Friday, January 31, 2014

We All Scream for Ice Cream

My name is Fiorella. I am an ice cream-aholic.

I love biting into the creamy confection, savoring the buttery taste, feeling it melt in my mouth.  And I love the whole experience again an hour later.  Yes, I'm hooked.

Which is why I bought apples, oranges, raspberries, lettuce, and grapes at HEB yesterday.  Now watch--I'll probably get hooked on raspberries.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Five Literary Insights

Fio's finally figured it out.  "Dark romance" means high drama.

Fiorella goes about writing the same way she does everything else--in layers. First the bold strokes, then refinement after refinement.  It's like building an onion.

Two things are important in writing a romance--the story and the way you tell the story. And since there are only seven original plots, the way the story is presented is prime.

Idioms are the joy of language, the frosting on the cake

Fiorella thinks she wrote a lot easier when  she was a young heifer, but she has more to say now that she's an old cow.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Fiorella taught her last two-hour romance-writing class at the public library last night--and she came home high as a kite.  It's a wonder she even needed a vehicle.  There's a joy--and a challenge--to teaching, to communicating something you are passionate about to people who listen to you, who want to learn and understand.  And there's also joy to learning that you know more about your subject than you realized.

Yep, six years in RWA, and Fio's picked up a thing or two.  And she's learning more every day.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Physics, Fiorella-style

It's finally happened--Fiorella has slipped into an alternate universe.

As usual, Husband went off to work before Fio had quite awakened.  As usual, Sonia Dog begged for a bone and a treat.  As usual, Fio adjusted the thermostats and brought in the paper.  As usual, she raised the front room shades by pulling on the back cord.

But when she tried to raise the den shade by pulling on the front cord--as usual--the shade went further down rather than going up.

Yes, it had reversed itself overnight.

And if that doesn't prove string theory, nothing will.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Pimpinome, A Review

Brother and his wonderful wife took Fio and Husband to see--and especially to hear--Pimpinome, a Telemann chamber opera which premiered in 1725.  The plot was weak--it was more of a  caricature than a story--but the music was terrific and the singing was GREAT. Soprano Meredith Ruduski and bass-baritone Peter Walker portrayed a flirtatious servant and the rich man she suckers into marrying her. Ruduski owned the show--she was Vespetta to the core, but Walker, who basically played the supporting tole, bowled Fio over when he switched into counter-tenor to portray two women gossiping together.

The program was staged by the Texas Early Music Project, and the small orchestra used vintage instruments--harpsichord, traverso, viola da gamba, theorbo, and traverso as well as violins, viola, cello, and guitar.

The audience gave the production two curtain calls, but Fio could have stood there applauding all night.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Always Stylish

How weird.  It's currently stylish for little girls to dress like princesses, teenage girls to dress like sluts, and adult women to dress like men.  And, yes, even as she writes, Fio is wearing jeans and an oversized sweatshirt.  Yesterday, when she visited Friend Beatriz in Austin, she wore Husband's leather jacket over jeans and a tee.

The pendulum swings as the pendulum swings.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Show Me the Money!

As Shakespeare would say, long have I loved this speech from Othello in which the villainous Iago is persuading the naive Roderigo to frank his nefarious enterprises instead of committing suicide.

       Come, be a man. Drown thyself? drown
cats and blind puppies. I have professed me thy
friend and I confess me knit to thy deserving with
cables of perdurable toughness; I could never
better stead thee than now. Put money in thy
purse; follow thou the wars; defeat thy favour with
an usurped beard; I say, put money in thy purse. It
cannot be that Desdemona should long continue her
love to the Moor,-- put money in thy purse,--nor he
his to her: it was a violent commencement, and thou
shalt see an answerable sequestration:--put but
money in thy purse. These Moors are changeable in
their wills: fill thy purse with money:--the food
that to him now is as luscious as locusts, shall be
to him shortly as bitter as coloquintida. She must
change for youth: when she is sated with his body,
she will find the error of her choice: she must
have change, she must: therefore put money in thy
purse. If thou wilt needs damn thyself, do it a
more delicate way than drowning. Make all the money
thou canst: if sanctimony and a frail vow betwixt
an erring barbarian and a supersubtle Venetian not
too hard for my wits and all the tribe of hell, thou
shalt enjoy her; therefore make money. A pox of
drowning thyself! it is clean out of the way: seek
thou rather to be hanged in compassing thy joy than
to be drowned and go without her.
Wilt thou be fast to my hopes, if I depend on
the issue?
Thou art sure of me:--go, make money:--I have told
thee often, and I re-tell thee again and again, I
hate the Moor: my cause is hearted; thine hath no
less reason. Let us be conjunctive in our revenge
against him: if thou canst cuckold him, thou dost
thyself a pleasure, me a sport. There are many
events in the womb of time which will be delivered.
Traverse! go, provide thy money. We will have more
of this to-morrow. Adieu.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Christmas Deja Vu

Yesterday morning the weather forecasters predicted wind gusts, possibly light rain, which meant Fio's hairdo would either be extra-fluffy or she'd look like a drowned rat.
Fio and Husband carted the trash bags out out to the container in the dark last night. Even in freezing weather, you gotta keep up with things if you don't want to end up as a star of a Hoarders episode.
Fiorella turned on the Christmas tree lights to end the day.  It seemed appropriate--the ground was covered with patches of ice.  All we needed was a reprise of the rooftop sleigh bells.
HAPPY FRIDAY MORNING--IT SNOWED LAST NIGHT!  Fio is rushing from window to window for the best view. Ooh--even in her heavy winter robe, she's c-o-l-d.  It's hot chocolate for breakfast! Thank you, Climate Change!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Wink, Wink

Sometimes I'm happy
Sometimes I'm sad
Sometimes I'm good
But I'm better when I'm bad

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

To the Tune of Tennessee Ernie's "Sixteen Tons"

116.4 pounds and what do you get?
A tail that wags and a tongue that's wet
A dog who cleans out her bowl when she's fed
And sleeps in love at the bottom of our bed.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


Fiorella forgot to tell you an interesting item of information she learned while she was at her neurologist's office last week.  As usual. Dr. M. told her the shots would hurt a little, but to try not to move.  Afterwards, Fio remarked that she'd never felt pain, only pressure.  At which point,  Dr. M's intern, Dr. Wong, said  recent studies have shown that women feel physical pain less than men do.

Could Wong be right?


Monday, January 20, 2014

Paper is Patient

What does it mean, that "paper is patient?"  It was something Fio's mother used to say because her German grandfather had said it, and it does NOT mean, as some people on Google seem to think, that what you write will last eternally.  It means one shouldn't believe everything one reads.

A word to the wise.


Sunday, January 19, 2014

Howdy, Friend

The first time Fiorella and Husband drove through this subdivision, a jogger waved at them.

That one wave was enough to convince Fio she wanted to live in the area.  Eight years later, neighborhood pedestrians and drivers still wave at each other, and Fiorella has adopted the habit herself.  It reminds her of her youth in Waco, when one politely greeted anyone one encountered while walking down the street.  That didn't hold for crowded downtown sidewalks, of course, just as Fio's current hand-waving ceases when she hits the highway.

One has to be in a more intimate situation to acknowledge fellow travelers.


Saturday, January 18, 2014


I'`ll tell you a secret.  Your Fiorella's been driving ever since she was a teenager, but she's not very good at it. In fact, even her best friends refuse to ride with her.  Part of the problem is that she has no depth perception, which means she regularly bounces over curbs and traffic islands.  The other part of the problem is that the rhythm of the road generates all sorts of clever ideas in her--like this blog, which she worked out in her mind while driving, then pulled over into a handy parking lot to jot down.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Big Mouth

Fiorella has no built-in censor.  Thus, when her neurologist's intern said his father was Chinese and his mother was Czech, the first thing out of her mouth was, "Oh, a Chinese Czecher!"

Thank God the intern laughed.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Shallow Fio

Buoyed up by her romance-writing class going so well the night before that the students stayed thirty minutes afterwards, Fiorella set off for a full day of errands and appointments in Austin yesterday.  She arranged for a rental car, drove into town, dropped some donation books off at church, mailed letters and bought stamps, spent two hours with her favorite hairdresser, scarfed down Starbuck's marble pound cake for lunch, and had a great visit with her neurologist and his intern. Because the intern was half Chinese, Fiorella tried out her meager Mandarin.


Her tires never touched ground all the way home.   It takes so little to make Fiorella happy.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


Fiorella had a break-down yesterday.  She's usually a very busy person, with a to-do list a mile long, but yesterday that list ganged up on her. She couldn't edit the last three pages of the second chapter of Moira's story because the printer wouldn't work.  She couldn't find Nephew Barrett's new address to send him a BD present.  She couldn't find the two paperbacks she wanted to use as examples of POW writing in her romance writing class.  She suddenly realized she may have offended her sister-in-law. One of the little gold hoops she always wears in her ears turned up missing.   And, to top it off, when she tried to drive to Fed-Ex and the post office, her beloved baby car made such strange noises that she turned around before she reached the highway, came home, called Husband, and cried.  He told her to have Mazda pick up the car.

Strangely, just when Fio thought all was lost, she found Nephew's new address on an old email and spotted the two paperbacks on a bookshelf, tucked away under some papers.  Then, when he came home, Husband fixed the printer.  And early this morning, he spotted her missing earring on the floor in the hall. Fio will have to arrange for a rental car to keep her appointments in Austin today, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Holding On

Fiorella forgot to write a blog last night so she's running s couple of paragraphs from one of her works in progress, AND TO HOLD.  You may have already seen them on Facebook, but Fio thinks they're worth a rerun.  

So why hadn’t Sex-on-the-Hoof taken the bait?  Lolly could tell he was interested so why didn’t he make a move on her?  Was she losing her touch? 
She winced as an errant sunbeam hit her closed eyelids.  The funny thing was that she’d actually been sort of interested in him, which surprised her.  He wasn’t her type.  She usually went for dark guys.  Damn, he was a real cottontop.   His eyebrows, though, were light brown and well-defined, and his beard stubble a couple of shades darker.  To top it off, the guy was a hunk—tall, with broad shoulders and narrow hips.  Chelsea was right—he did resemble McConaughey, but only from a distance.  He had that same loping Western guy walk, but up close, he looked even better—those high cheekbones and that aristocratic hauteur.  Those pale blue eyes that saw right through to your soul. 

She moved uncomfortably as a shiver of heat shot down her.  Not that it mattered.  Austin was a big city, and she’d never see him again. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Mountain Mover

Fiorella's finally realized that when she refers to downsizing, she means intensifying--clearing out everything else and concentrating on her writing and her art. On the other hand, she also has to keep track of the taxes, manage the family business, and get the house and property in shape to sell within the next ten years.

But you can do it, Fio.  You can do it!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Yo, There

Sorry to run late
But Fio's feeling G-R-R-R-EAT!
She slept so well last night
That now she's ready to write
A stellar

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Maternal Appreciation

Thank you, Mother, for letting me take piano lessons.

When she was in the fifth grade, Fiorella wanted to learn to play the piano because "all" the other girls were doing it.  It turned out she had a minor talent and advanced quickly through the beginner books.  She hit her zenith in the seventh grade with "Fur Elise"--after which she quit as the hormones burgeoned, the homework increased, and her free time decreased.  But the piano still sat it the front room, and she still played it from time to time.

A long dry period began when Fio went off to college, then married early.  Several years later, she and Husband picked up an old upright, Fio collected all her piano books from her mother, and she started playing a little again.  However, she was really into voice, in which she had a major talent. And working on her advanced degree in linguistics had to take precedence over both.

Through the years, Fio sang a lot, directed a couple of choruses, fooled around with composition, and generally enjoyed herself with music.  The root of it all was those three years of piano lessons in the fifth, sixth, and seventh grades. Nowadays, Fio doesn't sing much, has handed in the baton, and writes romances rather than music, but she still enjoys going into the front room and banging out her old favorites on the piano.

Thank you, Mother.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Post Misery

Whoopee!  Fiorella's alive again--or maybe it's the hot chocolate she's been gulping down.

But  the crud (which Fio has been assured is the appropriate medical reference) seems to have run its course, and Fio's now alert, industrious, and writing, writing, writing,  The whole episode started with coughing,then moved on to sneezing, headache, and ennui. During the worst of the mystery illness, she stayed in her heavy robe all day and drowsed on the couch.

Fio assumes she had a bad cold, and her only comfort is that everyone else, even an acquaintance in Colorado, seems to have had it too.  Misery loves company

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Post Yule

A piece at a time, Fiorella has started taking down her Christmas decorations.  She tore her paper snowflakes off the windows yesterday and the greeting cards off the double doors to the dining room this morning.  Tomorrow she'll probably take down the stockings over the fireplace.  Everything will get piled on command center, the dining room table, then carefully packed in what Fiorella hopes will be an organized fashion.

She's going to do something new this year--winnow her decorations.  Downsizing, as they say.  Fio is tired. Or maybe it's just the dregs of this horrible cold she's finally recovering from.  We'll see next year.

(Personal to Anonymous--Yup, RWA.  I'm easy to spot--but who are you?)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Fun times in the Public Library

Fiorella is on top of the world--she's almost over her cold, she rescued a family business transaction from messing up, and HER ROMANCE-WRITING CLASS WAS A BIG SUCCESS!

Yes, Fiorella drove off to the Georgetown library yesterday in the dead of night (6:40 p.m.) to teach a class for the San Gabriel Writers' League.  The librarian had told her that only one person was enrolled, and Fio was half-hoping whoever she was wouldn't show so the class could be cancelled and Fio could stay home on Tuesday evenings.  But Pam showed up and--wonder of wonders--Paul joined her.

Fio didn't have much of a lesson plan because she didn't know what the students would need so she pretty much winged it from a few notes she had jotted down before leaving home.  She also spent a lot of time getting acquainted with Pam and Paul.  And she gave them homework.

She can hardly wait till next Tuesday.  You can take the teacher out of the classroom but you can't take the classroom out of the teacher.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Five for the Price of One

MERRY CHRISTMAS!  Da, Fiorella honors her father's Russian Orthodox heritage by leaving Christmas decorations up through January 7.  One busy year, she even honored it through March.
How about a paranormal romance featuring a senior citizen couple as the heroes--Crankyman and Sweetywoman.
Bringing you up to date on social media for authors pimping their brand--FaceBook and Twitter are out, newsletters are in.  Frankly, Fio prefers Goodyear blimps with trailers.
Fiorella wonders if big-time singers ever get tired of warbling the same songs again and again.  But maybe the audience is what revs them up.  On the other hand, Fio tends to go around the house bellowing out "Go Tell Aunt Rhodie," one of her fourth-grade favorites, whether Husband is there or not.
Fio may have said this before, but she'll say it again.  For years, she thought the Boston Pops were so called because they were  all fathers.  She was shocked when she first noticed females in the orchestra.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Fiorella's Facts of Life

Husband:  I'd like to take a hammer to these sparkly driveway rocks and see what's in them.
Fiorella:  Noooooo!  They're so pretty!

And that's why men do NOT get diamond engagement rings.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Unlikely Trio

Suzy MM and Suzy G
Here at home and across the sea
Both of them good friends to me
Unlike the evil Suzy G-T

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Wassa Matter? Couldn't Learn Roosky Yazeek?

Do not give clemency to Edward Snowden.

Instead, let him move from Russia to Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, or Wherever, be sucked dry of whatever piteous tidbits he has left from his stint at NSA, and gradually sink into the nothingness of a man without a country.

Snowden betrayed his birthright. Do not extend him a mess of pottage.

Friday, January 3, 2014

The Long, Slow Awakening

After decades of leaping out of bed at the command of a screeching alarm clock, Fiorella enjoys the luxury of awakening on her own--slowly.  Not yet opening her eyes, she gradually becomes aware of the morning.  Her back arches a couple of times, her arms stretch out, her fingers curl and uncurl, her legs and toes do the same, her hips rotate, she moves her head back and forth, and, finally, she opens her eyes.

Then shuts them again. She doesn't want to wake up, to leave the comfort of this soft, warm bed and the big dog snoring at her feet.

But her body is rarin' for action.  She opens her eyes again and sits up.

Rise, Fiorella. Rise, arise shine.  Every dawn is a new day.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Butternut Creek

Fiorella is bundling up Jane Myers Perrine's Butternut Creek series to contribute to her church's library. Perrine, an ordained minister, writes inspirational sweet romances--translation: religious content, no explicit sex.

Fiorella is donating the books partly because of their inspirational aspect.  The "hero" of all three books is a young minister who deals gently with, among other things, an embittered war veteran, a sister overwrought by her experiences in Africa, and a fiancee psychologically scarred by a sexual assault. In Butternut Creek itself, though, there are no villains.  Nor is there any racism, religious rivalry, murder or mayhem--a situation which makes for relaxing reading.

The other reason Fiorella is donating the books is that Perrine has an engaging writing style and a sharp eye for humor.  Fiorella particularly likes her nature descriptions, which remind her of her beloved Miss Read series.

You may visit Gethsemane Lutheran Church this Sunday to borrow the books.  Tell Pastor that Fio sent you.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Up, Up, Up!

Fiorella confesses that not only has she been sick, but depressed. She felt betrayed by parts of Christmas that did not go right, ripping the scab off that devastating midsummer debacle.

But she's on the road to recovery, both from the cold and the blues.  The cold ran its course, but Fio had to cure the depression by God and her lonesome.  She forced herself into her regular morning routine--piano, weights, nails, and plies (but omitting the walks, PT and VT).  She also cleaned up the post-Christmas house.

Her mood went up several notches when Friend Suzy MM called in the evening and went ecstatic over the chapters of Lolly's story which Fiorella had asked her to peruse.  No, SMM didn't find the first love scene repugnant or the main characters' relationship distasteful.  In fact, SMM wanted more. which means Fio does not have to kill Lolly--just hide her out for a while.

But the topper was later that evening, after Husband had gone upstairs, when Fio was watching TV to dumb herself down before bed.  Anderson Cooper had a show featuring "ordinary" people who leapt to the occasion, no matter the odds, BECAUSE IT WAS THE RIGHT THING TO DO.   Fiorella wept, of course, because that's what she does when things touch her heart, and told herself that if they could do it, she could do it.  If that cancer-ridden teenager could keep on going till he died, she could keep on going too.

Onward, Fio.  Onward and upward!