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Surfacing

4 Feb

Hi all. Wow, it’s been a while! I apologize for my lengthy absence. Life is always a bit insane, but I got really swamped and had to let a few things wash away for a while until I could get through the holidays and get my nose above the deluge.

Because, you know, breathing is pretty vital. And I struggled to find time to draw breath, let alone maintain my social media.

At any rate, I shall try to pop in more regularly and get the website updated.

Take care!

Black Friday or Cyber Monday?

22 Nov

I admit that I have gone shopping on Black Friday before, usually later in the day when all the craziness has worn off. But I have a very few times gone shopping in the wee hours of the morning with all the other Black Friday patrons, trying to get that special item at that ridiculously low price.

However, I quit shopping on Black Friday when I discovered Cyber Monday. Now that’s a shopping experience one of my heroines, Andromeda Miller (Finding Refuge), can really support. She’s thrifty and a great bargain hunter, but the idea of standing in line for hours on end, in the dark and possible cold, in order to score some good deals just doesn’t compute for her.

Shopping online, while wearing pajamas and sipping hot cocoa in the living room is my idea of a great way to spend money. Andri would find plenty of support for not hitting the stores on Black Friday from her hero, Travis. Travis’s mother, however, is a different matter. She attends Black Friday every year with her sisters, more for the festive tradition of it all than for actual shopping, though plenty of shopping ends up done anyway.

As I drove by the long lines of folks camped out in front of stores, awaiting the Black Friday sales, I could just imagine Andri ticking off reasons for Cyber Monday in my head: It’s greener, you might be able to score even better deals, it’s definitely easier, and you can do it all from the comfort of a warm house.

Do you shop on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or both? Leave a comment with your email address for a chance to win a $10 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card from me. This also puts you in the Black Friday Blog Hop Grand Prize drawing. Here’s a list of the prizes:

1st Grand Prize: A Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet

2nd Grand Prize: A $75 Amazon or B&N Gift Card

3rd Grand Prize: A Swag Pack that contains paperbacks, ebooks, 50+ bookmarks, cover flats, magnets, pens, coffee cozies, and more! (USA only)

Comment at other blogs on the hop for additional chances to win a grand prize as well as giveaways on other blogs. Good luck, and whatever shopping you’re doing this weekend, stay safe!

Continue the Hop by clicking here:  Black Friday Blog Hop

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

22 Nov

Hmmm, there’s a layer of dust on the old blog. I’ve been away for a while, and until I get some things settled in regular life, I can’t guarantee I’ll post very often in the next few weeks. But I did want to take a moment and wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! (Yes, I know some of you are not Americans, but just go with it. Thanksgiving is as much a state of mind as it is a historical remembrance.)

I love this holiday. It’s relaxing. Especially this year, where it worked out that we are staying home and no extended relatives are coming here. I can’t recall the last time we had a Thanksgiving day with just the nuclear family and I’m really looking forward to it.

I am thankful for so much in my bountiful life. I have a dear husband and great kids, wonderful friends, and a career that I love. I have gained readers this year, for whom I am exceedingly grateful. I live in a place free of war, where there is plentiful food, clean water, and warm housing. I am free to follow my dreams and to worship as I please. Life is good, and I am blessed.

I wish all the best for you and yours, for today and for always. Off I go to put in the turkey!

What are you most thankful for?

Emerging from Life Stuff and a New Paperback!

7 Nov

Wow, I’ve been away for a while. Sorry about that! Life sort of exploded on me and required uninterrupted attention to put everything back to normal, so the blog, my twitter, and my Facebook page all went lacking for love.

It was a lot of slogging through unexpected things that all had to be done right-this-minute, mixed in with the Helvetican’s birthday, Halloween, nonfiction writing for the other half of my writerly existence, replacing my printer that died when Mercury slipped into retrograde, and topped by making a ball gown for the Princess in two days.

Two. Days.

Satin bodice. Tulle skirt. (McCall’s pattern #M6466)

36 yards of tulle in six layers.

Finished just in time for the dance. I’ll have to upload a photo of the dress because I don’t think the Princess wants to be on my blog.

Yes, I am still reeling from the slight loss of sanity. But hey, now you know why I’ve been missing in action!

New on the writing front: I pulled the ebook of Finding Refuge from wide distribution and went exclusive to Amazon for the next three months. This poor book has had a tough time finding an audience. It’s had great reviews, but sold poorly at Amazon, dismally at Barnes & Noble, and didn’t sell at all elsewhere. So, in a bid to jumpstart its visibility, I went for the exclusive.

Due to the change, I can now offer Finding Refuge for a three-day FREE run, starting tomorrow, 11/8 and running through 11/10. If you don’t have a copy already, this will be an excellent time to pick it up. Just click on the book cover to the right…

Also…Finding Refuge is now available in paperback!  YAY! It’s so pretty, see?

So far, it is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, but it should be up on Books A Million and other bookseller websites within a couple of weeks.

Well, that catches us up to current on my side. Anything exciting going on in your world these days?

Exploring Yellowstone in the Fall

19 Oct

The last week really got away from me. The Helvetican and I went to Yellowstone for our anniversary trip. Most everything inside the park was closed for the season, and the town of West Yellowstone, where we stayed, was clearly wrapping up the tourist season too. Some of the restaurants were closed and several shops advertised clearance sales. However, having been to Yellowstone during the regular season and now, in the off-season, I much prefer going when there’s not so many other people around. It’s much quieter and the pace is slower. Good stuff.

My trip didn’t end on such a grand note, due to food poisoning the last night that made the drive home the next day a bit uncomfortable and exhausting, and left me kinda under the weather all week. But let’s not let that get in the way of good memories. On to the photos!

One of the great things about visiting Yellowstone in the fall is that you can look around the park as you’re driving and see steam rising from all the thermal features in the park. It’s amazing to see. However, it made taking photos of said features a bit tricky.

Emerald Pool is one of the many colorful thermal pools in the Yellowstone caldera. Most of them were impossible to photograph because in the cold air, the rising steam obscured the colors.

One of the many bubbling mudpots in the park. Many are reduced to hissing out steam rather than frothing with mud due to lower water/mud levels this time of year.

 

I got a kick out of this mudpot. Found in the Artist’s Paint Pots area, this one looks like bright white paint bubbling in the ground.

 

Definitely don’t want to jump in this pool for a soak. See the boiling going on there?

Got close to a bison just off the road. A good-sized herd of probably 50 bison, including babies, were fording this river, two at a time, for grazing hills on the other side. Reminds me of Peg-leg! (see Mending Fences)

There is a craggy canyon carved through one section of Yellowstone, where the river has been busy wearing away rock for millennia. This is the Upper Falls in that canyon.

Around a bend in the river/canyon, is another, the Lower Falls.

I met these two cuties at the lookout for the Lower Falls. The tree roots they’re playing on have had the ground eroded from below. There’s a drop almost straight to the bottom of the canyon beneath these cute critters.

Here’s the Helvetican! He brought his little telescope to better enjoy the features of the canyon.

This pretty elk stopped traffic to grab a bite along the road.

 

One of my favorite parts of the trip was a visit to the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone. The wolves living in their packs are gorgeous animals. I loved getting so close to them, separated via a platform a few feet in the air and an electric fence. Apparently, if you stay in the hotel across the street, you can hear them howl at night.

That’s probably enough photos for now. I didn’t post geyser photos, mainly because there are photos of Old Faithful everywhere online. I may post more on here later, but at some point, it becomes rather like the old days of friends inviting you over to watch their home movies, you know?

Have you been to Yellowstone? What was your favorite sight?

Lucy’s Monday Musings & Heading for Yellowstone

8 Oct

It’s 11pm on Monday, and I’m FINALLY getting a chance to sit and catch my breath. Oy, what a weekend! The Helvetican had a few days off, but ended up sick. Poor thing. And you know, I love men, but they are the worst patients when they get sick…

Oh, come on, you know it’s true.

So, in addition to playing Nurse Lucy, I edited two magazine issues (only one of which I expected to land in my lap), and dealt with son #4. What’s his problem? He hates high school. Here’s a kid who is popular, smart, athletic…the kind of kid who is supposed to float through high school, everything going his way, everyone adoring him. He has all of that, and he doesn’t want it. For two years, he’s wanted to be be done already, free to move on to college. Now, as a senior, when he’s supposed to be having fun and breezing through his last year, he’s decided to bear down and earn credits outside of the regular school day so he can graduate early, at mid-year.

I admire his determination, but I’m not sure I’m ready to deal with a kid who wants to buck the system…especially since it will cost a pretty penny to get those extra credits. I like the school year to run in an orderly fashion, and he’s shaking it up. I have to remind myself that it could be far worse. He could have decided to simply drop out. Yeah, given that option, I think I’ll just happily take paying for extra credits for a kid who’s finally driven to do something.

So, it’s been a very full few days. Tonight finished off with a scramble: grocery store, running several loads of laundry, attempting to check in online. I have to ensure that the kids are all set with whatever they might need before I leave in the morning. The Helvetican and I are heading off to Yellowstone for a couple of days. It’s our anniversary trip, and I plan to unplug, unwind, and enjoy.

Take care of yourself, have a lovely week, and I’ll be back on Friday with lots of cool (I hope) vacation photos!

Happy Anniversary! Lucy’s Real Romance

5 Oct

Today is my wedding anniversary! After raising five kids with my Helvetican Hero, you can imagine how many crazy, fun, dramatic stories I have stuffed in my memory. But the best story of all is how we ended up together.

I was divorced and dating a few different guys. One particular guy was introduced to my profile by the woman running the dating service we’d both joined a few months earlier. This pre-dated online matchmaking, and while a computer would suggest members with similar interests within a particular age range, we still had to look through binders full of hand-written profiles and photos. I had already viewed his profile, really liked what I saw, and had given permission for him to contact me. He liked my profile as well and called me one week before my birthday.

We talked for an hour on the first call. He asked me out and we met for dinner and a long walk a few days later. By the time he sent flowers to my office the next day, I was hooked. We talked every night on the phone for hours, because we lived in different cities and getting together was tricky.

He had other plans on my birthday, but he called me late that night, and as we talked, the conversation turned serious. Suddenly, the perfect moment struck, and he asked me to marry him.

I’d known him a week. We’d seen each other one night. I hadn’t even kissed him yet. But I knew. Lightning had struck, and I just knew.

I said yes.

Oh, I did finally kiss him when I saw him the next day. A lack of chemistry would have been a deal-breaker, but when his lips touched mine…wow! Every nerve ending in my body hummed.

One month later, he picked me up and we eloped to Vegas. We were married by the Reverend Belinda Rhodes at the Little White Wedding Chapel, the one with the drive-through window. It was the start of an amazing ride together. And after all these years, he can still make me weak in the knees with a kiss.

I don’t recommend this approach to finding a mate to anyone else, because the list of ways it could’ve gone terribly wrong is a mile long. But for us, it worked.

Now you know why I write romance…because underneath the ups and downs and doldrums of regular life, I’m blessed to live Happily Ever After!

The Madness of My Yearly Roller Coaster

2 Oct

Everyone’s year comes with ups and downs. Sometimes that means a long period of a gentle, smooth ride with a few kiddie-thrill hills tossed in. Sometimes it means a year filled with corkscrews and double loops. Heaven help you if you’ve experienced the latter this year, and remember to count your blessings if it is the former.

However, a year for me always comes with two tracks. The first runs January 1 through about the third week of August. Anything can happen, of course, but generally it’s a pretty smooth ride from January until May, when madness and few races up and down hills hit due to that being the wrap-up for the school year and, lately, one child or another graduating. The track smooths out again for the summer, with an occasional car repair or holiday thrown in to make things interesting.

The new ride kicks in as August is fading, when I climb that first hill of getting kids back to school. The first hill is a doozy, chugging upward, multiple stories high, over those weeks until it crests on my birthday at the first part of September. The coaster train pauses there at the top for a little bit before plunging into the steep, terrifyingly fast maze of twists and turns that make up the remainder of the year.

Between my birthday and New Year’s Day, life is littered with family birthdays, my wedding anniversary, and the three biggest holidays of the year (the biggest we celebrate, anyway). I learned long ago that once my birthday hits, I have to just hold on and try to occasionally catch my breath, because it’s going to be the end of the year before I know it.

I’m in the middle of the most maddening section right now, the triple-barrel-roll-loop formed by having three of my children’s birthdays and my anniversary all within a 17-day period.

I expect the rest of the year to finish out with more than the usual frenetic pacing. I’m packing additional stuff in there, including releasing Finding Refuge in paperback, publishing Taming Scrooge, and wrapping up the third book in the Heart’s Redemption series for release in January.

I clearly did not think through the timing of all that in conjunction with the rest of my life. But I will do what I always do as my roller coaster tears through the end of the year: Hold on tight, breathe, and enjoy the ride!

How does your year flow? Do you have an annual crazy section?

Burst of Happiness: A new review!

16 Sep

A lovely Sunday messed up by tender sinuses, stuffy ears, and assorted body aches can be salved by a few things… a thoughtful hubby who takes care of dinner and tucks me into bed… the DVR recording of last night’s new Doctor Who episode… and finding a great new review of Mending Fences. 4 Stars from Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews! Check it out here: http://www.guiltypleasuresbookreviews.com/2012/09/review-mending-fences-by-lucy-francis.html

Mother & Daughter Tradition

13 Sep

The Princess and I look forward to the week after Labor Day (September) every year. That’s the week the State Fair opens. We like looking at all the farm animals, petting the goats and sheep, cooing over the rabbits, admiring the many varieties of chickens on display. But there is truly just one reason she and I go to the fair: mehndi.

If you’re not familiar with mehndi, it is decorating the skin with a dye, like a temporary tattoo. It originated in India but is practiced in several countries and cultures. The design is drawn with henna. The henna dries on your skin, flakes off, and leaves behind a reddish-brown stain that will last up to a couple of weeks.

We got our first mehndis at Knotts Berry Farm in California. The Princess was six years old. A few years later, we discovered a mehndi artist with a booth at the State Fair, and we’ve returned to her every year since. We went last night for our 2012 editions and were invited to share naan and chicken curry with our artist when we finished. What a great time! This year, our designs incorporated Jagua, a natural fruit dye that leaves a bluish-black stain behind. Bi-color mehndi, woohoo! As a side note, don’t ever use ‘black’ henna. It is toxic and can severely damage and scar your skin. If you want a black design, use jagua.

Here is my design:

This is an hour or so after getting the design. The henna paste and jagua gel are still in place on my skin, with glitter added to make it even more fun.

This is my design today, the stain left behind after the henna and jagua flaked off. The henna will continue to darken until tomorrow, and over the next week, the jagua will likely fade to a lighter blue-gray.

Here is the Princess’s design:

For both designs, we asked the artist to make something up rather than pick something specific. The Princess did ask for the Nerdfighter slogan DFTBA in her design. It means Don’t Forget To Be Awesome.

Do you have a tradition with a parent or a child?

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