Saturday, January 31, 2015

Color Schemes

I wonder if the red I see
Is other people's red
And if our blues are just the same
Or if we all instead
Call colors by a different name


Friday, January 30, 2015

Getting Personal

After checking out the price tags on clothes, Fiorella realized she'd be walking around naked if the US cut off trade with China.
Fio shares a damning trait with her mother--good intentions.  Just like her, Fio often walks into situations that she should have sat out.
Fio needs new house shoes--and just when she has the old ones trained.
Fio is always singing in her head, even if her throat is dry.
Fio is the keeper of secrets--secrets other people have told her, and secrets of her own.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Squeeze Time

Gone are the days of walking Sonia around the driveway, of starting off the morning by reading Google news and the Austin American Statesman, then catching up on Facebook.

Now Fiorella awakens with singing phrases words and brilliant plot twists in her head, then speeds downstairs to record them on her laptop before they dissipate into the morning.  Yes, Fio is running against the clock on WHERE THE HEART LEADS, and Google, the Statesman, and FB are consulted only when Fio is giving herself a break.

And Husband is walking Sonia.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Unnecessary Corrections

Years ago, when an older, childless friend of hers told Fiorella that her dog's name was Sean, and that it was Irish for "son," your Fiorella, always the pedant, thoughtlessly corrected her, explaining that "Sean" was simply the Irish form of "John."

Fiorella hopes she is more sensitive nowadays.  We all need the comfort of our illusions.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

How Fiorella Started Smoking and How She Quit

When Fiorella was in the eleventh grade, she, being a nerd of the first order, ran with a crowd of scholarly twelfth graders.  Most of us were in Miss Elor Osborn's advanced Latin class, a mixed eleventh-twelfth grade class which switched off Virgil with Cicero every other year.  After a dance--or was it a party--we stopped by the Lion's Park playground and played on the swings in the dark.  And everyone lit up except Fiorella.  She didn't know how.

But by the end of the evening, Fio could inhale with the best of them, and she felt as sophisticated as hell. Yes, now Fiorella smoked, and when she grew up, she'd drink wine, live in  a New York penthouse, and be famous for her art, her books, and her intellect.

Quitting wasn't as easy as starting was--until Fio had her wisdom teeth extracted.  They were so embedded that the dentist had to quarter them, which meant your poor Fio went home with gaping holes in her gums and a bottle full of pain pills.  For five days, she lay in bed and looked at pretty patterns on the ceiling, at the same time concocting a theory that if she smoked, the tobacco mosaic virus in the tobacco would get into her system through her open wounds and give her cancer.

When Fiorella finally came to, she had kicked her addiction and has never smoked again.  Although she did dream about smoking for years afterwards.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Too Late

I always wanted to be the sort of person who owned a baby grand piano, and, as the only other the ivory-tinkler in the family,  I almost got my mother-in-law's, but my sister-in-law asserted prior claim. Then she closed the lid and arranged her collection of garage-sale miniatures on top of it.  So we shopped around and bought an electronic spinet.  But when Husband recently angled our piano from the wall to check the electric connections, I realized there actually was room for a baby grand in its place.

But my time for accuulating possessions has passed. At this point I'd be looking for someone to pass a baby grand on to myself.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Rebel Strikes Again

If she never has to sees the word ORGANIC again, Fiorella would be happy.

Having arrived early and hungry for her doctor's appointment on Friday, your intrepid reporter decided to check out Trader Joe's, the much-ballyhooed new grocer in town.  The store was small, the clientele was expensive, and the food reeked of California.  Fiorella bought a chocolate bundt cake quartet to thwart Joe's good intentions and disappeared into the mist.

Saturday, January 24, 2015


Fiorella firmly believes that like attracts like regarding not only people, but things.  If she loses one earring, for instance, all she has to do is buy new ones and the truant will reappear.

The whole idea is a variation of one of the a fundamental beliefs of magic, that one can affect something through an image of it, but Fiorella prefers to think of the exercise as fundamental physics.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Personal Evolution

For thousands--maybe millions--of years, our ancestors trod the earth barefoot, like the Amazonian and African tribes do today, but Fiorella herself belongs to a tender-soled sub-species that grows pens behind the ears, glasses on the nose, and squawks like a cat caught in the door if there's a tiny pebble in her house slipper.

Don't mind me.  I live to laugh.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Food and Fio

Food itself is not interesting to Fiorella.  She likes certain foods more than others and will eat far too much of them at one sitting if she has the opportunity. Day to day, she eats the same thing for her late breakfast--shredded wheat--then skips lunch, then is at a loss for supper.  Going out is nice, but it costs money. Husband's specialties are tasty, but then there's the clean-up. Take-out is a cornucopia of calories.  That leaves ice cream and popcorn, which Fiorella restricts to once a week each.

Might as well starve.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

More Than You Want to Know About Fio

Fiorella was quite physically active as a child, but not athletic.  She rode her bicycle a lot, notably four miles down the street to catechism classes for two years, and she swam a lot, though it took her two years to learn how to float. True, she played tennis, but while she had a great serve, she couldn't hit a ball back across the net to save her life. Same with volley ball. Her elementary school would send kids out to the playground with a ball and a bat for one week per month, but Fio didn't learn to hit or catch until high school.  Archery was a total loss--Fio kept releasing the arrow before she released the string.

On the other hand, she's really good at walking the dog around the driveway.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Entertain Me!

Fiorella has always been interested in people who are different, i.e., interesting.  If you come from another country or speak another language, Fio wants to get acquainted.  If you have a story to tell, Fio will listen and congratulate or console you (although she also may use bits and pieces of it in her next book).  If you have a special talent or skill, Fiorella wants to know all about it.

But she'll politely head in the other direction if you're boring.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Renovations in Casa Fiorella

Call HGTV!  Fiorella and Husband did their own renovating this weekend, and it worked out great.  They redesigned their mudroom--really the entryway to the kitchen from the garage, on the wall of which they'd fastened a 28" long coat rack, a small rack for their keys, and a smaller rack for their dog leashes and collars. But, since they were  too lazy to tote jackets to the coat closet in the foyer, the outdoor apparel usually piled up on the mudroom coat rack.

Fio being Fio, she decided to do something about it,  She studied the area, measured and figured, and dragged Husband into her scheme, Her first step was to remove the bulletin board off the wall beside the coat rack and rehang it on the corner wall.  Then she moved the smaller racks further over behind the kitchen door ( the key rack above the leash rack), and husband screwed them into the wall.  Easier said than done, but it worked, which was very encouraging because the next day they tackled the old coat rack. After Husband got it off the wall, Fio measured the length of the space and decided they needed a 48" coat rack, which Home Depot wold surely have.  They hopped in the car.

After two false starts with orange apron losers, Husband located a Home Depot employee who actually understood what we were talking about and led us to the coat racks, none of which were 48". Fio's heart sank. She looked over the rest of the stock, did some quick mental math, and decided to take a chance on three identical 18" racks.  If the measurements didn't work out, they could always return the racks.

Half an hour's labor, mainly on Husband's part, did the trick, and Casa Fiorella has a brand new, more accommodating mud room.


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Good News, Bad News

We want to read things that stimulate our emotions. That's why "happy-times" newspapers don't attract much of a following.  They're too much of a good thing. Papers that scream unremitting death and destruction aren't that popular either.  Too much of a bad thing. Most of us prefer a mix--teary heart-warmers side by side with the latest shocking scandal/blood-soaked murder/horrendous accident.

.And if you don't read a newspaper, the same applies to TV news.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Angst and Elation

Fiorella is ON A ROLL!  She's been laboring her way through the second book in her contract, determined to have it ready to send off to her publisher by March 1, but a tiny flare of panic flickered in her cerebral cortex (or wherever panic dwells).  What if she couldn't finish WHERE THE HEART LEADS, if she hit an impasse, if the book was too awful for her to acknowledge?

But you know Fio--she plugged on.  And for the past couple of days, her mental spark plugs seemed to be trying to ignite.  Yesterday, they did, like crazy. Fiorella's frenzied fingers flew across the laptop, and she liked what she saw.


Friday, January 16, 2015

Scott vs. Scott, Round Two

Fio still can't stand Jonathan and Drew Scott, the Property Brothers.  They've been professional actors since they were children, and she suspects they took quickie courses on how to be a realtor and a contractor in order to get the HGTV gig.  They used to stare at the TV screen with slack jaws and hollow eyes like they were checking to see if anyone was watching, but they've gotten more lively of late, at least in their commercials.  In fact, they've gotten annoyingly cutesy.

Bring back Scott McGillivray and his basement renovations.  He's a contractor with taste, wit, humor, and genuine experience.  And he's hot, hot, hot!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Love Scenes

Fiorella has just finished polishing the first big love scene in her new romance.  Whew!

Love scenes can be very hard to write, partly because an author wants each one of them, in each book and from book to book, to be unique.  Thus the lovefests within a book often occur in different locations or emotional circumstances, and, from book to book, the trysts will reflect the characterizations of the lovers.

And in WHERE THE HEART LEADS, Moira has just cut loose with Rafe.  It's been a long time--180 pages--in coming.  (No pun intended.)

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


In case Fio hasn't imposed the opening of WHERE THE HEART LEADS on you yet, here 'tis.  Ignore the red underlining, which she couldn't erase for some reason known only to Steve Jobs, who isn't available for comment.

Chapter 1
Moira drove into the asphalt lot across the street from the yellow brick building and swung her six-year-old Toyota into a marked space.
Panic crawled up her spine. 
It’s just another audition, she told herself.  You know the routine—you've been auditioning since you were a kid.  No big deal.  You either get the part or you don’t, and if you don’t, there’s always another audition around the corner.  
But this wasn't Hollywood or New York—it was small-town Texas, and she wasn't a kid trying out for a role as somebody’s tag-along little sister anymore.  She was an adult, twenty-six years old, and she was the first day of a three-month trial to be herself, Moira Miranda Farrar, with no safety net whatsoever.  The Bosque Bend Theater Guild had signed her on to direct their upcoming production, and if she could pull it off, they’d keep her on permanently.
And if they didn't?  No, that wasn't an option.  She had to keep this job.  Everything depended on her success, not only for her, but for her family, just as it had since she was four years old when   Gramp had discovered she had a freakish memory and a gift for mimicry.  With his disability pension stretched to the limit, she’d become the major support of the family, although Kimiko, her mother, occasionally sent a check home to Pasadena to help with expenses. 
She draped her arms on the steering wheel and stared at the gold building gleaming in the bright October sun.  It looked like an old high school to her, but Pendleton Swaim, her contact with the theater group, had called it the town museum and said the board met there.
Glancing at her stylishly oversized wristwatch, she realized she was early, which gave her time to get the lay of the land before she met with her new employers. 
She’d been hired, sight unseen, at the recommendation of Johnny Blue, who’d starred in the last sit-com she’d worked in before she had married Colin four years ago.  Well, it wasn't entirely sight unseen.  All of America had watched her grow up as an assortment of third-banana little sisters on TV sit-coms, and later, when she was too old for the bangs-and-pigtails roles, as Johnny's robot assistant.   Of course, now that he’d moved on to films, Johnny was on the show biz A-list, while she wasn't worth a Z. 
            She rubbed the scar on her upper left arm


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Literary Responsibility

Fiorella spends way too much time on minutia when she's writing her romances.  The editor can deal with whether she writes "He did not" or "He didn't." What Fiorella has to do is come up with an engaging story and make every sentence sing.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Notes to Self

1)  So, you want to be a writer.  Then stop talking about it and write.  It's as easy and as hard as that.

2)  Fiction writing is brain leak.

3)  Point-of-view is key to showing rather than telling.  You let the reader learn everything through a character's POV, not your own.

4)  What drags a reader on is wanting to know who, what, why, when, and where.  Journalists answer these questions in the first paragraph.  Novelists make you hang on till the last page.

5)  Writing starts out as something to do on the side.  Then it consumes you.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Remembering Elor Osborn

In preparation for tying a red bow around its cotton-stuffed girth, I polished up the Indian elephant Miss Osborn had sent me for Christmas years ago, when I was in grad school.  Elor Osborn--may her name be revered--taught Latin at Waco High, my alma mater. She required  a lot out of me, more than I realized I could do.  She also put up with a lot of nonsense from me, which is part and parcel of the Fiorella package.  And when I made Phi Beta Kappa at UT, she paid for my pin.

I think Miss Osborn would be happy with how I turned out.  When I die, I want that elephant to go with me as grave goods.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Better than Pepper Spray

Fio has a friend, a retired judge, a single woman, who carries a knife with her when she goes out. Not a Swiss army knife, like the one Fiorella has in her purse, but a big ol' kitchen knife, which is a lot easier to get to if one is in a threatening situation.

Fiorella is considering likewise arming herself.

Friday, January 9, 2015

New Year's Resolution

Fio's mother tried to be cool, but she frequently blew her stack, and Fiorella soon learned that the smartest, safest thing to do was to totally back off, to go passive.  So if there was a problem between her mother and herself, she took the fall.  Funny thing--the pattern repeated itself with Fio's own kids, but inside out.  If there was a problem between Fiorella and her kids, she went passive and took the fall again.  And she still does it.

This situation is not good for Fiorella or her children, and she has resolved to change it.  The next time around, she will tell whoever blows up at her that she is open to an amiable discussion, but will not accept being excoriated.

It's never too late to improve relationships.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Starry Night

Fiorella is making progress on the new book.  She's gone back to the beginning and should be through page 150 by the end of the week--if she hasn't jinxed herself by saying so.  That leaves next week for pages 151-200, then the last two weeks of the month for the final hundred pages. February will be devoted to final revisions because Fiorella plans to submit the final cut on March 1.

If the computer doesn't break down, if Fiorella doesn't break down, if the stars are right.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Royalty Check

Fiorella's world has turned dark. She got her first royalties statement, and it's for $11.93.  Good thing she and Husband had received a small windfall so they didn't have to depend on book sales for Christmas this year.

Strangely, Fio is not down.  Maybe it's that the situation hasn't sunk in or that she's so deeply engrossed in writing her current book that the first one is no longer on her horizon.  Maybe it's that a part of her believes the next royalty check, in March, will be enough to fund a European vacation. Or maybe it's that Fiorella is accustomed to writing without recognition or compensation, and she isn't about to quit now.  When she IS rich and famous, she will call this the $11.93 moment.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


Friend Jeanell is writing lyrics for her characters to sing in the musical adaptation of "Gift of the Magi,"  which the heroine in WHERE THE HEART LEADS is directing for the Bosque Bend Theater Guild. (Got all that?)

Anyway, Jeanell is particularly proud of the song she came up with for Della, the wife who sells her hair to buy a watch fob for her husband.


What would I be if I weren't me?
Maybe a pirate sailing the sea
Maybe a princess, maybe a queen
Maybe an actress on the silver screen
Or maybe I'd be like Nellie Bly
And amuse, amaze, and edify--
But whatever happens, whatever may be
I have you so I'm glad I'm me

Monday, January 5, 2015

As the Pendulum Swings

Interesting the way trends come and go, then circle back again.  Beards and bustiers, for instance. And have you noticed we're not using profanity and potty words as much any more?  Yeah, after forty years of going strong, they've lost their shock value.  But, %$#*, that won't last long.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Reality Sets In

The euphoria of yesterday was somewhat tempered by the reality of the rest of the day.  when Fio tried to print out last year's blogs, the printer jammed.  After she spent a couple of hours jiggling it and pulling out scraps of paper with tweezers and a toothpick, Husband came home and figured out how to remove the faceplate and get the machine going again.  Meanwhile Fiorella had to pay bills, take care of a situation with her critique group, call the kids,  etcetera, and didn't get to those magic ten pages for WHERE THE HEART LEADS till evening.  But there's always tomorrow.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Fudge to the Rescue!

Yo-ho-ho!  Friend Jeanell is feeling G-O-O-D!

It may be Fiorella's chocolate fudge, or it may be that Jeanell has been working so hard on WHERE THE HEART LEADS this past week that she's finally in the zone. Chapter five, the ranch chapter, the one Jeanell has been tearing her hair out on and dedicated two months to researching, actually reads half-decently, and she's pulled together the restaurant scene too.  That means the first hundred pages are slick--not submission slick yet, but getting there,

The next hundred will take more time, maybe a week--they're disconnected--but that will leave two weeks for the last hundred pages, which are definitely wobbly. After that comes a whole month of razor-sharp revising before Jeanell sends the manuscript off to her editor.

Wish her well.

Friday, January 2, 2015


Today Husband and Fio will make chocolate fudge.

It almost didn't happen this year.  Fio looked around just before Christmas, but couldn't find any of the familiar Famous Fudge boxes--all ingredients included--in either of the HEBs in town. Then, yesterday, she visited the giant HEB in Leander.

And bought the very last box on the shelves.

But, you ask, isn't it too late for Christmas fudge?  Not in Fio's world.  Remember,  she didn't complete her decorating till Christmas Eve, and the tree, the swags and drapes, the fake snowflakes, the creches and stockings--they're all staying up till February.

But the fudge isn't going to last that long.

Thursday, January 1, 2015


Stand up and cheer!
At last is here!
Best wishes to you
And happy new year!