Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Fiorella spent most of yesterday wrestling with chapter seven of Princess Redlander, the follow-up to Kinkaid House aka Honeysuckle Dreams, nee Princess of Bosque Bend,  which means that today she's going to have to pick up the house, call the plumber, buy groceries, pay bills, fork mulch, dig up stones, and everything else she didn't do yesterday.  How do other writers manage?  Especially those with children? 

Fio remembers a wonderful storybook she read in the second grade about a female rabbit who aspired to Easter Bunnydom.  The way she managed her egg-delivering career was by teaching her twenty children to do all the family chores themselves. 

Somehow it never worked that way for Fiorella.  And she just had three children.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Love Scenes

Fio's been deeply enmeshed in the seventh chapter of Princess Redlander this past week, and right now it's getting pretty hot.  Yeah, a big love scene is in the works.

Sex is hard to write.  It's not just the choreography and the emotional content--it's the individuality. Fio strives to make each one of her love scenes unique, just as she strives to make each one of her characters unique--not only within a book, but in every book.

Sunday, April 28, 2013


People not only allow themselves to be conned, but they fully cooperate.  Yes, JJ is at it again.

Fio has a friend caught in JJ's clutches.  Fio wants to rescue her, but Friend refuses to cooperate.  Despite the information about JJ's shady past Fio has sent her, despite the more reliable alternatives Fio has offered her, she is steadfast because JJ's always telling her that he has a great deal for her just around the corner.  Besides, Friend has got a yearlong contract and she's paying him.

As sure as she believes Obama is a secret Muslim, Friend swallows every lie out of JJ's silver-tongued mouth.


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Twenty-nine and Counting

You may have read about #56, age thirty-nine. the oldest-known wild bear out of 60,000 bears "harvested" in Minnesota and "at least a trillion overall."  She's remained alive by staying away from humans and their habitats, researchers report.  They should know because they're the ones who fitted her with a tracking collar thirty-two years ago, when she was a youngling of seven, and have been checking up on her ever since.  They even know the number of litters she's produced--eleven, whch translates to almost thirty cubs.

Beat that, Michelle Duggar.

Friday, April 26, 2013


Fiorella went back and revised her poem from yesterday.  She's like that, a serial reviser--after all, anything worth doing is worth revising.  She's that way about herself too, always correcting or reforming..  Hence the heart surgery, the hip surgery, the plastic surgery, and the visits to the voice pathologist.

If only she could go back and revise her life.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Pippa Revised

The day's at the morn, the hillside's dew-pearled--
I set my lance and raise my flag,
Bind my wounds and pack my bag,
To battle 'gainst the encroaching world.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Liars, Case #4

JJ entered Fiorella's life through a friend who had hired hm as her business manager and suggested Fio do the same.  Friend liked JJ because he had talked to her over her kitchen table and he was always available when she called.  To Fio, that suggested he was trolling for clients and he didn't have enough current business to occupy him.

But when JJ telephoned Fio one Friday morning, she understood his lure.  He was charming, sounded totally sincere, and  told Fio what she wanted to hear. But calling her three times in four days (he skipped Sunday) was an overkill which put her off.  Besides, she'd checked with a common business contact and learned that JJ had totally misrepresented a transaction that went south, and, researching the internet and through a local lawyer friend, she discovered that JJ had at least three failed similar business ventures, the current one seemed to be going down, and he was starting a new one.  JJ was a high-flyer, but so far all he seemed to have accumulated was a cease-and-desist order and several lawsuits for fraud.

Fio sent photocopies of the information to Friend, but Fio suspects she's still loyal to JJ.  Fio understands--he tells her what she wants to hear. 


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Liars, Case #3

Fio was completely taken in by--let's call her M--and so was everyone else.  She was new in town, quite vocal,  and quickly became active in the elementary school.  Her children were smart and well-behaved.  Her husband was a local newscaster.  She told Fio, who wrote her up in the neighborhood column for the American-Statesman, that she sang country-western and that Nashville had offered her a  contract,  but she wanted to wait till her daughter and twin boys were older.

Oddly enough, when Fiorella asked to hear her sing, she said she never sang without a full instrumental back-up.  And her husband seemed confused when Fio mentioned her singing. And, while she claimed her father was a doctor, she went to a chiropractor for all her aches and pains. And the school was concerned because she took a peculiar interest in a certain student and phoned his parents about him several times, then denied doing so.

The next thing Fio knew, M's husband got a better job in North Texas and the family moved--only to be back in Austin within six months because M had developed a crush on her husband's boss and harassed him by telephone.  The family settled in South Austin, as Fio remembers, and M must have been up to her same old tricks, because one evening Fiorella received a call from M asking to borrow one hundred dollars.  M's husband had cleaned out the bank account and run out on her and the kids.

Fio mailed her the check, knowing full well she'd never be repaid.  But she also knew it meant M would never try to contact her again.  Which made the money worth it.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Liars, Case #2

AW started out as the director of a student-help program at the small rural college where Fiorella was stationed.  On the side he taught philosophy.  His field was ontology--ironically, the study of reality.

A was an arresting figure--tall, athletically slim, probably in  his fifties, white hair and beard.  His voice was soft, but his presence was commanding.  Fio enjoyed his friendship--he hobnobbed with the administrators and passed on lots of juicy gossip--but there were a few things about him that bothered her.   Her stomach sank when she checked his website and saw that his master's had come from the University of South Africa and his doctorate from the University of Wales.  Even though A explained he had been an investment broker at the time and traveled a lot, she knew something wasn't right.

There were other clues.  He didn't seem to understand that one received a "doctor of philosophy" in a specific field, like linguistics or--or philosophy.  And he told people that he and Fio had known each other from when they had both taught at Austin Community College, which wasn't true. Besides, why was his ex-wife so mad at him? And why did he say he'd attend Fio's housewarming, then not show?  Ditto for the retirement party she threw for a colleague? After all, Fio had told A that Husband had majored in philosophy at one time. Wouldn't he have enjoyed discussing Kant and Kierkegaard with him? And how did A have the time to teach distance -learning classes for a prestigious New England college in addition to everything else he was doing?  And how could a person who had supposedly written a doctoral dissertation compose such a piss-poor blurb for his latest POD oeuvre?

Then A applied for the position of department chair and his credentials were checked.  No master's, no doctorate.  He was walked off campus by the college police.

Later Fio learned that previous to his academic career, A had received a cease and desist order from the state of Michigan for irregularities in his brokerage business. 


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Liars, Case #1

We all lie a little, but some people lie a lot.  In fact, they create total false fronts for themselves.

In her past life as a college teacher, Fiorella probably swallowed a multitude of small lies--dog ate the homework, etc.--but she caught on pretty quickly to the big lie of a golden-haired Alice-in-Wonderland beauty with a sparkling smile.  VB had been brought up in an evangelical household and glowed with goodness, but a few things didn't jive.  Like the fact that this sweet, virginal-seeming creature was divorced and had a child.  Like the fact that she heartily endorsed the Nazi extermination of Jewish children in response to one of Fio's "what would you do" final exam essay questions.

A couple of years later, it came out that her preacher-lover had murdered his wife, and VB knew about it beforehand.  Took a while for the police to break her down, though.  Golden-haired princesses aren't accustomed to having their false fronts ripped to shreds.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Good Morning!

Fiorella's consciousness can be pretty dumb, but her sub-conscious is brilliant. She went to bed with a problem she couldn't solve--a knot in the line of the story she's working on now, the follow-up of Kinkaid House.  And in the early morning light, the solution came to her, complete with dialogue.

Ah--sleep, my genius, the silent author.

Friday, April 19, 2013


Fio has done it again.  Not only did she bring on Wednesday's  rain by tossing bottles of gray water off the bedroom balcony Tuesday afternoon, but yesterday she caused haddock to be available at Central Market.  Haddock is Fiorella's favorite fish, but it was impossible to find in Georgetown and rare in Austin--until Fio donned her pullover, the one she bought years ago at Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts where she and her family had an absolutely fabulous haddock dinner at a local restaurant. 

And again, this time to all the haddock lovers out there in the ether--you're welcome.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Another Olio

It may be the female imperative, but Fiorella is driven to produce--children, literature, music, art, fabric fantasies, you name it.  She's been this way since she was a child, aided and abetted by her mother, who sewed up the cloth doll Fio designed to supplement her kindergarten class's supply of toys. Who had Fiorella draw the church manager scene and supervise the painting of it when she was a teenager.  Who hung her oils on the living room wall.
Sonia, I know you're jealous, but you cannot lick at Baby's face while she rests in Mommy's lap.  Nor chew at the umbilical hanging from her bod, nor rest your paws upon her shining keys.
No need for birth control in the Arab world.  They kill themselves right, left, and sideways.  Just wish they didn't get us involved.  We have enough fanatics of our own.
The day after Fio threw out the last of the saved bath water from two years ago, it rained.  Another feather in her cap.  You're welcome.
Doonesbury's plotlines sure have been dull lately.  Is Trudeau out to lunch?  Fio wants to hear more about what Jeff Redfern and his mother are doing.  And Alex.   She'd also like a follow-up on Melissa.  And to learn what Drew's big announcement was.  And she wants a baby for Kim.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Never Say Die

Oops, didn't mean to give you two messages yesterday so I'll give you a short one today:

Fiorella plays the piano some every day, even though her Korg winces when it sees her coming.  She's not very good--in fact, she's awful--but she keeps on trying.  And that's the essence of Fio.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Given a choice . . .

This world is, yes, an awful place--
I'd rather it present
A sweeter, gentler, fairer face,
A kindlier intent

Yet I ignore the flaming sword
The hate, the pain  strife
As recklessly I leap aboard
The carousel of life

The Ever-fertile Fio Brain Strikes Again

Fio's neighborhood decided to hold a garage sale, the first one in the eight years she and Husband have lived in the area.  It was a long shot, but Fio added the mountain range in the north yard to the inventory, even sticking up a "FREE CEDAR MULCH" sign next to the driveway. Those huge piles  of cedar chips are a fire hazard and Fio and Husband cannot use all of the mulch themselves, much less spread it themselves.
No takers this morning, but when Husband went out around noon, a neighbor came by and said he'd take two pick-ups full and knew some other people who'd probably do the same.

Fio's luck is turning. Maybe she'll get a publisher after all.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Personal Choice

After expounding at length on cause and effect,  Fiorella exercised free will a couple of days ago and ate half a bag of chocolate kisses, knowing full well that they'd keep her awake the next night. She'd awakened feeling torpid and was trying to perk herself up with the only caffeine she consumes, then got carried away.

The devil made her do it.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Mama Fix

Sonia came over to Fio, tossed her head and made strange clacking noises. 

"She's got something caught in her throat," Husband ventured.

With visions of Puppy choking to death in front of her, Fiorella opened Sonia's great mastiff mouth and checked on the top of and underneath her tongue--clear.  But still Sonia tossed, still she clacked.  Fio ran her fingers under Doggie's lip.  Bingo.  Sonia had a  splinter of rawhide bone stuck behind her upper front teeth.  She hurt--and she'd come to Mommy to rectify the situation.

Now Fiorella understands why her own Mother was so thrilled when, years ago, little Fio came to her with a broken toy and said "Mama fix."  

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Ding-danged Out!

Let's look at Fio's score for the week.  Monday, as she remembers, was okay, but on Tuesday she arrived at Chili's an hour late, only acceptable because Friend Katie, whom she was supposed to be meeting, didn't show at all because her daughter had pink eye.  What was not acceptable was that Fio left her credit card at Chili's and had to pay cash for purchases for the next couple of days instead of adding to her frequent flyer miles.  On Wednesday she got a sudden a migraine aura driving home from ARWA which splintered her vision so badly that she nearly plowed into a light pole. On Thursday, she forgot a medical appointment, but did manage to overbalance herself and fall splat down onto the road while trying to retrieve rocks from the dry creek with which to line her driveway.  She also realized she had written the wrong amount on a big, important check.  On Friday, she discovered she was down to two pills of her blood pressure med, then learned her insurance will no longer cover that particular brand and had to make a couple of calls to get a different one; mismanaged her schedule and was out retrieving her credit card at the time that she had told Son she'd be home and help him pack; and accidentally ate her temporary crown along with a bagel.

And her hair won't work and she's tired, but she can't sleep, and that mountain range of cedar mulch still looms in the north yard, and she hasn't heard from her agent so that means Kinkaid House is still an orphan. 

Had enough?  Bet you wish Fio were still writing about her concepts of God.

Friday, April 12, 2013


Memory is part of the whole picture because cause and effect mean nothing if they are not remembered.  Human beings remember various causes and effects and pass them on to the next generation, although their observations are not always accurate.  Animals and plants can be trained, but also seem to have genetic memories.  Fiorella wonders if even inanimate things have low-energy memories--which would explain water dousing and the two basic forms of magic, sympathy and contagion.

Okay, Fio is through speculating for a while.  She'll leave deep thought alone and get herself back to writing romances

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Still Deep

Cause and effect is prime to everything. It's the concept, the truism, that all the sciences, hard and soft, are based on. But there's no logical reason for the existence of predictability. We could just as well live in a totally random universe such as Fiorella encountered in her drug-addled hallucinations.

It's a matter of control--if cause and effect exists, we can predict what will happen next. If we know what will happen next, we can alter the future.

But always with the wild card of free will thrown in.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Fio's Road to Damascus

Put on your waders.  Fio is going deep.

I think she told you about the problems she had with meds after her hip operation.  The hydrocodone, which had never previously given her anything but pain relief, caused disorientation and hallucinations.  Maybe it was the strength of the pills--four times what she was accustomed to--or maybe it was the oxycontin added on top of them, but nothing made sense to her. Everything was random, everything threatening--cause and effect didn't exist.    Fiorella didn't know how to cope with a scenario like this, and she didn't want to exist in a world like this.  There was no balance, no God.

Yesterday Fio peeked back at those dark days and was overwhelmed by a wave of desolation.  Then suddenly she realized that scientific research has proved her hallucinations wrong, that everything does make sense, that all things relate, that there is order in the universe.

That there is a God. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Sundry Snippets

Fiorella's speech pathologist has advised her to improve her posture and keep her chin up, which is hard to do when Fio is always on the look-out for scorpions in the house and pretty stones in the driveway.
In a desperate attempt to reduce the mountain range of cedar mulch in the north yard, Fio is advertising it  as a give-away in the neighborhood garage sale.  She'll let you know if she has any takers.
Sweet Sonia is going to be taking private instruction at PetsMart to curb her aggression toward other dogs. Fio can't figure out what's going on.  Remember, Baby Dog received an award as "Miss Congeniality" from her puppy training class a year ago.  Maybe it's teen-age rebellion setting in.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Organized Possibilities

Okay, Fio will confess all.

Kinkaid House is now on a two-week exclusive with a top publisher.  One week has passed without comment, which means, in order of diminishing possibilities, (1) the editor hasn't read it yet, (2) she's reading it now, or (3) she's finished reading it and (a) will send her "I'll pass" tomorrow, or (b) needs time to mull the story over, or (c) absolutely loves it and the contract is in the mail.

No wonder Fiorella can't sleep.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Uptight at NIght

Fiorella had an anxiety dream last night, a variation of the old standard of walking into a classroom and discovering there was a big test she hadn't prepared for.  This time--don't laugh--there were some important visitors coming to the college, and she had to be sure her underwear was clean. So she ran every dainty she owned through the washer--and she owned far more in her dream than in real life because it took load after load and she fell asleep and didn't get the task finished.  That meant she couldn't go to school the next day, which meant she missed out on something big, which meant all of her hard work up to this point had been in vain.

You think Fio is anxious about Kinkaid House making the rounds of publishers or what?

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Updating Luann

Fiorella is happy about how things are developing in Luann.  After Toni Daytona turned down Luann's brother, Brad, when he proposed to her on last year's April Fool's Day, Toni proposed to him on this year's April Fool's Day.  He, of course, accepted and even shed a tear.  And so did Fiorella. 

How does a comic strip engage readers like Fio?  By presenting interesting , consistent characters with intertwining stories. Fio was confident that Toni's old BF, Dirk, would reappear at some time, just as she knows Ann Eiffel will re-emerge to tangle with TJ again.  

And the art's good too! 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Linguistic Funk

Fio's down
Distraught, distressed
Feeling discouraged
Deeply depressed

She's also fascinated, as you can see
By the negative words beginning with "d."

Thursday, April 4, 2013


Your Fio can control the weather.

Remember two years ago when she stored bathtub water in half-gallon plastic milk bottles?  Well, she'd like to dump them all off the balcony into the backyard now, but the second she mentions so doing, the skies open up and it rains felines and canines.

If only she'd realized her talent during the drought two years ago.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


Sorry, my darling daughter, but Fiorella is not about to wrap the Limoges up in tissue paper and store it away in the attic rather than set the table with it for holidays. Sure, some of the gilt wears away with each use.  Sure, some of the pieces will get chipped or broken--some of them already have--but so what?  It's only china.

Fio has a double set of Haviland, inherited from her mother and Husband's grandmother. It's a pretty, springtime pattern of pink roses, more intense in Husband's grandmother's pieces than in the earlier version from Fio's family. Doesn't quite work for Christmas, but ideal for Easter, when Daughter and her husband joined us for a holiday dinner.

While appreciating Daughter's appreciation of antiques, Fiorella has less reverent attitude: if the china/chest of drawers/chair/whatever serves no purpose, it's useless. You will never see Fiorella on Antiques Road Show checking out the value of the breakfront desk that Husband inherited because Fio uses one drawer for correspondence, one for important papers, one for bank records, and one for current bills.  However, on  the glassed-in shelves on top, she'll admit she's arranged photos and well . . .

antique keepsakes.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Dust on the Rungs of the Rocker

On ten minutes notice, Better Homes and Gardens could have made a photo spread of Mother's house. It was that clean, that well-decorated, that much under control at all times.  In contrast, Fiorella is good at decorating, haphazard at cleaning, and her house is totally out of control at all times. But she has Mother's ideal ingrained in every atom of her being, which means she goes wacko the day before anyone is coming to visit--like for a holiday--like for Easter.  Suddenly she rushes outside and despairs of dead plantings and failed landscaping.  Then she rushes inside and despairs of dirt and disorder.  The she rushes back and forth, trying to remedy eons of neglect in one day.

She'd like to tell you that she's finally realized she, unlike her mother, has worked outside the home most of her life and is now spending hr time embarking on a new career, all of which excuses her from domestic perfection.  But her brain has no mercy.  It remembers all too well the first time Mom and Dad visited  Fio and Husband in the little duplex they had rented right after they were married.  Fiorella, who was carrying a full load of college courses, had not only swept and cleaned, but come up with a clever furniture arrangement she thought Mother would commend.

But such was not to be.  Mother glanced at a comfortable chair stationed next to the TV and glowered.  "The rungs of the rocker have dust on them," she said.

And that, friends, is why Fio goes wacko whenever someone is scheduled to visit.

Monday, April 1, 2013


Fio finally changed out the bright red Christmas tablecloth yesterday for one painted with pink springtime flowers.  It wasn't just that she was running behind, but that there were three projects piled on the dining table she had to get through first--the anniversary album, the framing of Son's digital painting, and the genealogy stuff.  The album, she finished; the half-done framing of the painting, she moved to the guest room for now; and the genealogy stuff, she stacked on her desk.

The framing will probably be finished this coming week and the genealogy stuff can't go any further till she hears from Cousin Sue or Cousin Syd.  Meanwhile a million more projects will pop up.  And what about that book Fio's supposed to be working on?