The Amazing Things that Shape Us

Today at lunch my husband suggested that I write on my blog about the many things of interest that have happened to me over the years.  I didn’t realize that someone else would find them interesting.

My parents had always stated to honk when seeing a flock of turkey vultures chowing on a meal on the side of the road, we call them buzzards around here, anyway.  They always said to honk because if when scared things would happen.  They weren’t lying.  I have this innate sense of purpose when I see a flock of buzzards chowing on a carcass in the middle of the road, on the side of the road, etc.  I honk.

Well, apparently, not all parents have this knowledge and have never shared this with their children.

Case in point, one day I was driving down the road minding my own business, when what do I see?  Yep, you guessed it, a flock of buzzards working on a particularly large carcass on the side of the road, the Jeep convertible, a Wrangler, I think, didn’t honk, it was full of teenagers, and they were chatting, or doing whatever they were doing, just not honking.  They scared one of the buzzards and as my mouth dropped open in the O position, I knew in that precise moment why my parents had said to honk.  This big bird, scared out of it’s little mind, dropped it’s load of copious amounts of bird poo all over this group of teenagers, his foot hit their windshield edge at the top and that little instance of contact started a chain of events which caused me to stop and stare.  I admit it, I didn’t want any part of that situation. I couldn’t even begin to imagine the smell of being covered in poo, not to mention, it being buzzard poo.

The Jeep full of teenagers, swerved, this way and that, as they panicked.  I stared in wonder at the horrors before me and realized my parents had saved me from that horrible fate by teaching me to honk at the big birds.  Everyone else on the road behind me, never honked, they stopped next to and behind me as we all watched a Jeep full of teenagers swerving across two lanes of traffic, hit the median and come to a full and complete stop on the median.  They all stared at one another in  horror.

I admit, it struck me as funny, and I started laughing because it was absolutely hilarious to see.  This Jeep swerving ahead of me, teenagers covered in stinking bird poo, all because they didn’t know to honk.

As I drove past, I honked my horn at the birds who had gone back to chowing on their carcass, and those kids looked at me, when they saw the birds fly off from me honking my horn.  I could see the amazement in their eyes at this one simple gesture.

I bet they all honk at those birds from that day forward, when they see them.

 

For Once No Socks on my Needles

I am not knitting at the moment.  My right hand is shot.  I am taking a break from a marathon session of professional knitting.  I finished all but one pair of socks from the annual sock list.  The last pair can wait.

I am writing on book 6 once again and it took an unexpected turn.  I just find it amazing how this happens.  I was writing along and boom, it happened.  I had to stop and think about what was going on.  Last night, before bed, it came to me.  I was going to write the next pages but, my computer had to update.  I hate waiting.  I have no patience whatsoever, that is why I took up knitting, it is my exercise in patience.

That opened up a whole new can of worms for me.  I found a love of yarn, particularly sock yarn.  So, I decided to paint sock yarns and fiber to spin into sock yarn.  That was my old job, now my new job, and passion is writing.  Regency romances for now and as luck would have it, I dream about writing.

I had to get up the other day and write down what I had dreamt, it promises to be a really good series.  So, that makes about 3 or 4 series I will be writing after I finish my Tumbling Green series.  Who knew at the age of 47 I would finally find my niche?  It has taken me almost 30 years to figure this all out.

I have been able to write for years but, I didn’t have the life experience behind me to write really well.  I think, with age, my writing has become what it is.  I hope you, the reader, enjoy it and can lose yourself in my book(s).

I find myself laughing and crying with my characters as I write their stories.  Some of the time, I find myself giggling and other times, I am quite miffed at the stupidity that happens but, it is part of my characters’ stories.

I often find myself asking, why would he do that, or why would she do that?  Well, they do that because they have their own foibles.  It is all part and parcel of my stories.

In other news, I will be baking kolaches this weekend with two of my sisters.  I think it is going to be a tradition for us.  We get together, pool our resources and bake my Czech Moravian grandmother’s recipe of kolaches.  The recipe isn’t complete, it involves experience of baking to make the pastries.  My parents made sure that we all knew how to make them.  The recipe is very labor intensive.

My grandma’s sugar cookie recipe is so huge that it takes a 5 pound bag of flour to be able to roll them out and cut them.  I haven’t made it in years.  It feeds a crowd of people.

We have been trying to teach the younger generation how to play 42 in dominoes.  It has been very trying with my youngest niece, she isn’t interested in the game, which is a shame since my Aunt Cecily taught me and my sisters, and several nieces how to play the game.  She would cuss in Czech when we didn’t do something she didn’t like.  She and my Aunts would tell each other dirty jokes in Czech and then laugh and laugh.  When we were old enough to understand their dirty jokes, it would lose something in the translation and we would all stare at them like they were off.

We have a rich history in my family and I am trying to pass this knowledge as much as I can since I am the youngest in my family.  I have been trying to get some of my younger nieces involved with family tradition and I guess being in their 20’s they don’t realize how important it is to keep the traditions alive.  They also don’t realize that family is everything.  Family has your back when no one else does.

I have found that statement to be very true lately.  On the weekends, we have been trying to help my oldest sister get her home finished.  My oldest niece was injured in a life changing accident and now, we as a family, have been trying to help fix the house so, it will accommodate my oldest niece’s wheelchair.  It is a long drawn out process and it is crazy hard to deal with at times.  At least, she has a positive attitude.  I am hoping that and we are all praying she will be able to walk, again.  The doctors have informed her it can take anywhere from 6 months to a year before the swelling goes down.  Spinal cord injuries are not diagnosed like other injuries.

I find when I am writing that I imagine some of the strange conversations I have had with my sisters and the back and forth bickering, laughing, joking, serious talks, come out in my writing.

Being the youngest of 8 kids has its perks and sometimes, it is a big pain in the butt.  One sister can’t seem to get past that I am not 7 years old, anymore.  I think when I handed her my business card with my first published book on it, she realized, hey, she isn’t that little girl she used to know.  The little girl grew up and now she writes romances.

I am in the process of getting out Christmas cards and well, I ran out of stamps.  I went to the local postal place, they are out of stamps.  I guess everyone is trying to get their Christmas cards out, too.  I refuse to head to the post office, it is a pain in the butt to go down there and fight the crowds.  If I don’t have to go, then I am not going to go.

Now, back to writing book 6.  I wanted to update this blog before I get involved in the book.  I am still here, I just haven’t had much time to sit down and write.

 

Woo Hoo! A Book Giveaway

If you want to win a signed copy of my book, The Duke’s Dangerous Darling, then click on the link on the side of my blog.  It will take you to goodreads where you can sign up to try to win a book.

Thanks!

Of All The Rotten Luck…

Patsy’s Birthday Socks

As you can see, one pair of socks, done.

On another note, my wireless program died on my laptop.  I’m being forced to post on my cellphone until my hubby can fix the problem.

I have the worst luck with laptops.  I’m on my second one in about 4 years.  My first one died a horrible death…it burned down it’s motherboard one day.  My 2nd one was immersed in water courtesy of a certain little whiney calico who likes to drink water out of glasses.  Hubby soaked it in alcohol to dry out the water.   Now, this whole wireless thing…grrr!

So, here I sit typing and posting on my itty bitty cellphone keyboard.

Want to win a free copy of The Duke’s Dangerous Darling?  Hubby is going to do a contest on Good Reads.  I will let you know when it will be.

In other news…

I started knitting another pair of socks.  I’m trying to finish up my knitting list for the year.

Each year, my family signs up on the sock list, and when I have the time, I knit them each a pair of socks.

After socks are done, I have plans to knit myself some wool gloves.

I want to sew myself some pajama pants and I have several quilts to finish and get to their owners.

I’m also obsessed with Opal Sock Yarn.   I have been for years.   It wears like iron and has a great hand.

Cedric, the Butler

I recently asked of my Facebook author page who is your favorite character in The Duke’s Dangerous Darling. I stated that my favorite character is Cedric, the London butler.

He is very endearing to the family.  The daughters all love him and he is quite the character.  He comes across as formal until the drinking starts and he is right there with the family.  He laughs with them, he cries with them and he drinks with them.

He can be stiff and formal to strangers and then turn around and be the life of the party the next second.  He is a favorite of Lady Poppy and Sir Henry.

When I wrote his character, I wanted him to be someone that the girls were able to turn to when their parents had other ideas.  He is like that favorite Uncle that a lot of people have.  He is a rascal, too.  I think he is a well rounded character with a sinfully delicious taste in fine brandy.

 

Knitting Socks

The start of Patsy’s socks.

This is the start of another pair of socks.  I finished the celery socks last week and this week is the start of this pair.

Finished Celery socks

The celery socks are in the hands of their new owner, my brother, George.

newly painted yarn

I painted this yarn yesterday, this yarn is going to be a pair of socks for my niece, Maribeth.

hand painted sock yarn.

This yarn, I can’t wait to knit with.  It is a fascinating color mix.  I thought I would see what the three colors would look like and then knit a pair of socks with it.  If nothing else, I will have a neat looking pair of socks.  That happens some times, I try a color combo to paint and then I knit myself a pair of socks.  If I don’t like how it knits up, I will rip it off of the needles and put the yarn aside.

Now, I am taking a break from writing.  I just haven’t had any good ideas pop into my brain.  I am still working on book 6 of the Tumbling Green series and I want to start another series after I finish all 7 books in the Tumbling Green series.  Yes, 7 books, total.  I have had several requests to write a story about Lady Poppy and Sir Henry, how they met and their life story, or the beginning of it.

I am also thinking about sharing one of my sock knitting patterns here for everyone who knits to enjoy.  I am doing a simple sock pattern right now, see first picture.  The yarn is Wintry Kisses, I painted it a couple of years ago.  The yarn is a merino wool/silk blend.  It is one of my favorite yarns to knit with.  The sock is being knit on US 3 addi turbo sock rockets with 24 inch cables.  I have employed 4 stitch markers for this pattern.  I also make those, when I have the time.  I haven’t had time for beading in a while.

My sock list is closed this year.  I usually open the list up at the beginning of the year and family members can put their names on the list to have one pair of custom socks knit for them.  It takes me usually 2 weeks or more to knit one pair of socks.  Nowadays, it is taking longer since I have been writing.

One person asked me to knit something for them but, I said, no.  I am not knitting professionally right now.  I don’t have the time, I am finishing the sock list for the year and then I am taking a much needed break for myself.

 

Starting the Sock Heel

I finally have a sock heel to work on.  I was working on the cuff and took a break to finish book 5 and start writing book 6.  Now, I needed a break from writing for a bit and well, the sock needs to get finished.  I am working on this sock today and I guess I will see how far I can get.

In other news, next year promises to be exciting, I have most of my books scheduled for editing throughout next year.  Thank you to everyone who has taken a chance on a new author and read my book.  I was only able to book my editor for February of 2018 for the second book.  I have since put my down payments in for the rest of them to be edited for next year.  This is a lengthy process.

I hate editing my books. I hate having to go back and fix the problems.  I love writing them, it doesn’t feel like a job.  I realized that the other day, I am happy with what I have chosen to do.  I hope this feeling never ends.  I loved painting yarns and then one day, the love stopped.  I was bored with it.

I still love knitting lace and I find it fascinating, I just don’t think my brother would like wearing lace socks.  I know he would look at me like I had gone round the bend.

So, I sit here, working away on this sock, hoping it will finally be done and I can go on to knitting the next pair in lace for my sister-in-law.

I hope to be able to finish knitting the line of socks I have and then I can go finish several quilts.  I had started them a couple of years ago and honestly, I just haven’t had the time to work on them.  I need to clean off my cutting table and move the projects that are on the table to another area.  I have pillowcases I have sewn for veterans, they need to make their way to the charity of my choice.  I was hoping to get other ladies involved with this and one of the ladies who would have helped, has sadly passed away from cancer.  She was a ray of sunshine in a dark forest, always bubbly, always smiling, loved helping others and I miss her.

What does sock knitting and romance writing have in common?  Not a damn thing.  I just love to knit socks.  I love to write romances.  I have found that plain socks are boring and socks with lace are easy for me and go really fast.  I love that, I think the challenge keeps me going back.

I was telling my sister that I felt guilty, here I am enjoying writing so much that it doesn’t feel like work.  I feel like I should be miserable so, I can say I have a job.  Sounds really weird, doesn’t it?  I have had several jobs and I was miserable with it and I found that I had to struggle some mornings to get out of bed.  Then there were those days that I played hooky.  I didn’t want to go to work so, I didn’t.  Now, I find that I actually love getting out of bed, except on laundry day, Monday, and I find that I love turning on my laptop and falling into the little world that I created.  Yes,  I love my job.

Then one day, I was perusing a knitting catalog, and found the most gorgeous shawl pattern, ooh, I thought, I have the perfect yarn for it.  It screams out for a red merino lace, and guess who has that color?  Me!  I have the yarn for it, and I have to finish the socks and I am going to knit it for me.  Yes, me.  No one else.

I am not going to feel guilty about it, either.  I usually do, don’t ask me why.  Maybe it stems from me being the youngest of 8 and this responsibility I have had to help my family out when I can.  My parents drummed this into me from an early age.  Family comes first, everyone else second.  I am going to change this up for a while, I am going to come first and then my family.  They all have children of their own.  I sadly don’t but, I have accepted this, my temperament wouldn’t allow me to deal with kids, I don’t have patience, ask my hubby, he can attest to this, and I really love the peacefulness of my home.  I am chaos enough, and I really don’t want to share my peacefulness with a child.  Hell, Percy Roy, my terrier, is enough in the way of destruction and wrecking the peace.  Never again will I own a terrier, although he has taught me to find laughter in the most mundane things, like his pronking around the backyard, hopping like a bunny rabbit after a grass hopper, I had to hold onto the sink as I watched him one day, out the window, he had me laughing so hard, I nearly fell over.

Percy finds such joy in the smallest things and he has a one track mind.  He is destructor, and he seems to enjoy that role the most.  My sweetheart is my Corgi, Ody.  He is such a happy doggy.  He is nine and I love petting his squishy booty.  He hates this and growls at me, he will get up and wander off.  He loves his Fat Cat Chicken.  It has one wing right now and we are on our second one.  I have had to embroider the thing together, already.  That chicken has drool all over it, missing the one wing, and teeth marks everywhere.  I have heard stitches pop but, it is intact.  The other one, that died, lost both wings, I couldn’t find them, the stitches popped and I couldn’t sew it back together since the filling was spilling out and it was rotten.  Out it went and in came the new chicken into their toy box.  They don’t care that it is new, it is the chicken.  Oh, and the trout is another favorite of theirs.  It is in one piece but, it is a fish torpedo, and they love the thing.  It still squeaks, which is completely amazing.  I keep telling my family members who have chewers to get the Fat Cat toys.  They last.

In other exciting writing news….

I will be starting a new series of books that are more modern and I will announce when I will be publishing them after my Tumbling Green series are written.  I have one of the books started but, I am thinking I will go back and start a whole new book to announce the series.

I have been thinking of writing a pre-Tumbling Green series about how Lady Poppy and Sir Henry met, and their story.  Not sure when I will write that one but, I have been thinking about it.

Have a wonderful week…..

 

My New Picture

This is me.  My new picture, I took before I headed off to a Mary Kay makeup party for my niece, Kate.  I got all gussied up.  I decided to take a couple of selfies and this is one of them.  The party was fun.

Later that night was one of my sister’s birthday party, that was fun seeing everyone.  We were tired by the time we got home.

Yesterday, I was able to sit down and write a couple of chapters.  This morning, I wrote a couple more after the laundry was taken care of.

My hero is giving me some fits but, I am working him out, slowly.  Some men, just have to push our buttons, I guess.  Not to mention the buttons he is pushing on the lady he is interested in.  Sigh!  I would have beat the man over the head already, then again, I am a modern woman, not a lady stuck in the Victorian age.  She has to do things as Society dictates and then some.

Thank God, I don’t have to date, anymore, it was bad enough when I was still single.  I am so thankful for my husband, he is a great guy.  He can still push my buttons, though.

My niece, Kate was asking how I met my husband and she couldn’t believe my answer.  She was totally shocked.  This was before computer dating so, it makes sense.  I placed an ad in The Houston Press and my husband answered that ad.  We hit it off from the first date.  He makes me laugh like a loon at times and after our first year of Hell, er, marriage, we decided we can stay together, through anything after surviving that.

 

 

Getting Over My Shyness

Since I haven’t been out in public for a long time, it is hard for me to approach someone and ask, do you read?  You do?  Would you like a business card, I am an author and this is my first book.

I had worked retail for ten long years and I retired from it when I met my husband.  It took me ten years before I liked Christmas, again.  Oh, the horrors of retail and Christmas!  I could tell you some serious horror war stories about retail and Christmas.

This is why around Christmas and every other time of the year, I try to be nice to the person behind the register.  I am also nice to pharmacy personnel since I worked for five years in a pharmacy as a tech.  Never going back to that one.  Some of the people were great, they understood that the pharmacists needed time to fill those prescriptions, check for contraindications, and call the doctor when one came up.  Then there were the others….Grrr!

These days, I find myself writing at the weirdest times.  I have to explain to non-writers how this happens.  I mean, an idea pops into my brain at the strangest times.  I have had one pop into my brain at 3 am and I am thinking, I have to get my lap top.  Then I have been driving down the road and I am thinking, I hope I remember it until I get home.  I am not packing a lap top wherever I go.

Writing is something like painting yarns and dyeing yarns, when a color pops into my brain, it would stay and haunt me, I would be in the fabric store and I would start putting those ideas stuck in my brain into fabrics with my sister staring at me like I had lost my mind.  I would turn to her and say, sorry, yarn.

Oh?  Yes, yarn.  Now, since I have started writing full time, I don’t have much time for knitting and I have one sock on the needles that needs to be finished and sent with washing instructions to my oldest brother.  Then I have to research and write the pattern for my sister in law’s socks.  I no longer write patterns for public view because I am of the opinion as a long time sock knitter to try that sock on as you knit it.  Might as well, it is part of the craft.  I like to try them on to see what that pretty lace design looks like on my foot.  So, for everyone who owns a pair of my socks, I have tried that baby on.  I would even write it in the pattern to try that sock on.  Measure on your own foot when to start the toe.  I knit from the cuff down.  I can knit it from toe up but, I prefer to knit it from the cuff down, easier and quicker for me.

I can talk yarn and knitting all day long.  I have to finish crocheting my nieces jacket.  She hasn’t asked for it but, I know she wants the thing.  It is sitting on a box waiting for me to finish it.  I will get to it later.  I have a sock to finish.

Then there is the whole knee thing…I am in agony with it.  Stupid knee.  I had forgotten how horrible my knee brace really is and the pain associated with knee pain.  I have been hobbling around on it and going to the grocery store is out because I can’t stand to hobble around on it for long.  Just short trips.

I am a klutz and I have faced this, I just wish it didn’t take so long to heal.  I have to get my whiny out.  I have done that, and I am moving on.

I will try to approach complete strangers and say, I am not a crazy person, I am an author, and I want the world to know, I have written a book.  I am not sure if you will like it or not but, I wrote one, that is published, and I have four more at home on my computer.  One just came out of beta reading, and is headed to the editor early spring 2018.  One is heading to beta reading soon.  I have to go back through it and fix what I can and then send it out to my beta readers.

If you are on Facebook and you want to be a beta reader, go click on my LL Neal page and that is where I find my beta readers.  I ask if anyone would like to read my new books that are unedited, they might change, after editing, and I go on from there.  I am looking for one more beta reader for my third book.

Now…off to the races, er lunch.

Book Promotion

LL Neal’s first book, The Duke’s Dangerous Darling, is currently available for free on Amazon. We’re hoping this will generate some good reviews over the next week.

If you’re interested in reading or reviewing it, click on the cover below and get a copy today.

The Duke's Dangerous DArling