Monday, December 31, 2012

The Mayhem and Magic of 2012

Truth to tell, 2012 was the most mayhem-filled year I’ve endured in my life, although there were a few bright spots.

It began with me half-blind from having surgery to correct a detached retina in December of 2011. Then I had to go around with a gas bubble in my eye. When that went away and the eye healed, a cataract developed, so I was still half-blind. Then I had to have the cataract removed. Then I had to have a back surgery that was supposed to last four or five hours, but became a ten-hour nightmare when the neurosurgeon discovered a bunch of lumbar discs had fused together, and she had to get out a hacksaw and jackhammer to bust ‘em apart so she could put spacers in. Recovery has been . . . painful. Then I FINALLY got new glasses two weeks after my back surgery, so I can see again! The year ended with the funeral of a friend’s brother. Besides all that, my two darling dogs, Daisy and Rosie died, Rosie from a brutal and mysterious accident (I had to have her put down).

I tell you 2013 HAS to be better than that!

On the magical side, I got to attend my younger daughter’s wedding to a wonderful man (even if he is a Republican) and see my grandson Riki and a whole bunch of old friends in Pasadena in June. That was mega-fun.

I published my very first book on Create Space, ANGELS OF MERCY. So far, this has NOT been a smashing success. Sigh. But two of my books were finalists in the New Mexico-Arizona Book of the Year Awards. GENTEEL SPIRITS didn’t win in the historical novel category, but FALLEN ANGELS tied for first place with AN AMERICAN CAFÉ, by Sara Sue Hoklotubbe. That was nice.

Um . . . I can’t think of anything else good that happened in 2012, actually.

However, here’s hoping 2013 is kind and gentle to all of us. On the book front, PECOS VALLEY RAINBOW will be published in March of 2013. I’m also giving away copies of ANCIENT SPIRITS in my January contest. If you’d like to enter, please send me your name and home address via email at . Also, please visit my web site: and my Facebook page at

Thanks! Happy New Year!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Happy Holidays!

Short blog for December, mainly because I forgot all about it until tonight (November 30).

The only big news is that, while both FALLEN ANGELS and GENTEEL SPIRITS were finalists in the 2012 New Mexico-Arizona Book of the Year Awards, FALLEN ANGELS actually won the award in the mystery/suspense category. It tied with THE AMERICAN CAFÉ, by Sara Sue Hoklotubbe (a Choctaw name she got when she married her very handsome husband). Oddly enough, we sat at the same table together at the banquet. If I’d taken any pictures, I’d show them here, but I always forget my camera. Sigh. However, I did take a picture of the award when I got it home. It’s very nice, and they even printed the name of the book on it! When I won the HOLT Medallion for ONE BRIGHT MORNING, they didn’t bother to engrave the title on the back of the medallion, so I think this is swell:

Other than that, the month was pretty much like any other month. I’m still recovering from my hellish ten-hour back surgery, but I’m in a whole lot less pain than I was before the surgery, so I think all’s well there. Pretty soon, I’m sure the doctor will allow me to lift more than fifteen pounds, so I’ll be able to reclaim my Giblett from Fort Stanton, where he’s being well cared for by another dachshund rescuer, Kari Coburn, bless her. In the meantime, I have another foster wiener dog here. He’s Peanut, and he and Scrappy like to play. All day long. Here they both are. Peanut's the one in the purple collar on the red pillow:

Oh! I also got advance reading copies (ARCs) of PECOS VALLEY RAINBOW, my March 2013 release from Five Star. I’m giving copies away this month in my contest, so if you’d like to enter, please send me your name and home address at

If you’d like to read the first chapter of PECOS VALLEY RAINBOW (and just about any of my other books), just wander on over to my web site, which is all decorated for Christmas:

Hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving and that the rest of your holiday season will be bright and merry!

Sunday, October 28, 2012


Okey-dokey, so here’s what’s been going on in my household.

Before my September 11 lumbar surgery, I had a dog problem in my house that cost about $250. Then my car died. Another $250. Then my air conditioner died. $250. I began to think, “How the heck am I going to get through this month, pay the utilities, buy food, take care of the hounds and cover my insurance co-pay?” And then, out of the blue, three of the kindest, most generous women-writer friends a person can have, Norah Wilson, Bonnie Vanak and Pamela Clare, sent me money! They just sent it to me! God bless them all. It’s because of Norah, Bonnie and Pamela that I was able to weather one of the worst experiences of my life without losing everything I own.

Anyhow, on September 10 (which would have been my daddy’s 108th birthday, had he still been alive), my dear friend Ann Wilmer-Lasky drove me to Albuquerque, where we stayed overnight with some more dear friends, Marcia Fish and Larry Anderson. Then the next day we went to the University of New Mexico’s Neurosurgery Unit.

I was told to expect a four- or five-hour “minimally invasive lumber laminectomy.” Well . . . ten hours later, I woke up in the recovery room (I guess) to see my 16-year-old Austrian neurosurgeon smiling up a storm and saying, “Oh, my, you gave us such a challenge!”

Goody gumdrops.

Evidently, in order for a neurosurgeon to minimally invade something, there has to be a space to invade. The discs in my lower spine (on the right) had bonded together (guess they were pals), and were locked in a clump. They had to get out the band saws, drills, power tools, and stuff like that in order to get ‘em apart, scrape the junk off them, put spacers between them, and screw them in place. I grew a whole inch after that! Mind you, I’d shrunk four inches, but still, at least I’m back to being a whole five feet tall. I used to be five-three, dang it.

The first two days after the surgery I wanted to be dead. Honest to God, I’ve never experienced anything like that. I don’t know how nurses do their jobs. I’m rather a non-difficult sort of person, but I was lying in bed (truth to tell, I was bent of in half, ‘cause they had to put 60 pillows under my legs and crank the bed back up so that I was . . . well, bent in half). Worse, I lay or folded there and moaned. Out loud. Couldn’t help myself. How humiliating.

But, boy, did I come away with an appreciation of those nurses! They not only provided me with ice chips (‘cause I couldn’t swallow w/o them), but they cleaned me after I threw up all the water from the ice chips. And they never scolded! They just said, “Not a problem. That’s why we’re here. We’ll just change this bedding and get a new gown on you and wash you up,” while I cried. The first few days after that operation included not a single one of my finest moments. However, I gained a GIGANTIC respect for the nurses who take care of people like me. I had never, ever, once, considered what nurses have to go through in order to deal with post-op and other types of patients.

Not only that, but the doctors and nurses gave me a whole bunch of great drugs (morphine, Valium, oxycodone, etc.). One day I decided to tell my grandson, Dai, who’s an Army Medic and has been nursing for years, how much I appreciate nurses like him who take care of people like me, so I telephoned him in Fort Bragg. Emily, my granddaughter-in-law, answered the phone and assured me she’d tell Dai I’d called to appreciate him. I thought it was around noon. It was more like around midnight. Heck, I was on drugs, y’know?

Then there were the food trays. Since I was bent in half, they had to plant the tray on my folded knees, which lifted the tray above my head so I couldn’t reach anything on it. Not that I was hungry, ‘cause I wasn’t. I did manage to snag some soup and drink it out of the bowl a couple of times. Once the massive muscle spasms and throbbings in my right leg began to subside (the neurosurgeon had had to cut through the muscles of my right leg in order to have at the clumped-up discs), I was able to lose some of the pillows under my legs, and the bed back could be lowered some, so that by the time I felt like eating something, I could actually get at it.

Then there were the other fun things that happened. During any surgery, I guess they have to stick tubes down your throat and tape your face to the operating table. Well . . . ten hours is a long surgery, and my throat didn’t react too well to having that stupid tube stuck down it for so long. There was a whole lot of coughing going on for quite a while. That was nothing to the worms on my face, though. I guess my skin had reacted to the tape they’d used to tie me down, and my face itched. When I reached to scratch, felt big, wormy lumps. I asked a nurse about them (I LOVE nurses), and she said, “Oh, you just had a reaction to the tape. We’ll give you some Bacitracin, and you rub it on, and those rashes will go right away.” She was right, bless her.

I think people visited me, although I’m not sure. I spent the first two days in ICU, weak as a sick kitten, mainly because I’d become grossly anemic. Had to have three blood transfusions. Lemme tell you, when you’re that anemic, even lifting an eyelid is a chore.

After my blood count and blood pressure (which kept shooting into the stratosphere) leveled off, they moved me to another room, and I remained with the hoi-polloi until Marcia and Larry came to pick me up on September 17. My instructions for recovery were simple: walk and rest. Easy-peasy. Until I fell over some doggie steps and landed, WHOMP, on the surgery site on my right leg. I had the most gynormous hematoma you can possibly imagine from that piece of idiocy. It was so big, it pooched out my ever-so-fashionable muu-muu. My wonderful friend Patricia took me to the ER here in Roswell, where I was X-rayed and found to be still in one piece. The following Thursday I had an appointment with the neurosurgery folks in Albuquerque, to which my cousin Lois and (again) Patricia accompanied me. I couldn’t drive ‘cause of the drugs. Since I obviously couldn’t even walk, this was a wise precaution. The neurosurgery assistant took out the staples holding my back together, so now I have a little, albeit quite long, set of railroad tracks running up my lower back. I’m trying to decide if a tattoo will add anything to the gorgeosity of my scar.

Then last Thursday Lois drove me to the neurosurgeon (Google her if you don’t believe me when I tell you she’s a 16-year-old Austrian. Her name is Martina Stippler, and she’s fabulous) Dr. Stippler found I’m doing quite well, everything’s holding together, and she was particularly pleased with the way I could bounce right up out of chairs and stuff. Guess all that exercising I used to do did something besides ruin my body. I still can’t fetch my 25-pound dog, Giblett, from Kari in Fort Stanton, because I’m not supposed to lift more than ten pounds, and Giblett, due to a genetic malformation, has to be lifted. He comes with a handle (his harness) but he still weighs more than I’m allowed to lift. I’m sorry, Kari, although I know Giblett’s having a wonderful time with you. The best news they gave me, however, during that visit was that I am not to begin an exercise program yet, but to “walk and rest.” I can do that :-)

Then, late in September, something totally dreadful happened to my winner-picking-wiener dog, Rosie. I don’t know what it was, but she came into the house one afternoon with her face smashed in. Honest to God, it was horrible. Up until that time, Rosie had been a happy, healthy, jolly 14-year-old wiener dog. But I had to have her put to sleep. Broke my heart. I held her in a soft blanket while she was sedated, and then, when she went to sleep, they gently moved her to the table, and I petted her while the doctor injected her. Lord, it was awful. I miss Rosie SO MUCH. I’ve looked over every inch of my back yard (which has a six-foot fence around it) and can find nothing to account for the state of Rosie’s face. She looked as if someone had hit her with a sledge hammer.

Um, what else . . . Honestly, the surgery and its aftermath sort of took precedence over most other things in my life, although I was pleased that both FALLEN ANGELS (mystery category) and GENTEEL SPIRITS (historical novel category) are finalists in the New Mexico Book of the Year Awards Contest. Since I belong to the George C. Scott school of contest appreciation, it took some overcoming for me even to enter the books, but I did it anyway, and I aim to go to the banquet on November 16, too, what’s more. Another dachshund-rescue lady, Janet Johnson, is attending the banquet with me, and it should be fun. I don’t expect to win, as my books aren’t what you might call mainstream fiction, but it’ll still be fun, and it’s delightful to meet other authors and stuff.

Then there’s the book I’ve been writing all year long. Unfortunately, there have been huge gaps in between the times I can work on it, because every other week or so I’ve had a surgical procedure or had to go to Albuquerque (have I mentioned that Albuquerque is 200 miles away from where I live, and there are NO specialists in Roswell? Well, it is and it’s true. Grumble). Fortunately for me, two fabulous women whom I’ve only met on-line, Lynne Welch (former RWA Librarian of the Year) and Sue Krekeler (teacher extraordinaire and, thank God, reader and editor) have agreed to beta-read SPIRITS REVIVED, so I can maybe finish the stupid book when I’m able to sit down and DO it. There are so many wonderful people in the world. On the news we hear about the creeps, but not everyone is a creep, thank God!

Oh, and several of my books are being made into audiobooks! With luck, they’ll be available on eventually. So I guess life isn’t all throbbing pain and grief over lost dogs, although there’s still a lot of that going on.

And I’m holding a contest this month! I skipped last month because I was recovering, but I’ll be giving away copies of GENTEEL SPIRITS and FALLEN ANGELS. What the heck. If you want to enter, just send me your name and home address ( and I’ll throw your name into my special contest doggie dish. Not sure who’s going to take over winner-picking duties from Rosie, but someone will do it, I’m sure.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Travails of August

The Travails of August

This is going to be my last blog for a while, because I’m having lumbar surgery on September 11, and will be recovering for several weeks after that. And probably sore and grumpy. Maybe even really, really grouchy, mean-tempered and hateful. However, some interesting things happened during August, and one of them was even good. I’ll start with the mayhem.

On the 15th the cataract that developed when I recovered from the surgery to reattach my left retina got removed. Yay! That required a two-day stay in Albuquerque. I'm really sick of driving back and forth to Albuquerque. Still can’t see very well, but the surgery went well, and I’ll be able to get corrective glasses one of these weeks. The surgery was NOT painless, no matter what they tell you. Well . . . actually, the next day when I went in for my follow-up appointment, a little old lady sitting in the lobby said hers was totally painless, so maybe it was just me. The eye still bothers me some, but it’s only been a couple of weeks, and I’ll survive. Whether those around me will is another question entirely, although I’d better be nice to them since they’ll be taking care of me after my back surgery. I hope to heaven I’ll be knocked out completely for the back surgery.

And then, shortly after the cataract operation, Freckles, my latest foster wiener, managed to nearly rip a toenail off somehow (I was at the grocery store at the time so didn't see it happen). I came home with grocery bags, and there was blood all over the place. I couldn’t tell which dog was hurt (due to the aforementioned semi-blindness) so I called my dear neighbor, she came over, and we discovered it was Freckles doing the bleeding. So I took her to the vet, she had an operation, stayed overnight, and came home with a cone around her neck. If you’ve never seen a dachshund in a cone, it’s worth a look. Here she is:

After that, all seemed well for a few days, until Freckles went bananas and tried to murder poor little Bella, the most timid of my herd. Bella and Bam-Bam came to me from a puppy mill in Texas, and they’re both quite shy dogs. Freckles meant business, and Bella went to the hospital on Monday morning. Why do disasters always happen on weekends? Anyhow, it’s now Thursday, July 30, and Bella’s STILL in the hospital. I have to go to Albuquerque for another blankety-blank eye appointment tomorrow, so I won’t be able to pick her up until Saturday morning. I’ve been visiting her, though, and she’s a real mess. She has more than twenty holes in her poor little butt. The vet’s been giving her pain meds and antibiotics. Sigh. God alone knows how much this will cost. But Bella’s worth it. Truly. Really. Honest. As for Freckles, she’s now in another foster home in Fort Stanton, New Mexico, where she’s being closely watched, and we’re trying to find a home where she’ll be the only dog.

But then something good actually happened! A fellow author and friend, Jackie Griffey, told me some of her books were coming out in audiobook format and will be available on I was fascinated, since I’ve longed for years to have my books available in audiobook format (I listen to audiobooks all the time because of hideous arthritis and . . . well, semi-blindness). Jackie told me what to do to get my books considered for Audible, and I went and did it! I uploaded all my Daisy Gumm Majesty books and most of my Mercy Allcutt books to a place called ACX. What you do when you’re an author-type person is upload your book’s information and then wait until a narrator gets interested and auditions to narrate the book. I figured it would take months and months and probably nobody would want to audition. I mean, I’m not Nora Roberts or Stephen King, y’know?

However . . . ta-da! The very next day someone auditioned for ANGEL’S FLIGHT. The narrator wasn’t awfully good, but I was pleased she was interested. And then, by gum, other people began auditioning! I found someone I think is going to be excellent to do my Daisy books. I have no idea how long this process will take, but I suspect months, if not years.

And THEN, by golly, an old, old friend (okay, he’s younger than I am, but almost everyone is these days), Jim Hull, who’s a voice-over artist and who narrates books for the Braille Institute, said he’d be willing to narrate one of my books as an experiment if I had one that could use a male narrator. So I sent him SIERRA RANSOM (an historical romance novel set during the California Gold Rush), he did a great job, and he’s going to narrate that book!

In the meantime, since I’ll be out of it and not able to fiddle with my rotten, lousy hair after my surgery, I got a permanent. I now look like an elderly French poodle with truly, TRULY stupid smile. I really ought to remember to wear makeup when somebody’s going to take my picture. Sigh. But at least I’m eventually going to have some books available in audio!