Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Happy New Year!

On this, the last day of 2019, we woke up to a heavy snowfall.

It was indescribably beautiful.

Coming from four years in New Jersey, Older Daughter has decided that only coniferous trees "do" snow well, LOL.

We had "snowflakes" inside as well, which Older Daughter made before Christmas.

The tire garden wore a mantle of white.

Mr. Darcy also left dribbles of yellow.

Needless to say, Darcy thought all this snow was just the Best Thing Ever.

As we all circled the pasture...

...Darcy ran and sniffed and dug and romped.

The snow lasted until mid-morning, then transitioned into rain.

We're also expecting some wind tonight.

But that's okay. It's the start of a new year. May we all have a blessed 2020!

Sunday, December 29, 2019

A-hiking we will go

These are my new hiking boots.

They are a Christmas gift from Younger Daughter. I've been using them a lot lately, since Older Daughter and I have been hitting the hiking trails in nearby Heyburn State Park.

Yesterday was one such example. We'd had a couple inches of snow, and Older Daughter wanted to photograph the lake from the height of the Indian Cliffs trail, so off we went.

The trees at the lower elevations had lovely traces of snow.

It was very cold, about 22F, but by the time we hit the first switchback, I was already stripped down to my T-shirt and wearing a sweat band around my forehead. (Ah, the wonders of menopause. I have my own built-in thermonuclear reactor wherever I go.)

As predicted, the views from the top were fabulous.

Way below us, we saw flocks of coots on the water's edge.

This photo shows some of the steepness involved in getting to the top on this hike.

Older Daughter also caught some of the beauty of the scenery on her camera.

The deepwater channels aren't yet frozen.

Mr. Darcy just loves these hikes, but thinks we're not getting from Point A to Point B fast enough to suit him.

On the downhill side, we had to watch our footing on the snowy trail -- especially with an eager dog wanting to go faster faster faster.

Nothing like a hike in cold weather to get the blood warm!

And just for giggles, here's what happens when Chuck Norris goes hiking:

Friday, December 27, 2019

Dipping my toes into suspense

On December 9, I received an email from my literary agent as follows: "Love Inspired Suspense is looking for something as soon as possible — this week even — that would fit Love Inspired Suspense. They want a complete manuscript NOW. Got anything along those lines?"

To clarify, Love Inspired is Harlequin's inspirational series, and the Love Inspired Suspense category is their suspense sub-genre. Since I normally don't write suspense, sadly I had no suitable manuscripts available ... which was a shame, since this was an opportunity I hated to miss.

But I had an incomplete manuscript (a NaNoWriMo project) that -- possibly -- I could revise as a suspense, and I emailed my agent to tell him that. He replied that if I could get it to him by Friday Dec. 13, then go for it.

Well I tried. The trouble is, we were in the midst of our Christmas revelries. My parents were visiting, as well as Younger Daughter. Precious family time took precedence over this manuscript revision. Besides, as I read over and cleaned up the manuscript, it left me 14,000 words short (and it still needed a synopsis). Reluctantly I was forced to pass on the opportunity.

But I decided -- what the heck -- to embark on writing a romantic suspense. Together with my friend Ann Malley (whose specialty is suspense), we hatched a plot. Don helped me fine-tune details about the killer's motivation and backstory. Ann and I worked the outline back and forth. And now ... I'm writing a suspense.

And it's fun!

I mean seriously, who'da thunk it would be such a chuckle to leave a trail of dead bodies all over the place? Okay, I don't mean I'm chuckling over killing off minor characters; but I have to admit, the writing just flows. In a suspense, there's no such thing as the dreaded "sagging middle" (writing parlance for the difficulties in making the center part of the book interesting). To paraphrase Nora Roberts, whenever things get slow, just throw in another dead body.

Ann's books are much more edge-of-your-seat type thrillers. My manuscript is shaping up to be a little less bloody. But regardless, I must say -- so far I like writing suspense.

We'll see what comes of it.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

A quiet Christmas

Well, we had a quiet but lovely Christmas. We had our major celebration two weeks ago when Younger Daughter was home and my parents were able to visit, so by contrast our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were quiet affairs indeed.

We invited some neighbors to a late lunch on Christmas Eve. I made a simple chicken pot pie.

Older Daughter got clever with the dinner napkins again.

Is this darling or what?

In the evening, we went to church in town (not our usual church), the same place where Don sang in the choir performance a couple weeks ago.

The music director pulled together any choir members present and they sang one song.

Lots of good hearty traditional carols, the last one sung by candlelight.

Christmas Day we were invited by some friends to have dinner with them, along with some other friends.

We all chuckled at how their cats enjoyed lying around their wood stove.

In the evening, we were able to talk with Younger Daughter at her overseas duty station, where she's fighting a bad cold but otherwise having a fun time with lots of military parties.

So despite the quietness of the days, we had a very nice time indeed.

Merry Christmas, and remember the Reason for the Season!

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Happy Birthday, Older Daughter!

Older Daughter turned 24 on December 19. Heavens, where do the years go? It seems only yesterday when we brought her home from the hospital.

We asked what she wanted to do for her birthday. She had a one-word answer: "Sushi."


Well, no matter. Don is also a fan of sushi, so I was out-voted.

So we took ourselves into Spokane, where Older Daughter and Younger Daughter had recently discovered a restaurant called Sushi.com.

Conveniently this restaurant was located right next to Auntie's, a large independent bookstore. Well shucky-darn.

The restaurant was very nice -- classy without being stuffy, with superb waitstaff.

It offered a bewildering selection of sushi (yuck).

But even I had to admit, the plates were very artistic.

Me, I had a selection of appetizers, all phenomenally delicious. I can eat all the tempura anyone wants to shovel my direction.

After lunch, we waddled our way to Auntie's for a few minutes of happy browsing.

Like all bookstores, I'm sure Auntie's was hurting, so it was nice to see it packed with holiday shoppers.

Older Daughter (that's her on the right) made one purchase, a satirical book called "Ungovernable: The Victorian Parent's Guide to Raising Flawless Children."

All in all we had a lovely day out. Happy birthday, Older Daughter!