Purple Friday

Remember when romance was called “Purple Prose”?

According to Wikipedia, the phrase refers to literary criticism. “Purple prose is written prose that is so extravagant, ornate, or flowery as to break the flow and draw excessive attention to itself. Purple prose is sensually evocative beyond the requirements of its context. It may also employ certain rhetorical effects such as exaggerated sentiment or pathos in an attempt to manipulate a reader’s response.”

People who wanted to knock romance–yes, there are those non-believers out there–said romance novels were too emotional, too cliche, too predictable.

Bah humbug, I say. Instead of joining in the Black Friday frenzy, I thought I’d offer you some intelligent choices that don’t require rubbing elbows with the masses at your favorite Big Box store.

Great buys! Delightful books!

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FREE

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$.99

Free read on my website!

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$.99

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FREE

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$.99 (today only)

Now, if you’re a die-hard Black Friday shopper, I wish you all the best. I’m doing what I do best–read.

See you next week when I’ll be talking about holiday decorations and Pinterest.

Deb

Black Friday Early (Tara Taylor Quinn)

First – Harlequin is bringing Black Friday Early to you!  Click on the link below to purchase Wife By Design at 50% off the cover price!!  They are only offering this deal until 11:59PM ET on Thursday, Thanksgiving day.  Type in Coupon Code EARLYBF at checkout to get the Black Friday price.  As a reminder, this book is the first in the Where Secrets Are Safe Series.  It was out in February of this year.  Book Four, Child By Chance is out is six days!

WifeByDesign

Now, on with my show…

I’m one of those who loves Black Friday.  On Black Friday.  I don’t want to leave my family, or the relaxation of home, or the mindset of openness, safety and thanks that permeates our home on Thanksgiving Day to go shop.  But come before the crack of dawn Friday morning and I’m excited and up and ready to go.

This year, there won’t be a lot of places to go.  I’m seeing that a lot of stores are open from 5am until 1am on Thanksgiving, but not opening until 8am on Friday.  And another change – there are sales on the Internet right now – Black Friday deals like I used to find only when I got up at the crack before dawn on Black Friday.  Today I saw one such deal.  I called my mother and a purchase was made on line.  I’ve already picked it up from the store and delivered it to her.  No waiting.  No hassle.  Not as much fun, either.

But One thing I’ve learned about life is that it changes.  And it’s counterproductive not to accept that.  But the world’s change doesn’t mean that I have to change what I know to be important to me.  I’m not going to shop on Thanksgiving.  I’m still planning to be up early on Friday.  To scout out the deals.  To have fun with my honey and get some breakfast out and buy Christmas gifts.  I just won’t be at Best Buy at 5am.  And I might spend an extra dollar or two.  I’m okay with that.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone.  I hope each and every one of you feel loved.  Appreciated.  Please know that I appreciate your support here.

Tim and I are cooking the turkey on Thanksgiving Day.  (And dressing and scalloped corn and green beans, too.)  What will you be doing?

Rushing the season

The push to introduce the Christmas buying season starts earlier and earlier. I swear I spotted Halloween candy with red and green bows on it. ;-)

And poor Thanksgiving. Before long it will be known as the Day Before Black Friday.

My late father-in-law and my sister, Jan, enjoying the start of one Thanksgiving with killer Bloody Marys.

My late father-in-law and my sister, Jan, enjoying the start of one Thanksgiving with killer Bloody Marys.

Me? I braved the madness of a big box store the morning after Thanksgiving ONCE. I promised my hubby breakfast out if he’d go with me to buy our daughter something she absolutely had to have and couldn’t live without because everyone else had one. Who remembers what it was? Not me.

Whatever that must-have gift was, it probably wasn't a book, which is something her daughter treasures.

Whatever that must-have gift was, it probably wasn’t a book, which is something her daughter treasures.

Anyway, by the time we pulled into the two-square block parking lot, there was one parking spot left, in the last lane. The lines at the checkout counters were twenty deep. My hubby’s a strong, brave man but I swear I saw his knees buckle in fear. It took us forever to find the cleverly hidden loss leader. And…you guessed it, they were all sold out.

A small sign said “No rainchecks.”

My husband, who obviously dodged a bullet and potential cardia arrest, gave a cry of salvation, “Hallelujah!” and pulled me out of the store as fast as he could. We never went back. Somehow, my daughter managed to grow up to be a productive, well-adjusted adult without that one must-have gift. But the experience taught me a lesson: time is the most precious gift of all. If you enjoy the frenzy of Black Friday shopping, then I say go for it. That’s time well spent–and bragging rights.

For me, the peace of not being in the madness is worth a million great deals. Give me a book and a cup of tea, and I’m good. Recently, I’ve been asking readers: what is the best “forever” gift you’ve ever gotten? The answers are interesting and insightful: my grandma’s wedding ring, my children, a trip to China with my sister…and so on.

Hint: it's something you already have.

Hint: it’s something you already have.

The conversation stems from my new release, HER FOREVER GIFT. I don’t want to spoil the surprise but love is not the gift in the title. The most obvious tie-in to the title brought me to tears when I was writing this short novelette (longer than a short story but shorter than a novella). But as the story progresses, other gifts appear. Heartfelt. Handmade. Representative of the giver’s love and respect for the recipient. Wouldn’t it be great if you could find that in a big box store? ;-)

Next week, on Black Friday, I’m going to try to put together a list of Book Bargains, including a couple of mine, as an alternative to getting up at zero-dark-thirty to stand in line. Just snuggle under the covers and read–that’s what I’ll be doing.

And this coming Tuesday: Please check out my EAT=LOVE=TUESDAY blog for some great Thanksgiving recipes from my fellow authors, Barbara McMahon, Linda Barrett, Karen Sandler and Rogenna Brewer, in the 5-author anthology: CELEBRATE ROMANCE–a real bargain at just $.99.

Love With All The Trimmings by Barbara McMahon is the Thanksgiving story.

Love With All The Trimmings by Barbara McMahon is the Thanksgiving story.

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends.

Deb

Trees, Trees, Beautiful Trees

A few days ago I snapped these photos of trees in my neighborhood. And just in time. Somehow, when I wasn’t looking, all the leaves fell off!

Lacy Leaf Maple

Lacy Leaf Maple

trees1

I don’t know what this one is, and I apologize for the slightly hazy shot, but the vivid red color is spectacular.

Ginkgo

Ginkgo

I hold a special place in my heart for ginkgo trees. Not only are they lovely, but when I was about 12, and my mom was schlepping my sister to ballet class a couple times a week and made me come along, I climbed up the giant ginkgo with a stash of Archie comics, or just my imagination. I spent lovely afternoons up there, hidden in the leaves, reading and people watching from above.

You didn’t ask, but I have to share that when I was 7, I was really clumsy.  Mom worried about that, even though my dad, a pediatrician, assured her that I was fine. She thought ballet would help, and signed me up for the beginner’s class. She also enrolled my sister, who was 6 and not clumsy. Mom didn’t want her to feel left out.

After 3 classes, each of which I detested, I quit. Not my sister. She loved ballet, and took classes for decades. She ended up dancing with a small company for several years. And me… you know that I have many klutzy moments. :-)

Back to trees. I’ve always loved them. For their leafy shelter on a hot, sunny day. For the fruit, chestnuts, helicopter, pine cones and whatnot they share. For their stark, yet perfect artistic lines against a cold, winter sky. Their leaves, rustling in the wind, whispering secrets. Confession: I have even hugged a tree or ten…

Remember that Joyce Kilmer poem, Trees, that we had to read in school? (At least I did.) It feels right to share those words now.

I think that I shall never see
A poem as lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth’s flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.”

Love this!

Do you have a favorite tree? If so, please share.

Until next time, and wishing you beauty in every tree you notice,

Ann

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The Many Faces of Pain (Tara Taylor Quinn)

Pain is a part of life.  Without it, we wouldn’t be able to experience the counterpart – full joy.  Without something to measure by, we wouldn’t know the complete fullness joy of we were living in it.  The shadow makes us yearn for the sun.  Part of our journey as humans is to take for granted the good that we have, and to yearn for what we perceive to be on the ‘other’ side.  Pain shows us the good that we have.  The good that we know right now, in the midst of pain.  It brings forth the memory of painlessness.  And it tempers the yearning for the unknown with a good dose of reality.

I’ve been watching my mother in the various stages of pain this past week as she goes through a total knee replacement and as is my way, I find myself in deep thought about the lessons life has to teach us.

I see masses of pain, on my mother’s face, and on the faces of those who share the therapy gym with her.  I see people whose job it is to inflict pain – for a greater good.  And I start to see that pain is good.  It is a communicator.  It is a means to an end.  It is a measure.  And it’s loss is a fast lane to instant joy.

And I’ve seen something that, as a writer, I know I was meant to see.  Pain is not a simple thing.  Nor does it come in only one form.  Physical pain, while excruciating, doesn’t make you cry.  It makes you sick to your stomach.  It can put you in shock or cause you to pass out.  But it doesn’t make you cry.

Emotional pain brings the tears.  Some people cry when they’re physically hurting, but they aren’t crying from the physical pain.  The tears are due to an emotional response to the physical pain.  A feeling of helplessness, abandonment, betrayal.  Sometimes, when we are physically hurting, the sensation brings up a subconscious feeling of betrayal.  Maybe we had a caregiver in our youth, whom we trusted to always keep us warm and safe and happy, who hurt us.  Or allowed us to be hurt.  We might not remember the incident, but we somehow associate physical pain with the remembered sensation.  We subconsciously associate pain with that memory.  Or maybe, for some, it’s simpler than that.  Maybe it’s just that the body that you trusted to see you through life well, is failing, letting you down, leaving you with a sense of abandonment or helplessness.  It’s the sense of abandonment that brings the emotional pain.  The tears.  Maybe pain brings fear and the fear incites tears.

So…my take is this:

1.  Physical pain is much much easier to bear if you can disassociate emotion from it.  If you can figure out the emotional trigger associated with it, or even just put your mind in a place that occupies your emotions, the physical pain is eased.  It’s distraction therapy, but on a much deeper level.

2.  The hard things in life are easier to endure and are accomplished more quickly if they lead to desired benefit.  And if you keep that end in mind.

3.  Fighting pain is like shooting yourself in the foot.

4.  Emotional pain is not always based in reality and, if you’re willing to look it in the eye and take it on, can dissipate immensely.

5.  Pain is inevitable.  And necessary.  Pain is good.  And it doesn’t hurt nearly as bad if you can climb out of the negative emotions associated with it and focus on the benefit it brings – whatever that might be, keeping in mind that the benefit might sometimes just be pain’s absence.  Or the strength that your spirit gains when you endure.

6.  In all things, look for the gift the universe is bringing you.

7.  And contrary to advertisement based cliché, your gain is not always measured by the pain, or requisite of it, either.

I know people who live in chronic physical pain.  They are some of the strongest individuals I have ever known.  And some of them are the happiest people I know, too.  The pain has led them away from the things in life that we allow to upset us, and taken them straight to what matters most.  The little things don’t bother them.  They don’t sweat the small stuff.  They are hugely grateful for any kindnesses they are given.  And look forward to the smallest pleasures as even a moment away from the awareness of pain is a good thing.

Some of you are aware that I live with a chronic emotional pain.  Sometimes it gets the better of me.  Sometimes those I love pay the price.  This pain of this week has been a gift to me.  I still feel the emotional ache with as much acuteness, but I feel stronger, too.  Happier.  Because I know that there is a purpose.  That good is coming from it.  I need only to stay focused on that end.

Something else I’ve learned this week, another good that came out of the pain…necessity is the mother of invention and when we’re suffering, hearing how others cope helps.  Ideas spring forth (like powder on legs to help pull up anti-embolism socks) that offer relief to many when they need it most.  So how do you deal with the painful times in your life?

 

The mule and the branch – Carolyn

At our Malice retreat two weeks ago, we did the Jungian archetypes test on ourselves. I always do it on my lead characters because it’s a great way to first, learn about them, and second, if they are too alike or too like me (much more likely), I only have to change some of their answers to mix things up.

I discovered first that I have mellowed, at least a little. I am no longer the Field Marshal archetype. I have become the trustee archetype. Not the leader so much as the conservator.

Drat!

I’ve always been a good second in command. I’d rather be Machiavelli than his prince. I’d rather be the stage manager than the actress on stage. But it would be nice if I still felt capable of discovering new ideas and bringing them to fruition. Sometimes I feel as though my creativity has done got up and went. And I have become more comfortable before actual commitment than afterwards. This is a bad thing. I hesitate to send in manuscripts until I can tweak them one final time, although I still never miss deadlines. I put off doing paperwork that should have been done before now. I’ve always worked best when driven by deadlines. I once finished a long and complicated seminar paper on William Blake’s views of marriage at 2 in the afternoon and read it in the seminar at 2:30. That, my friends, is cutting it close.

The difficulty lies in scheduling for panic. If I am certain I can finish something in two hours which ends up taking two days instead, I am royally screwed.

There is a very old story about a man whose mule refused to move the plow. His neighbor came by, watched the man strain and pull and cajole to no avail. Finally, the neighbor picked up a branch and whacked the mule right between the eyes as hard as he could. At which point the mule stood up (he had been sitting on his rump all this time) and walked off down the furrow pulling the plow.

The farmer turned to his neighbor and said, “What’d you do that for?”

“Worked, didn’t it?” The neighbor said. “Sometimes, you just got to get his attention.”

Maybe I should hire a neighbor with a hefty branch to smack me over the head from time to time to get my attention. Then I might get back to pulling my plow.

At this point I am in the final throes of getting ready to leave on my trip with Pat Potter. I ain’t ready! Any branch offers? Anyone?

 

Packing . . . An Endless Job (Pat)

Okay, you all have probably read enough about Carolyn’s and my trip to Austria and Germany next Thursday but this isn’t about the trip.  It’s about my packing.

I started packing three months ago.   I always do that when goiing on an overseas trip.  It’s part of the fun.   And yes, I am anal.   I want to make sure every single thing I might want or need is included.   Well in advance, I took my turtle neck sweaters to the cleaners and packed them –, well protected in their little plastic bags — in my main  suitcase.   I did the same with three sets off velour jacket and pants.   Comfortable if not dressy.   I went ahead and packed them so they wouldn’t get lost sometime during the months before the trip.     And two pairs of slacks/pants.    Black, of course.   But which ones?   The comfortable ones or the better looking ones?   Decisions.   Decisions.    I compromised.   One nice pair and one comfortable pair.   I added my travel kit, an converter and connector for my I-Pad and I-Pod and socks.   I was ready to go.

Fast forward two months and three weeks.   Maybe I should take a third pair of slacks, along with another sweater.   I keep changing my mind as to which I like better.  And  we are going to the opera.   Maybe something a little dressier.  And will the outside winter jacket I planned to take shout unsophisticated American?   Maybe I should take two coats?

Or maybe a  larger suitcase is needed.   Off to the store to find a larger and lighter suitcase.   I hate to tell you how many suitcases I have gone through..  Every time a lighter one pops up, I’m off to buy it.    Good Will loves me.

So everything comes out of the old suitcase., and I start all over again.   We are going to some Christmas markets, and I buy all my Christmas presents there, so I need to leave some room.   Where?    Two years ago, I brought back sixteen different presents, including a large carousel..  Somehow I managed to fit them in a already full medium size suitcase and a carry on.   But for the life of me I can’t figure out how I did that.   Neither could my big family.    It was sorta like twenty clowns leaving a tiny car.

With gifts iin mind,  I revised my plans again.   Maybe I can cut down a little..    I have the guide from the travel company.  It tells me to pack wisely and happily suggests a day pack as an alternative to an actual carry-on suitcase.  It also has a list two pages long of what to bring in said day-pack, including every-over-the counter medicine known to man, a full change of (winter) clothes, extra pair of shoes in the event yours get wet, camera gear, umbrella, changes of socks and underwear, important travel ducuments and other “irreplaceable items.”  Anyone have a faintest idea of how to stuff all that in a daypack?

Out comes my largest carry-on.

I still have a pile of clothes on the bed as I weigh what to take.    Three months ago I was ready.   Today, not so much.   Indecision reigns.

I know the packing wisdom.   Take one half of what you plan to take.   I just can’t make myself do it.   I’m a packiing junky.   Nothing weems to help.   The pattern repeats..   Pack in advance, then two days before a trip completely undo it all and start over, then the night before lleaving I panic.   .

I swear every time I won’t repeat this rediculous pattern.   Alas, I have’t succeeded yet.

Hints, anyone?

 

pat.

 

.

 

I’m leaving in five days ouocsets ;acke.     xttllk adIOff to everythi

Party with the fishes

My birthday was Tuesday and to celebrate my hubby and I ditched work, grabbed the grandkids and went to one of the coolest places around–the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Monterey Bay Aquarium logo

Do you have an aquarium near you? We are a 3-hr drive from Monterey, but it was definitely worth the effort it took to get there. Since Tuesday was Veteran’s Day and the kids didn’t have school, we figured it was a great chance to party with the fishes. Plus, a writer friend of mine is a docent at MBA and she had passes for all of us. What a fabulous birthday gift, right?! Thank you, Di Ann Tarhalla.

Thanks for the memories, Di Ann.

Thanks for the memories, Di Ann.

So…what can I say? A picture’s worth a thousand words, perhaps? Well, here you go.

We are here! So much to see!

We are here! So much to see!

Penguins! You can't go wrong with penguins.

Penguins! You can’t go wrong with penguins.

"Now, he's just showing off," Rya says.

“Now, he’s just showing off,” Rya says.

The jellies were awesome!

The jellies were awesome!

Cousins captivated by the fishes of the open sea display.

Cousins captivated by the fishes of the open sea display.

My sweetest pearl.

My sweetest pearl.

After running out little feet off — the elevator was a big hit (country kids)–we went to lunch at a gorgeous place, shopped along Cannery Row, chased waves and got wet and sandy (inevitable, but did I bring towels? No. Bad grandma.) Then, it was time to head home.

Memories! The best birthday gift of all.

Memories! The birthday gift of all.

The only problem? What will I do next year? This one is going to be hard to top. ;-)

Have a great, memory-making weekend, everyone.

Deb

 

Busy and busier and brain blip, oh my!

i-forgot

I love my husband, Brian, dearly. We have a lot of fun together, but we also tend to be fairly independent. I believe that this is one of the reasons we’ve been together for so many years.

Sometimes we hang out with our own friends instead of each other.  In fact, last Friday night, while he did his thing at home,  I met a longtime friend for dinner. She and I had a terrific time, catching up, groaning with pleasure over the delicious food, laughing, and all-around enjoying ourselves. We parted ways promising to get together again soon.

I came home relaxed and happy, and eagerly shared the highlights of the evening with Brian.

Fast forward to the next morning. Brian was at the gym, working out. I decided to balance the checkbook, which I keep in my rather large purse.  At first and second glance, I didn’t see it in there.  So I dumped the contents onto the floor. Not a pretty sight, but a guaranteed way to find that checkbook.

To my dismay, it wasn’t there. Next, I headed into the garage to check the car. I searched the mats and between the seats, and when I didn’t find it, I grabbed a flashlight and looked under the seats. There I found a few months old, still-fluffy kernels of popcorn (don’t ask), two napkins, a notebook I’ve been missing, old receipts, remnants of fall leaves, and so on… but no checkbook.

There was only one place where it could be–the restaurant where my friend and I had eaten the night before. The place was closed until mid-afternoon, but I called anyway. A recorded message asked me to leave information about the reservation I wanted to make. That wasn’t going to work, so I called back several hours later. To my relief, someone had turned in my checkbook, which was now securely stored in the restaurant’s safe.

Phew. Relieved, I drove over and picked it up.

That’s one brain blip I hope never to repeat.

Have you had any lapses lately? If so, please put me out of my “I’m the only one” misery and share.

Until next time and wishing you a brain blip-free day,

Ann

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