So close … and yet so far

clock-06-00_33234_lgWe’re nearly there. Just thirteen hours until the newsletter hits your email inboxes. I will post the link here (and on Facebook) later in the morning … you know, after I finally pull myself out of bed.

My only concern right now is the immense line of thunderstorms that is headed my way. When I see those, I know there is every probability that I will lose power. No power = no internet. No internet = no book upload. Do I have you worried?

I’m evil. I’ll make sure that things are ready to post long before the weather attacks me. The most wonderful thing about this weather attack is that it will bring my long-awaited fall weather. Tomorrow might actually be cold!

Okay – back to work with me.

Busy, Busy, Busy!

capture-the-moments-100-dpi-2Book 15 is nearly here! Have you signed up for the newsletter? If so, you’ll get the link in there around 6 am Sunday morning. I’ll wake myself up later in the morning and post the link here on the blog and on the FB Bellingwood page. Whee!

Oh, I’m liking this book. (Good thing, eh?)

The final edit arrived in my inbox this morning and it was awesome. I have to tell you – my editors / beta readers are pretty amazing people. Each one sees something different and makes these books better before you see them.

I was desperately out of clean clothes , so I packed things up and dashed out to deal with it this afternoon. Nothing more fun than sitting in a laundromat, right? Okay, there are always interesting people, but not when your mind is harassing you about all that needs to happen before midnight Saturday night.

So, ummm, yeah … took my little moleskin notebook in with me and wrote the vignette. I was proud of me.

Now it is time to format the book for paperback first … and then for Kindle. Why that way? Well, are you sure you want to know? Alright. You asked for it.

When you format for paperback, you need to be wary of widows and orphans. Pretty biblical, yes?

No.

A reader’s eyes do not like a widow (single line at the bottom of a page), but even less, does the reader like an orphan (just a couple of words at the top of a page). So … I go through the book page by page and restructure things to eliminate as much of that as possible. The other thing that is generally considered unacceptable is leaving only a few lines at the end of a chapter.

I do that work first, because it often requires editing. Then I move the manuscript to Kindle so that they are identical. With the Kindle, page length doesn’t matter because you all use different fonts and font-sizes when you read. I can’t control what you do with those things, so I don’t even try. (Duh)

There are a lot of little processes involved in taking my story from manuscript to book. I have a checklist that I’ve created over the years to ensure that all of the parts and pieces happen. It’s so much fun, but it does take time. I’ll be up late tonight and work all day tomorrow and late into the evening tomorrow night, but I promise you’ll have a book on your Kindle on Sunday.

Back I go … love you all!

Gotta Be a Little Crazy. Right?

14202643_1464202516930004_842748465730727518_nOh good heavens! My sister just posted something on my wall and I howled with laughter. I’d totally forgotten about this.

So, what’s a girl to do when she has a youth group filled with ornery brats and she’s all by herself? Nothing is ever normal with Diane. We’ll start with that. I’ll get back to this story in a minute.

I was pretty young when I started teaching my first Sunday School class. They needed someone for sixth grade and who better to steal out of the best, most fun class (my mother’s)? Her daughter. I was really worried about it, though. How would I keep order with those horrible rug rats? Mom’s advice to me was that every time things started getting out of control, I was to stop and ask them to pray with me. Well, duh. That first Sunday we prayed a lot. But I got through it and gained some confidence.

That approach didn’t work forever. I always figured out which boys were the orneriest first and went after their hearts. Those boys were who I needed on my side right away because they could disrupt things in a heartbeat. Snotty little girls? I just told ’em to shut up. I’d been down that path and knew exactly what they were up to.

Then came the night that I had scores of kids in one room while their parents were all off having fun at some church event. I hadn’t had time to get these kids on my side and not only were they completely wired, but they ranged in age from first to sixth grade. Whoa.

It only took a heartbeat and one horrible little brat and I knew exactly what to do. The kid was the son of one of my friends, so I knew I was safe. I threatened (knowing that you never threaten a kid without being prepared to follow through) to lick his face if he did it one more time. He did it … and so did I. The rest of the room was so flabbergasted by what I had done, that they dropped right into line and we had a wonderful time.

Fast forward to the next church I attended. More kids. More trouble. It had worked so well the first time, I began threatening to lick faces if they got out of line. Everyone thought it was a riot and the threat actually worked. Nobody knew whether or not I’d actually do it. But then things went far enough that I knew I was up against the wall. I identified one of the boys as my target. His mother was again a friend of mine and I was certain that he showered regularly. Before he knew what had happened, I licked his face. The group was stunned into silence. Once every four years or so, I had to prove myself and soon enough, my reputation had been built. It was awesome.

Moral of the story? Sometimes you just gotta be a little crazy. Oh, maybe not. It’s a fun live I’ve led so far!

And truthfully, I got the whole thing from my Dad. You NEVER put your hand over his mouth without being prepared to have it licked.

And, just so you don’t forget, Book 15 – Capture the Moments – comes out on Sunday, the 25th! I’m ready to have this in your hands. Book 16 is already working its way out.

The Countdown! (And Winners)

TB sticks pretty close - just to keep me company. Love this gorgeous boy.

TB sticks pretty close – just to keep me company. Love this gorgeous boy.

Just four more sleeps!

I’m in a bit of a holding pattern right now. I have one more person running through the book to make sure that all of my editing and thrashing about didn’t create more problems. You’d think that I would relax, but these are the moments when I madly try to get my life back together after going head down for a couple of weeks.

This is still my favorite life ever, but wow, do I let my world fly out of control.

The thing is? Other than living in Bellingwood during those days, I’m really boring. Polly leads a much more interesting life than I do. I’m excited by a trip to town for mail and groceries! But that only means that I expend time and energy on the stories and that’s what counts, right?

We have five winners of ebooks. Y’all were all over the place with which chapter the first dead body of the book shows up in. I haven’t counted tonight, but last night (which is 98% of the tally), it was:

Chapter 1: 34
Chapter 2: 50
Chapter 3: 40
Chapter 4: 26
Chapter 5: 16
Chapter 6: 8
Chapter 7: 3
Chapter 13: 1
Chapter 15: 1

Now you just have to wait to read the book to see if you were right or not. I’ll never tell! The latest I think I ever waited was Chapter 11. I don’t remember which book that was, but I do remember people being surprised. Okay, I was surprised!

Anyway, congratulations to:

Tanya Rumpel
Diane Sumner
Teri McMillan Key
Peg Adams
Mary Wire Passage

Send me a message with your email address and as soon as I have a link, I will email a copy of the book to you!

Happy Birthday, Polly!

happy-birthday-pollyToday is Polly Giller’s birthday (September 20)!

There are a few dates that I’ve always known, and others that I’ve had to figure out. Okay, and still others that I haven’t discovered yet. Polly’s birthday has always been September 20th.

It kind of freaks me out that she continues to age, right along with the rest of us. I’m not sure what I will do when she hits 40. That will feel strange. Heck, it felt strange when I did. But Polly seems timeless at about age 32-33 and that’s just not real (please don’t go there).

So I guess we should celebrate. Ice cream sandwiches all around!

Happy Birthday, Polly!

Want to Win an Ebook of Book 15?

capture-the-moments-100-dpi-2I feel like giving away a few Kindle copies of Book 15 – Capture the Moments.

All you have to do to enter is to comment (either on this post or, preferably, on the Bellingwood FB page) and tell me what you think is the first chapter in which Polly finds a body.

That’s it.

I’m not going to spoil it, so everybody has the potential to win. I will select five random winners on Wednesday afternoon and notify you by replying to your comment. Then I will write a quick post, so everyone knows who won.

This is going to be short and sweet – my plate is still full of editing and formatting. I do love y’all, though!

IT’S GETTING CLOSER! Make sure you’re signed up for the email newsletter to receive notification and the link to purchase the book bright and early Sunday morning!

Entrants release Facebook of any responsibility and this promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.

Lunch with Carol

Summer 1964 - Jamie was only a few months old.

Summer 1964 – Jamie was only a few months old.

I’m the older sister … let’s just say that I wasn’t any too happy when Carol came into the world. A perfectly normal and happy, only child, my life was completely disrupted. Mom loved telling stories of how within days of Carol coming home from the hospital, I began wetting the bed. Not only that, once I climbed into bed beside Mom, I’d wet her bed. She took to placing a stack of towels next to her so she didn’t have to clean things up until the next morning. Poor Mom.

That wasn’t her only story about this apparent revolution I was trying to stage. I was learning to read at about this same time and Mom had a set of flash cards she used to work with me. It soon became really fun entertainment to bring those flash cards out whenever we had guests, because I read through each one of them with great pride until she came to the card for “baby.” That word did not exist in my vocabulary and I wasn’t about to acknowledge its truth.

Summer 1964 - I had no idea Mom dressed us in matching outfits so often. How cute is this?

Summer 1964 – I had no idea Mom dressed us in matching outfits so often. How cute is this?

Fortunately for everyone involved, it was only a couple of years later that my brother was born. It was quite clear that I no longer had any hope of returning to the only child status and it was easier to acquiesce and adapt.

I love my siblings. I’m thankful for them. We are all quite different but that only adds fun and excitement to the relationships. Right?

Carol and I met for lunch today – we exchanged equal amounts of stuff. I keep thinking that if I give her enough of the stuff from my house, I’ll begin emptying it. Oh no … she gives new and fun things back to me. We had a wonderful lunch and chattered like magpies. Seriously, we chat with each other nearly every evening, either via messaging or the phone and there never seems to be an end to the things we want to tell each other.

She’s got a hell of a job – teaching fifth graders. The biggest thing I remember about my fifth grade class was having to explain to my teacher that I needed to see the nurse because my period just started. She handled it with aplomb … as a much older teacher, she’d probably had more than a few girls go through that in her classroom. Carol not only has the normal things teachers face, but today’s kids seem to have so many more emotional and mental issues that they bring with them. She loves them, scolds them, holds them accountable for their actions, teaches them how to share, love and engage with each other, all while educating them according to the standards set forth by our absolutely insane educational system. (I have opinions about this … they don’t really matter, I guess.) I’m proud of her … and grateful that she belongs to me.

The only thing I don’t get is that she doesn’t understand the importance of knowing every detail about the television show “The Blacklist.” Come on, Carol.

Okay, okay. She brought me a huge bag of M&Ms. That means I can get back to work digging through the manuscript. One more week, folks! Only one more week. It’s almost here!

Wine & Trivia Winners

I just love this picture of Grey sniffing the flowers. So I'm sharing.

I just love this picture of Grey sniffing the flowers. So I’m sharing.

The two weeks before publication are just plain weird. Seriously. Nothing is normal. I’m focused on editing and anything that takes me away from that feels out of place.

Except for the Wine & Trivia night fun on the FB Bellingwood page. How wonderful was that? I hope everyone gets a chance to participate sometime. The next one won’t happen until March 17, 2017 in preparation for the March 25th publication date, but last night was a blast!

A lot of you showed up to play, both during the event and at strange and odd hours (for me, I was asleep) after the event. Thank you all for hanging out.

There are winners! Thirteen of you were chosen by my handy-dandy random name picker. I’ve heard back from most of the winners, so YAY!

Congratulations to everyone.

Tote / Signed paperback copy of Book 15
Diana Long
Jacque Webb
Janet Ferguson

Ebook copy of Book 15
Julie Cavanaugh
Becky Hill-Cunningham
Paula Holmes Allaire
Corrine Starkey

Frogs
Bonnie LumleyEllen Dail Johnson

Mugs
Lia Federico
Catherine Hall

$10 Amazon Gift cards
Barb Sanders
Nicole Beardmore

Frogs, Gift cards and mugs will be shipped this week. Ebooks will be delivered as soon as I have a link and Totes / paperbacks will be shipped as soon as the books arrive in my hot little hands.

You are all so supportive of this wild and crazy thing that I get to do and I appreciate you more than I will ever be able to tell you … but I can give things away as often as possible and that is so much fun for me!

Now … back to editing. Gotta keep tuning these words up.

Book 15 – Capture the Moments – will be published on September 25th. If you’ve signed up for the newsletter, you’ll receive the link at 6 am for download. Then you can all start bugging me for the next book, which, by the way, will be published December 25th. YAY!

Thank you, thank you!

Red Pens and Cute Cats

img_6203It was a dark and stormy night …

Wrong tense. It IS a dark and stormy night. It’s awesome! I love the sound of rain on the roof; the rush of wind as it whips the trees around in the meadow and the rumbles of thunder in the sky. The storm has washed much of the humidity and heat out of the atmosphere and I’m a very happy girl. There will be sleep for me tonight.

But before that, I’m busy! One of the steps in the process is to red-pen a printed copy of the manuscript. It reads differently on paper than it does on the screen. Isn’t that crazy? I find all sorts of changes to make.

The cats aren’t terribly fond of my hunkering in to work phases. I don’t pay enough attention to them, as evidenced by Grey helping me in the picture. Whenever one of the cats gets close enough for snuggling, I stop and take time with them. How could I not? Look at that face. She’s serious about getting my attention and I’m glad to give it to her.

There isn’t much else going on tonight. Between now and 6 pm tomorrow night (are you coming to the Wine & Trivia party on Facebook? Be there or be square), I will have mapped out the trivia questions for the party, hopefully finished more sewing and gotten a good chunk of editing finished. We’re in non-stop crazy mode for the next couple of weeks. It’s my favorite!

Okay, I’d love to hang out and tell you all sorts of stories tonight, but there’s one that needs my attention, so I’m going back to it. Do you realize how close we’re getting? I can hardly wait!

Can You Laugh at This?

hotflashes1About five years ago, I was in Iowa City for a Greek language three day course. Twenty of us (only three women) met at a church for intensive training with a fairly well-known professor of the language. Yes, my brain hurt. Yes, it was incredibly awesome.

The funniest thing, though happened when I walked out of the classroom for a break. I stopped to talk with the church secretary who was madly fanning herself.

“Can I get you something?” she asked me.

“No, but it looks like you could use a bigger fan.”

“Damned hot flashes.” Then she looked around furtively, just to make sure none of those Greek-speaking preacher-types was there to hear her. Because, you know … they’re boys and don’t want to hear about menopause. Oh yeah and the cursing thing. It was hilarious.

We spoke for a few moments about how our parents NEVER talked about menopause and that for years women didn’t know how to deal with it because it was such a forbidden subject. We suffered alone. There is nothing your doctor can do for you, the only appropriate treatment is a healthy air conditioner when the hot flashes hit and patient friends and family when the nasties just fly out of your mouth. Stupid hormones.

Her attitude that day was to find the whole thing comical. Because if you stop to think about it, it’s the final bit of the curse God gave to Eve before kicking her and Adam out of Paradise. Childbirth was meant to be difficult, but once you get those rugrats all grown up and out of the house, your body goes into full-blown rebellion, reminding you once again that you really aren’t in control.

For me, the whole thing was either entertaining or gut-wrenching. The gut-wrenching came when my hormones decided that I should be reminded about just how awful my life was, how horrible my friends were, how stupid I was … you know, regular depression stuff. Good news? Two hours later, everything was rainbows and roses.

The best thing in the world for everyone – no matter what you have going on – is to talk about these weird things with other people. Whether it’s menopause, cancer, loss, true depression or addiction; open communication with someone – anyone else is so important. The only way to discover that you aren’t alone is to find someone else who is in the same boat and can either commiserate or lift you up.

My poor mother had to face it by herself. Okay … she faced it with us. She dragged us into all of it. The cold winter day we walked into K-Mart and Mom began flinging every single layer of clothing she could decently remove into the cart was eye-opening for me. She cursed, she swore, she dripped sweat and laughed through the whole thing. What else was she to do?

Mine was in the middle of bible study one night. I was standing at a podium going through a presentation, when all of a sudden, my concentration lapsed, I wanted to bury myself in a vat of ice and nothing was as important as cooling myself. I finally looked at the rest of the women in the room, who fortunately were mostly my age and older and said, “You know what I’m going through, right?”

They all laughed out loud and were right there with me while we waited for that to pass.

TB hated being under the blankets in the middle of winter when a hot flash would hit. Usually about 4:30 in the morning. I’d fling back blankets and he’d come rushing out, desperate to leave the intense heat buildup.

Max just learned to live with blankets wrapped around him … in the middle of the hottest part of the summer.

Yeah. It’s menopause. We all get it. We all face it (or have faced it). We can’t escape it. I choose to greet it with laughter. It’s funny to watch the cats run away when I’m attempting to cook them. The hormonal emotional stuff? Once I get to the other side of it, I find that it’s easier to laugh at it as well. There might need to be a few apologies, but then … let’s just laugh about it. I can’t change what’s going on. Let’s find the humor.

What was your funniest hormonal (either pregnancy hormones or menopausal hormones) experience? Really … you just have to laugh (and if you’re a male-type person, you might want to find out if it’s safe before telling your best girl’s story).