Sunday, March 31, 2013

Wishing you a blessed Easter!

Photo credit to:  Dogs, Cats & Horses on Facebook.com

Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday

It's hard to believe Lent is coming to an end. Everything that happened with finding out just how sick Rocket and watching him decline messed with the plans I had for Lent. I started off well, but that didn't last. The good thing is this happens every year.

The last three years, we've always done the same thing every Good Friday...attended the Michael Allen Harrison's 10 Grands concert in downtown Portland in the morning then gone to our church for Tres Ore.

The vote was split on 10 Grands this year so I didn't sign up. It turned out to be a good thing since the one person who wanted to attend, Finn, has a field trip for his history class.

The one thing I want to do today is bring Rocket home. They called a couple of weeks ago, but I wasn't ready. I'm still not sure I am, but it's time. Spirit is still acting off. She sits on the boxes where Rocket would go when he wanted to be alone and she just stares down the stairs as if she's waiting for something. Or him. I think it's one of the places she might be able to smell his scent.

I hope you have a good Friday!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Little Bit of Holiday Magic

Star Wars, cats and dogs! Does it get any better?
I woke to good news in my inbox this morning! The revisions on my final Hood Hamlet story have been accepted. And the book has an official title now: A Little Bit of Holiday Magic.

The only thing left for me to do on this one is read the AAs/page proofs. That won't be for a couple of months though.

Needless to say...big sigh of relief! Now I can recycle all my drafts and empty my revision binder and move on to the next story!

What are you up to?

Monday, March 25, 2013

MURPH The Protector

Last night I took Finn to see MURPH The Protector, a movie about Navy SEAL and Medal of Honor recipient Lt. Michael Murphy.  The film is inspiring, a story about honor and bravery and a really great guy.

My son dreams of being a Navy SEAL so I thought this would be a good movie for him to see. Role models are important for kids no matter what they want to be when they grow up. A kid can't go wrong looking up to someone like Michael Murphy.

The film is a documentary with family and friends talking about the man. The narrative follows Murphy from childhood to what happens after he was killed in Operation Red Wings.

We both enjoyed the film and over dinner discussed what we'd watched. My son and I thought the movie picked up when they started talking about Murphy wanting to be a SEAL. I don't know if it was getting out of talking-head mode and the use of BUD/S training via video clips or what, but that was where things got more interesting for us. 

The only person not interviewed who I would have liked to hear from was Murphy's fiancee, Heather. She was mentioned and pictures of her shown, but I think her perspective on the man would have been a great addition to the film since she knew him in a much different way from those who spoke. We heard about Michael the son, the brother, the cousin, the nephew, the friend. The romance writer in me would have loved to hear about Michael the boyfriend and fiance. This didn't enter into my son's mind at all. He thought it was great the way it was!

MURPH is on a limited release so if you plan to see it, go in the next couple of days. Check your local Regal Theater to see if it's playing. I believe it's run ends on Thursday. Definitely bring a tissue to the theater. More than once I was wiping tears away.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Birthday day!

Happy Birthday Mackenna! My oldest turns 15 today! Hard to believe she's that old. I still remember when we called her "goo goo baby!"

She isn't getting a pretty, shiny bell like the LOLcat on the left. No, Mackenna is getting an iPhone. She actually got it yesterday when we took her to the phone store to pick out what she wanted. Given the monthly fees we told her that's all she's getting. I said I'd wrap it up for her to open. She wanted it right then. Made my life easy!

But no worries about a lack of gifts, she's been receiving envelopes and stuff from family members so she'll have stuff to open today!

I woke up this morning thinking about one of the story ideas I've been brainstorming and tinkering with. That was a good feeling!

I should be able to write a little before kidlets wake up, but then it's time to finish cleaning the downstairs. I must admit it feels so nice to walk into a house that isn't cluttered! I have a bad habit of letting stuff pile up while on deadline. We'll be heading to Costco this morning to. Mackenna has asked for a special dinner tonight:

Appetizer: Cheese fondue from Gustav's (a German restaurant that I'll get take-out from)
Salad: Caesar Salad (from Costco - her fave)
Veggie: Roasted Asparagas
Main Entree: Grilled Salmon and Steak
Bread: Artisan loaf
Dessert: Chocolate Fondue (Chocolate sauce recipe from Joy of Cooking)

A pretty easy meal!

Then she wants to watch Les Mis. We bought the Blu Ray yesterday.

That'll be my day. What about you?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Interview & Giveaway!

I'm over at Harlequin Junkie, promoting my new release Winning Back His Wife, with an interview and a giveaway. The prize is a  $10 Amazon gift certificate. Click here to enter.

Instead of doing my normal March blog contest here, I'm doing it there, so be sure to head over to Harlequin Junkie and enter. 

I'll have a couple of books I picked up at ALA to giveaway here on the blog next week! I planned on doing it in late January then February, but time got away from me.

Hope you have a great Thursday! I'll be spending my morning volunteering at school and my afternoon writing! What about you?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Insane day

I feel like applying my face to the wall. It's still early but so far:

1) Minivan was dropped off at the car dealership at 7 am to be fixed.

2) Interview and giveaway scheduled for today postponed due to the website's host being down. I feel so bad for her because it's totally out of her hands and I now how frustrating that can be when I had issues with a site hosting my fonts (they were recently switched because of that.)

3) One of the cats threw up this morning while I was doing #1 and made a total mess in the landing.

Are you having a normal day or an insane one.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Prince with a Plot

While I play catch-up I've been brainstorming book ideas, trying to think of what I'm going to write next. I sort of feel like the LOLcat to the left, but forget the tuna. I want my prince to show up with a fully formed plot complete with internal and external conflicts with him.

I've been taking it easy, picking a couple items off my To Do list each day, and going to bed early (at least early for me.) It feels weird, because around ten o'clock last night I thought, "Time to start working."

I didn't.

Well, hubby wouldn't let me. He told me to go to sleep.

So I did.

Hope you have a great Tuesday!

Monday, March 18, 2013

A new week

This LOLcat reminds me of my kitties. I can just imagine them having similar thoughts running through their heads. There has been some unusual stuff going on with them—behavior, sleep, eating. I wonder if they're still adjusting to Rocket. It's only been a week.

One of my soldiers named a kitten they saved Rocket. He emailed, "For you."  Very sweet!

So I'm slowly checking off my To Do list. On that list is website contests. I know I'm behind (as usual) but it is on my list.

I'll be doing a $10 Amazon gift card giveaway later this week on Harlequin Junkie. I'm being interviewed there. I'll be sure to post a link once it's live so you can enter.

This week is all about getting stuff done. Oh, and cleaning. Which I hate. So I'm trying not to think about that too much. But cleaning is important. We have a birthday coming up and some people coming over. I can't put it off much longer!

Do you have any plans for this week?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Friday, March 15, 2013

What next?

My revised Hood Hamlet manuscript is with my editor. I emailed it last night, my twenty-sixth project for Harlequin, if I did the math correctly. I've had to do second round of revisions for a couple of books so I won't breathe a sigh of relief until I hear if these have been accepted or not.

But I'm really happy to be finished!

Granted I'm sad to close the book on the Hood Hamlet series. I've loved each and everyone of the characters like they were family. But I always said Paulson would be the last story. So here we are.

I find myself in an odd place, however. For the first time, in what feels like forever but is only a few years, I have no deadlines. I'm out of contract. Free. It's a very odd feeling, given I feel like I've been writing non-stop, with delivery dates looming while life (and death) tried to derail me. The three books that are/will be out in 2013 especially.

With my current release, WINNING BACK HIS WIFE, my dear friend Elizabeth went into hospice care while I was writing it. She lost her battle with breast cancer while I was doing revision.

With my upcoming, THE MAN BEHIND THE PINSTRIPES, my 14 year old foster cat, Miss Mousie, needed an expensive surgery or to be humanely euthanized. With the help of romance authors and readers, we raised the money and she had her surgery, all while writing and revising the book.

And if you've been reading this blog, you know that my beloved cat Rocket, who would have turned 16 next month, was diagnosed with liver cancer while I was writing TWELVE DAYS IN HOOD HAMLET (working title) and he died on Sunday. I'm still crying all the time.

I'd been working so hard to get this final Hood Hamlet book written in February and then the revisions finished, that I haven't figured out what I'm going to write next. I thought the LOLcat above was perfect for this post. I am in the planning stage! Lots of ideas floating around in my head and waiting for one to pop!

I'm hoping that will happen soon. But in the meanwhile I have lots of other stuff to do.

Thanks for all your support with my writing, Rocket and everything else. I really appreciate it!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Quiet

With revisions on the final Hood Hamlet story due tomorrow and a heavy heart, I've been a little quiet on-line. I've been shushing the kids. Yesterday the two youngests were screaming and shouting over who got to use the laptop first. I told them to quiet down. They didn't so the shushing turned into neither of them being able to use the laptop. They got quiet after that!

I'm loving how the revisions are turning out. Just feels weird to have an empty spot next to me while I write. The others are still there, but it's going to take time to get used to Rocket being gone.

Not much else going on here. How about with you?


Monday, March 11, 2013

RIP Rocket

Rocket's favorite spot
If you read my book IT STARTED WITH A CRUSH, the Maine Coon in that story, Manchester aka Manny, was based on my beloved Rocket.
The family's cat, an overweight Maine Coon with a tail that looked more like a raccoon's than a feline's, rubbed against the front door. His green eyed gaze met Lucy's. 
Rocket died yesterday morning on our drive to the emergency vet. It was finally time, we'd made the decision we hadn't want to make, but Rocket decided when to cross the Rainbow Bridge himself.

Years ago, the cat had electrocuted himself by chewing an a lamp's power cord and nearly died. Then  a few weeks later eaten a poisonous spider and nearly died again. But he survived. I guess part of me thought he was stronger than his liver cancer.

On Saturday, I attended my local RWA chapter's Spring Workshop with Donald Maass. That morning I'd seriously considered staying home with Rocket, but my daughter told me she'd take care of him. And she did. She gave him his meds and managed to get him to eat lunch. But he meowed a lot and followed her around like a lost puppy. She held him for hours. She thought he missed me.

Rocket loved Christmas trees
As soon as I got home, I heard the meows. I picked him up. The meowing stopped. But he wouldn't eat. Something that had been going on since Thursday night and had warranted a vet visit on Friday. He seemed restless, unable to get comfortable. He wanted to be with the dogs, who licked and loved on him. That night, I put him to bed between hubby and I, in the spot he'd claimed as his own the past weeks, and rubbed him.

A few hours later, hubby woke me. He said he found Rocket on landing. It looked like he'd fallen off a box where he liked to sit. Hubby thought it was time for Rocket to go to the vet and be put down. I didn't want to believe it. We'd been to the vet on Friday. I was sure he had a little more time. That this was just a blip like the others he'd get over.

In bed, I held Rocket in my arms, his head where he could feel my heart beating. He stopped meowing. He stared up at me, at peace. I don't know how long we were like that. I talked to him and loved on him and cried. I realized my hubby was right. It was time.

While I got dressed, hubby stayed with Rocket. Our sweet kitty could barely walk. We didn't want him to be alone for one minute in case he tried to get up and fell. At one point, Hubby told me to come quick. We thought we were going to lose Rocket right then. His breathing got really light, but he was still with us, as if he'd passed out for a moment. I gave him more love, pets and kisses. I told him all the things I'd been telling him for the past week, how wonderful he was, how much he was loved, how much joy he brought me, how sorry I was I couldn't make him better.

Rocket has never been a fan of car rides. He hates being put in the cat carrier. The last thing I wanted was for him was to be upset. I woke up Mackenna to see if she'd go with me since hubby had to get Rose to a swim meet that morning.

She was tired, but got up and was ready in a few short minutes. I phoned the animal hospital to let them know we were on our way then we wrapped him up in a blanket. I held him one last time, talking to him, rubbing him and kissing him, then handed him off to Mackenna.

He meowed in the minivan, tried to get out of the blanket then finally settled. We told him it wouldn't be long. That he would feel better soon. And he was very loved.

Mackenna held him close, cuddling him. As we hit the freeway, she thought he had died, but I had her take a closer look. His breathing was shallow as if he'd passed out again. I reached back and touched his head. I thought he would hang on a little longer.

But a few minutes later, he was gone.

The rest of the drive was a blur, a mix of tears and sadness and guilt that I'd waited to long and he'd suffered too much.

When we arrived at the vet, I took Rocket from Mackenna. They led us to a room so we could have a little time with him. I hadn't planned on him dying on the way. I was expecting to be the one holding him, not my daughter. I also realized it was exact anniversary of the death of our foster kitty, Crystal, last year

Needless to say, yesterday was not a good day. I'm not sure today will be much better. But I know Rocket's not in pain and I hope that the almost 16 years he was with us were good ones for him. They were for me.

Rocket has been part of my life since June of 1997. He was a tiny, flea-covered kitten when I brought him home. I named him Rocket because I used to be a propulsion engineer. At my first job out of college, I worked on a rocket engine cycle. I thought it would be a cool name for a cat. It was perfect for my Rocket. He also had other names. He became my fat cat, my big boy, my handsome guy, my sentry. My sister used to laugh at how fat he was. I always countered he wasn't fat, he was big-boned with a lot of fur!

He was never far from me. He slept at my side until Smalls passed, then took her spot at my head. He was quite a character with a strong personality. His high pitched meow didn't quite match his stature. And his legs seemed too short for his big body. But he was the most beautiful cat to me.

I went back over my blog and realized Rocket had garnished a few posts over the years:

Trapped                            Feeding Time               • Happy Anniversary To Me
 
Cookies, Cats and Dogs   • Kitty Lost and Found    • Craft Kitty         • Ninja Kitty
 
Kitty in Trouble                • Imitating the Dog          • Cat Toys           • My Side of the Bed

A Bigger Bed                   • Cats and Dog                  • Pain                 • Gold! Silver! Again! 

Wish

At the end of February when I wrote the Wish post, I wished for Rocket to keep eating. And he did for awhile. I'm so grateful for the wonderful years we had with him, but especially the extra time at the end.

People claim cats are aloof or uncaring, but Rocket wasn't. If one of the kids cried, he meowed and went to their sides. Mine, too.

And today, I have to tell you about Spirit and Yoda, who along with Smalls and Rocket, were our original four cats until fosters and feline friends started coming in and out of our lives as needed.

Spirit normally sticks close to me, but today I've been licked and headbutted and nudged. She will not leave me alone at all. Yoda normally likes to run and wander through the house and chase Beauty. But not today. He's been within eyesight of me all day long. Neither Spirit and Yoda have left me since I got home from the vet this morning. We even had to carry Yoda to his spot to eat dinner, something that is unheard of. I have know idea how they know something is different today, but they do and it's been a huge comfort.

RIP Rocket. We love you and  miss you so much, big boy!






Friday, March 08, 2013

A Volcano Guy's Take On A Romance Novel

Closest LOLcat I could find to a volcano!
One of my favorite parts of writing a story is doing the research. My books are short (50-55K words), but I like knowing details about my hero and heroine's work, hobbies and life.

Sometimes the stuff I learn makes it into the story. Other times it's info for me to build their world in my head. Either way research is a big part of my writing process and where many scenes end up coming from.

I've been very fortunate to have lots of different people answer my questions. Mountain rescuers, climbers, computer guys, physicians, attorneys, firefighters, soldiers, soccer players and coaches. The list goes on.

One of my go to sources for help is a climbing forum I belong to. Sometimes I ask publicly for help. But when I was writing WINNING BACK HIS WIFE, I had a specific need...volcano info...so sent a message to someone I didn't know, but who thought would be a good guy to approach. I was right!

John Scurlock is a pilot and an amazingly talented photographer. Click on his name if you want to see some gorgeous photos of the Cascades, Columbia Mountains and Canadian Rockies. He's also super nice. He not only answered questions and provided me with links and other great stuff, but he also introduced to Dave Tucker. Both are involved with Mount Baker Volcano Research Center (MBVRC).

John admitted he had reservations getting Dave involved, but I'm so happy he did. Dave helped me navigate my way through the unfamiliar world of volcanology.  I took Geology 1 at Stanford, but my biggest memory from that is standing on two plates of the San Andreas Fault during a field trip. I can see three volcanoes from where I live so I knew a little, but Dave told me some really cool stuff about volcano research, geologists/scientists and Mount Baker. He answered a ton of questions and more than one scene in my book resulted from our discussion/emails. Granted I take artistic license (I do write fiction) in books in spite of my research, but my hope is things are at least plausible.

I sent both John and Dave autographed copies of my book to thank them for their assistance. Yesterday, Dave emailed me a link to his "review" of my novel. I'll be honest. I don't normally read reviews except for the ones from RT Book Reviews (or if a someone I trust tells me I should read something), but I did read Dave's and had a good laugh. Here's the caption underneath the book cover.
Volunteer to help MBVRC carry loads to the crater! They really should be wearing MBVRC t-shirts, though. Her shoes are perfect for field work at the crater, but I don’t know about fitting crampons. But, that guy…he CAN’T be a geologist, no facial hair. Hey! Wait! That’s Mount Hood!
Yeah, crampons might not work too well with those shoes. Given her injuries I was wondering how my heroine Sarah was walking around in them myself until I realized there was a reason she was in my hero Cullen's arms. But in the cover artist's defense, the majority of the story does take place in Hood Hamlet on Mount Hood.

If you have a few minutes, check out Dave's review at the MBVRC blog (click here). It's worth a read. Whether you're a fan of romance novels or not, you'll probably end up smiling. Maybe even laughing!

Oh, and MBVRC would love to find a donor like MBVI has in my book. If you can't afford to mysteriously and anonymously support the entire center single-handedly, smaller donations would be just fine. If you'd like to make a tax deductible contribution, here's the link.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Writer Block Kitty

I have specific spots where I write upstairs (the majority of the time) and downstairs (when I'm on puppy duty.) Turns out, my writing spot is the favorite cat napping spot.

It never fails if I get up for any reason, even for just a minute, or when I arrive home after being away, at least one cat will be in the spot when I get back. Just like the LOLcat to the left.

Maybe I keep the spot warm. Though hubby says when I'm away that's where they want to be. Maybe it's just comfy and why I can sit here for hours at a time working. Who knows?

Awake, I have no problem pushing them aside to take my spot and write. But if a cat is asleep and looking all comfy, I won't disturb my furry kiddo. Writer's block is in full effect!

I hope you have a great Thursday. I'll be revising. I thought of something on Tuesday evening that I wish I would have thought of a couple of weeks ago when I was finishing the complete. Needless to say I'm going back through the manuscript with this in mind. I'm over halfway finished with the revisions. Or was until I went back again!

What are you up to today?

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Wish Our Devil Dog A Happy Birthday!

From www.facebook.com/cat.addicts
 Back in November, we adopted a Marine through Soldiers' Angels. SA is a fantastic organization that helps deployed service members, wounded warriors, veterans and families. There are lots of different ways to get involved. Some don't take much money, just a little time to write a letter and a stamp to mail it!

I've mentioned this before, but I joined SA after watching a web show on SOFREP called INSIDE THE TEAM ROOM featuring three former Navy SEALs including Chris Kyle, who inspired me to do more than just say "Thanks for your service" when I saw a uniformed service member or met a veteran.

I sent off our first letter, introducing our family to him, then went about making a care package. A Christmas care package due to the date and mailing time to the Middle East. Delivery times slow way down to the volume being sent.

Many times, you never hear from your adoptee. You're told when you sign up not to expect a response. Who can blame the service members for not being in touch. They are busy over there, working long hours, often seven days a week. But you keep writing your letters and sending your care packages to show your support and gratitude for what they're doing and hope what you're sending is things your "silent soldier" wants or needs.

Sometimes you get an adoptee who has access to a computer or likes to write letters. Those letters are called "free mail" because the service members aren't required to use a stamp. They write "Free" where the stamp would go. When you receive an email or letter, you feel oh-so-blessed to have heard back.

I wasn't expecting to hear back from our adoptee. But we received an email from our adoptee the day his letter arrived. Talk about a wonderful surprise. He sounded so nice and excited to hear from us. Since then, we have been in almost daily contact (depending on his workload and what he's doing). It's been an awesome experience for the entire family.

We love him so much. He calls us his "beautiful family" and he is a big part of it now!

Well it's his birthday!

His cake arrived in time, but his other birthday boxes didn't so this will be a prolonged celebration. (So glad I thought to stick a couple boxes of Little Debbie snack cakes in the party box!)

I thought it would be nice to collect birthday greetings in the comment section and email them to our favorite Devil Dog. I'll also give him a link to the comment section.

If you'd like to leave our Marine a birthday greeting, please post a comment and I'll send it his way.

Thanks! And oorah!

Semper Fi



Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Forgot

This LOLcat forgot their key. I forgot to blog!

I've been so focused on revisions and sleeping that I let Monday slip by. Oops.

But I'm on a roll with the rewriting and just don't want to stop. I keep getting all these ideas on what to do with the story. It's fun and exciting and overwhelming at times. But it's my favorite time as a writer, when the characters and story keeps coming to you 24/7. Though it makes me a tad distracted at times!

Anyway, I just wanted to check in. I still have contest prizes to send and figure out what the prizes will be. I wanted to run a specific contest with books I got from the ALA, but I got sick and was on deadline and it never happened. But I'll get around to it soon. I promise!

Have a great Tuesday! Happy Anniversary to my mom and dad! And Happy Birthday to my niece!

Friday, March 01, 2013

eBook Release Day!

Today is release day for the digital version of my latest book, WINNING BACK HIS WIFE! The print version will be released on Tuesday.

This book is set in Hood Hamlet, but doesn't take place at Christmastime. It features Dr. Cullen Gray, who appeared in FIREFIGHTER UNDER THE MISTLETOE, my November '11 release. I wasn't sure why Dr. Gray didn't smile much when I wrote that story, but I had fun figuring it out. Here's the back cover blurb:

Her first love…

When Sarah Purcell ends up in hospital, she's shocked to find the dreamy doc by her bedside is her soon-to-be ex-husband, Cullen Grey!

Sarah's reluctantly released into Cullen's care, but he's as emotionally distant as ever, and her old insecurities bubble over. Surely the new life he's forged for himself in Hood Hamlet proves he can live without her?

Their second chance?

Caring for his wife 24/7, this time Cullen won't bury his feelings. As the tremors of their old attraction erupt, he has one thing on his mind: it's time to bring his wife back by his side—where she belongs.

The book received a 4.5 rating from RT Book Reviews:
WINNING BACK HIS WIFE (4.5) by Melissa McClone: Rescue volunteer Dr. Cullen Gray is faced with his most important mission yet when he ends up saving his ex-wife, volcanologist Sarah Purcell. In critical condition after surveying the second most deadly volcano in Washington and suffering a nasty fall, Sarah thinks she is dreaming when she awakens in a hospital bed and finds Cullen comforting her. The two eloped after knowing each other for only two days, but when they both became too absorbed in their work, the couple drifted apart and agreed to divorce. Now Cullen is promising to never to leave her side again. McClone has penned yet another original story of love lost and found. Her characters have depth and wear their hearts on their sleeves in this magical tale of second chances and healing from the inside out.
Reviewed By: Jaime A. Geraldi
Hope you have a great Friday! I'll be spending mine with the kids and revising the final book in the Hood Hamlet series!