Monday, April 30, 2012

In Case You Haven't Figured It Out

Fio is good, Fio is bad
Fio is happy, Fio is sad
Fio is up, Fio is down
Fio is serious, Fio's a clown
Fio is shy, Fio is brash
Fio is thoughtful, Fio is rash
Fio is stupid, Fio is bright
Fio is wrong, Fio is right
Fio is old, Fio is new
Fio is written just for you
Whatever she is, her goals remain
To laugh, to nurture, to entertain.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Born and bred Lutheran, Fiorella doesn't talk about God much, but she does think about him/her/it a lot.  Like right now, when she has the possibility of a wonderful new career in front of her.  But this rosy future of doing wants she wants to do, writing romances that give women templates of hope, would never have been possible if she hadn't been bounced out of her last job.

Hearing that she wasn't wanted around the English department anymore was quite a shock to Fio.  She'd never been dismissed from a teaching position before.  In fact, her department chairs usually valued her.  And Fio's students gave her rave reviews--well, at least after her first couple years, when she got her head straight and her feet on the ground.

Oops, she did lose her first teaching job, at UT, but so did every other "lecturer," and she was one of the last to go.  But that wasn't personal.

This last time  it was personal.  Her sin?  Through the years,  Fio had put a great deal of thought into why she was teaching, what she was teaching, and how to teach it effectively, with the result that she was an unconventional teacher.  (Enter, Jack Black.)

Anyway, Fio was not only shocked, but heartbroken when she was dismissed--because what she liked best about teaching was the students.  However being kicked out of her cozy office cleared the way for her to write full-time, or at least as full-time as one can while coping with house, husband, dog, and all the accouterments of life. And now, five years later, she realizes getting the axe was a blessing.

Thank you, God.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Five Months and More to Go

Today is Sonya's five months birthday, although people who don't recognize her as a mastiff think she's a full-grown dog.  Now, Fio, who always says she was born five-four (which was very uncomfortable for her mother) and stood at the center, back, of many an elementary school photo shoot, understands the situation well.  However, your Fiorella stopped growing when she was thirteen, just at the point when the height was about to turn into an advantage.  Sonya's going to keep on going, at least doubling her current size.

Gotta get you some photos of her while she still fits in the camera lens.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Agented, at Last!

Fio is still running behind, but you need to hear the news from Wednesday.  In fact, the whole world needs to hear the news--FIORELLA HAS AN AGENT!  Yes, a real live New York agent named Liza Dawson.  So New York that she didn't know Cotillion was still a big deal south of the Mason-Dixon line, but we'll forgive her that because the revision suggestions she's given Fio for  PRINCESS OF BOSQUE BEND have been spot on, really strengthening the story.

Now, someone please unglue poor Fio from the ceiling so she can get down to work.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Mud Pie

Fiorella woke up yesterday morning feeling bad.  She'd had a good night's sleep, but every part of her body ached.  To make it worse, she looked out the window midmorning and saw that Sonia had discovered a big mud puddle in the back yard and was enjoying it hugely--leaping and capering and rolling around in it--the same mud puddle and the same performance Fio and Husband had witnessed the day before.  How could they have been so stupid as to not somehow fence off the wallow?

But that day Fio had Husband to help with Sonia's hose bath and dry off.  Yesterday Fio was on her own, and it was a battle royale because Sonia liked her mud.  Fio ended up removing a fair amount of it, but more of ended up on her than on the towels.  Yes, Fiorella was a mess.

And she was expecting a call from her prospective agent at 2:00.  Good thing it wasn't on Skype.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Shrinking World

Friend Suzy called yesterday.  No big deal, you say, because friends always call.  But Suzy was calling from England.   She's been living there for more than a year, but she and Fio still keep in touch, although usually by email.

When Fiorella was younger, people kept yammering about the world getting smaller, which she thought was ridiculous, but she was wrong.  It's not just communication--it's also travel.  Fio's daughter took a solo trip to London years ago just to get her "head straight" after quitting a job. While she was there, she stayed with a Polish friend she'd met in the United States.

Smaller and smaller.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Luddite to the End

Fiorella is tired of new things.  No sooner does she get the hang of how one thing works than something else comes down the line.  Re: her blog.  She'd figured everything out she needed to know--by trial and error, of course, because Fio doesn't like to read instructions--and was doing just fine, perhaps even developing a little finesse, and then, dammit, a new template suddenly took over her screen.

I kid you not--out of the blue three days ago.  Without warning or instructions.

Fio struggled mightily, experimenting with fear in her heart, and she thinks she's mastered the thing without losing her four  years of daily musings, but she still wants her old template back.

Yeah, Fio's a first-born.  She clings to tradition.  

Monday, April 23, 2012

Petty Patterns

Fiorella can't help but notice patterns. That's why she's fascinated by languages and went into linguistics.  But there are patterns in her personal life too.  For instance, her three children's birthdays are 69 days apart.   Also, their former neighbor's name was the same as Fio's second son, the neighbor's older son's name was the male form of Fio's daughter's name, and the neighbor's other son had the same name as Fio's oldest son.  Also, after getting married, Fiorella and Husband first lived at a three-number address, then moved to a four-number address, then to a five-number address, then to a four-number address, and are now at a three-number address again.  It's like a full circle. To top it off, they started out on a street with "East" in its name, then moved to one with "Park" in its name, then to one with "North" in its name, then to one with "Park" in its name again.  She fully expected the next street, the one they live on now, to be "West" or "South" something, but instead, its "Lost."

Is that meaningful?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sonya's World

To other shoppers in HEB, Fiorella is just someone muttering to herself as she fills a cart with groceries. To drivers on the road, she's that annoying little blue Miata that that forgot to turn off its brights. To her doctors, she's a patient. To saleswomen, she's a customer. To her family, she's an aggravating cheerleader. But to Sonya Dog, Fio is queen. And that's another reason homo sapiens and canines bonded.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Meae Amicae

Jeannette Faurot, Karen Stolz, Nicole Domingue.

Fio met Jeannette through church, but bonded with her over academics. She was a Chinese scholar, and Fio thinks Jeannette would be happy to know that Fio can now reel off a few Mandarin words and phrases.

Karen, whom Fio met while they were both teaching at Austin community college, wrote one novel that sold well and one that didn't, then died too soon. Fio hopes she's looking down from her celestial heights and blessing Fio's own road to publication.

Nicole and Fio, as she's told you, met in graduate school. They shared not only an interest in linguistics and a love for music, but an appreciation of each other and a totally irreverent view of the world.

Requiescat in pacem, meae amicae.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Extra, Extra--Secrets Revealed!

As far as Fio can figure, her list of about twenty super-secret passwords that she keeps pinned to the bulletin board next to the kitchen door in GONE. Because the lats time Fiorella remembers seeing it was when she had it unpinned and down beside her on the couch while she was trying to reach someone or something, Fio suspects the dog ate it.

Yes, our Sonia ingests up paper for a hobby. Oh, that's called "pica," isn't it?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sonya Grows Up and Up and Up

Fiorella is cleaning out her closet--or rather, Sonya's closet. In a fit of canine maternity, Fio bought five little outfits for Sonya over the past two months, in "medium," then "large." None of them fit now, of course, and it's almost summer anyway. If Sonya needs any winter clothes, Fio will probably have to rescue the sewing machine from the mess in the laundry room and get to work because from what she's seen, PetsMart doesn't carry XXLs.

Yes, our Sonya is growing up, but she hasn't gained the weight we expected her to. No small wonder because she's very picky about her food. Fio and Husband have yet to find a brand that Sonya really likes so they resort to lacing her kibble with treat. It's weird having a dog who doesn't gobble up her breakfast like she's never been fed before. Wendy Dog always had half the bowl eaten before Fiorella could finish filling it, but Sonya just stands back and looks at Fio inquiringly, like "What am I supposed to do with this?"

But then, Sonya is a more laid-back dog than Wendy was. It's in the breed. Remember. Fio and Husband deliberately sought a dog that would be different.

But just as sweet, loving, and lovable.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Yukking It Up

Fiorella looked at her calendar yesterday after she finished her revisions for the possible agent and realized she had today free. Sure, there were things on her to-do list, but nothing threatening.

What a glorious, wonderful feeling! Fio raced around the house, picking up stuff and adjusting stuff, then called Friend Sharon, whom she hasn't seen in a couple of months, and arranged for them to meet at the Wednesday noon church service today. Afterwards, they'll head off to Dan's for hamburgers.

So if you see two jolly women yukking it up at Dan's, stop by and say hello!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Trip that Was Not to Be

Fio realizes nothing happened, but to her it was tumultuous. The cancellation of her trip to Ontario for Nicole's memorial concert in Ontario, that is. Yes, after sitting on the tarmac for three hours, Fio de-planed and called Husband to come get her.

It wasn't American Airlines' fault that rainstorms were hovering over Dallas, where Fio would change planes for first leg of her journey. The captain kept the cabin informed, the attendants were circumspect in their care of passengers, and when the rains wouldn't let up and Fio finally decided enough was enough, everyone went overboard to be helpful. Fio gives the people at AA an A+.

But she'd already missed her connection to the second leg of her trip, and no matter what sort of adjustments could be made, there was no way she could reach Ontario by 4:00, when the concert began, or even by 6:00, when it ended. And if she missed the concert, she'd have a real problem hooking up with Claudine, Nicole's daughter, at whose home she was going to spend the night.

Besides, her arthritic hip couldn't take much more, and her claustrophobia was kicking into high gear. And the two men in the seats in front of her who had been discussing business for the past three hours were driving her crazy. And what was she going to do on the flight from Dallas to Ontario without a crossword puzzle book, which she'd forgotten to buy? (That Evanovitch novel she'd picked up, number seventeen, wasn't cutting it--everyone knows ol' Janet should have folded up her tents at number six.)

Anyway, Fiorella took advantage of the captain's offer to jump ship, as per FAA's regulations, came home, collapsed on the couch, and slept for three hours. Despite the fact that she had looked forward to this trip for two months, had planned it meticulously, had poured money, energy, and time into it, de-planing was the right decision. The time and effort are gone, but she recovered her airfare and had an unexpected day and a half to work on her book revisions.

And she has a passport now, which opens her horizons to the world.

Monday, April 16, 2012

High Flying

Fiorella is on her way home from Ontario now, or at least she should be. (She's actually writing this message on the 14th.) She flew up there on Sunday and will be home by 9:00 tonight, and she won't pay the airlines one red cent for the privilege.

Yes, thanks to the advice of Friend Marion, Fiorella hasn't paid for air travel for five years now. Those national RWA conferences, the New Jersey "Put Your Heart in a Book" conference, the trip to California--all free.

Well, not exactly free. Fio is loaded with benefit miles because everything, from a candy bar to an automobile down payment, goes on her charge card. Even the airline tickets are initially charged in order to get credit for them before being paid off by accumulated benefits.

Ah, the joys of modern living. A manageable blog and free flights. Can't beat them apples.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Up and Down

I'm drunk on the wine of glory
I'm red-nosed and wobbly and gay!
So what if I die tomorrow?
At least I have lived for today!
Dreams are like bubbles
Translucent and glowing
That float ever upward
Until they burst,
And when they shatter
I shatter too.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Disaster in Georgia

Somewhere back when, Fiorella sent her vampire romance off to an adventuresome new publisher in Georgia and got THE CALL. An editor was assigned to her and Fio worked on revisions all summer, buoyed up by the promise she would be a published author by the new year. But such was not to be. Just before Christmas, Fio got THE LETTER, that the publisher had decided to drop her.

Fio was devastated--and also embarrassed. After all, she'd alerted everyone she know that her vampire was about to take wing. But Fio, being Fio, she didn't let things rest there. She tracked down her editor with the help of her cousin, who lives in Georgia and got a kick out of the detective work, and learned the editor also had been fired, along with most of the rest of the employees. The publisher was going under.

"Be glad you got away while you could," Fio's former editor said. "Your story is good. Someone else will pick it up."

No one else did, but if Fio gets Princess of Bosque Bend on the supermarket racks, you can bet she'll be updating the vampire story for publication. Her time will come.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Former Agent

About ten years ago, Fiorella acquired a literary agent. She was a part-time author who had just been turned down on her latest book. That should have been Fio's first clue, but instead, being Fiorella, she was sympathetic.

The second clue was that she admitted she didn't know anything about the romance market. The third clue was that she sent Fio's dark romance to Harlequin. The fourth clue was that she was unavailable for long stretches of time, taking care of sick relatives.

It was the fifth clue that did it--she couldn't sell anything Fio had written and couldn't give any suggestions as to what Fio could do to fix the situation.

Luckily, no contract had been signed. The parting was amicable.

But just think of all the wasted time.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Mother didn't drive so Fiorella walked three blocks to and from kindergarten, first grade and second grade. Then, when the family moved to Texas, she walked ten blocks home from third through sixth, thankfully getting a ride from neighbors in the morning.

In junior high, Fio was entirely on her own to and fro, but North Junior was just six blocks away. Needless to say, she developed good walking muscles, which served her well when she rode her gearless bike back and forth to Catechism classes every Saturday. High school, on the other hand, was downtown, so Dad dropped her off on his way to work. But after school, she walked several blocks to a bus stop and rode the city bus home.

Walking to school was okay in Ohio because all the other kids walked and she was not alone. But in Waco, all the mothers drove their kids to school, even from two blocks away so those elementary school treks home in the afternoon were lonely, and, Fio now realizes, dangerous. And sending a thirteen-year-old girl out alone on a two-mile bike ride was was tempting fate.

Fiorella may have developed good calf muscles and a lot of self-reliance, but she also developed a firm determination to learn how to drive, for the sake of her future children.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Joy in the Morning

The sun is shining, the sky is blue
It's a great day, good morning to you!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Bullying, Part I

Bullying--everyone else is talking about it, so I guess Fiorella should. But the plain truth is that Fio isn't quite sure what the word means. It's being applied to everything from kindergarten name-calling to murder.

In Fiorella's ideal world, everyone would be nice to each other, but that world doesn't exist. Fio would bet that even Mother Teresa had her days.

But, Mother Teresa or not, Fiorella thinks the word has been been over-applied. A while ago, an ARWA friend of hers was accused of being a big-time bully because she made a clever remark about an anonymous contest entry she was judging. Stupid, stupid, stupid. No one was hurt, no one died, no one even knew. The accuser, who raised a big hullabaloo over nothing, was the bully.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Sonya, Continued

Those puppy days are flying by fast. The doggie in the mirror no longer holds Sonya's interest, and she's figured out that when Mommy is looking in the glass and talking, the sound is coming from the person, not the reflection. She doesn't chew as much either so there are fewer strange sticks in the house for Mommy to trip on. And Mommy's stigmata are almost all healed.

Obedience-wise, she's caught onto "sit" and "stay" and is working on "leave it" and "heel." Fio and Husband can take her outside with them and trust she won't bound away from them off into the woods. Cleverness-wise, she's figured out how to let herself into the house by leaping up and batting at the door handle.

Fio enjoys Sonya's maturity, but she misses the cuddly little puppy who--uh--dogged her footsteps everywhere she went, the little baby she had to sing to sleep each night.

Oops. Just a minute. A warm, furry mastiff has just leaped on the couch beside her and gone to sleep. Awwwwww.

Sunday, April 8, 2012


Holidays build memories, and as Fiorella stuffs her face with chocolate, she thinks about the year she and her little brother found sugar eggs in their baskets--hollowed-out sugar eggs with Easter scenes inside of them. Eggs that were for enchanting rather than eating. The eggs appeared in our baskets for years afterwards, the sugar browning around the edges and the paper cut-outs wilting with age. Then one summer the ants got to the storage room and the eggs were goners.

When her own children's first Easters came around, Fio looked for hollowed-out sugar eggs with scenes in them, but to no avail.

The magic only works once.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

TJ Make-over

Remember a while back when Fiorella suggested that since Brad in the Luann comic strip had been hunk-ized, his friend TJ deserved a make-over? Well, apparently he's getting it. Fio's sharp eye noticed TJ's face has filed out a little and his curly hair is less of a tangle. His body is more proportioned too, not just a quick stick figure.

Fio has a theory. She thinks TJ's gonna end up with Ann Eiffel the Awful, the mean manager of Wienie World--a Taming of the Shrew sort of thing.

Wait and watch, Grasshopper.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Word Hoarder

The great thing about revising is that Fiorella has been encouraged to give fuller histories to not only her heroine, but also the supporting players. Of course, there's a trade off--the scenes and golden words that need to be cut. Not that Fio ever really cuts anything. Instead, she moves discards to her "back story" folder, assuming there will be a place she can use them later.

Rotsa ruck.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Easter Joy

Fiorella is hopping around like Peter Rabbit in her happiness! Yes, Daughter and Son-in-Law will come over for Easter dinner! That will make five around the table--Daughter and Son-in-Law, Son, Husband, and Fio. With Bosco and Sonya under the table.

Thanks goodness Fio finally got Christmas wrapped up, although she wouldn't be surprised to discover a few strings of tinsel mixed in with the Easter grass.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Fiorella confesses that what she deserved was severe and painful indigestion, but what she got was a mild case of the burps and not being able to sleep until three in the morning. Classic over-caffeinization.

Her eyes kept glazing over as she was working on revisions of Princess of Bosque Bend yesterday so, since Fio doesn't drink coffee or tea, she decided to have a bite of chocolate to keep her alert. After all, she'd overbought for Easter, as usual, and had a cheap, off-brand one-pound bunny she needed to check out.

She checked it out for lunch, all afternoon, and supper. By bedtime she was still wide awake. She took a hot bath. She mentally reviewed Big Bang Theory. She counted sheep. Nothing worked. Finally she staggered downstairs and watched TV till her eyes began to close during commercials. Then she made her way back upstairs, finally able to get some rest.

But today's a new day. And there's still some of that bunny to go.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Stray Thoughts and Observations

Despite the imaginative conjectures of yesteryear, cars all look pretty much the same. There are only so many ways one can design a metal carapace.
No, you can't get STDs from using public bathrooms, but if you're having sex with strangers there, you can.
Popular literature: men write books about dominance while women write books about relationships.
God gave us laughter because what else do we have?
I've often thought I wanted to die, but I have a feeling that when the time comes, I won't wanna go.
There's more to life than sex, but it's good on the side.
No one has the right to remain dangerous or insane.
One of the greatest joys of life is waking up slowly, not having to leap out of bed at the first brazen trill of an alarm clock.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Toe Warmer

Good morning! Fiorella slept on the couch last night, for the second time in a row. No, no falling out with Husband. The upstairs air conditioning went out, sending the bedroom temp up to a steady 75, which is too warm for both Fio and Sonya so they both bunked on the couch in the den, where the thermostat read 70 degrees.

Fio likes sleeping in the same bed with Husband, but she has to admit, Sonya is also a good bedmate. She slept across Fio's toes, keeping them warm, which is something Husband has never done.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Chocolate and Chicken

Thus is no April Fool's joke, but chocolate is now a diet food.

Yes, recent studies out of California have shown that "people who eat chocolate regularly tend to be thinner than those who never or very rarely consume chocolate." Apparently some kinds of chocolate improve "factors related to metabolism, including insulin sensitivity, blood pressure, as well as cholesterol levels."

You'll remember that Harry Potter understood the medicinal benefits of chocolate all along. Fiorella has too. It's yummy in her tummy.

Now she wants someone to discover the health benefits of fried chicken.