Wednesday, May 27, 2015

May 27, 2015

I had fully intended to give y’all an update on our trip in real time, as it was happening. Unfortunately, my laptop didn’t think that was a very good idea. Last Tuesday, when we were in south Texas, the computer “updated”. After that, getting on the internet at the hotel—at any hotel—just wasn’t happening. When I got home, I discovered that the laptop could be used online here just fine. So I’m going to take the thing in and have it looked at. Yes, even though I simply don’t seem to have very good luck with laptop computers. I have to at least try.

In the meantime, we had a fabulous trip. What a joy it was to be back in the United States—back in Texas! I love the United States and I especially love Texas—as you likely quessed since I have a soon-to-be 25 book series set in that state.

 I love Texans. I love their sense of getting ‘er done, no B.S. At least, many of the Texans I’ve come to know have that attitude. Step up, take responsibility, and move on. Love it.

Our initial two travel days, the first from home to the hotel in Buffalo, and then the second, the actual flying, went wonderfully well. On paper, we had nearly an hour and a half between flights. In reality, we got off the first plane and just a few minutes later boarded the second. But that was okay, since it meant we were all that much closer to Dallas.

We rented a car at the airport—I’d reserved one ahead—and had just one small miscue, but otherwise, we found our hotel without too much trouble. Fortunately we were on the road from airport to hotel just before afternoon rush hour.

In case you’re wondering, no, we didn’t rent a GPS with the car, nor did we take one with us. I’m going to file this under the heading of men not liking to ask for directions. Mr. Ashbury shook his head vehemently when the question arose at the rental agency, and I am ever the dutiful wife. That said, I can promise you going without modern technological navigational assistance is not a mistake I will make again. Next time I go to Texas, or anywhere I plan to rent a car, I am updating and taking my Garmin with me.

While in Dallas we stayed at the Belmont Hotel. We weren’t making an appearance at the RT Convention this year, but our hotel was only a 7 dollar cab ride away from where it was being held. I know that, because on Friday morning, I headed over to the Hyatt Regency to have breakfast with my good friend and fellow author and OWG alumnus, D. B. Reynolds. If you enjoy reading paranormal fiction, you absolutely must read her series, Vampires in America. The ninth book in the series came out at the end of March, and she’s hard at work on book number 10.

D. B. Reynolds is one of the most talented writers I know, bar none.

Friday and Saturday evening, we attended the “get together” for the street team of my good friend, Heather Rainier. Heather was gracious enough to allow me to tag along, as many of the people in her street team, are also in mine. For those wondering, a “street team” is the Internet equivalent of a fan club.

It was such a thrill for me to meet these wonderful women who read my books. It was truly an honor to get to hug them and chat with them and get to know them better. We all had a rollicking good time. Laughter absolutely abounded. I feel so very, very lucky. I not only get to do what I love, on a daily basis. Other people celebrate what I do. Thank you, Ladies and Divas for such a wonderful memory that will live in my heart forever.

On Sunday morning we headed out, destination what I call Rainier Land. We stayed in a hotel close to where Heather and her family live, and spent the next few days simply being together. We’re truly good friends, and a bonus for us both is that our husbands get along so very well. The men folk hadn’t seen each other for a couple of years. My beloved really respects Mr. Rainier. I was also very happy to see the younger Rainiers. What great kids!

Together, they’re a truly awesome and inspiring family.

Getting to spend several hours with my publisher was precious beyond words. This woman changed my life forever by saying “yes”. She has also never steered me wrong. I hold dear her words of advice. She’s not only a caring publisher, she’s business savvy. I’m honored to be one of her “Siren-exclusive” authors.

Mr. Tuffy was excited to see us when we came home, of course, and we were just as glad to see him, too. We’re unpacked, my beloved has returned to work, and the dog is “Tuffy on duty” on the front porch—when he’s not dozing on my writing desk. Memories of our time away are still vivid, and my heart is full to overflowing from the experience. Where I am right now is special, too.

As the song, and saying goes, be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

May 13, 2015

Later today we will be on our way to Texas, via Buffalo. Just about everyone we know who flies to the United States, flies from either Buffalo or Detroit, as opposed to flying out from Canada. We’ve always boarded our flights in Toronto in the past. Up until a few years ago, that pretty much guaranteed you’d be on a non-stop flight to wherever you were going.

But then, Canadian airlines began “partnering” with U. S. airlines, and so now for the most part Canadian flights into the States are tied into the hub system. There are still a few non-stop flights you can book out of Toronto, but not that many. But that’s not the reason we’re flying out of Buffalo.

It’s the $1,000 difference in the cost of air fare for this trip that decided us. I honestly couldn’t justify paying that much extra.

First, driving to Buffalo is only about a twenty minute travel difference, not counting the time at the border. Once in the Queen City, if we stay a night before our flight, and the night after our return flight at the same hotel, our car gets to be parked the entire time we’re gone, for free. Well, all right, not free, but the cost of the room includes the car parking, which for the same period in Toronto near to the airport would be 200 dollars all on its own (one of the reasons our daughter usually drives us to the airport and picks us up again).

The added bonus is that this plan reduces the stress of traveling, at least for me.

I am humbled that the reason we’re heading to Texas is for a joint gathering of mine, and Heather Rainier’s, Street Teams [the e-book equivalent of a fan club]. I’m so excited to get to meet these wonderful women. How cool is it that people will actually come together to meet me? The great fringe benefit, of course, is that I get to spend time with my good friend and fellow author, Heather Rainier and her family. I’m also going to get to see my publisher while I’m there as she is based in Texas!

Mr. Ashbury is coming with me, of course—though on my last visit to Texas he didn’t. That year—the year before last—he decided to take the girls on a trip instead. The main purpose of my visit then was to collaborate with Heather, which resulted in a book from each of us - another cross-over treat for our readers.

I’ve looked ahead to the weather and it looks like we’re going to see a fair bit of rain and possibly thunderstorms. I really don’t mind that so much, as there aren’t many places we’re planning to “see”. We visited a few tourist spots on our first trip to Dallas.

My beloved is hoping for good weather the day before we fly home, as we’ll be spending that day in San Antonio. He wants me to see the River Walk. The year I attended my first RT Convention as a published author, it was held in Houston. Once I was settled in at the hotel, he headed out to the airport—he was flying by himself to San Antonio, to see the Alamo. History buff that he is, it was one of the places on his “bucket list”. He came back excited about the city and wanted me to see it.

I’m praying that this is a really good trip for me. Issues that I’ve been dealing with, health-wise, over the last couple of years, seem to have settled down some. I’m very grateful, because nothing is worse than traveling when you’re not sure how you’re going to be on any given day.

That said, as tough as that was, I did the best I could, because really, everything is a decision. I believe with all my heart that you can either live your life reacting to your circumstances, or you can live your life on your own terms in spite of them.

I have already decided that I am going to have a wonderful time on this trip. I’ll be meeting face to face some of my most dedicated readers, I’ll be visiting with a family I love dearly, seeing my publisher again, and I’ll be spending time with my beloved.

Anything else—weather, or health issues—are just circumstances.


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

 May 6, 2015

This is the part of spring that I like the best—when it’s warm enough to have the doors of the house open, but there aren’t very many bugs flying around yet to get inside and annoy me.

I’m guilty of throwing open all my doors and windows during a mild January-thaw day, too, just to get fresh air into the house. I always have my bedroom window cracked open a bit, even on the coldest of nights. I sleep better for it, and yes, I could very well be a fresh air junkie. I hate that stuffy feeling that you always get in winter. My mother was one to do this, to throw the doors wide a couple of times during the winter months, and if we were chilly for a day, she’d just tell us to put on some extra clothes.

She asserted that scientifically speaking, fresh air with more oxygen heated faster than stale air and she was right about that.

Of course, in those days it did take a bit longer to replenish the heat, because we didn’t have a furnace with a nice fan to circulate the warmth. We had two oil space heaters in our eight room, one and a half story house. For those who don’t know, oil space heaters were stoves, made of metal and in our case, black. The one in the kitchen was about 3 foot tall, the other, in our living room, more than four. They had stove pipes that came out the back, and were vented by chimneys. When the stoves went out it was usually due to too much carbon in the inside, and required a repair man to come and clean them out to get them lit and working again.

You had to spread newspapers all around the working area thanks to the high volume of soot and grime involved. Once it was clean, he’d turn on the flow of oil and light it with a match and a small piece of paper, inserted into the fire pot.

The good thing about a space heater was that you could put something on top of it to dry, or heat, as long as you kept an eye on it so it didn’t scorch. The mainstay on our kitchen space heater was a pan of water, to combat the dryness in the air the heat wrought.

The one bad thing about oil space heaters? Twice a year you had to pull down all the glassware on the top two shelves of the kitchen cupboards (those fancy dishes that weren’t often used) and give them a good washing. They’d be covered with a grimy, oily film.

It never even occurred to me until I was married and moved away and no longer used them that the presence of that film meant we were breathing in crud. There are often more down sides to things than we care to think about. Another negative aspect to those space heaters was that sometimes in very high winds, there’d be a gust down the chimney. It gave us some very stinky air reminiscent of car exhaust and often put out the flame, too.

 Mom would light it again—yes, with a match and a small bit of paper—and it never occurred to us how dangerous doing that could be.

But spring and warmer air meant you turned off the stoves, and didn’t turn them on again until mid-to late October.

My mother’s house had several flower beds, and by the end of May that air coming into the house was scented with lilacs, lilies of the valley, and narcissus. That particular combination is an aroma I’ve missed over the years.

 But the new lilac trees that we planted last year have buds on them, and those lilies of the valley my son gave me last June are also poking little sprouts up. I look out over the flowerbeds every couple of days and measure the progress of the growth.

As I do, I spend a few minutes in joyful anticipation of inhaling that sweet fragrance once again, and soon.