convinced her after the weekend that she must eat protein or she might shrink to the size of Thumbelina. SO, any suggestions for a kid that would rather eat corndogs than anything at all?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

How to tame a toddler

There were posts going around on our message board for TWRP yesterday about writing with toddlers around. Yeah. That's a real trick, isn't it? Rachel's in that phase now that she can be kept busy for hours coloring, watching a favorite show, or working on her projects (see Rachel at the kitchen table with a pair of child-safe scissors and a bunch of hastily printed out family pictures. The kid is an amateur scrap-booker extraordinaire!)

Ellie is another story. The girl is a ball of energy, needing constant attention and wanting to talk all of the time. ALL of the time. These days, she still sounds vaguely like Elmer Fudd. All of her "L's" are "Yuh" sounds. Hear: Eh-yee instead of Ellie. Yost instead of Lost. At any rate, they've settled down again. I have a full day of work ahead of me, and we're going to race off with the "school kids" and meet our day care at the elementary school.

Will I have time to work on edits for All or Nothing today? I've reviewed the full MS --returned to me from Elizabeth on Tuesday--and I can absolutely make the changes needed in just a few short weeks if not sooner without breaking a sweat. The only question mark is with the kids! will they let me? Working on my writing before and after work, staying up late into the night, waking early in the morning, my friends ask me "When do you have time to sleep?" perhaps writing with small children in the house gives you just what you need to do that. I wasn't sleeping anyway...I might as well write.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Tessa Takes a Chance Released!

My free read was released today - and I'm sailing. I can only imagine what it's going to feel like to have my full length novel released! Wow.

SO - if you have 10 or 15 minutes - download Tessa Takes a Chance for a fun "mommy length" read.

As reviewed by my dear friend, Wendy:

Bravo!!!I loved the story. Just long enough for me to enjoy as I ate a quick lunch. Perfect Mom read without feeling mom focused. I really like Tessa.


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Saving Face...

I'm undergoing a little experiment. I've recently signed up for facebook and I'm trying to determine if it's a fun diversion or a time sucker.

Any thoughts on the matter?

Points for:
1. Finding old friends
2. Staying in touch with friends out of town
3. Networking with fellow employees
4. It's like instant messenger on steroids

Points against:
1. Time spent adding silly applications is basically wasted, while we pin flair on each other and serve up margaritas
2. Time wasted looking for people who I could care less if I ever talked to again
3. Be careful what you post online - see networking with fellow employees. ha ha.

The jury is out. Are any of you face-bookers? Feel free to friend me and we can chat about it!


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Three more chapters to go!

I've got three more chapters to go - or so - on my current work in progress (WIP). It's getting very exciting... even though I know what happens, you never know how the characters will end up working out their story.

I've already been suprised by my main character a couple of times, and the guy she loves is nowhere near the scoundrel I thought he was going to be in the beginning. More of a tragic hero, actually.

The bad guys have had their own suprises along the way-- which is also cool. The act of developing a story is just as exciting for the author as hopefully it will be for the reader. I look forward to reading the finished product as much as someone who plucks a book off of the shelf. I always know when it's ready when I can read it without a pen in my hand.

Does anyone else feel that way? When do you know if your story is truly ready to share with the world?

Monday, August 4, 2008

All or Nothing - Cover

Hey, everyone!

Good morning! we're freshly returned from Arizona - and I'm on my third cup of coffee, trying to get going before the "Momeeee!"s start at the top of the stairs.

I was scanning a week's worth of e-mail and found the note from Rae Monet and my editor that All or Nothing has been covered. Not just any cover - but a STUNNING cover.

Kimberlee Mendoza is my hero. She designed an incredible cover for All or Nothing - truly capturing what I wanted. It looks mysterious, intriguing, romantic, and a little dangerous...

Thank you, Kimberlee!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm so excited...

What does it say to you?


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Where were you when the earthquake hit?

I was sitting at my desk when the world went BOOM.

In fact, I just had opened an e-mail from my editor with my formal, final blurb attached. I take that as a powerful sign from above.

There are some things about earthquakes that you just don't think about. For example, you don't expect an earthquake to have volume, but they do. There's a jolt, combined with a sonic-thunder. It kind of reminds me of when the A-10s used to hit the city limits of Tucson and bump it up to break the sound barrier - right over our house! the windows would rattle in the frames. My mom would invariably be in the kitchen, looking out the window and muttering something about that damned air force under her breath. As she was allowed to do, being the wife of a former Lt. Colonel.

I'd look for the airplane, but my dad would squeeze my shoulder with his strong hand and say, "Honey, if you can hear them, they've already gone."

As for earthquakes, by the time you first feel them, get up, get under a doorway, or duck and cover, they're pretty much over. Unless you're on the 17th floor of a building on rollers. Then the fun just keeps going and going and going... (ask Wendy)

As for me, I'm still not used to them. This Arizona girl doubts if she ever will be. Oh, yeah. I say they're exciting. But, inside, my mind screams "GET THE HECK OUT OF THE HOUSE!" Millie (our dog) was outside, because she knew it was coming. Come to think of it, that must be why she's been barking at every opportunity - MOST unlike her. In fact, she's been barking about it for days...

Dogs are awesome. Earthquakes, not so much.

Mornings with Ellie...

Ellie greets me every morning at the top of the stairs, usually while I'm having my morning coffee. I hear her sweet, raspy little voice:

"Mommeeee! I 'wake!"

So I go greet her, usually wrapped in her shiny pink blanket and laying at the top of the stairs, waiting for me with a slight, pearly grin.

"Morning, mommee... I want to go down-stay-ahs..."

So, I'll carry her down and we snuggle, listen to music, or watch her favorite show... this week, Scooby Doo. Last week it was Mrs. Spider. Before that, Dora. We like to mix it up. Ha.

Ellie's getting so big, but still, she's my baby. I'm struggling, because my surgery is coming in September, and I have 8 weeks or so where I won't be able to pick her up and carry her. Of course, at almost 40 lbs, I have a bit of a time carrying her around anyway, and she is almost 3... but, I love it. It's our time. So what will our time be after the surgery? I'd say, just like this. Me, typing one handed, and Ellie's head in my lap.

After all, I did write All or Nothing with Ellie in the crook of my arm... I can do it again... of course, she was about 30 lbs lighter back then...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

What are you doing right now?

This one came from my WRP message board - but it was such a fun exercise I just had to share...

The trick is - give a ONE WORD ANSWER only to each of the following questions (see mine here...) -- It's harder than you think! I'd love to hear yours!

Here are mine:
1. Where is your cell phone? KITCHEN
2. Your significant other? WORK
3. Your hair? HIGHLIGHTS
4. Your mother? SLEEPING
5. Your father? READING
6. Your favorite thing? CHOCOLATE
7. Your dream last night? WILD
8. Your favorite drink? COFFEE
9. Your dream/goal? PULITZER
10. The room you're in? MESSY
11. Your High School years? REUNION
12. Your fear? LONLINESS
13. Where do you want to be in 6 years? BEACH
14. Where were you last night? HOME
15. What you're not? THOUGHTLESS
16. Muffins? ZUCCHINI
17. One of your wish list items? SHOES
18. Where you grew up? TUCSON
19. The last thing you did? CHAT
20. What are you wearing? COMFIES
21. Your TV? NEW
22. Your pets? BARKING!
23. Your computer? BUSY
24. Your life? LUCKY
25. Your mood? FOCUSED
26. Missing someone? WENDY
27. Your car? WONDERFUL
28. Something you're not wearing? POLISH
29. Favorite Store? MACYs
30. Your summer? VACATION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Coming Soon...
Tessa Takes a Chance, Summer, 2008
All or Nothing, Spring, 2009
The Wild Rose Press

Sunday, July 20, 2008

What's your love story?

My friend Skhye is highlighting her valentine's tale - Sacraficial Hearts...(new to my must read list...)

Today - she posted this question: What have you given up for the love of the person you love(d) enough to marry?

In answer--Before I met my husband, I'd just about given up on ever finding real love. I had become determined to just enjoy myself - that marriage was no longer for me, and that my true soul-mate (HS Sweetheart) had gone off and married another while I was dithering around with the wrong guy.

Then, one summer night at a beach party - there he was. Handsome, funny, sexy, and completely into everything I did or said. And, he lived a world away in San Diego.
Proximity wise, he was all wrong. But he was everything that I had ever dreamed of in a life-mate...but to make a life together, one of us had to start over.

Like any hero, he offered to come to me - but I knew his heart. So, like any heroine in my own romance, I gave it all up for love. My home at the beach, my career, hardest of all, leaving my best friend... and I never was more certain it was the right thing.

We married a year to the day after we met. Two daughters and 9 years later, it was still the best decision I ever made...

Friday, July 18, 2008

It's all automatic...

This morning I had the strangest notion. Do you realize, in 2008, it is entirely possible to integrate yourself into the consumer process, without having to ever interact with another human? At least, another human you aren't on the phone with.

I'm not talking strictly being able to order goods and services online, and have them delivered to your house. That's been around since Sandra Bullock lost her identity on The Net (for those who didn't catch that reference - it's a late 80s/early 90s movie... more believable in this day and age then it was back then).

Humor me for a minute.

This morning, after working since 6am - halting to make breakfast & drop the munchkins off at my dear friend, Alina's, (my one bit of adult - non work interaction - where they will play, socialize, and basically learn how to be social animals)

I set out for a morning of errands before I finished up my half-day Friday (ha ha) see me working a full day, anyway - and here's what happened:
  1. I Purchased gasoline at the island - no human interaction ($4.33 a gallon at Costco!)
  2. I checked myself out at the grocery store - no human interaction.
  3. I sold a posting to my Craigslist Posts through e-mail, no human interaction.
  4. I received payment from Pay-Pal - No human interaction.
  5. I conducted an online banking transfer - No human interaction.
  6. I stopped by ATM - DIDN'T even get out of the car.
  7. I printed out my own mailing label - No host uman interaction.
  8. I dropped off my pre-packaged item to the post office counter - no human interaction.
What I didn't admit above - was practically the whole time I was chatting away into the blue tooth that I now clip to my head every time I set foot out of the house. We now have a society of Californians who wander the streets, looking like they're talking to themselves...but that's another story...

I also work from a home office, conduct conference calls with my co-workers 2,000 miles away... and my most frequent "in person" conversations of late are with my friend and daycare provider, my husband, and occasionally the neighbor over the fence in a Tim Allen, Home Improvement sort of way. Thank heavens for my writing group, a few of us who meet every other week for a coffee at Cosi's!

I'm not an antisocial person. I love people. And I love chatting LIVE over coffee. However, I've made a pledge to myself:
Remember to take off the blue tooth that seems etched to my
ear, smile, and say hello to at least one new person each day.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Some reviews for All or Nothing from my fabulous friends...

"Reading a novel by Ashley Ludwig is a delicious treat. Her characters and scenery come alive to feel like long lost friends. This book is a must-read for my book club!" -- Kay Rather, Tucson, AZ

"I was on pins and needles waiting to see what would happen with RuthAnne and Bowen. Great story! Very suspenseful ending." -- Denise Harmer, Fallbrook, CA

"I would recommend All or Nothing to lovers of historical romance and inspirational fiction alike… [All or Nothing] has a great story line…that will appeal to a wide variety of readers." -- Robina Shultz, Golder Ranch, AZ

"All or Nothing has rich characters, vivid historical detail, and an intriguing mystery! All in all, a fun and exciting read." -- Suzanne Radcliff, Tucson, AZ

"Ashley Ludwig has a rich writing style, and a lovely tone. Readers will fall in love with the characters and setting, alike." -- Paige Day, Tucson, AZ

"Watch for cactus thorns, Ashley Ludwig masterfully paints the Arizona desert with such passion, you'll feel the heat." -- Dan Harmer, first time romance novel reader, Fallbrook, CA

"Ludwig’s description of 1800’s Arizona captured my imagination in a romantic story that, amid the cactus and coyote, slowly warms like the sun rising over the morning desert." Beverly Nault, Temecula, CA"

"I connected with so many of the strong, feminine and real characters in All or Nothing. Thinking about them now, I want to read the story all over again." --Wendy Nield, LA, CA

Friday, July 11, 2008

All or Nothing - Returned - AGAIN!

Okay, second round of edits have been returned to Elizabeth. I have until August 20th for a creative reprieve. How do I feel?

Wrung out.

I had every intention of writing something creative today, so I'd better get to it. Just wanted to share my total relief, after having to slash out paragraphs, sew up my was-clusters, seek out problem repeated words, and all of those stray punctuation marks that seem to find their way to the forefront while you're elbow deep rewording paragraphs and pages.

Amazingly enough, the story is better than its ever been. My editor is a genius. I'll shout it from the rooftops. I've learned more about writing this year than I ever have - even in college. So, on that note, here's to the next project. Something short that I can finish quickly. And then, back to Castles by the Sea.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

How to write a must read...

This is a question that keeps authors up at night.

How does a book become a "Must Read?"

Is it a catchy title?
Is it a beautiful book cover?
Is it word of mouth advertising?
Is it excellent mechanics?
Is it excelling in english 101?
Is it creating intimacy with your audience...and if it is, how do you do that?

So, intimacy, huh? Are we talking behind closed doors, or sensual intimacy? No. I'm talking intimacy of sharing the details and minutia of your day with your mom or best friend. I'm talking about the intimacy you put in your journal that is shoved in a drawer where no one would ever think to look. I'm talking intimacy of honesty in your writing that makes you believable in every way, shape, and form.

This is how I feel intimacy is developed - please chime in if you have any ideas on the subject...or, call me out if you think I'm way off base! I'm still learning, here!

I believe it's creating characters that could be your reader's sister, best friend, lover, crazy ex, or odd next door neighbor that no one ever sees and everyone talks about.

I believe it's honesty in the writer's that your reader becomes enveloped in your story, becomes invested in your characters, and digs their toes into the beach sand or the bed covers, turning page after page until the story is finished.

I believe it is a setting that you know so well, it's like taking your reader by the hand and on a personal field trip through your mind.

I believe that it's listening and learning from your editor, taking tips and tricks from successful writers, and weaving them all into your current story, and starting from there - using them when you weave your next tale. This is what will make your next story the best book you've ever written.

Plotting, Pant-sing, Character building exercises aside. Us authors need to work on developing our voice, first and foremost - and the only way to do that, is to write. Write every day. Write about anything and everything. And like my friend Dan Harmer said, write like your parents will never read what you've written down. (He said something slightly different, but I don't even like to think about a world without my parents in it - so I'll say it this way: Write like you're jotting your story in your diary that NO ONE knows about.)

This is nowhere to be timid. This is your opportunity to confront your subconscious. To drag those deep, dark, scary, sensual, inspirational, and/or devotional thoughts into the light of day. Fillet your soul and let the world see what you bleed... And that is what I feel makes a must read:

True Intimacy.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Edits complete - Phew!

Well, three cheers to Elizabeth, for her fantastic editorial contribution to the All or Nothing project. That's what it has become. A project. A comprehensive effort - that will be reviewed by me ONE more time, and then forwarded on its merry way - to be designated with a cover, back cover copy, blurb, etc. and so on. Lord, I can't wait to see the cover. It'll be amazing. A dream. I used to stroll book stores to envision where Ashley Ludwig would reside - and now, it's happening.

What a phenomenal effort on the part of The Wild Rose Press - whom I couldn't be more excited to work with. I am so excited about seening the cover. About the rest of the publishing process, which is, as of yet, a mystery to this writer. I'm ready to go back to work fleshing out my next historical, inspirational story - Castles by the Sea... set in the golden era of Hollywood. I'm looking forward to it - but have so much plotting to do, I should change the concept to plodding. Why oh why can't I be a pantser? Every story I've ever "pants-ed" together has gone nowhere. Oh, well. That's a topic for another day.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Popsicle summer

Saturday heralded the official arrival of summertime -There is nothing like seeing the popsicle smiles on their sweet faces, and enjoying that cool California breeze off the coastline. My girls are getting bigger, learning to swim, and can still strip and run naked through the sprinklers in 5 seconds flat. The video camera is on the fritz, so as soon as I can get it to the geeks at Best Buy, the more video I can capture of that reckless abandon.

The garden is spectacular - the flowers have outdone themselves, even though the heat index has been screwy. And, now we are in construction of our newest Ludwig Family Project...the river. Yes. Perry is constructing a river in the side yard. Complete with tricklng fountain, tadpoles to turn into froggies, and fish. I imagine we'll even find a home for a turtle or two. Lord, I'm going to turn into my sister. There are worse things than that. My sister rocks.

Speaking of sisters - I often wonder how my mom did it with us. Granted. We had more of an age difference between us. Three and a half years instead of 19 months. I am bound and determined to see these little misses lean on one another the way that Paige and I do. To hear them speak about each other once they reach adulthood - the way Paige and I speak about each other. What does a parent have to do to engender that? All I can say is, patience. Fights are not allowed. Hurting feelings on purpose is a definite no-no. Respect. Love. Fun. Play. All of these things are mandatory. Hateful words must be apologized for as much as physical contact. But, you know what? There is something about hearing them play, invent games, giggle in secret, and plan together that makes my heart flop around in my chest.

People ask me, as an adoptive mother - if my girls are related. *CRINGE* first of all. Second, comes the smile that states - you have no idea what you're asking me, do you? You might as well ask a person who physically bore their children - oh, is your husband the sperm donor for both your kids? But - no, I don't do that. What I do say is my pad-answer: "God made us a family. We're not biologically related, but Rachel and Ellie are sisters. I'm their mother...Perry's their father, and Millie's our dog."

Aye-yai-yai... that's a whole other topic for a later date!

We're all part of the same gene pool. Jump in and take a swim. After all, it's summer. And have a popsicle, while you're at it.
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Monday, June 16, 2008

Some notes on editors...

Wow. I've gone through over 300 pages of detailed notes from Elizabeth. Yikes.

First thoughts, after seeing my bleeding, disected manuscript... AAARGH!!!
After catching my breath, my second thoughts (no pun intended) are... wow. How lucky am I?!?

I have an editor who is brilliant. She not properly and politely chastised me for the overuse of "was" - she fact-checked all of my historical elements. Bowie or Buck knife? When in the world did "threw me for a loop" enter the public vernacular? and other things that make me blush, and slap my forehead with a good-0le Homer Simpson " 'DOH!"

So, notes on editors. WHERE would we be without them? I shudder, suddenly, thinking of how many editorial mistakes I have made on this blog. Apologies, dear readers, for any overuse of commas, misplaced modifiers, lonely words, and other editorial attrocities that more than likely exist in this here blog.

So, with every edit, this writer is putting herself back to school.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Quickie Reads...

Okay - now is the time. I'd like to present a new review source for short and full-filling e-reads.

Quickie reads is a place where anyone can highlight a favorite short story - be they rosette or miniature rose, or any other length.

Today we're highlighting: Catching the Bouquet by Kara Lynn Russell. Have you read it? Post a quick review! or download it when you have a quick minute...

Add a Quickie by commenting on the Add a Quickie page.

Read Quickie Reviews - for both paid and fun reads...

Or, add a "Full-Filling Reads" for full length novels that are worth the time and cost of admission.

Please, take a glance. Contribute. There are so many titles, and so little time - I really need your help filling the site with quick reviews!

It's a great place to showcase your work - whatever the link. Please take a look and let me know your thoughts. Post your title, or post a friends. Let's fill this up with lots of great stories that can fill the moments, when you only have a moment to spare.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Love and Loss...

I woke up this morning to a new world. A world without a man who was central to my dear friend's life. The father of her child. My heart aches with the loss. The part that is the worst, is the mystery behind it.

He was a mere shadow of his former self. Once upon a time he was strong, brave, funny, caring, true. But something happened. Somewhere along the way, the demons found him. A blank slate. A man who had doubts. They peppered his life with shadows. They took what was true and kind and good and turned him into something else. Someone who was lost. Who was unsure. Who was scared. Who despaired. Who couldn't find the joy or the will to go on.

And this world has lost of a good man. A man who if he would have just asked for help, would have had so much offered him. A man, who if he saw himself the way the world saw him, could have found hope. My heart hurts. My reason is rent in two. I pray God that he found peace. Today, I thank God for my steady husband. Today, I pray peace for my dear friend, and her sweet daughter. His loss will not be forgotten.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Where in the universe are you from?

Thanks, to my friend Skhye Moncrief - now it's officially official. My compartments I've diligently organized for myself (see post from this morning, below!) now look exactly like the top of my desk, counter, bar, and kitchen table. :) Still, this is my life. I'm from Mercury. Where in the universe are you from?

You Are From Mercury

You are talkative, clever, and knowledgeable - and it shows.

You probably never leave home without your cell phone!

You're witty, expressive, and aware of everything going on around you.

You love learning, playing, and taking in all of what life has to offer.

Be careful not to talk your friends' ears off, and temper your need to know everything.

Thoughts for a Monday

Listening to: Birds singing in the backyard
Price of Gas: $4.25 a gallon
Stress Level: low to medium

I spent the weekend with my parents -and my mother took it upon herself to share with me that I've been a wreck lately. Thanks, mom. No one can completely level you like your own mother. Thank the Good Lord that my mother knows how to pick me back up again, dust me off, and set me on a better path. She told me to compartmentalize. To not try to do everything all at once. Work during work time. Take care of my family during family time. And write when no one else is around.

Well, that's the trick, isn't it. When you work from home, there's always work to do. There's always someone around, because I'm a parent of a four year old and a two and a half year old. And then there's Perry. And we do everything together. So that leaves, when everyone is asleep. Okay, so we're going to try that this week. Now that Rachel's in school, and Ellie's playing with PJ at Niki's house - it's time to go to work. And what happened? My e-mail's full. I'm archiving. So that buys me about 10 or 15 minutes to blog about my Monday morning thoughts. Uhoh. In attempting to compartmentalize, I'm blurring the boundaries. This is supposed to be work time. Thank heavens I don't actually have to drive anywhere to go to work.

Never have I been more glad to telecommute than this summer. I can hardly believe that Perry and I are considering buying a new SUV. I've been calculating my weekly mileage, and suppose if you consider my commute is walking upstairs to my desk with a cup of coffee, than perhaps I've done my part for the gasoline crisis.

After two weeks, and a few trips out to Lake Skinner for the Temecula Valley Balloon and Wine Festival, I racked up a total of 115 miles. Not bad. Perry only drives slightly more, so perhaps we can swallow the cost of an SUV and cruising around in comfort, rather than scrinched in the minivan. I'm still on the fence about that one.

Still waiting patiently for Tessa Takes a Chance to go live. Stay tuned for the sweet little read to grace the Free Reads section of

Another thing to do today - after work (and believe me, I want to get to work, my E-mail is still auto-archiving and disallowing me any access...argh!) I will get through at least another 50 pages of All or Nothing edits. I was going to this morning. I even woke up early with Perry so I could get to work right away. I don't even think I had my face washed when Ellie's little voice called from my doorway. Mommy! I wake! Go downstairs watch Dora! Lord, the child's addicted to Dora The Explorer!

Did I mention it is impossible to write a romance novel with Dora the Explorer on the television? Not much better with Miss Spider, Max and Ruby, or anything else considered Pre-School time on Nick Jr. Aye yai yai. So, I whipped out my journal, and we wrote her name awhile. We wrote down every word she could think of, and I swear the child talked for two hours and forty-five minutes, nonstop.

My mother says this is my karmic payback. My nickname, they remind me, when I was a toddler was the mouth. So, I set the edits aside (sorry, Elizabeth!), I picked her up, and we talked and tickled, and I remembered how once upon a time I wrote a novel with her happily cooing in her swing. Perhaps by the time I'm ready to start the next one, she'll be sleeping in a bit more. In the mean time, it's ridiculous to let this add to my stress. I have until July 10 to return the MS. I've been advised to take the entire time to get it right, and Lord knows, I'm following the sound advice of my fellow authors. *grin*. I just love saying that.

So, with that in mind, back to the day-job. I'm going to do my darndest to solve the world's bibliographic issues today. Diving whole focused into work, now that e-mail is done archiving. Edits come later. Then to the park with the munchkins. I'm compartmentalizing - work during work time. Play during play time. Edits and writing after my family and other obligations are complete. And someday, maybe, this will be the only work I ever have to do again. And wouldn't that be sweet?

Friday, June 6, 2008

Edits Received!

Yesterday was crazy. Life has been beyond insane as of late, and I was taking a few hours out of my schedule to actually get my hair done. My therapy under the expert hands of Dina at the Temecula Salon and Day Spa, with the added benefit of getting an awesome cut and color in the bargain.

At any rate, with one foot out the door, and a final check to e-mail - it came. A note from Elizabeth West. My hero. The one who saw something publishable about All or Nothing. The one who loved my book enough to buy it. AND, I'm discovering, the one who keeps me honest with my writing. She has located every nook and cranny in the pages where I subconsciously cheated. Would RuthAnne say this that way? How could they walk past the stable when they just left it five minutes ago? How could a stagecoach perched on a ledge be wedged in a crevasse? All of the questions on continuity where needless to say - I blew it.

So, time to roll up the sleeves! Elizabeth rocks. I will review each comment with my own fine-tooth-comb, and make sure the characters remain true to themselves and their story. To make sure that my bandit is just as dastardly as he needs to be, and of course, that everyone lives happily ever after.

When I handed the pages back to her last time I thought I was sick of them. Now that they've been returned to me - as one of my editor friends mentioned - bleeding from all of the comments and deletes and changes - I am prepared to go to work. To dress the wounds. To resolve the unfinished issues. To find all of my choppy sentences and flesh them out. To not change my name to Miss Placed Modifier (haha) but to institute good grammar wherever I have broken a Chicago Manual of Style rule. Except in conversation!

I'm in school. I'm learning every day. My husband asked me this week where all of this entrepreneurial and creative energy stems from, and honestly I don't know. All I do know is that I write because I love it. I love this story as much as I love the home that I am cozying up each and every day. Each wall that I've painted. Each plant that I've dead-headed, planted, grew from a seed, or hole I've dug with the strength of my arms and the sweat of my brow.

The story is growing, as my garden is growing. The fact that Elizabeth is pouring her heart into these pages is stunning to me. She is equally involved in RuthAnne and Bowen finding each other. Realizing they are made for one another. Making sure that nothing tears them asunder. This project that began in the wee hours of a fall morning, with Ellie asleep in the swing, in a post-newborn, hormone induced frenetic moment - is now a labor of love for my editor and me. And so, it is with great care that I will go back and read each note. Evaluate each one in the spirit it was given, and finish this story so that we can get this book to print. All by July 10th. Holy cow.

Thank you, all of my author friends who've been up this creek I'm frantically paddling... for your sage advice. I honestly don't know where I'd be without you!


Tuesday, June 3, 2008


Today is Perry and my 8th wedding anniversary. Lace and Linen, they say. Ooh la la. Well, it would have been - in life before toddlers! ha. My question to you is - what is the most romantic memory you have of your spouse? Anyone can be sexy... but romance? That is an art form.

My most romantic memory of my sweet husband is this... and it may seem silly to some, but those of you who know him know that Perry - world's greatest sports fan - is also the world's biggest softie. Here goes:

It was 1999. Summer. One of those long, lingering Hermosa beach days - where I beat both the marine layer and the sunset home from a marathon day at Adwire. I had the convertible top down on my red Mitsubishi Eclipse as I cruised down Sepulveda Blvd; in 99 I was probably blasting Train on the stereo, singing along about meeting Virginia at the top of my lungs...

That was back when I shared a beach house with two room-mates, our balcony had a sliver view of the Pacific on Manhattan and 2nd. Right across the street from Le Petite Bistro and Mickey's Deli. This was where the boys played volleyball and girls like me loved the eye-candy. Back when I was going on dates, enjoying the company, the free meals, wine, and deciding for myself if I would or would not even give in to a goodnight kiss. What I loved about Hermosa, was that with so much to drink in, I knew that when a guy REALLY turned my head, I'd be in love for sure.

Perry was different from the get-go. He made me laugh. He made me think. He knew how to have fun and not worry about strings. He knew we were just getting to know each other, and that I was not serious about anything with anyone. Including him. But, one day, when I had a date with someone I don't even remember his name and was hurrying home to get ready... there, on my doorstep, was a little tiny Star Wars - Phantom Menace dixie cup, full of Hershey's kisses. He'd left a note, that he'd dropped by knowing I wouldn't be home - on his way to a Dodgers/Padres game. He just wanted me to know he was thinking of me.

Whoever that guy I went on the date with (yes, I still went...) was toast. Sure, I devoured some Rockin' Sushi on Hermosa. But, I floated home on a dream of Perry - His smile, his deep, tanned skin, his sweet, thoughtful nature. Was it possible this sexy, romantic guy was really into me? And why, darn it, did he live 90 miles south, in San Diego?

My life in LA LA land was drawing to a close. I knew it. Wendy, my best friend and boss, knew it. I had every intention of being Tucson bound. That summer Perry stepped in and changed all of my plans. He changed my life. He changed my future. And, take it from a gal who's taken a LOT of wrong turns... He is the true love of my adult life - my soul mate - my partner in parenthood - and my very best friend.

My hope is that Rachel and Ellie will give themselves a chance to find true love, and not sell themselves short - and to find their soul mates - after they've gone to college and have fantastic careers, of course. ;-)


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Writing in Haste...

Haste Makes Waste... an interesting thought for the day, really. Today we're told that haste makes waste in publishing, so be careful what you write when writing quickly. Isn't that the truth? And here I am, hastily blogging about that subject.

I've recently switched WIPs away from contemporary - which was fun (my promotional short story Tessa Takes a Chance will be available soon from Wild Rose Press - YAY! :) -- so, I'm back to re-writing a White Rose Historical - set in the golden era of Hollywood. It was one that was tabled and reviewed by Harlequin ages ago - but never made the final cut due to (looking back on it now) some hasty writing that was long on dialog and short on research and historic detail. *How mortifying to admit to this! but I was young. What can I say?*

What I love about writing historicals - is that you must research a subject, know it, practically live it before you can etch one word - rather than just streaming it all down off the top of your head. Granted, we are living in contemporary times - but I digress.

When researching All or Nothing - I made a home for myself in the reference room at Fort Lowell Museum. Now, I have my favorite online research sites I haunt on a regular basis; there's nothing like hesitating mid-sentence to wonder: What sort of underclothes would my heroine be wearing? What does her hat look like? Her hair style? how would she voice that particular thought? The deeper I research, the more in tune with her I become, and the better able I am to weave her plights, and share in her victories!

I remember Jude Deveraux once saying that she was always most interested in underclothes and where people went to the bathroom. Think about it. What's more intimate than that? I've also read that with regards to setting - the worst thing a writer can EVER do is to jar their reader out of the universe you are creating. Setting is such an important part of that universe. As is avoidance of all anachronisms.

So, perhaps the internet allows historical writers to conduct our research a little more hastily - however, it also enables us to get the details spot-on as we don't have to stop writing, get in the car, drive to the library, get sidetracked by the new releases, etc. and so on.

Finally, this begs the question: Where do you, as readers, find yourselves most intrigued when diving into a historical? What gets you flipping pages? What do you want to know about - regardless of the time period you are reading? Do you want to know how they cook? sew? gossip? shop? how much things cost?

Please comment - I'd love to know your thoughts