Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Remember that Fiorella bunged up a leg and her head in Atlanta?  Well, it's not over yet.  A couple of days ago her ankle developed purple splotches halfway up to her knee and, although the yellow on her forehead is fading, she now has a port-wine stain between her left eye and her nose down onto her cheek.  The doctor said the stain will dissipate eventually, but Fio is terribly self-conscious about it. 

Fiorella's also downhearted about the business situation she handles for the family.  Everything looked so promising last month, but now it's all gone down the drain. And she's depressed about her  physical infirmities--vocal tremor, poor balance, bad eyesight, kyphosis.  And she mourns a friendship that died in Atlanta.  And, for all her brave words, she's discouraged about Kinkaid House's chances of ever seeing the publishing light of day.

Fiorella, who is very weak, prays for strength because the only way she can go is forward. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Yes, Fiorella is a multi-tasker.  While she takes the dog for walks, she practices her physical therapy posture, walking like a soldier with shoulders back and chin up.  While she eats breakfast, she reads the newspaper and does the crossword puzzle.  And while she is in the bathroom--never mind.

Weather Watch

Oh me, oh my,
Rain in July--
And what is more frightening,
Thunder and lightning!

The weather's askew
What next will it do?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Jello, Jello!

Fiorella admits it--she can't even cook Jello.  In fact, she probably blew out the microwave trying to boil water for it.  But the whole scene is in keeping with her weekend.  Friday night's lightning storm took out her internet, as you may have figured, so she took herself off to her neighborhood Starbuck's, rented herself an on-line connection by buying two slices of pound cake and a cup of milk, then settled down to write enough blogs to tide her over till the ECPI repairman came on Monday afternoon.

But every time she pushed "publish," the blog disappeared into the ether.  With a full stomach and a heavy heart, she resigned herself to fate and departed the premises.

The technician fixed everything this afternoon so it was with great joy that Fio opened up her laptop after the he left.  But, not matter how many outlets she plugged into, she still couldn't get any internet access.  She had visions of another week lost while another repairman showed up.  Maybe her laptop had been fried by a lightning strike and she'd have get to hire Click to transfer all her data to a new one.  Maybe God was, at last, as she had predicted, turning off the electricity.

A call to husband, then to ECPI's Darren, who has worked long-distance miracles before., and, lo and behold, as Fio was on the phone with him, the internet clicked in! Fiorella's world has been set to rights, even though she still can't cook Jello.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Here She Stands

Why are Fiorella's stories different from all other stories?

Because Fiorella is an oddball and always has been.  And now, as far as she can tell, she's the only one in Romance Writers of America writing dark contemporary romance.   No wonder she couldn't tell agents and editors which authors she wrote like or what books her stories were like--Fio is unique. She writes realistic, gritty, sexy stories unlike anyone else. 

 She can do no other.     

Friday, July 26, 2013

Snowden Postscript

Edward Snowden has been holed up in the transit zone of a Russian airport for more than a month now.  Thirty-some days eating candy bars out of vending machines.  Thirty-some days in the same clothes.  Thirty-some days without a shower.  No wonder Russia doesn't want him.

Why didn't he just flee to North Korea and be done with it?  

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Special Gift

When Fio returned from Atlanta and walked into the house Sunday, the kitchen was clean and sparkling, the couch in the den gleamed with leather polish, the upstairs had been picked up, and eight more sparkly stones were drying on a paper towel. 

Fiorella is beloved.  Thank you, Husband. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Hurry, Hurry, Hurry

Too much to do, too little time in which to do it.

Fiorella's been working every minute since she got home from the conference, not even pausing to watch Big Bang, and she had a minor breakdown last night when she learned the joint birthday celebration she and daughter had planned would have to be rescheduled, which means that Fio will miss Friend Ashley's one-year-old's birthday party.  Fio has already missed last Sunday's dog training session and the Palace Theater's production of the Will Rogers Follies because she was thinking the writers' conference ended on Friday rather than Saturday, and she has to work out a medical appointment conflict.  In the meantime, she's supposed to be gathering documentation for a lawsuit and figuring out how to pre-publicize her book and writing, writing, writing.

At least, although it took hours to pull the separate chapters together and format them, Fio got two of her other oeuvres off to the divine Liza.  And she's caught up on the newspapers.  And she's unpacked and done her laundry.  And she made it to the pre-set meeting with Friend Joan in south Austin.  And she wrote out her biography for the Georgetown Library writing classes she rashly agreed to teach. 

And despite not having any Neosporin with her in Atlanta, her wounds are healing well, even the emotional ones.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

National Conference Report

Fiorella lost her sunglasses the first day.  The second day, she slashed her leg trying to get into a taxi-cab van built like the Great Wall of China.  The third day, she tripped and fell on a treacherous front step while departing the hotel, leaving her with a big goose egg on her forehead. The fourth day,  she realized her book stood all, all alone, that everything else on the market was light and fluffy while hers was dark, deep, and emotional.  The fifth day, coming home, she lost her regular glasses. For her, the romance writers' conference was a total bust.

Or was it?  Sure, she woke up yesterday morning and lay there working out the words to "My Country 'Tis of Thee ,"  "America," and the national anthem (which she could only get halfway through) to be sure that conk on the head hadn't obliterated quite all of her memory.  Sure, she'll have to wear the ugly purple cat eyes until she can get to the optometrist for a classier-looking pair.  Sure, she'll have to make a trip to Walgreen's to pick up a new pair of sunglasses, and she'll have to keep a close eye on that leg wound because she hadn't packed Neosporin in her carry-on.    

But Fiorella survived and is stronger for the experience.  She met with her agent, Liza Dawson, for the first time in person, and the divine one is as positive and supportive in person as she has been over the phone.  And Fio reconnected with two old friends, who supported Fio when she experienced a real-life black moment of her own.  And she talked to Laurie Kellogg, disdained by publishers despite her many contest wins, who finally took matters into her own hands, self-published, and is now pulling in $5000 a month.

But the real kicker is that Fiorella realized how strong her book is, that it reaches to the depths of despair to the zenith of joy.  That it is dramatic (thank you, Baylor Children's Theater), an emotional roller coaster, Gone  with the Wind with a happy ending.  Sure, it's not what's on the market right now, but Fiorella thinks it will sell like the proverbial hotcakes once the word gets out.  This book is emotionally satisfying, a keeper, one you can't put down.  To amend Scarlett, AS GOD IS MY WITNESS, THIS BOOK WILL FLY!  


Monday, July 22, 2013


The evidence showed up two days ago--two plastic bags that had been chewed through to get to Fio's cache of of Spanish peanuts.  So she bought a replacement bag.  Yesterday she discovered both the peanuts and her walnuts had been broached, as had the bag of rice next to them, so she began cleaning out the pantry, looking for droppings, which she indeed found.  Yes, Fio has a mouse in the house.

The first thing she did was close up the open box of dog treats and anything else that seemed vulnerable.  But let's face it--metal is the only thing mice can't gnaw through, and Fio has no intention of storing all her foodstuffs in steel canisters.  The mouse has to go, even if it's a mother.  ESPECIALLY IF IT'S A MOTHER.

Husband bought a mousetrap, armed it, and put it on a pantry shelf, and today he'll set up the electronic thing that's supposed to drive rodents out of the house without bothering people or dogs.  Fio's hoping that one way or another, Mickey/Minnie will depart the premises.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Rock Hound

In accord with her somewhat childish mentality, Fiorella loves glitter stones, the ones that twinkle at her in the morning sun as she walks up driveway,  In fact, she fills her pockets with them and takes them back to the house to wash off and join her other prizes on a drying towel, then on the window sill behind the sink, then in one of the plastic shoe boxes in which she stores her treasures.

Fio's told you that when she was in the third grade , she stood in a class line-up on the back steps of North Waco Elementary, looked around, decided eight was a good age, and that she would stay there.  And, in many ways, she has.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Sex and the Scouts

I was catching up on the latest news and thinking that when I was a Scoutmaster, we, the adult leaders, never discussed sex with each other, partially because we didn't want the boys to overhear us, but mainly because we considered tobacco, alcohol, and sex talk to be inappropriate to bring along on camp-outs.

I really do not think having a gay Scout in a troop will make a lot of difference. The rules would continue to be the same for all boys, most of whom would continue to follow the rules, and Scoutmasters will continue to preach one Boy Scout value loudly and sincerely: TOLERANCE.

And the whisper in the background will be: "No choice."

Friday, July 19, 2013

Hiking with the Boy Scouts

Husband continues:

While Fio is gone, I will probably take some times off, just me and Sonia, the mastiff.  I might even take her over to the lake and walk her a short way up the Goodwater Trail, one of the neatest trails I know for the serious and half-serious hiker.  In fact, that is where I took my Boy Scouts to train for the 100-mile trek on the Philmont  Boy Scout ranch in the mountains of New Mexico several years ago.

Actually, I was living out a thirty-year dream.  Back then, I didn't stay in Scouts long enough for more than a couple of camp-outs very nearby, but I think it made me a better Scoutmaster because I wanted to do what I had missed.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Husband Speaks

Fiorella is out of town, at a writers' conference in Atlanta.  ATLANTA?  Hey, give me San Francisco or Las Vegas or Colorado Springs, or even Philadelphia.  I would even find more to do--and a lot better food--in Fort Worth, right up I-35.

Of course, everything is right up I-35, or over on !-35W.  Elder son and his wonderful wife live right up the highway 1500 miles north, in Minnesota.  Yes, Texas is the center of the world.  From here, you can go anywhere.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


Fiorella joined Romance Writers of America in January 2008, and that summer, she flew to San Francisco to attend her first national RWA conference.  What she learned there was that successful romances writers come in all sizes, shapes, and ages, which meant  she too could aspire.  In  2010, with several contest firsts under her belt, Fio attended her second national conference, in Orlando, and came away with the realization that she not only had to be as good as other romance writers, but better, in order to get published.  In 2011, she came away from the New York conference determined to get a good agent.  Now, in 2013, she will attend the Atlanta conference, meet with her agent, the divine Liza, and discuss her career.

Before Fiorella joined RWA, she had been writing romances for twenty-five years and even aroused some editorial interest, but she didn't know how to follow up or respond appropriately.  Now, in just five years, she's on the brink.

Wish her a good journey.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Return of the Ravaging Hordes

We must have the tastiest soil in the neighborhood because the armadillos are back.  They've plowed up the zoysia grass, ravaged the planting beds, and dug about ten inches down next to the water pipe.  Fio started filling the hole the other day and the dirt just kept disappearing into the depths.  She wouldn't be surprised if a litter of the little monsters ended up buried live down there.

What to do about them?  Fio bought a trap and set it up along the house next to the water pipe, but nothing's happened yet.  And if it does, what then?  Let's face it--neither Husband nor Fio would deliberately kill another living creature. And it doesn't seem right to take the beast twenty miles down the road and release it into some unsuspecting farmer's cornfield.  Besides, Husband doesn't want to carry an inhabited armadillo cage around in the trunk of his car.

Sort of like Russia doesn't want to play host to a stinker like Edward Snowden.

Monday, July 15, 2013

House of Origin

Happy birthday to me/As usual, I'm forty-three/And that is all I'll ever be.

Here's a picture of the house at 429 Stetler Avenue, Ellet, Ohio, which Fiorella lived in for the first seven years of her life.  Back then, the front porch was not enclosed, and Fiorella remembers her father sitting her on the railing to watch the fireworks on Fourth of July.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Totally Unrelated Snippets

Fio's been reading about the Islamist protesters being mowed down in Egypt and thinking that's the way they do it in Arab countries.  Life is cheap over there.
During a recent check-up at her plastic surgeon's office, Fiorella asked him what had happened to the skin cut off during facelifts.  He said it's put in a container and shipped off for disposal--incineration.  How interesting.  Part of Fiorella has already been cremated.
It must be hard to be a dog and not quite understand how everything works, but maybe God feels the same sympathy toward us.

Everywhere in the house Fio goes, she is picking up and throwing away.  She may have too much stuff, but there's  no way she's going to let herself end up on Hoarders.
Casey Anthony, George Zimmerman. . . .even back to OJ Simpson.  Enough said.


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Always Busy

Fiorella lives in a house of many unfinished projects, some of them Husband's (who has a REAL job), and most of them hers.  Upstairs on the landing, she has an art desk piled with paintings she wants to do more work on--and just this week she found an old sketch from a life drawing (translation: nude) session she wants to enlarge and frame--or even use as the basis for a painting.

Then there's the genealogy stuff on her mother's family yet to be researched.  Thank goodness Cousin Norma took care of Dad's family history, but Fio would like to set up spreading family trees for both sides of the family so we all know who our distant cousins are and when one of them ends up in the White House, we can wangle invitations to the inauguration. 

The house itself is another unfinished project, partially because Son isn't totally moved out yet, partially because the garage still contains unpacked boxes from when Husband and Fio moved in eight years ago, and partially because Fio has several sewing projects piled up in the workroom/utility room.

Then there's the major project--writing the Lolly book, the one that follows Kinkaid House.  Fiorella is up to chapter nine now, almost halfway through, but she's a slow writer, dammit.

Oh, and Fio has left out the dog training so that Sonia can be socially acceptable.  And probably countless other projects.

But eventually she'll finish them all.  After all, it took her a month, but she finally polished off the silver.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Decked Again

Fiorella's left arm is currently decorated with three Hello Kitty band-aids.  The "Hello Kitty" is because it makes her laugh. The band-aids are because Sonia Dog whomped her down again, this time on the gravel driveway.

Fiorella has been training Sonia to sit and stay as cars pass on the road, but deer, dogs, and pedestrians are another matter.  The PetsMart dog trainer is working with Sonia about dogs and people, but Fiorella doubts if Doggie will ever become blase' about deer.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Sleeping with the Dog

It's the third day the upstairs air conditioner has been out so while Husband sleeps upstairs in the bed, it's Fiorella's third night on the couch in the den.  Husband's British-Celtic-German heritage can take the warm weather, but Fio's Eastern European genes seek cooler climes. So do Sonia Dog's mastiff genes, which means she's on the couch with Fio.

Sonia is accommodating, adjusting herself to Fio's nightly tosses and turns, but somehow Doggie always manages to end up on top of Fio's legs or feet, anchoring her to the spot, which means Fio awakens far too early, like right now when she is sitting on the couch writing this blog as Princess Sonia, stretched out over two of the three pillows, slumbers at her side.

The repairman said the necessary repair part should come in today, but he said that yesterday and the day before too.  Fio needs to recheck Angie's List.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Negotiating a Vehicle

This is a true story, with the heroine's name changed to protect the triumphant.

Ninety-year-old Sarah, a retired psychologist, recently located a nice used car at a dealership forty miles from Austin, where she lives.  She called the dealership and explained she was interested in the car but had no way to get to their location.  The dealership promptly sent a driver to Austin to pick her up.

Sarah examined the car and liked it, but said her Austin mechanic would have to check it over before she bought it.  So the dealership arranged for a driver to transport her and the car to Austin. However, the trip took approximately two and a half hours because an  eighteen-wheeler had overturned on I-35 and caught fire.  Thus by the time Sarah's mechanic had finished his examination, it was five o'clock.  The mechanic gave the car high marks, but Sarah decided that by then she was too tired  to make a decision.  The driver took her home and returned the car to the dealership.

When the salesman called Sarah the next day, Sarah told him she wanted the car.  He drove to Austin to pick her up, and when they reached the dealership, the manager started giving her papers to sign  to seal the deal.   Although he said he was in a hurry and needed her to sign the papers so he could move on to other tasks, Sarah insisted on reading every page. Then she balked at paying three hundred dollars for extra insurance.

The manager told her the dealership never sold cars without that provision, but Sarah, in her usual polite way, said she had never paid a charge like that before and wouldn’t pay it this time, that she wouldn’t buy the car after all, and would someone please take her back to Austin.

Then she gathered her things and went into the hallway to wait for a driver.

After about thirty minutes, the manager emerged from his office and told Sarah the dealership would meet her terms.  Our heroine then agreed to buy the car--but only if someone would take her and the car back to Austin because she was uncomfortable driving on the busy highway after seeing that wrecked big rig the day before.

After the contracts were signed, the salesman drove Sarah and the new car home, with a driver following him so he could return to the dealership.

Now that’s how to deal with a dealership.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Cause Celebre of the Day.

Even a geek can be a jerk.

Fio's been following the Edward Snowden situation with interest--and amazement.  It's like McGee (cf. NCIS) suddenly went bananas.   What possible good did the man think he was doing?  Every country spies on every other country, and everyone knows it, but no one makes a public spectacle of it--wouldn't be polite. And, yes, on the home front, our government also keeps track of dangerous people and organizations. Maybe Snowden wants terrorists to lead unobserved existences, but Fio doesn't. 

So now he's a man without a country, spending day number ten restricted to a Russian airport.  Just to spite the U.S, three South American countries--Ecuador, Venezuela, and Bolivia--have said they'll give him asylum, but does Snowden really think any of them will let him lead an unfettered existence?   They'll keep that bottom-feeder under so much surveillance that he'll think he's living in a fishbowl.

Once a traitor, always a traitor.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Ol' Weirdo Fiorella

Fiorella personifies everything.  She even feels pangs of guilt about tossing rocks back into the driveway that just aren't quite pretty enough to add to her collection. She regards old, too-large clothes as long-time friends and cannot bring herself to winnow them from her wardrobe.  She apologizes to table legs for bumping into them.  She eats every kernel of popcorn because so it won't die unappreciated. 

Maybe she hung around her friends from India too long.  Or maybe its just ol' weird Fio.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Into the Maelstrom

Remember how Fio had a bad reaction to the pain medications she was given for her most recent surgery?  That it was like she had entered another world, a place in which there were no rules, a place she couldn't figure out how to deal with?  Well, she feels exactly the same way as she stands on the brink of the publishing world.  In fact, she feels like she's looking down into the pit of Tolkien's orc factory.

One reason Fio decided to concentrate on writing was that the career path seemed so clear and regulated.  First she would sit on the couch and write a book, then she would win contests, then she would get an agent, then the agent would find her a publisher, then the publisher would pay Fiorella a boatload of money and publish the book.  But, apparently there's a lot more involved--marketing, monetizing, and mayhem, none of which Fio is adept at.

Pray for Fio.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Coming and Going

As Fiorella used to teach her students, there are four major dialects of English: American, British, Indian, and Australian.  And, like tectonic plates,  these dialects are drifting further and further apart each year.  Eventually, they'll be four separate languages.  But there's a pull in the opposite direction too, and you can blame it on the media.  Yes, several sub-dialects used to exist within these four dialects, but we're all talking more like broadcasters and movie actors now. 

Friday, July 5, 2013

In Heaven, Fiorella Will Sing

Fiorella's given up on reviving the violin, but she plays the piano about ten minutes every day. Right now she's reviewing Christmas carols.  Not that she gets any better, but she doesn't get any worse. 
Husband comes from a musical family, especially on his mother's side.  She was an excellent pianist, and her brother led a successful band way back when.  He even made a couple of recordings, which Daughter was thrilled to find on the internet.
All three of Fio's kids are musical.  Older son concentrates on instruments, especially the bass guitar, while younger son and daughter enjoy karaoke, all of which makes Fio very happy.  She always hoped her children would discover the joy of music.


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Fourth!

Russian, English, German, Gypsy, Swiss,
Orthodox, Catholic, Lutheran, Jew
Fiorella's an all-American miss
Hooray for the red, white, and blue!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Getting Personal

Today will be a good day for Fiorella if she doesn't second-guess tomorrow.
Friend Katie doesn't think anything of it when she swims 100 laps.  Fio considers herself an Olympian if she takes the dog twice around the driveway.
Fio's still waiting for her surgeon to call her in for post-facelift photos. Could it be that he is not as thrilled with the results of the procedure as she is?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


She should have confessed
Though you might have guessed
That Fiorella is stressed--
Upset and depressed.

This too shall pass,
Though right now it seems

Time on Our Hands

Husband repainted the maibox and affixed it more firmly to its post the other day while, inside, Fiorella rearranged the cupboard in which she keeps her gift-wrapping supplies. But it won't last.  Fio can never  remember a time when her mother's house was not perfect,  Or a time when her own was not a mess.

But, being Fiorella, the saint of lost causes, she tries.

Oirginal Home Sweet Home

Check out 429 Stetler Avenue, Ellet, Ohio on the internet.  That's where Fiorella lived for the first seven years of her life.

The front porch has been enclosed now, as has what used to be a screened-in back porch, where Fio would stand and stare outside on rainy days and chant "Rain, rain, go away, come again some other day."  The back porch roof has been fenced and turned into an upstairs patio, but Fiorella remembers the day she discovered the door at the end of the hall, opened it, and walked out onto that roof, which she thought was magic.  However Mother and Aunt Julie, who were out in the back yard didn't think it was magic.  In fact, while Mother kept Fiorella occupied from below, Aunt Julie went inside and came up behind Fio to coax her back inside.

Fiorella misted over as she went through the picture of the inside of the house.  What really got Fio was the window on the stair landing, where she remembers standing and waiting and waiting and waiting.

As she still does.  

Monday, July 1, 2013

Another Baby Step

Fiorella has made another step forward in the literary world.  Yes,  two editors--at Gallery and, of all things, Harlequin--have said they like Kinkaid House and have sent it to second readers.

The first time around, before the new threads were added, five editors "passed" right off the bat.  This time, only two did, and three more editors, one of whom had said she would reconsider KH if the sagging middle were fixed, have not yet responded.

The whole thing may yet go down the drain, of course, but Fio's never made it this far before.