Okay, so for those of you who don’t know … I live in the deep woods of northern Maine. It’s beautiful. It’s quiet. It’s remote. It’s still winter! The joke where I live is that we have four seasons: Almost winter, Winter, Still Winter, and the Fourth of July. I didn’t grow up here. In southern Maine where I grew up (5 hours south of here) winter is icky, but not horrible!

For nearly twenty years I’ve lived here and endured. But this winter we broke all snow records. I think in the end we got 16 feet (488 cm) or so. And then to add insult to injury we broke temperature records the first Monday of spring with a record temperature of -14F (-26C)! Aren’t we the lucky ones? So today are thirteen reasons I’m sick of winter!

1. Swim lessons are going to be really chilly.

2. I’m tired of grocery shopping with the dogsled. I’d like to take my van.

3. This is the machine that caused sooo many problems over the last few months. It’s time to put it away and keep me safe!


4.  I’d like to have running water again!

5. The poor kids are climbing the walls. (Little boy blue is 6′ 5″ … this will give you an idea of how much snow is on my front lawn … do you feel bad for me yet?)


6. I can’t remember what the paint looks like on my walls:

7. My aquarium needs to thaw.

8. I’d like to drive on tar again.


9. Because this is so wrong:


10.  I want to see my front lawn again.


11. Let’s face it … I’m just tired of seeing white. A little green and some colorful flowers would be welcome!

12. Because even the birds are tired of the winter.

13. I think my neighbor said it best…


Okay, so obviously all these pictures didn’t come from my yard. (Though the bulk of them are the actual snow sitting in my yard.) But you get the idea. Pray for me … snow and rain are expected to come in this weekend.


Okay, but I won’t be here. I’m heading south to Boston for the weekend where I hear rumors of green grass and budding trees. Oh, one can only hope!

So I’m extremely happy to share with you the review from Night Owl Romance for The Healer’s Garden. Lisa at NOR gave it a 4.5/5 and said this:

“This wonderful fantasy culture where women are dominant and men disrespected is a very interesting twist and carries a strong plot well. Strong characters, their struggles with ethics, justice, and morality, coupled with excellent dialogue and attention to detail, make this book a fantastic fantasy read! The sex scenes were very well written – so hot, Hot, HOT!!!! Get the air coolers running!”

But even more exciting is that she gave it a Reviewer’s Top Pick rating! w00t! w00t!

So that’s some wonderful news that I needed in the middle of my week from h**l! This is the week I’ve been dreading for months. And things seem to be chugging along. Clothes are being sorted for my trip and last night Little Boy Blue and I went through the packing list and got the bulk of it done for him. Yay! Today… I pack.

Notice in the middle of all this I haven’t mentioned writing.

Sven isn’t very happy with me. If I’d been doing what was recommended I would have already written approximately 40,000 words since beginning this challenge. Ummm… you’re kidding me right?

I’m not sure I’ve even reached the 5,000 word mark. (Of course I think you’re supposed to count editing which I’ve been through 90,000 with the Tilling Passions Series, but I’m not counting editing… seems like cheating. 😉 )

But everything is a learning experience. What works for some doesn’t work for everyone. Sven is supposed to make you accountable for your writing. But all it has done is make me feel bad. And that is just not right.

Having other people looking over my shoulder (which they’re not really doing) isn’t motivating me to sit at my computer and work on my novella. For some this works, just not me.

What is going to push me through is the fact that by the end of this month two other authors are expecting that my novella will be finished and all three of us will be going into edits. I hate to let people down. So it will all come together. I’m not really stressing about it. But my story is the last thing on my mind when I fall asleep and the first thought filtering through my dreams in the morning. And this I’ve discovered … is how I write books.

I think it was Hemmingway who said “writing is 90% thinking and about 10% actual typing”. Or something along those lines. It definitely applies to my own writing journey. Cole and Jada (ohh, I just found her name… I’ve been wrestling with this) are going to tell me their story at their own pace and not Sven or his cronies are going to make that happen any faster.

Sweating with Sven is wonderful for some people. He just doesn’t do anything for me.

So what motivates you to get something finished?

So I woke up this morning with my feet hitting the ground and my muscles already working my legs in a dead run. *sigh* It’s one of those weeks in my life that I’d just like to wish away and that’s just an awful thing to say. But, come on … it’s happened to you too. 

Baby girl celebrates her 19th birthday this weekend which means shopping and wrapping gifts and dinner out (around work schedules) and cake and ice cream. Which would probably be all right if I had a clue what to get her for her birthday. Shopping today … party tomorrow.

I’ve also been invited to a last minute bridal shower. My opportunities to socialize are few and far between and though this will be fun, it also is happening today. I still can’t decide if I’m going to go. That will be a last minute decision!

DH leaves Monday for a rare trip away for a work related convention. (Rare as in … he’s done this maybe one other time.) He’s going to Long Beach, California where I’ve never been and I’m a tad jealous. That aside, this means making sure he has all the work clothes cleaned and the shampoo and toothpaste and that kind of stuff we share. Plus there’s the whole traveler check/cash/banking kind of stuff that needs to be done.

In the middle of all this we need to get the week’s groceries gathered since I can’t do it by myself and I need to shop for comfortable outfits for myself for my own trip away. Because at the end of next week I’m headed off to my very first writing conference. It’s 7 hours of driving from my home … 5 of which I have to do by myself (booorring!) before hooking up with other writers for the tail end of the trip. 

At the same time Little Boy Blue is getting ready for a five day trip to New York with the high school band. So there’s the whole getting him ready this week as well. And I won’t be here to put him on the bus at 5 am and DH will still be in California, so Baby Girl has to get him there which makes me feel guilty beyond belief.

This week I came really close to cancelling out of the writer’s conference. I’ve never been and so I don’t know what I’d be missing. But I do feel the need to do some schmoozing with editors, agents, and other writers, so I stopped thinking of that as a possibility.

Anyway, all this is just overwhelming me. If only any one or several of these things wasn’t happening at the same time. There’s was a time when this stuff happened and I just took it in stride. But with the MS it is just about driving me over the edge of insanity! Shopping kills me. I’m good for about 40 minutes and then I schlepp back to the car. And it takes at least an hour or two to recover and be able to walk again. Urr! It’s all so darn frustrating.

Now, don’t misunderstand … I am married to an amazing man who is totally wonderful about my disability. Normally, he does the grocery shopping, but the birthday stuff … well, I’m a mom … I want to do that. And he certainly can’t buy clothes for me! LOL!

I feel like it’s finals week in college and the papers are due and the test schedule is stressing me out. But there’s no way around this week. I’m not going to wish it away because life is too short to do that.

I’m pulling myself up by the proverbial bootstraps and putting one foot in front of the other. (Hear the trumpets sounding!) Charge!

So, for the first time since I started this blog… I have nothing to say. LOL! People who know me have just fainted. I am a woman who always has something to say! But today I’ve decided to just ramble. I have things I’ve been thinking about but nothing is gelling into a complete post… You’ve been warned.

This week I took Little Boy Blue to the doctors–again. The poor kid has had a cough since before Christmas. Even the doctor is shaking her head having no idea how to fix him, but knowing there is more to this cough than the common cold. 🙁  He’s now on his second round of antibiotics, but even with the inhalers it doesn’t seem to be the magic to fix him. As a mom I’d like to just make him better especially when he coughs so hard he brings up whatever’s in his stomach.

I believe that little trip to the doctor’s office made me sick. Yippy-Skippy. Having MS means that my immune system works overtime. I rarely get sick. Unfortunately when I do it hits me like a Mac truck. This common cold has worked its way into my muscles and makes me ache all over. My chest feels like an anvil is sitting on it and my head is so muddled I can barely think. Which is really bad when you’re in edits.

Yep, that’s right. I was assigned a new editor and after frantic emails to her over why certain words were being deleted from my manuscript she patiently explained she had deleted incorrect homonyms (like illicit and ellicit or dual and duel or shoot and chute) and replaced them with correct words not completely erased them. *DUH* Since it’s a new relationship I hope she doesn’t think I’m a complete idiot. I’m not member of Mensa… but I hate it when I make myself look stupid. Anyway, first round of edits are done. I expect the cover by the end of this month and hopefully Blind Love will be released next month. I love that aspect of electronic publishing.

Because of edits I wrote only 1261 words out of 7000 this week. That and I’m not sure I was ready to start a new story. At one point I threw my hands up in the air and opened my very first story. The reality is… I should trash the thing. But I love the hero and heroine in this story. It’s a sweet love story set in northern Maine. I think people will enjoy reading, but mining the story from the horrible writing may be more work than I can handle. It’s definitely more than I can handle with a cold. Needless to say, I closed that manuscript and tucked it in the back corner of my computer once again.

I signed off on my taxes this week. That’s a relief. My finance guy is awesome, but it took me several weeks of dragging my feet before I got him all the receipts and tax statements. But they’re done. Of course I still need to sit down with Baby Girl and Little Boy Blue and help them with theirs. Not a daunting task. Just annoying. The mail is hanging over my head as well. I hate going through it and recycling the envelopes and shredding the credit card apps. It’s a pain in the butt. I’ve decided I need a personal secretary.

I’m gearing up for the convention season. It’s not that I’m going to that many, but I would like to have promo materials go with other people. So that means thinking about the best marketing plan for my books. *sigh* I’d love to get my own publicist.

The convention I’m going to in Boston next month has this “fun” dressup night. Huh? Dressing up is never fun in my opinion. I won’t share with you why I have to be careful about clothing, suffice it to say, it’s a nuisance for someone with MS. Then there’s the whole shoe issue. *sigh* And forget having to go to the mall to find clothes. It takes me days to warm up to the thought of schlepping through stores and trying on clothes. 

So today I’ve promised myself I’ll get through the mail and do the kid’s taxes. I hate having things hanging over my head. The clothes shopping will just have to wait until this cold has run its course and I’m at least feeling human.  

And if you’re curious… we’ve reached the record for the second snowiest winter. But we need another foot and a half to break the all time record of 180″. With more snow coming in today we expect to creep closer to breaking that record.

I hope everything is going well in your corner of the world.

**Addendum: We ended up with 2 inches of ice and now snow coming down at a steady clip on top of that. Didn’t look bad until Little Boy Blue headed out for work and couldn’t get the wheels to do anything but spin in the driveway. He ended up taking the snowmobile to work… ah, the thrill of living in northern Maine. (Though upstate New York and Ohio looked like that got absolutely clobbered!)

So stop me if you’ve heard this one…

The sun glistened like diamonds on the new snow. Whisps of white filtered across the otherwise flawless canvas of the sky. And DH says, “You ready to go for a ride?” 

What? You’ve heard this before?

LOL! Oh, no, sometimes I do stoopid things (okay I do a lot of stoopid things), but I’m not brain dead. I did not get on a snowmobile this weekend! The man and I went on a road trip in a very safe car to Little Boy Blue’s basketball tournament.

It was a fun day and the boys’ drive and determination to win each game made me think of my own journey to publication.

In this tournament you played until you lost, then you were out. What impressed me was how these young men, even when they were behind kept pushing for the win. The second game for Little Boy Blue’s team was nerve wracking. They had several hours to stew over how they were outmatched.

But from the opening whistle they came out playing hard. The game was separated by a point or two through three periods, each team sharing the lead at different times throughout. But our home team fell apart at the beginning of the fourth period. The opposition scored several unanswered baskets until the team was 8 points behind with two minutes to go.

But did they give up? Nope. The coach rearranged the players and they stepped up their game, pulled it together and brought the score within 5 with a minute to go. Another basket and now they’re a 3 point shot away from a tie. But the opposition has the ball. With everything they have, they press the offense and steal the ball with 2 seconds left on the clock. They manage to tip it to one of their shooters and he goes up for the 3 pointer. A beautiful arcing shot that hangs in the air as the final buzzer sounds. Breathless, the crowd comes to their feet as the ball bounces around the rim, but doesn’t go in.

They lost. A hard fought game, but a bummer none the less.

So why do I mention this?

Writing and especially publication is a difficult journey to take. The decision to sit down and write a novel is one that takes years for some people to complete. Others, like me, fall into it.

It can seem so daunting to take the nugget of an idea and turn it into a complete story with twists and turns and characters that keep the reader turning the pages, but you persevere. Then you enter several contests and the judges have less than stellar comments about your novel. The score isn’t in your favor.

Back to the drawing board. Shuffle the players and send them out there again. You final in a contest, but receive your fourth rejection in a month.

It is so easy to give up and let the “other” team win. After all, they’re ahead and you feel the time slipping away. It would be less painful to slide those manuscripts under the couch and let them collect dust.

But how bad do you want it? Because as long as there’s time on the clock… you have a chance to achieve your dream. Keep pressing, keep believing… keep writing.

I’m proof that determination and perseverance helps you reach your dreams. One book published, two more under contract, but is the game over? Nope. I still want to hold one of my babies in my hands. I still want to have a booksigning. I still want to have a best seller.

I’m still in the tournament, playing hard to win. How about you?

Okay, Mother Nature. Enough is enough. Yesterday we got another foot of snow dumped on us. I’d like to say this picture is what I’m looking at out my window, but I have to thank Google for providing this image. But it’s so close to my back yard I couldn’t resist posting it here.

Beautiful? Yeah.

Annoying? You betcha!

The snowbanks are so tall (6-10 feet depending on how it’s piled) no one can see around them. Pulling out of a road is like a house of horror… you never know what’s coming at you. The towns are essentially running out of money, sand, and salt… so plowing isn’t done until the last flake falls. The roads have become a permanant white ribbon of hard packed ice, perfect for a horse drawn sleigh ride, not so hospitable for my little Honda.

Poor DH worked his usual 12 hours yesterday, schlepped home and spent about 3 hours snowblowing the drive. And of course, I can’t do anything more than stand in the window and cheer him on.

We have 4-5 feet of snow on the ground. More snow than we’ve had in the last 3 years combined. And… oh, fun! more snow is coming in all weekend (as in 3 days worth). I’m going to be buried until June!

Snow, snow disappear
Don’t come back for another year!
You’re cold and wet and not much fun,
I’d rather be basking in the sun!

But enough about the weather. This whole thing has made me wonder about the location of my stories. 5 novels into my career I realize I’ve set all but one of my stories in Maine. Why wouldn’t I? It’s what I know.

I did have one editor reject my novella saying that the story was good but the location didn’t pull her in. Huh. Got me to thinking. Do I read a book and pay attention to where I am or do I get so wrapped up in the characters that the location doesn’t matter? I didn’t used to read that way… now I do.

Now I understand that some stories like Sandra Brown’s Fat Tuesday (which is the first story that turned me on to her writing) need to be set in a specific locale. Her novel takes place in New Orleans and the location becomes another character. The heat and party atomosphere of Mardi Gras affect the story. It matters where they are. The plot is driven by the characters including the location.

But take Nicholas Spark’s The Notebook. Another winner. Love the book, love the movie… but I couldn’t tell you exactly where it all took place other than somewhere in the south.

So, do you care where the story is? Reading (especially romance) is a fantasy… I get that. It’s an opportunity to be drawn away from your world into some place new, exciting, perhaps a little scary. When you pick up a book do you want to be carried away to exotic places or is it the people that draw you in? Perhaps a balance of the two?

Because now, I’m curious.

Many people have already assessed their lives, looked back over the past year and set about making goals for the coming year. And though I am not usually a procrastinator it usually takes me a full month after the holidays to process where I’ve been and where I’m going.

So here it is February 1st and I’ve decided it’s time to mull over what I’ve accomplished and set goals to fulfill in the months ahead. Being raised Catholic, I don’t usually write these down as it means there’s lots of guilt associated with not completing a task and I carry enough of that for everything from eating fish on Fridays during lent to sleeping in on Sunday mornings. So in that vain, you won’t be privy to them.

Well, what did I accomplish in 2007? There are many things, not the least of which was seeing one of my books published. I’d share the rest of them with you, but they make a pitiful list of accomplishments. Not that I’m not proud of what I did, but it just didn’t seem like much in view of the fact that I had 365 days at my disposal and though I felt busy through nearly everyone of them it appears I treaded water most of the time! 

So what do I hope to accomplish in 2008? There are many goals, not the least of which is finding the balance between my writing schedule and the rest of my life. Laundry, dishes, dusting, and grocery shopping seem to be taking a distant back seat to my time at the computer. My husband has taken to working long hours and my children have learned to entertain themselves and forage for their own food. This is sooo not good!

There are several writing goals I have in mind, but I’m sticking to my guns and won’t be writing them down. Suffice it to say, you’ll know through my celebrations when I can mentally check one off or through my lamentations when I need to step back, reaccess or step up and accomplish what I set out to do.

So turning that first page on 2008 has made me finally pony up to bar and take a long hard look at the coming months. But let’s be honest here… mostly turning the page means I’m one month closer to summer and that is even more satisfying than goal setting any day!

Okay, I can’t post today without first making note of what a tragic ending Heath Ledger had to his life. The man was only 28 with a young child. News reports state that he is best known for his role in “Broke Back Mountain”, but I fell in love with him in “10 Things I Hate About You” and “A Knight’s Tale”. Both are wonderful, fun, family movies. Though I’m not a star-watcher, I do find it sad and a little disconcerting that young people in Hollywood seem to be imploding at an alarming rate. How and Why he died will be the fodder for entertainment programs for years to come. Somehow I think they’ll miss the fact that this man grew up with a family in Australia and there are parents and siblings mourning his passing. It’s just such a tragedy. I’m just saying…

Okay, shake that off.

So, I’m working on Meghan’s story and delving into new territory that has me scratching my head. I dont mind this. It means a little diversion from writing to plunge into research. Yay!

Did I mention I was a geek in school? I love learning. (I have a head full of useless information that isn’t quite broad enough for Jeopardy! but certainly can raise eyebrows at a dinner party.) So doing research is right up my alley. I’m not very efficient at maneuvering the internet so I often take wrong turns and end up spending time reading material meant for doctoral thesis research… no seriously. I’ve done that before.

My CP and I argue… I mean have lively debates… on whether research for crimes or historical facts is more time consuming. But a reader can get pulled from your story just as quickly whether you’ve put your heroine in the wrong undergarments in medival times or your cop hero does something at a crime scene that just wouldn’t happen. 

Now history was never a subject that tripped my trigger, but I loooove reading historicals. I take for granted that the information the author is feeding me is accurate.

But throw me into a science fiction story where the science is wrong and I’m like… unh unh… don’t even go there with me dear author. I’ll give them one pass, but if it persists, the book goes back to the library unread. (I refuse to watch “Little Nemo” because it is filled with inaccurate information… and I’m not talking about fantasy stuff… I love Disney’s talking animals… actual stuff that just doesn’t happen in nature. But I digress…)

Which then made me wonder. How many times are you willing to suspend belief of fact in a book, before you throw in the towel? (And I’m not talking about two strangers falling in love in 20 pages… I write romance people… allow me to keep that fantasy.) I just wondered how important is it that the author has done her research? or is it something you simply take for granted?

Okay, the secret is out… I have a split personality. I’ve tried to hide it, but then thought, oh what the heck? come out of the closet and let people know.

I write romantic suspense under the name Kara Dunn and erotic suspense under the pseudonym Nina Pierce. I wanted to keep them totally separate, not let them play with each other as the case may be, but eh hem… nope, they wouldn’t have any of it. They each have their very own distinct website, but blogging? Well, they just wanted to do it together.

Which means, when you stop by this blog there could be posts on writing or something new on erotica or just ramblings about my family or where I live.

Actually, it’s nice to stop pretending that Nina is some wanton 20-something sex kitten. (Oh, shoot, just blew her cover!)  Or that Kara doesn’t have a very healthy sex life. (Married to my high school sweetheart for 23 years… umm, yeah, we still tango… but don’t tell the kids!)

Anyway, it’s nice to have it out there. It gets a bit confusing now and again trying to remember who’s name should be signed at the bottom of the email. But it’s nice to know, here, at my own blog, I don’t have to think about it, I just can be “us”!